Christian Timeline

History of Christianity

Circa
2000BC

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

The birth of the Jews and the blood line that lead to Jesus

The origins of Christianity actually began long before the birth of Christ. It began in the bronze age about 2000BC with the birth of Abraham, or Abram as he was originally known. The bible tells us his father's name was Terah and he had two brothers, Nahor and Haran (Genesis 11:27). He was born and grew up in Mesopotamia, which is the area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, in modern day Iraq and bordering South East Turkey and North East Syria. We can probably tie it down further to Ur of the Chaldees, a place that many anthropologists and archeologists believe was the birthplace of civilisation, language, writing and agriculture.

The bible tells us that Abram was called by God to leave his native country and go to a land that he would show him, and promised to make of him a great nation, bless him, make his name great, bless them that bless him, and curse 'him' that curses him (Genesis 12:1-3). So Abram, his wife Sarai, his father Terah and his nephew Lot set off for the 'promised land' as God requested. Years later in Canaan the Word of God came again to Abram in a vision and repeated the promise he had made concerning the promised land and 'descendants as numerous as the stars'. God described to Abram the land that his offspring would claim, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaims, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites (Genesis 15:1-21).

This promise was puzzling to both Abram and his wife Sarai because Sarai had always been barren and therefore having children of her own was not possible. Sarai knew this was troubling to Abram so she offered her hand maiden Hagar to him that they might have children and fulfil the promise. Hagar did indeed become pregnant but soon after she began to despise Sarai, this led to tension between them and eventually Sarai told her to leave. Then an Angel of the Lord spoke to Hagar and told her to return to Abram and Sarai and to give birth to her son who she was to call Ishmael (Genesis 16:4-16). Thirteen years after the birth of Ishmael God declared that Abram's name shall be changed to "Abraham" meaning 'a father of many nations'. God also declared that Sarai shall, from that day be called Sarah and she will bare Abraham a son, even though they were both very old by this time. Despite their great age, Sarah did indeed become pregnant and their legitimate son was born in due course and was named Isaac. He grew up to have a son named Jacob, who in turn grow up to have twelve sons. Those twelve sons became the foundation of the nation of Israel. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were the Patriarch's of that nation and Jesus was born 28 generations later from the line of King David and of the same seed that Abraham had founded 19 centuries earlier (Mathew 1:17).

Circa
3BC

The Birth of Jesus Christ

The birth of Jesus Christ, The Messiah, was the most important event in the whole of mankind's history and one that was foretold by the prophets century's before. Finally God was actually here on earth with mankind. We don't know the exact year or date of his birth but it was probably 3BC and probably in the late summer or autumn. It's interesting that neither Jesus or his followers considered the year or date of his birth important enough to record it, unlike his death and resurrection.

Circa
AD 33

The beginning of Christianity

We can trace the beginning of Christianity to Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus’ resurrection, about the year 33AD (Acts 2:1-4). The trigger for the foundation of the church was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the believers at that assembly. Three thousand people responded to Peter’s sermon that day and they chose to follow Christ, as opposed to the Law of Moses. Those converts to Christianity were Jews or proselytes to Judaism and the embryonic church, centred in Jerusalem was born. It was at this point that the Jewish faith and the 'Law of Moses' were surpassed, the old order had given way to what would later be called 'Christianity'. It's important to mention that the Jewish faith and Law of Moses had not been destroyed by the coming of Jesus but 'Fulfilled' by it (Mathew 5:17-19). The sole purpose of the Law of Moses and the Jewish era was to point to the coming of Jesus, The Messiah and the saviour of mankind.

Circa
AD 33

Stephen the first Christian martyr

Stephen was a deacon in the early church in Jerusalem. He aroused hatred in the Jews who would not accept the truth that Jesus was the Messiah. He was accused of blasphemy and at his trial he was found guilty by the Jewish authorities who had him stoned to death.

Circa
AD 33 - 40

The Growth of the Early Church

Soon after Pentecost in c 33AD, the Christian faith was opened up to non-Jews. The evangelist Philip preached to the Samaritans (Acts 8:5), and many of them became believers in Christ. The apostle Peter preached to the Gentile household of Cornelius (Acts 10), and they too, received the Holy Spirit and the apostle Paul was converted and began to spread the gospel all over the Greco-Roman world, reaching as far as Rome itself (Acts 28:16) and possibly all the way to Spain.

Circa
AD 45 - 62

St Paul's Missionary Journeys

Saul, born of the tribe of Benjamin saw the light and realised that our Lord Jesus Christ was the Messiah on the road to Damascus, a trip he would have made many times when visiting his parents and friends. Having received his calling and the Holy Spirit, he set out on missionary journeys to convert the Gentile, Greek world to the teachings of Jesus Christ, see St Paul, his life and works.

Circa
AD 50

The Council of Jerusalem

The Council of Jerusalem was called to attempt to understand what God and Jesus intended for the non Jewish converts to Christianity. The council decided that Gentile converts to Christianity were not obligated to keep most of the Laws of Moses, including the rules concerning the circumcision of male children. The Council did, however, rule to keep the prohibitions on eating blood, meat containing blood and meat of animals not properly slain, and on fornication and idolatry.

Circa
AD 60

Andrew the Apostle is Martyred

Andrew, one of the original Apostles of Jesus and elder brother of Peter was martyred by crucifixion at Patras in Achaia, Greece. He was tied to a cross which was shaped like the letter X, now known as St Andrew's Cross. It is said that Andrew felt unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross on which Jesus was crucified.

Circa
AD 60

Gospel of Mark written

The first book that would eventually form the New Testament is widely agreed to be the Gospel of Mark and was published, if that's the correct term, in AD60

Circa
AD 62
or 69

James the Just is Martyred

James the Just was the Bishop of all Bishops according to Clement of Rome. He was called by Paul, 'The brother of our Lord', although the term 'brother' probably didn't mean a brother in the usual sense. In any case he was a very important figure in the Apostolic age. In the Gospel of Thomas Jesus names James as his successor: "The disciples said to Jesus, 'We know that you will depart from us, when you do, 'Who will be our leader?' Jesus said to them, Where you are, you are to go to James the Just, for whose sake heaven and earth came into existence.

