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Church History 1

Course Level: Basic

Course Summary

Basic knowledge and deep appreciation of Church History enables us to understand how the Catholic Church has evolved through time. We see how the Holy Spirit was and continues to be present. We become familiar with men and women who attempted to define the nature and role of the Church in each period of history. The road was not easy as religious, political, economic and social tensions impacted the Church's unfolding story.

Church History I is one of two parts of a basic introduction to the History of the Church. This course covers the period from Pentecost to the beginning of the Reformation. While we cannot cover in depth all the factors which influenced the development of the early Church we are able to begin the journey here.

Successful completion of this course earns 2.5 CEU's. Click here for more information about CEU's.

General Course Objectives

  • Identify the major time periods in the early history of the church and associate key events with these periods
  • Understand significant historical issues in the life of the early Church
  • Recognize important personalities in the Church’s long history and the role they played in shaping the Church.
  • Affirm the presence of the Holy Spirit in the broad sweep of events from the time of Jesus through the Reformation.
  • Explain the cause and impact of the Crusades
  • Explain the development of the Church’s papacy and structure
  • Understand how doctrine developed
  • Understand the Papal (Great) Schism
  • Explain the Church’s Renaissance Period
  • Explain the cause and impact of the beginning Reformation
  • Analyze what we can learn from early Church History for the Church today
  • Better understand one’s personal experience in the Church and our place/role as part of the unfolding story of the Church

Course Materials

  • Required Book: John Vidmar, OP. The Catholic Church Through the Ages: A History Paulist Press. 2005. ISBN: 0809142341: ISBN-13: 978-0809142347
  • Course Materials available at the VLCFF Amazon Store.

Course Structure and Highlights

  • Week 1: The Early Church
    • Identify the Jewish sources of Christianity
    • Explain the Roman Influence on Christianity
    • Explain factors which influenced the emergence of Christian Communities
    • Explain the cause of strife and persecution in the early Church
    • Identify the various leadership and ministry roles which emerged in the early Church
  • Week 2: The Age of the Fathers: 330 - 650 AD
    • Identify the early Fathers of the Church and their significant roles
    • Identify the key heresies in the early Church
    • Identify the significance of the Council of Nicaea and Constantinople
    • Explain the significance of St. Augustine
    • Explain the development of doctrine in the Church
    • Explain how veneration of the saints and canonization emerged in the Church
    • Identify factors which supported the creation of the monastic life
  • Week 3: The Early Middle Ages: 650 - 1000 AD
    • Explain who Muhammad was and the Five Pillars of Islam
    • Identify the tensions that emerged between Constantinople (east) and Rome (west)
    • Identify the three factors which lead to the split between the Roman and Orthodox Church
    • Identify the three primary ways the Romans tried to harness the Barbarians
    • Identify the contribution of Charlemagne
    • Identify how the Papacy was formed and the role of Pope Gregory VII
  • Week 4: The Middle Ages: 1000 - 1450 AD
    • Identify the rise and impact of the Crusades
    • Identify why the Crusades failed
    • Birthing and revival of religious orders
    • Identify key persons and their contributions associated with religious life in the Middle Ages
    • Identify heresies which impacted the Church’s formation of doctrine
    • Explain the purpose of Scholasticism
    • Indicate the difference between the Medieval and Spanish Inquisitions
    • Explain the Papal (Great) Schism
  • Week 5: Protestant and Catholic Reformations: 1450 - 1550 AD
    • Understand the tensions within the Church in the early 15th century
    • Explain how northern and southern Europe contributed to the Renaissance
    • Explain nepotism and simony in the Church
    • Explain the meaning, purpose and controversy around indulgences
    • Understand the reasons for the call to reform the 15th century Church
    • Explain how the early Reformers separated themselves from the Church