The Study of Church History

Exploring Chronoloy Affecting the Church

"But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." (Galatians 4:4-5)

A Timeline of Church History

Note: Credit goes to Christian History Institute for many dates and events. I have attempted to rework the material. The "Significance" column is generally my own.

6-5 B.C.
Birth of Christ
Demarcation of human history. The irreversible incarnation of the Eternal Word (Logos, 3056) of God (John 1:1-5, 14-18).
Day of Pentecost
Founding of the Church by the descent of the Holy Spirit
Martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 6:8-7:60)
Great persecution, spear-headed by Saul of Tarsus, spreads the church away from Jerusalem (Acts 8:1-2).
Saul of Tarsus converted en route to Damascus (Acts 9:1-25).
By the grace of God, the Church's greatest enemy was converted into the Church's greatest Missionary!
Council of Jerusalem
Established that believing Gentiles did not have to be circumcised in order to be saved.
Authorship of Revelation by Apostle John
Close of the canon of the New Testament.
Martyrdom of Ignatius of Antioch
He was the first to elevate the office of "Bishop" (episkopos, 1985), better, "Overseer" over the office of "Elder" (presbuteros, 4245). This is unbiblical, and thus, unfortunate. In the NT, the terms, though possessing different meanings, were interchangeable, connoting different aspects of the same office (Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5, 7).
Marcion of Sinope expelled from the church of Rome.
He founded Marcionism, which rejected the OT as incompatible with the New Covenant. He compiled his own canon, which consisted of his own Gospel of Marcion, which closely resembled Luke, and only 10 Epistles of Paul. The rest of the NT he omitted.
Irenaeus of Lyons.
Wrote "Against Heresies" Book 1. Book 2. Book 3. Book 4. Book 5. Irenaeus is often used by Roman Catholics and others to support their belief in Apostolic Succession "because he said that all the bishops can trace their succession back to the apostles." That may be a misunderstanding of Irenaeus. Regardless, Apostolic Succession is a myth. The Apostles could pass on their teaching, but not their Apostleship. Jesus chose His Apostles and there are only twelve (Rev. 21:14).
Life of Origen of Alexandria
An accomplished scholar and prodigious writer, he published De Principiis (On First Principles), a comprehensive systematic theology. Another of his most famous works was his Hexapla, with one column in Hebrew and parallel five columns of various Greek translations. Sadly, he is a prime example of an early chuch scholar using allegorical interpretations of passages with which he had problems.
Conversion of Constantine
His conversion changed the whole course of European history, as Christianity became an approved religion in the Roman Empire instead of a persecuted religion.
First Council of Nicea
Formulated the original Nicene Creed, considered as a test of orthodoxy. Council convened by Roman Emperor Constantine.
Christianity made the state religion of Rome.
"With the Edict of Thessalonica in 380 AD, Emperor Theodosius I made Nicene Christianity the Empire's state religion." (Wikipedia, citing Forster and Tony Honore). This further complicated the admixture of Church and State.
Augustine Converted to Christianity
Ordained Bishop in Hippo, Africa, he influenced much of Reformed doctrine in such areas as predestination, original sin, the bondage of the will, and efficacious grace. Sadly, his contributions to Roman Catholic theology include infant baptism, the perpetual virginity of Mary, and the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Also sadly, he believed the Church Age was the Millennium.
Jerome published the Latin Vulgate
Out of many variant Latin texts, Jerome produced one standardized Latin text which became the accepted RCC text for centuries. The most recent edition is the Nova Vulgata, published in 1979.
Muhammad's Hegira from Mecca to Medina
Marked the birth of Islam
Battle of Tours
Halted the advance of Islam in Western Europe
Charlemagne crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III
Legitimized the Roman Catholic Church through the Pope as holding temporal power over the state.
Claudius, Bishop of Turin
He found the churches of Turin filled with "sordid images" .... "Since everyone was honoring them, I undertook their destruction singlehandedly." He taught that the Apostolic office of Peter ceased with his life; that "the power of the keys" passed to the whole Episcopal Order, and that the Bishop of Rome had Apostolic Power only so far as he led an Apostolic life.
Great Schism between East and West
Pope Leo IX asserted the supremacy of the See of Peter over the entire Catholic Church. Papal legates excommunicated Michael Cerularius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and his supporters. The legates dramatically deposited the sentence of excommunication on the altar of St. Sophia on July 16, 1054 as it stood ready for the Eucharist. Cerularius, a few days later, excommunicated the legates. Kenneth Scott Latourette (KSL), A History of Christianity, pp. 572-574.
First Crusade Launched by Council of Clermont
Pope Urban II called for the 1st crusade in a sermon at the Council of Clermont in 1095. He encouraged military support for the Byzantine Empire and its Emperor, Alexios I. Urban ostensibly wanted to guarantee pilgrims access to the holy land holy sites under Muslim control. But perhaps a deeper motive may have been to unite the Eastern and Western branches of Christendom, separated by the Great Schism of 1054, and to establish himself as the head of the unified Church. The Crusade initially established the first four Crusader States in the Middle East. Participants received a plenary indulgence from the Pope. In the course of the Crusade many Jews as well as Muslims were killed.
4th Lateran / 12th Ecumenical Council
Called by Pope Innocent III. Placed Roman Church as supreme; commanded annual confession; tithes take precedence over taxes; called for the Fifth Crusade; participants were promised forgiveness of sins.
William of Ockham
