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An Introduction to Other Churches and Ecclesial Communities

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(Last Updated:  10 Jan 2004 )

"I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me."
- John 17:20-21.

The night before he died, Jesus had a lot to say. One of those things was about Christian unity. When we say the Creed at Mass there are four marks of the Church that we say we believe in. What are they?

"We believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church".

In this talk, we're looking at the Church's Oneness, or unity. Unity was a gift to the Church from Christ. It was something that he prayed for the night before he died, and since Jesus' prayers are reasonably effective, we know that the Church truly does have unity:

CCC #866. The Church is one: she acknowledges one Lord, confesses one faith, is born of one Baptism, forms only one Body, is given life by the one Spirit, for the sake of one hope (cf. Eph 4:3-5)...

But, the unity in the Church could be better. The perfect unity that Jesus wants to see hasn't happened yet.

One of the things the Catechism says in its section on unity is this:

CCC #817: "in this one and only Church of God from its very beginnings there arose certain rifts, which the Apostle strongly censures as damnable. But in subsequent centuries much more serious dissensions appeared and large communities became separated from full communion with the Catholic Church - for which, often enough, men of both sides were to blame."

Here we're gonna talk a lot about these communities separated from full communion with us. We'll look at some of the reasons these splits happened, and some of the key players, and some of what the different communities believe.

Now, to do this properly would be to cover a good chunk of the history of Western civilization, so we're very much just gonna hit the high spots - or, you could say, the low spots, because stuff that tears apart the Body of Christ is not something to be happy about.

There are two main historical events that have resulted in the separations in Christianity that we see today. Anybody know what they are?

They are the "Great Eastern Schism" and the Protestant Reformation. We'll look at both of these, but we'll spend the most time looking at the Protestant Reformation and its results, because that's what has more immediate impact on us as Catholics in New Zealand. I mean, how many of us have Protestant friends? And compare that with the number of us that have Eastern Orthodox friends (probably a lot fewer).

For a really rough breakdown of major Christian families, there's about a billion Catholics in the world, about 600 million Protestants, and about 250 million Eastern Orthodox. There's also a few more like Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons and Unitarians who call themselves Christians but have radically different ideas about the nature of God and about who Jesus is.

Anyway, the Great Eastern Schism and the Protestant Reformation: do you know of any of the key players in either of these events? Even if you don't know the details, what are some of the names associated with either of them?

The Great Eastern Schism
Well, we'll start with the great Eastern schism. But first of all, what does schism mean?
It's basically the separation of one part of a church from another. The Catechism describes schism as "the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him". And that's what happened after 1054AD. But how many of you have even heard of the Eastern Orthodox? They are a collection of Churches that officially and finally broke away from unity with the Catholic Church in 1054, although there was a lot of history leading up to that. The Eastern Orthodox are very similar to us in what they believe; they have a valid priesthood and valid sacraments, a beautiful liturgy, and we really should be united with them. Something that we should all pray for is what Pope John Paul II once prayed, that the Church will one day breathe again with both her lungs.

Historical Background
It's quite hard to summarise what happened to lead to the schism. It's got a lot to do with what happened to the Roman Empire in the late 200s AD. The Empire was going downhill by then, and the Emperor Diocletian decided that it couldn't properly be ruled by one man, so it was split into two, an eastern and a western part with an emperor and assistant emperor of each. Diocletian is also famous for some pretty severe persecutions of Christians.

Then in 312AD, something really big happened. Constantine, who had been an assistant emperor, was marching to battle against his last remaining rival for control of the eastern part of the empire. He had a dream in which he was told to mark his soldiers' shield with the sign of the cross. He won the battle and the throne, and in 313 published the Edict of Milan, a declaration that Christianity was no longer illegal. This meant that Christians were no longer enemies of the state and couldn't be tortured and killed for their faith. But the flip side was that it now became socially advantageous to become a Christian, so there were a lot of nominal converts who joined the Church just for its social convenience and not out of love for Jesus. The spiritual purity of the Church took a big dive. It also led to the emperors in the east thinking they had a role to play in governing the Church, which led to all sorts of problems over the next few hundred years.

