A Glorious Institution: The Church in History (Revised and Updated)
Part One: When the Church Was Young A.D. 33–754 focuses on the early growth of the Christian Church, developing from a small assembly of believers in Jerusalem to become a vast spiritual kingdom touching the lives of millions in many lands. Under the influence of Church Fathers and councils, carefully worded creeds guided the core doctrines of Christianity. The saints were persecuted at the hands of Jews and then Gentiles, but the Church miraculously survived to fulfill the Great Commission for its day.
Part Two: The Church in the Middle Ages A.D. 754–1517 traces the days of Charlemagne to the dawn of the Reformation. Popes and Emperors maneuvered for church power, bringing division into East and West, control by civil governments, and great wealth. The Crusades brought contact with the rich civilizations of the East. New ways of thinking swept in the Renaissance. Pagan culture mixed with Christian truth, resulting in new persecution from within and urgent cry for reform.
Part Three: The Reformation and Its Aftermath 1517–1648 observes the tremendous upheaval when brave men were transforming the spiritual Church into conformity with God’s inerrant Word, in deliberate departure from the traditions of men. We see Luther’s increasing conviction in Germany, then Zwingli, Calvin, and Farel in Switzerland—at great personal cost. We see the spreading flame of reformation come to France, the Netherlands, Scotland, and England, including incredible struggle for supremacy between popes, monarchs, and ideas. We see the rise of different Protestant denominations as men struggled to understand the clear teachings of Scripture.
In Part Four: The Church in the Modern Age 1648–present, we see the difficulty men have when given freedom to study the Scriptures, to avoid false doctrines springing out of pride and greed. Nevertheless, “our God reigns!”—there were Great Awakenings as the Holy Spirit revived true Christianity repeatedly and brought evangelical missions movements worldwide. Though it faces real challenges, the Church Triumphant continues to grow as a blessing to the world.