The Info List - Schism

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A schism (pronounced /ˈsɪzəm/ SIZ-əm, /ˈskɪzəm/ SKIZ-əm or, less commonly, /ˈʃɪzəm/ SHIZ-əm[1]) is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization, movement, or religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a split in what had previously been a single religious body, such as the East–West Schism
or the Great Western Schism. It is also used of a split within a non-religious organization or movement or, more broadly, of a separation between two or more people, be it brothers, friends, lovers, etc. A schismatic is a person who creates or incites schism in an organization or who is a member of a splinter group. Schismatic as an adjective means pertaining to a schism or schisms, or to those ideas, policies, etc. that are thought to lead towards or promote schism. In religion, the charge of schism is distinguished from that of heresy, since the offence of schism concerns not differences of belief or doctrine but promotion of, or the state of, division.[2] However, schisms frequently involve mutual accusations of heresy. In Roman Catholic teaching, every heresy is a schism, while there may be some schisms free of the added guilt of heresy.[3] Liberal Protestantism, however, has often preferred heresy over schism. Presbyterian scholar James I. McCord (quoted with approval by the Episcopalian bishop of Virginia
Peter Lee) drew a distinction between them, teaching: "If you must make a choice between heresy and schism, always choose heresy. As a schismatic, you have torn and divided the body of Christ. Choose heresy every time."[4]


1 Buddhism 2 Christianity 3 Islam 4 Jainism 5 Judaism 6 Examples

6.1 Jewish 6.2 Islamic 6.3 Christian

7 See also 8 Notes 9 References 10 External links


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Main article: Schools of Buddhism In Buddhism, the first schism was set up by Devadatta, during Buddha's life. This schism lasted only a short time. Later (after Buddha's death), the early Buddhist schools came into being, but were not schismatic,[citation needed] only focusing on different interpretations for the same monastic community. In the old texts, 18 or 20 early schools are mentioned. Later, there were the Mahayana
and Vajrayana
movements, which can be regarded as being schismatic in origin. Each school has various subgroups, which often are schismatic in origin. For example, in Thai Theravadin Buddhism
there are two groups ( Mahanikaya
and Dhammayut), of which the Dhammayut has its origin partly in the Mahanikaya, and is the new and schismatic group. Both Mahanikaya
and Dhammayut have many subgroups, which usually do not have schismatic origins, but came into being in a natural way, through the popularity of a (leader) monk. Tibetan Buddhism
has seen schisms in the past, of which most were healed, although the Drukpa school centred in Bhutan
perhaps remains in a state of schism (since 1616) from the other Tibetan schools. Christianity[edit] See also: Christian denomination
Christian denomination
and Ecclesiastical separatism

