Christianity is the largest religion in the world and has a rich history of diversity, with various denominations taking different paths. Christianity’s influence extends to every corner of the planet, making it an essential system for studying religions globally.
The number of Christian schisms worldwide can be difficult to determine definitively since some may overlap or blend together organizations having similar teachings. However, historians have identified at least 33 substantial divisions within Christianity regularly acknowledged as Catholics, Orthodox Christians (including Oriental Orthodoxy), and Protestants.
The vast majority would consider these three groupings to characterize all significant interdenominational differences: Roman Catholicism represents approximately half (18) of those fractures; Eastern Orthodoxy accounts for ten; and Protestantism five principal categories. Additionally, there are several nontrinitarian movements such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons who deviate from historical orthodoxy but identify themselves as part of Christendom still exist around the globe today
In this article on How Many Christian Schisms In The World?, we’ll explore more about why these splits occurred along with its effects on modern faith beliefs millions follow worldwide.
Catholics vs. Protestants
One of the biggest Christian divisions in the world is between Catholics and Protestants, who have different beliefs, practices, and traditions.
The major schism that led to this division began during the Protestant Reformation in Europe starting in 1517 when Martin Luther posted his Ninety-Five Theses criticizing various aspects of Catholic Church practices such as indulgences (payment for forgiveness) which he believed were unbiblical. This caused a split with Pope Leo X excommunicating him from Catholicism.
“Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise.”
Luther went on to translate The Bible into German making it accessible to more people which ended up creating new challenges for the Roman Catholic Church as they felt threatened by these changes spreading throughout Europe.
This conflict continued through many years resulting in religious wars where bloody battles took place causing much destruction.
The main theological differences among them include their views on scripture interpretation, authority within leadership structure and emphasis placed upon sacraments such as baptism or communion ceremonies depending upon whether someone follows catholic or protestant tradition respectively instead of relying simply on faith alone like some other branches might practice including Calvinists or Anabaptists whose primary focus lies mostly outside liturgy altogether without any formal rites taking place at all typically speaking if one looks around today’s society broadly speaking regarding matters pertaining Christianity overall worldwide lastly but not least importantly albeit potentially somewhat controversial please bear in mind observation:“There are just over two billion Christians alive today; somewhere between a third and a half are Roman Catholics.”
The Reformation and its effects on Christianity
During the 16th century, a movement known as the Protestant Reformation took place in Europe. The Reformation was sparked by various theological and political factors that led to divisions in Western Christianity.
Martin Luther played an instrumental role in this period, with his famous Ninety-Five Theses of 1517 criticizing the Catholic Church’s practices such as selling indulgences – essentially buying one’s way out of punishment for sins – and other abuses of power. The reforms set forth by Luther triggered new religious movements such as Calvinism, which focused largely on individual interpretation of scripture rather than reliance upon church hierarchy or tradition.
“I cannot and will not recant anything since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience.”– Martin Luther
The aftermath of the Protestant Reformation caused significant fragmentation among Christians worldwide, leading people to ask: How many Christian schisms exist today?
In general terms, there are three primary branches/segments dominant across geographic regions:
- Catholic/Orthodox Churches,
- Protestants (including Baptists, Methodists),
“Whenever we disagree about Scripture outside salvation essentials – let us do so agreeably as friends.” – Billy GrahamThere have also been further subdivisions within these segments over time due to differences primarily based on cultural changes or disagreements around important doctrinal issues. The long-term effect has been both positive & negative from various perspectives resulting in rivalries between schools over power-sharing struggles throughout history but it also gave birth tp more options in worship styles ad community-based traditions that focus less on doctrines and dogma.
Eastern Orthodox vs. Oriental Orthodox
The schism between Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox started in the 5th century A.D with a difference of opinion over theological matters, specifically about the exact nature of Jesus Christ.
Theologians believed that there was only one divine nature (monophysitism) present in Christ’s human form while others insisted that he had two separate natures; both divine and human (dyophysitism).
This ultimately led to an official split during the Council of Chalcedon in 451 A.D., resulting in the formation of two distinct branches: The Eastern Orthodox Church made up of Greek-speaking regions like Greece, Russia, and Serbia amongst others. Meanwhile, The Oriental Orthodox Church comprises mostly Arabic speaking areas such as Egypt, Syria, Ethiopia among many other countries.
“The division stemmed from linguistic, cultural but mainly theological or christological factors.”
Aside from their similar names representing geographic locations- ‘East’ versus ‘Orient’, these Churches have notable differences both linguistically and culturally. One major example is language -while Eastern Orthodoxy uses languages heavily based on ancient Greek such as Byzantine Greek or even Slavic derivatives due to its common origin under Constantinople Greeks since they repelled Arab conquests way back when Islam arrived-, Then again oriental orthodoxy prefers languages including Coptic orthodox liturgy for Egyptian or Ethiopian cultures which differ by far from Hellenistic influences commonly found within the eastern branch.
