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Christian History & Biography100 Most Important Events in Church History
Issue 28 | 1990

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 ARTICLE TOOLS

Important Events in Church History
A selective chronological listing

The following list is based on extensive surveys with scholars belonging to several groups: a professional society of church historians; the Christian History Institute; and the editorial advisory board of Christian History magazine. It should be remembered, however, that such lists are never exhaustive and they reflect the particular interests of those who write them—in this case, church historians from North America and Western Europe. And many dates, especially from the early centuries of the church, are approximate.

We hope the list provides an enlightening overview of the fascinating history of the church and sparks further discussion and study.

—The Editors of Christian History

The Age of Jesus and the Apostles

30: Crucifixion of Jesus; Pentecost

35: Stephen martyred; Paul converted

46: Paul begins missionary journeys

48: Council of Jerusalem

57: Paul’s Letter to the Romans

64: Fire of Rome; Nero launches persecutions

65: Peter and Paul executed

The Age of Early Christianity

70: Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus

110: Ignatius of Antioch martyred

150: Justin Martyr dedicates his First Apology

155: Polycarp martyred

172: Montanist movement begins

180: Irenaeus writes Against Heresies

196: Tertullian begins writing

215: Origen begins writing

230: Earliest known public churches built

248: Cyprian elected bishop of Carthage

250: Decius orders empire-wide persecution

270: Anthony takes up life of solitude

303: “Great Persecution” begins under Diocletian

The Age of the Christian Empire

312: Conversion of Constantine

312: Donatist Schism begins

313: “Edict of Milan”

323: Eusebius completes Ecclesiastical History

325: First Council of Nicea

341: Ulphilas, translator of Gothic Bible, becomes bishop

358: Basil the Great founds monastic community

367: Athanasius’s letter defines New Testament canon

381: Christianity made state religion of Roman Empire

381: First Council of Constantinople

386: Augustine converts to Christianity

390: Ambrose defies emperor

398: Chrysostom consecrated bishop of Constantinople

405: Jerome completes the Vulgate

410: Rome sacked by Visigoths

431: Council of Ephesus

432: Patrick begins mission to Ireland

440: Leo the Great consecrated bishop of Rome

445: Valentinian’s Edict strengthens primacy of Rome

451: Council of Chalcedon

500: Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite writes

524: Boethius completes Consolation of Philosophy

529: Justin publishes his legal Code

540: Benedict writes his monastic Rule

563: Columba establishes mission community on Iona

The Christian Middle Ages

590: Gregory the Great elected Pope

597: Ethelbert of Kent converted

622: Muhammad’s hegira: birth of Islam

663: Synod of Whitby

698: Lindisfarne Gospels

716: Boniface begins mission to the Germans

726: Controversy over icons begins in Eastern church

731: Bede’s Ecclesiastical History published

732: Battle of Tours

750: Donation of Constantine written about this time

754: Pepin III’s donation helps found papal states

781: Alcuin becomes royal adviser to Charles

787: 2nd Council of Nicea settles icon controversy

800: Charlemagne crowned Holy Roman Emperor

843: Treaty of Verdun divides Carolingian Empire

861: East-West conflict over Photius begins

862: Cyril and Methodius begin mission to Slavs

909: Monastery at Cluny founded

988: Christianization of “Russia”

1054: East-West Split

1077: Emperor submits to Pope over investiture

1093: Anselm becomes archbishop of Canterbury

1095: First Crusade launched by Council of Clermont

1115: Bernard founds monastery at Clairvaux

1122: Concordat of Worms ends investiture controversy

1141: Hildegard of Bingen begins writing

1150: Universities of Paris and Oxford founded

1173: Waldensian movement begins

1208: Francis of Assisi renounces wealth

1215: Magna Carta

1215: Innocent III assembles Fourth Lateran Council

1220: Dominican Order established

1232: Gregory IX appoints first “inquisitors”

1272: Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae

1302: Unam Sanctam proclaims papal supremacy

1309: Papacy begins “Babylonian” exile in Avignon

1321: Dante completes Divine Comedy

1370: Catherine of Siena begins her Letters

1373: Julian of Norwich receives her revelations

1378: Great Papal Schism begins

1380: Wyclif supervises English Bible translation

1414: Council of Constance begins

1413: Hus burned at stake

1418: Thomas à Kempis writes The Imitation of Christ

1431: Joan of Arc burned at stake

1453: Constantinople falls; end of Eastern Roman Empire

1456: Gutenberg produces first printed Bible

1479: Establishment of Spanish Inquisition

1488: First complete Hebrew Old Testament

1497: Savonarola excommunicated

1506: Work begins on new St. Peter’s in Rome

1512: Michelangelo completes Sistine Chapel frescoes

1516: Erasmus publishes Greek New Testament

The Age of the Reformation

1517: Luther posts his Ninety-Five Theses

1518: Ulrich Zwingli comes to Zurich

1521: Diet of Worms

1524: The Peasants’ Revolt erupts

1525: Tyndale’s New Testament published

1525: Anabaptist movement begins

1527: Schleitheim Confession of Faith

1529: Colloquy of Marburg

1530: Augsburg Confession

1534: Act of Supremacy; Henry VIII heads Eng. church

1536: Calvin publishes first edition of Institutes

1536: Menno Simons baptized as Anabaptist

1540: Loyola gains approval for Society of Jesus

1545: Council of Trent begins

1549: Book of Common Prayer released

1549: Xavier begins mission to Japan

1555: Peace of Augsburg

1555: Latimer and Ridley burned at stake

1559: John Knox makes final return to Scotland

1563: First text of Thirty-Nine Articles issued

1563: Foxe’s Book of Martyrs published

1565: Teresa of Avila writes The Way of Perfection

1572: St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

1577: Formula of Concord

1582: Ricci and Ruggieri begin mission in China

1589: Moscow becomes independent patriarchate

1598: Edict of Nantes (revoked 1685)

1609: Smyth baptizes self and first Baptists

1611: King James Version of Bible published

1618: Synod of Dort begins

1618: Thirty Years’ War begins

1620: Mayflower Compact drafted

1633: Galileo forced to recant his theories

1636: Harvard College founded

1636: Roger Williams founds Providence, R.I.

