Church History and Time Line


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30: Crucifixion of Jesus; Pentecost 35: Stephen martyred; Paul converted 46: Paul begins missionary journeys 48: Council of Jerusalem 57: Paul’s Letter to the Romans 64: Fire of Rome; Nero launches persecutions 65: Peter and Paul are executed; martyrdom of the church’s two greatest apostles forces church leadership into a new era.
70: Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus 110: Ignatius of Antioch martyred 150: Justin Martyr’s First Apology, the work of the first major scholarapologist, makes Christianity reasonable to thinking pagans.
150: [Marcion’s canon] rejects Old Testament 155: Polycarp martyred 172: Montanist movement begins 180: Irenaeus’s Against Heresies leads the fight against the powerful Gnostic heresy.
196: Tertullian begins writing, with his legal-trained mind, major writings that promote purity of life and doctrine.
215: Origen begins writing brilliant works that “provided a foundation for the great ecumenical councils to come.” 230: the earliest known public churches are built, signaling a shift in Christians’ life and practice.
248: Cyprian elected bishop of Carthage 250: Empire-wide persecution under Emperor Decius causes thousands to fall away and produces a major schism in the church.
270: Anthony takes up solitude, attracting many to asceticism and prayer and paving the way for monasticism.
303: “Great Persecution” begins under Diocletian 312: Conversion of Constantine 312: The Donatist Schism, over treatment of apostates from the Great Persecution, challenges thinking about the church.
313: “Edict of Milan” 323: Eusebius completes Ecclesiastical History 325: First Council of Nicea 341: Ulphilas, translator of Gothic Bible, becomes bishop 342: Ulphilas’s mission to Goths 343: Ulphilas’s Gothic Bible 358: Basil the Great founds a monastery, laying foundations for religious communities ever after.
367: Athanasius’s letter defines New Testament canon 381: Christianity made state religion of Roman Empire 381: First Council of Constantinople ratifies the Nicean Creed and condemns Apollinarianism, safeguarding a high view of Christ.
386: Augustine converts to Christianity 390: Ambrose defies Emperor Theodosius, refusing him Communion after his brutal killing of thousands in Thessalonica; the act influences church-state relations for generations.
398: Chrysostom consecrated bishop of Constantinople 405: Jerome completes the Vulgate 410: Rome sacked by Visigoths 431: Council of Ephesus 432: Patrick’s mission to Ireland breaks heathenism and fosters Christianity, leading to a flourishing Celtic church.
440: Leo the Great consecrated bishop of Rome 445: [Valentinian’s Edict] strengthens primacy of Rome 451: Council of Chalcedon 500: Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite writes 524: Boethius completes Consolation of Philosophy 529: Justinian’s Code is published; it becomes the basis for later canon law in the West, thus shaping medieval society.
540: Benedict writes his monastic Rule 563: Columba establishes mission community on Iona 590: Gregory the Great becomes pope: The “first of the medieval popes” takes on civil power and lays the foundations for the papal state. He also commissions, in 597, Augustine’s mission to England, which converts the pagan Angles.
597: Ethelbert of Kent converted 600: [Gregory’s chants] 622: Muhammad’s hegira: birth of Islam 650: Iconography flourishes 663: Synod of Whitby decisively aligns the English church with Rome for the next nine centuries.
698: Lindisfarne Gospels 716: Boniface’s mission to the Germans spreads Christianity to pagan northern Europe, preparing the way for the later Holy Roman Empire.
726: Controversy over icons begins in Eastern church 730: First known church organ 731: Bede’s Ecclesiastical History published 732: Battle of Tours: Frankish general Charles Martel halts the seemingly unstoppable Muslim invasion, keeping Europe under Christian control.
750: Donation of Constantine written about this time 754: Pepin III’s donation helps found papal states 781: Alcuin becomes royal adviser to Charles 787: 2nd Council of Nicea settles icon controversy 800: Charlemagne crowned Holy Roman Emperor: With the help of his adviser, Alcuin, the seven-foot-tall king brings Europe political unity, a stronger church, and a renaissance of learning.
843: Treaty of Verdun divides Carolingian Empire 861: East-West conflict over Photius begins 862: Cyril and Methodius begin mission to Slavs 910: the monastery at Cluny is founded, the genesis of a reform movement that spreads to over 1,000 communities and revitalizes monastic life for hundreds of years.
