100 Key Events In Church History

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Events 1-25

64
Fire ravages Rome. Emperor Nero blames Christians and unleashes persecution.

70
Titus destroys Jerusalem and its temple. Separation deepens between Christianity and Judaism.

about 150
Justin Martyr writes his First Apology, advancing Christian efforts to address competing philosophies.

about 156
Polycarp, an eighty-six-year-old bishop, inspires Christians to stand firm under opposition.

177
Irenaeus becomes bishop of Lyons and combats developing heresies within the Church.

about 196
Colorful and cantankerous Tertullian begins writings that earn him the reputation of being the "Father of Latin Theology."

about 205
The gifted North African Origen begins writing. He headed a noted catechetical school in Alexandria.

251
Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, publishes his influential work Unity of the Church. He was martyred in 258.

270
Antony gives away his possessions and begins life as a hermit, a key event in the development of Christian monasticism.

312
Constantine is converted after seeing a vision of the cross. He becomes a defender and advocate of the oppressed Christians.

325
The Council of Nicea addresses debates perplexing the Church and defines the doctrine of who Jesus really was.

367
Athanasius' Easter Letter recognizes the New Testament Canon, listing the same books we have now.

385
In Milan, Bishop Ambrose defies the Empress, helping establish the precedent of Church confrontation of the state when necessary to protect Christian teaching and oppose the state.

387
Augustine of Hippo is converted. His writings became bedrock for the Middle Ages. The Confessions and City of God are still read by many.

398
John Chrysostom, the "golden tongued" preacher is made bishop of Constantinople and leads from there amidst continuing controversies.

405
Jerome completes the Latin "Vulgate" version of the bible that becomes the standard for the next one thousand years.

432
Patrick goes as a missionary to Ireland--taken there as a teenager as a slave. He returns and leads multitudes of Irish people to the Christian faith.

451
The Council of Chalcedon confirms orthodox teaching that Jesus was truly God and truly man and existed in one person.

529
Benedict of Nursia establishes his monastic order. His "rule" becomes the most influential for centuries of monasticism in the West.

563
Columba goes as a missionary to Scotland. He establishes the legendary monastic mission center at Iona.

590
Gregory becomes Pope Gregory I, known as "the Great." His leadership significantly advances the development of the papacy and has enormous influence on Europe.

664
Synod of Whitby determines that the English church will come under the authority of Rome.

716
Boniface, the "Apostle of Germany," sets out as a missionary to bring the gospel to pagan lands.

731
The "Venerable" Bede completes his careful and influential Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation.

732
At the Battle of Tours, Charles Martel turns back the Muslim invasion of Europe.

Events 26-50

800
Charlemagne crowned emperor by the pope on Christmas. He advances the church, education, and culture.

863
Cyril and Methodius, Greek brothers, evangelize the Serbs. Cyril develops the Cyrillic alphabet which remains the basis for the Slavonic used in the liturgy of the Russian church.

909
A monastery is established at Cluny and becomes a center for reform. By the mid-12th century, there were over 1,000 Clunaic houses.

988
Conversion of Vladimir, Prince of Kiev, who, after examining several religions, chooses Orthodoxy to unify and guide the Russian people.

1054
The East-West Schism. Brewing for centuries, rupture finally comes to a head with the fissure that has lasted to this day.

1093
Anselm becomes Archbishop of Canterbury. A devoted monk and outstanding theologian, his Cur Deus Homo? (Why Did God Become Man?), explored the atonement.

1095
Pope Urban II launches the First Crusade. The crowd wildly shouts "God wills it!" There would be several crusades over the next centuries with many tragic results.

1115
Bernard founds the monastery at Clairvaux. He and the monastery become a major center of spiritual and political influence.

about 1150
Universities of Paris and Oxford are founded and become incubators for renaissance and reformation and precursors for modern educational patterns.

1173
Peter Waldo founds the Waldensians, a reform movement emphasizing poverty, preaching and the Bible. He and his followers are eventually condemned as heretics and the Waldensians suffer great persecution for centuries.

1206
Francis of Assisi renounces wealth and goes on to lead a band of poor friars preaching the simple life.

1215
The Fourth Lateran Council deals with heresy, reaffirms Roman Catholic doctrines and strengthens the authority of the popes.

1273
Thomas Aquinas completes work on Summa Theoligica, the theological masterpiece of the Middle Ages.

1321
Dante completes The Divine Comedy, the greatest work of Christian literature to emerge from the Middle Ages.

1378
Catherine of Siena goes to Rome to help heal the "Great Papal Schism" which had resulted in multiple popes. Partly through her influence, the papacy moves back to Rome from Avignon.

about 1380
Wycliffe is exiled from Oxford but oversees a translation of the Bible into English. He is later hailed as the "Morning star of the Reformation."

1415
John Hus, who teaches Wycliffe's ideas in Bohemia, is condemned and burned at the stake by the Council of Constance.

1456
Johann Gutenberg produces the first printed Bible, and his press becomes a means for dissemination new ideas, catalyzing changes in politics and theology.

1478
The Spanish Inquisition is established under King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to oppose "heresy."

1498
Savonarola, the fiery Dominican reformer of Florence, in Italy, is executed.

1512
Michelangelo completes his notable artwork on the Sistine Chapel ceiling in Rome.

1517
Martin Luther posts his ninety-five theses, a simple invitation for scholarly debate that inadvertently becomes a "hinge of history."

1523
Zwingli leads the Swiss reformation from his base as head pastor in Zurich.

1525
The Anabaptist movement begins. This "radical reformation" insists on baptism of adult believers and the almost unheard of notion of separation of church and state.

