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Top 10 Events of Church History Up To 1453

1.

64 C.E.—The Burning of Rome—When Nero blamed Christians for the burning of Rome in 64 C.E., he incited the first imperial persecution of Christians and set the tone for imperial relations with Christians for future Roman Emperors.  The Neronian Persecutions were followed by four major waves of imperial persecution (under Septimius Severus’s reign from 193-211 C.E., under the reign of Decius beginning in 250 C.E., under the emperor Valerian beginning in 258 C.E., and under the reign of Diocletian beginning in 303 C.E).  Ironically, such persecution aided church growth after the waves died down because of the courage that Christians showed in the face of violence. 

2.

70 C.E.—The Fall of Jerusalem—The fall of Jerusalem—especially the destruction of the Jewish Temple—that ended the First Jewish-Roman War would drastically alter Judaism by removing one of its two pillars (Temple & Torah).  This event would be seen as a vindication for Christians because many of them interpreted the event as punishment on the Jews for rejecting Jesus as their Messiah in according with prophecies attributed to Jesus by early gospel writers. 

3.

313 C.E.—The Edict of Milan—Following Constantine’s vision before the decisive battle of his campaign in 312 C.E. against Maxentius (who controlled Italy and North Africa after the division of the empire by Diocletian known as the tetrarchy or “rule of four”), Constantine decided to join forces with Licinius (the emperor in the east).  Together they issued the Edict of Milan in 313 C.E., granting freedom of religious practice to Christians and ending the early waves of imperial persecution but also marking the beginning of imperial intervention into the controversies of the Christian church.   

4.

325 C.E.—The Council of Nicaea—In response to Arian’s teaching that the Son was not eternal (a teaching received from Lucian, bishop of Antioch, who was executed under the emperor Constantine in 324 C.E.)—“there was a time when the Son was not”—a council was called to meet in Nicaea (a summer resort near the emperor’s court in Nicomedia) and presided over by the emperor Constantine.  Arius’ teachings were decisively condemned and Constantine himself is credited for introducing the word homoousios (“same substance”) to describe the relationship between the Father and the Son, and followed Tertullian who first used the term trinitas for God and described it as three persons of one substance.  The view of God endorsed by this council would be considered by many as the touchstone orthodox Christian doctrine and lead to centuries of persecutions between followers of Arius and followers of the Nicene Creed.        

5.

367 C.E.—Deciding the Canon—After Christians had over two hundred years to respond to the challenge of Marcion’s proposed canon (144 C.E.), Athanasius writes a letter in which he commends a certain list of books to be the authoritative body of literature for Christians.  Not only was Athanasius’ letter the first time the word “canon” is applied to such a list, but his proposed list eventually became accepted by most Christians and remains today the widely accepted content of the Christian canon—the New Testament.

6.

451 C.E.—The Council of Chalcedon—Questions left unanswered by the Council of Nicaea about how the human Jesus could also be considered God led to the condemnation of Apollinaris (forerunner of one-nature Monophysitism) by the Council of Constantinople in 381 and Nestorius (who supposedly separated the two natures of Christ) at the council of Ephesus in 431.  This controversy culminated at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 C.E. where Eutyches (exponent of Monophysitism) was also condemned and the explanation of Leo’s Tome, which posited Christ’s having two united natures (divine and human, each of whose characteristics were distinct), was endorsed.  The decision of the council would become known as “The Chalcedonian Definition,” and the relationship of Christ’s natures as delineated by this council would be called a hypostatic union.  This decision would lead to centuries of persecution for non-Chalcedonian Christians.

7.

