Christianity is a religion based on Jesus the Christ's life and teachings. The Bible, which Christians believe to be the Word of God, teaches us in the Acts of the Apostles that the disciples of Jesus were first referred to as Christians at Antioch. According to Christianity, there is only one God, the Father. The second person in that order is Jesus Christ, God's son, and the third person is the Holy Spirit. The birth of Christianity became a single vital path that Christians must take in order to attain God's holy abode. Thus, Christianity became a way of life, inclining their pattern of lives to that of Christ and teaching the doctrines of Jesus.

This paper seeks to present places where Christianity started and how the culture perceived it. Besides, the piece of writing will explain how the early Christian church looked like discussing their trust and fundamental belief in the religion as an overall authority and church culture. Lastly, the paper will examine various denominations that broke off from the early Catholic Church to become their denomination. Reasons why the denominations broke-off from the early Catholic Church will also be presented and expounded.

Where the Christianity began and how the Culture Perceived

Christianity started nearly two thousand years ago as a movement within Judaism (Schiffman, 2011). One trait of Judaism is the belief in a supreme divine being who is present in their midst and experienced in human actions. The ancient Israelites encountered the divine presence of God in many of their events which the Bible explicitly recorded. God appeared to His prophets like Moses astoundingly and uniquely in a burning bush. He would also appear to Israelites to direct them through the pillar of cloud, to protect them when faced by enemies and provide for them when they lacked food.

The extraordinary acts of God towards the people of Israel aimed at manifesting His sovereignty and majesty over all creation. To ensure Gods presence was established among the people, Israelites, who are known as the chosen people, had to submit themselves to God in total obedience and reverence continually. Therefore having their allegiance pledged to God, Israelites had to oblige and call upon the rest of humankind to follow commands of God, recognize His sovereignty and the eternal purpose for which He created humanity and the universe (Schiffman, 2011). The person of God is mirrored in the life of Christ when He is referred to as the King of Jews and the Lion of the tribe of Judah in the New Testament of the Bible.

God established a binding covenant with the humankind which was a blueprint for the way of life of His people. Therefore, the Jews were given special privileges and at the same time endowed with particular unique responsibilities in honor of God. It implied that the Jewish culture would practically reveal the reign of God. Religious observations, individual conduct, and ethical conduct had to adhere to the ordinances of God strictly ("Philippi: How Christianity Began in Europe: The Epistle to the Philippians and the Excavations at Philippi," 2013). The reliance in the law of God and the divine guidance through the unseen force of divinity infiltrated into the culture of the Jews, perceptions, social and individual ethics. The period of Judaism firmly established the foundation of Christianity that would later be revealed when Jesus Christ was born, and He started His ministry on earth. Jewish Christianity began and was developed during the time of the first apostles.

After Jesus resurrected from death, He commissioned the twelve disciples in what is referred to as the Great Commissioning. The disciples are among the first Jewish people who accepted Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah. From Jerusalem, a city where Jesus was brought and presented to the temple, the disciples moved out to evangelize the institution the Messiah. Christianity grew and spread in the Roman Empire despite Roman-Jewish wars that resisted Christianity. Although the converted Jews had denounced the gods they used to worship, they continued to observe their traditions such as keeping the Sabbath, attending synagogues and celebrating the Jewish calendar.

What the Early Christian Church Looked Like

In the Roman Empire, early Christians faced a lot of resistance. Their stance to worship only one God, Yahweh, prompted the communities to see them as antisocial. Persecution of Christians began, as pagans advised their leaders to punish the Christians for not worshipping their gods. The spread of Christianity did not augur well with the Roman culture because the early Christians were very intolerant and they strictly believed what Jesus taught. Also, Christians did not allow others to follow their faiths but instead sought to convert them to the belief of Christ as were commanded by Jesus. The Christian teachings demanded the renouncing of idols, abandoning of traditional evil practices and living according to the holy teachings of Jesus. It leads to the Jewish-Roman war (In Tabbernee, 2014).

The war between Roman pagans and Christians slowed down the growth of Christianity. Anti-Judaism grew and during the reign of Emperor Constantine orthodox Christians were persecuted. Jewish Christians had to seek refuge in Arabia, away from the Empire. However, Gentile Christianity had also spread, spearheaded by the apostles. Albeit the growth of Christianity and the potent it has to deliver, many people have routed themselves in a culture to the extent that the Gospel of Christianity can hardly transform them ("Chapter 1: Domestic artefacts in Early Christian churches," n.d). This group of people perceives Christianity as a tool to suppress their legal and fair practices. In spite of their belief in the existence of a supreme being, they argue that Christianity is just a movement and should not exert pressure over other traditional ways of life. Therefore, sharp controversy arises between the cultural beliefs and the precepts laid down to humankind by Jesus.

