Christian History Timeline: Important Events in Church History

Leaders & Writings

Leaders & Writings: The Age of Jesus and the Apostles (A.D.-70)

30: Crucifixion of Jesus; Pentecost

35: Stephen martyred; Paul converted

57: Paul’s Letter to the Romans

Leaders & Writings: The Age of Early Christianity (70-312)

150: Justin Martyr dedicates his First Apology

155: Polycarp martyred

180: Irenaeus writes Against Heresies

196: Tertullian begins writing

215: Origen begins writing

248: Cyprian elected bishop of Carthage

Leaders & Writings: The Age of the Christian Empire (312-590)

323: Eusebius completes Ecclesiastical History

386: Augustine converts to Christianity

398: Chrysostom consecrated bishop of Constantinople

440: Leo the Great consecrated bishop of Rome

524: Boethius completes Consolation of Philosophy

590: Gregory the Great elected Pope

Leaders & Writings: Christian Middle Ages (590-1517)

731: Bede’s Ecclesiastical History published

781: Alcuin becomes royal adviser to Charles

1093: Anselm becomes archbishop of Canterbury

1141: Hildegard of Bingen begins writing

1272: Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae

1370: Catherine of Siena begins her Letters

1373: Julian of Norwich receives her revelations

1415: Hus burned at stake

1418: Thomas á Kempis writes The Imitation of Christ

1431: Joan of Arc burned at stake

Leaders & Writings: Age of the Reformation (1517-1648)

1517: Luther posts his Ninety-Five Theses

1518: Ulrich Zwingli comes to Zurich

1536: Calvin publishes first edition of Institutes

1536: Menno Simons baptized as Anabaptist

1549: Book of Common Prayer released

1559: John Knox makes final return to Scotland

1563: Foxe’s Book of Martyrs published

1565: Teresa of Avila writes The Way of Perfection

1603: Arminius appointed professor at Leyden

1628: Jan Comenius flees

1647: George Fox begins to preach

Leaders & Writings: Age of Reason & Revival (1648-1789)

1654: Pascal has definitive conversion experience

1675: Spencer’s Pia Desideria advances Pietism

1678: Bunyan writes The Pilgrim’s Progress

1729: Jonathan Edwards becomes pastor at Northampton

1735: George Whitefield converted

1738: John and Charles Wesley’s evangelical conversions

1739: George Whitefield starts open-air preaching

1771: Francis Asbury sent to America

1780: Robert Raikes begins his Sunday school

Leaders & Writings: Age of Progress (1789-1914)

1799: Schleiermacher publishes Lectures on Religion

1807: Wilberforce leads abolition of slave trade

1817: Elizabeth Fry organizes relief in Newgate Prison

1834: Mueller opens Scriptural Knowledge Institute

1835: Finney’s Lectures on Revivals

1836: Mueller opens orphanage

1844: Kierkegaard writes Philosophical Fragments

1845: John Henry Newman becomes Roman Catholic

1845: Phoebe Palmer writes The Way of Holiness

1854: Spurgeon becomes pastor of New Park St. Church

1855: D. L. Moody converted

1864: Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua

1896: Billy Sunday begins leading revivals

1906: Schweitzer’s Quest of the Historical Jesus

Leaders & Writings: Age of Ideologies (1914-Present)

1919: Karl Barth writes Commentary on Romans

1931: C. S. Lewis comes to faith in Christ

1941: Niebuhr’s Nature and Destiny of Man

1945: Bonhoeffer executed

1949: Los Angeles Crusade catapults Billy Graham

1951: Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison

1963: King leads March on Washington

Orders & Denominations

Orders & Denominations: The Age of Early Christianity (70-312)

270: Anthony takes up life of solitude

Orders & Denominations: The Age of the Christian Empire (312-590)

358: Basil the Great founds monastic community

909: Monastery at Cluny founded

540: Benedict writes his monastic Rule

Orders & Denominations: Christian Middle Ages (590-1517)

1115: Bernard founds monastery at Clairvaux

1208: Francis of Assisi renounces wealth

1220: Dominican Order established

Orders & Denominations: Age of the Reformation (1517-1648)

1525: Anabaptist movement begins

1530: Augsburg Confession

1534: Act of Supremacy; Henry VIII heads Eng. church

1540: Loyola gains approval for Society of Jesus

1562: Heidelberg Catechism

1563: First text of Thirty-Nine Articles issued

1577: Formula of Concord

1609: Smyth baptizes self and first Baptists

1618: Synod of Dort begins

1646: Westminster Confession drafted

Orders & Denominations: Age of Reason & Revival (1648-1789)

1652: George Fox founds “Friends”

1773: Jesuits suppressed (until 1814)

1784: Wesley provides for “Conference of Methodists”

Orders & Denominations: Age of Progress (1789-1914)

1811: Campbells begin Restoration Movement

1816: Richard Allen elected bishop of new AME church

1819: Channing issues Unitarian Christianity

1827: J. N. Darby founds the Plymouth Brethren

1844: First Adventist churches formed

1878: William and Catherine Booth found Salvation Army

1885: Berlin Congress spurs African independent churches

1906: Azusa Street revival

Orders & Denominations: Age of Ideologies (1914-Present)

