Good Morning Church — Are you Paul or Barnabas?
Paul and Barnabas were early Christian preachers.
They worked and traveled together in the first century about 15 to 20 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
But after a big disagreement they parted ways.
Conflict is nothing new.
A large part of the New Testament records the apostles going from congregation to congregation to help work through differences.
In the case of Paul and Barnabas we see the example of how we should conduct ourselves when a resolve can’t be found — one went one direction — the other went another — but they continued to be united in Christ.
Simple as that.
It really doesn’t matter why they split — even though we know some of the details.
What matters is the lesson we are suppose to take from the story.
It is the same throughout history — there are so many lessons to learn if we will simply educate ourselves and teach others.
Very few people really understand or have ever heard the messages of history that completely shaped who we are and why we worship the way we do.
So let’s break it down with a short — ok sort of short — timeline;
The First Century:
Begins with the birth of Jesus Christ — followed by His life and ministry.
His death and resurrection is believed to have taken place in AD 33.
The first 100 years were dominated by those who were witnesses to the Life, Ministry, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- All of the apostles were martyred except for The Apostle John.
Paul and Barnabas traveled together between the years AD 45-50.
- Nero — best known for the fire that burned most of Rome to the ground in AD 64 — was the emperor of Rome from AD 54-68. He was a brutal leader responsible for some of the greatest Christian persecution of history and is believed to have ordered the executions of Peter and Paul.
The siege of Jerusalem began in AD 66. The Jewish defense held out against the Roman army till the final destruction of the city in AD 70.
Following the death of the apostles and the destruction of Jerusalem the Christ movement continued to spread throughout the region and into other countries.
The Second Century:
Two students of The Apostle John helped lead the transition between the age of apostles and early church .
- Polycarp lived AD 69-155 — He wrote about his experiences with The Apostle John and was ‘miraculously’ martyred. An eye witness wrote that when they tried to burn Polycarp at the stake the fire would not touch him — his executioner ordered him stabbed to death instead.
- Ignatius Bishop of Antioch — also a student of The Apostle John — Was eventually fed to the lions for his refusal to deny Christ — He wrote: “Wherever Jesus Christ is there is the ‘Catholic’ Church — The word ‘Catholic’ translated means ‘universal ’— The word church translated means ‘assembly’. Ignatius’s statement seems to be a simple statement to reinforce Christ’s teaching that all believers are of one body but the phrase ‘Catholic Church’ has endured to this day.
Ignatius also wrote encouraging leaders to take charge of each city. The guidelines he used were the same as those set up by The Apostle Paul: Each city was instructed by Ignatius to elect Elders, Deacons and Bishops. This idea of Bishops leading cities was the foundation for what became the Catholic structure. The Bishop of Rome was considered the most prestigious and eventually became the home of the Catholic Pope.
Justin Martyr — another early Christian leader described a typical worship service in about AD 150; “On the day called the Day of the Sun all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read as long as time permits.”
The second century is also where we first see evidence of what will eventually be known as our New Testament. The list is referred to in historical writings as the Muratorian Canon in AD 190 and included the entire New Testament with the exception of Hebrews, James, First and Second Peter and Third John.
The Third Century:
May be best remembered for the rise of Caesar Worship — when Roman leaders began to again demand they be worshiped as gods.
- Emperor Decius ruled from AD 249–251 And was responsible for a new and horrible round of Christian persecution. Citizens were ordered to sacrifice to the Emperor and if they refused they were executed.
- This was also the time period when we began to see individuals being named as Saints — This practice was the result of the desire to honor Christians who had defied the Emperor and went to their death rather than deny Christ.
Anthony the Great — The First Monk was born in about AD 250 — He sold everything and went to live in a tomb at age 20.
The Monks were largely responsible for preserving the integrity of the scriptures — as scribes they copied the text letter by letter. They would set up five chapters at a time and would make sure they had the exact number of columns and the exact number of lines. Then they would copy letter by letter. When they finished the five chapters they would know exactly what the center letter of the text they had just written should be. They would then count to the very center of the new text and if that letter didn’t match what they had just copied — they didn’t edit it and fix it — they threw it away and started over.
