Theology & Worldview

The Church: Past and Present

Three major phyla of Christendom existed after the Reformation: Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox Christians. Various editions existed within these branches. Although these three are in communication, no theological consensus has been reached on many of the hot topics. Filioque, Papal Supremacy, and now even more social stigma lie between Catholics and Orthodox. Many doctrines mostly stemming from the role of Scripture (and in some cases experience) divide the Protestants from the Catholics and Orthodox.

Protestants became a majority in the New World. Most of what Protestantism is today originated in the United States, with new denominations sprouting fairly regularly. Although they have no formal union, the plethora of Protestant denominations manage to stay relatively respectful of one another. Unique to Protestantism is the ability to change. The majority of Protestantism bears little resemblance to original Protestantism, due to the lack of formal tradition and the rise of liberalism in western theology. This leniency allows Protestants to express their belief in new ways each generation – a quality not known to Christendom until recently.

Similarly, Catholicism experienced its own schisms and setbacks. Various councils were held between Roman Catholics and Orthodox, some of which achieved moments of unity yet all of which eventually ended poorly. Roman Catholicism underwent drastic changes following Vatican II, a council which severely changed–even recreated–the Roman Mass, defined doctrines in words not known before, and asserted doctrines that impacted and divided Catholic laymen. Many Catholics welcomed changes to the Mass with open arms, while others objected to these changes as too novel.

Like Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy maintained relative unity since the East-West Schism, yet it still suffered a few further schisms. One of these, that of the “Old Believers,” has since been mostly settled, yet others, like the “Ukrainian Patriarchate,” are still unresolved. Orthodoxy retains hope that union with Rome can be achieved, yet many cultural and theological battles must still be fought on both sides.

All three major forms of Christianity suffered schisms and divides of their own in the post-Reformation. Discussions have recently been held to settle theological disputes, but none have succeeded. Through many schisms, oppression, and even genocide, the Church has endured. The future of Christendom is sure: Christ has promised never to abandon His Church, that the gates of hell will not prevail. Almost two thousand years after Jesus’ resurrection, this still holds true.

One Comment

  1. Good job!