Church History

Christianity and
Church History
 Christianity 
Christianity is based on the life, teachings, death and
resurrection of JESUS.
“CHRIST” is Greek for “anointed one”, which in Aramaic means
the “perfected or enlightened one”. Jesus did not want to be called the
Messiah because he felt that the term could be misunderstood.
 Jesus characterized himself as the good shepherd who was willing
to lay down his life for his sheep (disciples).
 Christian Beliefs 
Developed in 325 C.E. by Emperor Constantine, the
NICENE CREED is a statement of beliefs universally
accepted by all Christians today.
CREATION – the whole universe is God’s creation
GOD – one God, who is an all-good Creator
THE HOLY TRINITY – God the Father, God the Son, and
God the Holy Spirit are bound together as ONE God
THE HOLY SPIRIT – the life-giving presence of God
SALVATION AND ETERNAL LIFE – the son of God, Jesus,
came to give humans the opportunity to be “saved”; to
attain eternal life in heaven after death
THE LAST JUDGMENT – Jesus will come back to earth
to determine which humans will join him, body and
soul, in heaven
• The Christian
Bible – consists
of the Hebrew
Bible (“Old
plus the “New
(Gospels, Acts,
When Were the Gospels Written and
For Whom?
The Gospel of Mark
• Written in Rome around 70
• Mark wrote for a community
of Christians of a Gentile
background. Gentile generally
means non-Jewish
The Gospel of Luke
• Written in Greece between 70
A.D. and 90 A.D.
• Luke wrote for a community of
Christians with a Greek
The Gospel of Matthew
• Written in Syria between 70
A.D. and 90 A.D.
• Matthew wrote for a
community of Christians with
a Jewish background
The Gospel of John
• Written in Asia Minor after 90
• John wrote for Christians of all
Seven Sacraments of the
Catholic Church
• Baptism
• Confirmation
• Eucharist
• Matrimony
• Reconciliation/Penance
• Anointing of the Sick
• Holy Orders
Christmas – celebrates the birth of Jesus on Earth
Epiphany – celebrates the spiritual kinship of Jesus by the three
Magi (wise men)
Advent – precedes Christmas by one month, a time of joyous
anticipation of the birth
Easter – commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus
Lent – precedes Easter 40 days; a period of repentance and
Pentecost – commemorates the occasions described in Acts
when the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples
• The most common form
of the Cross and
believed to be of the
style on which Jesus
died (Crucifix)
• Protestants typically use
the “resurrected Jesus”
or a simple cross
• The fish, or Ichthys, was
one of the most
important symbols of
Christ to the early
Christians. In Greek, the
phrase, "Jesus Christ, Son
of God Savior," is "Iesous
Christos Theou Yios
Soter." The first letters of
each of these Greek
words, when put
together, spell "ichthys,"
the Greek word for "fish."
• Symbol of the Holy
Spirit and used
especially in
representations of our
Lord's Baptism and the
Pentecost. It also
symbolizes the release
of the soul in death,
and is used to recall
Noah's dove, a
harbinger of hope.
• Symbol of Christ as the
Paschal Lamb and also a
symbol for Christians
(as Christ is our
Shepherd and Peter was
told to feed His sheep).
• Some of the earliest
depictions of Christ
show Him as the Good
Shepherd. This type of
representation is found
in the Catacombs.
• "CHI-RHO" or "sigla“
• The letters "X" and "P,"
representing the first letters
of the title "Christos," were
eventually put together to
form this symbol for Christ
("Chi" is pronounced "Kie").
It is this form of the Cross
that Constantine saw in his
vision along with the Greek
words, TOUTO NIKA, which
means "in this sign thou
shalt conquer.”
History of the Early Church
– The Birth of Jesus
30 CE
– Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus
50-67 CE
– St. Paul carries Christianity into Asia Minor and Rome and
writes many of the Epistles in the New Testament
70-110 CE
– The Gospels (Mark, Matthew, Luke and John) were written
50-325 CE
– Christians were persecuted under the Roman Empire
325 CE
– Council of Nicaea codified Christian beliefs in the Nicene Creed
1054 CE
– The first of several Crusades
1517 CE
– Martin Luther leads the Protestant Reformation
1534 CE
– King Henry VIII and Parliament establish the Church of England
(Anglican Church)
1962 –
1965 CE
– Second Vatican Council reforms practices of the Roman Catholic
0 - 312 A.D.
