AD 1

4? BC Birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem of Judea.

AD 29? Beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, about age 31. He preaches, does miracles and claims to be God.

AD 33? Jesus crucified, resurrected, appears to more than 50. disciples at one time (I Cor. 15:6). Jesus gives his followers the Great Commission: “Go ye therefore and teach all nations ..” (Matt. 28:19). After 40 days, he ascends into heaven (Acts 1:3,9).

33 Pentecost: the Holy Spirit descends on the disciples in Jerusalem. Some 3,000 people become Christians. They spread the Gospel (the good news about redemption through Jesus) throughout the Roman Empire (Acts 2:8).

35  Stephen,, the first Christian martyr, is stoned to death in Jerusalem. Believers scatter through Judea, Samaria.

35 Conversion of Paul, formerly Saul, the persecutor of Christians. Paul goes on three missionary journeys starting in AD 48 to preach to Jews and Gentiles. He writes 13 letters (epistles) to the new churches.

41 Conversion of Roman centurion, Cornelius. Peter and other Christians evangelize Gentiles. Converts among Roman soldiers return to Italy and preach. Followers of Christ first called Christians at Antioch.

44 Christians are persecuted under King Herod Agrippa. James is executed, Peter is imprisoned. Famine strikes Judea; Christians in Antioch send relief.

45-100 The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and the other New Testament books are written.

49-50 Council of Jerusalem agrees with Paul that Gentile converts are not required to follow Jewish law. Paul’s work with Gentiles recognized.

53 Jews expelled from Rome. Jewish believers Priscilla and Aquila flee. They meet Paul in Corinth during his second missionary journey.

64 Great fire in Rome blamed on Christians. Emperor Nero tortures and kills thousands of Christians.

67-68? Peter and Paul taken to Rome. Paul evangelizes while under house arrest. Both executed under Nero.

66-70 Jewish revolt against Romans. Emperor Titus destroys the Temple in Jerusalem. Jews and Christians flee to all parts of the empire, including Alexandria, Carthage, and Rome. Antioch becomes the center of Christianity.

71-81 Colosseum in Rome built. Christians thrown to beasts.

81 Roman persecution of Christians under Domitian. Jews oust followers of Jesus from synagogues.

85-150 Writings of apostolic fathers (early church leaders) Barnabas, Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp.

90 Rise of Gnostic heresies within the church. Some gnostics deny Jesus’ humanity (Docetism), saying that he merely appeared to have a body. Gnostics claim to have secret knowledge beyond divine revelation and faith.

Christianity spreads to Egypt (Mark), Sudan (Ethiopian eunuch), Armenia (Thaddaeus, Bartholomew), France, Italy, Germany, Britain, Iraq, Iran, India (Thomas), Greece, Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Croatia (Titus), Asia Minor (Turkey today), Albania, Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia Africa).


c. 100 Death of John, the only one of Jesus’ 12 disciples to die a natural death. All others are martyred.

c. 107 Martyrdom of Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, who wrote letters of encouragement to the early churches.

c. 125 Gnosticism spreads.

132-135 Second Jewish rebellion. Jerusalem destroyed. Most of the population dies or flees.

c. 144 Marcion is excommunicated for heresy. He taught that there was no connection between the Old and New Testament, between the God of the Jews and the God of the Christians. He rejected the Old Testament. The heresy persists in some areas for several centuries.

Early Christians created this mosaic floor in a church in Galilee to depict Jesus’ miracle of the loaves and fishes.

c. 155 Justin Martyr, theologian, writes his first Apology, a rebuttal to Greek philosophers.

Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna and disciple of the apostle John, is burned at the stake at age 86+. Polycarp refers to Old and New Testament books as “scriptures”.

c. 156 Montanus of Phrygia preaches a form of religious extremism called Montanism.

c. 180 Irenaeus of Lyons, student of Polycarp and great theologian, writes Against Heresies. He lists 20 New Testament books as canonical (officially accepted and recognized as authoritative).

193 Roman persecution under Septimius Severus.

196 Easter controversy concerning the day to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. Western Christians prefer Sunday; eastern Christians prefer linking Easter with the Jewish Passover regardless of the day of the week.

197 Christianity sweeps the empire. Tertullian writes “There is no nation indeed which is not Christian”

The Apostles Creed and the Didache (an important document describing Christian beliefs, practices, and church government) are written during this century.

By AD 200 the church recognizes 23 New Testament books as canonical, but it is unlikely these are collected yet into one volume.

Christianity expands to Morocco, Bulgaria, Portugal, and Austria. Widespread conversion to Christianity in North Africa.


200 The Scriptures now are translated into seven languages, including Syriac and Coptic (Egyptian).

Christians in Egypt viciously persecuted, thousands martyred.

215 Clement of Alexandria, theologian, dies.

c. 220 Origen, theologian and student of Clement, founds a school in Caesarea. He writes many works, including commentaries on most of the New Testament books. Origen writes, “The gospel of Jesus Christ has been preached in all creation under heaven”

235-270 Roman persecution under several emperors. Christianity grows rapidly.

Carthage becomes a major center for Christianity in Africa.

c. 242 Manichaeism originates in Persia (Iran today). This dualistic heresy denies the humanity of Christ, and reappears in different forms over the centuries.

261 First church buildings erected as rectangular shaped basilicas. Previously Christians met in homes.

The Madaba map, a mosaic from the 500s, shows basilicas built by early Christians in Jerusalem.

During this century, monasticism begins in Egypt: eremitical (individual hermits) and cenobitic (religious groups or orders).

287 Mass conversion of Armenia under Gregory the Illuminator; King Tiridates makes Christianity the state religion

c. 292 Diocletian divides Roman Empire into East and West. Regions are different culturally and politically. Rome’s influence wanes.

295 Some Christians refuse military service and are executed. Galerius begins to doubt that Christians in the army will obey orders. He persuades Diocletian to expel Christians from the legions.