965: First English polyphony 988: Christianization of “Russia” 1054: East-West Split 1077: Emperor submits to Pope over investiture 1093: Anselm named archbishop of Canterbury, a post from which he writes lasting works on the Atonement and proofs for God’s existence.
1095: First Crusade launched by Council of Clermont 1115: Bernard founds monastery at Clairvaux: The “father of Western mysticism” strengthens the monastic tradition.
1122: Concordat of Worms ends investiture controversy 1141: [Abelard’]s teaching condemned 1141: Hildegard of Bingen begins writing 1150: Mystery plays flourish 1150: University of Paris and Oxford founded 1170: Thomas Becket murdered 1173: Waldensian movement begins 1208: Francis of Assisi renounces wealth in order to preach a simple, passionate gospel, and later founds the Franciscan Order.
1215: Innocent III calls the Fourth Lateran Council, which climaxes the rule of the medieval church’s most influential pope and defines transubstantiation.
1215: Magna Carta 1220: Dominic establishes Order of Preachers, who travel barefoot, teach, and convert heretics.
1232: Gregory IX appoints first “inquisitors” 1260: Chartres Cathedral 1272: Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae 1302: Unam Sanctam proclaims papal supremacy 1309: Papacy begins “Babylonian” exile in Avignon 1321: Dante’s Divine Comedy gives masterful poetic expression to medieval concepts of heaven, hell, and purgatory, and shapes later thought.
1348: Black Death 1370: Catherine of Siena’s Letters, a treasure of Western mysticism, are begun.
1373: Julian of Norwich receives her revelations 1378: Great Papal Schism begins 1380: John Wyclif supervises Bible translation, leaving the first complete English Bible.
1413: Hus burned at stake 1414: Council of Constance begins 1415: Hus burned at stake 1418: [Thomas á Kempis] writes The Imitation of Christ 1431: Joan of Arc burned at stake 1453: Constantinople falls to the Turks, ending a millennium of Christianity in the Eastern Roman ("Byzantine") Empire.
1456: Gutenberg produces first printed Bible 1476: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales 1479: The Spanish Inquisition, under Ferdinand and Isabella, begins against baptized Jews and Moors.
1488: First complete Hebrew Old Testament 1492: Columbus lands in Western hemisphere 1497: Savonarola excommunicated 1506: Work begins on new St. Peter’s in Rome 1512: Michelangelo completes Sistine Chapel frescoes 1516: Erasmus publishes Greek New Testament 1517: Luther posts his [Ninety-Five Theses] 1518: Ulrich Zwingli is called as people’s priest in Zurich, where he begins his radical break with Catholic practices and lays the foundation of Reformed theology.
1521: Diet of Worms 1522: Luther’s German New Testament published 1524: The [Peasants’ Revolt] erupts in Germany 1525: Anabaptist movement begins 1525: Tyndale’s New Testament published 1527: Schleitheim Confession of Faith 1529: Colloquy of Marburg: Here, however, Zwingli and Luther’s differing views on the Lord’s Supper lead to separate Reformed and Lutheran churches.
1530: Augsburg Confession, written largely by Philipp Melanchthon, definitively expresses Lutheran beliefs.
1534: Act of Supremacy; Henry VIII heads Eng. church 1535: Coverdale Bible 1536: Calvin publishes first edition of Institutes 1536: Menno Simons baptized as Anabaptist 1540: Ignatius Loyola receives approval for the Society of Jesus, the Jesuitsoldiers of Christ” who help preserve and extend Catholicism.
1545: Council of Trent begins 1549: Book of Common Prayer, the service book of the Church of England, is drafted by Thomas Cranmer.
1549: Xavier begins mission to Japan 1555: Latimer and Ridley burned at stake 1555: Peace of Augsburg 1559: John Knox returns to Scotland and, despite being outlawed, champions a bloodless Reformation, secured the following year.
1560: Geneva Bible 1562: Genevan Psalter 1562: Heidelberg Catechism 1563: First text of [Thirty-Nine Articles] issued 1563: [Foxe’s Book of Martyrs] published 1565: Teresa of Avila writes The Way of Perfection 1572: [St. Bartholomew]’s Day Massacre 1577: Formula of Concord 1582: Ricci and Ruggieri begin mission in China 1588: English defeat Spanish Armada 1589: Moscow becomes independent patriarchate 1598: The Edict of Nantes officially ends persecution of French Protestants (Huguenots), whose years of suffering included the infamous [St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre] in 1572.
