BL - 26 Church History

Importance of Church History
The study of church history has many values.  It helps the students to understand the origin, progress and impact of church in the world.  The great heritage of church and Christianity can be understood only by studying church history.  Moreover, it helps the present Christians to avoid the past errors that were made in the centuries past.
Especially, we can learn in church history, How the Spirit of God has been working in the history, by establishing, edifying and enlarging the church.  We understand How the Holy Spirit enabled the church leaders to carry on the mission to various parts of the world as well.
Brief Out-line of Church History
The Church history can be divided into six periods from the beginning to till today.  Each period has a turning point of great events; marking the end of one and the beginning of another.
Period – I
The Apostolic Church (AD 30 – 100)
(Pentecost to the death of the Apostle John)
Period – II
The Persecuted Church (AD 100 – 313)
(From the death of John to Edict of Constantine)
Period – III
The Imperial Church (AD 313 – 476)
(Edict of Constantine to the Fall of Rome AD – 476)
Period  – IV
The Medieval Church (AD 476 – 1453)
(Fall of Rome to the Fall of Constantinople AD – 1453)
Period – V
The Reformed Church (AD 1453 – 1648)
(Fall of Constantinople to the end of thirty years of civil war in 1648)
Period – VI
The Present Church (AD 1648 – 21st Century Today)
A.   The Jerusalem Church
The Lord Jesus Christ predicted that He would build His church (Mt. 16 : 18).  In order to fulfill His plan and to build church, before His ascension, He told the disciples to stay in Jerusalem (Act. 1 : 4-8).  As they stayed in Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit baptized them all on the day of Pentecost on which the church began.  The church began with baptism at Jerusalem would spread universally as body of Christ (Act 2).  The first local church was also Jerusalem church.  Hence both universal (Spiritually Body of Christ) and local church began on the day of Pentecost at Jerusalem. The Jerusalem church exercised its faith in Christ based on the scripture that is the Bible.  Hence it can be called Jerusalem Bible Church.  The Jerusalem Bible church as well as first century church   grew under the teachings of Apostles.  Therefore this first century church was known as Apostolic church or Apostolic Period.
  1. Adding Members to the Church
                   The people who exercised their faith in Christ were baptized and added into the church (Act. 2 : 38-47).  The church grew numerically (Act 2 : 41; 4 : 4 ; 5 : 14; 6 : 7) as well as spiritually through the teaching of Apostles (Act 2 : 42).  The Apostles dedicated their time to pray and preach (Act 6 : 4).
  1. Appointment of Elders
                   As the membership grew, the church began to realize the equal importance of care in the church.  In order to maintain equality among the church members, the Apostles appointed the elders in the Jerusalem church.  (Act 6 : 1-6)  The elders were appointed according to their spiritual maturity and spiritual qualification.  The elders (Here Deacons) took care of the daily affairs of the church and maintained equality in the church.  The deacons were able to teach and preach too. (Act 6 : 8 ; 8 : 5)
  1. Expansion of Church (35 – 48 AD)
  Although the church began in Jerusalem, it gradually grew and expanded its mission into Judean Area.  They began to grow geographically according to the plan given by the Lord to Apostles in Acts 1 : 8.  During this period the church expanded from Jerusalem to Judea, then to Samaria, and finally to gentile areas (Whole world). 
  1. Expansion in Jewish Areas
In the early period the church grew only in Jewish area.  Both Hebrew speaking Jews and Greek speaking Jews lived in Jewish areas.  Many of them accepted Christ.  However other unbelieving Jews started persecuting Christian Jews.  Stephen was the first Christian martyr who was killed by the unbelieving Jews. (Act 6 : 1-14 ; 7 : 1-60).  Saul was also a leader who persecuted the Christians. (Act 7 : 58).  He was one among them who killed Stephen.  Due to this persecution, the Christians were scattered and they preached gospel wherever they went. (Act 8 : 4)
  1. Expansion in Samaria
   Philip was a deacon in the Jerusalem Church. (Act 6 : 5)   He first preached the Gospel in Samaria.  As a result of his preaching, many Samaritans believed Jesus Christ as their Saviour (Act 8 : 5-13).  Hence a church was established in Samaria; and it was recognized by the Apostles at Jerusalem.  Before recognizing it, Apostle Peter came and confirmed that they were believers (Act. 8 : 5-25).  By this time, the church has expanded to Ethiopia (Act 8 : 26-40) through Ethiopian minister and to Damascus (Syria).
Paul intensified persecuting the church.  He had a team of Jews to persecute  the Christian in Damascus.  On the way to Damascus, the Lord Jesus Christ miraculously appeared to Paul.  Paul received the Lord Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour.  He was baptized by Ananias (Act 9 : 1-31).  Conversion of Paul was an important mile-stone in the history of Church.  Right after his conversion, Paul witnessed about Jesus Christ.
  1. Peter’s Preaching to Gentile Area
Since the apostles and the Christians preached the gospel only to the Jews, Angel spoke to Peter in a vision about Cornelius of Caesarea.  Angel spoke to Cornelius also about Peter.  God gave to Cornelius Peter’s correct address clearly through the angel.  So Peter went with the servants of Cornelius to his house and preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to them.  All people in that house spoke in tongue, (Probably in Aramaic and Hebrew), but Peter and other Jews did not speak in tongue at this time (Act 10 : 44-48; 11 : 15 ; 15 : 7-11).  From this time on, the gentiles also received Jesus Christ as their Saviour.  Gospel began to spread in gentile areas.
  1. The church at Antioch (Acts 11 : 19-30)
As scattered disciples preached the gospel everywhere they went, the gospel spread in Antioch.  It was the capital of Syria.  Many became believers.  Having heard about the believers in Antioch, the church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas as a representative to examine the believers in Antioch.  He stayed with the believers and understood their true faith in Christ.  Then he went to Tarsus, Paul’s home town and encouraged Paul for ministry.  The believers were first known as “Christian” in Antioch (Acts 11 : 26).
