The Diversity Found In Christianity In Its First Three Centuries

2071 words - 8 pages

The Diversity Found in Christianity in Its First Three Centuries

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members
of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” (1Cor
12: 12-13)

The Christian religion is said to be a “diverse phenomenon”.[1] This
is because there is so much diversity existing in it although it
claims to be a religion with unity based at the very core of its
teachings.

According to the Oxford English dictionary, Christianity is“the
religion based on the person and teachings of Jesus Christ.” [2]

Considered to be the Messiah and “Son of God”, Jesus’ teachings and
words of wisdom were not recorded until after his death around 30 C.E.
The diverse nature of Christianity therefore becomes the main issue
as the early Christians question whether or not the information they
gain is true. Today, there are many denominations of Christianity
proving that even now, it is impossible to know which church is the
“true” church to follow. Although all containing certain crucial and
similar core messages, all the forms of Christianity are different.
This is a result of the early Christians interpreting JesusÂ’ teachings
in a way in which they saw fit, therefore spreading their message of
God. This essay, therefore, aims to discuss and look at the early
forms of Christianity and the diversity of the early followers of
Jesus Christ.

Before discussing how the different branches of early Christianity
came about, one must consider the context of the time when
Christianity had only just begun. At the time of JesusÂ’ death, the
Roman Empire was in control. The Romans therefore had the ability to
communicate easier due to the greater unification of the Roman Empire.
Christianity at this time was looking to expand beyond Judaism and it
was by the help of Paul of Tarsus that this came about.

From it’s beginning, the early church claimed that “unity” is an
important theological aspect. The quote used in the beginning of the
essay was said by Paul who was using the “body” as a metaphor in order
to express the Church’s unity. Paul is saying it is “in Christ” that
the “many” are constituted into “one”, and to be “in Christ” is to be
part of God’s ekklesia, the “assembly” of God, i.e. the church.[3]

Paul was responsible for spreading JesusÂ’ teachings amongst the
Gentiles. As Paul spread the word, however, there were already
opposing Christian groups forming. This was because Paul opposed the
Jewish law aggressively and some early Christian groups –having been
brought up with the Jewish teachings – incorporated what they
considered to be Christian ideals into their Jewish life. An example
of this was one of the oldest Christian communities, the church in
Jerusalem, which was being led by James the brother of...

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