History of Protestantism

History of Protestantism

The History of Protestantism begins with the Reformation movement, which began as an attempt to reform the Catholic Church and led to the fracturing of Christendom. Many western Christians were troubled by what they saw as false doctrines and malpractices within the Church, particularly involving the teaching and sale of indulgences. Another major contention was the rampant Simony and the tremendous corruption found at the time within the Church's hierarchy. At the time, this systemic corruption often reached all the way up to the Bishop of Rome himself, the Pope.

:"See also Protestant Reformation # History and origins


On 31 October 1517, Martin Luther nailed his "Ninety-Five Theses On the Power of Indulgences" to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church, which served as a pin board for university-related announcements. This document outlined Luther's criticisms of the Church and the Pope. The most controversial points centered on the practice of selling indulgences and the Church's policy on purgatory. Among Luther's spiritual predecessors were men such as John Wycliffe and Jan Hus. Other reformers, such as Huldrych Zwingli and John Calvin, soon followed Luther's lead. Church beliefs and practices under attack by Protestant reformers included purgatory, particular judgment, devotion to Mary, the intercession of the saints, most of the sacraments, and the authority of the Pope.

The most important groups to emerge directly from the reformation were the Lutherans, the Reformed/Calvinists/Presbyterians, the Anabaptists, and the Anglicans. Subsequent Protestant denominations generally trace their roots back to the initial Reformation traditions. The Protestants also accelerated the Catholic or Counter Reformation within the Roman Catholic Church.

Protestant Reformation (1521 – 1579)

*Martin Luther, Johann Tetzel, Philipp Melanchthon, Indulgences, "95 Theses", Nicolaus Von Amsdorf
*"Exsurge Domine", Diet of Worms (1521), Peasants' War
*Huldrych Zwingli and Zürich
*John Calvin and Geneva
*John Knox and Scotland "(see also Scottish Reformation)"
*Radical Reformers — Müntzer, Anabaptists, Menno Simons
*Reformation in France — Huguenots, Pierre Viret
*Baptist Churches
*Presbyterian Church
*Anglican Church
*John Wesley and the Methodist movement
**Francis Asbury, Thomas Coke and American Methodism
*First Great Awakening
*Lutheran Church
*The Puritans
*The Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers
*The English Civil War
*Congress of Religions, 1893
*Welsh Methodist revival

In the early 16th century, the church was confronted with the challenge posed by Martin Luther to the traditional teaching on the church's doctrinal authority and to many of its practices as well. The seeming inability of Pope Leo X (1513 - 1521) and those popes who succeeded him to comprehend the significance of the threat that Luther posed - or, indeed, the alienation of many Christians by the corruption that had spread throughout the church - was a major factor in the rapid growth of the Protestant Reformation. By the time the need for a vigorous, reforming papal leadership was recognized, much of northern Europe had already converted to Protestantism.

Key dates

* 1516: Sir Thomas More publishes "Utopia" in Latin
* October 31, 1517: Martin Luther posts his 95 Theses, protesting the sale of indulgences.
* August 15, 1534: Saint Ignatius of Loyola and six others, including Francis Xavier met in Montmartre outside Paris to found the missionary Jesuit Order.
* October 30, 1534: English Parliament passes Act of Supremacy making the King of England Supreme Head of the Church of England. Anglican schism with Rome.
* 1536 To 1540: Dissolution of the Monasteries in England, Wales and Ireland.
* December 17, 1538: Pope Paul III excommunicates King Henry VIII of England.
* 1543: A full account of the heliocentric Copernican theory titled, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres (De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium) is published. Considered as the start of the Scientific Revolution.
* December 13, 1545: Ecumenical Council of Trent convened during the pontificate of Paul III, to prepare the Catholic response to the Protestant Reformation. Its rulings set the tone of Catholic society for at least three centuries.
* 1568: St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, St. Athanasius and St. Thomas Aquinas are made Doctors of the Church.
* July 14, 1570: Pope St. Pius V issues the Apostolic Constitution on the Tridentine Mass, Quo Primum.
* October 7, 1571: Christian fleet of the Holy League defeats the Ottoman Turks in the Battle of Lepanto.

Magisterial Reformation

Mainstream Protestants generally trace their separation from the Roman Catholic Church to the 16th century, which is sometimes called the "Magisterial Reformation" because the movement received support from ruling authorities or magistrates. This is in contrast to the "Radical Reformation", which did not have state sponsorship.

