I’m tired of hearing that Catholicism (established on or about 1053) is the one true religion as a synonym for Christianity and that other religions came from it. Catholicism is possibly the largest division of the Christian Church, but not the Christian Church. Ignorance drives me bonkers. Read through or take a look at the graphic at the end of this post.
In 325, during First Council of Nicaea, the Christian Church was finally recognized (legalized) as a religion (no longer a mere Jewish cult) by Emperor Constantine I. This gave birth to the the Bible, the group of books and readings that Christians would accept as the Word of God. Many books were excluded for various reasons.
“The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia (present-day Iznik in Turkey) by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325. This first ecumenical council was the first effort to attain consensus in the church through an assembly representing all of Christendom.
Its main accomplishments were settlement of the Christological issue of the nature of The Son and his relationship to God the Father, the construction of the first part of the Creed of Nicaea, settling the calculation of the date of Easter, and promulgation of early canon law.”
In 431, during the First Council of Ephesus, the argument was whether the Virgin Mary was divine in nature or not.
“The First Council of Ephesus was the third ecumenical council of the early Christian Church, held in 431 at the Church of Mary in Ephesus, Asia Minor. The council was called amid a dispute over the teachings of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople. Nestorius’ doctrine, Nestorianism, which emphasized the disunity between Christ’s human and divine natures, had brought him into conflict with other church leaders, most notably Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria. Nestorius himself had requested that the Emperor convene council, hoping to prove his orthodoxy, but in the end his teachings were condemned by the council as heresy. The council declared Mary as Theotokos (God-bearer).
Nestorius’ dispute with Cyril had led the latter to seek validation from Pope Celestine I, who authorized Cyril to request that Nestorius recant his position or face excommunication. Nestorius pleaded with the Eastern Roman Emperor Theodosius II to call a council in which all grievances could be aired, hoping that he would be vindicated and Cyril condemned.
Approximately 250 bishops were present. The proceedings were conducted in a heated atmosphere of confrontation and recriminations and created severe tensions between Cyril and Theodosius. Nestorius was decisively outplayed by Cyril and removed from his see, and his teachings were officially anathematized. This precipitated the Nestorian Schism, by which churches supportive of Nestorius, especially in Persia, were severed from the rest of Christendom and became known as Nestorian Christianity, the Persian Church, or the Church of the East, whose present-day representatives are the Assyrian Church of the East, the Chaldean Syrian Church, the Ancient Church of the East, and the Chaldean Catholic Church. Nestorius himself retired to a monastery, always asserting his orthodoxy.
The council is accepted as the Third Ecumenical Council by Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholics, and a number of other Western Christian groups.”
From the latter, The Assyrian Church of the East came to be (c. 431).
“The Assyrian Church of the East, officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, is a Syriac Church historically centered in Assyria/Assuristan, northern Mesopotamia. It is one of the churches that claim continuity with the historical Patriarchate of Seleucia-Ctesiphon — the Church of the East. Unlike most other churches that trace their origins to antiquity, the modern Assyrian Church of the East is not in communion with any other churches, either Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, or Catholic.
The church is headed by the Catholicos-Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Dinkha IV, who currently presides from Chicago, Illinois, United States. Below the Catholicos-Patriarch are a number of metropolitan bishops, diocesan bishops, priests, and deacons who serve dioceses and parishes throughout the Middle East, India, North America, Oceania, and Europe (including the Caucasus and Russia). Theologically, the church is associated with the doctrine of Nestorianism, leading to the church also being known as the ‘Nestorian Church’, though church leadership has at times rejected the Nestorian label. The church employs the Syriac dialect of the Aramaic language in its liturgy, the East Syrian Rite, which includes three anaphoras, attributed to Saints Addai and Mari, Theodore of Mopsuestia and Nestorius.
The Church of the East developed from the early Assyrian Christian communities in the Assuristan province of the Parthian Empire, and at its height had spread from its Mesopotamian heartland to as far as China and India. A dispute over patriarchal succession led to the Schism of 1552, resulting in there being two rival Patriarchs. One of the factions that eventually emerged from this split became the modern Assyrian Church of the East, while another became the church now known as the Chaldean Catholic Church, which entered into communion with the Catholic Church.”
In 451, during the Council of Chalcedon, the Church discussed the nature of Jesus — Godhead (Son of God) and manhood (Son of Man). Needless to say (type), there were disagreements giving birth to the Oriental Orthodox (Miaphysite).