  1. Herod Persecuted the believer    
Herod began to persecute the church.  He first killed Apostle James the brother of John.  James was the first Apostle who was martyred.  The unbelieving Jews were happy.  Herod again persecuted the Church (Act 12 : 3).  So he intensified persecution by arresting Peter.  But God miraculously delivered Peter.
  1. The first Missionary Journey (Act 13 –14)
  2. The Holy Spirit guided the church at Antioch to sent missionaries to the unreached places.  Paul and Barnabas were the first missionaries, ordained by the church.  This sending of missionaries was the turning point in the history of church.  During this missionary Journey, they tried to reach both the Jews and the gentiles.  They preached gospel in the cities of Salamias, Paphos, Iconium etc.
  1. The First Council at Jerusalem (A.D. 48)
The Jewish Christians insisted that the gentile Christians must be circumcised and must follow the law of Moses in order to be saved.  This became a dispute in the early church.  So this matter was referred by Paul and Barnabas to the Apostles and the elders in Jerusalem Church.  The council was led by James, the brother of Jesus.  Finally the council decided that the gentiles are free from practicing the law of Moses, including circumcision and observing Sabbath.  With this decision, the gospel could go forward to people of every race of the world.  (Act 15 : 6, 12, 22).
  1. Growth of the Church in Gentile Regions (48 – 68 AD)
                   The decision of council at Jerusalem opened the new doors among gentile regions for the gospel.  The church was free to bring all people of every race, and land under the realm of Christ.  The Jewish Christians were expected to obey and to practice the Jewish law but the Gentiles could become Christians and enter the fold (Church) only by faith in Christ without submission to the Jewish laws.  Hence the gospel was accepted by many gentile land.  The entire Roman Empire as well as some lands outside its boundaries was the field of the gospel.  As the church grew in gentile regions, the Jews intensified opposing the church.
                   During the period, the apostles led the church.  Paul was the tireless traveler, church planter and theologian.  Peter was one of the pillars of church (Gal. 2 : 9).  James, the younger brother of Jesus led the church as well as council at Jerusalem. (Mk. 6 : 3 ; Gal. 1 : 19 ; Act. 15 : 13-20).
                   After the council, Paul went for his second missionary journey with Silas (Silvanus) as his companion. (Act 15 : 36-18 : 22).  They crossed over to Europe beyond the Aegean sea and planted churches at Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth-the great commercial city of Greece, etc.  From Corinth, Paul wrote two epistles to the church at Thessalonica.  Then he returned to Caesarea after paying a brief visit to Ephesus in Asia  Minor.  He went to Jerusalem to report about his ministry among gentiles.  Then he returned back to Antioch of Syria.  This second missionary journey was for three years.
                   After a brief stay in Antioch of Syria, Paul again began his third missionary Trip (Act. 18 : 23 – 21 : 17).  Timothy was his companion (Act 16 : 13 ; Phil 2 : 19-22).  This third journey followed the same route through Asia Minor so that he could visit fourth time the churches, he planted in his first missionary journey.  This time, he lived two years in Ephesus. (Act 19 : 22 ; 20 : 4 ; 19 : 10).  Then he sailed to Macedonia (20 : 1,2) and visited the believers in Philippi, Thessalonica, etc.  He returned in the same route and he gave a farewell address to Ephesian elders at Miletus, the sea port of Ephesus. (Act 20 : 6-12, 17-37).  Then he went to Jerusalem through Caesarea.  When he went to the Temple at Jerusalem for the worship, he was attacked by a Jewish mob.  The Roman soldiers rescued him and kept him in their custody for safety.
                   Paul was in Caesarea as a prisoner for three years.  Then he was sent to Rome where he was in prison for two years.  On his voyage to Rome, he preached Christ wherever they halted.  Luke and Aristarchus (Act 27 : 2) were his companions.  When he was in prison, he won many soldiers for Christ.  He wrote four epistles from Rome (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon).  Based on Philemon 22, and II Tim. 4 : 20, it is believed that he was freed and visited different cities including Crete, where he left Titus in charge of the churches.  According to Christian traditional saying, Paul was again arrested in Crete and sent back to Rome (Tit. 1 : 5 ; 3 : 12).  Paul wrote Timothy, Titus, and II Timothy at this period.  He was martyred in AD 68.  All those who had seen the risen Lord from heaven after His ascension were martyred, including Paul and Stephen.
                   At the beginning of this period (48 AD), probably none of the New Testament Books have been written.  The Church was directly taught by the apostles.  Later part of this period,  a large part of New Testament was written and was in circulation.
  1. Growing Persecution on the Church (68 AD – 100 AD)
  1. The first Imperial Persecution (65 – 68AD)
                   In the year 64 AD, the city of Rome was destroyed by a great conflagration.  Probably Nero, himself started the fire and was blamed for it.  To clear himself from the blame, Nero falsely accused the Christians for fire and began a terrible persecution.  Thousands of Christians were put to death.  Peter was crucified upside down in 67 AD.  This was the beginning of first imperial persecution.
The last period of the first century (68 – 100 AD) was also known as “Age of Shadows” or “Age of Uncertain”; because the church was still under persecution.  But we could not be informed much about this period.  No author of this period has filled the blank in the history.  However, we get some information from the epistles written by John, the Apostle (I, II, III John and Revelation).
  1. The Fall of Jerusalem (70 AD)
The Jews showed open rebellion against the Romans in 66 AD.  The leading Roman general (Vespasian) led a strong Roman army into Palestine and gave in charge to Titus, his son because he had to return to Rome to take the throne.  Titus destroyed the city and killed thousands of   Jews.  The Christians escaped from the city of understanding the prophecy of Christ (Mt. 24 : 1-2).  The Jews lost their land and they were scattered again.  From this period, the Christians and the Jews were permanently separated from each other.