Constantine made his capital city Constantinople in what is now Turkey, and as a result the bishop of that city became a lot more important. At the same time Rome became much less important politically, especially once Rome got overrun by barbarians. The Western Roman Empire fell apart into a mess of little kingdoms, while the Eastern Roman Empire was secure with its headquarters in Constantinople. Christians from east and west became culturally quite different, and things were not helped by the fact that they spoke different languages: Latin in the west and Greek in the east.

There were schisms off and on for several hundred years, but they got more serious in the 850s. The emperor at the time was Michael III (he grew up to be known as "Michael the Drunkard" - he wasn't a very good emperor). Michael was at this time still only a boy, and the actual ruler of the empire was a man called Bardas. Bardas lived in incest with his daughter-in-law, so the bishop of Constantinople, Ignatius, refused to give him communion. Bardas had the bishop kicked out and replaced him with a man called Photius, who was a little more pliable. This of course broke a lot of Church rules. But although Ignatius was banished, he wouldn't resign, so the emperor wrote to the pope with a fairly creative (i.e. very misleading) explanation of what happened, asking the pope to confirm Photius as the new bishop. The pope sent two guys to Constantinople to check things out. They were given some major bribes, and as a result were persuaded to go back and told the pope that everything was OK. But then the Pope heard from Ignatius, and once he knew the full story, he told Photius and the Emperor that they were in the wrong, and if Photius didn't give up he'd be excommunicated.

Any guesses what Photius did? He excommunicated the Pope, and identified several theological reasons why he considered the Pope and all westerners "servants of Antichrist".

But then the emperor Michael was murdered, and the new emperor kicked out all Michael's friends, including Photius, and Ignatius came back. Photius spent the next few years stuck in a monastary, but he used the time to organise an anti-Roman movement, and to write flattering letters to the emperor, who eventually invited him back to Constantinople. Photius was then extremely friendly to everyone, especially Ignatius, and when Ignatius died, Photius was chosen to be the legitimate bishop.

He then carried on where he left off in attacking the western Church, and had quite a popular following in the east. But then the next emperor didn't like Photius, and he was banished again, and the emperor's brother was made bishop in his place, conveniently enough. But because that was again a dodgy way to replace bishops, the Pope didn't ratify it, and it wasn't until the time of the next emperor that the eastern and western Church were friends again.

Michael Cærularius
But there was still a powerful party in Constantinople who didn't like Rome, and they were happy to have the opportunity for another schism. One member of this party was Cærularius, who later became bishop himself. His story is as interesting as Photius', but we won't go into it now. In brief, he got into a very serious quarrel with Rome, and finally excommunicated a representative of the Pope in 1054. The Pope excommunicated him right back, and that resulted in the great schism, from which we've never recovered.

When you read Catholic writers on the matter, it seems like Photius and Cærularius were really in the wrong. Orthodox writers have a different perspective, and for them February 6
th is actually the feast of Saint Photius. But I'm pretty sure the whole thing been handled more diplomatically from both sides - there was too much pride and not enough humility to go around, and that has left us where we are, with the church that can trace its roots back to the apostles being split down the middle.

The Sack of Constantinople
Events after 1054 didn't really help either. Although there were occasional attempts at reconciliation, they never really took hold, and things were made even worse by what happened in 1204. Now, is anybody here a Crusaders fan? Don't say that when you are talking to Eastern Orthodox. The Crusades were established to rescue Eastern Christians from Moslem attacks and persecution, in a time when Islam threatened to take over the whole of the known world, and was rapidly expanding through Eastern Europe and the Holy Land. The emperor in the East called for help from the Christians of Western Europe. In theory, the Crusades were a justified series of military actions in response to Moslem aggression, but in practice, they weren't very successful, and ended up actually being counter-productive in some respects.

The Fourth Crusade has a particularly bad history. It was from 1201-1204. Instead of heading straight to battle for the Holy Land with the Moslems, the Crusaders got tangled up in Eastern politics. On the way they made a detour to Constantinople to support one of the rivals who was trying to become the Emperor there, because he promised great rewards and support for their mission. But once he became Emperor, he found that he couldn't pay what he had promised, and in response in 1204 the Crusaders attacked Constantinople and sacked it. Very violently. It was the greatest Christian city in the world, and it was sacked by a supposedly Christian army.

