The third edition of Christianity Through the Centuries brings the reader up-to- date by discussing events and developments in the church into the s. Read Christianity Through the Centuries by Earle E. Cairns for free with a 30 day free trial. Read unlimited* books and audiobooks on the web, iPad, iPhone and. Christianity through the centuries by Earle Edwin Cairns; 4 editions; First published in ; Subjects: Church history, Accessible book.

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PDF | On Jan 1, , Kirk MacGregor and others published Reference Cairns, Earle E. Christianity through the Centuries: A History of the. CHRISTIANITY. THROUGH THE. CENTURIES. A History of the. Christian Church . Earle E. Cairns. • -. ZondervanPublishingHouse. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Editorial Reviews. From the Publisher. %The third edition of Christianity Through the Centuries.

Christmas and Easter remain holidays in many Western nations. Jesus learned the texts of the Hebrew Bible, with its Ten Commandments which later became influential in Western law and became an influential wandering preacher. He was a persuasive teller of parables and moral philosopher who urged followers to worship God, act without violence or prejudice and care for the sick, hungry and poor. These teachings have been deeply influential in Western culture. Jesus criticized the privilege and hypocrisy of the religious establishment which drew the ire of the authorities, who persuaded the Roman Governor of the province of Judaea , Pontius Pilate , to have him executed.

The Talmud says Jesus was executed for sorcery and for leading the people into apostacy. Catholicism, as we know it, emerged slowly. Christians often faced persecution during these early centuries, particularly for their refusal to join in worshiping the emperors. Nevertheless, carried through the synagogues, merchants and missionaries across the known world, the new internationalist religion quickly grew in size and influence.

Rulers, and the priests, soldiers and bureaucrats who carried out their will, were a small minority who kept power by exploiting the many. Slaves and 'barbarians' did not have a full right to life and human sacrifices and gladiatorial combat were acceptable Spartan Law required that deformed infants be put to death; for Plato, infanticide is one of the regular institutions of the ideal State; Aristotle regards abortion as a desirable option; and the Stoic philosopher Seneca writes unapologetically: "Unnatural progeny we destroy; we drown even children who at birth are weakly and abnormal And whilst there were deviations from these views Most historians of western morals agree that the rise of Christianity contributed greatly to the general feeling that human life is valuable and worthy of respect.

Christianity Through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church

Lecky gives the now classical account of the sanctity of human life in his history of European morals saying Christianity "formed a new standard, higher than any which then existed in the world Gushee says "The justice teachings of Jesus are closely related to a commitment to life's sanctity For women deacons, the oldest rite in the West comes from an eighth-century book, whereas Eastern rites go all the way back to the third century and there are more of them.

There are several Gospel accounts of Jesus imparting important teachings to and about women: his meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well, his anointing by Mary of Bethany, his public admiration for a poor widow who donated two copper coins to the Temple in Jerusalem, his stepping to the aid of the woman accused of adultery, his friendship with Mary and Martha the sisters of Lazarus, and the presence of Mary Magdalene, his mother, and the other women as he was crucified.

Historian Geoffrey Blainey concludes that "as the standing of women was not high in Palestine, Jesus' kindnesses towards them were not always approved by those who strictly upheld tradition. The church forbade its members to do so. Greco-Roman society saw no value in an unmarried woman, and therefore it was illegal for a widow to go more than two years without remarrying.

Christianity did not force widows to marry and supported them financially. Pagan widows lost all control of their husband's estate when they remarried, but the church allowed widows to maintain their husband's estate.

Christians did not believe in cohabitation. If a Christian man wanted to live with a woman, the church required marriage, and this gave women legal rights and far greater security. Finally, the pagan double standard of allowing married men to have extramarital sex and mistresses was forbidden. Jesus' teachings on divorce and Paul's advocacy of monogamy began the process of elevating the status of women so that Christian women tended to enjoy greater security and equality than did women in surrounding cultures.

A broad distinction was popularly made between infanticide and infant exposure which was practiced on a gigantic scale with impunity. Many exposed children died, but many were taken by speculators who raised them to be slaves or prostitutes.

It is not possible to ascertain, with any degree of accuracy, what diminution of infanticide resulted from legal efforts against it in the Roman empire. In AD , Constantine conferred the First Council of Nicaea to gain consensus and unity within Christianity, with a view to establishing it as the religion of the Empire.

The population and wealth of the Roman Empire had been shifting east, and around the year , Constantine established the city of Constantinople as a new imperial city which would be the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. Although cultural continuity and interchange would continue between these Eastern and Western Roman Empires, the history of Christianity and Western culture took divergent routes, with a final Great Schism separating Roman and Eastern Christianity in AD.

Pope Gregory the Great c — who established medieval themes in the Church, in a painting by Carlo Saraceni , c. The remarkable transformation of Christianity from peripheral sect, to major force within the Empire is illustrated by the influence held by St Ambrose , the Bishop of Milan.

A Doctor of the Church and one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century, Ambrose became a player in Imperial politics, courted for his influence by competing contenders for the Imperial throne.

When the Emperor Theodosius I ordered the punitive massacre of thousands of the citizens of Thessaloniki , Ambrose admonished him publicly, refused him the Eucharist and called on him to perform a public penance, a call to which the Christian Emperor submitted.

Theodosius reigned albeit for a brief interim as the last Emperor of a united Eastern and Western Roman Empire.