Note : The land that was lost by the Jews in 70 AD was not restored until 1948 AD when Israel became Independent Nation.
  1. The Second Imperial Persecution (90 – 96 AD)
The Roman Emperor Domitian killed many Christians in Rome and Italy in 90 A.D.  John, the last of apostles who had been living in Ephesus was banished to the isle of Patmos in the Aegean Sea.  In Pathos, he received “Revelation” (1 : 9).  He died about 100 A.D. probably.  With this book the writing of New Testament came to the end.  It ends with the last prophecy that Jesus told “Surely, I come quickly” (Rev. 22 : 20).
  1. Spiritual Condition of Christians and Church Practices
During this period church practiced baptism by immersion (Greek ‘Baptizo’ means ‘to dip’).  The Gentile Christians mainly observed ‘the Lord’s Day’ instead of Sabbath (Acts 20 : 7 ; 1 Cor. 16 : 2).  The apostles recognized the Lord’s Day as a special worship day for Christians.  However Christians could workship the Lord daily.  They practiced the Lord’s supper to remember Jesus’ death (1 Cor. 11 : 20-30).  Easter Sunday as the anniversary of Lord’s resurrection was also observed by Christians but it was not by this time universal.
The Church was taught by Apostles who directly learnt from Christ.  As the apostles were martyred, their writings got the authority of teaching.  Bishops and Elders (Presbyters) cared for the church.  The terms (Bishops / Elders) were applied to the same persons interchangeably (Act 20 : 17, 28 ; Phil. 1 : 1 ; Tit. 1 : 5/7).  At the end of this century, a tendency of elevating one as bishop above his fellow elders was growing.  The Christians derived the worship system from the Jewish system with some changes.  Unlike in the synagogues, believers and visiting preachers could preach.  The Lord’s supper was taken at the close of the worship service.  Moral standard of Christians was high, but spiritual life declined in comparing with earlier apostlic days.
                   The persecution on Christians by the Roman emperors was the prominent fact in the second and third centuries.  It lasted until 313 AD, the beginning years of fourth century.  The edict of Constantine, the first Christian Roman Emperor ended all attempts to destroy the church.
A.   Causes of Persecution in Second and Third Centuries
                   There were many causes which led toward persecuting the church.  The following were important causes.
  1. Idol worship
All the Romans and the Greeks worshiped idols.  But the Christians refused to worship idol of any kind.  So the Romans thought Christians as atheists and started persecuting the Christians.
  1. Emperor worship
In order to show the loyalty to the Roman Emperor, the citizen had to worship the statue of reigning emperor.  It was a practice in those days.  The Christians refused to worship emperor’s statue but they worshiped and praised Jesus Christ (Another King, one Jesus-Act 17 : 7).  So the Christians were regarded as disloyal to the Roman emperors.
  1. Judaism recognized
The Roman government recognized Judaism as a legal religion.  The Christianity was not recognized as a separate religion.  So there was no legal protection for Christians, after 70 AD.
  1. Equality in the church
Christianity made no distinction between its members.  All were equal in the church.  Even a slave could be chosen as bishop.  So the aristocrats hated such Christian practices of equality.  They also started persecuting the church.
  1. Business Interests (Act 19)
Due to the growth of Christianity, many became believers from idol worshipers.  After becoming believers, they did not buy any idols of Roman or Greek god and goddess.  This affected the business of selling Roman idols.  So the businessmen instigated persecution on Christians.
For these reasons, Christians were persecuted everywhere in the Roman Empire.  There was none to protect the innocent Christians from such attacks.
B.      Stages of Persecution
  1. From 98 – 161 AD
During this period, Nurva Trajan, Hadrian, Morcus Auretius, and Antonius Pius were important emperors   known as “The five good emperors”.  Under their rule, No Christian could be punished or arrested without a proven complaint.  When arrested, the Christians had to recant their faith in Christ.  If they refused to recant, the rulers put them to death. 
  • Martyr Simeon the head of Jerusalem church after James the brother of Jesus (Mk. 6 : 3) was killed in 107 AD, for refusing to recant.
  • Many church Fathers (Disciple of Apostles) were martyred. Some are given below.
  • Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch in Syria was thrown to the wild beasts in 117 AD.
  • Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna in Asia Minor was the famous church father. He led the church after the Apostles, especially after Apostle John. He was arrested and asked to curse Jesus so that he could be freed.  But he answered “Eighty and six years have I served Him and He has done me nothing evil but good; and how could I curse Him, my Lord and Saviour”.  Since he refused to curse Jesus, he was burnt alive.
  1. From 161 – 180 AD
Marcus Aurelius was the Roman emperor who was one of the ethical writers.  But he was a bitter persecutor of   Christians.  Thousands of Christians were beheaded or thrown to the wild animals.
  • Justin Martyr. He was once a Philosopher. After becoming Christian believer, he was a foremost defender of Christian Faith.  He wrote a “Apologias” (Defenses) of Christianity.  He was beheaded at Rome in 166 AD.
  1. From 180-310 AD
After the death of Marcus Aurelius, there were weak emperors until 202 AD.  Septimius Severus became the emperor in 202 AD and killed many Christians in Egypt until 211 AD.  The important martyr of this time was Leonidas of Alexandria, (202) who was the father of the great theologian Origen.
After 211 AD, the church was not much persecuted by emperors for 40 years.  Every believer except slaves was conferred upon citizenship by the emperor Caracalla (211-217 AD).  This conferring of citizenship was a great benefit. But fierce persecution again broke out during the period of emperor Decius (249- 252 AD). Emperor   Valerian killed Cyuprian, the bishop of Carthage in 257AD.