The first Christian Jews who believed in Jesus as their savior offered their worship in the local Synagogues and some assembled at the Temple as is evident in the New Testament book of Acts. However, after a while, the Jewish Christians found out that the teacher of law in the Synagogues did not follow the teachings of Jesus nor follow the rites established by Jesus. They then chose a different day when they would gather to pray sing hymns, read scripture and be taught by the apostles. An agape meal would also be shared among the believers, which its significance was to bind them in love of Christ. The Synagogues were built strategically facing the east and Jerusalem.

The Christians believed that Jerusalem is a city of God thus having their place of worship facing the east would connect them to God. The Synagogue served various purposes. During the weekdays, it served as a learning place for pupils. On other days people conduct their businesses therein. Besides, it would house the homeless and those who were infirm. The interior of the Temple and other worshipping venues were well decorated to depict the holy Temple of God (In Tabbernee, 2014).

Christians gathered during Sabbath to offer prayers and read the Torah which they did in the morning, at noon and in the night. The scrolls of the Scripture had a special box called a lamp stand. Also present in the temple were a basket of grains and fruits and a bowl containing twelve loaves of bread. Church officials were the ones to lead services of worship. They would read preselected verses from the Word of God especially the Law and the Prophets following the Liturgical calendar. The priests and rabbis would also read the Scripture and expound to the congregation. The fear of God inculcated in the hearts of Christians made them have a standing ovation whenever the Word of God was read. Thus it portrayed the authority of the Word of God and that the body of Christ, the Church had unswerving trust in the Scripture (In Tabbernee, 2014). The Church arrangement was in such a way that men and boys would sit in front while women would stand side by side or at the back.

During the time of the apostles, the Church was nit together in one love as they were in one accord and they would meet in different houses on a daily basis to commune together. The body of believers would sell their property and share the proceeds with those who lack. They did not concentrate much on the structures of the Church; instead, they focused more on meditating on the Word, spent time sharing with one another and practiced benevolence. The localized Churches were the basic units of Christianity. Depending on the officials, every Church seemed to have had their different sacred writings, but all believed in the Savior Jesus.

In the second century, the anti-Judaism war was massive and Christians fearing to be discovered had an underground movement. They hardly assembled in Synagogues since the buildings were situated far in the main cities. In the towns where huge Christianity had been achieved like Antioch, a deacon would be in charge of Church organization. The authority of each assembly was established through the elders. The elders were responsible for preparing the sermons and duly distribute among all members. Teachers of the Scripture, however, had a hard time to explain to the believers how Jesus could be Son and be God the Father. The hierarchy of the Church was laid down after the Christian population had become more substantial. The deacons headed a district and below them were bishops. Elders lead local congregations. This organization structure took a long time to be established.

The teachings of Jesus Christ that had spread in most parts of the Roman Empire courtesy of the apostles attracted analytical evaluation from scholars who were learned in Roman philosophy. They took issue with the Biblical canon which Christ believers had embraced as the only authoritative and sacred writing from God. Scholars disputed the inclusion of the Gospel books and the authority of the book of Revelation. The Greco-Roman philosophers wanted the Biblical canon to include documents that were used in ceremonies and rituals and other liturgical writings. Having examined how the authoritative writings of Jesus, they observed that it was mutually exclusive hence they objected it.

The Christians and the Church, despite the disagreements with the Roman Scholars firmly held that the Bible had ultimate authority. Although they had written doctrines that were employed while teaching in sermons, the truth of the writings would be validated from the Scripture. Irenaeus and Tertullian who were deacons affirmed that the traditional practices in the society were founded on the Scripture. The early Christians would faithfully submit to the Scripture and the written doctrines referred to as Sola Scriptura.

Denominations that Broke Off from the Early Catholic Church

The first over 200 years of Christianity was full of persecutions, and many people lost their lives because of faith. In AD 313, Constantine who was a Roman Emperor was converted to Christianity which. The conversion of the Emperor lifted the banishment of the Christian movement (Colledge, 1999).

At that time, the religion of Christ had started to divide. Constantine made efforts to unite Christians. He compromised the Christian faith by not fully embracing it and also continuing to practice the pagan beliefs. Therefore, he allowed a mixture of paganism and Christianity. An Egyptian cult called Isis was then introduced to Christianity which was later replaced with Mary. Mary was highly regarded more than it should according to the Bible. The act was aimed at attracting the Isis group to the Christian religion which they would not quickly identify themselves with.

The beginning of Catholic Mariology took place in Alexandria which was the central point of Isis worship. Roman citizens believed in the existence of many gods like Jupiter, Neptune, and Pantheon. The early Christ believers who were the Catholic Church accepted Roman paganism and substituted the pantheon of gods for the saints (Colledge, 1999). The Catholic Church gave every city a god similar to what pagans used to do. In essence, Catholic Church originated from mixing Christianity with paganism.

