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Development Of The Major Christian Denominations

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#1 Evangelion



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Posted 17 August 2004 - 12:49 PM

Denomination History

Development of the Major Christian Denominations -
A Historical Summary

1st Century Christians living together in local ecclesias
Later, heresy and divisions developed and Christianity began to change.

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Post-Apostolic Church (Born between AD 100 and AD 250)
As yet there is no centralized authority.

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Christianised Roman Empire under Constantine
(3rd and 4th Centuries AD)

The Emperor Constantine assumes Ecclesiastical power as “Head of the Church.”

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East/West Schism

The two iron legs of Rome (Western Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Byzantine Church) began to fragment in the 5th Century, although an official split did not occur until the Great Schism of 1054.

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Roman Catholic Church (led by the Pope of Rome) spreads throughout Western Europe.
Orthodox Churches (originally led by the Patriarch of Constantinople) spread throughout Eastern Europe.

The Reformation (15th and 16th Centuries AD)
Two major events paved the way for this movement:

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Roman Catholic Church Loses England (16th Century AD)

Roman Catholicism became the official religion of Western Europe and England, but could not control either region with certainty because of the vast distances involved. During the years AD 1536-39 (under the leadership of Henry VIII) England finally broke away from Rome. Henry was disappointed by the abuses and excesses of the Roman Church, and wanted an official Church of England. (He also hoped that this would enable him to divorce Catherine of Aragon, an act which the Pope would not allow.)

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Anglican Church, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury

Protestant Churches Diversify (15th – 17th Centuries AD)

The Protestant Churches did not all agree with each other. Although they now had the Bible in their own languages (mainly German and English) they had different ideas about how it was to be translated and what it was actually saying. Men such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, both of whom possessed great academic and leadership skills began to form their own Protestant groups.

In time, others did the same:

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The Counter-Reformation (16th Century AD)

The Roman Catholic Church struck back with the ‘Counter-Reformation’, a massive military and political campaign against Protestantism. It hoped to absorb some of the new churches back into itself, and destroy the rest. After many years of persecution and war, Protestantism survived this attack and enjoyed a period of renewed growth.

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Modern Protestant Churches (17th to 21st Centuries AD)

Turning away from the authoritarian hierarchy of the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Anglican Churches, modern Protestant movements set up their own systems of management. Their leaders were given titles such a “pastor”,
“deacon”, “elder”, “father” and steward.” Most are now professional preachers (receiving a salary from their church) but some still reject payment on Biblical grounds.

Protestant churches are all unanimous in their rejection of the Pope as head of Christianity. Therefore, the most significant differences between modern Protestant Churches are found in their method of organisation rather than their beliefs. However, many doctrinal disputes still continue.

Today, Protestant groups number in the thousands, subscribing to various different denominational families:

Pentecostal Adventist Baptist Evangelist Reformed

'Abba Antony said, "A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, 'You are mad, you are not like us.'"'

Ward, Benedicta. The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (2006), Antony 25, p. 5.


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