Дорога домой. Выпуск ДД-13а  [08фев06]
HISTORY  OF  THE  CHRISTIAN   CHURCH
Short Overview

Short overview of the History of the Christian Church. It gives us an idea about the main events in the history of Christianity.
Contents: Introduction; (1) Beginning of the Church; (2) Five Ancient Churches; (3) Persecution of Christians; (4) Saints in the Church; (5) Holy Fathers and Teachers of the Church; (6) Ecumenical Councils; (7) Holy Scripture (Bible); (8) Apostolic Succession; (9) Roman Church Separates, Year 1054. (10) Orthodox Church after 1054. (11) Roman Church after 1054. (12) Protestant churches. Line Diagram.

Introduction. The Orthodox Church is the original New Testament Church that was established by Jesus Christ and His apostles. This is described in the Epistle of the New Testament, and especially in the Book of Acts. Orthodox Church is made up of national Churches (at present around 12) which are all headed by a local Patriarch. They are all administratively independent from each other and are all equal in status. The Head of the Orthodox Church is Jesus Christ Himself and there is no governing or administrative body for the whole Orthodox Church.
      The Orthodox Church exists continuously and without interruption from its formation and until now. Since 787 there were no changes in the teaching. In 1054 Roman Church separated from the Orthodox Church. In 1517 during the Reformation, many new Protestant Churches were formed. From 1054, The Roman Church made many changes and Protestant Churches even more. During all these times the Orthodox Church remained unchanged.
      During many centuries of existence Non-Orthodox Churches changed the original teaching of the Church. The History of the Church was forgotten or changed on purpose. During all this time, the Orthodox Church teaching did not change and was kept in its original state until present time. Some recent convert said it very well, that the existence of the Orthodox Church is the best kept secret of present days -- certainly in the West.. The teaching of the Orthodox Church is characterized by the complete fullness, since it contains everything that is needed for life and salvation. It fully conforms with nature and all sciences: psychology, physiology, medicine and so on. In many instances it was ahead of all sciences.

1. Beginning of the Church. The history of the Christian Church begins with the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles (Pentecost) (Acts 2:1-4) (this day is a big holy day in the Orthodox Church). The Holy Spirit came onto the apostles and they became braver, more courageous and mannish, and started to speak in languages that they did not know before. Apostles -- basically fisherman, without any education, began to successfully preach Jesus Christ's teaching in various towns and cities.

2. Five Ancient Churches. The result of preaching by the apostles, was the establishment of Christian communities in major cities. Later these communities became Churches. In this manner five ancient Churches were established: (1) Church of Jerusalem, (2) Church of Antioch, (3) Church of Alexandria, (4) Church of Rome, (5) Church of Constantinople. [Antiochian Church is now also known as the Syrian Church. Constantinople (now Istanbul) is in Turkey].
      The Head of the Orthodox Church is Jesus Christ. Each Ancient Church was headed and governed by the local Patriarch (patriarch in the Church of Rome was called the Pope). The Churches are also known as Patriarchates. All five churches were equal in status. (Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Roman Church was the governing church and that the Pope was the head of all five churches). The first of the ancient Churches to be established was the Church of Jerusalem and the last was the Church of Constantinople.

3. Persecution of Christians. First Christians were ancient Jews and they endured great persecution from Jewish leaders who did not follow Jesus Christ and did not recognize His teaching. The first Christian martyr was First Martyr St. Stefan, he was stoned to death by Jews, for Christian preaching.
      After the fall of Jerusalem began persecution by Roman pagans, which was many times worse than by Jews. Romans were against Christians, because Christian teaching was completely opposite to customs, morals and attitudes of pagans. Instead of selfishness it taught love, instead of pride -- humility, instead of luxury -- taught abstention and fasting, eliminated polygamy, promoted liberation of slaves and instead of cruelty was teaching mercifulness and charity. Christianity morally raises and cleanses a man and directs all his activity towards good. Christianity was forbidden, strictly punished, Christians were tortured, and then killed. This situation existed until year 313, when emperor Konstantine not only liberated the Christians, but also made Christianity a state religion.