This was not something sanctioned by the Church. The Pope at the time excommunicated everyone involved in that Crusade, and he was really upset at what had been done in Constantinople, but there wasn't much else he could do. The sacking of Constantinople was a real nail in the coffin of the effort to restore relations between East and West, and it's still remembered today by many Eastern Christians (even though atrocities like this went both ways around that time [such as the 1182 massacre in Constantinople of westerners]). It's a sad irony that the Crusades, which were a direct result of the Catholic desire to rescue the Orthodox people, drove the two further apart.

As to what the Orthodox believe; it's basically the same as us. They have valid sacraments and a valid priesthood. Although our communion with them is far from perfect, the Catechism says "With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound 'that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord's Eucharist.'"

The two main theological differences that we have are the role of the pope (they see him as first among equals, but not with the sort of authority that we see him having), and the fact that we believe the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son.

The Protestant Reformation
Any discussion about the Protestant Reformation has to start by talking about the problems in the Catholic Church in the years leading up to it. Anyone know when the Reformation started? It was 1517 that Martin Luther kicked things off, but there was a lot of history behind the events of that year.

Problems in the Church
There is no doubt that leading up to the Reformation there were some major problems affecting the credibility of the Church, including the moral life of Church leaders, especially in Rome; all sorts of Church taxes which put a huge strain on the average Catholic peasant; and the great Western schism, which we'll talk about shortly. There was also the ongoing power struggle between the Church - especially as represented by the Pope - and the state, represented by the various kings, emperors and princes of Europe. The Popes claimed authority not just in spiritual matters but in secular affairs as well, with the right to crown the emperors and to depose unworthy leaders. These claims were resisted by the rulers, so there was always a certain tension that existed between Church and State. Rulers often were happy to support the Reformation when they could see it offered them advantages in getting out from under Church authority (and also when it gave them the chance to take possession of valuable Church land and property sometimes as well).

When there was conflict between various rulers and the Church, the response of the pope was often to excommunicate people, and they sometimes put entire countries under Inderdict, which meant that no one in the country was able to receive any of the sacraments until their leaders repented. This sort of thing was a very heavy-handed approach though, and the more it was used the less effective it was, and eventually it tended to weaken people's respect for the papacy and for religion in general.

Another thing that damaged the credibility of the Church was the lifestyle of its leaders. The Reformation "officially" got underway in 1517. In the years leading up to that the Church had some of its worst popes ever. Pope Adrian VI, the first really good pope for a long time said in 1522 shortly after he was elected that "Vice has grown so much a matter of course that those who are stained with it are no longer aware of the stink of sin." He wasn't just talking about Popes. Later he said that the disease of immorality "has spread from the head to the members, from the popes to the prelates of lesser degree". There was only one problem with Adrian VI, by the way - he was Pope for less than two years, from 1522-1523. If he'd lived longer he could have been a great Pope and might have been able to sort things out and prevent the damage that happened.

The Avignon Papacy
Back in the early 1300s, due to a bunch of complex political issues, the Papacy had shifted away from Rome to Avignon in France. The fact that the Pope was heavily influenced by French interests didn't help the Papacy's popularity in the rest of Europe, and not only that, but the cost was higher too. The popes had to pay to keep things ticking over in Rome, as well as for the expenses of having the center of Church organisation in France, so they built up a system of heavy taxation which was also unpopular. John XXII died in 1334 with three-quarters of a million gold coins in his treasury. When ordinary labourers who earned three pennies a day compared this with their images of St. Peter the poor fisherman, they couldn't help but see some sort of disconnect.

The Great Western Schism
There was also the Great Western schism. This happened after Pope Gregory XI shifted back to Rome in the 1370s (partly due to the saintly nagging of St Catherine of Siena) but he died shortly afterwards. The election of the next pope took place while there was all sorts of rioting going on in Rome from the people who wanted an Italian pope, because the last few had mostly been French and influenced too much by the French ruler. The cardinals at the election were mostly French, but they managed to elect an Italian anyway. Unfortunately the French cardinals then changed their minds and said that the election was not free and fair, and went to another town and held another election. They elected their own pope (he was actually an anti-pope), who went back to Avignon and acted like a pope there. Of course this was terribly confusing, and as popes came and went in two different places it got worse, especially when they started excommunicating each other and their followers. For those in the know there was no doubt about who the real pope was, but since there was no-one in Europe who wasn't excommunicated by one or the other of them, it was very demoralising for your average Catholic at the time.

