Western Christianity

Western Christianity

Western Christianity is a term used to cover the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, the Churches of the Anglican Communion, the Lutheran Church and Protestant Churches, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage. The term is used in contrast to Eastern Christianity. It developed and came to be predominant in most of Western, Northern, and Southern Europe, parts of Eastern Europe, much of Southern Africa, and throughout Australia and the Western Hemisphere.

Features of Western Christianity

Original sin

Western Christianity's doctrine of original sin. Some people attribute Western Christianity's holding this doctrine to the influence of Saint Augustine.

Filioque clause

Most Western Christians use an amended version of the Nicene Creed that states that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son". This is considered heretical by most Eastern Christians, who use the Creed as originally promulgated by the Council of Nicaea, saying that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father" (See Filioque clause).

Easter's date

The date of Easter usually differs between Western and Eastern Christianity.

Western denominations

Western Christianity makes up about 90% of Christians worldwide. The Roman Catholic Church alone accounts for over half of all Christians. The various Protestant and related denominations make up another 40%. Lutherans, Baptists, and Anglicans are some of the larger and older Western denominations outside the Roman Catholic Church. More recent denominations include Seventh-Day Adventists, and Pentecostals.

History of Western Christianity

Western Christianity took shape through the Roman Church and its related bishops and theologians. Greek was the language of the early Church, which reflected the surrounding Hellenic culture. The Roman church, however, grew in stature and soon became the first Church. It also switched from using Greek as the language of the church to using Latin. Conflicts between Eastern and Western ways caused schisms and denunciations from the 2nd century until the two sides definitively split in 1054.

Rome ruled Western Christianity for hundreds of years. Sometimes Rome, in the person of the pope, was more powerful relative to the princes, emperors, and bishops, and sometimes less. Western Christians twice attempted to reunite with Eastern Orthodoxy, but also sacked and held Constantinople.

In the 16th century, Reformers broke away from Rome and took many faithful with them.

In the Age of Discovery, Europeans spread Western Christianity to the New World and colonies elsewhere. Protestantism, including Anglicanism, came to North America and Australia. Roman Catholicism came to South American and the Philippines.

Today, the geographical distinction between Western and Eastern Christianity is considerably less absolute than it formerly was, due to the great migrations of Europeans across the globe, as well as the spread of missionaries worldwide over the past five centuries.

ee also

*Holy Roman Empire
*Latin Rite
*List of Christian denominations
*Protestant Reformation
*Western churches

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