The phrase “catholic” is used to mean all churches that agree with the whole apostolic teaching, as opposed to the heretical groups that follow a “secret revelation” or knowledge based on one teaching.

Christianity expands to Switzerland, Sahara, Belgium, Edessa, Qatar, Bahrain (Assyrian Church), Hungary, and Luxembourg.


303-4 Violent persecution of Christians under Diocletian. Scriptures burned; thousands killed.

311-411 Donatist schism in North Africa. Christians who stayed faithful during Diocletian’s persecution oppose leniency toward those who lapsed.

312 Constantine (emperor of the western provinces) sees a vision of the cross of Jesus that he credits for giving him victory in battle.

Constantine I, legalizes Christianity. His mother, Helena, a devout Christian, goes to the Holy Land to locate key places in Jesus life, and builds many churches.

313 Edict of Milan (Toleration). Constantine and Licinius (emperor of the eastern provinces) agree to end the persecution of Christians, but it continues in the East.

320 Arius claims that Jesus Christ is a created being and not God by nature. His beliefs are called Arianism.

324 Eusebius writes Church History.

325 Council of Nicaea is convened in response to numerous heresies. It condemns Arianism and produces an early version of the Nicene Creed—a clear definition of the Trinity.

330 Constantine establishes the capital of the empire at Byzantium and renames it Constantinople.

337 Constantine baptized a few days before death. 339 Severe persecution of Christians in Persia (Iran).

339 Severe persecution of Christians in Persia (Iran)

346 Death of Pachomius, father of monasticism in the East and founder of the monastery at Tabennisi, Egypt

350 Eastern church is mostly Arian. Arianism spreads to the Goths.

361 Emperor Julian the Apostate attempts unsuccessfully to restore paganism to the Roman Empire.

364 Basil, bishop of Caesarea, opposes Arian teachings.

367+ Canon of the New Testament slowly collected and confirmed. Books recognized as authoritative by Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, in the East, and the Council of Carthage in the West.

c. 376 Goth and barbarian invasions of the Roman empire begin.

381 Council of Constantinople I finalizes the Nicene Creed and condemns heresies about Jesus.

391 Theodosius makes Christianity the official religion.

398 John Chrysostom, great orator, becomes bishop of Constantinople.

Christianity expands to Afghanistan and Ethiopia.


395-430 Augustine, bishop of Hippo (N. Africa), authors numerous theological works including City of God and arguments against Donatists, Pelagians, and Manichaeans. His writings dominate Christian theology in the West for centuries.

404 In Bethlehem, Jerome finishes translating the Old and New Testament into Latin after 22 years of work. The Vulgate, as it is known, is the Bible used for the next 1000 years.

410 Arian Visigoths sack Rome

428 Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, teaches that there are two distinct Persons in Jesus Christ (Mary is mother of the human part only), therefore some of Jesus’ actions were human and some were divine.

431 Council of Ephesus condemns Nestorianism and Pelagianism (which claims man can attain salvation by works). The council defines Mary, Jesus’ mother, as Theotokos, “bearer of God” to show that Jesus has one nature that is fully human and fully divine.

432 Patrick evangelizes Ireland. Over the next 30 years most of the country has been converted.

440 Leo the Great becomes pope. He persuades Attila the Hun to spare a weakened Rome.

451 Council of Chalcedon focuses on the divine and human natures of Christ. It confirms Pope Leo’s Tome and condemns Appolinarianism, Nestorianism, and Monophysitism (also known as Eutychianism, which denies the humanity of Christ). Copts of Egypt and Ethiopia divide, the majority form monophysite or “One Nature” churches.

Early Christians commemorate this location on the Mt. of Olives, as the place where Jesus wept over Jerusalem.

476 Fall of the western Roman Empire. Emperor ousted. This marks the beginning of the Middle Ages.

496 Clovis, king of the Franks, converts to Christianity.

499 By the end of this century, the Scriptures have been translated into 13 languages.

Christian spreads to Western No. Africa, the Isle of Man, San Marino, Liechtenstein, the Caucasus, Ireland, and tribes in Central Asia.


500 Syrian Orthodox church establishes a monophysite monastery in Ethiopia.

520 Irish monasteries flourish as centers of learning, spiritual life, and training for missionaries to other parts of the known world.

Nestorians gain converts throughout Asia and continue to influence religious life for many centuries.

The monastery of St. George of Koziba in the Judean Wilderness was built in 480.

525 Christianity spreads throughout the Middle East, including the Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Oman today).

529 Monk Benedict of Nursia, founder of Monte Cassino Abbey in Italy, writes the Rule, a guide for monastic life. Benedict is considered the father of monasticism in the West.

545? Death of Dionysius Exiguus, a monk, who was the first to date history by the life of Christ, leading to the B.C. and A.D. designations. His calculations were off by at least four years.

553 Council of Constantinople, convened by Emperor Justinian, condemns the “Three Chapters;’ (the writings of several theologians including Theodore of Mopsuestia) for alleged heresies.

589 Third Council of Toledo. Visigoth King renounces Arianism, accepts church teachings.

590 High ranking Roman official, Gregory, resigns his post and donates his wealth to church relief efforts for the poor in 574. He is elected pope in 590. Known as Gregory the Great (or Gregory I), he institutes reforms and sends missionaries (including Augustine of Canterbury) to re-evangelize England, after Angle and Saxon pagans force Christian Britons to Wales. He also promotes liturgical music and the growth of monasticism. He is the first of the medieval popes.

597 Death of Columba, evangelist of Scotland and founder of an important monastery at Iona, Scotland.

Christianity spreads to North Yemen, Ceylon, Malabar, Nubia (Sudan), Channel Islands, and Andorra.


