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  • Norine Rae

Events In Church History

Updated: Feb 14, 2019

Dr. Sarah Sumner

Church History

Dr. Sarah Sumner


A Paper

Presented to

Dr. Sarah Sumner

A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary

In Partial Fulfillment

of the Requirements for the Course

TH 6015 Events in Church History

By: Norine Rae


Discovering the importance of Church History for my personal and ministerial life has been especially enlightening as I reflect on the extensive material covered during this course. The depth of wonderment of the mystery of God and creation has caused me to seek further study in order that I might fulfill an inward hunger for truth. Pope John Paul II said, “This truth, which God reveals to us in Jesus Christ, is not opposed to the truths which philosophy perceives.”[1] The Catholic Church has been fundamental in my spiritual development as my first exposure to Christianity was in the Lutheran church quoting the Nicene Creed.[2]

As a Minister of the Church, I have been trained in importance of Scripture as it pertains to current social, economic, and cultural issues of the Church and community, yet Church History was neglected. As a Church system, I believe we have failed to teach parishioners the importance of learning Church History. The purpose of this paper is not to express every event that occurred over the past 2000 years, but merely give a general glimpse into Church History which I found most relevant for future use and study.  Therefore, I will begin with Early Church History and touch highlights to the present day Church in America as they pertain to course readings, class lectures, and my personal reflection.


Early Christian Thought

  Christian thought has been shaped through time by people’s willingness to take a stand and risk thru rhetoric and apologetics. We see this throughout Robert Wilken’s book, The Spirit of Early Christian Thought. The Christian Church began in A.D. 33 at Pentecost in Jerusalem when the “Holy Spirit falls on the disciples and they receive the power that Jesus has promised them” (Acts 1-2).[3]  In the search of revelation from God, humankind’s pursuit for truth has shaped history.  Many Christians were influenced by Greek and Roman philosophers, but men like Justin contended for their faith and were unwilling to relent.

In A.D. 165, Justin was martyred for refusing to worship the god’s of Rome. For the most part, the early Christian compositions were written for Christians by Christians. But, after Justin’s death, the Greek philosopher Celsus, wrote True Doctrine which disputed Christianity.[4]

Celsus, intoxicated by Plato, contradicted Christianity and believed that God could only be found through the mind’s eye stating “If you shut your eyes to the world of sense and look up with the mind, if you turn away from the flesh and raise the eyes of the soul, only then will you see God.”[5] He did not believe that God would enter time and space as it would disrupt the world’s structure. Origen, born in a Christian family, was outraged by Celsus’ writings and in A.D. 248 wrote a rebuttal in his book, Against Celsus for which he was eventually tortured and killed for by the Roman government.[6] Pioneering early Christian thought did not come without a price as several critical thinkers were either persecuted or martyred for their faith. These gifted thinkers lives were devoted to finding truth. Some of the instrumental early Church leaders include: Origen in the third century, Gregory of Nyssa in the fourth, Augustine in the fifth and Maximus the Cofessor in the seventh. [7] Each contributed to the betterment of Christian thinking today providing wisdom and influencing society.

Authority of the Church

A desire for authority and who would maintain power helped shape Church History.[8] Cyprian of Carthage said, “Whoever is separated from the Church and is joined to an adulterous (a schismatic church) is separated from the promises of the Church, nor will he that forsakes the Church of Christ attain to the rewords of Christ. He is an alien, a worldling, and an enemy. He cannot have God for his Father who has not the Church for his mother.”[9]  Statements like these were brought forth by leaders with the hope to subdue misguided people within the Christian faith; persuading them back to the Church. To attain the rewards of Christ, the believer was taught to also embrace the teachings of the Church, which gave “the Church” authority. Many good intentioned proclamations where set into place, but power also brought corruption from those who were not pure in heart.  