1603: Arminius appointed professor at Leyden 1605: Shakespeare’s MacBeth 1609: Separatist pastor John Smyth baptizes himself and about forty adults, the start of modern Baptist denominations.
1611: King James Version of Bible published 1618: Synod of Dort begins 1618: [Thirty Years’ War] begins 1620: Mayflower Compact drafted 1628: Jan Comenius flees 1633: Galileo is forced by Rome to recant his belief in the Copernican theory (that the earth revolves around the sun); tensions heighten between Christianity and modern science.
1636: Harvard College founded 1636: Roger Williams founds Providence, R.I.
1642: English Civil War 1646: Westminster Confession, the definitive statement of Presbyterian beliefs, is drafted. 1648: the Peace of Westphalia ends the Thirty Years’ War, settling European wars of religion and effectively ending the papacy’s political control over large areas.
1647: George Fox begins to preach 1648: Peace of Westphalia ends [Thirty Years’ War] 1649: Cambridge Platform 1652: George Fox founds Society of Friends ("Quakers"), gathering 50,000 followers in just eight years.
1653: Cromwell named Lord Protector 1654: Pascal has definitive conversion experience 1667: [Milton’s Paradise Lost] 1668: Rembrandt paints Return of the Prodigal Son 1675: Jakob Philipp Specner’s Pia Desideria (Pious Desires) launches the influential Pietist movement.
1678: Jailed Baptist preacher John Bunyan writes [Pilgrim’s Progress]: next to the Bible, the most-popular English-language book of all time.
1682: Penn founds Pennsylvania 1687: Newton publishes Principia Mathematica 1689: Toleration Act in England 1707: Bach publishes first work 1707: Isaac Watts’s Hymns and Spiritual Songs, with 600 hymns including “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” moves the church from nearly exclusive singing of metrical psalms to the hymn singing we know today.
1729: Jonathan Edwards becomes pastor at Northampton 1732: First Moravian missionaries, spurred by an earlier religious awakening in their small community of Brethren, launch the modern missionary movement.
1735: George Whitefield is converted and soon begins dramatic [open-air evangelism] in the U.S. and England. 1780: Robert Raikes begins Sunday school to teach poor local children, creating a lasting institution.
1738: Bach’s Mass in B Minor 1738: John and Charles Wesley’s evangelical conversions 1739: George Whitefield starts open-air preaching 1740: Great Awakening peaks 1742: First production of [Handel’s Messiah] 1759: [Voltaire’]s Candide 1771: Francis Asbury sent to America 1773: American Revolution 1773: Jesuits suppressed (until 1814) 1779: Newton and Cowper publish Olney Hymns 1780: Robert Raikes begins his Sunday school 1781: Kant publishes Critique of Pure Reason 1784: Wesley provides for “Conference of Methodists” 1789: French Revolution begins 1789: The Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech, assembly, and religion to Americans; the French Revolution leads later to the Festival of Reason and de-Christianization of France.
1793: Festival of Reason (de-Christianization of France) 1793: William Carey sails for India 1799: Schleiermacher publishes Lectures on Religion 1801: Concordat between Napoleon and Pius VII 1804: British and Foreign Bible Society formed 1804: Napoleon emperor 1806: Samuel Mills leads Haystack Prayer Meeting 1807: William Wilberforce’s efforts lead to the abolition of the British slave trade.
1810: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions 1811: Campbells begin Restoration Movement 1812: Adoniram Judson begins mission trip 1816: Judsons sail for Asia 1816: Richard Allen becomes bishop of the new African Methodist Episcopal church, which later publishes the first African-American newspaper and magazine.
1817: Elizabeth Fry organizes relief in Newgate Prison 1819: Channing issues Unitarian Christianity 1825: American Tract Society 1827: [J. N. Darby] founds the Plymouth Brethren 1833: John Keble’s sermon launches the Oxford Movement, encouraging high-church worship, authority, and tradition within the Church of England.
1834: Mueller opens Scriptural Knowledge Institute 1835: Charles Finney’s Lectures on Revivals is published, explaining the “scientific” methods the revivalist used in converting 500,000 people.
1836: Mueller opens orphanage 1840: Livingstone sails for Africa 1844: First Adventist churches formed 1844: [Søren Kierkegaard]’s Philosophical Fragments is published; his works attack formalized Christianity in favor of the personal leap of faith.
