This course will bring to life the saints and sinners, the heroes and villains of the Church. We will look at the major movements, doctrines, persons, institutions, ideas, and events that shaped the Church’s journey within the wider political, social and economic developments from its beginning to our present day.
This course is designed to be a broad survey course on the history of the Christian Church beginning with the early movement in the decades after Jesus ’resurrection and ascension until today. The main text for the course are The Story of Christianity, Volumes I and II by Justo L. Gonzalez. The assigned readings do not cover the entire texts. Nevertheless, you are encouraged to read both volumes. It is through this reading that you will gain the broad sweep of church history.
The course, the lectures and the conversations will attempt to touch on key moments but there is no presumption that the totality of the classes gives the student a comprehensive overview of history. Indeed, the twelve classes are anchored in particular moments in church history.
1. September 5:
The First Centuries: Disciples, Evangelists, and Martyrs
Core Reading: Gonzalez I, pp. 13- 81
2. September 12:
The Council of Nicaea: The Emperor’s Church
Core Reading: Gonzalez I, pp. 103-197
3. September 19:
The Council of Chalcedon:
Core Reading: Gonzalez I, pp. 269-313
(Student Presentation I, Fringe understanding of Jesus: Nestorian and Apollinarius)
4. September 26:
The Rise of Monasticism: A light shining in darkness
Core Reading: Gonzalez I, pp. 315-356
(Student Presentation II, Benedict, his Rule and how it continues to reform the Church)
5. October 3:
The Great Schism: One, holy, and catholic—not so much!
Core Reading: Gonzalez I, pp. 357-406
(Student Presentation III, Constantinople vs. Rome)
6. October 10:
The Reformation: “where in any thing it is amiss, reform it…”
Core Reading: Gonzalez I, pp. 407-431; Gonzalez II, pp. 7-65; 77-86
(Student Presentation IV, Profiles of Key Reformers: Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin)
7. October 17:
The English Church: Kings, queens, popes, and bishops
Core Reading: Gonzalez II, pp. 87- 104; 193-209
(Student Presentation V, Cranmer and The Book of Common Prayer)
8. October 24:
The Counter Reformation: Rome’s renewal and Response
Core Reading: Gonzalez II, pp. 125-165
(Student Presentation VI, The Council of Trent)
9. October 31:
Responses to Rationalism and Revolution
Core Reading: Gonzalez II, pp. 211-264; 349-373
(Student Presentation VII, The Wesley Brothers)
10. November 14:
The American Church: protestant, episcopal and American
Core Reading: Gonzalez II, pp. 275-90; 319-347
(Student Presentation VIII, William White and the case for an American Episcopal
11. November 21:
Vatican II: John XXIII’s gamble at reimagining the church
Core Reading: Gonzalez II, pp. 385-455
(Student Presentation IX, Vatican II’s impact on the Protestant Church)
12. December 5:
Entering the Third Millennium: What is emerging?
Core Reading: Gonzalez II, pp. 457-530
(Student Presentation X, Examples of Emergent Congregations)
The course is designed to give each student a broad understanding of Church History and perhaps most importantly to use that knowledge and understanding of Church History as an active minister in the church. The evaluation of this competency will be based on three components.
Class Participation, 40%: The church is a place for holy conversation and exchange of ideas. Our class time should be an outward example of that reality. It is critical that students come to class prepared to engage the material read and to fully participate in the discussions.
Student Class Presentation, 30 %: Each student will essentially teach a segment of a class (approximately 45 minutes) on one of ten possible topics. The instructor will set the broad context for the period in question. The student’s presentation is on a
narrower topic, permitting the student to do additional study and research and provide depth to the presentation. The topics offered may be altered or refined with the consent of the instructor. Presentations may be solely oral or oral with an outline or lecture notes. In all cases, a topic bibliography shall be provided to the class
Final Project, 30%: Each student will do a final project. You are provided below three possible projects or you may make a different proposal to the instructors by class on November 14th.
Do one of the following:
1. Develop a lesson plan for five lessons for a parish Lenten series. The project should begin with a description of the parish for which the plan is developed. Each lesson should be carefully developed, including possible readings for participants. The Lenten series could focus on a critical moment in church history, i.e. the English Reformation. It could touch on a series of related moments in church history or it could be thematic, i.e. the episcopate through the centuries.
2. Write an essay profiling a major figure in church history. The essay should be written as a scholarly work, carefully footnoted and researched. The audience would be a journal of church history.
3. Determine four individuals in church history who are not presently found in Holy Women: Holy Men. Write a profile for each, including collect and scripture readings. For each include a case for inclusion in the next edition of Holy Women: Holy Men.