Circa
AD 64-67

Paul is Martyred in Rome

We do not know exactly when Paul was Martyred for his faith or even if there was a trial. We do know that both Paul and Peter were put to death during the fierce persecution of the Emperor Nero, sometime between 64-67AD

Circa
AD 64-67

Peter is martyred in the reign of the Roman emperor Nero

Following the great fire in Rome Emperor Nero unleashed an anti Christian campaign and Peter was put to death as a result.

Circa
AD 65-70

The church moves from Jerusalem to Asia Minor

Between the years AD 65 and AD 70 the church leaders and their congregations moved from Jerusalem to Asia Minor to escape persecution and to avoid the impending destruction of the temple in Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans. The church thrived in Ephesus, Smyrna (modern day Izmir in Turkey), Pergamos (modern day Bergama in Turkey), Thyatira (modern day Akhisar in Turkey), Sardis (modern day Sart in Turkey), Philadelphia (modern day Alasehir in Turkey) and Laodicea (about 150KM east of Ephesus). At this time the administration of the church was centred on Antioch, Alexandria and Rome, Jerusalem had been left behind.

AD 70

Destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem

In AD 66 the Jews in Jerusalem rebelled against the Roman empire. This lead to Titus and his Roman legions taking revenge in AD 70 with the destruction of the temple.

Circa
AD 90-130

Apostolic Fathers

Prominent leaders of the church began to rise towards the end of the 1st century, they became known as the Apostolic, or Church Fathers. We call them Apostolic Fathers because they were taught by the Apostles of Christ. Prominent and important Apostolic Fathers include Clement of Rome (AD? - c100)Ignatius of Antioch (c AD35 - c AD107) and Polycarp of Smyrna (AD69 - 155).

Circa
AD 90

The Apostle John was imprisoned on Patmos

John, one of the original Apostles of Jesus was exiled on the Greek island of Patmos. It was during this exile that he wrote the Apocalypse or Revelation, the last book of the bible.

Circa
AD 92

Clement becomes Bishop of Rome

Clement, or more properly St Clement of Rome, was one of the five Apostolic Fathers of the Church. He was either the second or third Bishop of Rome after St Peter. He wrote extensively to the churches including the famous 'letter to the church at Corinth, probably the oldest epistle outside the New Testament. St Paul called him a 'fellow labourer in Christ' in Philippians 4:3 and says his name is in the Book of Life.

Circa
AD 110

Ignatius writes his letters to the churches and Polycarp

Ignatius of Antioch, also known as Theophorus (God Bearer), was one of the five Apostolic Fathers of the Church. He was the third bishop of Antioch and was a student of the Apostle John. He was martyred in Rome by being fed to wild beasts but en-route he wrote letters to the churches which are preserved to this day and are examples of the earliest Christian theology.

Circa
AD 110-150

Polycarp Bishop of Smyrna

Polycarp was one of the five Apostolic Fathers of the Church. The only surviving written work is his 'letter to the Philippians. Tradition says he was martyred in his 86th year by burning at the stake for refusing to burn incense to the Roman Emperor.

AD 130

Conversion of Justin Martyr

Justin Martyr was born in Flavia Neapolis in Judea (modern day Nablus) around AD100 and became an early Christian apologist. He studied many philosophies and pagan religions in his search for truth. As an apologist he defended Christianity by quoting the historical evidence, philosophical arguments, and arguments from other disciplines, and taught that the seeds of truth could be found in all religions, but that only Christianity taught the whole truth

AD 150

Clement of Alexandria born in Athens

Titus Flavius Clemens was a Christian Apologist who used Plato's philosophy to support Christianity, and tried to reach gnostics by showing that only the Christian had real "gnosis." He was an educated man, a convert to Christianity and helped establish the allegorical method of interpreting scripture.

Circa
AD 200

Birth of Cyprian

Cyprian was born in North Africa, probably in Cartage and had a classical education. He converted to Christianity and became a deacon and rose to become Bishop of Carthage in AD 249. Among his many written works perhaps the most important was the 'De Unitata Ecclesiae' in which he wrote 'He can no longer have God for his Father who has not the Church for his mother; . . . he who gathereth elsewhere than in the Church scatters the Church of Christ'. Cyprian was martyred in Carthage

AD 204

Hippolytus of Rome writes his commentary on the Book of Daniel

Hippolytus was a third century theologian and produced the earliest known commentaries on Holy Scripture and he was the most prolific western Church Father of the third century. Although Roman, he wrote in Greek as most theologians of the time did, but he was the last great western theologian to do so and after him the primary language was Latin. Because the use of Greek diminished in Rome, many of Hippolytus’ works were forgotten and some were lost. Among those that survive is the earliest known Christian biblical commentary, the Commentary on Daniel which he wrote around AD 204.

AD 312

Emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity

Constantine became Emperor of Rome in AD 306. His conversion to Christianity had far reaching effects on Christians all over the Roman Empire and beyond. Through Constantine Christianity was adopted as the official religion of Rome which finally put an end to the dreadful persecution that Christians had experienced up until that point.

AD 325

The Council of Nicaea - The First Ecumenical Council

The First Council of Nicaea was the first ecumenical council of the Christian Church. It was called by Emperor Constantine in an attempt to prevent the church tearing itself apart over the true nature of Jesus Christ in relation to God the Father. A Heretic Bishop from Alexandria called Arius had put forward the notion that Jesus Christ was not Actually God, but had been created by The Father, contrary to the teachings of the Apostles, that Christ is the one true God in deity with the Father. The council rejected Arian and his teachings and went on to produce a Creed, called the Creed of Nicaea.

AD 328

Athanasius is made Bishop of Alexandria

Athanasius is probably the person most responsible for ensuring the continuity of the Christian faith. He was born about the year AD 300 in Alexandria, Egypt which was the seat of learning for the entire Roman Empire at that time.