“The Council of Chalcedon was a church council held from October 8 to November 1, AD 451, at Chalcedon (a city of Bithynia in Asia Minor), on the Asian side of the Bosporus, known in modern times as Istanbul. The council marked a significant turning point in the Christological debates that led to the separation of the church of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century. It is the last council which many Anglicans and most Protestants consider ecumenical.
The Council of Chalcedon was convened by Emperor Marcian, with the reluctant approval of Pope Leo the Great, to set aside the 449 Second Council of Ephesus, better known as the ‘Robber Council’. The Council of Chalcedon issued the ‘Chalcedonian Definition,’ which repudiated the notion of a single nature in Christ, and defined that he has two natures in one person and hypostasis; it also insisted on the completeness of his two natures: Godhead and manhood. The council also issued 27 disciplinary canons governing church administration and authority. In a further decree, later known as the canon 28, the bishops declared the See of Constantinople (New Rome) equal in honor and authority to Rome.
The Council is considered to have been the Fourth Ecumenical Council by the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church (including its Eastern Catholic Churches), the Old Catholics, and various other Western Christian groups. As such, it is recognized as infallible in its dogmatic definitions by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches (then one church). Most Protestants also consider the concepts of the Trinity and Incarnation as defined at Nicaea (in 325) and Chalcedon to be orthodox doctrine to which they adhere. However, the Council is not accepted by several of the ancient Eastern Churches, including the Oriental Orthodox of Egypt, Syria and Armenia, and the Assyrian Church of the East. The Oriental Orthodox teach ‘one nature’ in Christ, composed of both Godhead and manhood. Misrepresented as a denial of his true humanity, this used to be denigrated as the heresy of Monophysitism, though now the neutral terms Miaphysite and Miaphysitism or non-Chalcedonian are widely preferred.”
In 1053, in what’d be remembered as the East-West Schism broke in two.
- The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria (east) is based in Alexandria and Cairo in Egypt and led by Pope Tawadros II.
- The Roman Catholic Church (west) was based in Rome before WWII and now the city-state of the Vatican after a special a agreement with Mussolini (Lateran Treaty, Kingdom of Italy, 1929) — strong control and influence during the war and even the possible blind-eye during the Holocaust (The Vatican’s Holocaust, 1986, Baron Avro Manhattan). This division of the Church is led by Pope Francisco.
“The East–West Schism, sometimes known as the Great Schism, is the medieval division of Chalcedonian Christianity into Eastern (Greek) and Western (Latin) branches, which later became commonly known as the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church respectively. Relations between East and West had long been embittered by ecclesiastical differences and theological disputes. Prominent among these were the issues of the source of the Holy Spirit (‘filioque’), whether leavened or unleavened bread should be used in the Eucharist, the Pope’s claim to universal jurisdiction, and the place of Constantinople in relation to the Pentarchy.
In 1053, the first step was taken in the process which led to formal schism. Patriarch of Constantinople Michael Cerularius ordered the closure of all Latin churches in Constantinople. According to the historian John Bagnell Bury, Cerularius’ purpose in closing the Latin churches was ‘to cut short any attempt at conciliation’.
In 1054, the Papal legate traveled to Constantinople for purposes that included refusing to Cerularius the title of ‘Ecumenical Patriarch’ and insisting that he recognize Rome’s claim to be the head and mother of the churches. On the refusal of Cerularius to accept the demand, the leader of the legation, Cardinal Humbert, excommunicated him, and in return Cerularius excommunicated Cardinal Humbert and the other legates. This was only the first act in a centuries-long process that eventually became a complete schism.
The validity of the Western legates’ act is doubtful, since Pope Leo had died and Cerularius’ excommunication applied only to the legates personally. Still, the Church split along doctrinal, theological, linguistic, political, and geographical lines, and the fundamental breach has never been healed, with each side sometimes accusing the other of having fallen into heresy and of having initiated the division. The Crusades, the Massacre of the Latins in 1182, the West’s retaliation in the Sacking of Thessalonica in 1185, the capture and sack of Constantinople in 1204, and the imposition of Latin patriarchs made reconciliation more difficult. Establishing Latin hierarchies in the Crusader states meant that there were two rival claimants to each of the patriarchal sees of Antioch, Constantinople, and Jerusalem, making the existence of schism clear.
The Second Council of Lyon, in 1274, and the Council of Florence in 1439 attempted to reunite the two churches. Despite acceptance by the participating eastern delegations, no effective reconciliation was realized, since the Orthodox believe that the acts of councils must be ratified by the wider Church and the acts of these councils never attained widespread acceptance among Orthodox churches. In 1484, 31 years after the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks, a Synod of Constantinople repudiated the Union of Florence, officially stating the position that had already been taken by Orthodox in general.