600 Plainsong “Gregorian” chants begin to develop.

610? Muhammad declares himself to be Prophet of God, after claiming to receive divine revelations. He founds the religion of Islam. In 622 he is persecuted and flees (hegira) from his home in Mecca to the oasis of Medina. There he founds a Muslim community. In 630 he launches a military campaign and defeats his opponents in Mecca. His teachings and deeds are called the Qur’an (Koran). By Muhammad’s death in 632, Islam has spread to much of Arabia.

632 Islam sweeps through Palestine and Syria. Muslims (those who follow Islam) conquer Jerusalem. By 640 Islam invades Egypt and North Africa, almost eradicating Christianity (which had numbered more than one million believers). Three hundred years later very few Christians remain in the region.

663 Synod of Whitby aligns the English church with Rome for the next nine centuries.

676-709 Earliest Old English (Anglo-Saxon) translations and paraphrases of portions of the Bible are made by Caedmon and Aldhelm.

680-692 Eastern and Western churches drift further apart due to differences in church practices and expression of theology. On clergy celibacy: the Eastern church allows priests to be married, provided that they are married before ordination. The Western church discourages it.

The Dome of the Rock, gold domed shrine of Islam, is built on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem by caliph Abd al-Malik. Its ornate interior and location were designed to impress travelers. Some of the beautiful columns in the shrine are adorned with crosses, indicating that they were removed from Christian churches.

Christianity spreads to China, Andorra, Netherlands, Indonesia, Niger, Mongolia. Christianity declines in Northern Africa.


711 Muslim Moors invade Spain and Portugal, their first foothold in Europe. They are driven out in the 1200s.

716 Boniface, an English missionary, known as the “Apostle to the Germans” evangelizes southern and central German cities and establishes Benedictine monasticism.

720 Bede translates the Gospel of John into English; writes Ecclesiastical History.

The use of icons was debated throughout the East for 700 years. In 787 the Second Council of Nicaea decided in favor of those who venerated icons.

726 Controversy over the use of icons in the East. Emperor Leo condemns the veneration of sacred images and relics (supports iconoclasm, image-breaking. In 731, Pope Gregory III condemns iconoclasm and supports the veneration of icons.

732 Charles Martel defeats the Muslims in France, stopping the Muslim advance in Europe for 100 years.

754 A council of 300 Byzantine bishops endorse iconoclasm. The council is condemned by the Lateran synod of 769.

754 Pepin, son of Charles Martel, unites and rules the Franks. At the request of Pope Stephen II (III), Pepin invades Italy to defend it against Lombard invaders. Pepin gives conquered land to the church (called the Donation of Pepin) which establishes the papal states.

768-814 Charlemagne, son of Pepin, expands his empire through military conquest to almost all of what is now France, Germany, and Italy. He forces the German Saxons to convert.

787 Council of Nicaea ((condemns iconoclasm (the belief that venerating sacred images is idolatry) and Adoptionism (belief that Jesus was not Son of God by nature). This is the last council that is recognized as binding by both the eastern and western churches

Built near the Pools of Bethesda in Jerusalem, the Church of St. Anne, is one of the finest examples of Crusader architecture.

Christianity spreads to Iceland, Pakistan, and East Germany.


800 Charlemagne crowned Roman emperor by Pope Leo III. His administration reforms the law and church organization. He also encourages all monasteries to teach reading and writing. Through the influence of the scholar Alcuin, schools are founded and scriptoria set up to copy the Bible and Latin classics. This commitment to culture is known as the Carolingian Renaissance. The Western church’s prominence begins to increase; the Eastern church’s declines.

800 Egbert, king of the West Saxons, unifies England and becomes the first king.

814 Charlemagne dies.

829 Sweden is evangelized by Anskar, “Apostle of the North.”

837 Christians in Egypt are persecuted and forced to wear 5-pound crosses around their necks.

843 Charlemagne’s empire is split between his three grandsons.

845 Nestorians are persecuted in China.

846 Muslims invade Italy and attack Rome.

857 Photian Schism: communion between Eastern and Western church broken when Patriarch Photius of Constantinople (Orthodox Church) rejects the Roman pope’s claim of primacy among the bishops of the East as well as the West.

861 Slays are converted by Greek missionary brothers Cyril and Methodius, who translate the Scriptures and other works into Slavonic.

871 Alfred the Great, king of Wessex, translates portions of the Psalms, Exodus, and Acts into Old English (Anglo-Saxon).

Christianity spreads to Tibet, Burma, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Sweden, and Norway.


902 Muslims advance and gain control of Sicily.

909 William, Duke of Aquitane, founds the Benedictine Abbey of Cluny, France, which becomes the center for reform under Abbot Odo (926).

950-999 Conversion of royalty across the empire, including Olga of Kiev (Russia today), Miesko of Poland, and Stephen of Hungary.

962 Otto I, the Great, founder of the Holy Roman Empire, is crowned by Pope John xll. This empire continues until 1806.

988 Conversion of Vladimir of Kiev, grandson of Olga, to Eastern (Orthodox) Christianity. According to tradition, Vladimir considered other religions, but chose Orthodoxy because the splendor of the worship at the Church of St. Sophia in Constantinople convinced him that “God dwells there among men” Vladimir orders the population of Kiev to choose Christianity. He wipes out paganism, builds churches, and establishes schools. At his death, he donates all of his possessions to the poor.

The iconostasis of an Orthodox church Separates the nave (the central area of the church) and the altar.

996 In Egypt, Caliph El Hakim persecutes Copts, destroying thousands of churches and forcing people to convert to Islam.

999 Leif Ericson converts to Christianity while in Norway. The next year he brings the Gospel to his father’s colony in Greenland.

Christianity in Western North Africa virtually wiped out by Islam.

Christianity spreads to Hungary, Kiev (Russia today), Greenland, Bohemia and Poland.


