History of Christianity
Christianity is the largest of three (Islam and Judaism) Abrahamic, monotheistic religions. It is based on the lifestyles and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as presented within the Bible. I don’t use the word ”religion” because, in reality, means a lot of rules to follow. For us, Christianity is a faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of one true God, the all might I am, and the Holy Spirit as the part of the Trinity. It originated in Palestine in the first century within Judaism.
Nowadays, Christianity is the world’s largest religion — all factions together have a lot of believers, approximately one-third of the world’s population. The data always amuses me, one pastor said once, if the Holy Spirit leaves Earth, ninety-five percent of so-called Christians would not notice. Now you do the math, deduct two-thirds of earth’s population, the five percent of that number is the real number. Our main and only reliable source of all information about Jesus’ life, work, and teachings is the Bible (Greek: “books”). The Holy Book is made of the Old and the New Testament.
The New Testament is a collection of writings of apostles and founders of the early Christian church. Written in Greek, and partly in Hebrew, in the first and second centuries of the new era. The New Testament contains a total of 27 writings canonized in several phases ending in the fourth century. It contains four gospels (Greek: Evangelion – the good news) written by Matthew, Luke, Mark, and John. The New Testament also contains early church history (Acts) and one apocalypse (John’s Revelation).
Early Christian Church
The original Christian church (lat: ecclesia – community) was formed after Jesus’ death by his disciples and apostles in Jerusalem. According to the writings of the apostle Peter (15-67 new era), many Jews converted to Christianity. The first followers of Jesus were initially called Nazarenes, only to later acquire the name Christians. If we call ourselves Christians, we should know that then we represent Christ himself, we become ambassadors of Christ. It means that we have a personal relationship with Him, and also means that a living God is living within us. If this is not the case with you, then you may rethink how do you use the name of the Lord.
Until the first Ecumenical Council in 325, the only symbol of faith was not defined, so many Christian communities differed in oral traditions.
It takes some time to understand the concept of the trinity “Father-Son-Holy Spirit.” Namely, Jesus is not a god as some people think, but a “Son of God.” God has no name in Christianity and is represented by the trinity. The Catholic Church insists on the existence of all three entities simultaneously in God, emphasizing unity. The Orthodox say the same, but they emphasize the order, that is, the Holy Spirit goes from Father to Son, thus emphasizing the order of generations. Catholics do not acknowledge and insist that the Spirit passed not only from Father to Son but also from Son. That “from the Son,” in Latin, it is said “filio que” by which this conflict is known doctrine.
Let us see the historical background of this trivial philosophical conflict. The very concept of “Father-Son-Holy Spirit” in Orthodoxy was taken from pre-Christian Greek philosophy. Put simply, it speaks of the past-present and the future, that is, that today’s world is the result of the work of our ancestors in the past, what we do today, continuing what we received from them and the influence of completely unpredictable factors in the future.
The Vatican indeed insisted on being the head of the church because it is the heir of the Roman Empire. The problem is that the empire was now in the east of Constantinople and that other patriarchates did not recognize that right to the Vatican. Of course, there are other reasons and differences. Some of the Christians claimed that Jesus Christ was the only Son of God whose nature was completely human and completely divine. Others claimed that the nature of Christ was entirely human, and not at all divine; others believed that it was fully divine, and by no means human.
A lot of people who still believe in these false teachings. Anyone who claims that the nature of Christ was entirely human, and not at all divine or completely divine, and by no means human is deeply wrong. True Jesus Christ was the only Son of God whose nature was completely human and completely divine. We believe that Christ’s death brought salvation to the world! It is blasphemy and sin to think Christ’s death had nothing to do with the salvation of this world or that Christ did not die. Sadly, cults teachings are wrong.
A cult is a separate or closed group of people who firmly follow their principles. Most often, a cult is formed opposite the basic group from which it originated, developing teaching, which, according to the members of the cult, is more correct than the teaching of the basic group. Christianity struggles with these false teachings.
In several monotheistic religions, any deviation from proclaimed dogmas has been declared as a cult. Initially, a cult was a neutral term for a minority group that would come into conflict with the majority. This term was most commonly used in ancient philosophical circles, describing smaller philosophical groups. In that sense, early Christianity can also be understood as a cult within Judaism. In the Middle Ages, the term cult described heretical groups that separated from the majority. Stay away from satanic cults who worship Satan, and stay away from false Christian teachings.
The East-West Schism is a term that describes a break of the communion of one Christian church. It happened between January and July 1054, and after there were the Catholic Church and Eastern (Orthodox) churches. It is also known as the Great Schism or the Schism of 1054. The Catholic church, with the center in Rome, and the pope as a head leader, remains in most western countries. On the other hand, almost every eastern European county had its church and church leader, called patriarch.
There were a lot of political and theological differences between these two churches. For example, the Roman Catholic church deeply believes that all Sunday’s sermons and teachings should be served in Latin. Greek Orthodox church, with Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Michael I Cellular and Ohrid archbishop Leo, decided to close all Latin Churches in Napoli, the year before. Naturally, they wanted to teach in a language that everyone understands. The final division between the two Christian blocs arose in 1054 when the pope and the patriarch excommunicated each other from the church.
The schism was caused by the Vatican’s attempt to put itself at the head of the church. There has been a centuries-old discussion in which the Vatican has insisted on why the Roman Patriarchate should be the supreme ecclesiastical authority. However, none of the patriarchs of the Orthodox Church recognized the primacy of the Vatican because the church has always decided by joint vote (synod), and each church had the same right to vote. It is the same today.
The image shows an Orthodox temple – East church.
West vs. East
- The Catholic Church will eventually become centralized, while the Orthodox patriarchates are autonomous and respect the customs of the local people. For example, some East European churches are mixed with Old Slavic beliefs, while the Greek one is much more correct. Unfortunately, all Orthodox churches respect the customs of local peoples. Theologies like to say that Orthodoxy adopted paganism.
- The Catholic Church insists on the concept of purgatory and hell, although there is no mention in the New Testament. Hell was invented to subdue the people. The concept is simple if you sin, you go to hell and, there is no salvation for your soul. So your work and toil in this life so that your soul may enjoy paradise in the next life, or flatter the church so that your sins may be forgiven. There is no such thing in Orthodoxy the church cannot forgive your sins, nor does anyone mention purgatory to you. Orthodox Church says that just because you declare yourself as an orthodox Christian you go to heaven. It is a dangerous game.
East vs. West
- The Catholic practice of confessing sins to one’s priest has been used many times as a type of intelligence and subpoena. A local priest would know everything, who stole what, who slept with whom, who said what to whom, etc. Confession also exists in Orthodoxy, but it is not part of the usual practice and has more of a form of counseling.
- The Pope received the right of indulgence, or as many people like to say, that is forgiveness for money. It doesn’t matter how much you have sinned if you repent and have enough money, the Pope as a son of God can give you forgiveness. There is no such thing in East churches only God forgives.
- In addition to the father-son question, there are many minor differences in rituals, such as that Catholics in the service use bread without yeast, and Orthodox use plain bread with yeast. In this case, the Catholics are right because Pasha is a Jewish holiday of unleavened bread. Yeast in the Old Testament symbolizes sin.
Read about Christianity and Church history: Council of Nicaea (325), First Council of Constantinople (381) and Chalcedon
The image shows a Catholic temple (Notre-Dame)-West church.