A Very Short History of the Church

This will be a very, very short and, hopefully, concise as possible history of the Christian Church. John 3:16 is sometimes considered the capsule form of the Gospel Message. Effectively, this one statement of Jesus to His friend Nicodemus simply speaks to the manner in which anyone can become a Follower of Jesus Christ. Speaking to the history of the Church Universal there is not one statement that could encapsulate that point and I know that in no manner of writing can I achieve A Very Short History of the Church. That is simply NOT possible and I will not and cannot achieve even a short outline of the same. So, here I begin.

I will begin with the Catholic Church because they claim their beginnings with Jesus Christ and specifically with Peter as being the very first Pope. “For the first 280 years of Christian history, Christianity was banned by the Roman Empire, and Christians were terribly persecuted. This changed after the “conversion” of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Constantine provided religious toleration with the Edict of Milan in AD 313, effectively lifting the ban on Christianity. Later, in AD 325, Constantine called the Council of Nicea in an attempt to unify Christianity. Constantine envisioned Christianity as a religion that could unite the Roman Empire, which at that time was beginning to fragment and divide. While this may have seemed to be a positive development for the Christian church, the results were anything but positive. Just as Constantine refused to fully embrace the Christian faith but continued many of his pagan beliefs and practices, so the Christian church that Constantine and his successors promoted progressively became a mixture of true Christianity and Roman paganism.” Please follow this address for the context of this quotation: https://www.gotquestions.org/origin-Catholic-church.html

Personally, I am a Southern Baptist, but the SBC is NOT “THE Church.” Primarily, I am a Baptist NOT because I was born into a Baptist family. I became a Southern Baptist because I became a member of the First Baptist Church of Lubbock, Texas only after I became a baptized Believer in Jesus Christ. I did not become a member of said local church because I professed my faith in Jesus Christ and followed Him in baptism. I first was a member of the Body of Christ as a Christian and then became a member of the FBC of Lubbock when that body voted to accept me as a member. With that the following quote makes sense to me, “The term Christian Church when used as a proper noun usually refers to the whole Christian religious tradition throughout history. When used in this way the term does not refer to a particular “Christian church”. However, some Christian groups do not accept this definition instead considering only their own churches to be the one true church. Although some Christians identify the Christian Church with a visible structure, others understand it as an invisible reality not identified with any earthly structure, and others equate it with particular groups that share certain essential elements of doctrine and practice, though divided on other points of doctrine and government. The Greek term ἐκκλησία, which is transliterated as “ecclesia”, generally meant an “assembly”, but in most English translations of the New Testament is usually translated as “church”. This term appears in two verses of the Gospel of Matthew, twenty-four verses of the Acts of the Apostles, fifty-eight verses of the Pauline Epistles, two verses of the Letter to the Hebrews, one verse of the Epistle of James, three verses of the Third Epistle of John, and nineteen verses of the Book of Revelation. In total, ἐκκλησία appears in the New Testament text 114 times, although not every instance is a technical reference to the church.” https://www.definitions.net/definition/christian+church.

Personally, I am acquainted with many, many people whose religious backgrounds I somewhat understand and others I do not. And there some folks with whom I am friends and others that I am only acquainted with whose religious backgrounds are questionable to me. My guess is that most of these do not agree with the another, and that is the reason the other exists. Not all Baptists agree with one another on some things and I suppose not all Catholics agree, either. However, the same historical forces have formed the Body of Christ in principle and not necessarily in particular understanding of practice.

There are some basic principles that every denomination or faith group will agree upon and there are only some: 1. The virgin birth of Jesus Christ. 2. The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. 3. The burial of Jesus Christ. 4. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ. 5. The Coming of the Holy Spirit. From these 5 principles and facts the many, many faith groups may or may not agree. 

Like I said, this would be brief and not nearly complete. In fact, my guess is that many will have their own thoughts and concerns about the history of the Church. But I hope that everyone will agree upon this: Jesus Christ is Lord.

About Bob Williford

Conservative Southern Baptist pastor, missionary, and personal evangelist. An avid supporter of Texas Tech Athletics. Enjoy oil painting, writing and woodworking. My wife, children, and grandchildren are my joy. Reading and writing are great for relaxing......
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