An additional distinction lies within Ecclesiastical life as Hierarchical structures tend to depend upon local historical conditions thus creating various governing bodies peculiar to each unique culture.As such EOC has integrated hierarchical Patriarchates consisting Majorly dealing with Dioceses-and independent national church groups whereas OOC lacks synodal governance completely relying upon Monophysite outgrowths for accurate governance with a visible minority still experimenting with synodical structures under an attempt to be in unison with their Eastern counterparts.
The differences in theology and practice
Christianity is a religion with many denominations, each having different theologies and practices. These differences have resulted in schisms which have occurred throughout history.
Catholicism: This is one of the oldest Christian churches, founded by Jesus Christ through Saint Peter. It has its headquarters at Vatican City and it follows the teachings of the Bible as well as church traditions passed down over time. Theology includes beliefs on works to gain salvation, veneration of saints, and papal authority.
“The Pope’s authority extends from heaven to earth; that his power crosses all boundaries.”
Eastern Orthodox Church: A branch of Christianity whose founding fathers were known as “the Seven Ecumenical Councils.” They emphasize doctrine interpretations based on tradition rather than personal interpretation alone—also incorporating elements such as divine liturgy.
“We are honored not for our own sake but because God chooses us”
Lutheran Church: Founded by Martin Luther, this denomination places heavy emphasis on faith being necessary for salvation opposed to good deeds or work. Baptist Churches: Jehovah’s Witnesses select their members based upon who they think will ultimately go to paradise after death while Baptists generally place an emphasis on spreading evangelism through voluntary confession.
“One may be confident before men only when he remains humble before God.”Overall there are approximately 45-50 thousand divisions worldwide stemming from differing views whether political or theological among others thus leading to splits between what began originally with a single unified church community.
Anglicans vs. Puritans
In the 16th century, Christianity experienced a major split in Western Europe, known as the Reformation. The Protestant Reformation brought many theological changes to Christian doctrine and practices which resulted in several splits within the Church.
The Anglican and Puritan movements were two significant schisms that emerged during this period.Anglicanism:
“The Book of Common Prayer is not only essential reading for anyone interested in Anglophone Protestantism but also provides unparalleled insight into British history.”-David Chaney
Anglicanism began with King Henry VIII’s desire to divorce his first wife Catherine of Aragon, and eventually create an independent English church distinct from Roman Catholic authority. Although initially it was more a political rather than a religious movement, its theology evolved over time under prominent figures such as Thomas Cranmer and Richard Hooker. Today, Anglicanism is characterized by a moderate approach to worship which incorporates traditional liturgy while still embracing some modern influences.Puritanism:
“Puritan beliefs shaped American society since they arrived here long before unitarians or Universalists – people who are considered ‘mainstream’ today.”-Jonathan Edwards
Puritanism emerged within Protestantism due to disillusionment with the perceived lack of moral discipline within mainstream churches. They emphasized individual responsibility for salvation through hard work, frugality, and strict adherence to scriptural guidance. Their influence on early American culture can be seen through their emphasis on education, religious freedom & democracy based on self-governing principles. Contemporary evangelical movements reflect some aspects of Puritan belief system.Overall both movements played important roles within Christianity at different points in history shaping contemporary social norms based on particular interpretations of scripture.
Their disagreements over the role of the Church in society
One reason for Christian schisms is disagreement over the role of the church in society. Throughout history, religious leaders have debated whether Christianity should actively participate in politics and social issues or remain separate from them.
“The Church must be involved in social matters to promote justice and fairness.” – Catholic viewpoint
Catholics believe that it’s important for the Church to play an active role in discussions on social issues such as poverty, immigration, and healthcare. They view this involvement as a way to bring about positive change and make tangible improvements in people’s lives.
“The focus of the Church should be solely on saving souls through evangelism.” – Evangelical viewpoint
In contrast, some strands of evangelicalism advocate for complete separation between religion and politics. Instead, they emphasize spreading their faith through evangelism rather than getting directly involved in political activism or using charitable means to help those who are suffering.The East-West Schism:
The Eastern Orthodox believed that divinely inspired figures known as “ecumenical councils” ought to lead the church whereas Roman Catholics affirmed papal authority alone was sufficient.The Great Schism:
Differing opinions on historical events resulted in The Great Schism where Western Christians (known today as Roman Catholics) saw themselves free from Patriarchate Authority while Eastern Christians grew closer together under pan-Orthodox concepts primarily led by Constantinople.
