5 Events that Shaped the Church

There are an estimated 7 billion people on the earth today, and we are all the product of the countless generations of people who came before us. And just like you and me, they each have a story.

The events that shaped their lives have also had a deep impact on the way we see the world right now. History may not be everyone’s favorite subject, but no one can discount the significant influence it has on our lives each day.

Edmund Burke said, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” But Alton Gansky, author of 30 Events That Shaped the Church, goes even further by saying “True as that is, some history deserves to be repeated. The examples of the brave, the determined, and the dedicated are worth emulating.”

There are hundreds of events that have shaped the way we live, think and worship, yet here are just a few of the ones that made a huge impact throughout the last 2,000 years.

1. Pentecost (AD 30)

This is arguably the very first event that shaped the church. Just fifty days after the crucifixion, and shortly after Jesus ascended into Heaven, the disciples experienced the coming of the Holy Spirit. Amazing signs took place, and all of this led to the very first sermon in the book of Acts. Peter called for baptism and repentance resulting in at least 3,000 conversions that day.

2. The First Council of Nicaea (325)

This was the point in history when many Christians from several countries formed a council to fight the current misunderstanding of Scripture that were leading to heresy. The issue up for debate – the doctrine of the trinity and the nature of Christ as both fully man and fully God. Many churches will still recite the Nicene Creed, whose first form was written during this council.

3. Gutenberg Produces the First Printed Bible (1456)

The invention of a movable-type printing press changed the way books were produced and allowed the opportunity for Bibles to be distributed to the masses. Prior to the advent of the printing press, no one had their own Bible unless they were clergy. In many cases, some local priests wouldn’t have access to the complete Word of God.

4. The Great Awakening in the United States (1740)

This was the time period that Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and other preachers brought revival throughout the colonies that would later be known as the United States. The movement arose out of a time when there was a significant decrease in morals and spirituality. This event had a profound spiritual impact, but many have said it even led to freedom of speech and freedom of religion in government.

5. The Jesus Movement (1960s and 70s)

This significant event may come as a surprise, but the Jesus Movement certainly brought revival into a changing, rebellious society. The Jesus Movement came much as a response that ran parallel to the Hippie Movement. “Jesus People” looked like hippies and talked like hippies, but instead of full rebellion, they clung to the cross. These interesting believers longed for simplicity in faith, likening themselves to first-century Christians.

You can find out more about each of these events in Alton Gansky’s book, 30 Events that Shaped the Chruch: Learning from Scandal, Intrigue, War, and Revival. In it, Alton offers a compelling account of the people and events that have deeply influenced our Christian faith.

Corum Hughes works on the production team for HAVEN Today and is the managing editor of the All About Jesus blog. Drawing from his experiences of managing a McDonald’s, working in mental health, and watching lots and lots of movies, Corum seeks to find Jesus in places he is seldom sought.

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