The historical development of major church branches from their roots

Christian Schisms and their Councils

The words schism and schismatic have found their heaviest usage in the history of Christianity, to denote splits within a church, denomination or religious body. In this context, "schismatic", as a noun, denotes a person who creates or incites schism in a church or a person who is a member of a splinter Church; as an adjective, "schismatic" refers to ideas and activities that are thought to lead to or constitute schism, and ultimately departure from what the user of the word considers to be the true Christian Church. These words have been used to denote both the phenomenon of Christian group splintering in general, and certain significant historical splits in particular. A distinction[5] is made between heresy and schism. Heresy
is rejection of a doctrine that a Church considered to be essential. Schism
is a rejection of communion with the authorities of a Church, and not every break of communion is necessarily about doctrine, as is clear from examples such as the Western Schism
Western Schism
and the breaking of communion between Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople
Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople
and Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens
Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens
in 2004.[6] But, when for any reason people withdraw from communion, two distinct ecclesiastical entities may result, each of which then, or at least some of its members, may accuse the other of heresy. In Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
canon law, an act of schism, like an act of apostasy or heresy, automatically brings the penalty of excommunication on the individual who commits it.[7] As stated in canon 1312 §1 1° of the Code of Canon Law, this penalty is intended to be medicinal, so as to lead to restoration of unity. Roman Catholic theology considers formal schismatics to be outside the Church, understanding by "formal schismatics" "persons who, knowing the true nature of the Church, have personally and deliberately committed the sin of schism".[8] The situation, for instance, of those who have been brought up from childhood within a group not in full communion with Rome, but who have orthodox faith, is different: these are considered to be imperfectly, though not fully, members of the Church.[8] This nuanced view applies especially to the Churches of Eastern Christianity, more particularly still to the Eastern Orthodox Church.[8] The First Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
(A.D. 325) distinguished between schism and heresy. It declared Arian
and non-Trinitarian teachings to be heretical and excluded their adherents from the Church. It also addressed the schism between Peter of Alexandria and Meletius of Lycopolis, considering their quarrel to be a matter of discipline, not of faith. The divisions that came to a head at the Councils of Ephesus (A.D. 431) and Chalcedon (A.D. 451) were seen as matters of heresy, not merely of schism. Thus, the Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
and Oriental Orthodoxy
consider each other to be heretical, not orthodox, because of the Oriental Orthodox
Oriental Orthodox
Church's rejection and the Eastern Orthodox Church's acceptance of the Confession of Chalcedon about the two natures, human and divine, of Christ. However, this view has been challenged in the recent Ecumenical discussion between these two groups, bringing the matter of Chalcedon as a matter of schism, not of heresy. In its extended and final form (possibly derived from the First Council of Constantinople in 381 although only known from the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon
Council of Chalcedon
seventy years later),[9] what is commonly called the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
declares belief in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Some who accept this creed believe they should be united in a single Church or group of Churches in communion with each other. Others who accept this creed believe it does not speak of a visible organization but of all those baptized who hold the Christian faith, referred to as Christendom. Some churches consider themselves to be the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. For instance, the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
