The Top 25 Events In The History Of The Christian Church

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Click here to order the book or the accompanying 5events/index.htm)The Top 25 Events in the History of theChristian ChurchWritten by Robert C. JonesAcworth, Georgia 2009 Robert C. Jones

Christian Theology and History Adult Sunday School CoursesRobert Joneswww.sundayschoolcourses.comI’ve always been a strong believer in adult Sunday School classes and Bible studies in our churches. And manychurches have quality, Biblically-based adult-focused programs. Unfortunately, just as many churches tend todownplay adult education, focusing on children’s education (not a bad thing in itself), or focusing on the needs ofthe “unchurched”, where topics such as church history and theology are often purposely ignored.Yet there is a strong need for adult education focused on both the Bible and the basic tenets and history of theFaith. Among the reasons: Not all adults come from a strong childhood background in the church – adult Sunday School classes/Biblestudies may be their first serious introduction to what Christianity is all aboutChristianity (and especially Evangelical Christianity) is under constant attack from the media and popularculture (movies, music, etc.). We need to give fellow Christians the tools to defend the Faith againstattack (or to provide a “ready defense” as Peter says in 1 Peter 3:15)Even adult Christians that have a strong Biblical background often know little about the origins and historyof their FaithTo better meet the needs of adult Christians (both those mature in their Faith, and those just starting out in the“School of Christ”), I’ve written a series of courses that focus on the history of the Christian Church (including theJewish roots), as well as the development of doctrine in the Church. The topics represented in these courses areintended to both further the participant’s walk in the Faith, as well as serve as a starting point for Christianapologetics.While the primary purpose of these courses is for use in churches, they also may be useful for High School andCollege projects, especially the courses focused primarily on historical aspects.One note: these courses are primarily written from an Evangelical Protestant viewpoint (I come from a ReformedChurch background), but I hope I've given ample time to other points of view throughout the various courses.Front Cover: Pentecost (LOC LAMB, no. 1461 (B size) [P&P]), Peter and Paul (LOC LC-DIG-ppmsca-17027), CharlesMartel (Barnes Brief History), Luther at Worms (Wylie)2

The Top 25 Events in the History of theChristian ChurchWritten by Robert JonesAcworth, Georgia 2009To purchase the accompanying PowerPoint and Instructor’s Guide ( 25), or toorder the s/index.htmTo access this .pdf file on the Web nts/top25events.pdf"Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEWINTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973,1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used bypermission of Zondervan Publishing House."Robert C. JonesPOB 1775Kennesaw, GA ourses.com/3

Note: This free .pdf only contains events #1 through #10.To get the complete list of 25, please order theaccompanying book, or the accompanying Teacher’sPack/PowerPoint.ContentsTHE TOP 25 EVENTS IN THE HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH . 1CHRISTIAN THEOLOGY AND HISTORY ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL COURSES. 2CONTENTS . 4INTRODUCTION . 5PENTECOST (1) . 5MISSIONARY JOURNEYS OF PAUL (2) . 6JERUSALEM COUNCIL (3). 7CONVERSION OF CONSTANTINE (4) . 8REJECTION OF GNOSTICISM (5) . 9CHARLES MARTEL STOPS THE MOSLEM ADVANCE AT THE BATTLE OF TOURS (6) . 11ATHANASIUS PUBLISHES LIST OF THE CONTENTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT (7) . 12ST AUGUSTINE ESTABLISHES CORE ROMAN CATHOLIC BELIEFS (8) . 13LUTHER SPARKS THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION (9) . 13SCHISM BETWEEN ROMAN CATHOLIC AND EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCHES (10) . 15SOURCES . 16ABOUT THE AUTHOR . 174

IntroductionHow did the Christian church become what it is today? How did a tiny splinter group of Judaism in theFirst Century A.D. become the dominant religion in the world 2,000 years later? One way to examinethese questions is through a look at key events in the history of the church. This course will providesuch a framework for attempting to answer those questions. Pentecost is the traditional beginning ofthe Christian Church, so we’ll start with that, and then examine 24 more important events.Any list of “top events” is by nature subjective. You may have items that did not make the list, or thatyou would rate higher or lower. I could easily add, for example, “The Decline of Christianity in Europe inthe Late 20th Century” or “The Rise of Christianity in Africa in the Late 20th Century”. But lists are usefulstarting points for discussion.I’d like to thank my Christian History & Theology class at Mars Hill Presbyterian Church for providinginput into the order of the events described herein, especially Steve Sheffield and Paula Walls, both ofwhom submitted written lists for my consideration.Pentecost (1)What:Pentecost, described in Chapter 2 of the Acts of the Apostles, is the beginning of the Christian Church. Itis described in the first four verses of Chapter 2:1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowingof a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw whatseemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filledwith the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4, NIV)As a result of this baptism of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles are able to speak in other languages. Thisallows the crowds to hear the Apostles in their own tongues.1Library of Congress, LAMB, no. 1461 (B size) [P&P]5

