History of Christianity
A brief look at some of the key events/people who make up the History of Christianity
- There were lots of books written about Jesus in the early Church, why do we only use the ones we find in the Bible today?
- Who is Jesus really? Why do we worship him? There are alternatives to this view, why not choose them?
- Should we obey God or the Government? What happens when the Government turns against the Church? How do we handle persecution or when the Church is portrayed as being bad?
- There are lots of social justice issues in the world. What is the Church supposed to do about them?
- Do we hear from God through the Church, or in some other way? Is salvation through the Church or some other way?
- What about racism? Is the Gospel really for everyone?
- The History of Christianity is the history of what Jesus began to do and teach, and continues to do so now through the Holy Spirit, through the Church, Acts 1
- It is also the history of how Satan has attempted to pervert and destroy the Church through the ages, and continues to do so now
- The same questions that we face today are the same questions which comprise the History of the Christianity – the events/people need to be linked to the most fundamental questions of life which are true for every generation
- This history is not only, indeed primarily, made up of large events and important people, but small events and otherwise unimportant people. The great bulk of the work is done by the unseen working unnoticed.
Note: The terms Christianity and Church overlap but are not always interchangeable. The Bible speaks of an Israel within Israel, and hence a Church with the Church. That is, there is an outward organizational form of Christianity/Church which is sometimes faithful to God and sometimes not, and yet still carries the label and in the eyes of the world is Christianity. This outward form is sometimes called Christendom. There is, however an inward reality which is known only by God, which is the Church, or perhaps the true Church, made up of those who have real faith in Jesus. There is an overlap between the ideas and sometimes they cannot be separated. The focus in this and related units is on the true Church, not the various aberrations which have occurred over time. It may be necessary in some instances to explain this idea to students, while at the same time not hiding our sins. Only Jesus is perfect and it is he we preach, not ourselves.
Each period in Church History tends to focus on different parts of scripture as they deal with the key issues of the time. These relevant passages will become evident as the the period in view is studied.
Church History in Plain Language- This is the Kindle version of Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley. This could and perhaps should be used as the basis for teaching Church History to students along with the Christian History Magazine
Turning Points in Church History by Mark Knoll - Kindle Edition
Church History Timeline and many short articles on prominent people in the History of Christianity
https://www.christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/ - access to online version of the Christian History Magazine. Great articles at the right depth for students and teachers. Makes Church History very real and interesting
http://www.monergism.com/topics/history-christianity - many articles on every era of Church History
https://soundcloud.com/5churchhistory - 5 min sound bites on Church History. More focused and so detailed but at 5 mins each easy to digest
http://www.theopedia.com/church-history - great timeline overview of Church History, with brief outlines and links to other sites and resources
There is a large selection of videos on Church History on YouTube. These will need to be vetted before being used but are a rich resource, either for teacher preparation/interest, or to be used in class. For example:
is an extensive series of videos covering the first 1000 years or so of Church History which is suitable for teachers
Ideas/Strategies for Lessons
Pose the key question in terms of today and get students to suggest their answers and then compare with how it was dealt with in Church History – e.g. How can we decide which books, if any, are to be part of the Bible and which should be rejected?
Take key issue in Church History and students debate different sides
Study by focusing on key people. The History of Christianity has a huge number of such people. Possibilities include: The Apostle Paul, The Martyrs of the early Church, e.g. Polycarp, Athanasius and the Arians, Francis of Assisi, William Tyndale, Martin Luther, William Wilberforce, Florence Nightingale, Mother Teresa, John Flynn, William and Catherine Booth, Martin Luther King Jr, Harriet Tubman, Elizabeth Fry, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Francis Bacon, Galileo Galilei, Hudson Taylor, David Livingstone, Jim Elliot
Short movie clips on key events, e.g. the crusades
Church History Suggestions - Don Smith