Critical to the history of the Church is belief in the authority and inerrancy of the Scripture.[10] Several key events took place during this time period in order to keep Church and Scriptural authority in check as well as stop heresies. The five Councils include: A.D. 325 Council of Nicaea, A.D.381 Council of Constantinople, A.D. 397 Council of Carthage, A.D. 431 Council of Ephesus and A.D. 451 Council of Chalcedon.[11]  Learning about these Councils and the desire for the Church Fathers to convey truth through careful deliberation shows diplomacy within the early Church.[12] Although, there was some division that took place between factions of the early Western and Easter Christian churches at the Council of Nicaea.[13]  The Jacobite and Nestorian in the East were part of the Christian Church, but they were not in agreement with the Orthodox Church regarding the nature of Jesus.

Nestorian, Monophysite, and Orthodox all shared a faith in the Trinity, the Incarnation, water baptism, adoration of the Cross, the holy Eucharist, and the two Testaments. They all believed in the resurrection of the dead, eternal life, the return of Christ in glory, and the last judgment.[14] These Eastern Christian followers in Asian and Africa actually outnumbered the Orthodox Church.  Even though the Orthodox Church was the minority in 451 they took authority at the Council of Chalcedon, and began to cleanse the Church of heresy.

Teachings of Early Church Fathers

Throughout time God has used willing men in power to shape the Church. These Fathers ought to be celebrated for their contribution. Men like Gregory I ‘The Great’, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine in the West and Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, and John Chrysostom in the East were considered the “Doctors of the Church.”[15] They have assisted with my faith in that their lives display the power of dividing accurately the Word of God in wisdom. They are an example for Christian’s today to seek diplomacy, yet not compromising the Scriptures (Hbr. 12:1, Ps 119:43, & Jer. 23:18). 

Ambrose was thought to be the greatest theologian of his time.[16]  Other Early Church Father’s where men like Athanasius, though persecuted changed history by taking a stand against Arianism.  And, Tertullian who lived A.D. 160 – 225 challenged Gnostic dualism, marcion, modalism and played a significant role in the establishment of orthodox formulation of the Trinity. These men were valiant champions of the faith and contributed to the development of the Church we appreciate today.  Shaping the Church by challenging controversial issues of the time and stopping heresies from growing is inspirational.  The Church has benefited from their sacrificial lives of faith, and therefore we can honor their memory by gleaning insight from historical writings and revelation they received.

Of all the Church Fathers, it is Augustine whom I identify with the most as he “believed that happiness was found in likeness to God, and, like Gregory of Nyssa, he knew that likeness to God did not mean becoming divine but cleaving to God and living in fellowship with God. As we draw near to God we are filled with his life and light and holiness.”[17]  I agree with Augustine and Ambrose that the starting point in the Christian life comes from the “love of God” (Rom.8:29 &Rom. 5:5).[18] “The virtues work through love, for the sake of love, and receive their grace and strength from love.”[19] We are to cleave to God who is love with love (John 4:8 & 4:16). 

Many Christian believers today may question the relevance of the history of “Early Christian Thought.” But, it is the work of these great, “Fathers of the faith,” who formed our dogmas which assisted in doctrinal development.  These scholars demonstrated their devotion to the Godhead and the mystery of Scripture by relating words and images that believers could grasp. It was these early Christian thinkers who challenged the public in the reality that the language of the Bible was in fact the language of Christian thought.[20]   Yet, the most effective Church leaders were those who held a middle position in Christendom.

With a critical stance, they continued to live in the cities and participated within society. Persecution diminished in intensity with the Edict of Milan in A.D. 313 with Constantine as leader in Rome and thus marked the beginning of legal Christendom. The first history of the Church was being established with great theological treatises being developed as well as significant spiritual works.[21]  The Church Fathers brought forth fundamental spiritual and biblical works that are life-giving to Christians today.[22]


The Lost History of Christianity

 In Jenkins book, The Lost History of Christianity he expresses that up into the fourteenth century Christianity has primarily been a tri-continental religion of Europe, Africa and Asia.[23] From 500 – 1500 it is important to note significant events that continued to shape the Church. I will not presume these are the only events, but those which are worthy of mentioning is the Benediction order established in 529 and in the Charlemagne’s rule in 800.[24]  Various assaults on the Charlemagne’s rule fragmented the Church as pagans and Muslim’s persecuted the Christian Church.[25] The Eastern Church was growing vigorously from 780 - 800 with Bishop Timothy as leading patriarch. The faithful in the Eastern Churches had to deal with unconventional thought, as well as theological speculation and mysticism. This was particularly interesting to me as persecution continued with both Eastern and Western Churches. The main objective for the Patriarchs seemed to be the teaching the truth of the Gospel using intellectual reason despite cultural and social influence. [26]