In 1965, Pope Paul VI and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Athenagoras I nullified the anathemas of 1054, although this nullification of measures taken against a few individuals was essentially a goodwill gesture and did not constitute any sort of reunion between churches. Contacts between the two sides continue: Every year a delegation from each joins in the other’s celebration of its patronal feast, Saints Peter and Paul (29 June) for Rome and Saint Andrew (30 November) for Constantinople, and there have been a number of visits by the head of each to the other. The efforts of the Ecumenical Patriarchs towards reconciliation with the Catholic Church have often been the target of sharp criticism from some fellow Orthodox.”
In 1517, Protestantinism contested the sovereignty of the pope and broke the Catholic Church into smaller groups (denominations), prompting the Reformation (1517-1648). See graphic.
“Protestantism is one of the major divisions within Christianity. It has been defined as ‘any of several church denominations denying the universal authority of the Pope and affirming the Reformation principles of justification by faith alone, the priesthood of all believers, and the primacy of the Bible as the only source of revealed truth’ and, more broadly, to mean Christianity outside ‘of an Orthodox or Catholic church’. It is a movement that is widely seen as beginning in Germany with The Ninety-Five Theses in 1517 as a reaction against medieval doctrines and practices, especially in regard to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology. The doctrines of the over 33,000 Protestant denominations vary, but most include justification by grace through faith alone, known as Sola Gratia and Sola Fide respectively, the priesthood of all believers, and the Bible as the supreme authority in matters of faith and morals, known as Sola Scriptura, Latin for ‘by scripture alone’.
In the 16th century, the followers of Martin Luther established the evangelical (Lutheran) churches of Germany and Scandinavia. Reformed churches in Hungary, Scotland, Switzerland and France were established by other reformers such as John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, and John Knox. The Church of England declared independence from papal authority in 1534, and was influenced by some Reformation principles, notably during the English Civil War. There were also reformation movements throughout continental Europe known as the Radical Reformation which gave rise to the Anabaptist, Moravian, and other pietistic movements.”
“The Protestant Reformation was the 16th-century schism within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. It was sparked by the 1517 posting of Lather’s Ninety-Five Theses. The efforts of the self-described ‘reformers’, who objected to (‘protested’) the doctrines, rituals, leadership and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led to the creation of new national Protestant churches. The Reformation was precipitated by earlier events within Europe, such as the Black Death and the Western Schism, which eroded people’s faith in the Catholic Church and the Papacy that governed it. This, as well as many other factors, such as spread of Renaissance ideas and inventions, such as the invention of the printing press, and the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire, contributed to the creation of Protestantism.
The Roman Catholic Church responded with a Counter-Reformation initiated by the Council of Trent — the most important ecumenical council since Nicaea II 800 years earlier (at the time, there had not been an ecumenical council since Lateran IV over 300 years earlier, a length only to be matched by the interval between Trent and Vatican I — and spearheaded by the new order of the Society of Jesus (aka Jesuits) specifically organized to counter the Protestant movement. In general, Northern Europe, with the exception of Ireland and pockets of Britain and the Netherlands, turned Protestant. Southern Europe remained Roman Catholic, while fierce battles which turned into warfare took place in central Europe.
The largest of the new churches were the Lutherans (mostly in Germany, the Baltics and Scandinavia) and the Reformed churches (mostly in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Scotland). There were many smaller bodies as well. The most common dating of the Protestant Reformation begins in 1517, when Luther published The Ninety-Five Theses, and concludes in 1648 with the Treaty of Westphalia that ended years of European religious wars.”
Some groups even opted for a purer form of Christianity closer to what the Church was before the schism — Restorationism.
“Christian primitivism, also described as restorationism, is the belief that Christianity should be restored along the lines of what is known about the apostolic early church, which restorationists see as the search for a more pure and more ancient form of the religion. Fundamentally, ‘this vision seeks to correct faults or deficiencies [in the church] by appealing to the primitive church as a normative model.’ The term ‘restorationism’ is sometimes used more specifically as a synonym for the American Restoration Movement. The term is also used by more recent groups, describing their goal to re-establish Christianity in its original form, such as some anti-denominational Charismatic Restorationists, which arose in the 1970s in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. In comparable terms, earlier primitivist movements, including the Hussites, Anabaptists, Landmarkists and the Puritans, have been described as examples of restorationism, as have many seventh-day Sabbatarians.
