Church Timeline

For the first 450 years of her history, the Church was ONE. Five historic Patriarchal centers (called the “Pentarchy”) – Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, Alexandria, and Constantinople – formed a cohesive whole and were in full communion with each other. 

29 Pentecost

49Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15) establishes precedent for addressing Church disputes in Council. James presides over the council.

69Ignatius is consecrated as Bishop in Antioch in the heart of New Testament era. Other well known apologists for the faith at this time are Polycarp, and Clement.

95Book of Revelation written, probably the last of the New Testament books.

150Justin Martyr describes the liturgical worship of the Church, centered in the Lord’s Supper.

313 – The Edict of Milan marks an end to the period of Roman Empire’s persecution of Christianity.

325 1st Ecumenical Council – Nicea settles the major heretical challenge to the Christian faith when the heretic Arius asserts Christ was created by the Father. Athanasius defends the eternality of the Son of God. The Arians continue their assault on true Christianity for years. Nicea is the first of Seven Ecumenical (Churchwide) Councils.

3812nd Ecumenical Council – Constantinople repudiated Arianism and Macedonianism, declared that Christ is “born of the Father before all time”, completed the Nicene Creed in regard to the Holy Spirit

431 – 3rd Ecumenical Council – Ephesus repudiated Nestorianism, proclaimed the Virgin Mary as the Theotokos (“Birth-giver to God”, or “God-bearer”), repudiated Pelagianism, and reaffirmed the Nicene Creed. Cyril of Alexandria’s Christology was proclaimed as the Orthodox Christology.

4514th Council – Chalcedon affirms the apostolic doctrine of Christ’s two natures. Eutychianism, the Monophysite heresy involved in the controversy, was condemned.

However, the tragedy of the first schism in the Church occurs between those who fully embraced the Chalcedon Creed as worded and some who did not, such as Coptic and other Oriental Orthodox Christians, over what most agree now were semantic and political disagreements. Both the Eastern Orthodox Churches and the Coptic Orthodox Churches in essence hold to the same Christology albeit from two different vantage points. The Oriental Christians viewed Chalcedon as uncanonically changing the faith of Nicea and altering St Cyril’s Christology that had been previously affirmed as Orthodox at Ephesus.

553 – 5th Council – Constantinople II, reaffirmed decisions and doctrines explicated by previous Councils, condemned new Arian, Nestorian, and Monophysite writings.

589 –  In a local synod in Toledo, Spain, the filioque clause (“and the Son”)  is added to the Nicene Creed and adopted by Rome asserting that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the father and the Son – an innovation the Orthodox reject.

6806th Council – Constantinople III repudiated Monothelitism  and Monoenergism.

720John of Damascus (c. 676 – 4 December 749) writes “Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith” presenting Christianity to Muslim Caliph

787 7th Council – Nicea II – The era of “Ecumenical Councils” ends at Nicea II, the Seventh Council restoring the centuries old use of iconography into the Church.

988Conversion of Russia begins. Russian emissaries came to Constantinople and stated they “experienced heaven on earth” and took Orthodox Christianity back to Russia

1054 – The Great Schism occurs. Two major issues include Rome’s claim to a universal papal supremacy and her addition of the filioque clause to the Nicene Creed.

1066 Norman conquest of Britain. Orthodox hierarchs are replaced with those loyal to Rome.

1095 – The Crusades begun by the Roman Church. The tragic Sack of Constantinople by Rome (1204) and desecration of the Orthodox Church of Hagia Sophia adds to the estrangement between East and West.

1333Gregory Palamas defends the Orthodox practice of hesychast spirituality and the use of the Jesus prayer.

1453Turks overrun Constantinople; Byzantine Empire ends. Eastern Churches ‘fenced in’ by Islam. Pope of Rome free to take control and change the faith of the Church

1517Martin Luther nails 95 Theses against the Roman use of indulgences to the door of the Roman Church in Wittenberg, starting the so-called ‘Protestant’ Reformation.

1529The Church of England begins pulling away from Rome.

1576 The followers of Luther beseech the Patriarch of Constantinople to validate the ‘Augsburg Confession.”

1854 – Rome establishes the Immaculate Conception dogma.

1870 – Papal Infallibility becomes Roman dogma.

2013 – Christianity, the deposit of Christian truth once delivered to God’s people continues. The Church moves forward and the gates of Hell still have not prevailed over it.