History of the Church

  1. The Apostolic Period, AD 30-100.
    • Review of the apostles James, Peter, Paul, and John. See Bible Survey.
    • Missionary expansion in Acts. See Chronology of Acts.
    • The New Testament canon was written. See Bible Survey.
    • Persecution was local and sporadic until c. 250. Nero (r. 54-68), Domition (r. 81-90).
    • Church organization in the first century (elder = overseer = Pastor/Teacher, local. See doctrines.) was different from the church which soon developed (overseer over elders).
    • Beginning, foundation, documentation, spread of church.
  2. The Post-Apostolic Church and the Struggle for Survival, AD 100-313.
    • Persecutions and the martyr complex. Causes: exclusiveness in political, religious, social, economic life. Edict of Milan (Constantine, 313).
    • Doctrinal and philosophical controversies. Ebionites, Gnosticism, Marcion (c. 150), Manichaeism, Neoplatonism, Montanism (Montanus c. 150), Monarchianism.
    • Doctrinal developments. Monarchial bishop, primacy of Rome in dignity and honor by 250, then in jurisdiction and authority. Formation of canon (c. 175). Theology proper and Christology beginning to be thought out and formulated.
    • Important persons of this period. Fathers, Apologists, Polemicists. Clement of Rome (c. 95), Ignatius (d.c. 110), Polycarp (d.c. 155), Tertullian (c. 150-240), Justin Martyr (c. 100-166), Irenaeus (b.c. 120), Cyprian (c. 200-258), Origen (c. 185-254).
  3. The Imperial Church Consolidates and Expands, AD 313-590.
    • The political scene and some emperors. Constantine (r. 306-337) legalized Christianity. Theodosius (r. 379-395) made it illegal to depart Nicene faith.
    • Church councils. Nicea in 325, essence and trinity. Constantinople in 381, restate Nicene and add Holy Spirit. Ephesus in 431, Nestorian/Pelagian. Chalcedon in 451, the Person of Christ.
    • Canon of New Testament was officially closed by the end of the fourth century. In the East Athanasius Easter letter (367) lists all 27 books. I the West through Jerome and Augustine at two African councils (Hippo 393, Carthage 397) and then ratified by the Roman bishop.
    • Doctrinal developments. Theology proper, Christology, Anthropology, Donatist.
    • Monasticism. Stages: Asceticism, hermit life, cloister life, orders. Poverty, celibacy, obedience. Misunderstood priorities in Christian Way of Life.
    • Missions. Migrations of peoples. Ulfilas (c. 311-383) to Goths. Martin of Tours (c. 316-396) to Burgundians. Clovis, king of Franks (d. 511), to Franks. Soldiers, merchants to British Isles. Patrick (c. 389-461) to Ireland. Columba (c. 521-597) to Scotland.
    • Important persons. Arius (d. 336), Athanasius (c. 296-373), Jerome (c. 340-419), Augustine (354-430), Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 260-340), John Chrysostom (347-407). Leo the great, Bishop of Rome from 440-461, preeminence of Roman Bishop as Peter’s successor, administrator, enforced church uniformity, protected Rome.
  4. The Rise of the Church Empire and Its Missionary Expansion, AD 590-800.
    • The growth of the papacy and its relationship to the Holy Roman Empire. Leo I (p. 440-461). Gregory the Great (p. 590-60), true pope in fact, maintained Roman bishop had jurisdiction over whole church, conflict with Eastern bishops, civil duties, great doctor of Roman Catholic Church in moral theology. RC Franks (Charles Martel, 689-741, Pepin the Short, 714-768, Charlemagne, 742-814. Charlemagne controlled France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and Spain) and popes cooperated to defeat the Barbarians and rule Europe. Charlemagne crowned Emperor of the Romans by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800. Reestablished the old Roman Empire in the West.
    • Missionary expansion. Islam (Mohammed, 570-632). Expansion in British Isles resulted in Whitby (663) and Roman Christianity. Germany (Boniface 680-754).
    • Doctrinal controversies. Monotheletic (690), Saint and Image Worship (787), Filioque (9th), Adoptionism (9th), Predestinarian (9th), Eucharistic (9th and 11th).
  5. Movements within the Church and Between the Church and State, AD 800-1054.
    • The Holy Roman Empire. Charlemagne died 814. His son, Louis the Pious ruled 814-840. Sons of Louis the Pious divided the kingdom in Treaty of Verdun (843). Charles the Bald (France), Louis (Germany), Lothair (Central Corridor). Treaty of Mersin (870), Germany. Otto I (912-973), a German king and emperor of Saxon dynasty. Crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire in 962 by Pope John XII. Holy Roman Empire extended from 962-1806.
    • Feudalism. System of government based upon land. Manor, lord, feudal knight, serf, priest. Beneficial to society. Church entered feudalism.