The persecution was more terrible under Emperor Diocletain and his successors (303-310AD). The copies of the Bibles and the churches were burnt. Some churches were burnt down with all believers within it. After Diocletain, Emperors Galerius  and Constantius continued  the persecution for another six years from 305 AD.
Constantine was the son of Constantius and Co-ruler with his father.  He was not a Christian at that time, yet he issued “the Edict of Toleration” in 313 AD.  By this edict,   Christianity was accepted as a legal religion.  The Christian worship was allowed in Roman empire; hence the persecution ceased.  This was one of the greatest turning points in the history of church.
C.   Development of Doctrine
                   During Apostolic period, the believers were taught to surrender their will to Christ as the Lord and King.  But during this period, Believers faith was based on their confession of Apostolic Creed.  Schools were established to teach Christian doctrine.  The three important schools are given below.  The canon (Rule of Faith) of the New Testament was recognized in its present form about 300 AD.
  1. Alexandrian Schools (180 AD)
Alexandria was a city in Egypt.  Many Christian doctrinal schools were there about 180 AD.  Pantaenus, a philosopher and teacher founded the first school.  Clement of Alexandrian (150 – 215 AD) succeeded him.  He wrote many books in defence of Christianity.  Origen was a great theologian of this school.
  1. Schools of Asia Minor
There were many doctrinal schools about the second century in Asia Minor (Turkey).  Iraenaeus was a theologian and writer of this school.  He went to France and became bishop, but he was killed as martyr in 200 AD.
  1. Schools of North Africa
Doctrinal schools in this area shaped the Christian doctrines and theological thought of Europe through their able writers.   Tertullian (160 – 220 AD) and Bishop Cyprian were famous theologians of this school.
D.   Rise of Heresies
                   As the churches were persecuted from outside, they also faced internal threats through the rise of heresies.  Some heresies were as following:
  1. Gnosticism – It was derived from Greek word “Gnosis”, meaning knowledge. This was started by Simon (Not a true believer – Acts 8 : 20-24).  They believed in many small gods.  They gave false explanations to the scripture.
  1. Ebionism – Ebionites were basically poor Jewish Christians. This term was derived from Hebrew meaning ‘poor’.  They insisted the observance of Jewish law and customs.  They gradually disappeared in the end of second century.
  1. Manicheans – It was founded by a Persian named Mani. This heresy was named after him as Manicheans (Manichees).  They rejected the authority of Christ.  They practiced extreme asceticism.
Although these heresies were there, the true believers always believed the Bible and submitted to its authority and worshiped Jesus Christ.  Hence the church was growing in number and in new regions.
                   During this period the church got more importance in the Roman Empire.  It was recognized as the Official religion.
A.   Church from 312 – 337 AD
                   During this period, Constantine was the Roman emperor.  He was friendly to the Christians, although he was not a Christian in 312 AD.  Constantine went to a battle at Milvian Bridge outside Rome against his rival Maxentius in 312 AD.  On the way to battle, he saw a vision of shinning Cross, as he declared.  He won the battle.  So he believed he won the battle by the vision of shining cross.  After winning the war, he promulgated “the Edict of Toleration” in 313 AD.  This edict put an end to the persecution.  He became the sole and powerful emperor in 323 AD.  His personal character was not perfect.  So he delayed his baptism.  Just before his death, he received baptism, and became Christian.
  1. Good Results of Roman Christian State
During his rule, the church enjoyed all privileges and rights.  Many  Roman officials became Christians in order to get promotion of their rank.  Christianity was the official religion of Roman Empire.  The public treasury supported the church with funds.  Church officials received their support from the government.  In 321 AD, Constantine declared Sunday as official holiday so that people could worship.
Many of the laws of Roman Empire were modified with the influence of the Bible and Christianity.
Ex.    Crucifixion was abolished.  Cross was punishment system of Romans.  This was abolished since Christ was crucified on the cross.  Moreover slavery system was modified.  Slaves could plead in the courts against their cruel masters who treat them cruelly.  These were some positive results of Christian victory in the Roman empire.
  1. Negative Results of the Christian Victory
As the result of Christian victory, that Roman Empire became Christian State.  These were also negative (Bad / Evil) results.  The pagan gods were named after Christian martyrs.  Martyrs were worshiped as saints in 405 AD.  The adoration of the Virgin Mary was substituted for the worship of Diana (Acts 19).  The church became very worldly.  Unbelievers also became the members of the church to get the favour of rulers.
  1. The Founding of Constantinople city (324 – 330 AD)
Constantine moved his capital from Rome.  He selected the old Greek city of Byzantium, located at the meeting point of Europe and Asia, separated by two narrow straits for his new capital.  He named the city after his name Constantinople (The city of Constantine) (Modern name is Istanbul in Turkey).  There were no idols in this new city.
After founding the city, the Emperor and the bishop of Constantinople dwelt side by side.  Both Rome and Constantinople had religious significance.   Since Rome was away from Constantinople where the emperor lived, its bishop was free from Emperor’s control.  But the church at Constantinople was closely watched and controlled by emperors.  Constantine died on 337 AD.
B.    The Church From 337 to 476 AD
                   After the death of Emperor Constantine, the Roman empire started to collapse. In 395 AD, the Empire was divided into two; The Eastern Empire was known as Greek; the Western Empire as Latin.  The successors of Constantine were week politically and morally.  Since the Roman Empire enjoyed peace for many years, they were unused to war.  But their enemies barbarians were physically strong.  Remote regions of Roman empire were captured by invading tribes viz. the Franks, the Saxons etc.  The vast Roman empire was reduced to a little territory.
                   During this period, the bishops of Rome were more powerful than those in Constantinople.  In the western empire, the Roman bishop (Pope) had more influence.  The Rome became prominent and the Constantinople became the second importance at the council of Constantinople in 381 AD.
