Major Divisions and
Aim: To understand how and why
the Christian Church split into
different denominations.
What is
in the
For many years Christians where persecuted for
simply being Christians. However, as soon as
the religion became an official religion the
Christian message soon spread through the
Roman Empire and beyond.
What factors contributed to the rapid spread of early
•The Diaspora: This was also known as the Greek Dispersion of
the Jews through the Mediterranean lands. This meant that
there where Jews in many places in the Jewish empire.
Synagogues were places where Christian missionaries could start
•The Greek Language: The ‘Koine’ (Common Greek) had been
spoken from the 4th century. The Greeks believed in education
and encouraged the use of Greek. The Roman language was Latin
but it was difficult to establish so all the early letters in the
Church which became the NT where written in Greek.
•The Roman Empire: (The Pax Romana) enabled Roman citizens
to cross boundaries and travel freely around the Roman Empire.
•New Emperor: Constantine the new Roman Emperor converted
to Christianity and thus made it ‘Fashionable’ to be a Christian.
Copy the
The Pax
The Diaspora
Factors that
to the rapid
spread of
The New
Greek Language
Who was to lead the ‘New
• Christians appointed the
apostle Peter as their leader as
Jesus had requested.
• Peter became the first Bishop.
• Since that time, the
knowledge of Jesus, has been
passed on through Peter and
his successors. This is known as
Apostolic Succession.
The word ‘Bishop’ comes
from the Greek word
‘Episkops’ meaning
overseer, someone who
looks after things.
The word ‘Pope’
comes from the
Greek word
‘Papas’ meaning
In the beginning: the Roman Catholic Church
Jerusalem was the place where the
followers of Christianity started their
ministry. Rome, the capital of the Roman
Empire came into the history of the
Church almost immediately.
According to the NT, at
Pentecost, Peter
preached the message
from Jerusalem, then
travelled to Rome.
All roads led to Rome
and all roads led from
Church = Body of believers
Catholic = Universal
Roman = comes from the
head quarters of the
Church (Rome).
What happened next???
• The Christians remained united under the Pope
in Rome until a disagreement about doctrine
caused a split between the eastern and
western parts of the Church.
• This became known as the Great Schism of
•Doctrine: Teaching in the
•Great Schism: Disagreement
within the Christian Church.
The first division….
• The first disagreement is said to
be over teachings in the Nicene
creed relating to the Holy-Spirit.
• Since no resolution was agreed a
group of people separated from
the RCC and named themselves
Orthodox Christians.
Orthodox comes from the
Greek word ‘Orthos’ meaning
correct or straight and ‘Doxa’
meaning belief or opinion.
What are the main similarities and
differences between the two Churches?
Roman Catholic Church
No married men as priests
Religious leaders wear a
white collar.
• High emphasis on Mary the
mother of God.
• Belief in all 7 sacraments.
Orthodox Church
•Allows married men to become
•Religious leaders have a beard
and dress in all black.
•High emphasis on Mary the
mother of God.
•No seats in the Church –
iconostasis, royal door,
communion spoon.
•Believe in all the sacraments but
have baptism and confirmation at
the same time (Chrismation).
Draw a Venn diagram to show the
similarities and differences
between the two Churches
A Second Split…….
• In the 16th century a new division split the Christian
Church in the West. It was the Protestant
•The people who began the movement did not want the Church to split
but to reform.
•They where protesting about the beliefs and practices which they
believe where not in line with the teachings of the NT. In particular
they where protesting about the amount of money and wealth the
Church had accumulated. Many Church leaders had grown lazy and
•The Church had acquired their money from
selling pardons. People would buy forgiveness
not only for their own sins but for the sins of their dead relatives.
Who was Martin Luther ( Not King!!) and what did he do?
Martin Luther was a
professor of Biblical
He was appalled by the
selling of indulgences and
therefore he decided to
Protest about it.
• He wrote a thesis and
brought it to his superior,
he wished to hold a debate.
•Martin Luther never got his debate, instead he was
made an outlaw of the Church
In order to save Martin Luther
from being assassinated the prince
of Saxony had Luther kidnapped
and imprisoned.
Luther spent his time in prison
writing articles and pamphlets. He
also translated the bible into
Within 2 weeks his work was read
by the whole of Germany and within
4 weeks by the whole of Europe.
This began the basis for a
Protestant Church.
Martin Luther and
The Protestant Church
What happened
next??...John Calvin
• Some people believed that the
reformation needed to go even further
• John Calvin a French lawyer and
theologian thought that Churches
should be organised in a democratic
• He believed that worship should be
kept simple with no icons or images.
• He believed that the bible should be
the only form of authority not religious
leaders. He ordered that bibles be
printed in the language of the people so
that they did not have to rely on
religious leaders to tell them what was
written they could interpret it for
The Baptist Church
Another group which agreed with Calvin were
the Baptist's who where baptising adults by
full immersion because they had read about
the baptism of Jesus in the river Jordan
from the bible.
What are the main differences and similarities between
the Catholic and Protestant Churches?
Roman Catholic Church:
• Recognise the Pope as the
most important person.
• Emphasis on the Mother of
• Believe in
• Religious leaders not
allowed to marry
• Don’t allow any artificial
methods of contraception.
Protestant Church:
•Recognise the bible as the most
important part of worship.
•Protestants put emphasis on the
Ten Commandments and view
worshipping statues as idolatry.
•They believe in
•Allow religious leaders to marry.
•Differing views on contraception.
Even more divisions….protestant divisions.......
• The ordinary people in Churches are called lay people
from the word Laity.
• Some Churches felt that lay people should have more
say in the way Churches where run.
• In England Christians where expected to conform to
the rules of the Church.
•At one time people where
fined for not going to
Church on Sunday’s.
•There was not only
persecution of Catholics,
Jews and witches at various
times but also nonconformists.
• Some protestants (Puritans) thought
that Calvin had not taken the reform
far enough.
• Oliver Cromwell was a Calvinist who lead
the Parliamentary side to victory in the
English Civil war against Charles I.
• Many puritans did not want to get rid of
the monarchy they wanted to make sure
their ruler would not be a Catholic.
• When Cromwell died they supported the
restoration of King Charles the II.
• In 1961 Charles II signed a charter
giving a region of America to William
Penn, in payment of a debt.
• William Penn was a Quaker.
• Quakers where popular at that
time for their fair treatment of
the native Americans.
• Quakers where also known as the
‘Society of Friends’.
• They had no leaders, met not in a
Church but in a meeting house.
• They are famous for their views
against war and violence. All
Quakers are pacifists.
Will the Church ever Unite
Look at the pictures below:
a) What is uniting these people?
b) Will their coming together have negative or positive
• Unity: bringing people together.
• Division: causing people to grow apart.
Hope for unity:
Today the Church offers its
members a new opportunity to
unite as one.
This movement is called Ecumenism.
There are several Christian communities
today who practice Ecumenism. For example
there is a group in Scotland, France and
Northern Ireland.
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