In their desperation to try and make the case for Catholicism, modern Catholics will attempt to use the many denominations fallacy. As a Catholic for 43 years, I never once heard of it, or heard other Catholics speaking about it, or used this rhetorical fallacy in the attempt to explain my faith in the RCC. It is a modern invention, most likely started by ex-protestants from an organization called Catholic Answers.
The fallacy goes as follows. The Reformation caused all sorts of divisions with all these denominations, thus the RCC is automatically the true church. And the number can vary from one Catholic to the next. I have heard 25,000 denomination, 33,000 denominations, 40,000 denominations, 47,000, 65,000, and so on. And it can very in a Catholic as well, as one day it could be 33,000 and the next day it is 50,000.
Even a Catholic source called the National Catholic Register as late as 2016 has stated “we need to stop saying there are 33,000 denominations”, as they know it is a fallacy as well. They indicated something like 9,000 actual protestant Christian denominations, as well as the same study concluding there were 242 Roman Catholic denominations.
Back to the fallacy. The claim is a hasty generalization, that proposes that every protestant denomination or non-Catholic are at war against each other, utterly and coldly divided. The claim is false, because of the overall generalization without empirical data or proof to prove this absurd claim.
I won’t say there aren’t divisions, there are, and it is for one reason. If a church just like the RCC has strayed away from Scripture and imposed extra biblical ideas to the message of salvation, they will be divided against the one true Gospel which is UNITED in the body of Christ.
The fact is, there is more unity outside the RCC concerning the message of salvation than division! Because it is Gospel which is the power unto salvation. This message being that a sinner is saved by grace alone through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone to His glory alone. The divisions come when a church strays from this truth!
The fact is there is much MORE division inside the RCC than outside! From one Catholic to the next we will get a different idea as to how one can be saved. There are Catholics who claim abortion and same-sex marriage should be legal, when their teaching says otherwise. Some say evolution is a factual truth, some vehemently object to this. Some will say that the Genesis account was an allegory, some will say not. And this division will go on and one concerning many subjects of Catholic teaching. One Catholic for example claimed to me that the Assumption dogma is not obligatory to be believed. Ah yes, you will find much more division inside the walls of the RCC.
So this absurd fallacy to basically scare Catholics possibly thinking about leaving the RCC is so very ignorant and pathetic. The scare tactic is to tell them “which church is the true church if you leave”, when the TRUE church has always been united under one saving Gospel of Jesus Christ since the beginning!
The only way one could be subject to false gospels is to employ the Catholic method of not holding Scripture as your ultimate authority! By worldly religion, humanism, and philosophy, you will be turned every which way but loose!
The many denominations fallacy is beneath any intellectual honesty, it is absurd, it has been refuted, and it is only used in complete desperation because the prosecution of the case for Catholicism fails every single time. It is like the last wild absurd gasp before the Judge before sentencing, which He laughs at.
Jesus did not die on the Cross to save a denomination, but sinners in need of salvation! There is ONE Gospel which unites the body of Christ, the question is do you believe this Gospel, have you placed your faith alone in Jesus Christ? If so, you are not divided against the body, you are PART OF THE BODY!