Soon after Emperor Constantine had adopted Christianity as the official religion of Rome, a senior priest known as Arius of Alexandria began to teach his theory concerning the Word of God (John 1:1). He taught that 'God begat The Logos' and therefore before he was begotten, he did not exist. At that time Athanasius was a newly ordained deacon and secretary to Bishop Alexander of Alexandria. His responded to Arius informing him that 'the begetting of The Logos' by the Father is an eternal relation between them, and not a temporal event. Thankfully Arius was condemned by the the majority of the bishops of Egypt and his teaching was rejected by the church. However, he continued with his belief and wrote letters to bishops throughout the world, stating his belief. Some of them agreed with him concerning the true nature of the Logos which lead Emperor Constantine to resolve the dispute by calling a council of bishops from all over the Christian world. This council met in Nicaea, just across the straits from what is now Istanbul, in the year 325, and consisted of 317 bishops. Athanasius accompanied his bishop to the council, and became recognised as a chief spokesman for the view that the Son was fully God, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father.

The bishops that sided with Athanasius were overwhelmingly in the majority so the council of Bishops remained to formulate a creedal statement to express the consensus of the entire church. After much debating, the Greek word "homo-ousios" (meaning "of the same substance, or nature, or essence") was introduced to the creed.

AD 329

Birth of Basil the Great of Cappadocia

Basil was the eldest son of Christian parents, and the brother of Gregory of Nyssa and Macrina. He was educated at home in Cappadocia and Constantinople before going to university in Athens in AD 351.  As a monk, Basil taught communal monasticism that serves the poor, sick and needy. He was one of the most important influences on both Byzantine and Western monasticism when he composed two sets of monastic regulations, the Lesser Asketikon and the Greater Asketikon. These were ethical manuals and moral sermons for the members of the monastery he founded, about the year 356 on the banks of the Iris river in Cappadocia. These manuals and sermons for eastern Orthodox monks are still in use today.

Circa
AD 345

Birth of John Chrysostom in Antioch

John, named Chrysostom (golden-mouthed) on account of his eloquence was born in Antioch about the year 345 to Christian parents. In 374, he began to lead the life of an anchorite in the mountains near Antioch, but in 386 the poor state of his health forced him to return to Antioch, where he was ordained a priest.

In 398, he was promoted to the See of Constantinople and became one of the greatest leaders of the Church. However, there were some ecclesiastics in high places including Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria and more importantly, Empress Eudoxia, who was offended by the apostolic freedom of his teachings. Accusations were brought against him in a pseudo-council, and he was sent into exile. Whilst in exile he remained faithful to the teachings found in the scriptures and especially the teachings of the apostle Paul. He also had the consolation of knowing that the Pope remained his friend and helped his as mush as he could. His enemies remained unsatisfied with the punishment he was receiving in exile and had him banished him still further, to Pythius, at the very extremity of the Empire. He died on his way there on 14th September AD 407.

AD 347

Birth of Jerome

Jerome was born in Stridon, Dalmatia, his birth name was Eusebius Hieronymous Sophronius. As a boy, he was sent to Rome to study and he became a proficient translator of Greek into Latin. He was baptized in the faith at age 18 and then began his study of theology and the Hebrew language. He later created a unified Latin version of the Bible's New Testament and later in Bethlehem he also translated sections of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Latin, creating the template for what would become the 'Vulgate' translation of the Bible in Latin.

AD 354

Birth of Augustine

Records show that Augustine was born at Tagaste, about 100KM from Hippo-Regius in modern day Algeria on 13 November AD354. His father was Pagan but his mother was Christian. He became a Christian at the age of 32 and eventually became Bishop of Hippo. He died around AD426. He was canonised by popular recognition and recognised as a Doctor of the Church in 1303. His feast day is August 28, the day on which he is thought to have died. He is the patron saint of brewers, printers, theologians, sore eyes, and a number of cities.

AD 367

Athanasius lists all 27 books of New Testament

Athanasius was born around AD293 and became Bishop of Alexandria. He attended the First Council of Nicaea and devoted the rest of his life to defeating Arianism which was still followed by some Christians. Athanasius proposed that the 27 separate books of scripture should be brought together into one canon for the first time in AD367. That canon became known as the New Testament.

AD 380

Christianity is made the official religion of Rome and the Roman Empire

Theodosius the Great, was Roman Emperor from 379 to 395. Theodosius was the last emperor to rule over both the eastern and the western halves of the Roman Empire. On 27 February 380 he, along with Flavius Gratianus and Flavius Valentinian II, published the 'Edict of Thessalonica' in order that all subjects of the Roman Empire should profess the Christian faith of the bishops of Rome and Alexandria.

AD 381

First Council of Constantinople - The Second Ecumenical Council

The First Council of Constantinople, which was also known as the Second Ecumenical Council was a gathering of 150 bishops summoned by Emperor Theodosius I to confirm his earlier decree in support of the doctrine of the Council of Nicaea. The council finally settled the Arian heresy that had divided the empire since the time of Constantine the Great and the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. It's interesting that most of the bishops attending were from the eastern church. The Pope in Rome sent very few and it was evident that a rift was starting to manifest itself between the eastern church based in Constantinople and the western church based in Rome. This would culminate in the Great Schism of AD 1054


Circa
AD 389

Patric (later St Patric) born in Britain

Patric was sold into slavery in Ireland at the age of 16 and during his captivity he turned to Christianity. He returned to the British mainland at the age of 22 and dedicated his life to the conversion of the Irish. He was later ordained as Bishop and successfully converted the Irish royal family to Christianity and oversaw the rapid rise of Christianity throughout Ireland.

AD 397

Synod at Carthage ratifies the 27 books of the New Testament as sacred scripture.

The first Synod was held in Hippo Regius about AD 393 but the minutes and acts of the council were lost. It is understood that a brief summary of the acts was read to the third synod of Carthage in AD 397 and was ratified. Their declaration was as follows:

That there should be nothing read in church except the Canonical Scriptures. The canon shall be:
The books of the Old Testament
The books of the New Testament as follows:

The Gospels (4 books)
The Acts of the Apostles (1 book)
The Epistles of Paul (13 books)
The Epistle to the Hebrews (one book)
The Epistles of Peter (2 books)
The Epistles of John (3 books)
The Epistle of James (1 book)
The Epistle of Jude (1 book)
The Revelation of John (1 book)

Circa
AD 400

Vulgate Translation of the Bible into Latin

The New Testament of the bible was written in Greek. The Old Testament was probably mostly written in Hebrew but from around 200BC it was translated into Greek and we refer to it as 'The Septuagint', also known as 'LXX' which means 70 and refers to the seventy Jewish scholars who undertook the translation from Hebrew to Koine Greek. By the time of Christ, all the sacred texts that eventually would form the Bible would have been read in Greek, and only in Greek. This would have remained the case had it not been for the western church, located in Rome demanding a translation that western priests who were not well versed in Greek could read. The result was the Vulgate Latin Version, written by St Jerome in the late 4th Century.