Learning that the Eastern Church actually played a role in the establishment of the Muslim church was frightening for me at first. Yet to understand Eastern mindset were being formed due to the freedoms of intellectual thought held my interest. [27]Jenkins declares “It was Christians-Nestorian, Jacobite, Orthodox, and others- who preserved and translated the cultural inheritance of the ancient world- the science, philosophy, and medicine-and who transmitted it to centers like Baghdad and Damascus. Much of what we call Arab scholarship was in reality Syria, Persian, and Coptic, and it was not necessarily Muslim.”[28]  Teachings of Plato, Aristotle, Neoplations, Hippocrates and Galen were brought to the East swaying the educational system of the time. According to Jenkins, there was a decline in Christendom in the West with growth in the East despite Islamic rule with leaders believing that Bagdad would be the epicenter of the Christian Church.[29]

 Through Timothy’s work the Golden Age of the Eastern Church had expanded to having twenty bishops by 650 covering the lands of the Terks and the Tibetans. It was Soghdian merchants, monks, and clergy who evangelized early Asia.  Not much was recorded regarding Christian advancement in China during these years, but it is believed that Christians were tolerated. While in India, it was reported, by Cosmas, that Christianity was flourishing as the and the Epistle translated to Syriac.[30]There was a victory for the Orthodox Church as it expanding to Russia in 987. In 1054 in which the Catholic Church decided to fully split in which was called the “Great Schism.”[31] Most of the European Christians were first and second generation while Asian Christians are twenty five to thirty generations deep. The Christian world has been influenced by the strength of leadership from Asia.[32]

Islam Influence on Christianity

 Much can be said on the influence of Islam on Christianity throughout history. Even today we see the Muslim faith expanding at alarming rates. Basically, what I have learned from Jenkins book is that today’s Christian Church better wake up to the real danger before us. If we take a serious look at history, we can see from the past, Muslims have tolerated Christians in their communities only later to annihilate them. “Like the Jews, Christians were allowed full religious liberty within the Islamic empire and most Spaniards were proud to belong to such an advanced culture, light years ahead of the rest of Europe…As was customary in the Muslim world, Jews, Christians and Muslims had coexisted there for centuries in relative harmony.”[33]

A short view of Islamic and Christian interaction through history shows that in the ninth century, Muslim activist al-Jahiz criticized Christians complaining that they were too rich and well respected for their business deals.  Jihad, a campaign held by Muslims against other faiths is responsible for millions of deaths over the centuries.[34] By 850, Islamic ruled territories, which once harbored many Christian followers, was over 40 percent Muslim and almost 100 percent by 1100. By the thirteen century there was further collapse of Byzantine power with both Muslim and Mongols assaults.[35] Noteworthy to history is during the Crusades the Christians attempted to hold a frontal assault on the Muslims, but it was the Mongol who held power over much of western Asia beginning in 1219. Mongols held power until 1303 when they were defeated by Egyptian Forces in Syria.[36] 

Thousands of Muslims died during Mongol rule only to rise again. But again, in the late thirteen hundreds Muslim warlord Timur began a campaign which made him khan over most of Asia. Destroying everything in his path Timur’s army slaughtered more than Hitler or Stalin.   Also, in Cairo over a third of the residents were killed by anti-Christian persecutors in 1354. It was not until 1683 that the Turks advances were reversed with a Christian victory at Vienna. Turks continued to rule from the fifteenth through the nineteenth century over Christian populations on European soil.[37]

Jenkin’s studies show that Islam currently commands loyalty of over a quarter of Southeastern Europe.[38]  “By 1900, 68 percent of the world’s Christians lived in Europe alone, besides a further 25 percent in the Americas.”[39]  Persecution from Muslim countries continues today as see in the Middle East. From 2003 – 2007 over two-thirds of Iraq’s Christians left their country to avoid Jihad. Jenkins boldly states, “Middle Eastern Christianity has, within living memory, all but disappeared as a living force.”[40]