claims that title and considers the Eastern Orthodox Church to be in schism, while the Eastern Orthodox Church also claims that title and holds the view that the Catholic Church
Catholic Church
is schismatic. Some Protestant Churches believe that they also represent the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church
One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church
and consider the Catholic and Orthodox Churches to be in error, while others do not expect a union of all Christian churches on earth. See also Great Apostasy. A current dispute with an acknowledged risk of schism for the Anglican Communion is that over homosexuality. Islam[edit] Main article: Muslim
sects See also: Pan-Islamism, Succession to Muhammad, and Sunni-Shia relations After the death of the Islamic prophet Muhammed, there have arisen many Muslim sects
Muslim sects
by means of schools of thought, traditions and related faiths.[10][11] According to a Hadith
report (collections of accounts of the life and teachings of Muhammed), Muhammed is said to have prophesied "My Ummah
( Community
or Nation) will be fragmented into seventy-three sects, and all of them will be in the Hell
fire except one." The Sahaba
(his companions) asked him which group that would be, whereupon he replied, "It is the one to which I and my companions belong" (reported in Sunan al-Tirmidhi
Sunan al-Tirmidhi
No. 171). Sunni Muslims, often referred to as Ahl as- Sunnah
wa’l-Jamā‘h or Ahl as-Sunnah, are the largest denomination of Islam. The word Sunni comes from the word Sunnah, which means the teachings and actions or examples of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad; therefore, the term Sunni refers to those who follow or maintain the Sunnah
of Muhammad. The Sunni believe that Muhammad
died without appointing a successor to lead the Muslim
ummah (community). After an initial period of confusion, a group of his most prominent companions gathered and elected Abu Bakr, Muhammad's close friend and father-in-law, as the first Caliph. Sunnis regard the first four caliphs - Abu Bakr, Umar (` Umar
ibn al-Khattāb), Uthman Ibn Affan, and Ali
( Ali
ibn Abu Talib) - as the al-Khulafā’ur-Rāshidūn or "Rashidun" (The Rightly Guided Caliphs). Sunnis believe that the position of Caliph
may be democratically chosen, but after the first four Rightly Guided Caliphs the position turned into a hereditary dynastic rule. There has not been another widely recognized Caliph
since the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1923. Shia Islam
is the second largest denomination of Islam. Shia Muslims believe that, similar to the appointment of prophets, Imams after Muhammad
are also chosen by God. According to Shias, Ali
was chosen by Allah and thus appointed by Muhammad
to be the direct successor and leader of the Muslim
community. They regard him as the first Shia Imam, which continued as a hereditary position through Fatimah
and Ali's descendants. Sufism
is a mystical-ascetic form of Islam
practised by both Shia and Sunni Muslims. Some Sufi followers consider themselves Sunni or Shia, while others consider themselves as just Sufi or Sufi-influenced. Sufism
is usually considered to be complementary to orthodox Islam, although Sufism
has often been accused by the salafi of being an unjustified Bid‘ah or religious innovation. By focusing on the more spiritual aspects of religion, Sufis strive to obtain direct experience of God
by making use of "intuitive and emotional faculties" that one must be trained to use.[12] One starts with sharia (Islamic law), the exoteric or mundane practice of Islam, and then is initiated into the mystical (esoteric) path of a Tariqah
(Sufi Order). Kharijite (lit. "those who seceded") is a general term embracing a variety of Islamic sects which, while originally supporting the Caliphate of Ali, eventually rejected his legitimacy after he negotiated with Mu'awiya during the 7th Century Islamic civil war (First Fitna).[13] Their complaint was that the Imam
must be spiritually pure, whereas Ali's compromise with Mu'awiya was a compromise of his spiritual purity and therefore of his legitimacy as Imam
or Caliph. While there are few remaining Kharijite or Kharijite-related groups, the term is sometimes used to denote Muslims who refuse to compromise with those with whom they disagree. Jainism[edit] Main article: Jain schools and branches