He rejected papal or conciliar authority as the final say on theology and ethics.
Unam Sanctam
Papal Bull issued by Pope Boniface VIII. It proclaims papal supremacy. It concludes "that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff." This, of course, is pure fiction. Nowhere does the NT state this to be true. It is absolutely necessary for salvation that one believes in Jesus Christ (John 3:16, 36; 14:6).
Papacy begins "Babylonian exile" in Avignon.
The Avignon Papacy was the time period in which the Roman Catholic pope resided in Avignon, France, instead of in Rome, from approximately 1309 to 1377. The Avignon Papacy is sometimes referred to as the Babylonian Captivity of the Church because it lasted nearly 70 years, which was the length of the Babylonian captivity of the Jews in the Bible (Jeremiah 29:10).
Great Papal Schism begins
Pope Gregory XI moved the papacy from Avignon back to Rome. However, when he died, his successor, Urban VI, was rejected by many in Christendom. Cardinals selected a second pope, who took up his reign in Avignon. The pro-Vatican faithful called the rival Avignon popes "antipopes." At one point there were three different popes reigning at the same time! The Great Schism was healed in 1417.
John Wycliffe's English Bible translation completed.
This was the first translation of the Bible into the English vernacular. Up to this point, the Bible in the Western wing of Christendom appeared only in the Latin Vulgate. Wycliffe's translation of the Bible into English gave the common person the privilege of reading it for himself. This made the RCC furious. Though he had already died, at the Council of Constance Wycliffe was declared a heretic. His works were to be burned; his remains were exhumed, burned, and cast into the Swift River. Anyone who read the Bible in English would forfeit his life, land, cattle and goods forever. Praise God, we can now read the Bible for ourselves!
Martyrdom of John Hus. KSL, pp. 666-669
Highly ethical, he denounced the evils of the RCC from priest to Pope. Held the church was founded on Christ, not Peter. Denounced the Crusade of the Pisan Pope against King of Naples and the indulgences being sold to finance the military venture. Council of Constance condemned Hus. Turned him over to the secular authorities who burned him alive at the stake.
Council of Constance (16th Ecumenical)
Called by King Sigismund, eventually (1434) Holy Roman Emperor. Ended the Great Schism. Decreed the condemnation and the murder by burning of John Hus.
Sacraments fixed at seven
The RCC errs in its belief that sacraments grant grace, and that there are seven. Christ left us only two ordinances -- baptism and communion (the Lord's Table or Eucharist). Both are symbolic.
Erasmus' first edition of the Greek NT
Prior to this time the Latin Vulgate had been the authoritative NT text in the West. Erasmus' editions improved on the accuracy of the Greek original. After Erasmus' death a final copy of his Greek NT was  published in 1633, 22 years after the 1611 KJV. The publisher's preface of this 1633 edition contained the words (in Latin) from which we derive the term "Textus Receptus."
Martin Luther posted 95 Theses. These points of debate primarily inveighed against the abuse of indulgences.
Began the Protestant Reformation, which made significant progress in purifying the Church Universal of corruption and false teaching. The hallmarks of the Reformation were (1) The Scripture alone is authoritative; (2) Salvation is by grace alone; (3) Salvation is by faith alone; (4) Salvation is in Christ alone; (5) Salvation is for the glory of God alone.
Anabaptist movement began
Anabaptists believed that adult believers' baptism was the only baptism recognized in the New Testament. But they also disagreed with Ulrich Zwingli and the City Council of Zurich in matters of government-imposed tithe, usury, and military service. On January 21, 1525 the Zurich Council forbade the Anabaptists from disseminating their views. The Anabaptists defied the edict and baptized one another. They were then persecuted by both Protestants and Catholics.
William Tyndale published a Bible in the English language, the Tyndale Bible.
Gave the English the opportunity to read the Bible for themselves in their own language. Tyndale was arrested for heresy, strangled, and burned alive in 1536.
John Calvin published Institutes of Christian Religion, 1st Edition
Calvin's masterpiece was first published in Latin in 1536, and in French in 1541. It is regarded as one of the most influenctial works of Protestant theology. It is highly regarded by those in the Reformed Churches. Broadly speaking, his work promotes what came to be known as "Calvinism."
Menno Simons baptized as an Anabaptist
Menno Simons was one of the three Anabaptists most noted for systemizing Anabaptist belief. Simons' followers became known as "Mennonites."The other two were Jacob Hutter (founder of the Hutterites) and Jacob Ammann (founder of the Amish). All three practice pacifism. The Mennonites, in particular, have moved around the world into countries who would not require their young men to serve in the military. My ancestors were Mennonites (JTB).
Council of Trent In reaction to the Protestan Reformation, the Roman Catholic Church refused to be reformed and regulate its views by Scripture. Instead, it doubled down on its dogma. In the process the Church hurled 151 "Anathemas" against all who disagreed with the Church, in effect telling them to go to hell unless they repented.
Initial version of King James Version Revisions began immediately. There were fourteen minor revisions, but there were two larger overhauls, one in 1629 and another in 1638. The King James Version has been called" the single greatest monument to the English language."
Westminster Confession of Faith drafted
This confession of faith was drawn up in the 1640's by a group of 151 theologians, most of whom were Presbyterians and Puritans. It is the standard doctrine for the Church of Scotland and many Presbyterians throughout the world. As the name suggests, the scholars met at Westminster Abbey.
Peace of Westphalia
Ended Thirty Years' War (1618-1648)
Robert Raikes began his Sunday Schools

