Today there are over a thousand churches and
religions today that claim to be the Church founded by Jesus Christ, or at
least the direct descendants of it. Since they hold to different beliefs and
contradict each other, most of them, or actually all of them except one, are
not true churches of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures teach that the true Church of
Jesus Christ can be only one, and, as we know from history, for the first
thousand years the Church was essentially one. There were no Baptists,
Pentecostals, Jehovah Witnesses or any other of the modern-day denominations.
For administrative reasons the Church subdivided into five Patriarchal centers
- Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople - which formed a
cohesive whole and were in full communion with each other. There were
occasional heretical or schismatic groups going their own way, to be sure, but
the Church was unified until the 11th century. Then, in events culminating in
A.D. 1054, the Roman Patriarchate pulled away from the other four, pursuing its
long-developing claim of universal headship of the Church.
Today, nearly a thousand years later, four of
the original five Patriarchates remain in full communion, maintaining that
Orthodox apostolic faith of the inspired New Testament record. Other national
churches, like the Russian, the Serbian, the Bulgarian, for a total of 15
altogether, have since been added to them.
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