The methods to which resort was had against Gnostics, Marcionites, and Montan-ists to preserve the integrity of the Gospel and the efforts to further the unity of Christians in one fellowship were by no means entirely successful. To be sure, as organized bodies these three dissident groups eventually died out, although not until several centuries had elapsed. However, other causes of contention arose and, indeed, have continued to arise across the centuries. Some of them were healed without a visible breach in the Church, but others were so potent that the acceptance by all parties to the dispute of the apostolic succession of the episcopate, the authority of the New Testament, and the Apostles' Creed did not estop formal and permanent division. Still less was the rupture prevented of that unity envisaged by Christ and such of his early exponents as Paul, that based upon love.
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