Biases continue to grow today even with what seems to be tolerance in outward appearance.[41]  Learning of the devastation of the Christian Church and the influx of Islam influence throughout the globe causes me to contemplate the need for a “call to arms.” Christians should continue to unit and rally, without fear, taking a stand as missionaries, financial supporters, and prayer warriors while continuing to advance the Gospel (Mark 16:15) remembering the martyrs who gave their lives and the remnant who survived WESTERN CHURCH HISTORY.

For centuries Christian believers who heard the “Great Commission” took it seriously and converted people throughout the world leading them to Christ. The Catholic Church continued to grow in authority in the West.  Theology of the Reformers byTimothyGeorge provided great insight into the lives of sixteenth century reformers Luther, Zwinli, Calvin and Menno. The courage and integrity that these giants of the faith displayed was commendable. They modeled the importance for questioning authority and seeking truth at all costs. The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries was a time on flux and adversity with social unrest as great famine and pledges threatened the people.  The Catholic Church was busy trying to build new churches, selling indulgences, and petitioning the people to earn merits for their salvation.[42] Briefly we will look at each of these reformers lives.

Reformer Luther

Martin Luther was tormented by grief seeing people being exploited by the Catholic Church. In 1517, Luther nailed the 95 Theses of Contention to the Wittenberg Church door in Germany.[43] Luther, who would be exiled in the months following the Diet of Worms Council in 1521 refused to recant his claims.[44] Luther’s would continue to contribute to Church History by translating the New Testament into German for the first time publishing it in September of 1522. Later he also published a German Pentateuch in 1523, the German New Testament in 1529 and in the 1530’s he published the entire Bible in German. Luther revolted against the church because of his love for the church. He felt that the holy universal Christian church was one body and one communion of saints.[45]

I was deeply moved by Luther’s confession: “I did not learn my theology all at once, but I had to search deeper for it, where my temptation (Anfechtunget) took me….Not understanding, reading, or speculation but living, nay, rather dying and being damned make a theologian.”[46] It is the process of living for God and dying to self as spoken of in Galations 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

As Luther said temptation comes, but by the grace of God we have a way of escape (1 Cr. 10:13). If theology is the revelation of God, then it is through seeking God and relationship with God, thru the process of dying to our flesh that we form beliefs. Luther also felt that this took place through the process of repentance and baptism.[47] According to George, “Luther’s true legacy is his spiritual insight into the gracious character of God in Jesus Christ, the God who loves us and sustains us unto death, and again unto life.”[48]

Reformer Zwingli

Reformer Zwingli was born in the Swiss Alps in 1184. Like Luther he was a leading protagonists of the early Protestant Church.  Zwingli’s opinions regarding the Lords Supper (Eucharist) caused division between him and the Catholic Church in Rome. Luther and Zwingli did not agree completely either as Luther held a literal meaning of “is.”[49] But both men were pious and gentle; devout in their principles.[50]Zwingli urged his Church members to buy Luther’s books. It was in 1522 that Zwingli broke from his papal pension and resigned his office in Zurich.

Yet, it was not until 1525 that he had strong supporters and was known as a prophet in Zurich.[51]During his debates he always referred to Scripture. Though he was charged as heretic for his writings later he was publicly vindicated. “For Zwingli the Reformation essentially was a movement from idolatry to the service of the one, true God.”[52] He further taught on providence speaking of free will, predestination and merit. “He further claimed the providence is, so to speak, the “mother of predestination,” since with the elect God turns everything to good, even their evil deeds, but not so with those who are rejected.”[53] Zwinglian Reformation resulted in the first Protestant-Catholic war in the regain. Though he detested war, Zwingli died in the midst of a battle yielding a double-headed axe with his last words being, “You may kill the body but you cannot kill the soul.”[54]

