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Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, the Churches of the Anglican Communion 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 Americas.
Features of Western Christianity
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).
The date of Easter usually differs between Western and Eastern Christianity.
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 traces its roots, directly or indirectly, to the Patriarchate of Rome, one of the original five patriarchates of the Church of the Roman Empire. The Patriarch of Rome, or Pope, along with his bishops and theologians, administered the Church for all of the western provinces of the Empire and continued this role even after the Western Empire disintegrated. Greek was the language of the early Church, which reflected Christianity's origins in the Greek East and Greek's importance in the Empire as a literary language. Following later trends in the western provinces the Western Church gradually switched from using Greek as its primary language to using Latin. Conflicts between factions in the Church existed as early as the 2nd century. But as the Eastern and Western Empires split and the Western lands were gradually assimilated by Germanic kingdoms, schisms and denunciations between the Eastern and Western Churches grew culminating in a final split in 1054 AD.
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 and Eastern Christians twice attempted to reunite, but after the sacking and capture of Constantinople by Westerners this became impossible.
The rise of Protestantism would lead to major divisions within Western Christianity. 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.
|This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Western Christianity. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.|