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Church History Timeline/Christian History Timeline and more

Not just a timeline or chronology, but instructions on how Christianity developed

Learn at your own pace and in your own time

Timeline links:

AD 30-99















1500s: Europe

American Church History:





1900s and Beyond


Click on any of the centuries to the left and enjoy learning about Church History. 



AD 30-99 

  • The Age of the Apostles:  by the end of the First Century they were all gone but one.

  • New Testament books were written:  plus other books purported to be from or about apostles but weren't.

  • Christianity moves from being centered in Jerusalem to scattered from Spain to India to Ethiopia.

  • Only the Jews persecuted the Christians at the beginning, by the end this switched to the Romans.

  • Demographic of Christianity:  mainly Jews at the beginning, mainly Gentiles at the end.

  • The first Christian heresies appear:  Gnosticism and Docetism.


  • Roman persecutions of the Christians occurred, yet were sporadic.

  • The Age of the Apostles is over and the Apostolic Fathers lead Christianity up to the middle of the century. 

  • The Apostolic Fathers are replaced by the Apologists, church leaders who defended Christianity in writing against literary attacks.

  • Gnosticism and Docetism  became the main heresies with which Christianity had to contend.

  • Marcion caused a stir by developing his own Scripture; this caused early church leaders to begin developing the correct Christian Scripture.

  • Canon [Scripture], Creed, Clergy:  Christians developed these three ideas over the next 300 years; this brought about an institutionalization of Christianity, which defended the faith and promoted and protected the growth and development of Christianity.


  • Persecutions continued and even intensified.

  • By this time, Christianity has developed into one institution, outside of which "no salvation is found."


  • At the beginning:  Persecutions end and Christianity is legalized.

  • At the end:  Christianity is the official religion of the Roman Empire.

  • The first two major Councils, Nicaea and Constantinople, are convened.

  • The 27 books of the New Testament are accepted and the canon (Scripture) is closed.

  • By the end of this century, the Canon, Creed, and Clergy of Christianity has been established.


  • Rome was conquered and sacked not once but twice:  in 410 and 455.

  • Jerome completed the Vulgate, the standard Bible until the 1500s.

  • The beginnings of the split between the Western and Eastern Churches emerged.

  • The Dark Ages begins in this century and lasted until the Eleventh Century, when the Middle Ages began.


  • Monasticism began to grow in Europe.

  • Southern Europe became stable under the rule of Justinian I in mid-century, then experienced chaos in the latter part of the century, then stability under Gregory I.


  • This century was quiet for Western Christianity.  The popes following Gregory I were not as able, but no major problems arose. 


  • Islam swept across North Africa in the last decade of the 600s and then started moving up into Europe in this century.  The Muslims were defeated at the Battle of Tours by Charlemagne's grandfather, Charles Martel.

  • Western Christianity remained a small part of Europe until the rise of Charlemagne in the latter part of the century.


  • The century began with a high point:  Charlemagne ruled much of Europe, brought Christianity to new areas, and instituted the Carolingian Renaissance.

  • At the end of the century the papacy began to experience difficulties which will continue into the next century.   


  • This century witnessed two extremes:  the low point in the papacy at the beginning and middle and a subsequent rise of the spiritual authority of the monastery at Cluny at the end. 


  • Christianity split into the Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Catholic) Churches in 1054. 

  • The Investiture Controversy caused a pope to excommunicate an emperor in 1076.

  • The Crusades began in 1095. 


  • The Second and Third Crusades took place.

  • The Cistercian Order will become prominent in Europe.  By the end of the century 500 monasteries will connected to the Cistercian Order.

  • Scholasticism developed.


  • The Fourth through Eighth Crusades took place; the Europeans were forced out of the Holy Land.

  • The Franciscans and Dominicans were formed.

  • The High Middle Ages began.


  • The Renaissance began.

  • The Babylonian Captivity occurred (when the popes lived in Avignon on the border of France for app. 70 years).

  • The Western Schism occurred (when the Catholic Church had two popes).


  • 2 then 3 then 1 popes

  • John Huss executed & John Wycliffe's body dug up and burned on orders of the Council of Constance (which reduced the number of popes from 3 to 1).

  • The Printing Press (moveable type printing) was created by John Gutenberg. 


  • At the beginning of the century, Europe has one Christian group:  Catholics.  At the end of the century, Europe has at least five:  Catholic, Lutheran, Anabaptist, Reformed (Calvinist), and Anglican (Church of England)

American 1500s

  • The development of New Spain:  Spanish Catholic conquistadors explore and attempt to colonize small parts of eastern present-day USA as well as portions of western present-day USA.  Catholic missionaries (mostly Franciscans and Dominicans) usually accompany them. 

  • The development of New France:  French explorers began exploring eastern present-day Canada and parts of eastern present-day USA.  The exploration included many Jesuits.  This area would not further develop until the next century

American 1600s

  • The English move into and settle the American colonies.  Some were settled for religious reasons, others are not.

  • New Spain and New France were further developed.

American 1700s

  • The First Great Awakening occurred (1730s & 1740s); Evangelicalism begins.

  • Methodism begins in the USA.

  • The American Revolution occurred.

American 1800s

  • The Baptists and Methodists experienced tremendous growth due to the Second Great Awakening

  • Black slaves were freed at the end of the Civil War and began to form their own denominations.

  • Innovations in the areas of science, sociology, archaeology, etc. will produce a great challenge to Christianity.

  • At the beginning of the century, Congregationalists and Presbyterians dominate the religious make-up of the USA; at the end Methodists, Baptists, and Catholics will dominate.

American 1900s & Beyond

  • The most prominent feature of this century was the dizzying variety of different ways to practice, teach, and communicate Christianity.  These result from inventions such as the automobile, the airplane, radio, television, movies, the telephone, and the internet.  Therefore, this century's timeline only represents a tiny minority of the vast number of directions which American Christianity took in the 1900s.


Purpose of website:  I have realized in teaching church history since 1994 that a lot of people enjoy learning about church history, but do not know how to go about it in an organized, systematic way.  So interested people read bits and pieces from throughout the history of Christianity but do not know how to tie it together in one long seamless story.  This website will (hopefully!) do that for you.  And perhaps you will be as thrilled reading about Church History as I am in studying and preparing this website.  And always feel free to email me. 

About Mark:  Mark received his Ph.D. in Church History in 1999 and has taught church history classes at eleven different schools (Bible colleges, universities, and seminaries)

Contact Mark at 


2012  Mark Nickens