27 votes

Can somebody summarize the different "branches" of Christianity to me, and explain why they exist in the first place?

The branches come from difference in opinion. Here is a diagram showing where Christianity diverged. Image source From the beginning Christianity diverged from Judaism1: where Christianity ...
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  • 8,330
24 votes
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Is Xmas a secular name for Christmas?

Word origin As stated in previous answers, the "X" in "Xmas" comes from the Greek word for Christ, Χριστός. However, since precision is important, I want to clarify when the ...
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  • 7,726
23 votes
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What does "see" in "the Holy See" mean?

"See" comes from the Latin word sedes, which means "seat" or "chair". "Holy See" is Sedes Apostolica (lit. "Apostolic Chair") in Latin. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) gives this etymology for ...
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  • 33.3k
23 votes

What have Christians taught during past plagues and pandemics?

Martin Luther writing to Johann Hass: Use medicine; take potions which can help you; fumigate house, yard, and street; shun persons and places wherever your neighbor does not need your ...
22 votes

Seeking a graphic or flowchart of the history of the formation of Christian denominations

Wikipedia's article on Christian denominations appears to have what you are looking for. The major branches are listed in one graphic: Branches of Protestantism are best shown separately, for ease ...
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21 votes
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How do Protestants answer the Catholic accusation of historicity?

Protestant reformers were at pains to argue that all they sought to do was restore the church to purity which had become corrupted in medieval times. They wanted to ensure that their teachings were ...
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  • 1,609
20 votes

What does "see" in "the Holy See" mean?

What does “see” in “The Holy See” mean? Each bishop and archbishop has the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of an episcopal see. The Roman Pontiff (Pope) has complete jurisdiction of the Holy See, also ...
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  • 54.2k
19 votes
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When did people start to deny Jesus as a historical person?

The 'Christ myth theory' Wikipedia page actually provides quite an in-depth exposition on the development of the concept Jesus wasn't a historical person: The beginnings of the formal denial of the ...
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  • 2,463
19 votes
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When was the word "trinity" first applied to God in Christianity?

Without question, Theophilus of Antioch (d. 183) is your man. He wrote in Greek: [God's creations on the first three days--light, sky, and vegetation--] are types of the Trinity [Τριάδος], of God, ...
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19 votes

Is Xmas a secular name for Christmas?

Great Britain monks used "X" for "Christ" nearly a thousand years ago. They used "X" for "Christ" while transcribing manuscripts in Old English. They did so because the Greek word for Christ, ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ,...
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18 votes

Can somebody summarize the different "branches" of Christianity to me, and explain why they exist in the first place?

Such a simple question, and so difficult to provide a simple answer! Probably the main reasons for Christianity dividing into branches and sects are: (a) issues of dogma: disagreements about points ...
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18 votes

What have Christians taught during past plagues and pandemics?

Cyprian wrote the following during the plague of 250 AD to remind his diocese that Christians are not to expect special protection from disease: It disturbs some believers that the power of this ...
17 votes
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Were the medieval popes examined on a toilet-lid-like chair to establish their masculinity?

The chair was real, but its actual function is different from what the legend says. And actually, it seems to have been three chairs: one "commode"-type seat, and two porphyry "pierced" chairs. Read ...
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17 votes
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What is the earliest known instance of a petition directed to Mary?

Sub Tuum Praesidium The earliest known, extant petition prayer to Mary the Θεοτόκος (Theotokos), or Dei Genetrix (the Greek and Latin, respectively, for 'God-bearer' or 'Birthgiver-of-God') is found ...
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  • 7,337
17 votes

Is there a theological basis for climate change skepticism among evangelicals?

In this video I explored reasons that there is sometimes strain between faith and science. If, because I am a man of faith and I love science, I am not the target audience you're looking for, I can ...
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16 votes
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What is the earliest historical testimony of the celebration of the nativity of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Attitudes on birthdays In the early church, birthdays (in general) were not seen as something to celebrate. For example, in Origen's 8th homily on Leviticus he writes: But the saints not only do not ...
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  • 7,726
16 votes
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Why is Pontius Pilate blamed for killing Jesus in the Apostles' Creed?

Piotr Ashwin-Siejkowski in his book, The Apostles's Creed: and its Early Christian Context, argues that Pilate was specifically mentioned primarily in order to argue for and defend the humanity and ...
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16 votes

What was the Early Church’s view on socialism?

To what extent was the early church "socialist"? Acts 4:32-37 (NASB95) And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one [of them] claimed that anything ...
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  • 5,919
15 votes

Has the Catholic Church ever opposed interracial marriage?

The answer, in essence, is “no.” In principle, there is no obstacle to the marriage of any baptized Catholic man to any baptized Catholic woman, regardless of race. This is a principle at least as ...
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15 votes
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What is the earliest mention of how often the Eucharist was celebrated?

The earliest indication may be in the Didache, typically dated at the end of the first century. It describes the celebration of the Lord's Supper in terms of the cup and breaking bread, and then says:...
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15 votes
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Did Martin Luther ever admit that his approval of Philip's bigamy was wrong?

Luther did not recant. From: John Alfred Faulkner, "Luther and the Bigamous Marriage of Philip of Hesse, The American Journal of Theology Vol. 17, No. 2 (Apr., 1913), pp. 206-231 (on pp. 228-9) - ...
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  • 3,548
15 votes

Why is there no archaeological evidence that Christians existed for 200 years after 70 AD?

Douglas Boin addresses the two main reasons given for the lack of archaeological evidence of Christianity during the period in question: Theological: Christians applied a Biblical prohibition on ...
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14 votes
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Did this phrase "love the sinner but hate the sin" in this form originate in Christianity and who is credited to have first used it?

Augustine of Hippo is basically universally credited with the coinage of the phrase. It is an idea which can easily be supported by the Bible, but he was the first to say it in a form close to its ...
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14 votes
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According to Evangelicals, before the Reformation, who were Christians if “Catholics are not Christians”?

Evangelicals would say that there were faithful churches who kept the gospel before the reformation. I think there are two historical factors involved: Protestants recognise several movements of like-...
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  • 18.3k
14 votes
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What is the origin of the story that the Apostle John taught only "love one another"?

It's from Jerome's Commentary on Galatians, 6:10: The blessed John the Evangelist lived in Ephesus until extreme old age. His disciples could barely carry him to church and he could not muster the ...
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14 votes
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Why are the Vatican archives kept secret?

"Secret" is probably about the worst possible translation I can think of for the original term. The "Archivio Segreto Vaticano" is the current term in Italian, as documented on the ...
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  • 18.3k
14 votes
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Why do Christians have different books in their Bible?

Most of the books of the Bible were written by different people. An estimated 40 authors wrote the 70 or so books that various Christians accept as "the Bible". Most of these authors wrote ...
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  • 12.8k
14 votes
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Was universalism the majority belief of the early church?

Background Obviously, this topic suffers from dogmatists on both sides. Universalists are desperate to overstate their case, and traditionalists are desperate to prove the early church didn't have ...
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13 votes
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What does 'ages of ages' mean, specifically?

The phrase comes from the Bible. It’s a fairly wooden translation of the Greek idiom εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. Many English translations instead use “forever and ever” or something along those lines,...
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