"Frederick the Wise not only supported Luther, who was a professor at the university he founded, but also protected him by hiding Luther in Wartburg Castle in Eisenach. Zwingli and Calvin were supported by the city councils in Zurich and Geneva. Since the term 'magister' also means 'teacher,' the Magisterial Reformation is also characterized by an emphasis on the authority of a teacher. This is made evident in the prominence of Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli as leaders of the reform movements in their respective areas of ministry. Because of their authority, they were often criticized by Radical Reformers as being too much like the Roman Popes. For example, Radical Reformer Andreas von Bodenstein Karlstadt referred to the Wittenberg theologians as the 'new papists.'" [The Magisterial Reformation - http://www.reformationhappens.com/movements/magisterial/]

An older Protestant church known as the Unitas Fratrum, Unity of the Brethren, Moravian Brethren or the Bohemian Brethren trace their origin to the time of Jan Hus in the early 15th century. As it was led by a majority of Bohemian nobles and recognized for a time by the Basel Compacts, this was the first Magisterial Reformation in Europe. In Germany a hundred years later, the protests erupted in many places at once, during a time of threatened Islamic invasion.

Martin Luther

These protests began in earnest when Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk and professor at the university of Wittenberg, published his "95 Theses On the Power of Indulgences criticising the Church" in 1517. He was building on work done by John Wycliffe and Jan Hus, and other reformers joined the cause. Church beliefs and practices under attack by Protestant reformers included purgatory, particular judgment, devotion to Mary, intercession of the saints, most of the sacraments, and authority of the Pope.

Luther's dissent marked a sudden outbreak with new and irresistible force of discontent which had been pushed underground but not resolved; the quick spread of discontent occurred to a large degree because of the printing press and the resulting swift movement of both ideas and documents (such as the 95 Theses). Information was also widely disseminated in manuscript form, as well as by cheap prints and woodcuts amongst the poorer sections of society.


Parallel to events in Germany, a movement began in Switzerland under the leadership of Huldrych Zwingli. These two movements quickly agreed on most issues, as the recently introduced printing press spread ideas rapidly from place to place, but some unresolved differences kept them separate. Some followers of Zwingli believed that the Reformation was too conservative, and moved independently toward more radical positions, some of which survive among modern day Anabaptists. Other Protestant movements grew up along lines of mysticism or humanism (cf. Erasmus), sometimes breaking from Rome or from the Protestants, or forming outside of the churches.

John Calvin

Following the excommunication of Luther and condemnation of the Reformation by the Pope, the work and writings of John Calvin were influential in establishing a loose consensus among various groups in Switzerland, Scotland, Hungary, Germany and elsewhere.

Geneva became the unofficial capital of the Protestant movement, led by the Frenchman, Jean Calvin, until his death (when Calvin's ally, Zwingli, assumed the spiritual leadership of the group).

The Reformation foundations engaged with Augustinianism. Both Luther and Calvin thought along lines linked with the theological teachings of Augustine of Hippo. The Augustinianism of the Reformers struggled against Pelagianism, a heresy that they perceived in the Catholic church of their day. Ironically, even though both Luther and Calvin both had very similar theological teachings, the relationship between Lutherans and Calvinists evolved into one of conflict.


A spiritual revival also broke out among Catholics soon after Martin Luther's actions, and led to the Scottish Covenanters' movement, the precursor to Scottish Presbyterianism. This movement spread, and greatly influenced the formation of Puritanism among the Anglican Church in England. The Scottish Covenanters were persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church. This persecution by the Catholics drove some of the Protestant Covenanter leadership out of Scotland, and into France and later, Switzerland.

Church of England

The separation of the Church of England or Anglican Church from Rome under Henry VIII, beginning in 1529 and completed in 1536, brought England alongside this broad Reformed movement. However, religious changes in the English national church proceeded more conservatively than elsewhere in Europe. Reformers in the Church of England alternated, for centuries, between sympathies for Catholic traditions and Protestantism, progressively forging a stable compromise between adherence to ancient tradition and Protestantism, which is now sometimes called the via media.

Biblical Canon

Luther made an attempt to remove the books of Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation from the canon (echoing the consensus of several Catholics, also labeled "Christian Humanists" — such as Cardinal Ximenez, Cardinal Cajetan, and Erasmus — and partially because they were perceived to go against certain Protestant doctrines such as sola gratia and sola fide), but this was not generally accepted among his followers. However, these books are ordered last in the German-language Luther Bible to this day. [http://www.bibelcenter.de/bibel/lu1545/ note order: ... Hebr�er, Jakobus, Judas, Offenbarung; see also http://www.bible-researcher.com/links10.html]

Luther also eliminated the deuterocanonical books from the Catholic Old Testament, terming them "Apocrypha, that are books which are not considered equal to the Holy Scriptures, but are useful and good to read". [ [http://books.google.com/books?vid=OCLC05742122&id=rl3lcbLkHV0C&pg=PA521&lpg=PA521&dq=luther+%22are+useful+and+good+to+read%22 The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopædia and Scriptural Dictionary, Fully Defining and Explaining All Religious Terms, Including Biographical, Geographical, Historical, Archæological and Doctrinal Themes] , p.521, edited by Samuel Fallows et al, The Howard-Severance company, 1901,1910. - Google Books] He also argued unsuccessfully for the relocation of Esther from the Canon to the Apocrypha, since without the deuterocanonical sections, it never mentions God. As a result Catholics and Protestants continue to use different canons, which differ in respect to the Old Testament.