1000 Greek Catholicism (Melkite) introduced in Nubia.

1009 Nestorians convert northern Mongolians. Their beliefs spread to Persia (Iran today), India, and China.

1054 Great Schism between the church in the West and the East. Roman Cardinal Humbart, envoy of Pope Leo ix, excommunicates Patriarch Michael Cerularius in the Church of St. Sophia (Hagia Sophia) in Constantinople. Despite this, there is some cooperation between the Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Roman Catholic) church against the Seljuk Turks.

1066 Normans (French Christians) conquer Britain, Sicily, and evangelize the Celts.

1071 Seljuk Turks (converts to Islam) from Central Asia conquer Persia (Iran today) and move west toward the Byzantine capital, Constantinople (Turkey today).

1073 Gregory VII (Hildebrand) becomes pope. He works to revive and reform the church. He prohibits simony (the buying or selling of church offices), sexual immorality in the clergy, and lay investiture (the custom of emperors and local rulers choosing local church leaders).

1096 Pope Urban it calls for volunteers for a crusade to repel the Turks: specifically to help Eastern Christians in Constantinople, to liberate the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, and to reopen the Holy Land to Christian pilgrims.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Considered by many scholars to be the location of Jesus’ tomb.

1097-99 The First Crusade. More than 70,000 people inspired by both noble and lesser motives, join the ranks and head for the Holy Land. In their zeal they slaughter Jews in Germany and pillage villages en route. They capture Jerusalem in 1099 and brutally massacre their opponents. They set up the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem under Godfrey of Bouillon, and build castles and churches.


1115 Bernard founds a monastery at Clairvaux, which becomes the influential center of Europe.

1116 Peter Abelard, philosopher and theologian.

1122 Concordat of Worms focuses on the controversy over lay investiture. (Worms is a city in Germany)

1123 Lateran Council ratifies the Concordat of Worms.

1129 The Knights Templar, an order of monastic soldiers sworn to protect Holy Land pilgrims, is recognized.

1130 Disputed election of Popes Innocent II and Anacletus II. Innocent becomes pope.

1139 Second Lateran Council focuses on pseudo-popes (popes elected by unauthorized councils).

1146 Second Crusade is preached by Bernard of Clairvaux in response to the Muslim conquest of Edessa, the crusader capital (Turkey today). The crusade, led by Louis vii of France and Emperor Conrad III of Germany, fails.

1150 Syrian Orthodox church reaches zenith. College of Cardinals is established by pope.

1162 Thomas Becket becomes archbishop of Canterbury. A close friend of Henry II and chancellor of England, Becket resigns his chancellorship after conflicts with Henry over the power of the church and the throne.

1170 Becket is murdered by knights of Henry II.

1174 French merchant and reformer Peter Valdes gives his wealth to the poor and becomes an itinerant preacher, the beginning of the Waldensians. His beliefs are accepted by the church, but his practice of appointing ministers and preaching without permission draws criticism and eventually excommunication.

1177 Third Lateran Council denounces the Waldensians and Albigensians. (Albigensians were heretics that believed that Jesus was an angel with a phantom body, and therefore did not die or rise again.)

1187 Muslim general Saladin defeats Crusaders at the Horns of Hattin (Galilee) and captures Jerusalem.

The Horns of Hattin (flat mountain, center)

1189-92 The Third Crusade, led by Richard I (the Lion-Heart) of England, Philip n of France, and Barbarossa the Holy Roman Emperor, captures Cyprus, Acre, and Jaffa. Richard negotiates access to Jerusalem for Christian pilgrims.

Christianity spreads to Finland.


1201 Pope Innocent III claims the right of the pope to oversee the moral conduct of heads of state and to choose rulers, including the emperor. The height of papal authority.

1202 Innocent III launches Fourth Crusade to defeat Egypt. After some setbacks, Crusaders defy the pope and sack Constantinople, center of the Orthodox church. A three-day massacre by the Crusaders alienates the eastern and western church for centuries.

1208 Church declares a crusade against Albigensians.

1209 Francis of Assisi gives away his wealth and starts group of traveling preachers (Franciscans).

1211 Mongol Genghis Khan, whose mother is a Nestorian, rises to power. Conquers China, Iran and Iraq.

1212 Children’s Crusade disaster, Thousands of children die at sea or are sold into slavery.

1215 Fourth Lateran Council condemns Waldensians and Albigensians; affirms doctrine of transubstantiation. In 1231, the Papal Inquisition is established.

1216 Dominican order forms, dedicated to spiritual reform.

1217 Fifth Crusade to defeat Egypt fails. Francis of Assisi crosses enemy lines to preach to the sultan.

1229 Crusaders recover Jerusalem by negotiation. In

1244 the Muslims recapture Jerusalem by force.

The seaport Acre, the last Crusader stronghold, falls to Egyptian Mamluks in 1291.

1255 Thomas Aquinas, the most influential medieval theologian, writes Summa Theologiae.

1266 Mongol leader, Kublai Khan, asks the pope to send 100 Christian teachers to baptize him and teach his people. The pope sends seven. In 1295 the Mongols begin to convert to Islam.

1274 Byzantine Empire rebuilt. Second Council of Lyon decrees unification of the eastern and western church, but unification is rejected in the East.


1302 Pope claims supremacy over secular rulers. 1302 Franciscans active in Mongol empire.

1309 The “Babylonian Captivity”: for the next 70 years, the papacy resides in Avignon, France. The new pope favors French policies; convenes the Council of Vienne that abolishes the Order of Knights Templar and gives their wealth to King Philip IV of France.

1312-1324 Marsilius of Padua writes Defensorpacis, stating that the church should be ruled by general councils. He is condemned as heretical.

1348-51 The Bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death, kills 33% of the people in Europe (about 40 million). People blame the disease (which is transmitted by fleas living on rats) on the Avignon papacy, the Jews, or personal immorality.