To try to sort it out, a council was held in Pisa in 1409, but they ended up electing another anti-pope, so now there were three people all claiming to be pope and excommunicating each other. It was finally sorted out after about 40 years, and although it sounds kind of funny, it was awful for your average Catholic who didn't know who to follow, and it made a real mess of the authority of the Church.

Problems in the Local Churches
With all this as background, there was also the poor state of many dioceses. A lot of them had absentee bishops, often because of corruption about how bishops were selected - it wasn't unusual for one man to be the bishop of several dioceses at once, and he was able to make quite a lot of money from Church taxes and so on without actually caring for the spiritual welfare of his people, and often without even setting foot in the diocese. The ordinary parish priests were often illiterate and unable to do their jobs properly, but would charge money for celebrating the sacraments anyway.

Now all this sounds pretty bad. It wasn't like this everywhere, and there were still plenty of morally upright priests. Most of the ordinary Catholics were genuinely devoted to their faith despite all the abuses, and could distinguish between a person's office and their behaviour, and people could just do what Jesus said about the Pharisees: "practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice" (Matt 23:3). There were plenty of calls for reform from godly men and women who recognised the need for change. But one of the places where abuses were worst was Germany. And that's when Father Martin Luther comes into the picture.

Summary of the Problems
Here's a quote from Karl Adam, a good Catholic theologian who wrote about 50 years ago summarising the situation:

"It was night indeed in a great part of Christendom. Such is the conclusion of our survey of the end of the fifteenth century: amongst the common people, a fearful decline of true piety into religious materialism and morbid hysteria; amongst the clergy, both lower and higher, widespread worldliness and neglect of duty, and amongst the very Shepherds of the Church, demonic ambition and sacrilegious perversion of holy things. Both clergy and people must cry mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

"Yes, it was night. Had Martin Luther then arisen with his marvellous gifts of mind and heart, his warm penetration of the essence of Christianity, his passionate defiance of all unholiness and ungodliness, the elemental fury of his religious experience, his surging, soul-shattering power of speech, and not least that heroism in the face of death with which he defied the powers of this world--had he brought all these magnificent qualities to the removal of the abuses of the time and the cleansing of God's garden from weeds, had he remained a faithful member of his Church, humble and simple, sincere and pure, then indeed we should to-day be his grateful debtors. He would be forever our great Reformer, our true man of God, our teacher and leader, comparable to Thomas Aquinas and Francis of Assisi. He would have been the greatest saint of the German people, the refounder of the Church in Germany, a second Boniface...

"But--and here lies the tragedy of the Reformation and of German Christianity--he let the warring spirits drive him to overthrow not merely the abuses in the Church, but the Church Herself, founded upon Peter, bearing through the centuries the successio apostolica; he let them drive him to commit what St. Augustine calls the greatest sin with which a Christian can burden himself: he set up altar against altar and tore in pieces the one Body of Christ."

A Brief History of the Reformation
Luther was an Augustinian monk, who developed a new and unusual theology about grace and faith. With that theology driving him, he raised a stink about some bad practices connected with indulgences. An indulgence is what we receive when the Church lessens the penance or other penalties caused by our sin which we might be subject to even when our sins have been forgiven. The doctrine of indulgences is perfectly legitimate, but the way it was being used and misinterpreted by some preachers in Germany was really dodgy. So Luther attacked what was going on there, and in doing so he started hinting at what he saw as deeper problems with the Catholic understanding of penance and merit and faith and works. Some theologians started to get alarmed by these hints, so they attacked Luther, and accused him of heresy. Under these attacks, and with his own ideas getting more and more radical, Luther started to get increasingly critical about certain areas of Catholic theology.

When he was challenged with the fact that some of what he was saying contradicted what popes had taught in the past, Luther appealed to the supreme authority of Scripture, but he also appealed to a future Council, because he thought that a council would back him up. Then, in a debate, Luther was cross-examined into saying some stuff that had already been condemned by a Council, so Luther then had to say that even Councils could make mistakes, and the only thing you could really trust was Scripture.

