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Seventy-Two Sects of Christianity

(Christian Sects Before the Rise of Islam)

1. Ebionism They regarded Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah while rejecting his
divinity and insisted on the necessity of following Jewish law and rites, and that
Joseph is the natural father of Jesus and that Mary and Joseph conceived Jesus in
the way that all parents conceive children.

2. Helvidianism Antidicomarians (lit. opponents of Mary). Helvidius author of

a work written prior to 383 against the belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary
taught that Mary was a virgin at Christs birth, but after the birth of Christ, she and
Joseph engaged in marital relations and conceived a number of children.

3. Valentinianism taught that Holy Spirit deposited the Christ Child in her womb
and that Mary was the a surrogate mother, but not truly Christs genetic mother.
Valentinian the Gnostic (d. 180?) taught that the Son of God passed through Mary
like water through a straw.

4. Collyridianism early Christian heretical movement in pre-Islamic Arabia, from

the Greek word meaning bread roll since adherents offered quasi-
Eucharistic bread sacrifice to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Heresy that holds that Mary
is a divine goddess worthy of the worship of adoration. Their strongest opponent,
Epiphanius of Salamis, who wrote about them in his Panarion of about 375.

5. Nestorianism a Christological doctrine advanced by Nestorius (386450) that

emphasizes a distinction between the human and divine natures of the divine
person, Jesus. A form of dyophysitism. Nestorianism holds that Christ had two
loosely united natures, divine and human: the Word, which is eternal, and the
Flesh, which is not, came together in a hypostatic union, Jesus Christ, Jesus thus
being both fully man and God, of two ousia substance but of one prosopon

6. Anomoeanism In 4th century, followers of Atius and Eunomius believe that

Jesus Christ was not of the same nature (consubstantial) as God the Father nor was
of like nature (homoiousian), as maintained by the semi-Arians, but rather
different and dissimilar. The Word had not only a different substance but also a
will different from that of the Father. Also Heteroousianism.

7. Homoiousianism 4th-century theological party which held that God the Son
was of a similar, but not identical, substance or essence to God the Father.
Proponents of this view included Eustathius of Sebaste and George of Laodicea.
The Son is like in substance but not necessarily to be identified with the essence
of the Father.

8. Homoeanism the Son is similar to God the Father, without reference to

substance or essence. The father is so incomparable and ineffably transcendent that
even the ideas of likeness, similarity or identity in substance or essence with the
subordinate Son and Holy Spirit are heretical and not justified by the Gospels. They
held that the Father is like the Son in some sense but that even to speak of ousia is
impertinent speculation. The Acacians, also known as the Homoeans, a sect which
first emerged into distinctness as an ecclesiastical party some time before the
convocation of the joint synods of Rimini and Seleucia Isauria in 359. The sect
owed its name and political importance to Acacius, Bishop of Caesarea.

9. Sabellianism (also known as modalism, modalistic monarchianism, or modal

monarchism) from Sabellius, who was a theologian and priest from the 3rd century
is the nontrinitarian or anti-Trinitarian belief that the Heavenly Father, Resurrected
Son, and Holy Spirit are three different modes or aspects of one monadic God, as
perceived by the believer, rather than three distinct persons within the Godhead
that there are no real or substantial differences among the three, such that there is
no substantial identity for the Spirit or the Son. Known as patripassianism (from
Latin patri- father and passio suffering), because the teaching required that since
the God the Father had become directly incarnate in Christ, that God literally
sacrificed Himself on the Cross.

10. Adoptionism The first known exponent of Adoptionism in the 2nd century is
Theodotus of Byzantium. Also known as dynamic monarchianism denies the
eternal pre-existence of Christ, and although it explicitly affirms his deity
subsequent to events in his life. A nontrinitarian theological doctrine which holds
that Jesus was adopted as the Son of God at his baptism, his resurrection, or his

11. Subordinationism asserts that the Son and the Holy Spirit are subordinate to
God the Father in nature and being.

12. Macedonianism Founded by Macedonius a Greek bishop of Constantinople

from 342 up to 346, they denied the Godhood of the Holy Ghost, hence the Greek
name Pneumatomachi or 'Combators against the Spirit'.