4. Saints in the Church. Saints are God loving people who somehow distinguished themselves and Christians deeply respects them. Martyrs are those saints who were tortured until their death. Martyr saints are shown on icons with a cross in their hands.
      The names of holy martyrs, and also other saints are recorded in Orthodox calendars. Orthodox Christians remember their saints, study their life, are taking their names for themselves and for their children, celebrate days dedicated to them, get inspired by their examples and in all ways are trying to imitate them, and also are praying to them so that the saints will pray to God for them. Orthodox Russian people are celebrating "Angel's Day" or "Namesday", which is the day of the saint whose name they bear. Birthday is not supposed to be widely celebrated, but only modestly and in one's family.

5. Holy Fathers and Teachers of the Church. From the apostolic times and until our era, there is an unbroken line of Holy Fathers and Teachers of the Church. Holy Fathers are called Church Writers, they became famous by their holy lives. Church writers, who are not saints are called Teachers of the Church. All of them in their works preserved apostolic tradition and explained faith and godliness. In difficult times, they protected Christianity from heretics and false teachers. Here are the most famous names: St. Aphansius the Great (297-373), St. Basil the Great (329-379), St. Gregory the Theologian (326-389) and St. John the Goldenmouth (347-407).

6. Ecumenical Councils. When it was necessary to solve some disputable question and come with a common approach, then in the Church were called Councils. The first official Church council was conducted by apostles in 51 and it is known as the Apostolic Council. Later, in order to coordinate work and teaching of the separate Orthodox Churches, the meetings (Ecumenical Councils) of all Churches were called. On these meetings each Church was represented by many famous delegates. All Churches were equal in status and after discussion and prayer various problems were resolved. The canons (rules) of these Councils became part of the Church's teaching.
      The 1st Ecumenical Council took place in the year of 325 AD in the city of Nicea. There were in attendance 318 bishops, among them was St.Nicolas, the Archbishop of Mir-Likiya. The 2nd Ecumenical Council was in the year of 381 AD and in the city of Constantinople. It was attended by 150 bishops.
      The Creed (the Symbol of Faith), the summary of Christian faith, was written at the 1st and 2nd Ecumenical Council. It consists of 12 sections, which define Christian Faith and it was never to be changed. Since that time Orthodox Church uses unchanged Creed. Western Churches (Roman and Protestant), on the other hand, changed the 8th section of the original Creed.
      The 7th Ecumenical Council took place in the year of 787 AD and in the city of Nicea. It was attended by 367 fathers. This Council is known for its approval of icons to be used as a part of worship. Also, 7th Ecumenical Council was the last council attended by all churches.

7. Holy Scripture (Bible). Holy books, that are part of Holy Scripture, were used by the Christians from the very beginning of the Church. They were finally affirmed by the Church in 51 (85th rule of the Apostolic Council), in 360 (60th rule of local Ladiokia Council), in 419 (33rd rule of local Karfagena Council), and also in 680 (2nd rule of 6th Ecumenical Council in Konstantinople).

8. Apostolic Succession. The Apostolic Succession is a very important indicator which identifies the True Church. It means that Jesus Christ blessed His apostles to carry on His work, and the apostles blessed their students, which in turn blessed the bishops, and which blessed the priests and so on. This way, the blessing and therefore the approval originated by Jesus Christ, is on each priest in the Church.
      The Apostolic Succession exists in the Orthodox Church and in the Roman Church. The Protestant Churches do not have Apostolic Succession. This is one of the reasons why in the view of the Orthodox Church they are not Churches, but only Christian Communities.

9. Roman Church Separates, Year 1054. From the very beginnings of Christianity, in Roman Church there was a desire to be number one. The reason for this was the glory of Rome and Roman Empire, and together with it the spreading of Roman Church. In the year of 1054 the Roman Church separates from the other four Churches and became known as Roman Catholic Church. (The view of the Roman Catholic Churches is that the Orthodox Churches separated, and it calls this the Eastern Schism). Although the term Orthodox was used before, the remaining Churches, in order to emphasize their insistence on the original teaching, started to call themselves the Orthodox Churches. Later other names were used: Orthodox Christian, Eastern Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox Catholic etc. In common usage Orthodox Churches dropped the word "Catholic".

10. Orthodox Church after 1054. After 1054 the Orthodox Church did not introduce any new teachings or changes. New national Orthodox Churches were created by mother churches. Mother church would establish the new church, train priests and bishops and then withdraw. Local language was always used.