1950: Mother Teresa founds Missionaries of Charity

1960: Charismatic renewal advances

Councils, Creeds, & Controversies

Councils, Creeds, & Controversies: The Age of Jesus and the Apostles (A.D.-70)

48: Council of Jerusalem

Councils, Creeds, & Controversies: The Age of Early Christianity (70-312)

172: Montanist movement begins

Councils, Creeds, & Controversies: The Age of the Christian Empire (312-590)

312: Donatist Schism begins

325: First Council of Nicea

381: First Council of Constantinople

431: Council of Ephesus

451: Council of Chalcedon

Councils, Creeds, & Controversies: Christian Middle Ages (590-1517)

663: Synod of Whitby

726: Controversy over icons begins in Eastern church

787: 2nd Council of Nicea settles icon controversy

861: East-West conflict over Photius begins

1054: East-West Split

1141: Abelard’s teaching condemned

1173: Waldensian movement begins

1215: Innocent III assembles Fourth Lateran Council

1232: Gregory IX appoints first “inquisitors”

1309: Papacy begins “Babylonian” exile in Avignon

1378: Great Papal Schism begins

1414: Council of Constance begins

1479: Establishment of Spanish Inquisition

1497: Savonarola excommunicated

Councils, Creeds, & Controversies: Age of the Reformation (1517-1648)

1521: Diet of Worms

1527: Schleitheim Confession of Faith

1529: Colloquy of Marburg

1545: Council of Trent begins

1572: St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

1598: Edict of Nantes (revoked 1685)

Councils, Creeds, & Controversies: Age of Progress (1789-1914)

1833: John Keble’s sermon launches Oxford Movement

1854: Immaculate Conception made dogma

1864: Syllabus of Errors issued by Pope Pius IX

1870: First Vatican Council declares papal infallibility

1908: Federal Council of Churches forms

1910: The Fundamentals begin to be published

1912: Social Creed of the Churches adopted

Councils, Creeds, & Controversies: Age of Ideologies (1914-Present)

1934: Barmen Declaration

1942: National Association of Evangelicals forms

1948: World Council of Churches organized

1954: Methodists ordain women

1962: Vatican II opens

1968: Medellin Conference advances liberation theology


Missions: The Age of Jesus and the Apostles (A.D.-70)

46: Paul begins missionary journeys

The Age of the Christian Empire (312-590)

342: Ulphilas’s mission to Goths

432: Patrick begins mission to Ireland

563: Columba establishes mission community on Iona

Missions: Christian Middle Ages (590-1517)

597: Ethelbert of Kent converted

716: Boniface begins mission to the Germans

862: Cyril and Methodius begin mission to Slavs

988: Christianization of “Russia”

Missions: Age of the Reformation (1517-1648)

1549: Xavier begins mission to Japan

1582: Ricci and Ruggieri begin mission in China

1732: First Moravian missionaries

Missions: Age of Progress (1789-1914)

1793: William Carey sails for India

1810: American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions

1816: Judsons sail for Asia

1825: American Tract Society

1840: Livingstone sails for Africa

1859: Japan reopens to foreign missionaries

1865: J. Hudson Taylor founds China Inland Mission

1886: Student Volunteer Movement begins

1910: Edinburgh International Missionary Conference begins

Missions: Age of Ideologies (1914-Present)

1924: First Christian radio broadcasts

1940: First Christian TV broadcasts

1950: Missionaries forced to leave China

1950: Mother Teresa founds Missionaries of Charity

1974: Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization

Church & State

Church & State: The Age of Jesus and the Apostles (A.D.-70)

64: Fire of Rome; Nero launches persecutions

65: Peter and Paul executed

Church & State: The Age of Early Christianity (70-312)

110: Ignatius of Antioch martyred

230: Earliest known public churches built

250: Decius orders empire-wide persecution

Church & State: The Age of the Christian Empire (312-590)

303: “Great Persecution” begins under Diocletian

312: Conversion of Constantine

313: “Edict of Milan”

381: Christianity made state religion of Roman Empire

390: Ambrose defies emperor

445: Valentinian’s Edict strengthens primacy of Rome

529: Justin publishes his legal Code

Church & State: Christian Middle Ages (590-1517)

750: Donation of Constantine written about this time

754: Pepin III’s donation helps found papal states

800: Charlemagne crowned Holy Roman Emperor

1077: Emperor submits to Pope over investiture

1122: Concordat of Worms ends investiture controversy

1170: Thomas Becket murdered

1302: Unam Sanctam proclaims papal supremacy

Church & State: Age of the Reformation (1517-1648)

1555: Peace of Augsburg

1589: Moscow becomes independent patriarchate

1618: Thirty Years’ War begins

1636: Roger Williams founds Providence, R.I.

