Important Events in Church History: Christian History Timeline

by the Editors

A timeline of important events in (mostly western) church history.

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue 28 in 1990 ]

Leaders & Writings

Leaders & Writings: The Age of Jesus and the Apostles (A.D.-70)

30: Crucifixion of Jesus; Pentecost

35: Stephen martyred; Paul converted

57: Paul’s Letter to the Romans

Leaders & Writings: The Age of Early Christianity (70-312)

150: Justin Martyr dedicates his First Apology

155: Polycarp martyred

180: Irenaeus writes Against Heresies

196: Tertullian begins writing

215: Origen begins writing

248: Cyprian elected bishop of Carthage

Leaders & Writings: The Age of the Christian Empire (312-590)

323: Eusebius completes Ecclesiastical History

386: Augustine converts to Christianity

398: Chrysostom consecrated bishop of Constantinople

440: Leo the Great consecrated bishop of Rome

524: Boethius completes Consolation of Philosophy

590: Gregory the Great elected Pope

Leaders & Writings: Christian Middle Ages (590-1517)

731: Bede’s Ecclesiastical History published

781: Alcuin becomes royal adviser to Charles

1093: Anselm becomes archbishop of Canterbury

1141: Hildegard of Bingen begins writing

1272: Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae

1370: Catherine of Siena begins her Letters

1373: Julian of Norwich receives her revelations

1415: Hus burned at stake

1418: Thomas á Kempis writes The Imitation of Christ

1431: Joan of Arc burned at stake

Leaders & Writings: Age of the Reformation (1517-1648)

1517: Luther posts his Ninety-Five Theses

1518: Ulrich Zwingli comes to Zurich

1536: Calvin publishes first edition of Institutes

1536: Menno Simons baptized as Anabaptist

1549: Book of Common Prayer released

1559: John Knox makes final return to Scotland

1563: Foxe’s Book of Martyrs published

1565: Teresa of Avila writes The Way of Perfection

1603: Arminius appointed professor at Leyden

1628: Jan Comenius flees

1647: George Fox begins to preach

Leaders & Writings: Age of Reason & Revival (1648-1789)

1654: Pascal has definitive conversion experience

1675: Spencer’s Pia Desideria advances Pietism

1678: Bunyan writes The Pilgrim’s Progress

1729: Jonathan Edwards becomes pastor at Northampton

1735: George Whitefield converted

1738: John and Charles Wesley’s evangelical conversions

1739: George Whitefield starts open-air preaching

1771: Francis Asbury sent to America

1780: Robert Raikes begins his Sunday school

Leaders & Writings: Age of Progress (1789-1914)

1799: Schleiermacher publishes Lectures on Religion

1807: Wilberforce leads abolition of slave trade

1817: Elizabeth Fry organizes relief in Newgate Prison

1834: Mueller opens Scriptural Knowledge Institute

1835: Finney’s Lectures on Revivals

1836: Mueller opens orphanage

1844: Kierkegaard writes Philosophical Fragments

1845: John Henry Newman becomes Roman Catholic

1845: Phoebe Palmer writes The Way of Holiness

1854: Spurgeon becomes pastor of New Park St. Church

1855: D. L. Moody converted

1864: Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua

1896: Billy Sunday begins leading revivals

1906: Schweitzer’s Quest of the Historical Jesus

Leaders & Writings: Age of Ideologies (1914-Present)

1919: Karl Barth writes Commentary on Romans

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

1941: Niebuhr’s Nature and Destiny of Man

1945: Bonhoeffer executed

1949: Los Angeles Crusade catapults Billy Graham

1951: Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison

1963: King leads March on Washington

Orders & Denominations

Orders & Denominations: The Age of Early Christianity (70-312)

270: Anthony takes up life of solitude

Orders & Denominations: The Age of the Christian Empire (312-590)

358: Basil the Great founds monastic community

909: Monastery at Cluny founded

540: Benedict writes his monastic Rule

Orders & Denominations: Christian Middle Ages (590-1517)

1115: Bernard founds monastery at Clairvaux

1208: Francis of Assisi renounces wealth

1220: Dominican Order established

Orders & Denominations: Age of the Reformation (1517-1648)

1525: Anabaptist movement begins

1530: Augsburg Confession

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

1540: Loyola gains approval for Society of Jesus

1562: Heidelberg Catechism

1563: First text of Thirty-Nine Articles issued

1577: Formula of Concord

1609: Smyth baptizes self and first Baptists

1618: Synod of Dort begins

1646: Westminster Confession drafted

Orders & Denominations: Age of Reason & Revival (1648-1789)

1652: George Fox founds “Friends”

1773: Jesuits suppressed (until 1814)

1784: Wesley provides for “Conference of Methodists”