John Nelson Darby founded Plymouth Brethren.

Beginning of the Oxford Movement
There were a number in the Church of England who yearned for a reunification with RCC -- at least for a return "to its heritage of apostolic order, and to the catholic doctrines of the early church fathers." The fears of loyal Anglicans were realized when numbers affected by the movement, mostly priests and young men, defected from Anglicanism and joined the RCC. Notable among them was John Henry Newman, who joined the RCC in 1845.
1845 John Henry Newman left the Church of England and joined the RCC
Karl Marx published Communist Manifesto.

Immaculate conception of Mary made a Roman Catholic dogma

Charles Darwin published Origin of Species

First Vatican Council
Declared Papal Infallibility
New Testament in the Original Greek
Published by Westcott and Hort, this edition of the Greek New Testament greatly advanced the accuracy of the Greek Text when compared to the earlier King James Version.
Founding of Moody Bible Institute.

Albert Schweitzer wrote Quest of the Historical Jesus.

Publication of "The Fundamentals."

Bolshevist Revolution began.

Founding of Dallas Theological Seminary

Founding of Wycliffe Bible Translators.

Formation of National Association of Evangelicals.

Discovery of Dead Sea Scrolls

Founding of World Council of Churches
Seeks to unite all Christian faiths; makes overtures to Roman Catholicism and even to Islam and Buddhism. Tragically, it is a source of much unbiblical dogma. Moreover it is pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli.
Los Angeles Crusade of Billy Graham.
Graham gained national prominence and embarked on national and global evangelistic crusades.
Methodists ordained women.

Vatican II opened.

Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization

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(Scripture quotation taken from the NASB.)

Begun February 3, 2019
Updated August 5, 2019

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Updated August 5, 2019