1648: Peace of Westphalia ends Thirty Years’ War

Church & State: Age of Reason & Revival (1648-1789)

1653: Cromwell named Lord Protector

1689: Toleration Act in England

Church & State: Age of Progress (1789-1914)

1789: Bill of Rights

1801: Concordat between Napoleon and Pius VII

Church & State: Age of Ideologies (1914-Present)

1979: John Paul II’s first visit to Poland


Bible: The Age of Early Christianity (70-312)

150: Marcion’s canon rejects Old Testament

Bible: The Age of the Christian Empire (312-590)

343: Ulphilas’s Gothic Bible

367: Athanasius’s letter defines New Testament canon

405: Jerome completes the Vulgate

Bible: Christian Middle Ages (590-1517)

1380: Wyclif supervises English Bible translation

1456: Gutenberg produces first printed Bible

1488: First complete Hebrew Old Testament

1516: Erasmus publishes Greek New Testament

Bible: Age of the Reformation (1517-1648)

1522:Luther’s German New Testament published

1525: Tyndale’s New Testament published

1535: Coverdale Bible

1560: Geneva Bible

1611: King James Version of Bible published

Bible: Age of Progress (1789-1914)

1804: British and Foreign Bible Society formed

Bible: Age of Ideologies (1914-Present)

1934: Wycliffe Bible Translators founded

1946: Revised Standard Version New Testament

1947: Dead Sea Scrolls discovered

1971: The Living Bible


Arts: Christian Middle Ages (590-1517)

500: Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite writes

600: Gregory’s chants

650: Iconography flourishes

698: Lindisfarne Gospels

730: First known church organ

965: First English polyphony

1150: Mystery plays flourish

1260: Chartres Cathedral

1321: Dante completes Divine Comedy

1476: Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales

1506: Work begins on new St. Peter’s in Rome

1512: Michelangelo completes Sistine Chapel frescoes

Arts: Age of the Reformation (1517-1648)

1562: Genevan Psalter

Arts: Age of Reason & Revival (1648-1789)

1667: Milton’s Paradise Lost

1668: Rembrandt paints Return of the Prodigal Son

1707: Watts publishes Hymns and Spiritual Songs

1738: Bach’s Mass in B Minor

1742: First production of Handel’s Messiah

1779: Newton and Cowper publish Olney Hymns

Arts: Age of Progress (1789-1914)

1873: Moody and Sankey’s Sacred Songs and Solos

1880: Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov

1935: Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral

World Events

World Events: The Age of Jesus and the Apostles (A.D.-70)

70: Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus

The Age of the Christian Empire (312-590)

410: Rome sacked by Visigoths

622: Muhammad’s hegira: birth of Islam

World Events: Christian Middle Ages (590-1517)

732: Battle of Tours

843: Treaty of Verdun divides Carolingian Empire

1095: First Crusade launched by Council of Clermont

1150: Universities of Paris and Oxford founded

1215: Magna Carta

1348: Black Death

1453: Constantinople falls; end of Eastern Roman Empire

1492: Columbus lands in Western hemisphere

World Events: Age of the Reformation (1517-1648)

1524: The Peasants’ Revolt erupts in Germany

1588: English defeat Spanish Armada

1605: Shakespeare’s MacBeth

1620: Mayflower Compact drafted

1633: Galileo forced to recant his theories

1636: Harvard College founded

1642: English Civil War

World Events: Age of Reason & Revival (1648-1789)

1687: Newton publishes Principia Mathematica

1740: Great Awakening peaks

1759: Voltaire’s Candide

1773: American Revolution

1781: Kant publishes Critique of Pure Reason

World Events: Age of Progress (1789-1914)

1789: French Revolution begins

1793: Festival of Reason (de-Christianization of France)

1804: Napoleon emperor

1848: Marx publishes Communist Manifesto

1851: Harriet Beecher Stowe releases Uncle Tom’s Cabin

1859: Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species

1861: U.S. Civil War

1895: Freud publishes first work on psychoanalysis

World Events: Age of Ideologies (1914-Present)

1914: World War I begins

1917: Bolshevik Revolution

1920: U.S. women’s suffrage

1929: Great Depression

1939: World War II begins

1945: Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima

1966: Chinese Cultural Revolution

1985: Gorbachev General Secretary of Soviet Communist Party

By the Editors

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #28 in 1990]

Next articles

Important Events in Church History: A selective chronological listing

A selective chronology of church history and world events, mostly from a western point of view.

the Editors

1517 Luther Posts the 95 Theses

An obscure monk invited debate on a pressing church issue—and touched off a history-shattering reform movement.

Eric W. Gritsch

1521 The Diet of Worms

Was the wayward Luther free to dissent? A German council rendered a judgment.

Eric W. Gritsch

1525 The Anabaptist Movement Begins

Hated by Protestants and Catholics alike, these “radical reformers” wanted to not merely reform the church but restore it.

Show more

Subscribe to magazine

Subscription to Christian History magazine is on a donation basis


Support us

Christian History Institute (CHI) is a non-profit Pennsylvania corporation founded in 1982. Your donations support the continuation of this ministry


Subscribe to daily emails

Containing today’s events, devotional, quote and stories