Orders & Denominations: Age of Progress (1789-1914)

1811: Campbells begin Restoration Movement

1816: Richard Allen elected bishop of new AME church

1819: Channing issues Unitarian Christianity

1827: J. N. Darby founds the Plymouth Brethren

1844: First Adventist churches formed

1878: William and Catherine Booth found Salvation Army

1885: Berlin Congress spurs African independent churches

1906: Azusa Street revival

Orders & Denominations: Age of Ideologies (1914-Present)

1950: Mother Teresa founds Missionaries of Charity

1960: Charismatic renewal advances

Councils, Creeds, & Controversies

Councils, Creeds, & Controversies: The Age of Jesus and the Apostles (A.D.-70)

48: Council of Jerusalem

Councils, Creeds, & Controversies: The Age of Early Christianity (70-312)

172: Montanist movement begins

Councils, Creeds, & Controversies: The Age of the Christian Empire (312-590)

312: Donatist Schism begins

325: First Council of Nicea

381: First Council of Constantinople

431: Council of Ephesus

451: Council of Chalcedon

Councils, Creeds, & Controversies: Christian Middle Ages (590-1517)

663: Synod of Whitby

726: Controversy over icons begins in Eastern church

787: 2nd Council of Nicea settles icon controversy

861: East-West conflict over Photius begins

1054: East-West Split

1141: Abelard’s teaching condemned

1173: Waldensian movement begins

1215: Innocent III assembles Fourth Lateran Council

1232: Gregory IX appoints first “inquisitors”

1309: Papacy begins “Babylonian” exile in Avignon

1378: Great Papal Schism begins

1414: Council of Constance begins

1479: Establishment of Spanish Inquisition

1497: Savonarola excommunicated

Councils, Creeds, & Controversies: Age of the Reformation (1517-1648)

1521: Diet of Worms

1527: Schleitheim Confession of Faith

1529: Colloquy of Marburg

1545: Council of Trent begins

1572: St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

1598: Edict of Nantes (revoked 1685)

Councils, Creeds, & Controversies: Age of Progress (1789-1914)

1833: John Keble’s sermon launches Oxford Movement

1854: Immaculate Conception made dogma

1864: Syllabus of Errors issued by Pope Pius IX

1870: First Vatican Council declares papal infallibility

1908: Federal Council of Churches forms

1910: The Fundamentals begin to be published

1912: Social Creed of the Churches adopted

Councils, Creeds, & Controversies: Age of Ideologies (1914-Present)

1934: Barmen Declaration

1942: National Association of Evangelicals forms

1948: World Council of Churches organized

1954: Methodists ordain women

1962: Vatican II opens

1968: Medellin Conference advances liberation theology

Missions

Missions: The Age of Jesus and the Apostles (A.D.-70)

46: Paul begins missionary journeys

The Age of the Christian Empire (312-590)

342: Ulphilas’s mission to Goths

432: Patrick begins mission to Ireland

563: Columba establishes mission community on Iona

Missions: Christian Middle Ages (590-1517)

597: Ethelbert of Kent converted

716: Boniface begins mission to the Germans

862: Cyril and Methodius begin mission to Slavs

988: Christianization of “Russia”

Missions: Age of the Reformation (1517-1648)

1549: Xavier begins mission to Japan

1582: Ricci and Ruggieri begin mission in China

1732: First Moravian missionaries

Missions: Age of Progress (1789-1914)

1793: William Carey sails for India

1810: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions

1816: Judsons sail for Asia

1825: American Tract Society

1840: Livingstone sails for Africa

1859: Japan reopens to foreign missionaries

1865: J. Hudson Taylor founds China Inland Mission

1886: Student Volunteer Movement begins

1910: Edinburgh International Missionary Conference begins

Missions: Age of Ideologies (1914-Present)

1924: First Christian radio broadcasts

1940: First Christian TV broadcasts

1950: Missionaries forced to leave China

1950: Mother Teresa founds Missionaries of Charity

1974: Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization

Church & State

Church & State: The Age of Jesus and the Apostles (A.D.-70)

64: Fire of Rome; Nero launches persecutions

65: Peter and Paul executed

Church & State: The Age of Early Christianity (70-312)

110: Ignatius of Antioch martyred

230: Earliest known public churches built

250: Decius orders empire-wide persecution

Church & State: The Age of the Christian Empire (312-590)

303: “Great Persecution” begins under Diocletian

312: Conversion of Constantine

313: “Edict of Milan”

381: Christianity made state religion of Roman Empire

390: Ambrose defies emperor

445: Valentinian’s Edict strengthens primacy of Rome

529: Justin publishes his legal Code

Church & State: Christian Middle Ages (590-1517)

750: Donation of Constantine written about this time

754: Pepin III’s donation helps found papal states

800: Charlemagne crowned Holy Roman Emperor

1077: Emperor submits to Pope over investiture

1122: Concordat of Worms ends investiture controversy

1170: Thomas Becket murdered

1302: Unam Sanctam proclaims papal supremacy

Church & State: Age of the Reformation (1517-1648)

1555: Peace of Augsburg

1589: Moscow becomes independent patriarchate

1618: Thirty Years’ War begins

1636: Roger Williams founds Providence, R.I.

