That Christianity has played a foundational part in the formation of Western Civilization is generally not in question. Even those who think that it has not been a good influence tend to agree that it is foundational. While this section is about the Church primarily, the story of the Christian west is in some sense, the story of the Church. Christianity has never been without competition for the hearts of men. Man has always had his religious systems and there have always been men who sought power. The religious systems of man have sometimes buried the essence of the Christian message in ritual and sacrament, those governing have tried to control the religious activity of their subjects.  The Popes gained and wielded much political power for a time. Despite all of this the message of Christianity has survived.

We can expand the brief outline of Church History given on the Church page as follows:

  1. Jesus and the Apostolic period (30-100) - The New Testament
  2. The Church Fathers 100-476
    The Apologists 130-220 - Those who defended the faith
    The Third Century 220-305 - Regular, but not constant persecution
    The Imperial Church 305-476 - Christianity becomes the Religion of Rome
  3. Middle ages 476-1500 - Roman Empire falls apart in 476
    Early Middle Ages 476-999
    High Middle Ages 1000-1299
    Late Middle Ages 1300-1499
  4. Reformed Period 1500-1900
    The Reformation 1517-1750
    Anabaptists 1525
    Puritans 1600-1699
    Pietism 1670
    The great Awakening 1700-1799
    The second Great Awakening 1800-1899
  5. Modern Period 1900-present

From here we consider four of the five periods of Church history in more detail, the Apostolic period is really covered (or will be) in the Bible section of this site so we will begin here with the Fathers. 

During the time of the Fathers the "religion" of Christianity was formalized and the organizational structures of the Church established. At the same time something happened that is common to man in his relationship with God.  Even with clear direction and personal revelation man wants to go his own way.  We see this in the story of the Church where even some of those who we call the Fathers in one breath become what we call Heretics in another.  We also see people who were on the periphery of the Church misunderstanding the message or appropriating Christian terms and applying them in some synchronistic systems.  There is more on this is on the Heresies page.

This pattern is not unique to the patristic era as we read in I John:

They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. (1 John 2.19)

This is during the Apostolic age and the pattern runs through the Old Testament stories as well.  God remains steadfast and faithful; man makes everything complicated.  The Church still finds itself singing with Robert Robinson "...prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love..."  In some sense it is amazing that this is a hymn of the Church not an anthem of the scoffer.

At any rate.  During the time of the Fathers, Christianity went from being persecuted to being the official state religion of the Roman Empire. The Fathers section traces the succession of these early Christians who left us a written record.  The Apologists to my mind were a subset of the Fathers.  They are given that special designation due to the character of their writings.  There are apologists among us today, noted apologists include Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig and Josh McDowell.

The rise of the Imperial Church was not without problems of its own. While it meant an end to official persecution it also brought political converts. There were also those who wanted to simply to meld the ideas of Christianity with their own religious ideas as the Roman Empire had done wile sauntering across the world establishing its dominance. Religious syncretism has a long history and is more the rule than the exception. It is not the story of true Christianity.  

The Middle Ages were times of great social upheaval.  The fall of the Roman Empire, the rise of Islam and the Black Death just to name a few world changing events during this time.  It was also a time of Christian renewal and the formation of monastic orders in the Christian West.  Persecution had given rise to Christian monasticism in the East some years earlier.

Because of the way the the Church and the Empire interacted the Reformation had political as well as theological overtones.  Christian unity has always been important to Christians and the division was not taken lightly.  Our modern confusion has been fueled by the same propensity of mankind to stray from a close relationship with God and the revealed truth that is carried in scripture and tradition and build for himself a religion.

The Modern period I have labeled confusion. This is primarily because there are parts of the Church today that seek a redefinition of Christianity.  Pressure from this camp is largely responsible for the existence of this site.  Standing for traditional orthodoxy has driven me out of the old line Church were I was raised.  To have the debate that will appear in this section it is necessary to understand the others.  To properly engage in a debate it is necessary to listen to and understand the other side and not start immediately to gather crowds, pitch forks and cord wood.

So these are the lofty goals of this piece of my work.  All under construction and all incomplete.