The Fourth Century:
Brought us the first Christian Emperor with the conversion of Emperor Constantine in AD 312
The New Testament as we know it today was complete by AD 367 — But remember it was still much different than The Bible we know today — As I wrote in the post from July 16 the writings were listed together but were still separate scrolls — However since all of the writings together were so highly regarded one early church leader referred to them as The Divine Library. Most people during the time period just referred to them as The Books or The Biblia. Eventually The Books were printed together as one and they became known as The Bible and what we know it as today;
The Fifth Century:
Brings us Leo Bishop of Rome — the first Pope to be referred to as ‘ The Great’ because of the bravery he showed in saving Rome from destruction. In AD 452 he talked Atilla the Hun out of attacking the city and in AD 476 he negotiated with the German tribe and saved some aspects of the city. The people knew Leo not the emperor had saved them from massacre.
The Sixth Century:
Enter the Dark Ages and the birth of Muhammad — born in AD 570. At the age of 40 he began to meditate in a cave and claimed to be experiencing visions. After sharing this information with his wife she encouraged him to declare himself a messenger of God.
The Seventh Century:
The death of Muhammad at AD 632 began the tribal conflict within Islam — Muhammad did not name a successor and fights began on whether or not the next leader should be from his blood line.
- The Dome of the Rock was constructed during this century as well in AD 691 following the Islamic Siege of Jerusalem in AD 637.
The Eighth Through Tenth Centuries:
Continue to be classified primarily as The Dark Ages — a time period between the fall of Rome and The Renaissance. During this time we saw the rise of kingdoms and subjects.
And the power of the Catholic Church through the rise of ‘Christendom’ — which could be described as church leadership acting more like rulers to be feared rather than the shepherds and leaders Christ called them to be.
This time period also saw the expansion of Islam and spurred the action taken by the Crusade s.
The Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries:
The age of The Crusades — Battles launched by the Catholic Church against the ‘enemies of Christ’ were brutal conflicts with horrible atrocities on both sides.
The First Crusade was launched in 1096 — It was the battle to retake Jerusalem from the followers of Muhammad.
The Thirteenth Century:
Marked the final Crusade in 1291
And saw the first hints of reformation within Christendom and the rise of the protest movement The Protestant rising against Church leadership.
The Fourteenth Century:
Began the period history refers to as The Renaissance.
John Wycliff a prominent early reformer lived during this century 1320 -1384 was largely responsible for translating scripture into the ‘ Reformers Bible ’— He sent out men that he called ‘poor priest’ — They traveled the countryside sharing the text of the ‘Reformers Bible’ with common people unlike it had ever been presented.
The Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries:
Many of the greatest reformers of the Renaissance period were born during the 15th Century and came of age during 16th. Here are the standouts:
- Martin Luther was born in 1483 — Early in life he intended to be a lawyer but after being knocked to the ground by a bolt of lightening he promised God that if he were saved he would become a monk — As he immersed himself in scripture he began to find problems with the theology of the Catholic Church and challenged their authority by nailing his 95 propositions for debate to the Castle Church door in 1517:
- John Calvin — 1509-1564 — also a reformer much like Martin Luther founded Calvinism:
- Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519 and Michelangelo 1475–1564 also lived and completed their work during this time period.
- William Tyndale lived 1494–1536. He worked to translate the Bible into the first mass produced English version. In 1526 he said to a priest, “I will make it possible for a boy behind a plow to know more scripture than you do.” He began by smuggling copies back to his homeland. He was imprisoned and executed at the stake in 1536. He completed the translation of The New Testament but was unable to finish translating the Old Testament due to his imprisonment and execution for heresy.
- Miles Cloverdale 1488–1569. Also a scholar and Bible translator — Cloverdale assisted Tyndale and finished the translation after Tyndale’s execution. He is credited as being largely responsible for getting the Bible to the common man.
- King Henry the Eighth 1491 — 1547 also lived during this time period and is very important in the development of modern day Christianity. He at first allowed the new English translation of the Bible completed by Tyndale and Cloverdale to be mass produced and distributed but then decided it would cause problems for the church leadership and would possibly empower his subjects to rise up against him. Arthur wrote a decree stating only the aristocracy could read the new translation. Another huge pivot point in Christian history: When the king was unable to get his marriage to his first wife annulled by the Pope his advisor and the Arch Bishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, wrote the annulment. Cranmer was also the one who encouraged Henry to withdraw from the control of the Pope and to form The Church of England. It is also important to pay attention to the Kings marital history at the time of his death; At the time of his death he had been married 6 times and had 3 children. Two by wives that he had either publicly humiliated or had executed.
