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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.

Intended Course Outcomes through Engagements

Students will show growth in the following ways:

  1. Character Formation: Imitate Christ by imitating historical figures in their spiritual maturity, obedience to God, god-like character, Scriptural rootedness, and passion for the work of the kingdom.
  2. Content Processing with Peers: Explain major historical figures and events, along with their impacts on today’s church and theological scene.
  3. Ministry Capability Development: Evaluate the state of their own local churches today, and initiate renewal wherever they are needed.
  4. Application in Mission and Community: Innovate mission strategies that are relevant to today’s society and in accordance with the ethos of the Church of the Nazarene.

Connection to Ordination Preparation:

Learning Outcome Assessment Program Outcome Activity Statement
1 1 CH-7 FAS-1, HOL-9, PRA-1
2 2 CN-5, CN-8, CN-9, CP-16 ADM-3, FAS-3, PRE-6, PRE-9
3 3 CN-14 DIS-8, ICO-5, MIN-9, PRE-10
4 4 CN-11, CX-1 DBS-3, ICO-7, MIN-8, RIT-3


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

 Course Textbooks

Key Texts:

Shelley, Bruce L. Church History in Plain Language. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2013.
Examining Our Christian Heritage 1, rev 3. RIIE Course Module. Kansas City: Clergy Services, 2003.

Additional Learning 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. 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 1 – 2 Chronicles 20 and Acts 15 – 21. The focus of the Scripture reading and prayer time for this course is on fasting. Students will choose one mealtime 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). There should be at least five entries in the journal of at least one paragraph of 200 words each entry. The entries can be scattered across a semester, be daily for intensive modules, or in follow up to modular class meetings. As an alternative, students may give a short oral report in the cohort small group during the class meeting time, sharing how God is developing them through reading the Bible.
  2. Historical Encounters Notebook: Students will work together in small groups (if possible, or individually) to complete a series of short exercises and discussions on the following topics from the early church until the end of the Middle Ages. The group should prepare a simple notebook of their discussions and discoveries:
    1. List at least 10 influential historical persons, when they lived and why they are significant.
    2. List the major church councils and the key topic discussed in them.
    3. The geographical spread of Christianity map.
    4. The development of different worship practices.
    5. The rise of Islam and its impact on the church.
    6. Contextualization of Christianity as it spread throughout the world.
  3. Historical Person Report: Students will write a 750 word (three page) essay reflection that covers an important figure in church history (students may choose one of the persons from the list in Exercise #2.a. above). Students will choose one person from church history from the time of the early church through the Medieval period. Students may use whatever resources are available to them (textbooks, internet, local library). In this essay, address the following questions:
    1. What person did you choose?
    2. What are the basic facts of his or her life?
    3. In what way did he or she change the course of church history?
    4. How does knowledge of his or her life affect you today in your place of ministry?

In some settings and if there is opportunity, students may give an oral report of their study.

  1. Community Discovery: 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 people, the student will demonstrate intentionally bridge building and modeling strong and honest relationships with non-believers. Students will write a 750 word (three page) report and reflection on their experience. This history will be shared if possible with the local Church / congregation and with the class.

Course Assessment

Bible Reading and Prayer Journal     10%
Small Group Reports                           5%
Course Content Evaluation                30%
Group Skit                                           10%
Community Discovery                        25%
Historical Person Report                    20%

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