    • Decretals and Transubstantiation. Decretals are papal letters with the force of law. False Decretals were forgeries used in 9th – 11th centuries to strengthen papal supremacy. Transubstantiation developed by Radbertus in 831.
    • Separation of Roman and Greek Church, 1054. Began in 330 with Constantine.
    • Monastic reform began in Cluny, Eastern France in 910.
  6. Papal Supremacy and the Rise of Scholasticism, AD 1054-1305.
    • The rise and fall of papacy. Hildebrand became Pope Gregory VII in 1073. College of Cardinals, dictatus papae, Investiture Struggle. Innocent III (p. 1161-1216) was zenith of papacy. Henry IV (1077), Philip (1200), John (1213) were goats. Bonaface VIII (p. 1274-1303) low point, Clericis Laicos (1296), unam sanctum (1301).
    • The Crusades, 1095-1291. Holy wars against enemies of the cross to recapture Palestine for Christianity. Seven major crusades. Religious failure. National changes.
    • Scholasticism. An intellectual movement to strengthen faith by reason through rationalizing theology. Rationalize, arrange existing content. Roman Catholic Church. Summa Theologica. Universities c. 1200.
    • Sacraments. Developed in 12th-13th centuries. Contain and cause grace. Baptism, confirmation, eucharist, penance, extreme unction, ordination, marriage.
    • Monastic reform. Reform, new orders (Dominicans), military monasticism.
    • Lay reform. External forces of reform, Albigenses, Waldenses.
  7. Preliminaries to the Reformation, AD 1305-1517.
    • Roman Catholic Church. Abuse of authority and power, Babylonian Captivity (1309-1377), Great Schism (1378-1417), decline in clergy and spiritual life.
    • The Renaissance and Humanism. The period of accelerated transition from medieval to modern life in Europe (14th – 16th centuries). Humanism was the rebirth of classical learning within this transition. Northern (Erasmus) and Southern (Petrarch). Involved classical learning and languages, man centered, secular, individualistic world view. Emphasized confidence in human nature and education, theological skepticism, natural religion.
    • Mysticism. Movement by man to experience presence of God. Subjective experience without objective authority. Faith active. Minimized Bible Doctrine.
    • Forerunners of Reformation. John Wycliff (1329-1384), Jan Hus (1373-1415), William Savonarola (1452-1498). Bible the central force.
    • Other factors. National consciousness, printing press (John Gutenberg c. 1456), world exploration.
  8. The Reformation and the Counter Reformation, AD 1517-1648.
    • Causes. Indirect causes were political, economic, intellectual, moral, social, and theological. Direct cause was sale of indulgences in Germany. Albert of Mainz. Johann Tetzel.
    • German, Martin Luther (1483-1546), 95 theses, 31 October 1517 in Wittenberg, Heidelberg, Augsburg, Leipzig, Worms, Wartburg, Wittenberg. Diets of Speyer, German Bible. Katherine Von Bora (1525). Strong leader, student, writer, preacher, Bible, faith, priesthood. Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560). Theologian. Wrote Lutheran creeds.
    • German Swiss. Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531). Priest, patriot, student. Zurich. Disputations. Second Battle of Kappel. Heinrich Bullinger (1504-1575). Pastor.
    • French Swiss. John Calvin (1509-1564). Universities of Orleans, Bourges, Paris, Lawyer. Basal, Genova. Student, thinker, exegete, theologian, writer, teacher. Institutes (four editions), commentaries. Reformed Theology. TULIP. Theodore Beza (1519-1605). Good exegete, theologian.
    • Anabaptist Tradition Conrad Grebel (1498-1526), Felix Manz (1498-1527), George Blaurock (1491-1529), Menno Simons (1496-1561). Maligned, three disputations in Zurich, many martyrs. Bible, faith, believer’s baptism, gathered church. Separation of church and state, many pacifists. Some radicals (Munster). Most moderate.
    • English Reformation. Lollards, William Tyndale (1494-1536). Henry VIII (r. 1509-1547) wanted male heir. Edward VI (r. 1547-1553), Book of Common Prayer, 42 Articles. Mary Tutor (r. 1553-1558), Roman Catholic, martyrs. Elizabeth (r.1558-1603), Settlement of 1559, 39 Articles, Church of Middle Way. Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556). Church of England. Puritans.
    • Roman Catholic Counter Reformation. Internal/ external. Authority of Pope, orthodox, change moral and religious life. Spain (Ximenes c. 1436-1517). Theologians, reforming orders (Jesuits, Ignatius of Loyola 1491-1556, authorized 1540), reforming popes (Paul III, p. 1534-1549). Index, inquisition writing, anti-Protestant. Council of Trent (1545-1563), official Roman Catholic theology and papal authority.

Copyright Note:

Tod M. Kennedy, 1980*

*Periods 1-4 completed 1979, revised 1980; Periods 5-8 completed 1980; and periods 9-11 to be added at a later date.