Outline of Christianity

If you ever wanted to see the teaching and history of this religion in a sweeping overview, here is the post that tries to do it.

Let’s get started on the outline and tables.

Christianity: The Big Picture

Historical Survey



Features, Events

Life of Jesus c. 29-33 Teaching, healing, death, resurrection
Early Church: Apostolic and Post-Apostolic Ages c. 29-200 NT writing, formation; break with Judaism; Paul plants and leads Ch away from legalism; rapid spread across G-R world
Growth of the Church in the  Roman Empire 150-500 Theo. controversies, so councils convened to resolve them; Monasticism grows; sporadic / systematic persecution; Constantine exempts Ch (313); then Chr becomes official relig (395); W Roman Empire collapses, but E Empire prospers
Medieval Christianity 500-1500 E-W Ch splits; EO must contend w/ Islam; E Capital falls to Turks (1453); EO “moves” north to Russia; RCC prospers, contends w/ monarchs; some corruption; New World expansions
Reformation, Renaissance; Early Modern 1400-1648 RCC powerful, but corrupt; PC get educated; demand reforms; battles in theo and w/ army; 30 Years War End (1648)
Enlightenment; or

Age of Reason

1600-1815 RCC and PC are worn out w/ battles; a turn to reason and mind, not theo & faith; tolerance; America is born; French Rev; Napoleon defeated (1815)
Social-Political Experiments; Missions 1815-1914 Europe dabbles w/ new social-political policies; America expands W; Chr expands around world; WWI
(Post-)Modern 1918 to Present Technology; big business; WWI & WWII; soc-pol experiments continue; Chr explodes across globe (see below)
Keys and Abbreviations:

Chr = Christians -ity; Ch = Church; G-R = Greco-Roman; RCC = Roman Catholic Church; PC = Protestant(s) Churches; EO = Eastern Orthodox Churches; NT = New Testament; relig = religion, -ious; Rom = Roman; Rev = Revolution; Theo = theology–ical;

*Round numbers are approximate; other eras and dates are possible

*Chr is diverse and has genius to adapt to wide cultures

*Joining Chr is not difficult, so growth is rapid

*Rapid growth, e.g., 10 million Chr in Africa in 1900; 300 million by 1990s; S Korea is 50% Chr from 1950s to now

World of the First Century CE (Common Era) or AD

I. Rome Rules

A. Mediterranean World, W Europe

II. Pax Romana =

A. “Roman Peace” = no mini-wars btwn city-states

B. Multinational economy

C. Traveling law courts backed by armies

D. Text says “cruel” peace, but that’s debatable

III. Infrastructure and Safety

A. Roads and Robbers were largely cleared

B. Shipping opened and Pirates largely cleared

C. Lingua franca (common language) is Greek in Eastern    Mediterranean world

D. Christian missions advance rapidly

IV. Religion

A. Greco-Roman world has no unified religion to oppose Christianity

B. Old gods giving way to new deities

1. Mithra

2. Isis

3. Mystery religions = no fervent evangelism

C. Wandering “messiahs” and “prophets”

D. Judaism

1. Rabbis and Oral Tradition (collected in Mishnah)

2. Synagogues

3. Scriptures

Life and Teachings of Jesus

I. Sources

A. Early texts are Christian, not secular

B. Later secular texts mention Jesus

C. Roman authorities ask how to deal with Christians

II. Birth and Childhood

A. Bethlehem and then Nazareth

B. Angels

C. Temple discussion at 12 years old

III. Baptism and Temptation

A. John the Baptist (Dipper) baptizes Jesus

B. Jesus fasts 40 days, nights

IV. Ministry in Galilee and elsewhere outside Jerusalem

A. Teachings (see Sermon on Mount)

B. Healings and exorcisms

C. Close followers eventually believe he is Messiah during his life

D. Predicts his death and resurrection

1. Important because Jesus has mission to die; no group causes his death—but God did

V. Opposition and others

A. Pharisees: kept track of purity laws

1. Accept more than Pentateuch, so progressive

2. Closer to people

B. Sadducees

1. Aristocratic, conservative

2. Many in charge of Jerusalem and Temple

C. Zealots

1. Revolutionaries, but later

2. End Roman rule

VI. Jerusalem and Death

A. Last Supper

1. Predicts his death at least five times

2. Later Church disputes over words: “This is my body” and “This is my blood” (Luke 22:17-20)

B. Arrest

1. Judas

2. Jewish and Roman authority combined

a. Text says Gospels blame Jews

b. Inadvertent encouragement of anti-Semitism

3. Pontius Pilate (not Pilot) sentences him to death

a. Christian creeds mention Pilate—important!