• Christianity is an outlawed religion – illegal!
• Roman Empire is in power
• Followers of “the Way” (early Christians) were
neither Jew nor Roman
• Both Romans and Jews persecuted Christians
– Proof? In the Acts of the Apostles as well as in Roman
records. St. Stephen was stoned to death in the Acts
of the Apostles. Saul (or Paul) was a Jew (Pharisee)
and persecuted Christians, later had a vision of Jesus
on the Road to Damascus, and becomes the greatest
missionary of the Church.
312 BCE
• Constantine from Gaul (modern day France) took control of
the Roman Empire and became its new leader. He legalized
Christianity and became a supporter of it. His mother was
Catholic and he had a dream before going into battle “In this
sign, thou shalt conquer.” He did conquer, therefore, he
became a supporter of Christianity.
• Christians were given land and tax incentives and Christians
began worshipping in public (Built Churches).
• Began Church councils where members of the Church came
together to make decisions –majority rules.
• In 325 the Council of Nicaea developed the Nicene Creed, a
statement of the beliefs of ALL Christians
• Church became very authoritarian.
• Church started to become associated with power rather than
service - the role of women also diminished.
• But the empire became more humane
• Social responsibility—e.g. feeding the poor and caring for sick
POST 312 A.D.
• As the Roman Empire lost power due to invading
tribes, the Church gained power, not really
because they wanted power, but because the
people looked towards them for help and
leadership. The Pope began to hold both civil and
religious authority.
• Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as emperor,
and the Pope and Charlemagne’s agenda was to
build the City of God—hence the Crusades. This
never really happened.
• By the time of the Dark Ages 1100 CE, the Church
held an authoritarian model and was wedded to
the state. Problems of money, power and
authority infiltrated its structure.
Church Schisms
• Beginnings of the Christian Church: The "first
churches," all are welcome, opposition by the
• Growth of Christianity
• Is'-4' Centuries (the first Christians, break with
Judaism, official
• acceptance, organization, St. Augustine)
• 51-11' Centuries (mission to the Barbarians, the
Papal states, Lay
• investiture, the first schism...)
Eastern Schism
(Eastern Orthodox, 1054)
• Roman Emperor Constantine shifted capital to Byzantine
(Constantinople) - Empire with two focal points
• influence of "pope" expanded Westward but with conflict
• Filioque clause in Nicene Creed 325 CE - "And the son" added to
"and we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and fiver of life who
proceeds from the father." - Eastern Church believes only God the
Father sends out the Holy Spirit
• 1054 CE pope in Rome excommunicated patriarch of
Constantinople also reject any modifications made to Christian
belief after787CE
• predominate in Greece, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania
• cross shaped floor plan, ornately decorated religion icons in church
• lead by Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul (Formally Constantinople)
• healing East-West divide- patriarch Athenagoras and Pope Paul VI
met in 1965 and lifted ex-communications
• Only men can be Orthodox priests- they are allowed to be married
but only before ordination- seven sacraments
Independent Eastern Churches
• Several sects in the Middle East and Africa
broke from Mediterranean Christianity in the
5' and 61 centuries. These churches deny that
Jesus was both true God and true man (still
worship the trinity)
• 15 million (most popular Ethiopian Church
shares many traditions with Judaism)
Roman Catholic Church
• Crusades 1095- Holy war to recover Jerusalem and Holy Land
from Muslim Rule- about 100 years (Inquisition against Judaism)
• Catholic Reformation: In response to Protestant Reformation.
Church spent 18 years (starting in 1543) at Council of Trent
• Council reaffirmed beliefs: 7 sacraments, 3 destinations for the
soul (heaven, hell and purgatory), prayers to Mary and Saints
acceptable, upheld importance of both Bible and Traditions
• 4`h century Bishop of Rome claimed official leadership "Pope"
("Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church")
• 1870 1' Vatican Council strengthened popes authority with papal
infallibility (provided that pope has consulted other Church
• Vatican 11 1962-1965 updated the Church: Latin eliminated as
language of worship, priest faces congregation, lay people given
roles during mass, Eucharist either bread or wine
• Four Marks of the Church: ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC, APOSTOLIC
Protestant Churches
• Martin Luther 1483-1546 believed in Salvation through
faith alone (not
• faith and works)- inward belief rather than outward signs
• love and service not necessary for salvation (rejection of
• knowing God through study of Bible more importanttranslated Bible
• into German... made Bible "hands on"
• Reformation quickly grew - new interpretations challenged
the Church.