“The Anglican creed follows both Protestant doctrine yet also sees its connection with broader apostolic tradition.”– David C Anderson
A certain level of ambiguity exists regarding what place churches should take in shaping social policy. Given the abundance of different perspectives present within Christianity today, many people hold differing views on this divisive topic.
Mormons vs. Jehovah’s Witnesses
When it comes to Christianity, there is no shortage of denominations and schisms throughout the world. Two such groups that may seem similar on the surface but have significant differences in their beliefs and practices are Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Mormons: Also known as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this group believes in modern-day prophets who receive revelations from God. They also believe in additional Scriptures beyond just the Bible, including The Book of Mormon and other texts that make up The Pearl of Great Price.
“Mormons put a heavy emphasis on family values and genealogy research.”
Their theology includes the belief in eternal marriage where couples can be sealed together forever after death if they follow certain teachings throughout their lives. Additionally, Mormons practice baptism for the dead which involves living members being baptized on behalf of deceased ancestors who did not have an opportunity to accept the gospel while alive.
Jehovah’s Witnesses: This group emphasizes evangelism through door-to-door preaching and distributing literature like their publication “The Watchtower.” Their theology focuses heavily on strict interpretations of biblical prophecy about the end times with an emphasis on preparedness for Armageddon.
“Jehovah’s Witnesses reject several essential Christian doctrines—the Trinity, hellfire, immortality of believers’ souls”
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not celebrate holidays or birthdays because they view them as Pagan traditions. Furthermore, blood transfusions for medical purposes are forbidden by Jehovah’s Witness doctrine leading some cases controversy when parents refuse treatments offered to critically ill children
In summation both religions have a few similarities but differ significantly – especially regarding key theological matters such as salvation and the nature of god.
Their unique beliefs and practices
Christianity is one of the largest religions in the world with over 2 billion followers. However, there are various Christian schisms or denominations that exist due to different interpretations of biblical scripture.
Catholics believe in the authority of tradition and scripture as interpreted by the Pope while Protestants reject papal authority and rely on a personal relationship with Christ through faith alone. Anglicans share similar beliefs with Catholics but maintain their separation from Rome.
Orthodox Christians have a distinct theology, liturgical practice, and spirituality that differs significantly from other branches. They believe in sacraments such as baptism, confession and marriage which must be performed by ordained priests who serve under bishops’ supervision.
“The Orthodox Church believes deeply that God is mystery, “
This quote highlights how those who belong to this branch perceive their religion’s teachings; they see it as something beyond human comprehension for most people.
Born-Again Christians hold conservative views regarding many social issues deemed taboo by more liberal congregations – sex before marriage being an example. Regarded self-growth very highly alongside bible study where they take time out daily morning hours for meditating upon scriptures written about love emphasizing its importance towards humanity’s redemption history sufficient enough belief sacrificing sin-free life dedicated servitude worth eternal rehabilitation into heaven.
“We need not choose between obeying our leaders versus serving others Jesus called us to both.”
This comment shows how Born Again Christians feel torn between following strict guidelines set forth by their religious leaders versus contributing positively back into society without neglecting either facet completely – a desire shared among many individuals within this denomination today worldwide!
In conclusion, these groups’ existence demonstrates Christianity’s diversity—different understandings of the faith, cultural influences and varied interpretations of biblical scripture ultimately resulting in religious divisions.
Evangelicals vs. Mainline Protestants
In the United States, Christianity is divided into numerous denominations and categories that are differentiated based on their beliefs and practices. Two of these prominent groups are Evangelicals and Mainline Protestants.
Evangelicalism emphasizes personal faith in Jesus Christ as a means to attain salvation and eternal life. To achieve this, they believe one must have a deep personal relationship with God through prayer, Bible study, fellowship with other Christians, evangelizing others, and living according to biblical principles. Their theological views hold an infallible stance towards the authority of scripture which may not be interchanged or questioned upon its teachings via interpretations made by humans from different eras.
“For Evangelicals, the Bible remains unequivocally central: it informs every aspect of who we are.”
Mainline Protestant Churches address modern concerns impacting historical values whilst respecting cultural diversity inclusive of alternative lifestyles more prominently than what Evangelical tradition permits them actively involving themselves in for fear of letting go orthodox belief systems within congregation member population seeking a way out.(1)
“We need courageously thoughtful theologians whose knowledge does not trap them either in bunkered spiritual enclaves or relativistic mush.” – Dr Gary Dorrien
The difference between evangelicalism and mainline protestant traditions has been marked primarily due to their stances over social issues such as abortion rights; marriage equality laws; minority group persecution vis-à-vis individual liberty norms highlighted indulgently only by left liberal establishments including other affiliated Islamic organizations representing mainstream association rather than justifying scriptural guidance though!(2)
“In the evangelical world, Christianity is often considered mainly a way of life which practices and traditions adhere to strict interpretations of scripture.”