                   However the western Roman Empire lost its power politically.  In 476 AD, the western empire came to the end.  But the Eastern empire continued until 1453 AD.
C.   Doctrinal Controversies and Church Councils
                   During the period, the church faced many doctrinal controversies.  Sometimes, the controversies shaked the very foundations of the church.  However, the councils found solution to these controversies.
  1. The Arian Controversy
Arius, a presbyter of Alexandria in 318 AD questioned about the doctrine of Trinity.  He did not believe Trinity.  Athanasius also of Alexandria opposed the views of Arian.  Athanasius asserted the eternity of the Son with the Father, the Deity of Christ and His eternal existence.  To come to solution, Constantine called a council of bishops at Nicea in 325 AD.   Through powerful debate, Athanasius convinced the majority of the council to condemn the teachings of Arius.  His arguments were not fully accepted by the council because Arius had the support of upper class people.  However after the death of Athanasius (373 AD), his views on Trinity were accepted.  Thus the Deity of son was established.
  1. The Apollinarian Controversy
Apollinarian, bishop of Laodicea (360 AD) said a false view that Jesus was not man in earth, he was God alone.  He denied the humanity of Jesus.  But majority of bishops opposed his views.  The council Constantinople in 381 AD condemned Apollinarian heresy.
  1. The Pelagian Controversy
A monk named Pelagian in 410 AD said that we do not inherit our sinful nature from Adam.  Augustine, the greatest intellect after St. Paul opposed this view.  Augustine held that Adam represented the entire human race in that in Adam’s sin all mankind sinned.  The Palagian view was condemned by the council of Carthege in 418 AD.
D.   Important Leaders of the Period
  1. Athenasius (296 – 373 AD)
He defended the doctrine of Trinity.  He was exiled five times for his faith.  Finally he died in peace and honor.  His views of Trinity was accepted.
  1. Ambrose (340 – 397 AD)
He was a layman, elected as bishop.  He was couragous and rebuked the emperor, Theodosius for his cruel acts.  He was the author of many books.
  1. John Chrysostom (345 – 407 AD)
He was the bishop of Constantinople in 398 AD.  He was called “the golden mouth” for his eloquence.  He was a good expositor of the Bible.
  1. Jerome (340 – 420 AD)
He was the most learned among the Latin fathers.  He renounced worldly honors for a religious life.  He built a monastery in  Bethlahem and lived there for many years.  He wrote many books.  His important work was that he translated the Bible into Latin (known as Vulgate).  His translation was accepted by the Roman Catholic church.
  1. Augustine (354 – 430 AD)
He was born in North Africa.  He became Christian at the age of thirty three, through the influence of his mother Monica, and study of Paul’s epistles.  He became the bishop of Hippo in Northern Africa in 395 AD.  He was a famous theologian after apostle Paul.
E.    The Rise of Monasticism
                   During this period, the church gradually drift away from the teaching of Christ and of the Bible.  It became worldly church.  In order to keep the church on its essential teaching, some Christians attempted.  Their attempts resulted in monasticism.
                   The monastic movement began in Egypt.  Antony first founded monastic movement in 320 AD.  It spread from Egypt to the Eastern church.  The spread of monasticism was slower in Europe.  Some monastic saints built pillars and lived on them, to keep themselves away from society.
  1. THE MEDIEVAL CHURCH (476 – 1453 AD)
                   The western Roman empire fell in 476 AD.  Although the political power of Rome lost, the religious influence of Rome was prominent in the west. 
A.   The Growth of Papal Power
                   In the fifth century, the Latin church began calling the bishop of Rome ‘the Pope’ from the Latin ‘Papa’, meaning ‘father’.  The pope was considered the successors of Peter (But in the Bible, the apostleship was not passed on others).  Since the political power was lost, the bishop of Rome got more power and influence over people and neigbouring tribes.  The political situation was unstable but the churches were stable in Rome.  This caused the people to put their whole trust on church.
                   The Roman church also published a document of  “Donation of Constantine”.  This forged document stated that the Roman empire was donated to the bishop of Rome, Sylvester I (314 – 355 AD) by Constantine.  Many people believed it and accepted the rule of Pope over Rome.  However this document was proved false later; because it contained Latin quotations from Vulgate Bible. (During Constantine period, there was no Latin Vulgate Bible.  So this document was not really written by Constantine).
                   Although the power of Pope was strong, some princes resisted him. Some popes were weak and wicked between 850 – 1050 AD.  In 1054 AD there was a split in the church; known as the west (Catholic) and the East (Orthodox).  The church owed its allegiance to the pope in Rome was Roman Catholic (Latin) and the other was the Orthodox Church (Greek) means correct belief (Orthodox means true or correct belief).  However the highest Papal power was attained during the rule of Hildebrand (Pope Gregory VII).  He lifted the morals of the clergy.  He forbade the custom for the bishop to receive a staff from the emperor as a pledge of allegiance to him as his lord and ruler.  He did not aim to abolish the rule of the state but to subordinate the state to the rule of the church and of the Pope.  This caused problem between the Pope and the King.
                   Henry IV, the king called the synod of German bishops and forced them to vote the deposition of the Pope.  Gregory VII the Pope (Hildebrand) excommunicated the king.  So Henry found himself helpless.  He went to Canossa in northern Italy to make his submission to the Pope in 1077.  But no sooner Henry gained power, he made war against the Pope and drove him out of Rome.  The Pope died in exiles.
