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History of Christianity before Reformation (Essay Sample)

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History of Christianity before Reformation

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History of Christianity before Reformation
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History of Christianity before Reformation
Introduction
The history of Christianity entails the religion of Christianity, the church, and its followers, since the conception of this religion to the present. The religion emerged during the time of Jesus of Nazareth, whom his followers believed to be the Christ. Among the founders of Christianity, were the disciples of Jesus namely John, James, Mathew, and Peter. The religion spread from Jerusalem to other parts of the world, starting from throughout the entire Near East then to other places. In fact during the Middle Ages, Christianity was very common throughout Europe, and beginning from the Renaissance period it grew to be the largest religion in the world. Christianity is comprises of a number of denominations, the most common being Protestant Churches, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholic (Diarmaid, 2010). This paper will be focusing on analyzing the history of Christianity before Reformation. To effectively address this issue, the paper will be organized as follows.
Apostolic Church
The Apostolic Church refers to a community of Christians under the leadership of the apostles, and to some extent the relatives of Jesus. The first members of this community were mainly of a Jewish origin. During His time, Jesus directed His teachings to be spread to all parts of the world, and this is evident from the Great Commission. Although circumcision was one of the conditions of becoming a Christian, the apostles later regarded this condition as not mandatory in order to accommodate other people into the Christian community (Chadwick, 2005). This among other doctrines that were introduced into the Early Church by the Apostles became a source of conflict with various religious from the Jewish community. This is one of the reasons why most of them were disqualified from synagogues. Besides, due to these conflicts, a number of Christian leaders were killed at this time. Some of the sources of beliefs of Christians during this time include hymns and creeds.
Post-Apostolic Church
Post-Apostolic Church describes a period after the apostles’ death up to the end of persecutions during the era of Constantine the Great. Although Christians encountered various persecutions at the early stages of Christianity, major persecutions took place during the Roman Empire. For a hundreds of years, the Christian community faced persecutions, particularly due to their denial to worship the Roman Emperor, a crime that was punishable by the death sentence (Paul, 2005).
Despite the persecutions, Christianity spread considerably during the post-apostolic era. However, it is not clear why this was the case although various historians have come up with a number of explanations. For instance, it is argued that this was as a result of the natural outcome of the truth of this religion. Other people argue that it is because by its nature, Christianity the lives of its believers in different ways (Hart, 2000). The other possible reason is the unification and discipline of Christians, which progressively formed a self-governing and growing state within the Roman Empire.
Christianity during late antiquity (313-476)
This period is marked by a series of events as outlined below.
Establishment of Roman orthodoxy
This is a period during which persecution of Christianity was brought to an end. Constantine the Great, was exposed to Christianity at a very young age by his mother, which was the main reason why he was against this persecution. He gave financial support to the church besides other privileges, such as placing Christians in higher office rankings. He also played a pivotal role in church leadership. Thus, he established an example for the emperor to be responsible to God, to promote spiritual matters within the Roman community (Hart, 2000).
Christianity as Roman Empire state religion
Christianity became a state religion in Roman Empire in 380. As such, the Church adopted similar organizational borders as the Empire, namely the dioceses under the leadership of the bishops. The bishop of Rome was considered the leader of all the other bishops within the Empire.
Middle Ages (476-1299)
The changeover to the Middle Ages was a steady and restricted process. Whereas the rural areas were gaining more power, the urban areas were declining. Additionally, besides the East having more Christians, crucial developments were noted in the West. Due to changing circumstances, the Bishops of Rome maintained their loyalty the Emperor, but they had to bargain power balances with the rulers of ex- Roman provinces. During this period, a number of changes were witnessed in the history of the church (Paul, 2005). One of these changes included the conversion of the Scandinavians. Although this conversion was slow in the initially stages, but tremendous effort was made with Christian rulers eventually coming to power in later years. The other remarkable change is the conversion of the slav. Other changes include mission to Great Moravia, conversion of Bulgaria, and conversion of Rus.
Controversy and Crusades dividing east and West
In the 4th century, the splits and divisions in the unity of Christian which led to the West-East break started becoming obvious. The main reason for this break was the mixing of theological difference with those of linguistic, political, and cultural nature. For instant, great mistrust, jealousy, and rivalry emerged between Constantinople and Rome, when the Roman capital was transferred to Constantinople. Besides, the emerging and extensive spread of Islam considerably contributed to this separation. By the 7th century, there was very poor communication between the Latin West and the Greek East (Diarmaid, 2010).
Crusades refer to the European Christians’ military conflicts over the control of trade routes via Middle East. According to a number of historians, these crusades were intended to spread Christianity as well as to defend it. Particularly, these were campaigns sponsored by papacy against Muslims in the Holy land, which was part of the Roman Empire. Through these crusades, various cities such as Antioch and Jerusalem were captured by Christians.
Eastern Orthodox captivity (1453-1850)
Fall of Constantinople
Constantinople was conquered by Ottoman Empire in 1453. Although the orthodoxy was rigid in some other parts such as Russia, other parts such a Egypt had been under the influence of Islam for a long time. The church, under the Ottoman Empire, became ...
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