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HISTORY of Christian Theology

1 – Polytheism  (pending)

  • Hinduism & Buddhism
  • Egyptian
  • Greco-Roman Paganism
  • Middle Eastern Paganism
  • Zoroastrianism

2 – Christianity’s Jewish Roots  (pending)

In order to understand Christianity, it is essential to grasp the importance of the following concepts and history to the Jewish community at the time of Christ’s birth:
  • Monotheism
  • God’s Covenant with his chosen People
  • King David and the Temple in Jerusalem
  • The Babylonian Captivity and Return to Jerusalem

3 – The Greco-Roman World

Judaism gave birth to Christianity in a Greco-Roman world where Christianity’s Jewish roots merged with the Roman imperial culture and Greek philosophical ideas to mold Christianity into the institution it became in the early Church and through the Middle-Ages. . . . more

4 – A World in Conflict  (pending)

Jesus was born into a Jewish world swirling with conflict from the tensions created by:
  • The Greek Occupation and the Maccabean Revolt
  • The Diaspora and the Rise of Rabbinical Judaism
  • The Pharisee, Sadducee, and Essene sects, and
  • Roman oppression

 5 – The Messiah  (pending)

The Son of God was born and lived in Judah where he quietly changed the world. Through his life, death and resurrection, Jesus established his divine role as the Savior of the World. He:
  • Proclaimed his divinity and performed miracles
  • Taught a gospel of faith, hope and love
  • Organized a movement
  • Was crucified and rose from the dead
  • Charged his disciples to teach all nations

6 – The Apostolic Period – Growth and Transformation  (pending)

During the Apostolic Period Christianity was transformed from a small localized Jewish cult into a rapidly growing multi-cultural religion sustaining pressures from outside persecution and internal conflict due largely to the following factors:
  • Jewish persecution
  • Paul’s mission to the gentiles
  • Paul’s epistles
  • Judaizers
  • Rise of the Greek Gnostic influence
  • The written Gospels and epistles from other Church leaders
  • Roman persecution

 7 – Gnosticism and Other Heresies   (pending)

As the number of gentile converts began to outstrip the number of Jewish members, the influence of Neo-Platonist and other heretical ideas infiltrated the Church giving birth to a number of popular heresies, including:
  • Docetism
  • Adoptionism
  • Gnosticism
  • Marcionism
  • Montanism
  • Neo-Platonism
  • Manichaeism

8 – Roman Persecution ― Martyrdom  (pending)

As the movement grew, Christian’s refusal to pay homage to Caesar’s divinity drew the ire of Roman emperors who unleashed waves of intense persecution for nearly two hundred and fifty years. However, instead of hampering the growth of Christianity, often the blood of the martyrs seemed to fertilize the seeds faith sown by the testimony of its believers including the following Apostolic Fathers:
  • Ignatius of Antioch
  • Polycarp
  • Clement of Rome

 9 – Apologists & Internal Debate  (pending)

This period of persecution and internal divisions inspired apologetic and theological writing from several Christian intellectuals including:
  • Justin Martyrs
  • Irenaeus
  • Origin
  • Tertullian
  • Cyprian
  • Historians

10 – Early Developments in Church Structure & Practices  (pending)

The rapid growth of Christianity strained its fractured leadership organization resulting in various developments in its structure and practices, including:
  • Method of selecting priests and bishops
  • Geographical hierarchical units
  • The Easter Controversy
  • Baptism of infants and by sprinkling
  • Pageantry incorporated

11 – Constantine  (pending)

The Emperor Constantine’s adoption of Christianity as the state religion ushered in the greatest changes to the Church that had occurred since the death of the Apostles. This dynamic period changed the course of history, so it is essential to study what happened in order to fully understand our world today, including a review of the following issues:
  • Constantine’s Conversion Story
  • From Outlawed to Favored Status – Material Benefits
  • Conversion for convenience
  • Radical shift in internal attitudes
  • More organizational and ceremonial developments

12 – Early Monasticism  (pending)

Little did the hermit, Anthony, imagine that he would inspire arguably the greatest influence on Christian Theology since the Apostles.
  • Inspired by pilgrimages to Greek oracles and
  • In a reaction to the less arduous Christian life after Constantine
  • Many devote Christians sought unity with the divine by withdrawing from society through monastic living.
  • They became the foot soldiers of orthodoxy who even defeated the Roman Army at Alexandria.
  • The monastic system that they established became the source of the majority of subsequent popes, scholasticism and the advent of universities.

13 – The Donatist Controversy  (pending)

A local dispute regarding a congregation’s rejection of a new bishop because he had not been faithful during a period of persecution led to a Churchwide pivotal controversy regarding:
  • Worthiness and Authority
  • The validity of ordinances
  • Local autonomy verses the pre-eminence of the Bishop of Rome
  • Councils
  • Ties between the Church and State

14 – The Nicene Creed

The Nicene Creed, which grew out of the Arian controversy, replaced the dominate Logos-centered Christian theology which placed Jesus as an intermediary between humans and God and subordinated the Son to the Father. . . . more

15 – The Incarnation Controversy  (pending)

16 – Councils, Emperors and the Rise of the Roman Papacy  (pending)

17 – The Bible  (pending)

18 – Augustine  (pending)

19 – The Incomprehensible God and the Supernatural  (pending)

20 – Original Sin, Grace, Predestination, and the Pelagian Controversy  (pending)

21 – Spread of Christianity beyond Imperial Borders  (pending)

22 – Islam  (pending)

23 – Eastern Orthodox Church and the Iconoclasm Controversy  (pending)

24 – Popes and the Holy Roman Empire  (pending)

25 – The Great Divorce  (pending)

26 – The Seven Sacraments  (pending)

27 – Life and Piety in the Middle-Ages (Mass, change to confession, three estates, etc.)  (pending)

28 – Monastic Reforms, Mendicant orders and Church Organization in the Middle-ages  (pending)

29 – Thomas Aquinas and Scholastic Theology  (pending)

30 – Anselm and Substitutionary Atonement  (pending)

31 – Abelard and the Moral Influence Theory of the Atonement  (pending)

32 – Other theories regarding Christ’s Atonement  (pending)

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Preliminary Overview

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Period II – The Reformation

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