                   Pope Innocent III (1198 – 1216) was also a powerful Pope.  He excommunicated King John of England.  There was strong rivalry between the Popes and Kings for many earlier centuries.   Sometime in the history of Papacy, there were more than two Popes at a time, fighting against each other for power (1046 – Benedict IX, Silvester – III, Gregory VI)
  1. Separation of Latin and Greek Churches (1054 AD)
                   The Latin church had its center in Rome.  The Greek Church had its center in Constantinople.  They had some doctrinal as well as political differences.  The Latin forbade the marriage of Priests whereas the Greek church allowed the marriage.  Unleavened bread was used in Roman churches whereas common bread was used in Greek churches.  In 1054 AD, the Pope’s messenger from Rome laid upon the altar of ST. Sophiasin Constantinople, the decree of excommunication, whereupon the Patriarch (the head of Greek churches) in turn issued a decree, excommunicating the Pope of Rome and the churches subjected to the Pope.  Since then, the Latin and the Greek churches have stood separated.
C.   The Rise of Islam
                   The founder of Islam was Muhammad (the Praised One)  His original name was Ubul – Kassim; born in 570- AD in Mecca. He was orphaned at the age of six and raised by his grandfather and uncle.  When he was twenty – five, he married a wealthy widow (Khadija), fifteen years senior to him.  They had three sons and four daughters, youngest one was Fatima.  At the age of forty, he found Islam (610 AD ). Islam means “Submission”. He preached against idol worship . So the Arabs opposed him, because the Arabs then believed polytheism.  He fled to Medina in 622. This flight to Medina is known as Hijra (going forth).  He established himself as religious and political leader in Medina. He got many followers.  They fought against Mecca and got control of it. Mecca became their holy city.  He taught he was a prophet of God.   He united the Arabs.  He died on 632AD and was buried in Medina, the city of the prophets.
                    He got many ideas from the Bible, Christianity, and Judaism. Finally he rejected all the above and established  his own religion named Islam. Koran was their holy  book. The teachings of Mohammad were recorded in it. Many Arabs and slaves accepted  Islam.  They were warriors. Since Mohammad united the Arab speaking  tribes, they made war with other tribes and forced  them to become Muslims. They spread Islam through wars and killing others.
  1. The Crusades (1095 –1291 AD)
                   The Muslims conquered many lands. Even they got control of Palestine (Israel). Not only they controlled the land of Palestine, but also they killed or persecuted the Christians who went pilgrimage to the holy land. They forced Christians to become Muslims. When the Christians opposed to become Muslims, they persecuted them.  The persecution on Christians in the Holy Land increased.  In order to stop this persecution on Christians, the European Kings and Christian monks, and some popes made war against Muslim invaders of Holy Land.  These wars are known as crusades.
                   There were many crusades.  But seven crusades were important.  The first crusade was called by pope Urban II (1095).  A monk named Peter, the Hermit led 40,000 untrained knights against Muslims expecting miraculous help.  But they were defeated.  However, after long struggle, the Christians gained control of Palestine in 1099 AD.  They established the kingdom which lasted until 1187.
  • The second crusade was led by Louis VII of France and Consad III of Germany to stop the advancement of Muslim invaders. They stopped the advancement for some time, but the kingdom finally fell in 1187 AD.
  • The Third crusade (1188-1192) was jointly led by Frederick of Germany, Philip Augustus of France and Richard-I of England. The kings quarreled themselves and returned. But Richard made an agreement with Saladin (Muslim Ruler) who gave the right to Christians to visit the Holy Land.
  • The Fourth Crusade (1201-1204) was a great failure, because they lost the aim of winning the Holy Land but did war against Constantinople (Greek Empire).
  • The Fifth Crusade (1228) was led by Emperor Frederick. He crowned himself the King of Jerusalem. So the Pope excommunicated him.   The title “King of Jerusalem” was held by emperor of Germany and later by Austria.  The Muslims again took over Jerusalem in 1244.
  • The Sixth Crusade (1248-1254) was led by the King of France, Louis IX. He went to Jerusalem through Egypt. He was also defeated, although he went through Egypt.
  • The Seventh Crusade (1270-1272) was also led by Louis IX of France and Edward of England. Louis died and his son made peace with opponents and Edward returned to England.
In general, all these crusades were failure.  The result of crusades was lost due to the quarrel between the popes and emperors.  However there were a few good results due to crusades; The Christian pilgrims were protected, the muslim aggression was checked and the trade between cities increased.
E.    The Growth of Monasticism
                   As we have learnt, the monasticism was first founded by Antony in Egypt in 320 AD.  This movement grew during this Medieval period. There were four main monastic orders.  These monastic life grew because people who did not like wordly comforts and crusades joined in monasticism.  There were many monks and nuns.  Although it was founded in Egypt, it grew in Europe during the Middle ages.
  1. Benedictines (529 AD)
                   It was founded by Benedict who promoted Christianization and civilization of the North.  They were active in industrial work such as tilling the fields, draining the revamps, and teaching arts to the people.
  1. Cisterians (1098 AD)
                   This was founded by Robert in France.  It was further strengthened by Bernard of Clarvause in 1112.  They promoted art, architecture, copying ancient books and writing new books.
  1. Franciscans (1209 AD)
                   It was founded by Francis of Assisi, a devoted man, in Italy.  They were also known as Grey Friars.  They helped to sick and suffering people.
  1. Dominians (1251 AD)
                   It was founded by Dominic in Spanish.  They were good preachers and opposed herecies.  They were called Black Friars.
                   All these monasteries helped to the poor and sick.  From the monasteries, both the modern hotels, and hospitals got the idea of serving.  Literature, Education and missions also grew from monasteries.  During the Middle Ages, the churches and monasteries established great universities like Oxford, and Cambridge.  However there were a few evil results also came upon the church due to monasticism.
                   Monasticism promoted the celibate life  as the higher life.  Such a celibate life is not advocated in the Bible.  This is an evil result of Monasticism.  Because the Bible teaches us to establish good Christian families.  Moreover, all Monasteries finally became the center of luxury and immorality.