VII. Resurrection

A. Three days after execution

B. Bodily

C. Multiple appearances

1. Eating food

2. Touching body

D. Resurrection is NOT based on:

1. Dreams of disciples

2. Missing body without physical appearances

3. Hope, faith & belief

VIII. Essentials of Four Gospels

A. Jesus is Lord

B. Jesus redeems humanity on cross

C. Jesus is resurrected from dead—bodily (ascension)

D. People have one life, follow Christ, then eternal destiny

E. Note: Today some marginal groups and intellectuals dissent

1. But Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants believe these essentials

Early Church: Apostolic and Post-Apostolic Age

I. Acts of Apostles (History genre)

A. Shock (about death), then awe (about resurrection)

B. Peter takes lead, John not far behind; then Paul is lead character

C. Earliest Christians were Jews

1. Synagogue

2. Temple services

3. Problem: Can / should Christianity break free from Judaism?

II. Break with Judaism

A. St. Paul is called to gentiles

1. A little over half of Book of Acts tracks Paul’s ministry

B. Cornelius is first (known) gentile convert

1. Peter involved (but known for preaching to Jews)

C. Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15)

Acts 15

1 Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp disagreement and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with other believers, to go to Jerusalem to see the Apostles and elders about this question . . . .

Letter drafted by the Council:

            24 We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25 So we have all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28 It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29 You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.

III. More on Saul/Paul

A. Saul

1. Born in Tarsus on S Coast of Asia Minor (mod. Western Turkey)

2. Trained under R. Gamaliel, Pharisee

3. Saul witnessed Stephen’s stoning

4. Saul is on mission to arrest Christians

If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh [= natural abilities and background], I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law [= Torah], a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. (Phil 3:4-6)

B. Paul

1. On Road to Damascus, sees, hears risen Jesus, converts

2. Now “Paul,” and retreats from public life

3. Then defends Christians and preaches

4. Big Decision: Should gentile converts keep Jewish law and be circumcised?

a. Paul’s answer: Justification by grace through faith in Christ

5. Paul fosters break with “Judaizers” = Law-observing Jewish Christians, e.g., James (half) bro of Jesus

6. Paul at Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15)

7. Enemy of some Jewish leaders and Roman authorities in city-states

8. Arrested, then what happens?

Philippians continued:

            But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him [= “in” is key], not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law [= Torah], but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. (Phil. 3:7-9)

For it is by grace you have been saved [=justified], through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2:8-10)

9. Paul’s Theology of salvation (Soteriology)

Right Sequence:

1. Justification (imputed or gifted righteousness) → 2. Then good works

Wrong Sequence:

1. Good works → 2. Then rewarded righteousness

In the right sequence, God’s grace assures you of your salvation, and now your place in heaven is secure. Then and only then do good works flow out of your secured position. As Martin Luther said, God doesn’t need my good works; my neighbor does.

In the wrong sequence you don’t really know how many good works will justify you before God. 

Justification by Grace Through Faith in Christ

= How To Avoid Ritual and Purity Laws

God and Righteousness



Main features:

* It’s a hierarchy. Only God (at top) can justify humans at bottom. God has to offer salvation as a free gift; or else we’re all doomed.

*Background: Paul was a Rabbi; sacrifices still going on in Temple to cover sins

*Theological prob: God is pure, but we are sinful

*Justification = declared righteous by God (even though experientially you’re really not); but how?

*Grace = undeserved favor = from God’s love; but what triggers grace?

*Faith = trust, reliance; is it vague or directed?