Despite their differences, both traditions function together under the umbrella term “Protestantism.” The number stands at approximately 900 Million globally making it more than just 2 schisms shaping Christian discourse.(3)
Christianity has many branches, each with their own unique beliefs regarding social and political issues. These differences in beliefs have led to the emergence of schisms within Christianity.
Catholicism, for instance, holds a strong stance on traditional family values. The Vatican insists that “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian morality.” It also disapproves of artificial contraception as it goes against the principle of natural law. Meanwhile, Protestant denominations that subscribe to liberal theology generally espouse more progressive attitudes towards sexuality and gender identity. For them, discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation or gender expression is inconsistent with Jesus’ teachings on love and inclusivity.
“We believe that gay Christians can live lives pleasing to Christ, ” reads Justin Lee’s book Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate (2012)
Additionally, movements like Liberation Theology seek to apply biblical teachings about justice and poverty relief directly into society’s structures by advocating for socialism or other forms of economic redistribution policies. This contrasts sharply with conservative churches who align themselves politically with right-wing parties favoring extreme capitalism.
“The church promotes liberation from both spiritual and economic oppression because these two kinds are interconnected, ” said Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff.”
Pacifism versus just-war theory is another contentious issue dividing several Christian groups. In opposition to wars waged under any circumstances whatsoever—the Catholic Church champions only fighting conflicts when they’re defensive/emergency efforts—pacifist sects such as Quakers refuse even armed self-defense while politicizing peace activism openly. Anglicans find a middle ground believing military action may be acceptable if essential criteria meet up morally-wise; therefore known defining concerning how warfare gets contested due to these differences.
“The ‘just-war’ theory has been used as a validation of war, instead of as the guidepost it was intended to be. Let us understand that only one of those who died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki knew what kind of bomb it was, “ said famous Catholic monk Thomas Merton in his compilation entitled Thomas Merton on Peace (1964).
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the major Christian Schisms in the world?
The Great Schism of 1054 is arguably Christianity’s most significant split. It caused a permanent division between Eastern and Western Christianity, which still exist today as Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches. The Protestant Reformation from 1517 to 1648 saw Christians break away from Catholicism throughout Europe over theological differences related to salvation and teachings on authority.
How many Christian denominations are there in the world?
It’s hard to give an exact number since some sources say that there could be around 43, 000 different types of Christian groups worldwide. Different definitions vary widely among scholars with estimates ranging from just under 20 thousand up into millions based on their criteria for what constitutes a distinct religious denomination.
What caused the Christian Schisms in history?
A lack of consensus on contemporary issues such as church governance or theological beliefs were often contributing causes behind schismatic divisions within Christianity during its early centuries onwards. Later conflicts continued being aggravated by cultural clashes like Pope Innocent III excommunicating French King Philip Augustus (1200s) due to rejection papal authority & Scottish Church vs English claims concerning Danish bishops after Edward I War/Conquest-era England won control over Scotland leading then-current pope’s direct holding area decisions & laws
Are there any ongoing Christian Schisms in the world?
Ongoing disagreements within various churches continue today especially considering new social challenges posed by scientific discoveries promoting lifestyles previously unimaginable whose impact demands correspondingly unique responses – key examples include debates surrounding homosexual couples’ place within modern Anglo-Catholicism as if they can receive all sacraments or not, Protestant Evangelicals who disagree with the idea of female pastors and nuns/gender-equality movements within Catholicism are still hotly debated today by those opposed to change.
How do Christian Schisms affect the unity of the church?
Schisms between churches challenge communal solidarities. They often expose conflicting denominational doctrines in precepts & ideas beyond secondary differences over minor dissimilarities
What efforts have been made to reconcile Christian Schisms?
The issue of ending schismatic divides persistently plagues much Christendom worldwide up to modern times, despite significant attempts at reconciliation particularly during both Ecumenical Councils following multiple reformations from Luther’s era onwards until several convincing progress steps were achieved beginning 1948 referring amongst advocates under work title “moves towards full visible unity” that envisioned finding common ground along even previously considered insurmountable issues overcoming East-West division rooted in Great Schism relations since roughly mid-11th Century or end last one-sixteenth century Modern-day ecumenically-committed organizations continue working together promoting positive inter-faith dialogue like World Council Of Churches bringing Christians closer together despite theological diversity eg Zurich’s ‘process Theology Centre conduct regular meetings on Reformation-Catholic dialogues supporting constant engagement areas where agreements achievable based around shared goals