Reformer John Calvin

 Second generation reformer John Calvin was born in Northern France in 1509 to Christian parents. By the early 1530’s he became a Protestant in a theology which had been established with two decades of controversy. Early on he felt that the papacy would disintegrate, but to his chagrin he saw further persecutions of those following the Protestant faith. Calvin never met Luther, yet he respected him as a father. Luther also praised some of Calvin’s early writings. One of Calvin’s great achievements was to logically and systematically define the insights of the Reformation and adapt them to a civic setting in Geneva.  This developed into a new theology which covered Poland, Hungary I the East to the Netherlands, Scotland, England (Puritanism), and ultimately to New England.[55]

 A shy man, Calvin suffered with stomach ailments and insomnia, which some said was punishment due to his heresy. As a reformer, Calvin can be surveyed into three sections: his preparation, his conversion, and his vocation. It is thought that Calvin’s “sudden conversion” took place sometime between 1527 to1534. He was bent on the knowledge that he had done nothing for his salvation saying, “I did nothing the Word did it all.”[56]  In 1536 he write institutes a small book that became an overnight bestseller later in 1559 it was revised into huge tome and treasury of Protestant dogma.  Not only was he a teacher, but a pastor, writer, and church statesman. He accomplished so much in his short lifetime of thirty-two years as a true ambassador of the Christian faith.[57]  Calvin succeeds in his life’s goal which was “to be a faithful servant of the Word of God.”[58]

Reformer Menno Simons

Lastly, we will look into the life of Menno Simons who was a second generational reformer like Calvin.  Yet, as a radical reformer in the Anabaptist branch he was considered even more controversial. Anabaptist opponents, including Calvin, in the sixteenth-century saw them as “fanatics,” “deluded,” “scatter-brains,” “asses,” “scoundrels,”  “mad dogs.”[59]  Roland H. Bainton refuted these claims in stating, “Let it now be said that the worth of (the Anabaptists’) endeavor in not to be judged in light of their contribution to history.

They took their stand in the light of eternity regardless of what might or might not happen in history.”[60] There will always be those who judge harshly men and women who challenge the status quo for the greater good which is to please their Father in heaven.  They indeed are examples by their martyrdom, persecution, and heroism, impacting history, yet not for the purpose of celebrity status, but because of their conviction.[61]

Born in Witmarsum in 1496, Menno Simons was the son of a dairy farmer who became a Catholic priest in 1524. Like reformers Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli the Eucharist played an important role in Menno Simons decision to leave the priesthood. The other issue that he questioned was that of infant baptism holding a stand of total submersion. Menno actually appreciated the writings of Luther, yet followed closer to the teaching of Zwingli on Sacraments.[62]  It was not until 1536 that he broke away from the Catholic Church because of his convictions.  Much of Menno’s teaching was with regards to the favor and grace of God. He felt true Christian believers must have faith with repentance. This repentance was to show a concrete change in the person as they were born again; renewed, and reformed.

Followers of the faith were to walk sanctified, purified with the evidence of fruitfulness in their lives. He struggled with some of the Luther’s teachings feeling that the version of justification presented did not show God’s goodness.[63] Menno’s teaching so stirred the ruling authorities that in 1542 Emperor Charles V put an edict against him offering one hundred gold guilders for his arrest. Despite the fact that he was continually hunted, he continued to write vigorously and evangelize. At age sixty-six, Menno died of natural causes on the twenty- fifth anniversary of his renunciation to the Catholic Church.[64]

Relevance Regarding Reformers

Despite their differences, each of these reformers made a mark on our theology today. Their contributions echo the significant truth of the sovereignty and grace of God for humankind’s salvation.  Luther, Zwingly, Calvin, and Simon each looked to Scripture to find their answers to the difficult questions. They did not rely merely on the man’s word of those who were in power, but looked to the ultimate auditory within the Holy Scriptures. “Menno’s favorite text (1 Cor. 3:11) could serve as the basic theme for each of them: The revelation of God in Jesus Christ is the only foundation, the only compelling and exclusive criterion, for the Christian life and Christian theology.”[65]  Learning about these reformers has made a powerful imprint on my soul and spirit. Next, I briefly discuss our final course textbook, The Fourth Great Awakening by Robert William Fogel, and class teachings as they pertain to Chruch History following the great Reformers of the sixteenth century.



