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History of Christianity - a 'New View'

Introduction: How we think about history of Christianity

Many histories of Christianity written by Christians focus on how the faith and theology developed, and what Christians did. Those written by humanists tend to focus on the social aspect, historical power relations, or such things as economics, the oppression wrought by religion, or the dialog with science.

A 'new view' weaves all these together, trying to see how the aspects of faith, morals, justice, art, economics, social structures, language, formative power and science all affect each other. But it also does more: the tapestry the 'new view' weaves from all these is hung on the wall of God's Cosmic Plan, which is understood to be created reality rejoicing and working well together with God. So, this 'new view' of the history of Christianity looks at the outworking of this Plan in and among human beings and the rest of creation - warts and all.

Most histories of Christianity by believing Christians treat Christianity as the only true religion, while most by agnostics or atheists treat Christianity as, at best, only one religion among many. This 'new view' sees Christianity slightly differently. It is not assumed that all true followers of Jesus Christ are Christians, nor that all Christians are true followers of Christ, but it sees Christianity as that community of thought and practice that has grappled with Jesus Christ and the unique revelation God made through the Old and New Testament Scriptures - and it has done so more than any other over the past 2000 years.

This page is a draft, because the history of Christianity is a huge, ongoing project.


The history is divided into four eras of approximately 500-600 years each, with some overlap.

The First 500 Years of Christianity - Outward Spread and Development

After the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ in Palestine/Judea around 30 AD/CE, his followers multiplied and became known as 'Christians'. During the next 50 years or so they were dispersed by both Christ's command to go to all nations and by persecution, some going to Greece, some to Rome, some up into Syria, and thence down into India, some down into Africa, some into Egypt and Libya, and thence along the North African coast into Spain and Britain. See the map.

spread of Christianity during first 500 years

His followers took with them what they believed to be good news that God had acted in the world through Jesus Christ, to save us. Where they went they brought some degree of joy and health to society and individuals alike, because God was with them, but they also met persecution often from rulers. Their belief and lifestyle both affected the people to whom they went and was affected by them, especially being affected by persecution. Several main streams may be discerned, which are shown on the map, though there are others:

The Greek and Roman streams became dualistic, being influenced by pagan Greek dualism, with the result that life is seen as divided into sacred and secular or spiritual and material compartments. By contrast, both the Celtic and Ethiopian streams seemed to have escaped this influence to some extent, and life is seen in more holistic terms, such that God is seen as relevant to everyday life, such as of crops and the home.

The Second 500 Years of Christianity - Development into Christendom

To be written:

Development of European Christianity:

Also some movements of God during this era.

The Third 500 Years of Christianity - Corruption

To be written.

Movements of God during this Period

The Fourth 500 Years of Christianity - Reformation, Reaction and Repercussions; Reaching the World

To be written:

(I put movements of God first, because of my belief that God is active and proactive in His world, and that much of what we see today would not have come into existence without them.)

Movements of God During This Period

Changes in Society and Lifestyle


Note 1. These statements about the Apostle Thomas are from Wikipedia page 'Saint Thomas Christians' accessed 5 December 2010.

This page is offered to God as on-going work in developing a 'New View' in theology that is appropriate to the days that are coming upon us. Comments, queries welcome.

Copyright (c) Andrew Basden 2010, but you may use this material subject to certain conditions.

Written on the Amiga with Protext. Number of visitors to these pages: Counter.

Created: 5 December 2010. Last updated: 15 October 2013 filled in some bullet points for each of the three empty sections.