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(Gr. schisma). Ecclesiastical term for division in or separation from a church, distinguished from heresy in that the separation involved is not basically doctrinal. It may not entail loss of orders, i.e., schismatic ordination and administration of sacraments are valid. In this technical sense the word first occurs in Irenaeus.* Cyprian* discussed the relation of the church to schism, and he condemned schismatics for endangering men's souls, regarding them as worse than apostates and their baptism as worthless. Augustine* took a similar view, but did not regard schismatic sacraments as invalid. In time obedience to the Roman pontiff became the test of catholicity. Outstanding schisms include the Novatianist* and Donatist* churches, the “Great Schism”* between the Greek and Latin churches (finally established in 1054), the Avignon* schism (1378-1417), and the schism between the Church of England and Rome (since 1570).

SCHISM sĭz’ m (σχίσμα, G5388). “Schism” does not appear in the RSV, but the Gr. from which the word is transliterated appears six times in the NT. In Jesus’ parable of sewing an “unshrunk cloth on an old garment” it is tr. “tear” (Matt 9:16; Mark 2:21). In the three references in John when the Jews were disputing over who Jesus was, the tr. is “a division” (John 7:43; 9:16; 10:19). In Paul’s reproval of wrangling in the Corinthian church it is tr. “discord” (1 Cor 12:25). Schism designates a division within the church, a disruption of harmony and coordination.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

Only in 1Co 12:25. The same Greek word, literally, "a split," is translated "rent" in Mt 9:16; Mr 2:21; and "division" in Joh 7:43; 9:16; 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 (1Co 12:18 ). The ecclesiastical meaning is that of a break from a church organization, that may or may not be connected with a doctrinal dissent.