• The movement quickly divided.
• Protestants  Christians belonging to a Christian sect or
division that separated from the Catholic Church during the
Reformation, led by Martin Luther, in 1517 C.E.
• First Protestant Church
• Only two sacraments, baptism and Lords Supper
• Con-substantiation- acknowledges the presence of
Christ's body and
• blood in the offering (all around it without changing
the substance)
• John Calvin (and John Knox)
• Stresses sanctification- purification from sin, through
obedience of the Ten Commandments
• Value integrity, sincerity and hard work
• Liturgies are relatively free from ritual with focus on
preaching and hymn singing
Anglican Churches
• King Henry VIII wanted his marriage to
Catherine of Aragon annulled- He had the
Archbishop of Canterbury annul the marriage
and had Parliament pass the Act of Supremacy
(monarch head of church)
• Bible translated in to English and services said
in English- however the liturgy still very similar
• Bridge between Protestants and Catholics
Baptist Churches
• They believe that becoming a Christian should be a
mature and informed decision, and not a birthright
(total immersion of adults in water in the same way
Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist
Methodist Churches (United Churches)
• John Wesley founded the movement as he
"methodically" sought a deeper assurance of personal
salvation through prayer discussion and reflection
• three basic principles "Do no harm, Do good, Attend to
all the ordinances of God"
• Evangelical Movement
• very active form of Christian Belief based on literal
authority of the Bible
• active in Charitable causes
Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)
• 1820s American Joseph Smith had visions of God the Father, Jesus
• Christ and and angel he called Moroni
• he claimed to receive golden panels in an ancient language that he
• was able to translate (the Book of Mormon)
• Under leadership Brigham Young the established Salt Lake City as
• headquarters
• they do not recognize original sin, baptism only serves to introduce
new members, they believe that a person's soul remains on earth
after death (genealogy important)
Jehovah's Witnesses
• Founded in 1868- obey the call to "witness the faith"- must spread
• the good news of the kingdom of God
• Reject the idea of the Holy Trinity and interpret the Bible literally
• Oppose blood transfusions
• Catholics maintain that moral authority comes from both
Scripture and tradition. Remember, the Catholic Church
bases its authority to declare both truth in Scripture and in
its interpretation of the Scripture, which it calls tradition.
Protestants believe in “sola Scriptura” or that Scripture
alone holds moral authority.
• Catholics hold that Christ is truly present in the consecrated
bread and wine of the Eucharist. Protestants, for the most
part, see the Eucharist as a symbolic memorial of Christ’s
Last Supper.
• For Catholics, the sacraments are celebrations of the
salvation achieved by Jesus Christ, which God offers us as a
gift. Sacraments are Catholic’s participation in this reality.
Protestants believe that salvation comes through faith in
biblical Scripture alone, and was accomplished once and for
all time in the Calvary sacrifice of Jesus.
• Catholics believe in mediation, the establishment of
relationships between one person and God through
the efforts of another person. The mediator can be a
priest or a saint. It can be other persons who pray for
them. They, themselves can be mediators, as they pray
for others, the souls in purgatory, for example.
Protestants believe in an immediate and direct
relationship with God, and shun intermediaries for the
most part.
• Catholics keep the traditional seven sacraments:
baptism, reconciliation, Eucharist, confirmation, Holy
Orders, marriage, and anointing of the sick.
Protestants, de-emphasizing the role of a priest
mediator, for the most part practice just two
sacraments: baptism and the Eucharist.
Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council, or Vatican II, was an ecumenical council of the church
opened under Pope John XXIII in 1962 and closed under Pope Paul VI in 1965.
Changed in how church sacraments were practiced, and the use of vernacular
languages for the Mass. The council also brought less visible, but fundamental
changes in how the Catholic church saw itself and its relationship with other faiths
and the world. It has often been cited as the most significant event in Catholicism
in the 20th century.
The Church- The hierarchical teaching structure of Church was reconfirmed, while
stressing the unique roles that religious orders and lay persons had, and that there
was a "universal call to holiness", for all Christians.
Liturgy - revised the liturgy. It allowed the use of local languages instead of Latin.
Local or national customs could be carefully incorporated into the liturgy.
Scripture and Divine Revelation - accepted a more modern approach to scriptural
analysis and interpretation.