Off-shoots of Christianity

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Off-shoots of Christianity
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Since the time of Christ, there have been new leaders claiming to have a new understanding of God. Often these ideas are taken up by large groups of followers and new religious movements form that are distinct from Christianity and considered heretical by mainstream Christians. These movements are sometimes referred to as cults (or Christian cults). Some of the most famous of these off-shoots of Christianity are the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormonism. A feature that often develops in the teaching of cults is the denial of either the deity or humanity of Christ.

Early off-shoots of Christianity

Gnosticism

In the first two centuries after Christ there was a belief in special knowledge (or "gnosis") which could release the intrinsically good soul from the intrinsically evil body. This philosophy pervaded into Christianity, and was known as Gnosticism. It was strongly condemned by many of the early church fathers.

Arianism

In the fourth century, a dispute over the deity of Christ developed, known as Arianism, after its main proponent, Arius. Arius taught strict monotheism, and believed that Jesus was a created being, who was not God. This was strongly condemned in the Council of Nicaea. Particularly important in the arguments against included Biblical passages where Jesus claimed to be one with God, and the understanding that Jesus could live a sinless life only because he was God, the Son. For a hundred years or so, Arianism remained strong and a real threat to orthodox Christianity.

Later off-shoots of Christianity

In the last 200 years there has been a resurgence in sects breaking away from mainstream orthodox Christianity. This partly coincides with greater personal religious freedom and tolerance in much of the world. Beliefs of Arianism have again resurfaced. In religions like the Jehovah's Witnesses and Christadelphianism, the eternality and deity of Christ are disputed.

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