Christian Diversity

Chapter one
                                                      Christian Diversity

As this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains
And being gathered together became one,
So may thy church be gathered together.
From the ends of the earth into thy kingdom;
For thine is the glory and the power,
through Jesus Christ for ever and ever.
                                            Didache 9, 4.

1.1 The Proto –Orthodox Christians

It may be difficult to imagine a religious phenomenon more diverse and more complex than Christianity. Roman Catholics, Mormon missionaries, Lutheran pastors, Greek Orthodox priests, Jehovah witnesses and other scores of denominations, all proclaim to spread the only and orthodox teaching of Jesus and his apostles. This modern reality was very similar to that facing Christianity in the first centuries of its existence. Imagine the choices opened to Christians in the second century.   Which was better, the Ebionite church that adheres to the Jewish laws, Sabbath observance and circumcision, or a Marcionite one that condemns these laws as inspired by an inferior deity?   A church that believes in one God or a church that believes in two gods? A church that believes in twelve gods or another community that believes in thirty? Churches that accept the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John or other communities using the Gospels of Thomas, Philip and Mary?

The Jesus community was originally a humble, small organisation located in the northern province of Galilee and in Jerusalem. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, missionary activities led by Paul and other apostles gradually increased the number of converts who became to be called Christians.[1] Jesus’ shameful death remained a scandal, but Christians explained it as a sacrifice for the sins of humankind.[2] His death on the cross was the inauguration of a new covenant between God and humanity.[3] A general meeting of leading disciples gathered in Jerusalem around AD 49 and...