1845: John Henry Newman becomes Roman Catholic 1845: Phoebe Palmer writes The Way of Holiness, spurring the Holiness movement, while strengthening women’s ministries and encouraging the Prayer Meeting Revival.
1848: Marx publishes Communist Manifesto 1851: Harriet Beecher Stowe releases [Uncle Tom’s Cabin] 1854: Immaculate Conception made dogma 1854: Spurgeon becomes pastor of [New Park St. Church] 1855: [D. L. Moody] is converted and goes on to become the greatest evangelist of his era.
1857: Prayer Meeting Revival begins in New York 1859: Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species 1859: Japan reopens to foreign missionaries 1860: [U.S. Civil War] begins 1864: Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua 1864: Syllabus of Errors, issued by Pope Pius IX, rejects modern societal trends, including liberalism and socialism.
1865: [J. Hudson Taylor] founds China Inland Mission 1870: The First Vatican Council declares papal infallibility (when the pope speaks ex cathedra on matters of faith or morals).
1873: Moody and Sankey’s Sacred Songs and Solos 1878: William and Catherine Booth found the Salvation Army, soon a worldwide thrust for social and spiritual salvation.
1879: Frances Willard becomes president of WCTU 1880: Abraham Kuyper starts Free University 1880: Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov 1885: Berlin Congress spurs African independent churches 1885: Wellhausen’s documentary hypothesis 1886: Student Volunteer Movement begins, ultimately stirring 20,000 college students to become Christian missionaries.
1895: Freud publishes first work on psychoanalysis 1896: Billy Sunday begins leading revivals 1901: Speaking in tongues at Parham’s Bible School 1906: Schweitzer’s Quest of the Historical Jesus 1906: The Azusa Street Revival begins in Los Angeles under William Seymour’s leadership, spreading Pentecostalism.
1908: Federal Council of Churches forms 1910: International Missionary Conference begins 1910: The Edinburgh Missionary Conference, an interdenominational gathering chaired by [John R. Mott], births the modern ecumenical movement.
1910: The Fundamentals, a twelve-paperback series presenting conservative doctrine, is launched, signaling the rise of fundamentalism.
1912: Social Creed of the Churches adopted 1914: World War I begins 1917: Bolshevik Revolution 1919: Karl Barth’s Commentary on Romans rocks the theological world by breaking with liberalism for a “neoorthodoxy.” 1920: U.S. women’s suffrage 1924: First Christian radio broadcasts 1929: Great Depression 1931: [C. S. Lewis]’s conversion gives rise to numerous theological and apologetic books that explain Christianity to twentieth-century people.
1934: Barmen Declaration 1934: Wycliffe Bible Translators begins under Cam Townsend, providing Scriptures for hundreds of language groups with no Bible.
1935: [Eliot’s Murder] in the Cathedral 1938: Kristallnacht accelerates Holocaust 1939: World War II begins 1940: First Christian television broadcasts are made.
1941: Niebuhr’s Nature and Destiny of Man 1941: Rudolf Bultmann calls for demythologization of the New Testament message into terms acceptable for moderns.
1942: National Association of Evangelicals forms 1945: Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima 1945: Bonhoeffer executed 1945: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison call for costly discipleship in a difficult world.
1946: Revised Standard Version New Testament 1947: Dead Sea Scrolls discovered 1948: The World Council of Churches is formally constituted, uniting nearly all major Western denominations.
1949: [L. A. Crusade] catapults Billy Graham to prominence, and with ensuing crusades he preaches to more people than any evangelist in history.
1950: Assumption of Mary made dogma 1950: Missionaries forced to leave China 1950: Mother Teresa founds Missionaries of Charity 1951: Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison 1954: United Methodists grant full ordination to women, signaling increasing leadership for women in mainline and other churches.
1960: Charismaticrenewal advances following national attention given to Episcopal rector Dennis Bennett’s experience.
1962: Vatican II opens 1963: Martin Luther King leads March on Washington 1966: Chinese Cultural Revolution 1968: Medellin Conference advances liberation theology 1971: The Living Bible 1974: Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization 1979: John Paul II’s first visit to Poland 1985: Gorbachev General Secretary of Soviet Communist Party

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Last page update:Thu Nov 5 10:21:05 MST 2020

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