Church History - Episcopal Diocese of San Diego Church History - Episcopal Diocese of San Diego

Church History


Teacher(s): Mark Mann & Doran Stambaugh

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 texts 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 1: Stambaugh

The First Centuries:   Disciples, Evangelists, and Martyrs

Core Reading:  Gonzalez I, pp. 13- 81

  1. September 8: Stambaugh

The Council of Nicaea:  The Emperor’s Church

Core Reading:  Gonzalez I, pp. 103-197

  1. September 15: Mann

The Council of Chalcedon: 

Core Reading:  Gonzalez I, pp. 269-313

(Student Presentation I, Fringe understanding of Jesus:  Nestorian and Apollinarius)

  1. September 22: Stambaugh

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)

  1. September 29: Mann

The Great Schism:  One, holy, and catholic—not so much!

Core Reading:  Gonzalez I, pp. 357-406

(Student Presentation III, Constantinople vs. Rome)

  1. October 6: Stambaugh

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

  1. October 13: Stambaugh

The English Church:  Kings, queens, popes, and bishops

Core Reading:  Gonzalez II, pp. 87- 104; 193-209

(Student Presentation IV, Cranmer and the Book of Common Prayer)

1.7       October 20:  Mann

The Counter Reformation:  Rome’s renewal and Response

Core Reading:  Gonzalez II, pp. 125-165

(Student Presentation V, The Council of Trent)

1.8       October 27:  Stambaugh

Responses to Rationalism and Revolution

Core Reading:  Gonzalez II, pp. 211-264; 349-373

(Student Presentation VI, The Wesley Brothers)

1.9       November 3:  Stambaugh

The American Church:  protestant, episcopal and American

Core Reading:  Gonzalez II, pp. 275-90; 319-347

1.10     November 17:  Stambaugh

Vatican II:      John XXIII’s gamble at reimagining the church

Core Reading:  Gonzalez II, pp. 385-455

(Student Presentation VII, Vatican II’s impact on the Protestant Church)

1.11     December 1:    Stambaugh

Entering the Third Millennium:  What is emerging?

Core Reading:  Gonzalez II, pp. 457-530


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 3rd.

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.