AD 407

Death of John Chrysostom (St John Chrysostom)

John Chrysostom was one of the Church Fathers and was revered as an eloquent preacher. He was appointed Archbishop of Constantinople in AD 397.

AD 420

Death of Jerome (St Jerome)

Jerome was a priest of the Western Church, a theologian, historian and Doctor of the Church. He is best remembered for his 'Vulgate' translation of the bible into Latin.

AD 430

Dearth of Augustine (St Augustine)

Augustine was a theologian and Doctor of the Church. He was very influential in western philosophy and the development of the western church (Roman Church). When the Roman Empire began to disintegrate, Augustine developed the concept of the Catholic Church as a Spirituel City of God.

AD 431

Council of Ephesus - The Third Ecumenical Council

The council was called by the Roman Emperor Theodosius II in an attempt to obtain consensus from all the church leaders to confirm the original Nicene Creed and to condemn the teachings of Nestorius, the Patriach of Constantinople. He had proposed that the Virgin Mary should be called Christotokos - the Birth Giver of Christ and not Theotokos - the Birth Giver of God. A heated argument ensued which lead to churches that supported his argument being severed from the rest of the church and became knows as the Nestorian Schism. The churches that were severed were the Persian Church, the Chaldean Church and the Chaldean Catholic Church. Nestorius retired to a monastery.

AD 451

Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon - The Fourth Ecumenical Council

The Council of Chalcedon, (a city close to Constantinople and known today as Kadıköy), was a church council convened by Emperor Marcian held between the 8th October and the 1st November in AD 451. The council declared that Christ has two natures in one person and hypostasis.
it also insisted on the completeness of his two natures, Godhead and Manhood.

The council marked a significant turning point that led to the separation in the 5th century of the church of the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Orthodox church. It was also the last council which many Anglicans and most Protestants consider to be truly ecumenical.

AD 480

Birth of Benedict (Later St Benedict)

Benedict was the founder of Western monasticism. He was born at Nursia near Spoleto, Umbria, Italy. When he was a student in Rome he realised the only way he could escape the evils of his world was in seclusion and religious devotion. Then, aged only 14 he left Rome to live in a cave near Subiaco, where he lived for three years. His piety led to his being appointed the abbot of a neighbouring monastery at Vicovaro but finding the morals of the monks not to his liking he soon left the monastery. There were still many people who sought his guidance and from the most devoted, he founded twelve small monastic communities. He eventually established the monastery at Monte Cassino, near Naples. In 515 he is said to have composed his Regula Monachroum, which became the Benedictine Rule and common to nearly all monastic communities.

AD 521

Birth of Columba (Later St Columba)

Columba was born in Donegal, Ireland. After he was ordained, he preached widely and helped to establish churches and monasteries, such as those at Derry and Durrow.

In 563 AD he left Ireland to go on pilgrimage for Christ and with 12 companions he sailed to the island of Iona on the west coast of Scotland. There he established a monastery which served as a base for evangelism among his fellow Scots and is a place of pilgrimage to this day.

AD 553

Ecumenical Council at Constantinople - The Fifth Ecumenical Council

165 Bishops convened in Constantinople in AD 553 in the reign of Emperor Justinian. They met in the hope that the heresy of Monophysitism could be finally defeated. Monophysitism is the belief that Jesus Christ had a single divine nature rather than two natures, both divine and human The council confirmed the official church teaching that Christ had two natures and condemned a number of the refuted Nestorian influenced writings.

AD 680

Ecumenical Council at Constantinople - The Sixth Ecumenical Council

170 Bishops convened again in Constantinople in AD 680 in the reign of Emperor Constantine IV. They met to discuss the Monothelite heresy which taught that Jesus Christ had two natures (human and divine) but only one will, a divine will. The council pronounced that Christ had two natures, divine and human and two wills, divine and human. These two natures and two wills were united in the one divine person of Jesus Christ.

AD 787

Ecumenical Council at Nicaea - The Seventh Ecumenical Council

This was the second Council of Nicaea, the first being in AD 325. This time 367 Bishops met to discuss the Iconoclast Controversy over the use of Icons in the church. The iconoclasts did not believe that icons should be used in church and demanded that all icons be taken from the churches and destroyed. The iconoclasts were defeated and the bishops ruled that icons could be used in church as artistic objects promoting the veneration of the saints depicted. However worship was to be reserved for God.

1054

The Great Schism

Differences between the Eastern Church and the Latin Western Church in Rome boiled over in 1054 although they had not seen eye to eye for many years, even centuries. The bishop of Rome (The Pope) had felt that he had not been included in major decisions concerning the direction of the church because the powerhouse of the church was administered in the East, in Constantinople and the western church was often overlooked. Finally in 1054 the Pope in Rome could stand it no longer and sent his personal representative to excommunicate the Eastern Church from The Church of Rome. This created two distinct churches, The Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches. The Great Schism then is the final separation of East and West, Greek from Latin.

1095

Pope Urban proclaims the First Crusade

The first crusade 1096 - 1099 was a Christian military expedition to recapture Jerusalem from the Muslims. The expedition was successful and freed the Holy Land of Islamic rule.

1187

Fall of Jerusalem to the Turks

The first crusade had returned Jerusalem to Christian rule which lasted nearly 100 years until it was captured by the Turks lead by Saladin.

1204

The Fourth Crusade and the Sacking of Constantinople

The fourth crusade was originally intended to take Jerusalem back from the muslims but it became one of the worst atrocities ever undertaken by one Christian group against another. Instead of attacking the muslims in Jerusalem, the western Christians (Catholics) attacked the eastern Christians (Orthodox) at Constantinople. This barbaric act by the catholics further divided the eastern church from the western church and made the Schism permanent.

1261

End of Western Catholic occupation of Constantinople and restoration of Orthodox Patriarchs

Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos makes Mystras the seat of the new Despotate of Morea, where a Byzantine renaissance occurred. Pope Urban IV tried to stir up a crusade to restore the Latin Empire of Constantinople but failed.