Efforts to restore an earlier, purer form of Christianity are often a response to denominationalism. As Rubel Shelly put it, ‘[t]he motive behind all restoration movements is to tear down the walls of separation by a return to the practice of the original, essential and universal features of the Christian religion.’ Different groups have tried to implement the restorationist vision in different ways; for instance, some have focused on the structure and practice of the church, others on the ethical life of the church, and others on the direct experience of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. The relative importance given to the restoration ideal, and the extent to which the full restoration of the early church is believed to have been achieved, also varies between groups.”
From 1545 to 1563 and 1648, the Counter Reformation was an attempt by the Catholic Church to mend its errors. In my sole opinion, this has failed miserably with the never ending corruption from the clergy, sexual abuse of children (boys especially) and some adults and its politics.
“The Counter-Reformation (also the Catholic Revival or Catholic Reformation) was the period of Catholic revival beginning with the Council of Trent (1545–1563) and ending at the close of the Thirty Years’ War (1648), which is sometimes considered a response to the Protestant Reformation. The Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort composed of four major elements:
- Ecclesiastical or structural reconfiguration
- Religious orders
- Spiritual movements
- Political dimensions
Such reforms included the foundation of seminaries for the proper training of priests in the spiritual life and the theological traditions of the Church, the reform of religious life by returning orders to their spiritual foundations, and new spiritual movements focusing on the devotional life and a personal relationship with Christ, including the Spanish mystics and the French school of spirituality. It also involved political activities that included the Roman Inquisition.”
Said all this Catholicism is a denomination (part) of Christianity (true name of the Abrahamic religion) regardless of the way Catholic clergy and politics say otherwise.
If anyone cares, I grew up Catholic, but I never fully endorsed its secondary beliefs like saints and such. For the past four and half years, I’ve gone to a Presbyterian church — “mainline Protestant Christian denomination” (taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presbyterian_Church_%28U.S.A.%29) established on or about 1707 and influenced by Jehan Cauvin (1509-1564).
“Presbyterianism is a branch of Protestant Christianity that typically adheres to the Calvinist theological tradition and whose congregations are organized according to a Presbyterian polity. Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures, and the necessity of grace through faith in Christ. Presbyterianism originated primarily in Scotland. Scotland ensured Presbyterian ‘church government’ in the Acts of Union in 1707 which created the kingdom of Great Britain. In fact, most Presbyterians found in England can trace a Scottish connection, and the Presbyterian denomination was also taken to North America mostly by Scots and Scots-Irish immigrants. The Presbyterian denominations in Scotland hold to the theology of Calvin and his immediate successors, although there is a range of theological views within contemporary Presbyterianism.
Modern Presbyterianism traces its institutional roots back to the Scottish Reformation. Local congregations are governed by Sessions made up of representatives of the congregation, a conciliar approach which is found at other levels of decision-making (Presbytery, Synod and General Assembly). Theoretically, there are no bishops in Presbyterianism; however, some groups in Eastern Europe, and in ecumenical groups, do have bishops. The office of elder is another distinctive mark of Presbyterianism: these are specially ordained non-clergy called ruling elders and ministers of Word and Sacrament called teaching elders who take part in local pastoral care and decision making at all levels. The office of deacon is geared toward the care of members, their families, and the surrounding community. In some congregations active elders and deacons serve a three-year term that is renewable for a second three-year term and then rotate off for at least a year. The offices of pastor, elder, and deacon all commence with ordination; once a person is ordained, he holds that title for the rest of his life. An individual may serve as both an elder and a deacon.
The roots of Presbyterianism lie in the European Reformation of the 16th century, with the example of John Calvin’s Geneva being particularly influential. Most Reformed churches who trace their history back to Scotland are either Presbyterian or Congregationalist in government. In the twentieth century, some Presbyterians played an important role in the Ecumenical Movement, including the World Council of Churches. Many Presbyterian denominations have found ways of working together with other Reformed denominations and Christians of other traditions, especially in the World Communion of Reformed Churches. Some Presbyterian churches have entered into unions with other churches, such as Congregationalists, Lutherans, Anglicans, and Methodists.”
Regardless of the ignorance and arrogance Christian groups have, today’s Lent devotional comes from Philippians 3:15-21 that continues yesterday’s lesson (Philippians 3:1-14).
“15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. 17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. 18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” (Philippians 3:15-21 KJV)
At the end of the day, a Christian is a follower of “the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). As such, I wish I could be a good follower.