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Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [1]

From a rent, clift, fissure; in its general acceptation it signifies division or separation; but is chiefly used in speaking of separations happening from diversity of opinions among people of the same religion and faith. All separations, however, must not, properly speaking, be considered as schisms. Schism, says Mr. Arch. Hall, is, properly, a division among those who stand in one connection of fellowship: but where the difference is carried so far, that the parties concerned entirely break up all communion one with another, and go into distinct connections for obtaining the general ends of that religious fellowship which they once did, but now do not carry on and pursue with united endeavours, as one church joined in the bonds of individual society; where this is the case, it is undeniable there is something very different from schism: it is no longer a schism in, but a separation from, the body.

Dr. Campbell supposes that the word schism in Scripture does not always signify open separation, but that men may be guilty of schism by such an alienation of affection from their brethren as violates the internal union subsisting in the hearts of Christians, though there be no error in doctrine, nor separation from communion.

See  1 Corinthians 3:3-4 .  1 Corinthians 12:24-26 . The great schism of the West is that which happened in the times of Clement VII. and Urban VI. which divided the church for forty or fifty years, and was at length ended by the election of Martin V. at the council of Constance. The Romanists number thirty-four schisms in their church: they bestow the name English schism on the reformation of religion in this kingdom. Those of the church of England apply the term schism to the separation of the Presbyterians, Independents, Anabaptists, and Methodists. "The sin of schism, " says the learned Blackstone, "as such, is by no means the object of temporal coercion and punishment.

If, through weakness of intellect, through misdirected piety, through perverseness and acerbity of temper, or through a prospect of secular advantage in herding with a party, men quarrel with the ecclesiatical establishment, the civil magistrate has nothing to do with it; unless their tenets and practice are such as threaten ruin or disturbance to the state. All persecution for diversity of opinions, however ridiculous and absurd they may be, is contrary to every principle of sound policy and civil freedom. The names and subordination of the clergy; the posture of devotion, the materials and colour of a minister's garment, the joining in a known or unknown form of prayer, and other matters of the same kind, must be left to the option of every man's private judgment." The following have been proposed as remedies for schism. "

1. Be disposed to support your brethren by all the friendly attentions in your power, speaking justly of their preaching and character. Never withhold these proofs of your brotherly love, unless they depart from the doctrines or spirit of the Gospel.

2. Discountenance the silly reports you may hear, to the injury of any of your brethren. Oppose backbiting and slander to the utmost.

3. whenever any brother is sinking in the esteem of his flock through their caprice, perverseness, or antinomianism, endeavour to hold up his hands and his heart in his work.

4. Never espouse the part of the factious schismatics, till you have heard your brother's account of their conduct.

5. In cases of an open separation, do not preach for separatists till it be evident that God is with them. Detest the thought of wounding a brother's feelings through the contemptible influence of a party spirit; for through this abominable principle, schisms are sure to be multiplied.

6. Let the symptoms of disease in the patients, arouse the benevolent attention of the physicians. Let them check the froward, humble the proud, and warn the unruly; and many a schismatic distemper will receive timely cure.

7. Let elderly ministers and tutors of academics pay more attention to these things, in proportion as the disease may prevail; for much good may be accomplished by their influence."

See King on the Primitive Church, p. 152.; Hales and Henry on Schism; Dr. Campbell's Prel. Disc. to the Gospels, part 3; Haweis's Appendix to the first vol. of his Chruch History; Archibald Hall's View of a Gospel Church; Dr. Owen's View of the Nature of Schism; Buck's Sermons, ser. 6. on Divisions.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [2]