*In Christ = Faith is directed; His person and sacrifice on cross and subsequent resurrection

*Now Christ is Supreme, Eternal Sacrifice to cover all sins for those who believe in Him

*Your own works can’t justify you, but out of gratitude you work after you’re justified (not to re-earn it, but to live ethically and purely)

*How? Simple in Paul’s Theology:

“. . . If you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

ou as a Believer receive righteousness through justification and are at peace with God

* Arrows (pointed triangles) = God’s initiative and gift. He mores towards us before we’re even thinking about him or spiritual things. If the arrows ever point upwards, then Paul’s thology of salvation (soteriology) is broken.

IV. Worship and Church Life

A. Service modeled on synagogue

1. Scripture

2. Singing-chanting

3. Teaching

B. Baptism

1. Originally immersion and for adults

2. Pharisees and Greco-Roman cults have a cleansing ceremony

3. Cleansing of sins and rise to new life

C. Eucharist

1. Communal meal

2. Jesus’ Last Supper

3. Dispute over bread = body; wine = blood is unknown in New Testament

D. Leadership

1. Not clearly defined:

2. Bishop = Episcopos = “overseer” = manager or supervisor of local church

3. Elder = Presbyteros = senior member

4. Deacons = servants = practical matters like food distribution

5. Other roles

a. Apostles

b. Prophets

c. Evangelists

d. Pastors

e. Teachers

f. “Priest” never used

E. Peter and Papacy

1. Tradition says he led strong Christian community in Rome and martyred there

F. Production of the New Testament

Sacred Scriptures (or Canon)



Title and Basic Theme

Synoptic Gospels: “viewed together” 70s; other scholars say Mark in 60’s. Mark: Jesus is Active Redeemer

Matthew: Jesus Is Messiah

Luke: Jesus is Lord of History

Fourth Gospel 90’s John: Jesus is Eternal Son of God
History After Luke Acts: Inevitable spread of Chr even to Rome; sequence of Luke’s Gospel; Chr is bigger than Judaism
Pauline Epistles 49-60s Galatians: No legalism, divisions

1, 2 Thessalonians: exhortation to growth and not to panic about 2nd Coming

1, 2 Corinthians: Addresses probs, & conduct of Christians

Romans: systematic exposition of Paul’s gospel

Philemon: personal letter about slavery

Colossians: presence of Christ in Church

Ephesians: presence of Christ in Ch

Philippians: thanks for support and report of progress in prison

Questionable Authorship?:

1, 2 Timothy: How to be a good pastor

Titus: How to be a good pastor

General Epistles 50s-60s James: do good works after you have faith

Jude: Warning against false teachers

1, 2 Peter: have good conduct during suffering; true teaching v. false teaching

Hebrews: Jesus is High Priest

1, 2, 3 John: Love one another in truth; 3 = personal church dispute

Apocalyptic 90s Revelation: God will end world in his time; terrible events must happen first
Interpretative Keys:

*27 books and letters are known as the Canon

*Canonicity: Written by an Apostle or close associate of an Apostle

*Lists and citations of books, letters appear early (2nd cent.)

*Church wraps up debate on canon by 4th cent; Councils confirm it in 4th, 5th centuries

*Gospels are combo of biography / hagiography / teaching summary; (Text says they’re not biographies)

*Synoptic Gospels = “Viewed Together” and overlap a lot, but not entirely; Matt and Luke based a lot on Mark

*Most Epistles or Letters deal with specific problems, e.g., 1, 2 Corinthians

*Some Epistles are general exposition on theme(s), e.g., Romans, Hebrews, but still mention specific problems or situations

G. Theological Controversies

1. Gnosticism

a. Dualism: Spirit pure; physical impure

b. Jesus can’t really be human in flesh

c. Jesus’ secret message for soul to escape from material world

d. MSS (= manuscripts) found in Nag Hammadi, Egypt

2. Marcionism (d. c. 160)

a. A guy named Marcion

b. God of New Testament differs from God of Old Testament

c. Legalism v. love

d. Marcion excommunicated in 144 CE

3. Montanism (mid 2nd cent)

a. A guy named Montanus

b. Spirit over doctrine

c. Excommunicated by 3rd cent.

H. Mainstream Church Reaction

1. Creeds

2. Excommunication

3. Canon (See chart above)

Apostles’ Creed (before 250 CE):

I believe in God almighty

And in Christ Jesus, his only Son, our Lord

Who was born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary

Who was crucified under Pontius Pilate and was buried

And the third day rose from the dead

Who ascended into heaven

And sits on the right hand of the Father

Whence he comes to judge the living and the dead.

