History of Christianity

Christianity began as a part of Judaism. The small group of Jews who had followed Jesus during his life began to share his teachings among others after he was put to death around 30 AD. Within this group there were two subdivisions, including those who held to Mosaic Law with Jesus as their Messiah and those who moved away from Mosaic Law and accepted Jesus as their savior.

Those who readily accepted Jesus as their savior were primarily non-Jews, which amounted to mostly Romans. Eventually, this grew into sects of Romans studying their own scripture and teachings, all based on the teachings of Jesus.

These early Christians put their teachings into writing, which resulted in the Gospels. These were written mostly between 60 and 90 AD. There were also writings by the disciples of Christ that were discovered around this time.

These writings spread among practicing Christians and were eventually included with the other groups of scripture. This scripture ultimately became the New Testament portion of the Bible.

Christianity continued to spread and the method by which the Romans embraced the teachings helped the church to grow. Within 400 years, the Bishop of Rome took on the title of Pope and took a leadership role in the church. The Eastern churches did not accept this, but there was little rebellion at the time.


The rebellion came approximately 600 years later when the Bishop of Constantinople closed his Roman churches. He was excommunicated in

History of Christianity

1054 and the Eastern churches continued to ignore the Pope. In addition to the growing population of Roman Catholics, many of the Celtic churches in Ireland accepted rule of the Pope.

The crusades occurred in response to reports of Muslim violence against Christians around 1093. The goal was to purify the Holy Land, but the initial efforts ended poorly. The Crusades continued, however, and during the next two and a half centuries, both military and civilian crusades occurred.

At the beginning of the 16th century, Christianity faced one of its biggest rebellions. Martin Luther, an ordained priest, nailed his thesis to the door of the Whittenburg Church. His goal was to create change in the Catholic Church, but the act prompted others to begin protesting and the ultimate result was the Protestant Reformation.

From here, divisions of Christianity grew that were not Catholic, nor were they the Eastern Orthodox version of Christianity. These new groups included the Anabaptists, the Presbyterians, the Calvinists, and the Mennonites. The Baptists, Quakers, and Methodists evolved just a few years later.

Great Awakenings

This was around the time of the Great Awakening. During the mid-18th century, people living in the New World experienced an increased interest in religion and the colonists attempted to share Christianity with the Native Americans in their new home.

The Second Great Awakening occurred about 50 years later. This time it brought Christian revivals, overseas missions, and the Church of the Latter Day Saints, also called Mormonism.

The following century brought the Pentacostal Movement, which was a branch of Christianity focused on spiritual revelation and revival services. Mid-century brought a modernization in the Catholic Church and the formation of the World Council of Churches. By the end of the century, televangelism had taken shape and many people “attended” church service right in their homes.