589 C.E.—The Third Council of Toledo—After many years of pressure from Catholic Franks on the Arian Visigoth kings of Spain, when the Visigoth king, Reccared, converted to the Catholic faith in 587 C.E. he called together the Third Council of Toledo of 589 C.E. in which anathemas were pronounced against Arianism afresh.  Unfortunately, however, while reaffirming the Nicene Creed, the council took the liberty to endorse the view that the Spirit proceeded from both the Father and the Son (a view later strongly endorsed by theologian Isidore of Seville in the Fourth Council of Toledo in 633 C.E.).  Since by inserting this word filioque (“and the Son”) the Western church had tampered with the Nicene creed and endorsed a view not shared by the Eastern churches without an ecumenical council, this fueled the already existing tensions between the Eastern and Western churches culminating in The Great Schism of 1054.

8.

610 C.E.—The Rise of Islam—610 C.E. would mark the year that Muhammad would begin to receive direct revelations from the angel Gabriel who told him to “recite” the very words (Qur’an means “to recite”) that would comprise the Qur’an.  The result of Muhammad’s preaching a message of submission (Islam means “to submit”) to only one God (Allah means “God”), along with an organized military force that reduced Christians to the humble status of dhimmi communities, eventually led to a succession of Islamic Dynasties ruled by Caliph’s (“deputies” or “successors”) encompassing nearly half of the previously Christian world by the year 750 C.E., stretching from the Indus River in the East to Spain in the West.   

9.

800 C.E.—The Coronation of Charlemagne—Following the example of his grandfather Charles Martel and his father Pepin who formed alliances with the pope’s of Rome, by the time Charlemagne went to Rome to strengthen connections with the Pope he had (by his success against the Saxon’s to his north and east, the Spanish to his west, and the Lombards to his south) become the ruler of much of Europe.  The crowning of Charlemagne as the new Augustus (evoking the majesty of the old Roman Empire) on Christmas day of 800 C.E. by Pope Leo III illustrates how the wake of the expansion of Islam turned the attention of the popes from the East to the North for political alliance (realizing that the emperor in the East could not necessarily secure Europe against Islam), signaled the papal willingness to give up on the ideals of a Mediterranean centered Empire and look for a similar Empire in the North, and helped lay the foundations for shaping the vitality of Christian existence in Europe for almost 800 years that would become known as “Christendom.”     

10.

1054 C.E.—The Great Schism —When the Normans took Leo IX captive for seeking alliance with the Eastern Emperor and Leo sent three envoys to Constantinople led by Cardinal Humbert to pursue negotiations, the fierce debate between these envoys and the Eastern theologians over longstanding political, cultural, and theological differences led Humbert to charge the Greeks with an assortment of heresies and draw up a bull of excommunication against Patriarch Cerularius.  The patriarch responded by excommunicating the papal legates, illustrating the great distance that had developed in the Latin and Greek traditions over the past seven centuries that would be intensified by this mutual excommunication and even moreso by the sack of Constantinople by western crusaders in 1204.

 

Sources Used

Mark A. Noll, Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity, second ed. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2007.  

Dale T. Irvin & Scott W. Sunquist, History of the World Christian Movement, Vol. 1: Earliest Christianity to 1453. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2006.

Earle E. Cairns, Christianity Through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church, 3rd ed. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing, 1996. 

Justo L. Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Vol. 1: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation.  New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1984. 

Richard Dawkins FAIL ::: The God Debates

Pay particular attention to the question, and how it’s never answered.  Is he saying that modern animals are no longer evolving?  

Dictation vs. Inspiration • Islam cf. Christianity

Are there differences in the way Christians conceive of their Bible, and the way Muslims conceive of their Qur’an?  The following excerpt is written by “From the Middle East,” a muslim missionary for unreached muslims:

Dictation – The Generous Qur’an is considered the actual speech of God. God did not inspire anyone to write it, He dictated it to Muhammad through Gabriel. This concept is present in the Holy Scriptures (i.e. the Ten Commandments and prophetic announcements), but dictation is not the only means through which God authors books. The Scriptures are certainly God-breathed, inspired and those who recorded them were carried along by the Spirit of God, but the authors’ respective personalities and various literary styles are evident as well.  

For more differences  between the Qur’an and the Bible, see the full post The Bible and the Qur’an are not the Same.