John Wycrffe

1371 John Wycliffe, English priest and diplomat, proposes that papal taxation and civil power should be limited. He challenges some church doctrines, including transubstantiation. He believes Scripture should be available to the people in their own language. People inspired by Wycliffe (derisively called “Lollards;’ meaning mumblers), translate the entire Bible into English (1382) from Latin, and call it the Wycliffe Bible.

1373 Julian of Norwich, English mystic.

1376 Catherine of Sienna, mystic, sees a vision calling the new pope, Gregory XI, to return the papas/ to Rome, which he does in 1377.

1378 Great Papal Schism: Two or three popes at one time. The College of Cardinals elects an Italian pope, Urban vi, but later denies the validity of the decision and elects Clement VII instead. Urban remains in Rome. Clement goes to Avignon, France. The schism continues until 1417.


1408 In England, it becomes illegal to translate or read the Bible in English without permission of a bishop.

1413 Jan Hus of Bohemia (Czechoslovakia) writes De Ecclesia, which supports ideas popularized by Wycliffe.

1414-1418 Council of Constance rejects Wycliffe’s teachings and bums Jan Hus at the stake as a heretic. It affirms that general councils are superior to popes (conciliarism), a decision later overturned. Pope Martin v is elected; the Great Papal Schism ends.

1418 Thomas A Kempis, a German monk, writes the Imitation of Christ, a devotional.

1431 Joan of Arc, a French peasant girl during the Hundred Years’ War, sees visions and hears voices telling her to save France. She leads a successful military expedition at Orleans. Later she is taken prisoner, tried for witchcraft, and is burned. In 1456, the verdict is reversed.

Joan of Arc

1438 Council of Florence affirms the primacy of the pope over general councils. It declares reunion between the Roman and Orthodox churches, but is not accepted by the Orthodox.

c. 1450 Beginning of the Renaissance. The popes of the Renaissance (1447-1521) are notable more for their intrigues and quest for power than for their pastoral care or desire for reform.

1453 Ottoman Turks capture Constantinople and make the Church of St. Sophia (Hagia Sophia) a mosque. Scholars flee to the West with Greek literary and scientific manuscripts, including manuscripts of the Bible. These manuscripts help to revive classical learning during the Renaissance.

Plans to build a new St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome begin, including efforts to raise funds for construction.

1456 Johann Gutenberg prints the Latin Vulgate, the first book printed using moveable metal type. The invention of printing makes the Bible accessible to more people who previously could not afford handmade copies, which cost a year’s wage.

Page from Gutenberg Bible

1479 The Spanish Inquisition begins at the initiation of King Ferdinand v and Queen Isabella of Spain, and is approved by the pope. It is established to investigate and punish heretics. Its cruel methods (torture, death by burning), secret trials, and favoritism toward the Spanish monarchy continue despite protests from Rome. The Franciscan and Dominican friars who serve as judges often misuse their power. Thousands of Jews are deported. Later the Inquisition is used against Protestants. It is finally suppressed in 1820. Catholics today condemn the methods used.

1492 The last of the Muslim Moors are removed from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella.

Columbus discovers the Americas.

Peak of papal corruption: Rodrigo Borgia buys cardinals’ votes and becomes Pope Alexander vi.

1493 Pope Alexander Vi avoids war by dividing newly discovered lands in the Americas and Africa between Spain and Portugal. Vast colonizing of the New World by explorers for the next 150 years. Settlers wishing to exploit the land and the people conflict with missionaries (Dominicans, Franciscans and Jesuits) who spread the Gospel and advocate for the Indians.

1497-8 Dominican friar Savonarola preaches reform. He encourages the people of Florence, Italy, to bum luxury items and return to a humbler Christian life. He sells church property and gives the proceeds to the poor. Despite his initial popularity with the common people, he is caught in a political conflict with Alexander vi and is excommunicated. His popularity wanes and later he is executed for heresy.

Christianity reaches Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Kenya, and Equatorial Guinea.


1500 Decline of Christianity in China, Persia, Nubia (So. Egypt and Ethiopia), and areas influenced by Islam.

Moscow claims to be the center of Christianity after the fall of Constantinople.

1503-12 Pope Julius II commissions Michelangelo to finish painting the Sistine Chapel. In 1506, the foundation stone of St. Peter’s Basilica is laid.

1512-17 Council of Lateran V is held to address a variety of concerns, including church reform.

1516 Erasmus, priest and Greek scholar, publishes a Greek translation of the New Testament. Later editions of his Greek text form the basis of the textus receptus and are used by Martin Luther, William Tyndale, and the King James Bible (Authorized Version) translators.

Martin Luther, becomes convinced that faith alone justifies the Christian, without works (Eph. 2:8-9) — a doctrine supported by Augustine’s writings.

1517 Martin Luther posts his 95 theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg. They call for an end to abuses involved in methods of selling indulgences. The Protestant Reformation begins.

1519 Swiss Ulrich Zwingli spreads reform.

1522 Luther translates the New Testament into German.

1525 William Tyndale makes an English translation of the New Testament from Greek without permission and smuggles copies into England. He is burned at the stake.

1525 The Anabaptist movement, predecessor to Brethren and Mennonite churches, teaches believers’ baptism only, democratic decision making, and separation of church and state.

1529 The term Protestantism becomes associated with Lutheranism, Zwinglianism, and Calvinism. Protestant characteristics: acceptance of the Bible as the only source of revealed truth, the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and the priesthood of all believers.

1530 Augsburg Confession adopted by Lutherans

1534 Act of Supremacy makes British monarch Henry Vill head of the English church, breaking away from Roman Catholic control. The new “Church of England” (Anglican Church) sets forth a doctrinal statement: The 39 Articles.

1535 The Munster Rebellion. Anabaptists take over Munster and are slaughtered. Later, under the leadership of Menno Simons, the group adopts pacifism.