11. Roman Church after 1054. After 1054 the Roman Church introduced many changes. Some of them are given below:

  1. 14 so called "Ecumenical Councils" were conducted. They were not attended by other Churches and therefore they are not recognized by them as Ecumenical Councils. Each meeting introduced new changes. The last one was the 21st and it is known as Vatican II. Each council approved various changes in the teaching of the Church.
  2. Celibacy of priests was introduced.
  3. Payment for sins, former and future was introduced.
  4. Julian (Old) Calendar was replaced with Gregorian (New) Calendar. This led to the changes in calculation of Easter date, which were contrary to the canons of the 1st Ecumenical Council.
  5. The 8th Section of the Creed was changed.
  6. Fasts were shortened or eliminated.
  7. Infallibility of Pope was proclaimed.
  8. Immaculate conception of Mother of God was proclaimed (that is that the Mother of God did not inherit the original sin from Adam).

12. Protestant Churches. Due to many and obvious deviations of Roman Church from Christian teaching, and also because the monk Martin Luther did not know about the existence of the Orthodox Church, he requested (petitioned) in 1517 changes. This fact was the beginning of Reformation, when people started leaving Roman Church into new so called Protestant Churches. This was the movement for improvement of the Church, but the result was even worse than before.
      Since Protestants were dissatisfied with the Roman Church authorities, they nearly eliminated 1500 years of Church's Christian experience and left only Holy Scripture (Bible). The Protestants do not recognize confession, icons, saints, fast -- everything that is needed for life, correction and salvation of a person. They kept only Holy Scripture, and the Orthodox Church which worked out and approved the Holy Scripture, did not.
      Because they did not recognize the Holy Fathers which in many ways explained Christian Faith, and are using only Bible, they created uncertainty in the teaching and slowly appeared many various sects (Churches). Now, in the whole world, there are about 25,000 various sects, each calling itself the Christian! As mentioned earlier Protestant Churches have no Apostolic Succession. This is one of the reasons why in the eyes of the Orthodox Church they are not Churches, but only Christian Communities.


Five Ancient Churches:       |  0 AD year
1. Church of Jerusalem       | 
2. Church of Antioch         |  51, Apostolic Council
3. Church of Alexandria      | 
4. Church of Rome            |  Ecumenical Councils: 
5. Church of Constantinople  |  Year, #, City (Canons regarding)
                             |
                             |  325, 1st, Nicea I (Creed, Pascha)
                             |
                             |  381, 2nd, Constantinople I (Creed)
                             |
                             |  431, 3rd, Ephesus
                             |
                             |  451, 4th, Chalcedon
                             |
                             |  553, 5th, Constantinople II
                             |
                             |  680, 6th, Constantinople III
                             |
                             |  787, 7th, Nicea II (Icons)
                             |
                             |
                             |  988: Baptism of Russia
                             |
                             | 1054: Church of Rome separates
                             |------->>|
                             |         |
                             |         | 8th "Ecumenical Council"
                             |         | (Church of Rome only)
                             |         | (Not recognized by OC)
   No changes in teaching -->|         |<-- Changes in teaching
   Apostolic Succession      |         |    Apostolic Succession
                             |         |
                             |         | 1517: Luther separates
                             |         |------->>| (Reformation)
                             |         |         |
                             |         |         |
Present Orthodox Churches -->|         |         |
                             |         |         |<--Changes in
1.  Church of Jerusalem      |         |         |   teaching
2.  Church of Antioch        |         |         |   No Apostolic
3.  Church of Alexandria     |         |         |   Succession
4.  Church of Constantinople |         |         | 
5.  Church of Russia         |         |         | 
6.  Church of Serbia         |         |<-Church |<--Many Protestant
7.  Church of Rumania        |         |  of Rome|   communities
8.  Church of Bulgaria       |         |         |   (churches) 
9.  Church of Albania        |         |         | 
10.*Church of Sinai          |         |<-21st "Ecumenical Council" 
11.*Church of Greece         |         | (Vatican II, Ch. of Rome 
12.*Church of Cyprus         |         |  only. Not recogn. by OC)
   * - Without Patriarch     | 2002    | 2002    | 2002

Notes
[П1] Russian Alphabet (SE-03)


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