Key Events of Church History

Greg Strand – November 19, 2015 2 Comments

Michael A. G. Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies, has written a list of 18 Key Events of Church History (Although the title of the blog post lists 18 key events, the actual list contains 19.)

  1. Conversion of Paul
  2. Irenaeus defence of the Faith against Gnosticism (‎preserves OT as canonical)
  3. Constantine and the edict of Milan (313)
  4. Augustine’s baptism in 387 and his Confessions (399)
  5. Patrick’s mission to Ireland 430-460 and the creation of the Celtic Church
  6. Rise of Islam
  7. Cyril and Methodius’ mission to the Slavic countries
  8. 1054 schism between Rome and Orthodoxy
  9. Luther and his 95 Theses (1517)
  10. William Tyndale and his New Testament (1526)
  11. Oliver Cromwell and the Puritan victory in the English Civil Wars (1640s and the 1650s)
  12. ‎Act of Toleration (1689)
  13. Great Awakening (1740s-1750s)
  14. The Formation of the Baptist Missionary Society (1792)
  15. Intellectual work of Marx, Freud, Nietzsche
  16. World War I
  17. The Fundamentalist- Modernist controversy (1920s-1930s)
  18. The decision of Martyn Lloyd-Jones to go to Westminster Chapel (1938)
  19. The Billy Graham 1959 NY Crusade.

A few questions to ponder:

  • How much do you know of each of these events?
  • What do you know of the historical, cultural, spiritual and political climate surrounding these key events?
  • What is the longer term impact of these events?
  • What would you include and why?

Greg Strand


Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

2 responses to Key Events of Church History

  1. Here are some suggestions for items to be included in the Key Events in Church History:

    –Descent of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-31)
    (Isn’t that when the church began?)

    –Council of Nicea (A.D. 325)
    (Upheld the divinity of Christ as taught in the Bible; established use of Greek philosophical concepts and terminology in theology.)

    –The Edict of Thessalonica (A.D. 380).
    (It ordered all subjects of the Roman Empire to profess the faith of the bishops of Rome and Alexandria, making Nicene Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire, and marking the beginning of the Roman State’s role in persecuting and carrying out the death penalty against heretics.)

    –Gutenberg’s printing press (about 1439)

    –Spanish conquest of New World begins (1492)

    –Battle of Lepanto (1571)
    (End of the Muslim conquest of Europe. If the Christians had not won, all of Europe might have ended up under Muslim rule.)

    –Puritan Christians establish a new rigorously Bible-based society in New England (1600s)

    –Salem Witch Trials (1692-93)
    (The beginning of the end of new rigorously Bible-based communities in New England.)

    –The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
    (Decreed: no gov’t established religion; right to believe and practice any religion or no religion at all) (1789)

    –Restoration Movement (staring in early 1800s in the USA)
    (Attempt to overcome denominationalism & restore the apostolic church; gave rise to the present-day Churches of Christ which claim that they are not a denomination.)

    –Publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species (1859)
    (Regarded as many as having debunked the Bible.)

    –Rise of Social Darwinism and eugenics among wealthy, educated elites (starting in 1870s)

    –First World War (1914-18)
    (Most churches endorsed and supported what was afterwards viewed as senseless, pointless slaughter on an unprecedented scale; some viewed this is discrediting the Christian religion.)

    –The Great Depression (1929-1940)
    (Gave rise to “big government” in various forms.)

    –The Holocaust (genocide carried out against the Jews of Europe) (1941-45)
    (A few Christians tried to shelter Jews, but most Christians who knew about the genocide did nothing to help Jews, and many Christians were enthusiastic about the persecution of the Jews.)

    –Atomic bombs used on Japan (1945)
    (Shortly after this everyone realized that humans now have the ability to kill every human being on earth in a matter of hours or days, either directly or indirectly by destroying the environment humans need to survive.)

    –Second Vatican Council (1962-65) of the Roman Catholic Church
    (Roman church officially switches from exclusivism to broad inclusivism regarding the salvation of those outside the Roman church; begins participating in ecumenical activities with liberal Protestants & Eastern Orthodox; flirts with universalism; Roman church ceases all endeavors to convert Protestants, Eastern Orthodox, Jews.)

    –No-fault divorce becomes law in U.S. states (1960s-1970s)

    –Abortion made a right in U.S. by Roe v. Wade (1973)

    –Pornography made a right in U.S. by Supreme Court (1973)

    –Presidency of Ronald Reagan (1980-88)
    (Rise of the involvement of Evangelicals in the Republican Party, side-by-side with Mormons and Roman Catholics.)

    –Terrorist attacks of Sept. 1, 2001.
    (People in the West first realize that the religion of Islam leads many of its followers to a permanent campaign of violence against Christians, Jews, and other “infidels.”)

    –U.S. Supreme Court rules that all laws against sodomy are unconstitutional.

    –Homosexual marriage made a right in the U.S. (2015)

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