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Featured On the size of denominations and communions

Discussion in 'Denomination Specific Theology' started by Paul Yohannan, Dec 20, 2016.

  1. Paul Yohannan

    Paul Yohannan Well-Known Member

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    In another thread, I was enjoying a good but I expect offtopic conversation with my friends @ViaCrucis and @BobRyan about denominational size:

    Picking up where we left off, it might be interesting to both resume that discussion about the relative sizes of denominations and communions, and about the proper metrics for establishing the size of these entities.
     
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  2. Radrook

    Radrook Well-Known Member

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    One thing to keep in mind when talking about numbers in reference to Christians is that Jesus said that the road to salvation was narrow and that FEW were the ones who would find it.

    Matthew 7:13-14
    The Narrow and Wide Gates

    13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

    Cross references:
    1. Matthew 7:13 : Lk 13:24; Jn 10:7, 9
    New International Version (NIV)
     
  3. FaithfulPilgrim

    FaithfulPilgrim Eternally Seeking

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    There's no clear cut line between what is and isn't a denomination.

    For example, a lot of people consider the SBC, or just Baptists in general, to be a denomination, though they would tell you they are a fellowship of churches that voluntarily come together under a common cause and they aren't a denomimation because they have no centralized leadership. However, the SBC looks much more like a denomination than the Free Will Baptists, Independent Baptists, etc., with the latter two being more like different thoughts of what a Baptist is than a denomination.
     
  4. BobRyan

    BobRyan Junior Member

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    I post occassionally on a Baptist discussion forum and there you find Baptists belonging to Independ/Missionary Baptist group that say they will not celebrate communion with SBC churches. It would be very difficult to cast them all into one bucket.

    At an SBC church I heard the pastor give a sermon about "what is a baptist" and his statement was that it is pretty simple - He said "you believe the Bible is the Word of God, believer's baptism by immersion, -- and you use the word "Baptist" in your name."

    I don't think that counts as a denomination since they do not even remotely report to one administrative group.

    SBC is questionable as you note - but at least they hold conferences, vote on statements of faith, vote on positions and policy, require some sort of payment/dues.

    I think you are right and in the 1980's there were about 14 million SBC and 4 Million SDAs.

    Now we have almost 20 million SDAs and something like 16 or 17 million SBC.
     
  5. BobRyan

    BobRyan Junior Member

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    True - bigger does not mean "right-er"
     
  6. BobRyan

    BobRyan Junior Member

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    you said "At any rate, Adventism is not the fifth largest denomination or communion"

    My point was about denominations - and I argued that you were doing a bait-and-switch to the subject of what different denominations are in communion. Denomination is much more specific than "what groups are in communion".

    But as you note -- the article says "In 2014, for the 10th year in a row, more than 1 million people became Adventists, hitting a record 18.1 million members. Adventism is now the fifth-largest Christian communion worldwide, after Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, and the Assemblies of God."

    And we are of course now at almost 20 million having past the 19 million mark.

    "full communion is a relationship between church organizations, groups, and individuals that mutually recognize their sharing the essential doctrines"

    Seventh-day Baptists and Adventist have communion in that they both celebrate the Lord's Table - the communion service open to the other. They both have 66 books in their Bibles, they both believe in believer's baptism, sola scriptura testing of all doctrine and tradition, virgin birth, literal death burial and resurrection of Christ, saved by grace through faith, they both reject prayers to the dead, they both reject images in worship, they both reject purgatory, indulgences and the idea that Mary was sinless, they both accept the trinity and the pre-mill literal visible 2nd coming of Christ, they both reject earthly priestly orders ...

    All of which we also share with most other Baptists - but in the case above we and Seventh-day Baptists also accept the Bible Sabbath as unedited and unchanged in the still-binding unit of moral law - the TEN Commandments.

    Even so -- we are different denominations
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2016
  7. Paul Yohannan

    Paul Yohannan Well-Known Member

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    But, the article is wrong, because at a minimum Oriental Orthodoxy would have to be included, as well as the Lutheran churches in full communion.

    Otherwise if one is to recalculate on the basis of individual autocephalous churches, Adventism gets pushed back considerably due to the larger EO jurisdictions being counted separately.
     
  8. Paul Yohannan

    Paul Yohannan Well-Known Member

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    Even the Catholics represent merely a slice of the total human population.
     
  9. BobRyan

    BobRyan Junior Member

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    Oriental Orthodoxy is many groups associated under that classification. It is not one single denomination with one single administrative body.

    Same is true with all the various Lutheran groups. They do not all report to one administrative body.

    Adventism on the other hand has one single administrative body and all doctrines and beliefs are voted on by the church in session once every 5 years - which includes voting on the content and changes to the church manual. Tithes from the U.S. get sent out to pastors and teachers all over the world in cases where those pastors do not have enough funding in their local conference to support them. It is one single world wide church - one single administrative body - one voted statement of beliefs etc.

    We can vote on what the inter-American Division is "allowed" to do or not do when it comes to ordination of pastors... for example.
     
  10. Paul Yohannan

    Paul Yohannan Well-Known Member

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    The article in question specifically referred to communions rather than denominations. What is more, it listed the Eastern Orthodox as one such denomination or communion. If you are going to do that, you also have to list the Oriental Orthodox and the Lutherans.

    There is no single administrative body for the Eastern Orthodox, and no single administrative body for the Oriental Orthodox.

    Now if we go on the basis of churches with integrated governance, with one single administrative body, Adventists drop down to ninth place, because of the multiplicity of Orthodox jurisdictions.
     
  11. Radrook

    Radrook Well-Known Member

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    Neither does older.
     
  12. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter

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    Seems to me, a pointless discussion.

    Mine is right and I know it!:idea:^_^
     
  13. Paul Yohannan

    Paul Yohannan Well-Known Member

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    I find it interesting in a geeky sort of way, but I do not recommend what one might call "tape-measure theology."
     
  14. MarkRohfrietsch

    MarkRohfrietsch Unapologetic Apologist Supporter

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    "Mine is bigger than your's" does matter to some!:p
     
  15. Episaw

    Episaw Always learning

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    Just a thought. Where does it say in scripture that the church has to come together every five years to determine policy?
     
  16. Episaw

    Episaw Always learning

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    Where do we find in scripture a single administrative body?
     
  17. BobRyan

    BobRyan Junior Member

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    Doesn't - also does not say to drive with your seatbelt buckled.
     
  18. ~Cassia~

    ~Cassia~ Devoted to Truth Supporter

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    It Does :confused:
     
  19. BobRyan

    BobRyan Junior Member

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    True - slicing them up into their smaller yet-more-equivalent part in the case of Eastern and Oriental orthodox would like result in a different picture.

    as you point out -
    "There is no single administrative body for the Eastern Orthodox, and no single administrative body for the Oriental Orthodox."

    so slicing them up until you get to one single admin that has absolute control over all churches under it - would result in more members in the list - but at a tinier magnitude.

    Possibly - but I have not looked at those numbers in the various Orthodox sects.
     
  20. Paul Yohannan

    Paul Yohannan Well-Known Member

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    We do not, hence the Orthodox model of autocephalous bishops and ecumenical councils, which is scriptural (see Timothy, Acts 15, et cetera).
     
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