1647: George Fox begins to preach

1646: Westminster Confession drafted

1648: Peace of Westphalia ends Thirty Years’ War

The Age of Reason and Revival

1649: Cambridge Platform

1653: Cromwell named Lord Protector

1654: Pascal has definitive conversion experience

1667: Milton’s Paradise Lost

1668: Rembrandt paints Return of the Prodigal Son

1675: Spencer’s Pia Desideria advances Pietism

1678: Bunyan writes The Pilgrim’s Progress

1682: Penn founds Pennsylvania

1687: Newton publishes Principia Mathematica

1689: Toleration Act in England

1707: Bach publishes first work

1707: Watts publishes Hymns and Spiritual Songs

1729: Jonathan Edwards becomes pastor at Northampton

1732: First Moravian missionaries

1735: George Whitefield converted

1738: John and Charles Wesley’s evangelical conversions

1740: Great Awakening peaks

1742: First production of Handel’s Messiah

1759: Voltaire’s Candide

1771: Francis Asbury sent to America

1773: Jesuits suppressed (until 1814)

1779: Newton and Cowper publish Olney Hymns

1780: Robert Raikes begins his Sunday school

1781: Kant publishes Critique of Pure Reason

The Age of Progress

1789: French Revolution begins

1789: Bill of Rights

1793: William Carey sails for India

1793: Festival of Reason (de-Christianization of France)

1799: Schleiermacher publishes Lectures on Religion

1801: Concordat between Napoleon and Pius VII

1804: British and Foreign Bible Society formed

1806: Samuel Mills leads Haystack Prayer Meeting

1807: Wilberforce leads abolition of slave trade

1810: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions

1811: Campbells begin Restoration Movement

1812: Adoniram Judson begins mission trip

1816: Richard Allen elected bishop of new AME church

1817: Elizabeth Fry organizes relief in Newgate Prison

1819: Channing issues Unitarian Christianity

1827: J. N. Darby founds the Plymouth Brethren

1833: John Keble’s sermon launches Oxford Movement

1834: Mueller opens Scriptural Knowledge Institute

1835: Finney’s Lectures on Revivals

1840: Livingstone sails for Africa

1844: First Adventist churches formed

1844: Kierkegaard writes Philosophical Fragments

1845: John Henry Newman becomes Roman Catholic

1845: Phoebe Palmer writes The Way of Holiness

1848: Marx publishes Communist Manifesto

1851: Harriet Beecher Stowe releases Uncle Tom’s Cabin

1854: Immaculate Conception made dogma

1854: Spurgeon becomes pastor of New Park St. Church

1855: D. L. Moody converted

1857: Prayer Meeting Revival begins in New York

1859: Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species

1859: Japan reopens to foreign missionaries

1860: U.S. Civil War begins

1864: Syllabus of Errors issued by Pope Pius IX

1865: J. Hudson Taylor founds China Inland Mission

1870: First Vatican Council declares papal infallibility

1878: William and Catherine Booth found Salvation Army

1879: Frances Willard becomes president of WCTU

1880: Abraham Kuyper starts Free University

1885: Berlin Congress spurs African independent churches

1885: Wellhausen’s documentary hypothesis

1886: Student Volunteer Movement begins

1895: Freud publishes first work on psychoanalysis

1896: Billy Sunday begins leading revivals

1901: Speaking in tongues at Parham’s Bible School

1906: Azusa Street revival

1906: Schweitzer’s Quest of the Historical Jesus

1908: Federal Council of Churches forms

1910: International Missionary Conference begins

1910: The Fundamentals begin to be published

1912: Social Creed of the Churches adopted

The Age of Ideologies

1914: World War I begins

1919: Karl Barth writes Commentary on Romans

1924: First Christian radio broadcasts

1931: C. S. Lewis comes to faith in Christ

1934: Barmen Declaration

1934: Wycliffe Bible Translators founded

1938: Kristallnacht accelerates Holocaust

1939: World War II begins

1940: First Christian TV broadcasts

1941: Bultmann calls for demythologization

1941: Niebuhr’s Nature and Destiny of Man

1942: National Association of Evangelicals forms

1945: Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima

1947: Dead Sea Scrolls discovered

1948: World Council of Churches organized

1949: Los Angeles Crusade catapults Billy Graham

1950: Missionaries forced to leave China

1950: Assumption of Mary made dogma

1950: Mother Teresa founds Missionaries of Charity

1951: Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison

1960: Bennett resigns; charismatic renewal advances

1962: Vatican II opens

1963: King leads March on Washington

1966: Chinese Cultural Revolution

1968: Medellin Conference advances liberation theology

1974: Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization

1979: John Paul II’s first visit to Poland

1985: Gorbachev General Secretary of Soviet Communist Party





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