F.    Beginning of Reformation Movement
                   Although the next period is known as Reformation period, the foundation for Reformation was laid in the Middle ages. The idea of Reformation began with the Puritans in Southern France in 1170 AD.  They circulated the copies of the New Testament and opposed the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory and image workship.  Puritans were killed by a great slaughter by Pope Innocent III.  At the same time of Puritans, (1170 AD), Waldonsians were founded by Peter Waldo of Lyons.  They preached the scripture.  They were also persecuted by the Roman Catholics.
  1. John Wyclif (1320 – 1384)
He was the doctor of theology, educated in Oxford University.  He began the movement in England, and opposed the authority of Pope over England.  He wrote against monasticism and Roman Catholic teachings.  His doctrines were condemned and neglected, but he was protected and alloweod to remain to his parish as priest.  He translated the New Testament into English 1380 and the Old Testament in 1384.  His followers were called Lollards.
  1. John Huss (1364 – 1415)
He was a reader of Wyclif’s writings.  He opposed Papacy.  The Pope excommunicated him; but he wrote letters to Pope reaffirming his views from his hiding place.  He was burned to death in 1415.
  1. The Fall of Constantinople (1453 AD)
                   The fall of Constantinople is the dividing point between medieval and Reformation period.  The Eastern Empire (Constantinople) was unable to recover from the defeat by the crusades in 1204.  The Turks under Mohammed II finally captured the city of Constantinople in 1453, and made it as the capital of Turkish Empire.  The Greek Church continued with its patriarch with authority only over the church.  It lost its political authority as well as political support of empire.
  1. THE REFORMED CHURCH (1453 – 1648)
                   This period began with the fall of Constantinople and ended with the thirty years of civil war in 1648. 
A.      Non – Religious Reasons for Reformation
                   The important reason for reformation was religious and Spiritual.  However, there were other reasons which helped for the growth of Reformation.  They are known as non-religious reasons.
  1. The renaissance movement (Social Awakening) in Europe brought a great awakening among the people on literature, arts and of renaissance. However, the movement had some religious elements in Germany, England and France where people were interested in Greek and Hebrew Scripture.  The Renaissance movement undermined the Roman Catholic Church.
  1. The invention of printing machine (1456) by Gutenberg in Germany helped for Reformation. The first book printed by Gutenberg was the Holy Bible.  Many scripture portions were printed and were available to common people.  By reading scripture, people understood the true meaning of scripture.  People started rejecting the interpretation of Roman Catholics.
  1. The people of Europe got patriotism and interest in national growth. They rejected the foreign rule of the Roman church.  They submitted to their Kings instead of the Pope.
B.    Religious Reasons for Reformation
                   The religious reasons were the direct cause of reformation.  There were many reasons:  Some important ones are given here.
  1. The immorality and corruption of the clergy. Many priests and clergy in Papal system lived immoral life.
  1. The church oppressed the people, especially the freedom of expression. People who questioned the priests for their immorality were changed in heresy and condemned to death.
  1. The Sale of idulgences (written “pardons”) was the most important one. The Roman Catholic sold indulgences for the forgiveness of sins.  Buying of indulgences would shorten one’s time in purgatory (unscriptural place where sinners wait for forgiveness after death).  The Catholic church collected large sums of money for the construction of St. Peter’s church at Rome.
C.      The Reformations and the Beginning of Reformed Churches
                   As there was a beginning for Reformation during Middle ages by John Wyclif, the true reformation began on 31 October 1517 in Germany.  On that day, Martin Luther nailed his ninety five theses of statements (Ninety Five Points) on the door of Wittenberg Cathedral.  He opposed the sale of indulgences. He stated that forgiveness of sins is possible only by faith in Christ, based on the Bible (Rom. 1 : 16-17 – The Just shall live by faith).  Luther strongly believed in the forgiveness of sins by and through Christ, and this forgiveness required no payments to the church or ‘written Pardon’ (Indulgences)
                   Luther stressed the supremacy of scripture (Sola scriptura), justification by faith alone (Sola fide) and the centrality of Christ (Solus Christus) and the priesthood of all believers.  His teaching gained popular in Germany; but some opposed him.
                   Pope Leo X excommunicated (cut off from the church sacraments) Luther in 1521.  After four years of his excommunication, he married Katharina in 1525.  He did not go from the Roman Church for marriage as Catholics say.  Luther himself did not come away from the Catholic Church.  After April 1521, he started translating the New Testament into German.  He also wrote many books on Christian theology and doctrine.  His doctrine was condemned at a Diet (Supreme Council of German Rulers) of Spires in 1529.  But his popularity grew among the people.  Some princes also supported Luther and opposed the decisions of Diet.  From this opposition, the name “Protestant” was given to the Christians who followed Luther.  However the better term in stead of Protestant is “Reformed”.
D.      The Reformation in other Nations
                   The reformation arose in Switzerland in 1517 under the leadership of Ulrich Zwingli.  He opposed the ‘remission of sin’ through pilgrimage to Virgin Mary Shrine.  The reformation grew stronger than in Germany.  So there was war between the Roman Catholics and Protestants.  Zwingli was slain in 1531.
                   The Protestant teaching spread in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.  It also spread to France.  Many followed Protestant teachings in France.  But 1572 all most all protestant leaders and followers were murdered.  From that day, France has very minority protestants.  Holland nation became Protestant.
                   During the reign of Henry VIII, the Reformation began with eight young students who studied the Bible.  John Tyndale (martyred in 1536) was one of the leaders of the Reformation at this time in England.  It was very slow.  Under Edward VI (1547 – 1553), the Reformation got some progress in England.  But Queen Mary (1553 – 1558) opposed the Reformation and killed many Protestants.  During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the Protestants got freedom to preach and to teach.  She honored the Bible.  The Church of England was established.  Elizabethan period was important in the history of church.
                   In 1611, the King James (Authorised Version) of the Bible was published.  In 1646, Westminster confession was made by stating “To Glorify God and Enjoy Him forever”.