Robert William Fogel is a Nobel Prize winner in Economics who shares in his introduction to The Fourth Great Awakening that the American and European Church play a role, thou very different, in promoting popular democracy, social, and political reform. With the American Churches being independent from state: the European Churches conformed to governing systems or gathered popular support to change laws. Similar to what we learned from the reformers, the evangelical churches desire Christian’s to have personal responsibility in the study and interpretation of Scripture.[66]  Fogel teaches that there are Four Great Awakenings, (thou overlapping) each last approximately one hundred years. Each is relevant to our study as economic, cultural, technological, religious, political issues shapes society through intertwining events and mindsets thus influence the Church past and present.[67]

First Great Awakening (1730-1830)

Prior to the First Great Awakening, the King James Version of the Bible was published in English in 1611.[68] Religious Revival began with a weakening stance on the teaching of predestination. There was great hardship and poverty in America with people needing clean drinking water, sanitation, housing and public health. Churches began to develop organizations to assist with these issues. Politically there was an attack on British corruption which brought forth the American Revolution in 1776. From 1790-1820 there was a split of revolutionary coalition.[69]  

In the early 1800’s there were concerns labor disputes for children and woman in the six major cities especially New Year and Philadelphia which held the majority of the population.[70]  America was growing with congress establishing a corps of engineers as well as major Universities like Yale, West Point and Harvard Medical School to name a few.[71]

 Desire for religious freedom and a better life brought people to American as Europe was dealing with issues of famine, and hardship caused by grain shortage. Transportation cost decreased so more people were able to travel abroad. During James I and Charles I grain was sold at the market at reduced prices, yet there was continued unrest and rioting.[72]  Programs were established to assist those in need. Also Private Christian benevolence organizations through groups like the Quakers began to spring up throughout the country and contributed to stabilizing American society which led us into the Second Great Awakening.[73]

Second Great Awakening (1800-1920)

Fogel believes, “much of the ideological foundation for modern egalitarianism was laid during the Second Great Awakening, when holiness and virtue were equated with disinterested benevolence.”[74] Christian ethics and doctrine brought much needed social reform. The Methodist Church in America influenced by Wesley’s theology grew to over 1.25 million members by 1850. The Baptist missionaries from the First Great Awakening were also crucial in evangelizing the Southern frontier through rigorous revival meetings. Charles Finney, is one of the most famous charismatic revivalists during the Second Great Awakening.

Like reformer Menno, he taught salvation requires change in the person; sin was selfish, holiness was a virtue should therefore lead to benevolence.  Morse, a Calvinist, also started a movement to protect the American Indians for white exploitation.[75] The Northern states had a literacy rate of over 90 percent by 1840 which was largely due to the Puritan tradition that all members of the family should learn to read the Bible.

 Women’s rights and temperance movements began as remarkable women like Mott, Anthony, Stanton, and Lydia Marie Child rose up to have a voice discussing social and political issues of the day. Garrison at the same time, linked with female leaders, protested slavery and rallied for the black vote. Slavery is abolished at the end of the Civil War in 1865.The average consumption rate of alcohol fell by 50 percent.  The substantial workforce of woman during World War I encouraged public support towards women’s right to vote - victory finally came as the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution passed in 1920. Many of the social and political changes were successful because people’s hearts were changed as Christian leaders like Billy Sunday, A.B. Simpson, and Moody emerged to speak on righteousness and holiness.[76]

Other noteworthy events included 1854 (Pope Pius IX) declares as dogma: which stated that Mary was born without sin (Immaculate Conception), 1870 (Pope Pius IX) declares as dogma: Papal Infallibility. Also, Darwin’s book Origin of Species was published in1859 which had an adverse affect of society as we will see in the Third Great Awakening.[77]

Third Great Awakening (1890-?)