1269

Orthodox Patriarch returns to Antioch after 171 years in exile

In doing so the Latin (or Western) patriarch was ousted. This was significant because the Latin Patriarch of Antioch was an office created in 1098 by Bohemond I (1058 to 1111) the Prince of Antioch who was one of the most important leaders of the first crusade. The position of Patriarch of Antioch was one of the oldest and most important in all of Christendom as Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria. It was also the place where the title 'Christian' was used for the first time.

1330

Birth of John Wycliffe

John Wycliffe lived almost 200 years before the Reformation, but his beliefs and teachings closely match those of Luther, Calvin and other reformers. He was the most important theologian in Oxford and in 1382 he produced the first English translation of the Bible Bible. He was responsible for sending itinerant preachers, known as Lollards, throughout England which inspired a spiritual revolution. He taught that we must rely altogether on the sufferings of Christ. 'Beware of seeking to be justified in any other way than by His righteousness'. He died in 1384.

1448

Russian Orthodox Church declared independence from the Church of Constantinople

After the Great Schism of 1054 the Russian Orthodox Church formed part of the Eastern Orthodox churches.  Then In 1439 a Council in Florence produced a plan to merge the Eastern and Roman churches once again. The Russian Orthodox church did not approve the merger and therefore the plan failed so the Western and Eastern churches remained separated. Then in 1448, the Russian Orthodox Church declared its independence from the Patriarchate of Constantinople who head the Eastern Orthodox churches.

1453

Fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks

On the 10 of November 1453 the Turkish sultan Murad destroyed the Christians in the battle of Varna and Ladislas of Hungary and the papal representative were killed. Success in Varna opened the way for his final campaign on the Byzantine empire. The city of Constantinople finally fell to the Ottoman Turks on Tuesday, 29 of May, 1453.

1478

Spanish Inquisition begun by Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile

The Inquisition was intended to ensure the Catholic faith of those who had converted from Judaism and Islam remained intact. This regulation of the faith of the newly converted was intensified after the royal decrees issued in 1492 and 1501 ordering Jews and Muslims to convert to Christianity or leave Spain.

1483

Birth of Martin Luther

Martin Luther was born in Eisleban in Saxony within the Holy Roman Empire. He became a German Monk, Priest and Professor of Theology. He was instrumental in creating the Protestant Reformation. His main issues with the established church was over the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He was excommunicated from the established church in 1521 and was treated as an outlaw. Luther taught that salvation and eternity in heaven could not be earned by good deeds but is received only as a free gift of God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin. He died in 1546.

1487

Spain retakes Granada and Andalucia from the Muslim Moors

Spain's Ferdinand and Isabella began their campagne to free Granada Spain from the Moors in April 1487. Christian Spain overcame the Muslim Moors and they were expelled from their last foothold in Spain.

1492

Expulsion of Jews from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella

On January 2, 1492, Ferdinand II, King of Aragon, and Isabella, Queen of Castile, finally completed the Christian victory over Muslims in Spain. On March 30 1492, they gave four months notice to all Jews to leave Spain.

1509

Birth of John Calvin

John Calvin was born in France in 1509. He would become an eminent theologian and ecclesiastical statesman. In reality he was Martin Luther's successor as the preeminent Protestant theologian. He made a powerful impact on the fundamental doctrines of Protestantism, and is widely credited as the most important figure in the second generation of the Protestant Reformation.

Circa
1514

Birth of John Knox in Scotland

John Knox was born around 1514 in Haddington, a small town in Scotland. He studied theology at St. Andrews university and was ordained in 1536. When Mary Tudor became Queen he fled to France to avoid persecution and studied with John Calvin, the French reformer, in Geneva, Switzerland. He was so impressed with Calvin's teachings that he called it 'The most perfect school of Christ that was ever on earth since the days of the apostles'.

John Knox led the reformation in Scotland along Calvinistic principles, focusing much of his energy against the Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots, and Catholic practices like the Mass. He set the austere moral tone of the Church of Scotland and shaped the democratic form of government it adopted. The presbyterian form of church government and reformed theology were formally adopted as the national Church of Scotland in 1690. The Church of Scotland remains Presbyterian today.

1517

Martin Luther starts the Reformation

On October 31st 1517 Martin Luther nailed a piece of paper to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. It contained 95 revolutionary opinions that begin the Protestant Reformation.

Luther condemned the excesses and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church, especially the papal practice of asking payment, called indulgences, for the forgiveness of sins. At the time, a Dominican priest named Johann Tetzel, commissioned by the Archbishop of Mainz and Pope Leo X, was in the middle of a major fund raising campaign in Germany to finance the renovation of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Though Prince Frederick III had banned the sale of indulgences in Wittenberg, many church members travelled to purchase them. When they returned, they showed the pardons they had bought to Luther, claiming they no longer had to repent for their sins. Luther's frustration with this practice led him to write the 95 revolutionary opinions, which were quickly snapped up, translated from Latin into German and distributed widely. A copy made its way to Rome, and efforts began to convince Luther to change his tune. He refused to keep silent, however, and in 1521 Pope Leo X formally excommunicated Luther from the Catholic Church.

1534

Founding of the Jesuits in Paris

At the University of Paris on 15th August 1534 Ignatius of Loyola, a Basque Spaniard and six other students formed the Company of Jesus, also known in English as the 'Friends in the Lord' because they believed they were brought together by Christ. They operated within the Catholic church and became known a Jesuits from 1544. Their main principle became the unofficial Jesuit motto: 'For the greater glory of God'. This phrase is designed to reflect the idea that any work that is not evil can be meritorious for the spiritual life if it is performed with this intention, even things considered normally indifferent.

1534

Henry VIII's Act of Supremacy

King Henry VIII of England (1509-1547) had sought to divorce his wife, Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536). Because the Pope would not annul the marriage, Henry sought to make himself Head of the Church in England. This Parliamentary Act from 1534 gave legal sanction to Henry's assumption of those clerical powers. He had made himself head of the Church of England.