Christianity Through the Centuries

In Theodosius sought to block the restoration of the pagan Altar of Victory to the Roman Senate and then fought against Eugenius , who courted pagan support for his own bid for the imperial throne. Thus, the Catholic Encyclopedia lauds Theodosius as: [51] [O]ne of the sovereigns by universal consent called Great. He stamped out the last vestiges of paganism, put an end to the Arian heresy in the empire, pacified the Goths, left a famous example of penitence for a crime, and reigned as a just and mighty Catholic emperor.

Many of these works remain influential in politics, law, ethics and other fields. A new genre of literature was also born in the fourth century: church history. What little security there was in this world was provided by the Christian church.

In the absence of a magister militum living in Rome, even the control of military matters fell to the pope. Gregory the Great c — administered the church with strict reform.

A trained Roman lawyer and administrator, and a monk, he represents the shift from the classical to the medieval outlook and was a father of many of the structures of the later Roman Catholic Church. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, he looked upon Church and State as co-operating to form a united whole, which acted in two distinct spheres, ecclesiastical and secular, but by the time of his death, the papacy was the great power in Italy: [56] [ Pope Gregory the Great ] made himself in Italy a power stronger than emperor or exarch, and established a political influence which dominated the peninsula for centuries.

From this time forth the varied populations of Italy looked to the pope for guidance, and Rome as the papal capital continued to be the centre of the Christian world.

The Dark Ages[ edit ] The period between and , often referred to as the "Dark Ages," could also be designated the "Age of the Monk". Christian aesthetes, like St. Benedict's Rule has been one of the great facts in the history of western Europe, and that its influence and effects are with us to this day.

Monasteries were models of productivity and economic resourcefulness teaching their local communities animal husbandry, cheese making, wine making and various other skills. Medical practice was highly important in medieval monasteries, and they are best known for their contributions to medical tradition, but they also made some advances in other sciences such as astronomy. Sometimes called the "Father of Europe," Charlemagne instituted political and judicial reform and led what is sometimes referred to as the Early or Christian Renaissance.


It supplied food to the population during famine and distributed food to the poor. This welfare system the church funded through collecting taxes on a large scale and by owning large farmlands and estates. Men of a scholarly bent usually took Holy Orders and frequently joined religious institutes.

Those with intellectual, administrative or diplomatic skill could advance beyond the usual restraints of society — leading churchmen from faraway lands were accepted in local bishoprics, linking European thought across wide distances. Complexes like the Abbey of Cluny became vibrant centres with dependencies spread throughout Europe.

Ordinary people also treked vast distances on pilgrimages to express their piety and pray at the site of holy relics. Finally, the position of Christianity in the world, the relations among its divisions and denominations, its missionary outreach to other peoples, and its relations with other world religions are discussed. For supporting material on various topics, see angel and demon ; Bible ; biblical literature ; canon law ; creed ; Christology ; doctrine and dogma ; ecumenism ; eschatology ; exegesis ; faith ; grace ; heaven ; hell ; heresy ; Jesus Christ ; liturgical movement ; millennialism ; miracle ; monasticism ; monotheism ; New Testament ; Old Testament ; original sin ; papacy ; prayer ; priesthood ; purgatory ; sacrament ; salvation ; schism ; scripture ; theism ; theology ; and worship.

The church and its history The essence and identity of Christianity At its most basic, Christianity is the faith tradition that focuses on the figure of Jesus Christ. As a tradition , Christianity is more than a system of religious belief. It also has generated a culture , a set of ideas and ways of life, practices, and artifacts that have been handed down from generation to generation since Jesus first became the object of faith.

Christianity is thus both a living tradition of faith and the culture that the faith leaves behind. The agent of Christianity is the church, the community of people who make up the body of believers. Few Christians, however, would be content to keep this reference merely historical. Although their faith tradition is historical—i. Start your free trial today for unlimited access to Britannica.

While there is something simple about this focus on Jesus as the central figure, there is also something very complicated.

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That complexity is revealed by the thousands of separate churches, sects, and denominations that make up the modern Christian tradition. To project these separate bodies against the background of their development in the nations of the world is to suggest the bewildering variety. To picture people expressing their adherence to that tradition in their prayer life and church-building, in their quiet worship or their strenuous efforts to change the world, is to suggest even more of the variety.

Given such complexity, it is natural that throughout Christian history both those in the tradition and those surrounding it have made attempts at simplification. Modern scholars have located the focus of this faith tradition in the context of monotheistic religions.

Christianity addresses the historical figure of Jesus Christ against the background of, and while seeking to remain faithful to, the experience of one God.This Slavic dialect became the basis of Old Church Slavonic which later evolved into Church Slavonic which is the common liturgical language still used by the Russian Orthodox Church and other Slavic Orthodox Christians. Each can be the center of fascinating studies that the individual can carry on for himself once he has the necessary general background.

He then headed to Cape Comorin, the southern tip of India, where he made many conversions of the fishermen there. The History of Christian Thought.

Some cords are put together with fillers inside the glitzy outer layer. Constantine became Emperor of the West in Mary's City, Maryland. Because one can never understand the history of Christianity effectively without some conception of the political, economic, social, intellectual, and artistic movements in each era of history, the events of church history are related to their secular environment.

A Global View of Missions.