1648: Peace of Westphalia ends Thirty Years’ War

Church & State: Age of Reason & Revival (1648-1789)

1653: Cromwell named Lord Protector

1689: Toleration Act in England

Church & State: Age of Progress (1789-1914)

1789: Bill of Rights

1801: Concordat between Napoleon and Pius VII

Church & State: Age of Ideologies (1914-Present)

1979: John Paul II’s first visit to Poland

Bible

Bible: The Age of Early Christianity (70-312)

150: Marcion’s canon rejects Old Testament

Bible: The Age of the Christian Empire (312-590)

343: Ulphilas’s Gothic Bible

367: Athanasius’s letter defines New Testament canon

405: Jerome completes the Vulgate

Bible: Christian Middle Ages (590-1517)

1380: Wyclif supervises English Bible translation

1456: Gutenberg produces first printed Bible

1488: First complete Hebrew Old Testament

1516: Erasmus publishes Greek New Testament

Bible: Age of the Reformation (1517-1648)

1522:Luther’s German New Testament published

1525: Tyndale’s New Testament published

1535: Coverdale Bible

1560: Geneva Bible

1611: King James Version of Bible published

Bible: Age of Progress (1789-1914)

1804: British and Foreign Bible Society formed

Bible: Age of Ideologies (1914-Present)

1934: Wycliffe Bible Translators founded

1946: Revised Standard Version New Testament

1947: Dead Sea Scrolls discovered

1971: The Living Bible

Arts

Arts: Christian Middle Ages (590-1517)

500: Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite writes

600: Gregory’s chants

650: Iconography flourishes

698: Lindisfarne Gospels

730: First known church organ

965: First English polyphony

1150: Mystery plays flourish

1260: Chartres Cathedral

1321: Dante completes Divine Comedy

1476: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

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

1512: Michelangelo completes Sistine Chapel frescoes

Arts: Age of the Reformation (1517-1648)

1562: Genevan Psalter

Arts: Age of Reason & Revival (1648-1789)

1667: Milton’s Paradise Lost

1668: Rembrandt paints Return of the Prodigal Son

1707: Watts publishes Hymns and Spiritual Songs

1738: Bach’s Mass in B Minor

1742: First production of Handel’s Messiah

1779: Newton and Cowper publish Olney Hymns

Arts: Age of Progress (1789-1914)

1873: Moody and Sankey’s Sacred Songs and Solos

1880: Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov

1935: Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral

World Events

World Events: The Age of Jesus and the Apostles (A.D.-70)

70: Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus

The Age of the Christian Empire (312-590)

410: Rome sacked by Visigoths

622: Muhammad’s hegira: birth of Islam

World Events: Christian Middle Ages (590-1517)

732: Battle of Tours

843: Treaty of Verdun divides Carolingian Empire

1095: First Crusade launched by Council of Clermont

1150: Universities of Paris and Oxford founded

1215: Magna Carta

1348: Black Death

1453: Constantinople falls; end of Eastern Roman Empire

1492: Columbus lands in Western hemisphere

World Events: Age of the Reformation (1517-1648)

1524: The Peasants’ Revolt erupts in Germany

1588: English defeat Spanish Armada

1605: Shakespeare’s MacBeth

1620: Mayflower Compact drafted

1633: Galileo forced to recant his theories

1636: Harvard College founded

1642: English Civil War

World Events: Age of Reason & Revival (1648-1789)

1687: Newton publishes Principia Mathematica

1740: Great Awakening peaks

1759: Voltaire’s Candide

1773: American Revolution

1781: Kant publishes Critique of Pure Reason

World Events: Age of Progress (1789-1914)

1789: French Revolution begins

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

1804: Napoleon emperor

1848: Marx publishes Communist Manifesto

1851: Harriet Beecher Stowe releases Uncle Tom’s Cabin

1859: Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species

1861: U.S. Civil War

1895: Freud publishes first work on psychoanalysis

World Events: Age of Ideologies (1914-Present)

1914: World War I begins

1917: Bolshevik Revolution

1920: U.S. women’s suffrage

1929: Great Depression

1939: World War II begins

1945: Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima

1966: Chinese Cultural Revolution

1985: Gorbachev General Secretary of Soviet Communist Party

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