The western Church suffered a temporary schism between 1378 and 1417 when a dispute arose over papal succession and political influence. For a time, there was a pope in Rome and a pope in Avignon, France, and, for a while, even a third pope in Pisa, Italy. A century after this rift was healed, political struggles and corruption in the clergy contributed to the upheaval of the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation initiated the founding of several new streams of traditions and subsequently Christianity found itself divided into numerous denominations. While the Christian denominations have a great degree of difference in belief and practice, they generally agree on the doctrine of the Trinity, the Bible as scripture, and the teachings of the Nicene Creed.
The New Testament, and Jesus himself, places great importance on unity, and Christians are troubled by both ancient and modern divisions within the Church. Divergent views concerning baptism, ordination, and the doctrine of apostolic succession can provoke profound passions. These differences are discussed in the articles devoted to the different Christian traditions. Efforts at reconciliation, like those found in the ecumenical movement, have focused on commonalities of belief and practice between denominations, and there is hope that some major denominations will eventually agree to mutual recognition of baptism and ministry. Although dedicated representatives of the major churches continue to work to build consensus, matters of considerable complexity and importance are at stake and progress toward reconciliation remains slow.
1. What is the difference between the Catholic Church and the catholic church?
2. How does one become a member of a Christian church?
3. What is heresy? How is it punished?
4. How have schisms affected the organization of Christianity (as a whole)?