 It was in the midst of the Third Great Awakening that perceptions changed from looking at individuals regarding their sin to blaming society’s failure. There were also shifts in secular interpretation of the Bible and creed. America had to deal with social and economic issues brought on during the Great Depression (1929-1940) and World War II (1939-1945). In 1925 the Monkey Trial took place which brought forth the teaching of Darwin in the public schools. Darwin’s theories described nature as amoral and purposeless caused ethical change and a millennial shift in the nation. Building God’s Kingdom on earth was no longer the primary goal. Groups distrusted the authority of Scripture and teachings like Spinoza who spouting, “read the Bible like any other book” took root as accepted thought by modernists.[78]

Reformers declared big business corrupt, identifying it as the principal problem of urban issues therefore social reform and welfare programs were established.[79]Fundamentalists, modernist or liberals were in the winning camp as the primary reformers during this rough century applying evolutionary theory to biblical thought.  No longer was the emphasis on divine revelation, but that of scientific revelation which was embraced fully by educator in Universities and taught to students.[80]  While at the close of the Third Great Awakening we see the Civil Rights Acts of1964 and 1966, and feminist movements like The National Organization for Women (NOW) activated.[81]

Yet, in the midst of spiritual decay within the political state in America an element of truth began to emerge and in 1947 the National Association of Evangelicals was established. The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1946 – 1947, and Billy Graham had his first in 1949 in California which helped to usher in the events of the Forth Great Awakening.[82]

Forth Great Awakening (1960-?)

The Fourth Great Awakening according to Fogel, brings “new technological revolution, a cultural crisis precipitated by technologically induced change in the structure of the economy, and two powerful social and political movements confronting each other across an ideological and ethical chasm, threatening to undermine the great egalitarian reforms of the twentieth century.”[83] With the greatest move of this century is witnessed by a return of to God: a new religious revival has emerged as people are seeking truth through a personal relationship with God. Getting back to the Bible, Christians see the need for self-purification thus taking ownership for personal sin and realizing their need for a savior.[84]  

The charismatic movement began to grow rapidly from the mid 1960’s. Mainline Protestant churches decreased over twenty-five percent while non fundamentalist or evangelical churches doubled. Over thirty million born again believers were leashed on America from largely Protestant, than Catholic and Mormon faiths. The Catholic Church held Vatican I in 1960 and Vatican II in 1962 along with other presidents the council agreed to allow vernacular language to be used in the services.[85]

Current religious leaders are responding to the social, economic, and political concerns building formative programs and organization to support the needs of the people. According to Fogel the next generation will be materially richer, eating healthier, living longer, having more disposable income, lower crime and corruption, and more leisure time with less environmental risks, yet spiritual struggles will be more complex. Intellectual conversations will be over spiritual issues and ethics will continue to be at center of discussion. [86]

 I celebrate the shift in the Fourth Great Awakening towards God. My own life has been touched greatly because of the evangelical movement. However, I see a growth in moral failure, ethical controversy, and social unrest. Environmental issues are at the forefront as people’s hearts are greatly concerned with Global natural disasters and political unrest. Inadequate clean drinking water in most of the world, raised fuel prices, a plummeting stock market and housing market continue to be a concern for the American populous. There is fearfulness in believers who desire to trust God. Many see this world economy collapsing.  

As a hopeful Minister of the Gospel, I believe that we are in God’s economy. Therefore, my advice to all who will listen comes from Proverbs 3:5-9, Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones. Honor the LORD from your wealth And from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty And your vats will overflow with new wine.


The revelation of God’s hand guiding people’s hearts throughout time to form His Church has clearly moved me to a deeper walk with Him desiring to search more for my interest has been heightened. As discussed in this paper, the wells of knowledge to be gained through those who journeyed before brings greater depth to my soul.  This intricate tapestry plays a role in the shape of this World as events and saints continue to do their part as the future unfolds. It is my hope that I will never have a sense of entitlement. Because of this coursework, I can honestly say that I am much more aware of the price that was paid for the freedom to which I am so blessed to be part of.

 The study of Church History has not only given me great insight and value for Christian historical warriors, but it has encouraged me to stay the course, no matter the challenge. Hoping to be counted as a voice among them, perhaps not known in the history books, but indeed known by God and those whom I am privileged to serve. Yes, I too will do my part to advance the Kingdom of God here on Earth not for the food which perishes, “but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to (me) you, for on Him the Father, God has set His seal” (John 6:27).