And in the Holy Spirit

The holy universal church

The remission of sins

The resurrection of the flesh

The life everlasting.

Growth of the Church in the Roman Empire

I. Diversity

A. Roman Empire filled with tribes, ethnicities, languages

B. Bishop of Rome not universal

II. Constantine (r. 312-337)

A. Sporadic / Systematic Persecution before 312

B. Edict of Milan permits Christianity (313)

When we, Constantine and Licinus, Emperors, met at Milan in conference . . . we declared that . . . it was right that Christians and all others should have freedom to follow the kind of religion they favored . . . . We therefore announce that, notwithstanding any provisions concerning the Christians in our former instructions, all who choose that religion are to be permitted to continue therein, without any let or hindrance, and are not to be in any way troubled or molested.

C. Arianism (4th cent.) (Elder Arius)

1. Jesus created being (not eternal)

2. Condemned at Council of Nicea (AD 325)

3. Athanasius (c. 296-373) fights it, but it lives on a long time

Nicene Creed (325): A Response to Arianism

We believe . . . in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, Begotten of the Father before all the ages, Light of Lights, true God of true God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father, through whom all things were made . . . and was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate.

D. Constantine moves capital to Constantinople (330)

1. Power vacuum in Rome eventually filled by Bishop of Rome

E. Christianity is official in 395 in Rome (after Constantine)

III. Augustine (354-430)

A. Second only to Paul in influence on Church development

B. He can’t believe in Christianity—problem of evil

C. Eventually converts

D. Bishop of Hippo in N Africa

E. Two Books: Confessions and City of God

F. Council of Carthage (417)

If anyone says that new-born children need not be baptized, that they are baptized for the remission of sins, but that no original sin is derived from Adam to be washed away in the laver of regeneration . . . let him be anathema [accursed]

IV. Monasticism

A. Christianity only religion in Western World to encourage monasticism

B. 3rd cent. and in deserts of Egypt and Syria

C. Tinged with parts of Gnosticism

D. Asceticism = denial of worldly and bodily pleasures (in varying degrees)

E. Communities form

1. Study, prayer, Scripture copyists

F. Preserves Church for centuries

Medieval Christianity

Medi-eval = Middle Age

≠ Evil

I. East-West Split

A. Authority: Patriarch & Emperor (E) v. Pope & Kings (W)

B. Geography: East v. West

C. Theology:

1. Filoque: “And the Son”; in W, not E

2. Eucharist: Leavened bread in E, unleavened in W

D. Iconoclasm: Icons or not? Islam a factor

E. Language: Greek in East; Latin in West

F. Mutual Excommunication (1054)

G. Western Crusaders sack Constantinople (1204)

H. Constantinople is sacked by Muslim Turks (1453)

II. Medieval Papacy

A. Church fills vacuum when Western Roman Empire crumbles

1. Political power and worldly wealth grows

B. Popes have monopoly on religion

C. Pope Gregory VII (r. 1073-1085) and Emperor Henry IV (r. 1056-1106)

1. Dispute: who appoints bishops?

2. Pope excommunicates Henry, who repents

3. However, Henry regroups and exiles Pope

4. Effect: doctrine of church-state separation emerges

D. Avignon Papacy (1309-1377)

1. Clement V (r. 1305-1314), French Pope, moves to S France = “Babylonian Captivity” of Church

E. Great Schism (1378-1418)

1. Three popes compete for power

F. Don’t forget: not all of the Church was corrupt

1. E.g., St. Francis and others are good

III. Crusades and Persecution

A. Causes

1.. The main one is that Islam had been waging constant jihad for 400 years, even during Muhammad’s lifetime.

2. Islam blocked the pilgrimage and trade routes

B. Several Crusades

1. 1096-1099

a. Jerusalem taken

2. 1147-1149

a. Failure

3. 1189-1192

a. Failure

4. Pope Urban II (r. 1088-1099):

November 26, 1095

From the confines of Jerusalem and the city of Constantinople a horrible tale has gone forth and very frequently has been brought to our ears, namely, that a race from the kingdom of the Persians [Seljuk Turks], an accursed race, a race utterly alienated from God, a generation forsooth which has not directed its heart and has not entrusted its spirit to God, has invaded the lands of the Christians and has depopulated them by the sword, pillage, and fire; it has led away a part of the captives into its own country, and a part it has destroyed by cruel tortures; it has either entirely destroyed the churches of God or appropriated them for the rites of their own religion. They destroy the altars, after having defiled them with their uncleanness. They circumcise the Christians, and the blood of the circumcision they either spread upon the altars or pour into vases of the baptismal font. When they wish to torture people by base death, they perforate their navels, and dragging forth the extremity of the intestines, bind it to a stake; then with flogging they lead the victim around until the viscera having gushed forth the victim falls prostrate upon the ground. Others they bind to a post and pierce with arrows. Others they compel to extend their necks and then, attacking them with naked swords, attempt to cut through the neck with a single blow. What shall I say of the abominable rape of the women? The kingdom of the Greeks is now dismembered by them and deprived of territory so vast in extent that it cannot be traversed in a march of two months. On whom therefore is the labor of avenging these wrongs and of recovering this territory incumbent, if not on you? . . .

            Jerusalem is the navel of the world; the land is fruitful above others, like another paradise of delights. This the Redeemer of the human race has made illustrious by His advent, has beautified by residence, has consecrated by suffering, has redeemed by death, has glorified by burial. This royal city, therefore, situated at the center of the world, is now held captive by His enemies, and is in subjection to those who do not know God, to the worship of the heathens. She seeks therefore and desires to be liberated and does not cease to implore you to come to her aid. From you especially she asks succor [help], because, as we have already said, God has conferred upon you above all nations great glory in arms. Accordingly, undertake this journey for the remission of your sins, with the assurance of the imperishable glory of the kingdom of heaven.

IV. Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274)

A. Dominican Friar

B. High Medieval Age is prosperous, so universities grow

C. How does faith and reason, grace and science, and theology and philosophy relate?

D. Thomas (as did Maimonides) seeks a blend of Aristotle and Theology

E. His is the official theology of Catholic Church

Sequence of Thomas’ Method:

1. Five senses → 2. Then Reason draws conclusions

Explanation: Five senses and Reason observe the world of nature. Then, Reason concludes that the existence of God is possible (probable?). Such conclusions are not based on Faith, but on Reason.


Argument from Change or Motion (simplified)

1. The universe is the sum total of all changing or moving things.

2. Change or movement in any thing requires an outside cause to actualize it, like wood requiring fire to cause it to burn.

3. An infinite regress of causes is impossible.

4. Therefore, there is some Mover outside (in addition to) the universe. That is, there is an unmoved First Mover.

5. This unmoved First Mover we understand as God.

Argument from Design (simplified)

1. The universe exhibits intelligible order.

2. This intelligible order is the product of necessity or chance or design.

3. It’s not necessity, (the universe did not have to turn out like this) because innumerable other outcomes were possible.

4. It’s not chance, for the fine-tuning is far too precise.

5. Therefore, this universe is the product of design.

6. A design requires a designer.

7. This designer we understand as God.

Protestant Reformation

I. Causes and Consequences

A. Causes

1. Renaissance leads to New Learning

2. New nationalism (let’s keep the money at home and not give it to Rome)

3. Church corruption:

a. Simony = selling church offices

b. Indulgences = selling forgiveness of sins

c. Liaisons and concubines

B. Consequences

1. Church’s unified hold on Europe declines (but not disappears)

2. Religious wars

3. Fosters individualism and dissent

4. Changes in some Roman Catholic Church policies (not in important doctrines)

II. Early Reformers

A. John Wycliffe (1320-1384) in England

1. Commoners should have Bible, so he translates one in language of common people

2. Sent out wandering preachers

3. Church leadership comes from Bible, not politics

B. John Hus (1374-1415) in Bohemia

1. Denounces evils of papacy

2. Denounces simony and indulgences

3. Burned at stake

C. Girolamo Savonarola (1452-1498) in Italy

1. Preaches against moral laxity in Florence, Italy

2. Hanged with two disciples

III. Martin Luther (1483-1546)

A. Life

1. Augustinian monk

2. Discovers Paul’s justification doctrine

3. Advocates reform of church (not break with it initially)

B. Basic Ideas

1. 95 Theses (10/31/1517): No indulgences! No church corruption!

a. Examples:

21. Thus those indulgence preachers are in error who say that a man is absolved from every penalty and saved by papal indulgences.

27. They preach only human doctrines who say that as soon as the money clinks in the money chest, the soul flies out of purgatory.

32. Those who believe that they can be certain of their salvation because they have indulgence letters will be eternally damned, together with their teachers.

43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better deed than he who buys indulgences.

45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a needy man and passes him by, yet gives his money for indulgences, does not buy papal indulgences but God’s wrath.

48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting indulgences, needs and thus desires their devout prayer more than their money.

51. Christians are to be taught that the pope would and should wish to give of his own money, even though he had to sell the basilica of St. Peter, to many of these from whom certain hawkers of indulgences cajoled money.

82. [Shrewd question of laity]: “Why does not the pope empty purgatory for the sake of holy love and the dire need of the souls that are there if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a church? The former reason would be most just; the latter is most trivial.”

2. Sola Scriptura = “Scripture alone” = challenge to authority of pope and councils; universal access to Bible

3. Sola Fide = “Faith alone” = challenge to good works and priestly authority as necessary condition for salvation

4. Sola Gratia = “Grace alone” = ditto #3 = priesthood of all believers

C. Translates Bible into German

IV. Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531)

A. Swiss reformer

B. Similar theology as Luther’s

C. Difference:

1. Eucharist: Bread and wine only symbolic memorial

V. John Calvin (1509-1564)

A. Life

1. French lawyer

2. Likes justification doctrine, so switches sides

3. Power in Geneva + Firm Orthodoxy = Theocracy?

1. Everyone in each house is to come [to church] on Sundays, unless it be necessary to leave someone behind to take care of children or animals, under penalty of 3 sous.

4. Everyone is to be present at sermon when prayer is begun, under penalty as above, unless he absent himself for legitimate reason.

5. Everyone is to pay attention during sermon, and there is to be no disorder or scandal.


If anyone sings songs that are unworthy, dissolute or outrageous, or spin wildly round in the dance, or the like, he is to be imprisoned for three days and then sent on to the consistory [board of discipline].


If the contradiction or rebellion [against Scripture] amount to scandal which demands prompter remedy, the local lord is to take a hand in the matter for the maintenance of the honor of the ministry and the magistracy. (Emphasis added)

B. Institute of the Christian Religion

1. Major Reformation theology

2. Total depravity

3. Predestination

1. God’s grace is irresistible. (Man cannot resist it)

2. Many are saved by it—reward: heaven.

3. But many are not saved at all—punishment: hell.

4. Since God’s grace is irresistible, He has therefore offered grace to the first group, nothing to the second group.

5. Since God is sovereign over the eternal destiny of humanity, therefore God has predestined some to heaven and some to hell.

VI. Anabaptists

A. Adult baptism

B. Persecuted by Catholics and Protestants

C. Some advocate withdrawal and pacifism

VII. Church of England

A. Henry VIII (r. 1509-1547)

1. Needs a divorce

2. Becomes head of Church of England (v. Pope head of Catholic Church in England)

3. Also, Ka-ching! Money!

4. Anglicanism looks like Catholicism (Henry’s conscience bothers him)

“Be it enacted by authority of this present Parliament that the King our sovereign lord, his heirs and successor kings of this realm, shall be taken, accepted and reputed the only supreme head in earth of the Church of England called Anglicana Ecclesia, and shall have and enjoy annexed and united to the imperial crown of this realm as well the title and style thereof as all honours, dignities, preeminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits and commodities, to the said dignity of supreme head of the same Church belong and appertaining.”

VIII. Catholic Counter-Reformation

A. Council of Trent (1545-1563)

1. All doctrines kept

2. Scripture and tradition co-equal

2. Seven sacraments kept (baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, marriage, holy orders, penance, and extreme unction = last rites)

4. Relics, icons, saints kept

5. Indulgences controlled

6. Clerical training and celibacy improved

B. Jesuits

1. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556) and Spiritual Exercises

2. Teachers, apologists, missionaries

IX. Three Religious Wars

A. Schmalkald War (1547) Catholic v. Protestant

1. Peace of Augsburg (1555): Leader determines religion in a region

2. France (1562-1598): Catholic v. Protestant

B. Thirty Years War (1618-1648): Catholic v. Protestant v. Protestant (free-for-all)

1. W. Europe (mostly Germany)

2. Peace of Westphalia (1648)

C. Result:

“The principles of tolerance of the Peace of Westphalia were not born out of a deeper understanding of Christian love, but rather out of growing indifference to religious matters . . . In the end, nothing had been resolved. Perhaps rulers should not allow their decisions to be guided by religious or confessional considerations, but rather by their own self-interest, or by the interests of their subjects. Thus the modern state began to develop . . . [a]nd an attitude of doubt regarding matters that previous generations had taken for granted. On what grounds did theologians affirm that they were correct, and others were mistaken? Could any doctrine be true that produced the atrocities of the Thirty Years War? Was there not a more tolerant, more profound, and even more Christian way to serve God, than simply following the dictates of orthodoxy, be it Catholic or Protestant? These were some of the questions posed by the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, partly as a result of the Thirty Years War and other similar events.” (Justo Gonzalez, Story of Christianity 2: 140-41)

Age of Reason / Enlightenment

I. Religion and the Enlightenment

A. Spectrum

Atheist – Skeptic – Agnostic – Deist – Traditional – Enthusiast – Judgmental – Fanatic

B. Big Point of Spectrum: Left side did not exist (or was subject to Inquisition, etc.) in Medieval Age and Early Reformation

C. Explanation

1. Atheism / Agnosticism

a. Baron d’Holbach (1723-1789):

. . . Does it require, I say, any thing but plain, common sense, to perceive that the idea of such a being [as God] is an idea without model, and that it is evidently only a being of imagination . . . .  It is asked what motives an Atheist can have to do good?  The motive to please himself and his fellow-creatures; to live happily and peaceably; to gain affection and esteem of men, whose existence and dispositions are much more sure and known, than those of a being [God] impossible to be known. (from Common Sense, or Natural Ideas Opposed to Supernatural in 1772)

2.  Skepticism:

a. David Hume (1711-1776)

Where do we get the idea of God?  We get it from a virtuous man infinitely augmented in our imagination.

3.  Deism:

a. Thomas Paine (1737-1809): 

I believe in one God and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life . . . .  I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Turkish church [Islam], by the Protestant church, nor by any other church that I know of.  My own mind is my own church . . . .  But some perhaps will say:  Are we to have no word of God—no revelation?  I answer:  Yes, there is a word of God; there is a revelation.

            THE WORD OF GOD IS THE CREATION WE BEHOLD; and it is this word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter; that God speaketh universally to man (from The Age of Reason in 1794, emphasis original)

4.  Traditional Christian:

a. The churches and theologians of all brands and denominations were still going strong.

5.  Enthusiast:

a. Heart-felt, hand-clapping, foot-stomping, visions, “commotions,” See Quakers & Shakers and American Great Awakenings; Voltaire’s cure: Reason

6. Some Judgmental Enthusiasts:

a. They criticize unbelieving clergy and split churches; even more radicals burn books (e.g., as James Davenport in 1742; he retracts excesses in 1744)

7.  Fanaticism:

a. Voltaire on fanaticism:

Fanaticism is to superstition what delirium is to fever, and what fury is to anger.  The man who has ecstasies and visions, who takes dreams for realities, and his imaginings for prophecies, is an enthusiast.  The man who backs his madness with murder is a fanatic.  John Diaz, living in retirement at Nuremberg, was firmly convinced that the pope was the Antichrist . . . He was only an enthusiast, but his brother Bartholomew [Alphonso] Diaz, who departed from Rome piously to assassinate his brother, and who in fact killed him for love of god [in 1546], was one of the most abominable fanatics superstition has ever succeeded in shaping.  (from his Philosophical Dictionary)

D. Denis Diderot (1713-1784)

1. Encyclopédie (1751-1772)

a. Alphabetical order (not theological order)

INTOLERANCE, f. n. (Ethics.). It is generally understood that intolerance is a violent emotion inciting people to hate and persecute individuals with erroneous notions. For the sake of clarity let us distinguish between ecclesiastic and secular forms of intolerance.

