Why study church history? Isn’t the church an outdated institution, a crutch for the weak, a refuge for the middle-aged?
It’s partly because of these commonly heard criticisms that a study of the history of the church – spanning nearly two thousand years – is important, in looking at the role of the church (if any) in 21st century society. In the UK, the Church of England is still the state church, licensed for baptisms, weddings and funerals of all those within the parish boundaries. Church schools are still popular, and generally they are academically good as well as having high standards of behaviour.
But there are also Roman Catholic churches, Baptist Churches, Methodist Churches, Pentecostal or Charismatic Churches… and many more. Where did they originate? Why are there so many branches of Christianity? What do Christians believe, anyway? Unless you have some idea of how the church began, and the struggles it has gone through over the centuries, it’s difficult to see its place in the world.
Inevitably, on a site of this kind, only a general introduction can be given, but further resources are linked on each page for those who wish to research further. Even if you decide that the church is a pointless institution which should be closed down, you should gain some respect for those who have fought to keep it going over the centuries.
This section of the site is ongoing; further pages will be added as I get around to them. So far, you can read about:
The Birth of the Church – how it started, why it spread
Paul’s Missionary Journeys – how the good news of Jesus was taken around the Middle East in the first century
Persecution in the Early Church – the state clamped down on the early church, and many died for their beliefs
Heresies in the Early Church – it was all too easy for people to misrepresent Christian belief; here are a few of the commonest heresies, and an outline of how the Bible books were decided
Constantine and the Council of Nicea – the start of the Christian church becoming recognised by the state, and some organised structure to what was believed