1536

Dissolution of the monasteries

In March 1536 Parliament passed an act that stated that any monastery with an income of less than £200 a year was to be dissolved and their property passed to the Crown. The heads of the houses were to be offered a pension while those who lived in each religious house were given the choice of transferring to a larger one or going to live in society free of any vows of poverty and obedience but still having to respect their vow of chastity. Three hundred religious houses fell within this category of having an income of less than £200 a year. The majority were closed down but at least 67 were given royal permission to remain open as the act gave Henry the right to do this. However, those religious houses that were ‘saved’ had to pay for their survival. This was usually a year’s income. 

1536

William Tyndale Burned at the Stake

William Tyndale strangled and burned at the stake. He was the first to translate the Bible into English from the original languages. He was burned for heresy by King Henry VIII, whose divorce Tyndale had opposed.

1559

Elizabeth I's Act of Uniformity

Where at the death of our late sovereign lord King Edward VI there remained one uniform order of common service and prayer, and of the administration of sacraments, rites, and ceremonies in the Church of England, which was set forth in one book, entitled: The Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of Sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies in the Church of England; authorized by Act of Parliament holden in the fifth and sixth years of our said late sovereign lord King Edward VI, entitled: An Act for the uniformity of common prayer, and administration of the sacraments; the which was repealed and taken away by Act of Parliament in the first year of the reign of our late sovereign lady Queen Mary, to the great decay of the due honour of God, and discomfort to the professors of the truth of Christ's religion.

1582

Robert Browne founded the Congregational Church in Holland

Robert Browne was a Lecturer at St Mary's Church, Islington. His dissident preaching, contrary to the doctrines and disciplines of the Church of England, began to attract attention and in 1581 he set up a separate church in Norwich but was arrested and then released on the advice of Baron Burghley" his friend William Cecil. To avoid being arrested again Robert and companions left England and moved to Middelburg in Holland. There they set up a new church on New Testament principles.

His most important works, 'A Treatise of Reformation without Tarying for Anie', in which he asserted the right of the church to effect necessary reforms without the authorisation of the civil magistrate, and 'A Booke which sheweth the life and manners of all True Christians', which set out the theory of Congregational independency, were published at Middelburg in 1582.

1598

Huguenots are granted religious freedom

The Huguenots (pronounced Hugonose) being Protestant in their worship were not made welcome in Catholic France. The differences grew into extreme persecution and many fled France, including John Calvin, to escape persecution and possible death. Some however did stay in France and kept fighting to gain acceptance and freedom to worship in their way.

The Edict of Nantes, in April 1598 by the French king Henry IV gave religious liberty to his Protestant subjects so the Huguenots could finally enjoy the freedom they had fought for.

1604

Canon of 1604 ratified by the Anglican Church

The Canons of 1604 became the most important item of ecclesiastical law in the Anglican Church. They were ratified in 1604 with the object of setting the Church upon a new systematic and universal basis of ecclesiastical law. These canons remain in force, although with some amendments, to this day and direct the law in every Province of the Anglican Communion. The canon of 1604 became necessary, because from the time of the restoration of the Church until the end of the 16th century, the Church had been governed by a patchwork of canons taken from old medieval canon law, some of which were contradictory.

1609

Baptist Church founded by John Smyth

John Smyth gained a Masters Degree at Christ's College Cambridge. He was very passionate about Biblical Truth and uncovering the truth from the pages of the bible. He lived and preached in Lincoln but because he disagreed with the canon of 1604 the Bishop of Lincoln stopped him from preaching. He then moved to Gainsborough and met other preachers who had likewise been denied a right to preach for the same reason. They formed a church and experienced rapid growth but it was stopped this time by the Archbishop of York. John Smyth relocated to Amsterdam where he finally had the freedom to preach his way. The congregation experienced exceptional growth and became well established.

1611

King James, or Authorised Version of the Bible produced

One of the first thing James I did, following his enthronement, was to order a new bible be written in the English language so ordinary Christians could understand it. He began a selection of men to undertake the work and in July of 1604, James wrote to Bishop Bancroft that he had 'appointed certain learned men, to the number of four and fifty, for the translating of the Bible.' These men were the best biblical scholars and linguists of their day. In the preface to their completed work it is further stated that 'there were many chosen, that were greater in other men's eyes than in their own, and that sought the truth rather than their own praise. Again, they came or were thought to come to the work, learned, not to learn.' Other men were sought out, according to James, 'so that our said intended translation may have the help and furtherance of all our principal learned men within this our kingdom.' Although fifty-four men were nominated, only forty-seven were known to have taken part in the work of translation. The translators were organised into six groups, and met respectively at Westminster, Cambridge, and Oxford. Ten at Westminster were assigned Genesis through 2 Kings, seven had Romans through Jude. At Cambridge, eight worked on 1 Chronicles through Ecclesiastes. Oxford employed seven to translate Isaiah through Malachi, eight occupied themselves with the Gospels, Acts, and Revelation.

This new bible was used in all English churches and is still considered to be the most accurate translation, although the langusge is a little old fashioned.

1620

Puritans land at Plymouth Bay and form Plymouth Colony

Plymouth Bay Colony was an English colonial venture to America in 1620 and lasted until 1691. The Puritans that settled there were fleeing persecution and searching for a place to live and worship as they believed was the correct way. Although the Puritan settlement was short lived it became the capital of the territory and is today the modern town of Plymouth Massachusetts.

1628

Michelis Jones founded the Dutch Reformed Church

The Dutch Reformed Church was founded by Michelis Jones in New York in 1628. The first meeting was in New Amsterdam in what is now New York City.  In 1819 it was known as the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church but later became known as The Reformed Church in America.

Services were held in Dutch until 1764 when it became more logical to hold them in English. However, in the mid 1800's there was a revival of Dutch rather than English as more immigrants came from Holland to the U.S.

1729

The beginning of Methodism founded by John Wesley

While students at Oxford in 1729, John Wesley and his brother Charles wrote hymns including 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing'. Within the Church of England, they started a 'Holiness Club' for like minded believers. The club was run in such a serious and methodical way that followers started to call them 'Methodists', a name that has stuck to this day.

As the club expanded into a primitive church, John Wesley told his preachers that they should preach simply, freely, fervently and believingly. He also insisted that preachers should be mindful of four important points: 'All people need to be saved', 'All people can be saved', 'All people can know they are saved' and 'All people can be saved to the uttermost Christian Perfection'.