σχίσμα. The word is rendered 'divisions' in  1 Corinthians 1:10 , etc., and refers to divisions caused by parties in the church. In view of the unity of the Spirit, schism cannot be regarded in any other light than as sin. The unity contemplated in the church was not merely that of being gathered together in assembly. The Corinthians were exhorted: "That ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions [schisms] among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement. "  1 Corinthians 1:10;  1 Corinthians 11:18;  1 Corinthians 12:25 . The modern ideas of 'agreeing to differ,' or of 'unity only in essentials,' are not found in scripture, but the contrary. At Philippi the saints were exhorted to walk by the same rule, to mind the same thing; and then is added "If in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you."   Philippians 3:15 . The ' unity of the Spirit' cannot be lightly disregarded. Christians are exhorted to use diligence to keep it in the uniting bond of peace.   Ephesians 4:3 . There are different lines of ministry, as is manifest in the apostles Paul and John, but all true ministry tends to one end — Christ; and hence such differences in no way clash with the unity of the Spirit. See Heresy

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [3]

1: Σχίσμα (Strong'S #4978 — Noun Neuter — schisma — skhis'-mah )

"a rent, division," is translated "schism" in  1—Corinthians 12:25 , metaphorically of the contrary condition to that which God has designed for a local church in "tempering the body together" (ver. 24), the members having "the same care one for another" ("the same" being emphatic). See Division , No. 3, RENT.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [4]

This word occurs only once in the NT, viz. in  1 Corinthians 12:25. St. Paul, in writing to the Corinthians on spiritual gifts, teaches them that one member of the Church should not look down upon another because he has not the same spiritual gift. All members are necessary to the perfection of the Body of Christ. He illustrates this from the analogy of the human body, showing that even the smallest member is necessary to its perfection and that ‘there should be no schism in the body.’ In this passage σχίσμα has its simple meaning of ‘rent’ or ‘division.’ The Gr. word occurs in other passages, where it is translation‘divisions.’ The later ecclesiastical use of ‘schism’ does not occur in the NT. See Heresy, Divisions.

Morley Stevenson.

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [5]

from σχισμα , a rent or fissure. In its general meaning it signifies division or separation; and in particular, on account of religion. Schism, is properly a division among those who stand in one connection or fellowship; but when the difference is carried so far that the parties concerned entirely break off all communion and intercourse one with another, and form distinct connections for obtaining the general ends of that religious fellowship which they once cultivated; it is undeniable there is something different from the schism spoken of in the New Testament. This is a separation from the body. Dr. Campbell shows that the word schism in Scripture does not usually signify an open separation, but that men may be guilty of schism by such an alienation of affection from their brethren as violates the internal union in the hearts of Christians, though there be no error in doctrine, nor separation from communion.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [6]

A rent or fissure; generally used in the New Testament to denote a division within the Christian church, by contentions and alienated affections, without an outward separation into distinct bodies,  1 Corinthians 1:10-12   12:25,26 . The sin may lie on the side of the majority, or of the minority, or both. It is a sin against Christian love, and strikes at the heart of Christianity,  John 17:21   Romans 12:4-21 .

King James Dictionary [7]

Schism n. sizm. L. schisma Gr. to divide, L. scindo.

1. In a general sense, division or separation but appropriately, a division or separation in a church or denomination of christians, occasioned by diversity of opinions breach of unity among people of the same religious faith.

- Set bounds to our passions by reason, to our errors by truth, and to our schisms by charity.

In Scripture, the word seems to denote a breach of charity, rather than a difference of doctrine.

2. Separation division among tribes or classes of people.

Webster's Dictionary [8]

(n.) Division or separation; specifically (Eccl.), permanent division or separation in the Christian church; breach of unity among people of the same religious faith; the offense of seeking to produce division in a church without justifiable cause.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [9]

 1 Corinthians 12:25

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [10]

SCHISM . See Heresy.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [11]

siz ' m ( σχίσμα , schı́sma ): Only in   1 Corinthians 12:25 . The same Greek word, literally, "a split," is translated "rent" in  Matthew 9:16;  Mark 2:21; and "division" in  John 7:43;  John 9:16;  John 10:19 . It designates "a separation," not from, but within, the church, interfering with the harmonious coordination and cooperation of the members described in the preceding verses ( 1 Corinthians 12:18 ff). The ecclesiastical meaning is that of a break from a church organization, that may or may not be connected with a doctrinal dissent.