Part of our Food For Thought program: a study of church history emphasizing the individuals whom God has used to change the course of history.
Week 1: Peter & Paul
The apostles Peter & Paul were dominant figures in the first century of Christianity, and they set us on the course that we are following to this day.
Extra resources: Lindsey’s handout
Week 2: Athanasius
Born around 300 A.D, Athanasius lived to see Christianity explode from less than 10% of the population to over 50%. Such rapid growth led to doctrinal confusion as new converts struggled to understand the essence of the faith, and this was doubly true since the Roman emperors after Constantine began to publicly proclaim Christianity and to meddle in the affairs of the church. Athanasius was instrumental in maintaining orthodoxy and upholding the decision of the council at Nicaea (which he attended as a young man). He is best known for defending the divinity of Christ in the Arian controversy and for writing down the list of books that comprise the New Testament.
- The Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Athanasius
- Contending For Our All: The Life of Athanasius (a biographical lecture on Athanasius by John Piper – highly recommended)
- How The New Testament Canon Was Formed by Al Baker
Week 3: Augustine & Aquinas
- The Swan is Not Silent: John Piper’s devotional lecture on lessons from Augustine’s life.
- The Summa Theologica Online: Aquinas’ most significant work, online and hyperlinked. Quite handy, really.
Week 4: Luther & Calvin
Around the same time that the Spaniards were invading Mexico, two young leaders named Luther and Calvin revolutionized Europe with their doctrinal stances. Luther emphasized justification by faith as the essence of Christianity, and Calvin emphasized God’s sovereignty in all circumstances. Luther was a creative genius (like Augustine), whereas Calvin was a tremendous synthesizer (like Aquinas).
- On the Bondage of the Will: Luther’s favorite example of his own writing.
- 95 Theses: the full text of Luther’s famous door posting. I dare you to put something as important on your whiteboard!
- For a different take on Luther and Calvin, see what the Catholic Encyclopedia has to say about them: Martin Luther and John Calvin (hint: not altogether complimentary)
- The Five Points of Calvinism: TULIP is an acronym frequently used to summarize some of Calvin’s distinctives. It stands for Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints.