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11 CH201 Church History 1

Course Description

A survey of the history of the Christian Church from the apostolic age to the Reformation, with an emphasis on early Asian and Pacific church development and the spread of Christianity around the world.

This study will include major branches and movements and the stories of individuals, ideas, conflicts, and movements shaping the development of Christian doctrine and worship. Major world events will be referenced (contextualized when possible). Students will be able to tell the stories of the early church, in particular those about persons who emphasized holiness, and apply the lessons learned to their current setting.

Course Rational

History as a whole tends to give perspective to the various current crises we are facing today. The historical study of the church in Asia and the Pacific has not been developed. This course will encourage students to research and develop insights into the history of the church in Asia and the Pacific. Pastors need stories that are old as well as new to help connect the congregation with the wider Body of Christ. History helps support theology, mission, and worship by connecting the past with the present. History can often serve as an introduction into previous cross-cultural adaptations of the gospel that might be helpful in the present. Beginning pastors are able to see a wider picture of the Body of Christ through history and this can give them direction and perspective as they follow the calling Jesus has for them.

Program Outcomes


CN-5 Ability to identify and explain the main characteristics of the theological foundations of Christianity.

CN-8 Ability to identify and describe the events, personalities and main themes of the history of the Christian Church.

CN-9 Ability to identify and describe the events, personalities and main themes of the history of the Christian Church in Asia-Pacific.

CN-11 Ability to describe the events, personalities and theology in the history of the Church of the Nazarene and other indigenous churches in Asia-Pacific.

CN-14 Ability to summarize the sources of theological reflection, its historical development, and its contemporary expressions.


CP-16 Ability to analyze the validity of arguments and to identify their presuppositions and consequences.


CH-7 Ability to reflect theologically on life and ministry.


CX-1 Ability to identify and describe the events, personalities, social structures, and history that help shape the context in which we minister.

Activity Outcomes


ADM-3 Explain the development of authority and structures from the early church (New Testament) until modern times.

Dealing Biblically with the Spirit World

DBS-3 Explain how the Church has historically and biblically responded to the spirit world and other religions.


DIS-8 Tell several stories of persecution in history, personal tragedy, and Christian responses.


FAS-1 Fast and pray for a designated time, in imitation of Christ’s experience in the desert. Explain how their life has changed because of fasting.

FAS-3 Explain various types of possible fasts; when and how to fast and the history of fasting in the Church with examples. The student will fast and explain how their life has changed because of fasting.

Impact Community

ICO-5 Tell the story of historical examples of the interaction of meeting human needs and sharing the gospel and explain how to balance them.

ICO-7 Describe the mutual impact of Christianity and the following: Islam, Buddhism, Tribal / Pagan Religions, and Hinduism.


MIN-8 Tell historical stories in a contextual way to the community and church and make local application.

MIN-9 Explain several methods for evangelism and discipleship using examples from Church history.

Personal Spiritual Development (Holiness)

HOL-9 List ten persons from church history who displayed Christlikeness and show how these character qualities can be used to form a model for contemporary Christians to follow.


PRA-1 Model the prayers of Christ and His relationship to the Father through a strong passion for a life of prayer shown by devoting time to prayer and keeping a prayer journal, including a list of lost people for whom God has made them responsible.


PRE-6 Describe how the early church grew, the key themes of early Christian preaching, the methods used to spread the gospel, and how these are relevant today.

PRE-9 Identify several terms used to express experiential holiness, know their historical or Biblical context, and express their individual strengths and weaknesses in reference to the cultural context in which the students will most often find themselves.

PRE-10 Tell the story of the expansion of Christianity during different points in history, noting key ideas, persons, dates, and locations. Explain how holiness has been a key theme of the church throughout the ages. Connect the growth of the church and development of theology to the student’s current context of ministry.


RIT-3 Analyze various historical forms of Christian worship and devotion (Protestant Reformation) and consider how to apply these forms within today’s cultural context.

Content 53%
Competency 18%
Character 14%
Context 15%

Course Textbooks

Examining Our Christian Heritage 1, rev 3. RIIE Course Module. Kansas City: Clergy Services, 2003.

Shelley, Bruce L. Church History in Plain Language. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2013.

Other resources:

Dowley, Tim, ed. A Lion Handbook of the History of Christianity. Revised edition. Oxford, England: Lion Publishing, 1990.

Philip Jenkins, The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. 2009

The following is available from the Wesleyan Holiness Digital Library www.whdl.org:

Greathouse, William M. From the Apostles to Wesley: Christian Perfection in Historical Perspective.

Course Requirements

  1. The local school’s attendance policy should be placed here.
  2. Bible Reading and Prayer Journal: Students should read through the Bible as designated in the Master Plan for Bible Reading in the Course of Study. For this course, students will read 1 Chronicles 8 – 2 Chronicles 20 and Acts 13 – 20. The focus of the Scripture reading and prayer time for this course is on fasting. Students will choose one meal time per week. Instead of cooking and eating during that time, students will spend the time in prayer and fasting (if students are unable to fast food because of medical reasons, please talk to the instructor about other types of fasts). At the end of each week, students will reflect in one paragraph of 200 words in their journal on how God is growing them to be more like Christ.

(Outcomes CH-7, FAS-1, PRA-1)

  1. Small Group Reporting: At the close of each lesson, small groups will discuss questions relevant to the topic addressed. Each student will be given a chance to report back in rotation to the larger group the findings of his or her small group.

(Outcomes CH-7, HOL-9, MIN-8)

  1. Course Content Evaluation: The teacher will compose an assessment for each session. It will be given at the beginning of a session, and will cover material presented during the previous session’s lectures. Here is a list of possible topics; others can be included (not in order):
  2. Time Periods and significant persons in Christian History.
  3. The broad outlines of the development of theology with a focus on Christology.
  4. Geographical mapping of the spread of Christianity (east and west) combined with a time line of that spread.
  5. Explore various types of worship, prayer, devotion, sermons, community service / compassionate ministry / response to the poor, through the first 1500 years.
    • list ten persons from Christian History and list the personal spiritual development practices used by these.
    • List historical examples of ways that Christ statement if you love me you will keep my commands, was fulfilled or not
  6. Trace the teaching of holiness and list people who taught holiness through Church History.
  7. The rise of Islam and its impact on the Church.
  8. The interaction of Buddhism, Hinduism with Christianity.
  9. Pagan / Tribal religions and their interactions with Christianity
  10. Discussion over is this the same God of every religion?

(Outcomes CN-5, CN-8, CN-14, ADM-3, DBS-3, FAS-3, MIN-9, PRE-6, PRE-9, PRE-10, RIT-3)

  1. Group Skit: In groups of 3-5 students, sketches will be given re-enacting an important episode from the history of the early Church. Prior to the skit, the group leader should explain what episode is being acted out, and why it was chosen (i.e. what is its importance). The grade given will be based upon the quality of the presentation, including whether all members of the group were involved in a meaningful way. The teacher should give some time in-class for groups to work on this assignment. It is recommended that the skits be presented to the local community or local church before the last day of lectures if possible.

(Outcomes CN-8, DIS-8, HOL-4, MIN-9)

  1. Community Involvement: In groups of two, students will develop contact points within the community that create interaction with unbelievers using the history of the community as a bridge point. The students will interview at least four (4) people from their local community to learn the history of their local community or how people came to live there. As a form of follow up, students should investigate the history of the Christian church in their community, when Christianity arrived and how it has been received. While interviewing the student will demonstrate intentionally building and modeling strong and honest relationships with non-believers. Students will write a 2-3 page report and reflection on their experience. This history will be shared if possible with the local Church / congregation and with the class.

(Outcomes CN-9, CN-11, CP-16, CX-1, ICO-5, ICO-7, MIN-8, MIN-9,)

  1. Final Essay: The final essay will cover important figures in early Church history. Note to teacher: This exercise can be done orally. Choose two figures (other than Jesus) studied during this class. In a significant essay, address the following questions:
  2. What figure did you choose?
  3. What are the basic facts of his or her life?
  4. In what way did he or she change the course of church history?
  5. How does knowledge of his or her life affect you today in your place of ministry?

(Outcomes CN-9, CP-16, HOL-9)

Course Assessment

Journal                                    10%

Small Group Reports                5%

Course Content Evaluation     30%

Group Skit                               10%

Community Involvement         25%

Final Essay                             20%

Grading Policy

A         90-100%

B         80-89%

C         70-79%

D         60-69%

45-59%           (Passable for the certificate level and toward the requirements for being ordained in the Church of the Nazarene)

If a student marks a final grade lower than 45% he or she must take the course again for credit at the diploma level

Course Outline

  1. Introduction to the History of Christianity
  2. The Spread of Christianity
  3. Early Church Doctrine and Persecution
  4. Development of the Canon and Creeds
  5. Ministry and Expansion of the Early Church
  6. The Formation of the Papacy and Eastern Christianity
  7. Early Middle Ages
  8. Interaction of Church and Culture
  9. Tensions Within the Church
  10. The Rise of Scholarship
  11. The Gospel and Culture Interact—East and West
  12. Late Middle Ages
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