1537 The Matthew’s Bible is the first English Bible published with the king’s permission. On the last page of the Old Testament, the translator prints Tyndale’s initials in 2′/2 inch letters to honor him. Many Bibles in common languages begin to appear.

1536 John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion explains Protestant beliefs, including predestination.

1540 Ignatius Loyola’s Society of Jesus (Jesuits) approved. They vow to evangelize the heathen.

1545-63 Council of Trent (Catholic Counter-Reformation) condemns indulgence sellers, immorality of clergy, nepotism (appointing family members to church offices), and Protestantism.

1549 The Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer unites most English churches in a middle route between Catholicism and Protestantism.

Jesuit Francis Xavier begins missionary efforts in the Indies and Japan: 100,000 converts attributed to him.

1555 Queen Mary Tudor restores Roman Catholicism to England, bans Protestant translations of the Bible, and persecutes Protestants. Many Protestants flee to Geneva, Switzerland, where they print the Geneva Bible (1560).

1560 John Knox’s Reformed church begins in Scotland.

1558 Queen Elizabeth I becomes queen of England and head of the Church of England. She aims for a compromise between Catholics and Protestants. In 1570, she is excommunicated by the pope, and in turn persecutes Catholics.

1562 Heidelberg Catechism is formed. It is the most widely held Protestant doctrinal statement for centuries.

1568 Bishops Bible, Church of England translation. 1577 Formula of Concord defines Lutheran beliefs.

1582/1609 Catholic scholar Gregory Martin translates the Rheims-Douay Bible from the Vulgate (Latin) while in exile in France.

1596 Council of Brest-Litovsk. Most Orthodox in Kiev, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Polish Galatia (Uniat Churches) join communion with Roman Catholic church.

1598 Edict of Nantes grants freedom of worship to French Protestants (Huguenots) after 30 years of persecution. In 1685, the Edict is revoked by Louis xiv.

Christianity spreads throughout Thailand, Cambodia, Macao, South Korea, South America and Africa through Catholic missionary efforts (through monastic orders), conquest, and colonization. Few Protestant efforts during the next 200 years.


1601 Jesuit missionary and scholar, Matteo Ricci, starts evangelizing China by befriending intellectuals in the emperor’s court in Peking (Beijing). Ricci is one of the first missionaries to adopt the dress and customs of the land he seeks to evangelize. His methods are criticized by other Catholics as too tolerant toward the idolatrous Confucian custom of ancestor worship.

1603 Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius’s studies of the Epistle to the Romans lead him to doubt Calvin’s doctrine of predestination. He sets forth doctrines that emphasize man’s ability to choose Christ and Christ’s death for all people (Arminianism).

1605 Gunpowder Plot fails. Catholic fanatics attempt to kill England’s King James I and blow up the houses of Parliament in order to seize the government.

1609 The first Baptist church is founded in Amsterdam by John Smyth, who baptizes himself (by pouring).

1611 King James Version Bible (KJV), also known as the Authorized Version (AV), is published. King James I of England commissions 54 scholars to undertake a new Bible translation, which takes six years to complete. The scholars use the Bishops Bible and Tyndale’s

Bible as well as available Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. After slow initial acceptance, this becomes the most popular Bible for the next 300 years.

1618 Dutch Reformed Synod of Dort denounces Arminianism and responds to Arminius’s five criticisms of Calvinism with five points of Calvinism. They are (using the mnemonic tulip): the total depravity of mankind (mankind’s inability to choose Christ), unconditional election, limited atonement, the irresistibility of grace, and the final perseverance of the saints (an elect person cannot “lose” his salvation).

1622 Creation of the Congregation de Propaganda Fide for Roman Catholic missionary efforts.

1620-30s Separatists reject the Church of England and sail to America on the Mayflower. Later Puritans, who wish to cleanse the church, arrive and start colonies.

1629 Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, Cyril Loukaris (Lucar), befriends Protestants and presents the earliest known copy of the Bible in Greek (Codex Alexandrinus, fifth century AD) to Charles I of England.

1630 Catholicism wiped out in Japan, thousands of martyrs.

Coptic and Syrian Orthodox churches decline.

1633 The Sisters of Charity founded by Vincent de Paul.


1642 Death of Galileo, scientist, who agreed with Copernicus’s theory that the earth moved around the sun. He was censured by the church and kept from teaching his views because his proofs were inadequate. The case was closed in his favor in 1992.

Power struggles between Charles I and the Parliament lead to civil war in England. Puritan member of Parliament, Oliver Cromwell, defeats the king’s troops. Later as Lord Protector, he seeks tolerance for many Protestant groups.

1646 Westminster Confession accepted as the statement of Presbyterianism in Scotland and England.

1647 Beginnings of the Quaker movement (the Society of Friends) under preacher George Fox.

1648 End of the Thirty Years’ War. Catholics and Protestants given equal rights in most of the Holy Roman Empire.

1649 In America, Iroquois Indians destroy Huron Indians and their Jesuit mission.

1654 Conversion of Blaise Pascal, French mathematician and theologian.

1655 Waldensians break from Roman Catholicism and embrace Protestantism. Catholics launch persecutions.

1667 John Milton writes Paradise Lost.

1673 The British Test Act bans Catholics from holding public office unless they deny certain doctrines.

1678 John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress published. 1685 Edict of Nantes revoked. Huguenots flee France.

1689 English Parliament issues Toleration Act (tolerating all Protestant groups, but not Roman Catholics).

1692 Chinese emperor officially allows Christianity. Ricci’s initial 2,000 converts multiply to 300,000.

1698 First missionary societies formed by Protestants.

Christianity spreads to Bermuda, Uruguay, Taiwan, Barbados, St. Kitts-Nevis, Laos, Montserrat Antigua, Virgin Islands, Grenada, Anguilla, Belize, Gambia, Polynesia, Chad, Micronesia, Gabon, Bahamas, Benin.