According to Acts 2, Pentecost “just happened” to occur at a time when Jerusalem was filled with “Godfearing Jews from every nation under heaven”. The gathered crowd heard the sound of the Pentecost,and then heard the Apostles speaking to them such that “each of us hears them in his own nativelanguage”. Most of the crowd views this as a miracle, and makes them willing to listen to what theApostles have to say.Peter would preach the first sermon in the history of the Christian Church shortly after the Pentecost.Significance:Pentecost turned a shell-shocked and somewhat ragtag group of about 120 believers into warriors forChrist. It would be this group of Apostles and disciples that would initially spread the good news of theGospel throughout the Levant (includes Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Palestinian territories and Syria).Missionary Journeys of Paul (2)What:The three missionary journeys of Paul (which combined, were over 6,000 miles in length!) effectivelyspread the word of Christianity throughout the Greco-Roman world. The journeys occurred over an 11year period (c. 46 A.D. – 57 A.D.), and included most of what is modern Turkey, Greece, Rhodes, Cyprus,and the Levant.Paul followed a general pattern when he’d go into a new town. First, he’d preach at the local Jewishsynagogue – often to attract Gentile “God-fearers”, who believed in the God of Abraham, but hadn’taccepted the rigors of Mosaic Law. Next, he would often try to create small churches in the homes ofnew followers (Lydia and her household, for example, are baptized in Lydia’s home). Then in someinstances, he would preach in more public arenas (Mars Hill in Athens, for example).Missionary journeys of Paul (Classic Maps, Ages Software)During his three missionary journeys, Paul would: Be stoned6

Battle with sorcerersRaise a teenager from the deadAppoint elders to run local churchesDebate with Stoics and Epicureans at the Areopagus (Mars Hill)Exorcise a demonPersonally baptize people such as LydiaAnd unflaggingly spread the good news of the Gospel in key parts of the Roman EmpireThe Acropolis of Athens – Paul debated with Greek philosophers on nearby Mars Hill (Photo courtesy Jan & TedLauer)Significance:The significance of Paul’s missionary journeys on the future growth of Christianity cannot beoveremphasized. Paul, through his own courage and determination, would change Christianity frombeing an offshoot of Judaism with a limited pool of potential followers into a significant religiousmovement in the broader Roman Empire - a movement that would eventually become the officialreligion of the Empire.Jerusalem Council (3)What:The first Church Council in the history of Christianity occurred c. 50 A.D. in Jerusalem. It is described inthe first half of the 15th chapter of Acts.Some Jewish believers in Christ disagreed with Paul and Barnabas’ ministry to thegentiles, preaching that one had to be circumcised to be saved. The Council wascalled to resolve this issue.Peter, an apostle who had sometimes preached to Gentiles himself, stronglydefended Paul and Barnabas to the Council. He used the argument that sinceGentiles can receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they should be considered nodifferent than Jewish converts to Christianity. He concluded with what would laterbecome a central tenet in Protestantism, “We believe it is through the grace of ourLord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are” (as opposed to salvation throughworks). (Photo: “The Holy Apostles Peter and Paul”2)2Library of Congress LC-DIG-ppmsca-170277

Paul and Barnabas then described their ministry to the Gentiles.James the Just, the brother of Jesus, would make the final ruling at the Council. James ruled in favor ofPaul and Barnabas (and Peter), and states “we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who areturning to God”.Significance:The ruling of James the Just ensured the future growth of the church through the Gentiles, who werefreed from following Mosaic Law. If James had ruled against Paul, it is unlikely that there would be2,000,000,000 Christians in the world in 2009.Conversion of Constantine (4)What:Constantine is sometimes referred to as the "Savior of Christianity". Prior to his conversion, Christianitywas still a persecuted religion in the Roman Empire. As late as 303 A.D., the butcher Emperor Diocletianlaunched a massive persecution campaign against Christians. With the conversion of Constantine in 312A.D., Christianity became not only respectable, but also ascendant.In 312 A.D., Constantine marched on Rome, in an attempt to take over control of the Western Empire.Arrayed against him were the forces of Maxentius, four times as strong. Constantine’s battlefieldconversion is described by ecclesiastical historian Eusebius, in his 4th-century “The Life of the BlessedEmperor Constantine”:“HOW, WHILE HE WAS PRAYING, GOD SENT HIM A VISION OF A CROSS OF LIGHT IN THE HEAVENS ATMID-DAY, WITH AN INSCRIPTION ADMONISHING HIM TO CONQUER BY THAT.ACCORDINGLY he called on him with earnest prayer and supplications that he would reveal to him who hewas, and stretch forth his right hand to help him in his present difficulties. And while he was thus praying8

with fervent entreaty, a most marvelous sign appeared to him from heaven, the account of which it mighthave been hard to believe had it been related by any other person.He said that about noon, when theday was already beginning to decline, he saw with his own eyes the trophy of a cross of light in theheavens, above the sun, and bearing the inscription, CONQUER BY THIS. At this sight he himself was struckwith amazement, and his whole army also, which followed him on this expedition, and witnessed themiracle.” (Eusebius, “The Life of the Blessed Emperor Constantine”, p. 665/66)After having a similar vision of Christ in his sleep, Constantine makes “the priests of God his counselors”,and:“.deemed it incumbent on him to honor the God who had appeared to him with all devotion. And afterthis, being fortified by well-grounded hopes in Him, he hastened to quench the threatening fire oftyranny.” (Eusebius, p. 668)Constantine, of course, goes on to defeat Maxentius, to assume total control of the Western Empire. By325 A.D., Christianity had become the official religion of the combined Roman Empire (East and West).Significance:By some estimates only 10% of the Roman Empire was Christian in the early 4 th century. Con