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Christianity / Church / Church History / Church History By Century

20th Century

Updated Oct 06, 2023
20th Century

These events represent some of the major developments in 20th-century Christian history, including theological debates, the growth of new Christian movements, and efforts toward Christian unity and interfaith dialogue.

20th Century Christian History

  1. 1900-1914: The Modernist-Fundamentalist Controversy

    • Theological debates between modernists (liberals) and fundamentalists (conservatives) emerged within various Christian denominations, particularly in the United States.
  2. 1904-1905: Welsh Revival

    • The Welsh Revival, led by Evan Roberts, resulted in a significant religious awakening in Wales and beyond.
  3. 1906: Azusa Street Revival

    • The Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles is considered the birth of the Pentecostal movement, characterized by emphasizing the gifts of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues.
  4. 1910: Edinburgh Missionary Conference

    • The Edinburgh Missionary Conference marked a significant event in the history of Christian missions, focusing on global evangelism and cooperation among denominations.
  5. 1914-1918: World War I

    • World War I profoundly impacted Christianity, leading to questions about the compatibility of war and Christian principles.
  6. 1925: Scopes Monkey Trial

    • The Scopes Monkey Trial in the United States pitted the teaching of evolution against the teaching of creationism in public schools, highlighting tensions between science and faith.
  7. 1928: Lambeth Conference

    • The Lambeth Conference of Anglican bishops addressed issues related to Christian unity, social justice, and theological matters within the Anglican Communion.
  8. 1930: Formation of the World Council of Churches (WCC)

    • The WCC was established to promote cooperation and dialogue among Christian denominations and address social issues on a global scale.
  9. 1931: Deification of the Emperor in Japan

    • The Japanese government attempted to promote Shintoism and deify Emperor Hirohito, leading to conflicts with Christian communities in Japan.
  10. 1941-1945: World War II

    • World War II profoundly impacted Christian communities worldwide, with many churches and individuals actively resisting Nazi persecution and Japanese militarism.
  11. 1948: Founding of the World Council of Churches (WCC)

    • The WCC was officially founded in Amsterdam, solidifying its role as a major international ecumenical organization.
  12. 1962-1965: Second Vatican Council (Vatican II)

    • Vatican II marked a significant event in Catholic history, bringing about numerous reforms, including liturgical changes, greater involvement of laypeople, and improved relations with other Christian denominations.
  13. 1960s-1970s: Ecumenical and Interfaith Dialogues

    • The mid-20th century saw increased efforts at ecumenism (Christian unity) and interfaith dialogue, with various Christian denominations and faith traditions seeking common ground.
  14. 1960s-1980s: Charismatic Movement

    • The Charismatic Movement, characterized by emphasizing spiritual gifts and charismatic experiences, grew within various Christian denominations.
  15. 1960s-1980s: Liberation Theology

    • Liberation Theology emerged in Latin America, emphasizing the Church's role in addressing social injustices and advocating for the poor and marginalized.
  16. 1989: Fall of the Berlin Wall

    • The fall of the Berlin Wall marked the beginning of the end of communist regimes in Eastern Europe and opened up new opportunities for religious freedom.
  17. 1992: Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification

    • The Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation signed the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, a significant step toward greater ecumenical understanding.


• World Wars pit nominally Christian nations of Europe against each other.

• Emergence of charismatic Christian sects.

• Rise of the ecumenical movement.

• Revision of the Roman Catholic liturgy.

• Missions reach virtually every region of the world.

• New translation methods put the Bible into the languages of 95% of mankind, but about 1,500 small tongues, representing 5% of mankind, lack scriptures.

• More Christians are said to have been martyred in the 20th century than in all earlier centuries combined.

• Decline of church attendance becomes marked in much of the Western world.

• Explosive growth of Chinese Christianity.

• Emergence and collapse of powerful atheistic states.

• Crises in Darwinism revive Christian attacks on evolutionary theory and the development of scientific models from a Christian perspective.

• The rise of the internet and mass media led to a wide dissemination of the gospel by new means.

• An overwhelming information explosion tends to bury the truth.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Dmytro Yarmolin

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About Church History By Century

Read about {3} Church History and know the important Christian events of that century.