1737

The First Great Awakening

The First Great Awakening was a movement that swept across Protestant Europe and British America, and especially the American colonies in the 1730s and 1740s. It challenged established religious authority and encouraged division between the traditionalists, who insisted on the continuing importance of ritual and doctrine, and the new revivalists, who encouraged emotional involvement and personal commitment.

It affected mainly Protestant countries of Europe and not traditional Catholic or Orthodox countries. The emotional response of churchgoers in Bristol and London in 1737, and of the Kingswood colliers with white gutters on their cheeks caused by tears in 1739 under the preaching of George Whitefield, marked the start of the English awakening.

1738

John Wesley moved by Martin Luther's preface of The Book of Romans

John Wesley was present at a Moravian Society meeting at Aldersgate Street in London on 24th May 1738. At the meeting John Wesley testified that 'about a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.'

The preface was written in German by Martin Luther in 1552, this translation was by J. Theodore Muller:

Faith is not that human notion and dream that some hold for faith. Because they see that no betterment of life and no good works follow it, and yet they can hear and say much about faith, they fall into error and say, "Faith is not enough; one must do works in order to be righteous and be saved." This is one reason that when they hear the gospel they fall-to and make for themselves, by their own powers, an idea in their hearts which says, "I believe." This they hold for true faith. But it is a human imagination and idea that never reaches the depths of the heart, and so nothing comes of it and no betterment follows it.

Faith, however, is a divine work in us. It changes us and makes us to be born anew of God (John 1); it kills the old Adam and makes altogether different men, in heart and spirit and mind and powers, and brings with it the Holy Ghost. Oh, it is a living, busy, mighty thing, this faith; and so it is impossible for it not to do good works incessantly. It does not ask whether there are any good works to do, but before the question rises; it has already done them, and is always at the doing of them. He who does not these works is a faithless man. He gropes and looks about after faith and good works, and knows neither what faith is nor what good works are, though he talks and talks, with many words, about faith and good works.

Faith is a living, daring confidence on God's grace, so sure and certain that a man would stake his life on it a thousand times. This confidence in God's grace and knowledge of it makes men glad and bold and happy in dealing with God and all His creatures; and this is the work of the Holy Ghost in faith. Hence a man is ready and glad, without compulsion, to do good to everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer everything, in love and praise to God, who has shown him this grace; and thus it is impossible to separate works from faith, quite as impossible as to separate heat and light from fire. Beware, therefore, of your own false notions and of the idle talkers, who would be wise enough to make decisions about faith and good works, and yet are the greatest fools. Pray God to work faith in you; else you will remain forever without faith, whatever you think or do.

1773

Suppression of the Jesuits (Society of Jesus)

No one really knows why the Catholic church found it necessary to suppress the Jesuits in the summer of 1773. It seems to have been the result of a number of issues including too many concessions to converted Christians in Africa and South America, a lazy attitude in moral teachings and other misdemeanours which lead to the Bourbon monarchs putting pressure on the new Pope Clement XIV to shut them down.

1774

The Methodist Church founded by John & Charles Wesley in England

John Wesley was an Anglican cleric and Christian theologian. Wesley is largely credited, along with his brother Charles Wesley, as founding the Methodist Church which began when he took to open-air preaching in a similar manner to George Whitefield. In contrast to George Whitefield's Calvinism, Wesley embraced the Armenian doctrines that were dominant in the 18th-century Church of England. Methodism in both forms was a highly successful evangelical movement in the United Kingdom, which encouraged people to experience Jesus Christ personally.

In 1744 the first annual conference was held and the Articles of Religion were drawn up. They were based to a considerable extent upon the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, but great emphasis was laid upon repentance, faith, sanctification, and the privilege of full, free salvation for everyone. By 1784 the spread of the movement, especially in America, made separating from the Church of England a necessity. In 1784, Wesley issued a 'Deed of Declaration' giving legal status to a yearly Methodist conference.

1774

The Unitarian Church founded by Theophilus Lindley in London

In April 1774Theophilus Lindley began to conduct Unitarian services in a room in Essex Street, the Strand, London, where first a church, 'Essex Street Chapel', and afterwards the Unitarian offices were established. 

The word 'Unitarian' first appeared in Britain in 1673. Protest against the Trinity arose as soon as this view of the Christian God became a creed in the early centuries of the Church. However it was the upheaval created by the Reformation which made Unitarian thinking into a movement in Italy, Poland, Transylvania, Romania and Hungary. Apart from Transylvania it went under the name of Socinianism, after one of its early leaders, Faustus Socinus. Many who insisted on maintaining radical religious views suffered persecution and even death.

The Unitarian approach to looking at God as one became widespread in the Church of England in the 17th century. John Biddle, a Gloucester school master, often called the father of English Unitarianism, wrote and spoke extensively on his views and died in prison in 1662. Samuel Clarke, Rector of St James' Piccadilly, came under severe censure when his book, The Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity, appeared in 1712 in which he argued that supreme honour should be given only to God, the Father.

For the rest of the century Unitarianism spread, not only in the Church of England but most significantly amongst the dissenters from the Established Church, later known as nonconformists. They refused to accept Anglican practice though their churches had hitherto been orthodox in theology. It was then that Unitarian thinking began to express itself in a church organisation. Some English Presbyterians, whose churches were amongst the oldest in dissent, adopted Unitarianism in the second half of the 18th century, to be followed by the old General Baptists, whose Assembly had been formed in 1653. Not that it was called Unitarianism, as this belief was specifically proscribed by the Toleration Act of 1689, Unitarianism did not become legal until 1813.

1790

The Second Great Awakening

The Second Great Awakening or Protestant Revival began in the United States in the early 1800's. By 1820 membership to new Protestant congregations rose sharply among Baptists and Methodists whose preachers lead the movement. It is described as a reaction against scepticism, deism, and rational Christianity.