Protestantism also spread into France, where the Protestants were nicknamed "Huguenots", and this touched off decades of warfare in France, after initial support by Henry of Navarre was lost due to the "Night of the Placards" affair. Many French Huguenots however, still contributed to the Protestant movement, including many who emigrated to the English colonies.


The most famous and well-known emigration to America was the migration of the Puritan separatists from the Anglican Church of England, who fled first to Holland, and then later to America, to establish the English colonies of New England, which later became the United States.

These Puritan separatists were also known as "the pilgrims". After establishing a colony at Plymouth (in what would become later Massachusetts) in 1620, the Puritan pilgrims received a charter from the King of England which legitimized their colony, allowing them to do trade and commerce with merchants in England, in accordance with the principles of mercantilism. This successful, though initially quite difficult, colony marked the beginning of the Protestant presence in America (the earlier French, Spanish and Portuguese settlements had been Catholic), and became a kind of oasis of spiritual and economic freedom, to which persecuted Protestants and other minorities from the British Isles and Europe (and later, from all over the world) fled to for peace, freedom and opportunity.

The original intent of the colonists was to establish spiritual Puritanism, which had been denied to them in England and the rest of Europe to engage in peaceful commerce with England and the native American Indians and to Christianize the peoples of the Americas.

Protestant Reformation

The Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation are related in the following:
*the role of Johann Gutenberg's printing press in the spread of religious dissent
*Martin Luther
*John Calvin and Calvinism
*King James Version
*Council of Trent
*Lutheran Orthodoxy
*Thirty Years' War
*Radical Reformation and the Anabaptists
**Amish, Hutterites, Mennonites

Relationship between the Protestant Reformation and the Catholic Reformation

*the role of Johann Gutenberg's printing press in the spread of religious dissent
*Martin Luther
*John Calvin and Calvinism
*King James Version
*Council of Trent
*Lutheran Orthodoxy
*Thirty Years' War
*Radical Reformation and the Anabaptists
**Amish, Hutterites, Mennonites

Second Great Awakening and Restorationism

*Second Great Awakening
*Charles Grandison Finney and Revivalism
*Holiness movement in the U.S. and Higher Life movement in Britain
*Campbellites or Stone-Campbell Churches
**The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
**The Church of Christ Movement in Britain and the US
*The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
**Seventh-day Adventist Church
*Jehovah's Witnesses

Anti-clericalism and atheistic communism

In many revolutionary movements the church was associated with the established repressive regimes. Thus, for example, after the French Revolution and the Mexican Revolution there was a distinct anti-clerical tone in those countries that exists to this day. In some cases, opposition to the clergy turned into opposition to religion itself; thus, for example, Karl Marx condemned religion as the "opium of the people" [http://www.baylor.edu/~Scott_Moore/texts/Marx_Opium.html] as he considered it a false sense of hope in an afterlife withholding the people from facing their worldly situation. Based on a similar quote ("opium for the people"), Lenin believed religion was being used by ruling classes as tool of suppression of the people. The Marxist-Leninist governments of the twentieth century were generally atheistic. All of them restricted the exercise of religion to a greater or lesser degree, but only Albania actually banned religion and officially declared itself to be an atheistic state.

20th century

Protestant Christianity in the 20th century was characterized by accelerating fragmentation. The century saw the rise of both liberal and conservative splinter groups, as well as a general secularization of Western society. The Roman Catholic Church instituted many reforms in order to modernize. Missionaries also made inroads in the Far East, establishing further followings in China, Taiwan, and Japan. At the same time, state-promoted atheism in Communist Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union brought many Eastern Orthodox Christians to Western Europe and the United States, leading to greatly increased contact between Western and Eastern Christianity. Nevertheless, church attendance declined more in Western Europe than it did in the East. Christian ecumenism grew in importance, beginning at the Edinburgh Missionary Conference in 1910, and accelerated after theSecond Vatican Council (1962-1965) of the Catholic Church, The Liturgical Movement became significant in both Catholic and Protestant Christianity, especially in Anglicanism.