The Roman Emperors supported the papacy and made Rome be the center of the Empire which made it tower higher than any other city. The Roman government over the years embraced the Roman bishops to be top rulers of the church. Other Christians who had not compromised their faith and pure teachings of Jesus disagreed with the practices of Catholic people and the rise of the papacy. Therefore, a split from the Catholic Church ensued which gave rise to other denominations.

One of the denominations that broke off from Catholic Church is the Protestants. Roman Catholic Church had established a system of apostolic succession. They claimed a unique authority and supremacy over other churches because they traced back the lineage of popes to the first apostles. The apostolic succession of Roman Catholic Popes was a reason they held that only them had a unique authority to read the Scripture, interpret it to the congregation and to come up with doctrines that the church members would use as a summary of the Bible. The Pope would teach traditions of the Romans, and in so far as these teachings came from the supreme leader of the church, the Roman Catholic Church would view it as foolproof as the Scripture itself. The Protestants contrasted the belief and teachings of Catholic Church, and therefore it became a basis of the separation between Roman Catholics and Protestants.

The differences in doctrines fuelled the protest of the Catholic Church. Protestants questioned the authority of the Pope to among other things forgive sins of the Church and the infallibility of Pope. Martin Luther was one of the Protestants who was excommunicated for his stance that

Pope was not infallible and that he could not have the power to forgive sins against God. Luther insisted that only the Scripture was the real and actual source of knowledge and godly living. Another Protestant who notably emphasized on the sovereignty of God was John Calvin. He admitted that God even before creation had predestined the humanity, those who would face eternal condemnation and those who would be saved. Catholics opposed this argument that it portrayed God as unjust. Having met the opposition, John Calvin relocated to Geneva where he formed a group that adhered to the law of God.

While Roman Catholic Church declared the seven sacraments which comprise Eucharist, marriage, baptism, confession, confirmation and last rites, on the other hand, Martin Luther, the Protestant, reiterated that the only sacraments that Jesus commanded the Church were Eucharist and Baptism. Catholics believed that humankind would be justified only by obedience and faith. Besides, Catholics disagreed with Protestants claim on utter human depravity the belief that sin did not ruin the chance of humankind to receive the grace of God.

In a nutshell, the Roman Catholic Church emphasized on the authority of Pope, and the Scripture taught about the seven sacraments, free will, and little depravity. Protestant reformers taught that Scripture was the ultimate authority and authoritative reference that has guidelines for divine knowledge and salvation.

Another denomination that bolted out from Catholic Church was Eastern Orthodox Church after divisions which increased over time. The major issues were an authority and the use of icons and images in the places of worship. Catholics wanted the images to be in Church because they view them as objects of devotions whereas Benzatines, also referred to as Orthodox Church, did not support it. The Patriarchs of Constantinople accused the Roman Church that they practiced heresies and did not observe due diligence in the way they indulged in Lent, Benzatine creed and the celibacy of the clergy ("Chapter 1: Domestic artefacts in Early Christian churches," n.d). Among the controversial practices also included shaving of beards by priests and whether the bishops should or should not put on rings.

Anglican Church before it separated out was part of the Roman Catholic Church. The conflict of authority in the Church was the source of the split. Following the separation that happened between Luther and the Roman Catholics, the England Church broke off from the Catholics after challenging the authority that was embedded in Rome. Besides, Henry VIII who was the leader of the Anglican Church had asked Pope for divorce, but his request was turned down. The refusal became one of the reasons that made the Anglican Church keep off the Catholic Church.


The discussion above clearly indicates that Christianity began in Jerusalem, the city where Jesus was brought up before spreading to most parts of the world. However, it should not be misinterpreted with the divine presence of God during the creation to mean that there was no Christianity then. Furthermore, Catholics were the first people to receive Christianity. Later, several denominations split from the Catholic Church primarily based on authority and compromise of the teachings of Jesus.


Catholic Church. (n.d.). Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online. doi:10.1163/2352-0272_emho_dum_022019

Chapter 1: Domestic artefacts in Early Christian churches. (n.d.). The Early Byzantine Christian Church. doi:10.3726/978-3-0353-0581-4/14

Colledge, R. (1999). The denominations of the Christian Church. Mastering World Religions, 83-89. doi:10.1007/978-1-349-14329-0_10

In Tabbernee, W. (2014). Early Christianity in contexts: An exploration across cultures and continents.

Philippi: How Christianity Began in Europe : The Epistle to the Philippians and the Excavations at Philippi. (2013). doi:10.5040/9781472550729

Schiffman, Z. S. (2011). The birth of the past. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

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