One of the most significant, Protestant-like “divisions” in the early church may be found in the simple designations of “The School of Antioch” or “The School of Alexandria,” both of which held differing views of Scripture, and later, of the person of Christ. This manifested itself in “The Great Schism,” a schism of church governments of “The Church of the East,” the separation of the Church of Alexandria, etc.
Samuel Hugh Moffett, in his work, “A History of Christianity in Asia,” describes this “Great Schism” this way:
What finally divided the early church, East from West, Asia from Europe, was neither war nor persecution, but the blight of a violent theological controversy, that raged through the Mediterranean world in the second quarter of the fifth century. It came to be called the Nestorian controversy, and how much of it was theological and how much political is still being debated, but it irreversibly split the church not only east and west but also north and south and cracked it into so many pieces that it was never the same again. (pg. 169)
This is an ugly memory for the “Greco-Roman” church — it is a far larger and messier divide than the 1054 schism between the Roman and Orthodox churches. It makes a lie of the “unified church” claims of today’s Roman Catholic apologists. It is the clearest example that there never was a governmentally-unified church — especially not “under the papacy” — ever in the history of the church.