A page from the King James Bible, also known as the Authorized Version (even though it never received official royal authorization).


1700 Slave trafficking from Africa increases.

1704 Pope Clement XI condemns “Chinese Rites” the mixture of Confucianism and ancestor worship with Christianity in China. Persecution against Christians begins; thousands are killed.

1705 Death of Philipp Jakob Spener, the “father of Pietism” Pietism emphasizes feelings, a personal religious experience, and living a life of intense devotion.

1706 First Presbyterian church in America. It is governed by a board of elders (presbyters).

1707 Isaac Watts writes more than 600 hymns in his life.

1721 Peter the Great appoints the Holy Synod to head the Russian Orthodox church, putting the church under the state’s control until 1917.

1722 Count Nikolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf welcomes fleeing Hussites from Moravia (Moravian Brethren) to live on his lands. The pietistic colony that forms, “Hermhut, sends out missionaries to Africa, India, and the Americas.

1724 Greek Catholic (Melkite) church established in what is now Lebanon. Primarily located in Ethiopia and parts of Egypt, the Melkite church had accepted the Council of Chalcedon in 451, rejecting monophysitism.

1729 Jonathan Edwards, one of America’s greatest preachers and theologians, preaches in Northampton.

Anglican Minister John Wesley and his brother Charles are converted through contact with Morovians.

1738 Conversions of John and Charles Wesley. Their emphasis on living a holy life by doing specific spiritual disciplines each week is derided as “methodist” Eventually the descriptive is accepted with pride, and Methodism spreads rapidly in the Church of England.

Charles Wesley pens more than 6,000 hymns, including And Can It Be” and “0 For a Thousand Tongues to Sing, and “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”

Freemasonry condemned by Pope Clement xll (and later popes). The pope forbids Catholics to join.

1739 George Whitefield, Anglican preacher, gives open-air evangelistic messages.

John Wesley travels throughout Britain on horseback, reportedly giving 40,000 sermons during his lifetime.

1740 The Great Awakening in New England, led by Whitefield. Revival spreads throughout colonial America.

1741-2 George Frideric Handel writes the Messiah.

1759 Powerful Jesuit order suppressed. In 1773, it is dissolved by the pope. In 1814, Jesuits are reestablished.

1764 John Newton, former slave trader converts, writes Amazing Grace”

1769 Serra founds the first of nine missions in California.

1771 John Wesley sends Francis Asbury to preach in America. The American Methodist Church becomes a separate organization in 1784.

1773 First independent Black Baptist church is established in America.

1780 “Sunday school” is developed in England by Robert Raikes out of concern for urban poor.

1781 Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Reason cannot deny the existence of God, the soul, or eternity.

1784 “Conference of Methodists” forms a group within the Church of England.

The Russian Orthodox send missionaries to Alaska.

1785 Korean Christianity expands, then is exterminated.

1789 The French Revolution results in a new government and a new religion hostile to Christianity, “The Cult of Reason” Thousands of Catholic and Protestant clergy are executed. Ten years later the French invade Rome, capture Pope Pius vi, and take him prisoner to France.

1792 Second Great Awakening: revival sweeps New England for 30 years.

William Carey often called the father of modern Protestant missions

1793 William and Dorothy Carey of England sail for India. Carey writes a significant work on the Great Commission and offers strategies for fulfilling it at a time when many Protestants believe that ‘when God pleases to convert the heathen, he’ll do it without consulting you or me”

The Baptist Missionary Society and other missionary societies formed during this century.

1795 Many American churches, including the Baptists,

begin to divide over the issue of slave holding.

1797 Methodists separate from the Church of England to form a distinct church.

Christianity spreads to Nepal, Seychelles, Falkland Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Pitcairn Island, Sierra Leone, Norfolk Island, and Tonga.


1801 French leader Napoleon Bonaparte reconciles with new pope temporarily (Concordat of 1801) and makes himself emperor in 1804. France reinvades Rome and takes Pius VII to France as a prisoner.

1807 William Wilberforce, member of Parliament and devout Christian, leads Parliament to abolish the slave trade in the British Empire. He and other Christians also address social problems including exploitative child labor, illiteracy, prison reform, education, and reinstating civil rights for Jews and Catholics.

1811 Thomas and Alexander Campbell’s Restoration Movement gives rise to the Disciples of Christ and some Church of Christ groups.

1813 Adoniram and Ann Judson arrive in Burma.

Richard Allen, founder of the AME Church

1816 The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) is founded by Richard Allen, a free Black, in Philadelphia. In 1821, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church forms.

1822 Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (reestablished by Pope Pius VII) spurs Roman Catholic missionary efforts in Ethiopia, Mongolia, North Africa (Charles Lavigerie, founder of the White Fathers) and Hawaii (Fr. Damien, works with lepers 16 years and dies of leprosy).

1827 John Nelson Darby of the Plymouth Brethren creates the first dispensational system (dividing history into spiritual eras or dispensations), which influences Cyrus Scofield’s teachings of the 1900s.

1830 Friedrich Schleiermacher, the “Father of Liberal Protestant Theology, teaches that God is within human reality, not above it.

Joseph Smith, Jr., founds the Church of the Latter-day Saints (Mormonism), which denies the Trinity.

1833 Oxford Movement calls the Church of England to return to “high church” practices and doctrines.

1835 Charles Finney leads revival in New York.

1836 George Muller opens faith orphanage in England.

1840 David Livingstone, missionary, goes to Africa.

1844 Soren Kierkegaard’s Philosophical Fragments.

The YMCA and YWCA (Young Men’s/Women’s Christian Association) form in London during the Industrial Revolution to introduce Christianity to new large populations in urban areas.

First Adventist church, led by Ellen H. White.

