Published on November 12, 2009
“Peak Moments” in Church History
First Period: The Apostolic Age
1. PENTECOST: Birthday of the Church I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever, the Spirit who reveals the truth about God (John 14:16-17). Another word for helper is the Greek paraclete, which we use to refer directly to the Holy Spirit.
1. PENTECOST: Birthday of the Church The Holy Spirit was already at work in the world before Christ was glorified. On Pentecost, the Spirit came to be with the Church forever. On that day the Church was publicly revealed to the multitude. The gospel began to be spread among the nations by means of preaching. -- Second Vatican Council, decree ad gentes(“To the nations”), n. 4.
2. The Conversion of Saint Paul, c. 40 AD “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?... I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:4-5). After Saul/Paul’s baptism at Damascus (in Syria), he began to preach. Many went to Antioch (also in Syria) to proclaim the good news (good spell= Gospel ) about the Lord Jesus. And the Lord’s power was with them. (11:20-21).
2. The Conversion of Saint Paul, c. 40 AD
Second Period: Imperial / Post-Imperial
The Roman Empire, circa 300 AD
3. The Edict of Milan: Constantine frees the Church from persecution (for a while) Emperor Nero began persecuting on a wide scale, circa 64 AD. Hebrew neroq’sr= 666 (John’s “beast”) “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” Christianity grew in spite of fierce opposition, intolerance and martyrdoms.
3. The Edict of Milan: Constantine frees the Church from persecution (for a while) Enter Constantine and his rival, Maxentius. Both men and their forces clashed at the Battle of the Milvan Bridge in 313. A vision appeared to Constantine:Ecce, in hoc signovinces(Behold, in this sign, victory).
Constantine the Great (circa274 – 337)
The vision of Constantine
The Chi Rhosign seen by Constantine
3. The Edict of Milan: Constantine frees the Church from persecution (for a while) The victorious Constantine met with officials of the Eastern empire in 313 at Medianola (Milan) in Italy. Both East and West agreed upon religious tolerance, de-criminalizing Christianity. This act was borrowed at Vatican II (1962-1965) for its Decree on Religious Liberty (Influenced largely by Rev. John Courtney Murray, S.J. - an American!) Other persecutions against the Church took place afterward, but stopped after 391 AD.
4. Christ as Man and God – The Church and the Council of Chalcedon, 451 AD The Church had long felt the end of the Apostolic Age (the time when the original disciples lived). Christian communities devised basic statements of belief, known as a creed (from credo=“I believe”). The Church also set up a system of leadership, through what is now known as the Holy Orders – Overseers (bishops), Elders (priests) and Servants to the Poor (deacons). With leadership and freedom taking root, much needed to be done regarding belief.
4. Christ as Man and God – The Church and the Council of Chalcedon, 451 AD Alternate theories about the nature of Christ and His relationship to God began to take form. These were examined and condemned, later known as heresies (from the Greek word for “choice” or “faction”). Bishops gathered in 325 at Nicaea (in Asia Minor, now Turkey) to develop a fuller Creed. Enter a priest named Arius, who misinterpreted Proverbs 8:22 (“the Lord begot me”). Arius argued thus: “There was a time when the Son was not.” Ergo, Jesus was lesser than the Father.
Council of Nicea, 325 AD
4. Christ as Man and God – The Church and the Council of Chalcedon, 451 AD Arius drew a huge following. The Arian Heresy (of Jesus being subordinate to the Father) had spread rapidly throughout the Empire. As a result, the unity of the entire Church was under a very great threat.
4. Christ as Man and God – The Church and the Council of Chalcedon, 451 AD The bishops who met at Nicaea reasserted the divinity of Jesus, condemned Arianism and began to restore unity in Christianity. Not long afterward, an opposite heresy – this time overemphasizing Christ’s humanity – broke out. The major agreement at Chalcedon was that Jesus had one divine person in two natures, human and divine. Other councils meet later to “fine tune” Church teaching and work to preserve unity.
4. Christ as Man and God – The Church and the Council of Chalcedon, 451 AD Most other heresies take on one of two forms: Christological – altering the relationship between Christ and the Father/Holy Spirit Ecclesiological – altering the relationship between Christ and the Church Yes, heresies keep coming, even today, and it’s up to the Magisterium (the teaching body of the Church) to help the faithful know what’s correct and what isn’t.
5. How the Monks Saved Civilization In 410 AD, the Goths sacked Rome. Panic ensued throughout Europe. The Roman Empire fell – or stopped falling – by 476 AD, with the barbarian invasions and the collapse of the order provided by the Empire. By that time, collectives of men and women religious known as cenobites (from Greek koinos + bios = “common life”) had spread into northern Africa and many parts of Europe. The major player of monasticism in Europe was St. Benedict of Norsia, who devised a monastic Rule.
Benedict of Norsia(480 – 550 AD)
Third Period: Early Modernity
6. From Monte Cassino to Assisi By the 12th Century, European commerce sparked the widespread growth of cities and the rise of the “middle class” Thousands left agricultural-based livelihoods and pursued trades and jobs not based upon the land Widespread wealth and literacy contrasted with crushing poverty and destitution, both in rural areas as well as in cities Monastic life, centered around monasteries in rural areas, were useful to barbarians and farmers, but not these growing urban areas – many were left underserved as a result
6. From Monte Cassino to Assisi Enter Giovanni Francesco diBernardone(1181-1226) Born from a wealthy family, he embraced a life of poverty and mobility in order to servethe poor wherever they lived Established the Order ofFriars Minor (The “LittleBrothers”) This form of life was notmonastic, but mendicant –like that of a roving beggar Dominicans, Carmelites, andAugustinians also follow this“rule” of life and service
6. From Monte Cassino to Assisi The Mendicant friars Took vows not to a “house” or Abbot (religious superior), but to their particular order Were far more flexible in their ministries than their monastic brethren, who remained tied to their communities Established the first major universities of Europe: Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, Padua, etc. Developed devotions for the laity – the Stations of the Cross, the Christmas Creche, the Rosary
6. From Monte Cassino to Assisi And when Church and State got too close.. The Crusades: The Inquisition:
7. Reform to Revolt to Reformation An Augustinian priest, Martin Luther, had several problems with numerous misuses and abuses of Church authority and teaching, and wanted to bring reform to the Catholic Church Corruption indeed ran rampant in many parts of the Church: Formation for priestly ministry was deficient The practice of indulgences – works of prayer and charity – had been abused beyond recognition The popes were far too involved in secular politics than in spiritual matters
7. Reform to Revolt to Reformation 31 October 1517: Luther posts on the “bulletin board” of the day – the doors of the church in the university town ofWittenburg , Germany – his 95 Theses Luther’s calls for reform and renewed consideration for scripture were largelyignored by the Church, but were receivedby the laity and top secular leaders with enthusiasm Luther was questioned and debated…and later excommunicated (separated from the Church and Sacraments) Church/State ties were called into question, and many regions of Europe fought with each other as a result
7. Reform to Revolt to Reformation Other philosophers and thinkers (Calvin, Zwingli, Knox, etc.) took the momentum of reformation to an entirely new level Not only did the issues questioned by Luther fall under suspicion, everything held by the Catholic Church was rejected (as “Romish,” “Popish,” “Papist,” etc.) except what later became known as the three solas: Sola Scriptura: Only scripture has any real ultimate authority Sola Fides: Only by faith can one respond to God and be saved Sola Gratia: Only by the grace of God can one find salvation October 31, 1999: Leaders of the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation sign a document declaring their differences in most of these matters were over. The United Methodist Church signed the agreement in 2003
7. Reform to Revolt to Reformation Various degrees of reformation took hold, leading to various “national” churches and thousands of denominations… Lutherans:Missouri Synod and the ELCA are biggest in the U.S.A. Calvinists:Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Church of Christ, etc. Anglicans:C of E, TEC, Methodists, Wesleyans, Quakers Anabaptists:Mennonites, Amish, Baptists Restorationists:Disciples of Christ, various “mega-churches” Humanists, Spiritualists, Ecstatics
8. Point-Counterpoint: The Council of Trent 1545 – 1563 (18 years!) Pope Pius V (1556 – 1572) The Church begins to tend toward “isolationism” Response to Luther and other reformers (1517 forward) Henry VIII (1534) Failed inquisitions Final East/West Schism (1484) Persecutions of dissenting Roman Catholics Tridentine Missal (Tridentine = “of Trent”) Tridentine Catechism (In the U.S.A., the “Baltimore”) Forms of sacred music were canonized
8. Point-Counterpoint: The Council of Trent There have been 21 Ecumenical Councils Catholics and Orthodox churches jointly recognize the first seven only The last three councils were: Council of Trent (1545 – 1563)First Vatican Council (1869 – 1870)Second Vatican Council (1962 – 1965)
Council of Trent (1545 – 1563)
First Vatican Council (1869 – 1870)
Second Vatican Council (1962 – 1965)
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