Meanwhile, other Reformers were also becoming convinced that the Pope was Anti-Christ and that big changes needed to be made. They persuaded various local rulers and city councils to start reforming things according to what they thought was "the pure Word of God". Then things started to get out of hand. The Reformers couldn't agree among themselves, new more radical groups started popping up everywhere, and they began to realize that it wasn't enough just to appeal to the Bible and the Holy Spirit's guidance of all true Christians. That just didn't work. Plus the Catholics were finally getting their act together, especially with the appointment of a bunch of really good cardinals in 1537. So in the early 1540s there were a series of discussions to try and sort things out, but they didn't come to much.

By the time the Council of Trent was called in the late 1540s, members of both sides had come to see the other side as belonging to a different, and false, Church. The Protestants had no confidence in Trent, because it was controlled by the Pope, who they considered to be Anti-Christ, and the Pope and bishops on their side were unwilling to allow the Protestants to participate in the Council as more than observers. The Catholics were able to sort themselves out fairly well, and the Council of Trent had a huge positive impact on the life of the Church. The Protestants also kept going strong, although they continued to splinter until today there are a lot of different denominations. Any reconciliation will be a real work of the Holy Spirit, but again it is something that we really need to pray for.

The Catholic Church is still doing well, which is what you'd expect since Jesus Christ promised to protect it. One anti-Catholic Protestant writer once said "There is not and there never was on the earth a work of human policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman Catholic Church... When we reflect on the tremendous assaults which she has survived we find it difficult to perceive in what way she is to perish".

Reformation or Revolution?
I want to clarify a few something here: although the usual name for the Protestant Reformation is just "The Reformation", as a Catholic I don't think that's a very good word for it. To "reform" something implies that you fix it up, which is actually what happened in the Catholic Church after the Council of Trent, when the abuses that we described were dealt with. But what the Protestant Reformation did was more like a revolution, since it threw out the baby with the bath water; not only was it against the abuses within Catholicism, it was against Catholicism itself, and introduced a whole set of new beliefs. Some Catholic writers call it the "Deformation", but while that is in some sense true from a Catholic perspective, it's not very charitable. If I do say "Reformation", understand that I'm using the word because it's the conventional term for those historical events, not because I agree that what the Protestants came up with was a reformed version of true Christianity.

Key Reformation Beliefs
The two key principles of the Reformation are summarised in two Latin slogans: sola Scriptura, and sola fides, and for the most part, Protestants today still agree with these, although each different group tends to put a slightly different spin on them. (There is of course a third major principle that all Protestants agree on: "the Catholics are wrong").

Sola Scriptura
Sola Scriptura is a slogan from the Protestant Reformation that basically means the Bible alone is the only rule of Christian faith and practice. This is in contrast to the Catholic understanding that "the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, 'does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honoured with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.'" (CCC #82).

Tradition is the lived faith, teaching, life and worship of the Church, an interpretative grid which helps the Church understand and apply God's Word. It is Tradition that gives the Catholic Church continuity of belief throughout its history. Trying to separate the Bible, especially the New Testament, from the Tradition that gave birth to it is what actually leads to the variety of beliefs that we see in Protestantism today.

The biggest problem with sola Scriptura is that the idea that the Bible is the only authority for the Christian faith is not actually found in the Bible. The second biggest problem is that the list of the books making up the Bible is not found in the Bible either. So if you've got to go outside the Bible to find out what the Bible actually is, then sola Scriptura doesn't work. There's a bunch of other problems too, but we won't get into that now.

Sola Fides
Sola fides is the slogan for the doctrine of justification by faith alone. In other words, it's only through our faith in Christ that we are put into a right relationship with God. "Faith alone" is an unfortunate phrase though, because the word faith is used in more than one way in the Bible. It can mean just intellectual assent, acknowledging something is true (this is the way the word is used in James 2 for example), or it can mean faith and love working together, as in Galatians 5 where Saint Paul says that the only thing that counts is faith working through love. Catholic theology normally uses "faith" in the first sense, like St. Paul does when he says that faith without love is nothing in 1st Corinthians 13. The Protestant understanding of faith though is usually something more like "faith, hope and love" together. If this is what is meant, then Catholics can agree with the slogan "faith alone", and if there was a bit more communication on this point at the time of the Protestant Reformation, then maybe some of the difficulties could have been avoided. In fact, just a few years ago, the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation were able to sign a Joint Declaration on Justification that says the condemnations of each side by the other from the time of the Protestant Reformation no longer apply.