Cyprian of Carthage. “The Unity of the Catholic Church 6,” A.D 251.

Fogel, Robert. The fourth great awakening & the future of egalitarianism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

George, Timothy. Theology of the reformers. Nashville  Tenn.: Broadman Press, 1988.

Gonzalez, Justo. Church History: An Essential Guide. Abingdom Press, 1996.

II, Pope John Paul. “FIDES ET RATIO (Faith and Reason),” October 14, 1998. (accessed February 2, 2011).

Jenkins, Philip. Lost history of christianity : the thousand-year golden age of the church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia--and how it died. 1st ed. New York  NY: Harper One, 2008.

Mount, Tom. “Events in Church History Lecture,” A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary - Redding, CA, February 10, 2011.

Sumner. Sarah. “Events in Church History Lecture,” A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary - Redding, CA, February 7, 2011.

Wilken, Robert. The spirit of early Christian thought seeking the face of God. New Haven :: Yale University Press,, 2003. 

     [1] Pope John Paul II, “FIDES ET RATIO (Faith and Reason),” October 14, 1998, 19, (accessed February 2, 2011).

     [2] Sumner. Sarah, “Events in Church History Lecture” (A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary - Redding, CA, February 7, 2011), Session One.

     [3] Ibid., session one.

     [4] Robert Wilken, The spirit of early Christian thought seeking the face of God(New Haven :: Yale University Press,, 2003), 8.

     [8] Sumner. Sarah, “Events in Church History Lecture.”

    [9] Cyprian of Carthage, “The Unity of the Catholic Church 6,” A.D 251.

    [10] Sumner. Sarah, “Events in Church History Lecture.”

     [11] Sumner. Sarah, “Events in Church History Lecture.”

     [12] Tom Mount, “Events in Church History Lecture” (A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary - Redding, CA, February 10, 2011), Session 8.

     [13] Philip Jenkins, Lost history of Christianity : the thousand-year golden age of the church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia--and how it died, 1st ed. (New York  NY: Harper One, 2008), ix.

     [15] Mount, “Events in Church History Lecture,” Lession 8.

     [16] Mount, “Events in Church History Lecture.”

     [17] Wilken, The spirit of early Christian thought seeking the face of God, 286.

     [21] Justo Gonzalez, Church History: An Essential Guide (Abingdom Press, 1996), 36.

     [22] Wilken, The spirit of early Christian thought seeking the face of God, 321.

     [23] Jenkins, Lost history of christianity, 3.

     [24] Sumner. Sarah, “Events in Church History Lecture.”

     [25] Jenkins, Lost history of christianity, 18.

     [27] Sumner. Sarah, “Events in Church History Lecture,” Session Nine.

     [28] Jenkins, Lost history of christianity, 19.

     [29] Ibid., 16-20.

     [31] Sumner. Sarah, “Events in Church History Lecture,” Session 1.

     [32] Jenkins, Lost history of christianity, 70.

     [42] Timothy George, Theology of the reformers (Nashville  Tenn.: Broadman Press, 1988), 16-23.

     [43] Sumner. Sarah, “Events in Church History Lecture.”

     [44] George, Theology of the reformers, 58.

          [47] Ibid., 95.

          [48] Ibid., 106.

     [66] Robert Fogel, The fourth great awakening & the future of egalitarianism(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 7.

     [68] Sumner. Sarah, “Events in Church History Lecture.”

     [69] Fogel, The fourth great awakening & the future of egalitarianism, 28.

[76] Sumner. Sarah, “Events in Church History Lecture.”

[77] Ibid., Session Five.

[78] Sumner. Sarah, “Events in Church History Lecture.”

[79] Fogel, The fourth great awakening & the future of egalitarianism, 103-104.

[82] Sumner. Sarah, “Events in Church History Lecture.”

[83] Fogel, The fourth great awakening & the future of egalitarianism, 15.

[85] Sumner. Sarah, “Events in Church History Lecture.”

          [86] Ibid., 242.


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