1534
Henry VIII's Act of Supremacy makes the king, not the pope, head of the Church of England.

Events 51-75

1536
John Calvin publishes The Institutes of the Christian Religion, the most substantial theological work of the Reformation.

1540
The Society of Jesus is approved by the Vatican. Founded by Ignatius Loyola, the Jesuit order places its services entirely at the disposal of the pope.

1545
The Council of Trent opens. Called by the Roman Catholic Church, it addresses abuses and serves the Catholic Counter-Reformation.

1549
Cranmer produces the beloved Book of Common Prayer for the Church of England.

1559
John Knox returns to Scotland to lead reformation there after a period of exile in Calvin's Geneva.

1572
The Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre in France witnesses the killing of tens of thousands of Protestant Huguenots by Catholics.

1608-09
Anglican preacher turned Separatist, John Smith, baptizes the first "Baptists."

1611
Publication of the Authorized or King James translation of the Bible in the English language. Fifty-four scholars worked for four years on the project.

1620
Pilgrims coming to America sign the Mayflower Compact and commit themselves to seek the public good, uphold group solidarity and forsake self-seeking.

1628
Jan Amos Comenius is driven from his homeland in Moravia and wanders the rest of his life spreading educational reform and pleading for Christian reconciliation.

1646
The Westminster Confession is drafted in the Jerusalem Room at Westminster Abbey.

1648
George Fox founds the Society of Friends, more commonly known as "Quakers." Seeking to live simple lives, opposed to warfare and avoiding formal worship, they had an influence far exceeding their numbers.

1662
Rembrandt completes his masterful painting the Return of the Prodigal Son.

1675
German Lutheran minister Philip Jacob Spener publishes Pia Desideria which becomes a manifesto for "Pietism."

1678
John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress is published. It becomes second in international circulation, exceeded only by the Bible.

1685
Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frederick Handel born. These two will go on to become musical giants illustrating the central place of Biblical subjects in the masterpieces of Western art.

1707
Publication of Isaac Watt's Hymns and Spiritual Songs marks a new development in the kind of music sung in churches.

1727
Awakening at Herrnhut launches Moravian Brethren as the forerunner of modern Protestant missionary movements.

1735
Great Awakening under Jonathan Edwards stirs the American colonies with many conversions and individual returns to heartfelt faith.

1738
John Wesley's conversion eventually leads to the founding of a branch of the Methodist Church although he had no intention of forming a separate denomination.

1780
Newspaperman Robert Raikes begins Sunday schools to reach poor and uneducated children in England. It rapidly becomes a vital international movement.

1793 William Carey sails as a missionary to India and oversees more Bible translations than had previously been produced in all Christian history.

1807
The British Parliament votes to abolish the slave trade. Its decision is owing in large part to the tireless efforts of the Christian politician William Wilberforce.

1811
The Campbells begin the Disciples of Christ, an element within what became known as the "Restoration Movement" of American Christianity.

1812
Adoniram and Ann Judson sail for India. These first missionaries to be sent from America evangelize Burma and translate the scriptures into Burmese.

Events 76-100

1816
Richard Allen, a former slave, founds the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

1817
Elizabeth Fry begins ministry to women in prison and becomes model for social compassion and involvement.

1830
Charles G. Finney's urban revivals begin and introduce techniques that decisively affect later mass evangelism in America.

about 1830
John Nelson Darby helps found the Plymouth Brethren, a group which spreads the dispensational view of Scriptural interpretation.

1833
John Keble's sermon "National Apostasy" initiates the Oxford movement in England.

1854
Hudson Taylor arrives as a missionary in China. His faith work has immense impact.

1854
Philosopher Soron Kierkegaard publishes Attacks on Christendom.

1854
Charles Haddon Spurgeon becomes pastor in London and will go on the be one of the most influential pastors ever.

1855
Dwight L. Moody is converted. He goes on to become one of the most effective American evangelists.

1857
David Livingstone publishes Missionary Travels and his exploits in Africa attract world wide attention.

1865
William Booth founds the Salvation Army, vowing to bring the gospel into the streets to the most desperate and needy.

1870
Pope Pius IX proclaims the doctrine of Papal Infallibility.

1886
The Student Volunteer Movement begins as a major thrust of young people to bring the gospel to the world as missionaries.

1906
Asuza Street revival launches Pentecostalism, and paves the way for the development of the modern charismatic movement.

1910-15
The fundamentals are published and demonstrate the great divide in American Christianity known as the "Modernist-Fundamentalist" controversy.

1919
Karl Barth's Commentary on Romans is published, effectively critiquing modernistic theology.

1921
First Christian radio broadcast over KDKA in Pittsburgh.

1934
Cameron Townsend begins the Summer Institute of Linguistics that aspires with sister organization Wycliffe Bible translators to bring the Bible to every language group of the world.

1945
Dietrich Bonhoeffer is executed by the Nazis. The German pastor is killed just days before the Allies arrive to liberate that region. His theological writings remain influential.

1948
The World Council of Churches is formed as an interdenominational body promoting Christian unity and presence in society.

1949
Billy Graham's Los Angeles crusade thrusts the young evangelist into several decades of worldwide ministry and an impressive reputation.

1960
Charismatic renewal surges forward, crossing denominational lines and becoming more mainstream.

1962
Second Vatican Council begins, the most significant council since Trent. It will promote new attitudes and practices in Catholicism.

1963
Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister, leads a march on Washington espousing the teachings of Jesus in a civil rights movement that affects all American.

1966-76
The Chinese church grows despite the Cultural Revolution. Christianity did not die out under Communism, but experienced one of the most dramatic church growths ever.

About 100 Key Events In Church History

See the top 100 key events in church history.  Learn when Constantine converted to Christianity.  Discover when the New Testament Canon was recognized.  Study the dates of the Apostles' Creed.

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