1854 Baptist preacher Charles H. Spurgeon draws such great crowds that a church is built for him in England.

Immaculate Conception dogma is pronounced by Pope Pius ix. It states that Mary, Jesus’ mother, was free from original sin, a belief debated since the Middle Ages.

Dwight L. Moody

1855 Dwight L. Moody, shoe salesman in Chicago, converts and works with the YMCA. He develops a simple message of repentance and salvation and the work of the Holy Spirit (“higher life”). Moody, Finney, and singer Ira Sankey mark the beginning of “revivalism”: revival meetings held in urban areas.

1859 Charles Darwin writes Origin of the Species. 1864 Catholics in Korea persecuted by revolutionaries. 1865 Hudson Taylor begins China Inland Mission.

After the U.S. Civil War, many former slaves join with other African-Americans to start denominations in America, including the Black Baptists and the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church ((ME, later the C is changed to mean Christian).

1870 First Vatican Council (Roman Catholic) on faith and the church declares papal infallibility dogma.

1875-9 Christian Science and Jehovah’s Witnesses (Watchtower) founded. Both deny Christ’s deity.

1878 The Salvation Army is founded by William Booth and his wife, Catherine Munford, both Methodist preachers, to minister to the poor.

1880 Moody leads the nondenominational Northfield Conferences, which emphasize holiness, dispensationalism, missions, evangelism, and the Spirit-filled life.

1887 B.B. Warfield, Reformed theologian at Princeton.

1895 The five “fundamentals” of the faith are set forth by the Evangelical Alliance to define the line between fundamentalism and modernism (radical liberalism). They are the inerrancy of Scripture, the deity of Jesus, the Virgin birth, Jesus’ death providing substitutionary atonement, Jesus’ physical resurrection, and his imminent return.

1895 Turks massacre 300,000 Armenian Christians.

Christianity spreads to Botswana, Madagascar, Djibouti, Somalia, Zambia, Rwanda, Liberia, Samoa, Transkei, New Hebrides, Lesotho, Uganda, Hong Kong, and Pacific Islands.


1901 Amy Carmichael, Irish missionary to India for 53 years, starts work at Donavur for children in danger.

Boxer Rebellion: Chinese kill missionaries and converts.

Many revivalists now preach premillennialism.

1906 Azusa Street revivals, led by William Seymour, emphasize living a holy life demonstrated by Spirit baptism and evidenced by speaking in tongues. Beginnings of Pentecostalism.

Albert Schweitzer writes Quest for the Historical Jesus.

1909 Scofield Bible published. Cyrus Scofield links verses from various books of the Bible in an attempt to explain God’s actions in human history—fitting history into seven distinct spiritual eras (dispensations).

1914 Assemblies of God, and later Church of God and Four-Square Gospel denominations, form in the wake of the Azusa Street revivals.

1917 Communism spreads anti-religious ideology through Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Christianity is eradicated from education and worship. Millions are imprisoned and killed.

1919 Karl Barth’s Commentary on Romans. Birth of neoorthodoxy, which challenges liberalism with an emphasis on the Bible and on God’s transcendence.

1925 Billy Sunday, the “baseball preacher,” preaches salvation and temperance revivals.

Scopes “Monkey” Trial (State of Tennessee v. John Scopes) on the teaching of evolution.

1930-1950 Many Protestant denominations split over issues involving modernism, higher life, or dispensationalism, including the Presbyterian Church in the USA and the Northern Baptist Convention.

1934 Wycliffe Bible Translators is founded by Cam Townsend. Wycliffe and other organizations translate the Bible into other languages. In 1914 there are portions of the Bible in 600 languages. By 1980, the Bible is translated into more than 1600 languages.

1941 Rudolf Bultmann leads movement to “demythologize” the Bible.

1933•45 Rise of Nazism, leading to World War II and the death of 6 million Jews and millions of Christians.

1945 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Lutheran pastor and a leader of the underground church in Germany, is hanged for plotting to kill Adolph Hitler.

Franciscan priest Maxmilian Kolbe, prisoner in Auschwitz, volunteers to die and is executed in place of a fellow prisoner.

1948 Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest known copies of portions of the Bible (c. 100 BC).

Modern political State of Israel established.

1949 Organized Christian churches exist in every country in the world except for Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Tibet, according to World Christian Encyclopedia.

Billy Graham’s Los Angeles Crusade launches his ministry. Over the next five decades, he preaches to more people than any evangelist in history.

World Council of Churches formed by representatives from all major Christian denominations except the Roman Catholics.

1954 Scientology and Unification Church founded. Neither accepts the Trinity or the deity of Jesus Christ.

1950-1960′s Explosion of Christianity in newly independent African countries. Approximately 200 million Christians by 1980.

1962 Second Vatican Council (Roman Catholic) accepts Protestants as “separated brethren, encourages translating and reading the Bible, revokes the excommunication of the Great Schism (1054), upholds papal infallibility and encourages services (the Mass) to be held in each common language rather than in Latin.

1963 C.S. Lewis, author of Mere Christianity, dies.

1964 Baptist minister Martin Luther King, Jr., receives Nobel Peace Prize for civil rights efforts.

1970s Many major national and international crusades held: Latin America (Luis Palau), worldwide Here’s Life crusade (Campus Crusade), Korea (Billy Graham). Jesus Movement in the USA; charismatic movement.

Largest church in the world is now in Seoul, Korea.

1997 Death of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Catholic nun who spent 50 years caring for the poor and dying.

Pope John Paul II apologizes for the Roman Catholic Church’s lack of moral leadership during the Holocaust.

1998 The Jesus Film, an evangelistic film, is seen by more than 1.1 billion people since its 1978 release.

Persecution of Christians continues around the world.

Christianity spreads to the Antarctic. There are still 2000 groups of people who have no portion of the Bible in their own language.



  1. Alan Baxter says:

    Good job! The timeline is very interesting. It didnt tend to lean toward one favorite religion or church as normally happens with things like this.

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