28 October 2011

A Timeline of Church History: Tracing the birth and continuity of the Christian Church from Pentecost to the present.

A word about Church History...

Scholars estimate there are over 33,000 groups today who lay claim to be the Church, or at least descendants of the Church described in the New Testament. Repeat: OVER 33,000!

But for the first thousand years of her history the Church was essentially one. Five historic patriarchal centers—Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople — formed a cohesive whole and were in full communion with one another. There were occasional heretical or schismatic groups going their own way, to be sure, but the Church was unified until after the eleventh century. Then, in events culminating in A.D. 1054, the Roman Patriarch (The Pope of Rome) pulled away from the other four patriarchates, pursuing his long-developing claim of universal headship of the Church.

Today, nearly a thousand years later, the other four Patriarchate remain intact, in full communion, maintaining that Orthodox Apostolic Faith of the inspired New Testament record. The history of the New Testament Church, The Orthodox Church, is described herein, from Pentecost to the present day.

New Testament Era
  • 33 - Pentecost
  • 49 - Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15) establishes precedent for addressing Church disputes in Council. Iakovos/James presides as bishop of Jerusalem.
  • 69 - Bishop Ignatius consecrated in Antioch in heart of New Testament era—St. Peter had been the first bishop there. Other early bishops include Iakovos/James, Polycarp, and Clement.
  • 95 - Book of Revelation written, probably the last of the New Testament books.
  • 150 - St. Justin Martyr describes the liturgical worship of the Church, centered in the Eucharist. Liturgical worship is rooted in both the Old and New Testaments.
  • 313 - The Edict of Milan marks an end to the period of Roman persecution of Christianity.
Seven Ecumenical Councils
  • 325 - The Council of Nicea settles the major heretical challenge to the Christian Faith posed when the heretic Arius asserts Christ was created by the Father. St. Athanasius defends the eternality of the Son of God. Nicea is the first of Seven Ecumenical (Church-wide) Councils.
  • 397 - Synod of Carthage ratifies biblical canon.
  • 451  - The Council of Chalcedon affirms apostolic doctrine of two natures in Christ.
  • 589 - A local errant synod in Toledo, Spain, adds the filioque to the Nicene Creed (asserting that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son). This error is later adopted by Rome.
  • 787 - The era of Ecumenical Councils ends at Nicea; the Seventh Council restores the centuries-old use of icons to the Church.
The Western Schism
  • 880 - The Photian Schism further complicates the debate over Roman heresies.
  • 988 - Conversion of Rus' (Russian) begins.
  • 1054 - The Great Schism occurs. Two major issues include Rome's claim to a universal papal supremacy and her addition of the filioque clause to the Nicene Creed.
Attacks on Orthodoxy and Byzantium
  • 1066 - Norman conquest of Britain. Orthodox hierarchs are replaced with those loyal to Rome.
  • 1095 - The Crusades begun by the Roman Church.
  • 1204 - The Sack of Constantinople adds to the estrangement between East and West.
  • 1333 - St. Gregory Palamas defends the Orthodox practice of hesychast spirituality and the use of the Jesus Prayer.
  • 1453 - Turks overrun Constantinople; Byzantine Empire ends. Christianity's greatest church turned into a mosque.
The Western Schism Multiplies While the Orthodox Church Strengthens
  • 1517 - A Roman monk, Martin Luther, nails his 95 Theses to the door of the Roman Church in Wittenberg, starting the Protestant Reformation.
  • 1529 - The Church of England begins pulling away from Rome.
  • 1589 - Russian Church made a Patriarchate as Moscow is named the Third Rome.
  • 1782 - First publishing of the The Philokalia, a classic of spirituality.
  • 1794 - Missionaries arrive on Kodiak Island in Alaska; Orthodoxy introduced to North America.
  • 1854 - The Immaculate Conception becomes Roman dogma.
  • 1870 - Papal infaliability becomes Roman dogma.
  • 1871 - St. Nicholas establishes the Japanese Mission.
  • 1988 - One thousand years of Orthodoxy in Russia, as Orthodox Church worldwide maintains fullness of the Apostolic Faith. (Not even the Roman Church has been independent that long, not to mention that the oldest Protestant churches are not even 500 years old!)
  • 1995 - Orthodoxy is the fastest growing Church in America as Americans start to study Church history.
Click on the images above to enlarge and uncover the truth about the true Church timeline.


  1. Excellent overview Nik. Thank you for taking the time to put this together. So many of us are in need of delving into our rich Church history so we may, through reason, differentiate between dogma and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Your brother in Christ, Packer fan, evangelical, retired high school history teacher, politically liberal,

  2. John, please forgive my late reply. I thought I replied, but apparently not. I am glad you enjoyed the post and nice to make your acquaintance.

  3. Nik, thanks for sharing this. One other spot I would have added to this would have been the Norman-English invasion of Ireland,

    The Irish had been so instrumental in spreading Orthodox Faith through (Scotland) south, had re-converted N. Europe from Arianism,and had established monasteries as far south as Bobbio, Italy, which monastery catalysed St. Francis of Assisi's quest for true Orthodox faith not long after.

  4. Great summary! The only thing else I'd be interested seeing in the chart is the Oriental Orthodox and their schism. Or, are they included in the broader "Orthodox" timeline?

  5. Good Point, +Patrick This was mostly made for a Western audience, so I did not include the Monophysites or Nestorians to not water down the issue from Western eyes.

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