            Ecclesiastic intolerance consists in regarding as false all other religions except one’s own and in demonstrating or shouting this true religion from the rooftops without being stopped by any form of terror, sense of decency, or even the risk of death. This article will not be concerned with that particular heroism that created so many martyrs in the long history of the Church.

            Secular intolerance consists in breaking off all relations with those people who have a different conception and way of worshipping God and in persecuting them by all violent means. . .

            It is impious to expose religion to the odious charges of being tyrannical, severe, unjust, and unsociable, even with the intent of bringing back to the fold those people who have unfortunately strayed.

            The mind can only consent to what seems true, the heart can only love what appears good. Force will make a hypocrite out of a weak man, but a martyr out of a courageous one. Whether weak or courageous, he will feel the injustice of persecution and become indignant.

            Education, persuasion, and prayer are the only legitimate means of spreading religious faith . . .

            Any method that would tend to stir men up, to arm nations, and to soak the earth with blood is impious.

            It is impious to want to impose laws upon man’s conscience: this is a universal rule of conduct. People must be enlightened and not constrained.

            Men who are sincerely mistaken are to be pitied, never to be punished.

            Neither sincere nor dishonest men should be tormented: they should be abandoned to the judgment of God. . .

            What did Christ recommend to his disciples when he sent them among the Gentiles? Was it to kill or die? Was it to persecute or to suffer? . . .

            Stop being violent, or stop reproaching pagans and Muslims for their violence.

II. America’s Early Life

A. Five Major Protestant Denominations

Five Major Protestant Denominations



Reformed, Presbyterian Puritans; Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) is leader in Great Awakenings (1730-40s); famous theologian
Anabaptists = Baptists, Mennonites, Amish; S Baptist is now largest Protestant denomination in US
Methodists John Wesley (1703-1792) is founder; “Methodist” comes from “methodical” devotion; he travels thousands of miles in frontier; was second largest denomination in America in 18th, 19th cent.
Anglican / Episcopalian Church of England = Anglicanism; Henry VIII starts it; known as Episcopalians in America
Lutherans From Germany, Scandinavia, settle mainly in North

* Other groups settle or emerge as well: Unitarians and Catholics and Quakers

* Uneasy tolerance at first; some regions (RI; E NJ; MD; PA) permit diversity

* Denomination pluralism leads to tolerance and challenges idea of state-established churches

* Skepticism against authority, secular or religious

Christianity in the Modern Era: 19th to 21th Centuries

I. Catholicism

A. Immaculate Conception of Mary (1854)

1. Mary born without original sin

B. Papal infallibility (1870)

1. Vatican Council (1869-70)

2. On faith and morals

3. Ex Cathedra = “From the Chair”

C. Bodily Assumption of Mary (1950)

1. After death, Mary’s body did not decay, but taken directly to heaven

D. Vatican II (1962-1965)

1. Non-Catholics are Christians

2. Vernacular (people’s language) in worship

3. Not all Jews responsible for death of Jesus

4. Opens door to reconciliation with Protestants and Eastern Orthodox

II. Protestantism

A. Urban Missions

1. Salvation Army

2. YMCA = Young Men’s Christian Association

3. Sunday School Movement b/c urban children work in factories, so church concerned and sought to change laws

B. Global missions

1. Protestants (and Catholics) all over globe

C. Liberalism

1. Bible studied as secular texts

2. Denies / lowers inspiration of Bible

3. Jesus’ humanity emphasized

D. Conservative Reaction: Five Fundamentals (1895)

1. Inerrancy of Scripture

2. Divinity of Christ

3. Virgin birth

4. Jesus’ death on cross is substitute for sins

5. Jesus’ physical resurrection and return

III. Christianity Today in America and the World

A. World Council of Churches (1948)

1. Religious Left, yes it exists in America

B. Liberation Theology

1. Latin America

2. Needs of poor

3. Marxism

C. Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism

1. Religious Right

D. Protestant Mega-Churches

1. Effective media usage

E. Worldwide

1. Christianity is fastest growing in developing countries

a. Africa: 10 million in 1900; 300 million by 1990s

2. Christianity is in decline in Europe?

3. Most numerous religion: 2 billion


Ten Big Differences between Christianity and Other Religions












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