13. Apollinarism or Apollinarianism was a view proposed by Apollinaris of

Laodicea (died 390) that Jesus could not have had a human mind; rather, Jesus had
a human body and lower soul (the seat of the emotions) but a divine mind.

14. Eutychianism derived from the ideas of Eutyches of Constantinople (c. 380
c. 456). The human nature of Christ was overcome by the divine, or that Christ
had a human nature but it was unlike the rest of humanity. One formulation is that
Eutychianism stressed the unity of Christ's nature to such an extent that Christ's
divinity consumed his humanity as the ocean consumes a drop of vinegar. Eutyches
maintained that Christ was of two natures but not in two natures: separate divine
and human natures had united and blended in such a manner that although Jesus
was homoousian with the Father, he was not homoousian with man.

15. Novatianism an Early Christian sect devoted to Novatian. Lapsed Christians,

who had not maintained their confession of faith under persecution, may not be
received again into communion with the church. It held a strict view that refused
readmission to communion of Lapsi, those baptized Christians who had denied
their faith or performed the formalities of a ritual sacrifice to the pagan gods, under
the pressures of the persecution sanctioned by Emperor Decius, in 250.

16. Donatism Christian clergy are required to be faultless for their ministrations
to be effective and for the prayers and sacraments they conduct to be valid.

Rigorists, holding that the church must be a church of "saints", not "sinners", and
that sacraments, such as baptism, administered by traditores were invalid.

17. Monophysitism the Christological position that, after the union of the divine
and the human in the historical Incarnation, Jesus Christ, as the incarnation of the
eternal Son or Word (Logos) of God, had only a single "nature" which was either
divine or a synthesis of divine and human. Jesus Christ, who is identical with the
Son, is one person and one hypostasis in one nature: divine.

18. Monothelitism or monotheletism formally emerged in Armenia and Syria in

629. Jesus Christ has two natures but only one will.

19. Miaphysitism sometimes called henophysitism the person of Jesus Christ,

Divine nature and Human nature are united (, mia - "one" or "unity") in a
compound nature ("physis"), the two being united without separation, without
mixture, without confusion, and without alteration.

20. Docetism the doctrine that the phenomenon of Christ, his historical and
bodily existence, and above all the human form of Jesus, was mere semblance
without any true reality. Jesus only seemed to be human, and that his human form
was an illusion.

21. Marcionism was an Early Christian dualist belief system that originated in
the teachings of Marcion of Sinope at Rome around the year 144. Jesus was the
savior sent by God, and Paul the Apostle was his chief apostle, but he rejected the
Hebrew Bible and the God of Israel. Marcionists believed that the wrathful Hebrew
God was a separate and lower entity than the all-forgiving God of the New

22. Paulicianism

23. Arianism is a Christological concept which asserts the belief that Jesus Christ
is the Son of God who was begotten by God the Father at a point in time, is distinct
from the Father and is therefore subordinate to the Father. Arian teachings were
first attributed to Arius (c. 256336), a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Egypt.
the Son of God did not always exist but was begotten by God the Father.

24. Montanism an early Christian movement of the late 2nd century, later
referred to by the name of its founder, Montanus, believing in new revelations and
ecstasies, unapproved by the wider Church. It was a prophetic movement that called
for a reliance on the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit

25. Bonosianism Antidicomarian sect. Bonosus was a Bishop of Sardica in the

latter part of the fourth century, who taught against the doctrine of the perpetual
virginity of Mary. They affirmed the purely adoptive divine filiation of Christ.
However, they differed from the Adoptionists in rejecting all natural sonship,
whereas the Adoptionists, distinguishing in Christ the God and the man, attributed
to the former a natural, and to the latter an adoptive sonship.

26. Jovinianism Antidicomarian sect founded by Jovinian (c. 405).

27. Photinianism Photinus (d. 376)

28. Origenism Origen Adamantius (184/185 253/254).