                   The period of reformation ended in 1648AD.  When the German Civil war concluded with the peaceful settlement at Westphalia (1648).
                   The result of Reformation reflected through mission activities of the church.  The church was divided into denominations; namely The Roman Catholic Church and the Protestants (Reformed).  The Protestants had many other sub-divisions; namely Luthern Churches, Anglican Churches (Episcopal), Presbyterian Churches and Wesleyian Churches (Methodists).  Anabaptists (Rebaptizers) changed their group name as Baptists who indeed existed separately from the first century.
A.      Catholic Mission Movements
                   Mission Activities were first started by the society of Jesus (the Jesuits – SJ) of the Roman Catholic church.  The society of Jesus was founded by Ignatius of Loyola (Spain) in 1534 against Protestant Reformation.  However, it began its mission activities in Asian countries in 1542 AD.  The kings of catholic nations (Spain and Portugal) were the great naval explorers.  They discovered new lands, conquered them and made them their colonies.  They under the command of Pope evangelized the land they conquered. (Goa in India for example).  Francis Xavier, the Jesuit came to Goa in 1542 and then to South India.  In 1549 he went to Japan.  He died in an Island while he was waiting to enter into China in 1552.  From 16 century, the Roman Catholics send missionaries all over the world.
B.      Reformed Churches’ Mission Movements
                   The Protestants (Reformed Churches) started their mission movements in 18th century.  The Baptist Missionary Society was the first volunteer Society, started in 1792; Later the London Missionary Society (1795), the Church Missionary Society (1799), the British and Foreign Bible Society (1804) and the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (1810).  These societies are mainly supported by Lay-man.
C.      Baptist Mission Movements
                   The Baptist were first known as Anabaptists (Rebaptizers by Immersion) in the early centuries.  It was named as “the Baptists” by John Smyth in Amsterdam in 1609.  The Baptist believe the Bible is the sole authority of Faith and Practice.  They baptize by immersion after a believer publicly confesses his faith on Jesus Christ as the only saviour (Act. 4 : 12).
  1. William Carey
The Baptists first started their Mission activities in 1792.  William Carey was a Baptist missionary to India, through Baptist Missionary Society.  He arrived in Kolkatta (Calcutta – 1793), in India.  The British East India company did not like his mission activities in India.  He was opposed by natives as well.  He first worked in a dyestuff factory.  He faced many problems but he persevered.  He learnt and translated the Bible into many North Indian languages.  His motto was “Attempt Great things for God.  Expect great things from God”.
He wrote India – Language dictionaries and grammars.  He founded Serampore College (First Christian College in Asia).  He also founded “Agricultural Society of India”.  He also started an English News Paper in India.  He campaigned against Sathi (killing widow on husband’s funeral Pyre).  He never returned to England.  He loved India and died in India in 1834 at the age of seventy three.
  1. Graham Stains
After Willam Carey, many Baptist missionaries came to India.  The famous Baptist missionary in recent time was Graham Stains who was burnt alive with his two young boys (Timothy and Philip) in Orissa. He was killed for doing good for Lepers in India.  They established hospitals, and helping homes for the poor.
D.      Denominational Mission Activities
                   As a result of Protestant Mission Activities, many protestant denominations sent their missionaries to India.  Lutherans, Congregationalists, Danish Mission, Salvation Army, Methodists, are important ones.  They established churches, schools, colleges, home for orphanes, hospitals, and many other charitable  Institutions to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Christian Missions have contributed many great things for the development of our Nation India.  May God bless our Missions and our Nation India continuously.
E.      Evangelicalism
                   This Evangelical Movement began at the dawn of last century.  They are called as Evangelicals from 1940.  Evangelicals distance themselves from fundamentalism and its narrowness.  They strongly believe the Bible but oppose separatist philosophy.  Evangelicalism is not a denomination but a movement.  Evangelicals embrace the teachings of apostolic Christianity.  They sometimes establish Evangelical Churches, mostly known as Bible churches. 
                   Some of their important beliefs are the infallibility and authority of scripture, the Triune Godhead (Father, Son, the Holy Spirit), the necessity of spiritual Regeneration, and having a personal relationship with Jesus and the Great Commission (Mt. 28 : 18-20).
F.      Pentecostalism
                   This movement also began in the twentieth century in United Stats of America.  They established churches.  The Assemblies of God is the important Pentecostal denomination, which was founded in 1914.  They emphasize on “Speaking in tongues”, (Glossalalia = glossa is the Greek word for “tongue”, ‘lalia’ for “talk”).  According to the Bible, Pentecost means “Fifty days”.
                   As a result of Pentecostelism, a new movement named ‘the Charismatic Movement’ was started by Dennis Bennett in 1960.  He was a rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal church in Van Nuys of California.  The main distinction between Pentecostals and Charismatics is that Charismatics belong to ‘the main-line churches’ (Luthern, the Roman Catholics) rather than Pentecostal churches.  At present, many Pentecostal churches do not emphasize speaking in tongues, but emphasize to seek the best gifts (1 Cor. 12 : 31).
                   The history of church began on the day of Pentecost (Act. 2 ) and it will continue till the Lord Jesus Christ Comes.
Resource Books
  1. Setback and Recovery, John Foster (S.P.C.K., London, 1974).
  1. The Compact Guide to the Christian Faith, John Schwarz (Bethany House Publishers, Minnesota, 1999).
  1. Notes on Church History, B.B.B.C.
  1. Write about the First Church Council in Jerusalem
  2. Write about the fall of Jerusalem.
  3. What were the cause of Persecution in 2nd and 3rd centuries?
  4. What was the evil result of Monasticism?
  5. What were the religious reasons for Reformation?
Note :  Write your answers and send them to CALS.  Do not forget to write your register Number on your assignment papers.