- Catherine of Aragon — (Annulled) daughter — Mary born 1516
- Anne Boleyn — (Executed) daughter — Elizabeth born 1533
- Jane Seymour — (Died) son — Edward born 1537
- Anne of Cleves — (Annulled)
- Cathrine Howard — (Executed)
- Catherine Parr — (Survived at Henry’s death)
- King Edward son of Jane Seymour took the throne in 1547 after his father’s death. He was just 10 years old, frail and sickly so his father’s confidant Thomas Cranmer pretty much ran things. Cranmer took the opportunity to pull further away from the Pope by abolishing the articles of the Catholic Church and writing a new set of 42 articles in 1553 to define ‘The Church of England’ along protestant lines — but King Edward died that same year and a new monarch came to power.
- Queen Mary took the throne in 1533 — She was the daughter of Henry’s first wife Catherine who Henry had publicly humiliated and Queen Mary was devoutly Catholic. To set things right within her kingdom and possibly for a bit of revenge — she sent 300 Protestants including Archbishop Cranmer to the burning stake, earning her the name — Bloody Mary and setting the stage for the violent hostilities between Protestants and Catholics.
- Queen Elizabeth took the throne in 1558 — She was the daughter of Henry’s second wife Anne Boleyn — more so than her sister Mary, Queen Elizabeth had reason to seek retribution for the execution of her mother but instead chose to work toward religious peace. She tried to please both the Protestants and the Pope but only frustrated her subjects with her lack of real spiritual conviction either way. She was the first to sit on the fence and by trying to make everyone happy caused the rise of the Puritan Movement, which was prevalent in the early colonies in America
It is also important to recognize the Anabaptist movement founded in 1525 in protest to infant baptism: Also said to be foundation of the Mennonites: They were the subject of great religious persecution in 1529 when the Imperial Diet of Speyer declared Anabaptism heresy and condemned them to death: Four to Five Thousand were put to death by fire, water or sword.
The Seventeenth and Eighthteenth Centuries:
In 1607 Fort James which eventually became known as Jamestown became the first English Settlement.
- The Pilgrims land at Plymouth in 1620
- Sir Isaac Newton 1642 — 1727 lived and completed his work during this time period historically referred to as The Age of Enlightenment and a Reason.
- John Wesley lived 1703- 1791 and his teachings were the foundation for the Methodist Church.
- The Williamsburg City Charter was issued in 1722.
- The First Great Awakening occurred between 1730 — 1740. It was inspired by a desire to return to Bible Basics and basic Christianity.
- George Whitfield lived from 1714–1770. He preached across America during the first Great Awakening and was said to have inspired the American Revolution.
The Nineteenth Century:
As America found freedom the diversity of faith and worship expanded quickly:
- The Cain Ridge Camp Meeting of 1801 brought together participants from Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian Churches:
- The Second Great Awakening occurred between 1820-1870 with a renewed call for a return to basic Christianity.
- Thomas Campbell and Alexander Campbell — both were born in the late 1700’s but the father and son changed the Christian landscape in the 1800’s: Their teaching is the foundation of the Presbyterian Church and eventually the Church of Christ.
- John Smith lived 1804–1844 and founded the Mormon Church.
- Darwin 1809- 1882 and Albert Einstein 1879 — 1955 also lived and completed their work during this time period and in Einstein’s case well into the next century and greatly influenced societal changes.
The Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
We could go on and on about the effects of our leadership, our educators and our culture on the way we now show, share and honor our faith in Jesus Christ. But I think you get the point.
Disagreement is nothing new but how we deal with it can have historical implications.
Now more than ever we need to pause and look back. What are the lessons we must learn — especially when it comes to our faith.
Should we further divide ourselves or should we be seeking an awakening again? A third Great Awakening — A call to return yet again to Christian basics.
Our history tells the tale — in so many aspects of our life — the answer to what we are dealing with can be found if we will simply know our history.
Just as with the story of Paul and Barnabas — We don’t have to agree on everything — Yet the story of Jesus continues to unite us — if we will allow it to.
August 21, 2016
My primary source for the information outlined in this historical timeline was Dr. Bruce L. Shelly’s book, Church History in Plain Language — After searching for years to better understand how we got to where we are today I stumbled across his book and discovered the most comprehensive and easy to follow telling of the Christian journey since it’s founding. Dr. Shelly’s material in my opinion is a must read for every Christian.