Millions of new members in evangelical denominations were leading the way to the formation of many new denominations including the Shakers, the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), Seventh-Day Adventists, Disciples of Christ, African Methodist Episcopalians and many more. Many converts believed that the Awakening heralded a new millennial age. The Second Great Awakening stimulated the establishment of many reform movements designed to remedy the evils of society before the anticipated Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

1814

Restoration of the Jesuits (Society of Jesus)

Pope Clement XIV signed a papal brief in 1773 which in effect shut down the Jesuit order. However, many of the former Jesuits refused to accept the Pope's order and continued with their Jesuit worship secretly. Then in 1814 the world-wide order of Jesuits was restored.

1816

American Bible Society established

Elias Boudinot and a host of prominent Americans founded the American Bible Society to bring hope to impoverished people, orphans, victims of war and atrocities by teaching them God's word and giving them bibles in their own language.

1830

Joseph Smith produces the Book of Mormon

Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon's, claimed to have discovered the texts in New York USA. They were written on golden plates in an unknown language, referred to as Reformed Egyptian. He said an angel visited him in 1827 and lead him to a hill, in present day New York, to unearth the buried texts and help him to translate them.

Circa
1833

Foundation of Jehovah's Witnesses

The foundation began with the Millerites. About 1833, William Miller predicted the Second Coming of Jesus Christ would be in the year 1843. This eventually lead to the formation of a number of new religions including ' Seventh Day Adventists' and ' Jehovah's Witnesses'. William Miller influenced Nelson H. Barbour, who in turn influenced Charles Taze Russell, a pastor from Pitsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pastor Russell began publishing a monthly journal in 1879 called 'Zion's Watchtower and Herald of Christ's Presence. In 1881 he cofounded Zion's Watch Tower Tract Society and in 1884 the corporation was officially registered, with Charles Taze Russell as president. The name changed slightly over time to The Watchtower, Bible and Tract Society and then in 1931 the name Jehovah's Witnesses was used to identify the faithful followers.

1845

Methodists and Baptists split over the issue of slavery

The split between the Methodists, Baptists and later the Presbyterians, was a result of differing attitudes to slavery. The north of America was rejecting slavery by this time but the south still held on to slavery because they didn't consider it a sin. After all, slaves are often mentioned in the bible in a way that implies it's a normal activity, in the way a business has managers and manual workers.

In 1840 the Baptists could tolerate slavery no longer and an American Baptist Anti-Slavery Convention was held soon after the Baptist Free Mission Society was formed which would not accept money or contributions from Southern people. This lead the southern Baptist members to split and form their own Southern Baptist Convention. Trouble brewed for the Methodists when the second wife of Bishop J.O. Andrew of Georgia brought her own slaves to his household, which up to that point had had no slaves. When word reached the General Conference of North Carolina, they declared the following resolution:

'We believe, an immediate division of the Methodist Episcopal Church is indispensable to the peace, prosperity, and honour of the Southern portion thereof, if not essential to her continued existence…we regard the officious, and unwarranted interference of the Northern portion of the Church with the subject of slavery alone, a sufficient cause for a division of our Church.' 

By 1845, the southern Baptists and Methodists had split north / south. The Presbyterians were caught up in the battles of the Methodists and Baptists and they split in 1857.

1869

First Vatican Council

The First Vatican Council is best known for its decree affirming the doctrine of papal Infallibility. After a lengthy series of deliberations by preparatory commissions, it was opened by Pope Pius IX in St. Peter's Basilica on the 8th December 1869. Nearly 800 church leaders from every continent attended, although the European members held a clear majority. The Vatican sought to define authoritatively the church's doctrine concerning the Catholic faith and the church, especially in response to new challenges from secular philosophical and political movements and theological liberalism. However, its work was cut short by the Franco-Prussian War and the invasion and capture of Rome by the army of the Italian government in September, 1870. The council completed only two major doctrinal statements, leaving another fifty-one unfinished.

1888

The Salvation Army founded by William Booth

William Booth had a passion to reach the masses for Christ and in 1865 the Booth family moved to London where he found those masses. In July that year Booth took part in an evangelistic campaign in a tent in London’s East End, and was deeply moved by the poverty and godlessness of the people amongst whom he was working. He felt called by God to settle in that area and continue the work there. The family moved to the borough of Hackney in east London and William Booth began to minister to the East Enders. The name of Booth’s work, his Mission, underwent various changes, before becoming the Christian Mission in 1870. In 1878 it was renamed The Salvation Army.

1914

Assemblies of God founded

The Assemblies of God, also known as the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, is a group of over 140 separate but associated groups of churches which together form the world's largest Pentecostal denomination. They all have a shared belief structure and grew out of the Pentecostal revival of the early 20th century. Eudorus N. Bell was the founder of the fellowship by bringing together the assemblies at Hot Springs, Arkansas in 1914, from there it grew into a world wide movement. They believe in the Pentecostal distinctive of baptism with the Holy Spirit and with the evidence of speaking in tongues.

1918

Birth of Billy Graham

Billy Graham (William Franklin Graham) was born in 1918 on the family dairy farm in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. He was the eldest of four siblings and the family attended the local Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He was ordained as a Southern Baptist Minister and rose to celebrity status during the mid 20th century with radio and TV broadcasts as well as stadium packed rallies. He became one of the most prominent evangelists in Christian history.

1948

World Council of Churches founded

The world's largest Christian ecumenical movement is located in Geneva, Switzerland. It is the main international agency of cooperation between the Christian churches representing over 550 million Christians from over 100 countries including more than 340 Protestant and Orthodox churches. Its membership includes virtually all major Christian churches except the Roman Catholic Church.

1962

Second Vatican Council

The second Vatican council was opened by Pope John XXIII in 1962 and closed in 1965 by Pope Paul VI. It addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It redefined the nature of the Catholic church, gave bishops greater influence in church affairs and increased lay participation in liturgy.

2006

World Methodist Council adopts the Catholic-Lutheran Joint Declaration on Justification.

In a historic step on the road toward Christian unity, the World Methodist Conference adopted the Catholic-Lutheran joint declaration on justification. Dialogue between the Methodist and Roman Catholic churches has been ongoing for more than four decades. A Methodist statement about the declaration was drafted and circulated among all member churches of the World Methodist Council for consultation and approval, and all responses were positive. On July 18, delegates to the World Methodist Conference voted unanimously to adopt the declaration and two representatives from each of the three church bodies signed the agreement. .

The 1999 declaration said: "By grace alone, in faith in Christ's saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping us and calling us to good works."

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