The other reason not to say a person is justified by faith alone is of course that the Bible says "a man is justified by works and not by faith alone" in James 2:24. Martin Luther didn't like that verse, which is one of the reasons he called the book of James an "epistle of straw" compared to the other epistles, and why he wanted to remove it from the New Testament. But that's a whole other issue.

Denominations Today
And that brings us to Christianity today. The 600 million Protestants in the world are divided into lots of different groups. How many can you think of? I counted about 20 different groups in the Christchurch Yellow Pages, although I'm sure there's a few more that aren't listed. The generally accepted number worldwide is at least somewhere in the hundreds.

We're gonna look at some of the major denominations; what they believe and when they started. When you look at what's out there today, they're all over the map. As just one example out of many, I have two relatives; one of them believes that if you don't speak in tongues, you don't have the Holy Spirit, and therefore can't be saved; and the other one, her sister thinks that tongues is a terrible deception and plays no part in the Christian life. Anyway, on to the different denominations and where they came from.

The Reformation had two independent beginnings. The most well known happened in Germany under Martin Luther, but a separate movement happened in Switzerland under Ulrich Zwingli. These two movements came to be called the Lutheran and the Reformed churches. The Lutherans preferred to be called the "Evangelical Church", but the name "Lutheran" has stuck with them.

Martin Luther posted his 95 theses in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517. These were arguments of his mainly against the abuses of indulgences that were happening in Germany at the time, but behind that he was motivated by a lot of new theological ideas. Two key things that he taught were that the a person is put right with God by faith alone, and that the Bible is the only rule of faith for the Christian religion. He didn't have a really systematic way of arranging what he taught though, and it was his followers like Philipp Melancthon who helped spell his teachings out in a presentable form, and helped write the various confessions which summarised what the new, "pure" church believed.

The next key Reformer was Ulrich Zwingli. After Luther demonstrated that the Catholic Church could be successfully resisted (as long as those doing the resisting had the backing of the local political authorities), Zwingli started teaching some similar stuff, including attacks on the Pope, Purgatory, praying to the saints, the Mass and so on. He published his first Reformation pamphlet in 1522. He had some major disagreements with Martin Luther though, especially about the Eucharist. Luther always believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but Zwingli developed the idea that it was only a symbol. They got together in a council in 1529 but couldn't come to an agreement and remained separate (something which is pretty much the story of Protestantism ever since, by the way).

Luther had some interesting things to say about Zwingli and his followers after this:
"I will not read the works of these people, because they are out of the Church, and are not only damned themselves, but draw many miserable creatures after them."
"Zwingli was an offspring of hell, an associate of Arius, a man who did not deserve to be prayed for..."

Zwingli, not to be outdone, said things like:
"The devil has made himself master of Luther, to such a degree, as to make one believe he wishes to gain entire possession of him."

After Zwingli was killed in a battle in 1531 when Zurich was attacked by some neighbouring cities, and Luther said:
"It is well that Zwingli ... lies dead on the battlefield ... Oh, what a triumph this is ... How well God knows his business."

The movement in Switzerland was carried on by John Calvin who is probably the most famous and influential Reformer after Luther. In 1541 he took control of Geneva and it became a city of very tight moral standards due to laws against all sorts of things thought to corrupt morals, including crimes such as dancing and playing games. He was a very logical and systematic thinker and published a book called Institutes of the Christian Religion, which laid out his theological system in great detail, and which has had a profound influence on the development of Protestantism ever since.

When Luther was getting underway there was a big war of books and pamphlets between Luther and various Catholics. One of these Catholic books, published in 1521, was called A Defence of the Seven Sacraments, and among other things it staunchly argued that the pope is the divinely appointed head of the Church. Pope Leo X was so pleased with the book that he gave the author the title "Defender of the Faith". Any guesses who the author was?

It was King Henry VIII of England. But then in the 1530s, he wanted to get a divorce from his wife, Catherine of Aragon, and the Pope wouldn't let him. The King tried for a while to get the Pope to reverse his decision, but it didn't work and the King eventually ran out of patience. In 1534 he proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church of England, and the Anglican Church began its separate existence from the Catholic Church. Not only did Henry get the divorce he wanted, but he was also able to seize Church lands through the whole country which got him a whole lot of money. That whole story is a long saga like a soap opera, full of all sorts of plot twists. The Anglican Church was influenced by Reformed theology, although in some respects they kind of went a middle way between Catholicism and full-fledged Protestantism.

