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Christians, despite their schismatic tendencies, always put a premium on unity of faith. Yet the Christological debates of the third to fifth centuries ultimately led to the separation of the Monophysite Churches after the Council of Chalcedon (451). In 1054 the Orthodox Church and the Western Roman Church divided, partly over the Western addition to the creed of the assertion that the Holy Spirit proceeded from both the Father and the Son.

The Reformation of the sixteenth century in western Europe divided the Roman Catholic Church from the Lutherans, Calvinists, Anglicans, and other "reforming" communities. In dispute at this period were the claims of the institutional church to provide the only route to salvation and the reformers' claim that the individual needed only a justifying faith and the Bible to read, and the grace of the Holy Spirit would do the rest. In the eighteenth century the Methodist Church separated from the Church of England (Anglican) over the validity of its ministry and in due course itself became a worldwide "communion."

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Chimaeras to ClusterChristianity - Overview - Christianity And Secular Thought, Division, Ecumenism, Christianity And Modern Thought, Christianity And Secular Politics