Picture showing a diagrammatic view of the schisms in Jainism
along with the timeline

The first schism in Jainism
happened around the fourth century BCE, leading to rise of two major sects, Digambara
and Svetambara, which were later subdivided in further sub-sects.[14] Judaism[edit] Main article: Jewish schisms

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See also: Jewish views of religious pluralism, Relationships between Jewish religious movements, Jewish principles of faith, and Heresy
in Judaism Throughout Jewish history, Judaism
survived many schisms, including the emergence of Christianity. Today, major Jewish denominations are Orthodox Judaism
and non-Orthodox: Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist. Examples[edit] Jewish[edit]

Samaritanism, 586 BCE Reform Judaism, 1810 Conservative Judaism, 1886


The schism of the Shia and Sunni, c. 632/680s The schism of the Kharijites, late 7th century The schism of the Mu'tazilites, 8th century The schism of the Mihna, c. 833 The schism of Zikri, c. 1500 The schism of Ahmadiyya, 19th century The Moorish Science Temple of America, c. 1913 The Nation of Islam, c. 1930 The United Submitters International, c. mid-20th century

Christian[edit] Main article: Christian denomination
Christian denomination
§ Historical schisms and methods of classification scheme

The Apostle Paul refers to factions or schisms (Greek: σχισματα, schismata) within the church at Corinth [15] The schism of Marcionism, c.150[citation needed] The schism of Gnosticism, which some attribute to Valentinius[citation needed], c. 150, others much earlier[citation needed] The schism of Montanism The schism of Monarchianism, c. 200[citation needed] The many Antipopes, beginning with Hippolytus (writer)
Hippolytus (writer)
in 217 though Hippolytus later reconciled. The Donatist
schism, beginning in 311 The schism with Arianism
and Quartodecimanism at the First Council of Nicaea, 325 The Nestorian Schism, after the First Council of Ephesus
First Council of Ephesus
in 431, between the State church of the Roman Empire
State church of the Roman Empire
and Nestorianism The Oriental Orthodox
Oriental Orthodox
schism and rejection of the Council of Chalcedon, c. 451 The Acacian schism, 484-519 The schism of the Armenian Orthodox, 491 The Great Schism
of 1054 Lollardy
in the 1350s Three Papal claimants at the same time: Roman Pope Gregory XII, Avignon Pope Benedict XIII, Pisan Pope John XXIII, resolved at Council of Constance, see also Western Schism, 1378–1417 The Swiss Reformation beginning in 1516 The Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
beginning in 1517 Anabaptist, c. 1525 The English Reformation
English Reformation
beginning in 1529 Michael Servetus
Michael Servetus
burned at the stake in 1553, considered founder of Unitarianism The Scottish Reformation in 1560 The Dutch Reformation in 1571 Socinianism
in 1605 The Jansenism
schism of 1643 See Old Believers
Old Believers
and Raskol
for schism within the Russian Orthodox Church in 1666 The Old School-New School Controversy in the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America in 1837 Disruption of 1843 American Restorationism beginning in the 1850s Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland
Christian Catholic Church of Switzerland
rejects First Vatican Council doctrine of Papal Infallibility, see also Old Catholic Church, 1868 The Crotty Schism in Birr, County Offaly, Ireland The schism between the Anglican Communion
Anglican Communion
and the Continuing Anglican movement in 1977 The separation of the Anglican Church in North America
Anglican Church in North America
from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada The schism from the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
of the leaders of the Society of St. Pius X
Society of St. Pius X
in 1988, when Archbishop
Marcel Lefebvre ordained four bishops despite a prohibition by the Holy See.[16][17] Most Holy Church of God
in Christ Jesus splits from Iglesia ni Cristo in 1922 when Teofilo Ora and his friends disagreed with Felix Y. Manalo's decision to not anoint them ministers despite their group almost are all ministers. Members Church of God International
Members Church of God International
splits off from Iglesia ng Dios Kay Cristo Jesus in 1977 left after Eliseo Soriano
Eliseo Soriano
and others contested Levita Gugulan's leadership. Members Church of God
in Jesus Christ Worldwide splits off from Eliseo Soriano's MCGI when Willy Santiago left along with other members.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

Secession Old and New Light


^ The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition (2000) notes in Free Dictionary that "The word schism, which was originally spelled scisme in English, is traditionally pronounced (sĭ′zəm). However, in the 16th century the word was respelled with an initial sch in order to conform to its Latin and Greek forms. From this spelling arose the pronunciation (skĭ′zəm). Long regarded as incorrect, it became so common in both British and American English that it gained acceptability as a standard variant. Evidence indicates, however, that it is now the preferred pronunciation, at least in American English. In a recent survey 61 percent of the Usage Panel indicated that they use (skĭ′zəm), while 31 percent said they use (sĭ′zəm). A smaller number, 8 percent, preferred a third pronunciation, (shĭ′zəm). ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911, article Schism ^ Catholic Encyclopedia, article Schism ^ " Heresy
better idea than schism?". Washington Times. 2004-01-31. Retrieved 2010-07-05.  ^ Catechism of the Eastern Orthodox Church, p. 42; The Concordia Cyclopedia quoted in Unionism and Syncretism
- and PLI; Orthodox Practice - Choosing God-parents; Code of Canon Law, canon 751 ^ Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople Broke Eucharistic Communion with Archbishop
Christodoulos of Athens ^ Code of Canon Law, canon 1364 ^ a b c Aidan Nichols, Rome and the Eastern Churches (Liturgical Press 1992), p. 41 ISBN 978-1-58617-282-4 ^ Kelly, J.N.D. Early Christian Creeds Longmans 1960 pp. 296,7; 305-331 ^ So Many Different Groups of Muslims by Yusuf Estes ^ Why are Muslims divided into different Sects/Schools of Thought by Zakir Naik
Zakir Naik
on IRF.net ^ Trimingham (1998), p.1 ^ Overview of Kharijite Islam ^ Clarke & Beyer 2009, p. 326. ^ 1 Corinthians 11:18 ^ Corriere della Sera, 22 December 2013, p. 5 ^ Catholic World News: "CDF prefect says SSPX in schism, suspended from sacraments" (Retrieved 13 February 2015)


Clarke, Peter; Beyer, Peter (2009), The World's Religions: Continuities and Transformations, Routledge, ISBN 0-203-87212-6 

External links[edit]

Look up schism in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Encyclopædia Britannica: Schism Catholic Encyclopedia: Schism

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