The King or Queen of England still use the title "Defender of the Faith" even today.

The Lutheran, Reformed and Anglican churches are sometimes called the "Magisterial" Reformation, because they were well-organised and wrote down their beliefs in a series of creeds and confessions. They had rules, kind of like the Catholic Magisterium. But there was one other main group, the Anabaptists. They weren't actually a single group, and were all over the place in faith and practice, but what they had in common was the belief that infant baptism was invalid. Believer's baptism was the only thing they accepted (Anabaptist means "baptize again"). These guys were severely persecuted by the other Reformers, which seems kind of strange given the Reformation principle of religious liberty and freedom of conscience.

The English Reformation is one of the reasons why the number of denominations started to grow quickly. Queen Elizabeth in the late 1550s wanted to create a unified church in England, under bishops with clearly defined uniform liturgy and Practice. But the Puritans found this objectionable, and wanted to further "purify" the church of England from anything that hinted at "Romanism". Some Puritans were Anglicans, though some believed that it was not right to have bishops, and instead some thought the churches should be ruled by groups of elders (Presbyterians), and others thought the independent congregations should be in charge of their own churches (Congregationalists).

Presbyterians and Congregationalists are all part of the "Reformed" category, though. An offshoot of the Congregationalists included English Baptists, who rejected infant baptism, but were different from the anabaptists and very close to the other Puritans on all other issues.

The Puritans were part of a larger movement among Protestants who were afraid that their churches had turned cold and dry. The Pietists wanted to revive a real commitment in their churches, and some ended up creating new denominations. One of these was Methodism.

Revivalism and "American Evangelicalism"
Colonial America and the United States received immigrants from all over Europe, who brought with them their particular expression of Christianity, and wanted to preserve it even when similar groups were already in their area. This, along with greater freedom of religion than anywhere else in the world led various individuals and groups to create their own denominations. Other factors that helped in this were the emphasis on democracy and the desire for the excitement of "revival", but most of all, "restorationism" - the desire to jump back over the history of the "corrupt" church and restore pure New Testament worship. They were not so much against the Catholic Church as against the main Protestant groups, who they felt had compromised with Catholicism too much, especially with infant baptism. This drive led to the creation of the churches of Christ, the Church of God, Holiness Churches like the Church of the Nazarene. And out of them came Pentecostal churches like the Assemblies of God.

All these groups rejected the classical understanding of sola Scriptura and replaced it with something even more extreme - basically radical reliance on private interpretation by the individual (what some people call the "just me and my Bible in the woods" mentality).

Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism
In the early 20th century most denominations in America faced the challenges of theological liberalism and higher critical study of the Bible. This created a split in many denominations and many large churches simply left and became independent. The Fundamentalism movement did not begin as a coherent theological movement, but was unified around it's opposition to liberals. Some fundamentalists, however began to band together and created their own denominations, schools, missions agencies, etc.

Fundamentalism took a sharp turn toward anti-intellectualism, divisiveness, and extremism, and a number of leaders in the 1950s wanted to create a movement which was conservative in theology, but without the extremes which fundamentalism had fallen into. They called themselves "evangelicals," and the evangelical movement was a broad based movement which was willing to dialogue with others without compromising conservative theological principles.

So Where Does That Leave Us?
The Catechism tells us about our relationship with other Christians:

870. "The sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic,... subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines".

838. "The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter." [322] Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church."

820. "Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time." [277] Christ always gives his Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her

And here's some of the things we've gotta do:

- conversion of heart as the faithful "try to live holier lives according to the Gospel"; [281] for it is the unfaithfulness of the members to Christ's gift which causes divisions;
- prayer in common, because "change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and merits the name 'spiritual ecumenism;"' [282] -fraternal knowledge of each other; [283]
- ecumenical formation of the faithful and especially of priests; [284]
- dialogue among theologians and meetings among Christians of the different churches and communities; [285]
- collaboration among Christians in various areas of service to mankind. [286] "Human service" is the idiomatic phrase.

822. Concern for achieving unity "involves the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike." [287] But we must realize "that this holy objective - the reconciliation of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of Christ - transcends human powers and gifts." That is why we place all our hope "in the prayer of Christ for the Church, in the love of the Father for us, and in the power of the Holy Spirit." [288]

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