——————:::::::___–__–__–=====HT: sbcIMPACT

If Christians were more Christian ****

If Christians were more Christian they would keep love as their top priority, since that’s what Christ taught the will of God, the commands of God, and the kingdom of God were ultimately all about.

Atheism is Not A Religion? • An Atheist Perspective Critiqued

Vjack talks about his trouble with the facebook setup in a post. Here’s an excerpt:

… I was not sure what to make of the “religious views” line on my profile. Coincidentally, a reader e-mailed me and asked my opinion about this very issue just as I was confronting it myself. She did not want to put “atheist” under religion because she recognized that atheism is not a religion and did not want to pretend it was. This led her to think of simply putting “none” in the space. However, she wasn’t sure she liked this idea much better.

You see … vjack does not think of atheism as a religion.  He explains this in another post.

Thus, an atheist is one who does not believe in a god or gods. Note that “one who lacks belief in a god or gods” is not quite the same thing as “one who believes that there are no god or gods.” This distinction may be subtle, but it is important for reasons I will review below. 

As I have stated elsewhere, “Atheism is not a religion, a philosophy, a worldview, or anything similar. It is not the conviction that there are no gods, ghosts, angels, etc.” Rather, atheism simply refers to the lack of theistic belief. A young child or person living in an isolated community who has never heard of any gods is an atheist. In fact, we are all born atheists because we have not encountered any theistic concepts before birth.

… it is critical to recognize that atheism does not involve the assertion of any belief claim. An atheist is simply an individual who do not hold the theistic belief claim (i.e., that god or gods exist). … When the theist says, “God exists,” we are correct to expect evidence in support of this claim. Without such evidence, the claim cannot be accepted on rational grounds. 

But vjack can’t get away that easy.  You don’t escape the worldview nature of atheism just by stating it’s belief negatively as the absence of theism.  I could say that theism is just the absence of belief in atheism.  If vjack is not ready to assert positively that there is no God, god or gods, he is not actually an atheist, but a skeptic—–someone who doesn’t affirm theism but doesn’t leave out the possibility that God, a god, or gods exists either.  Is Vjack really only a skeptic or does he have strong convictions that belief in God, god or gods is irrational, and therefore that God doesn’t exist?  Based on his definition, he only wants to be considered a skeptic.  But if you just read a few posts on his blog, you will see that he thinks people ought to live as if there were no God.  He’s not simply unsure about whether there is or is not a God, he’s working out the implications of hard-atheism.  

Vjack’s way of defining things is not original.  Atheists have long argued for a distinction between hard-atheism and soft-atheism.  Hard-atheism as belief that there is no God, god or gods, and soft-Atheism as belief that there is no apparent rational reason to believe there is a God, god, or gods.  Either way, vjack’s claim that atheism is not a worldview, then, is unfounded.  Atheism actually demands presuppositions about the nature of knowledge (epistemological presuppositions) to even begin to evaluate whether there is or is not any evidence for the existence of God.  Read the last part of that excerpt again.

When the theist says, “God exists,” we are correct to expect evidence in support of this claim. Without such evidence, the claim cannot be accepted on rational grounds. [italics added] 

Epistemological presuppositions about how we ground true knoweledge is at the very heart of worldview theory and determines the outworking of what one accepts as true, false, right or wrong.  It’s the hinge on which one’s worldview turns.   

Therefore, for vjack to claim atheism is not a worldview may be a sly way of dodging theistic rhetoric, but it is also reveals a glaring logical blind spot.  Atheists tend to pride themselves as rational, but as I see it, they make foundational rational mistakes all the time.  This is one of them: Claiming that atheism is not a worldview when in fact, it either demands that one assert there is no God (which results in a different way of viewing the world as not created by God) or that there is no apparent rational reason to believe in God (which demands a non-theistic epistemology, such epistemologies being at the heart of worldview theory).    

———————————–HT: Atheist Revolution——————————–

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