Another movement which has grown up over the 20th century has been Christian anarchism which rejects the church, state or any power other than God. They usually also believe in absolute nonviolence. Leo Tolstoy's book "The Kingdom of God is Within You" published in 1894, is believed to be the catalyst for this movement. Because of its extremist political views, however, its appeal has been largely limited to the highly educated, especially those with erstwhile humanist sentiments; the thoroughgoing aversion to institutionalism on Christian anarchists' part has also hindered acceptance of this philosophy on a large scale.

The 1950s saw a boom in the Evangelical church in America. The post–World War II prosperity experienced in the U.S. also had its effects on the church. Although simplistically referred to as "morphological fundamentalism", the phrase nonetheless does accurately describe the physical developments experienced. Church buildings were erected in large numbers, and the Evangelical church's activities grew along with this expansive physical growth.

Pentecostal movement

Another noteworthy development in 20th-century Christianity was the rise of the modern Pentecostal movement. Although its roots predate the year 1900, its actual birth is commonly attributed to the 20th century. Sprung from Methodist and Wesleyan roots, it arose out of the meetings at an urban mission on Azusa Street in Los Angeles. From there it spread around the world, carried by those who experienced what they believed to be miraculous moves of God there. These Pentecost-like manifestations have steadily been in evidence throughout the history of Christianity—such as seen in the two Great Awakenings that started in the United States. However, Azusa Street is widely accepted as the fount of the modern Pentecostal movement. Pentecostalism, which in turn birthed the Charismatic movement within already established denominations, continues to be an important force in western Christianity.

Modernism, Fundamentalism, and Neo-Orthodoxy

As the more radical implications of the scientific and cultural influences of the Enlightenment began to be felt in the Protestant churches, especially in the 19th century, Liberal Christianity, exemplified especially by numerous theologians in Germany in the 19th century, sought to bring the churches alongside of the broad revolution that Modernism represented. In doing so, new critical approaches to the Bible were developed, new attitudes became evident about the role of religion in society, and a new openness to questioning the nearly universally accepted definitions of Christian orthodoxy began to become obvious.

In reaction to these developments, Christian fundamentalism was a movement to reject the radical influences of philosophical humanism, as this was affecting the Christian religion. Especially targeting critical approaches to the interpretation of the Bible, and trying to blockade the inroads made into their churches by atheistic scientific assumptions, the fundamentalists began to appear in various denominations as numerous independent movements of resistance to the drift away from historic Christianity. Over time, the Fundamentalist Evangelical movement has divided into two main wings, with the label "Fundamentalist" following one branch, while "Evangelical" has become the preferred banner of the more moderate movement. Although both movements primarily originated in the English speaking world, the majority of Evangelicals now live elsewhere in the world.

A third, but less popular, option than either liberalism or fundamentalism was the neo-orthodox movement, which generally affirmed a higher view of Scripture than liberalism but did not tie the main doctrines of the Christian faith to precise theories of Biblical inspiration. If anything, thinkers in this camp denounced such quibbling between liberals and conservatives as a dangerous distraction from the duties of Christian discipleship. This branch of thought arose in the early 20th century in the context of the rise of the Third Reich in Germany and the accompanying political and ecclesiastical destabilization of Europe in the years before and during World War II. Neo-orthodoxy's highly contextual, dialectical modes of argument and reasoning often rendered its main premises incomprehensible to American thinkers and clergy, and it was frequently either dismissed out of hand as unrealistic or cast into the reigning left- or right-wing molds of theologizing. Karl Barth, a Swiss Reformed pastor and professor, brought this movement into being by drawing upon earlier criticisms of established (largely modernist) Protestant thought made by the likes of Soren Kierkegaard and Franz Overbeck; Dietrich Bonhoeffer, murdered by the Nazis for allegedly taking part in an attempt to overthrow the Hitler regime, adhered to this school of thought; his classic "The Cost of Discipleship" is likely the best-known and accessible statement of the neo-orthodox position.


In the U.S. and elsewhere in the world, there has been a marked rise in the evangelical wing of Protestant denominations, especially those that are more exclusively evangelical, and a corresponding decline in the mainstream liberal churches. In the post–World War I era, Liberalism was the faster growing sector of the American church. Liberal wings of denominations were on the rise, and a considerable number of seminaries held and taught from a liberal perspective as well. In the post–World war II era, the trend began to swing back towards the conservative camp in America's seminaries and church structures. Those entering seminaries and other postgraduate theologically related programs have shown more conservative leanings than their average predecessors.

The neo-Evangelical push of the 1940s and 1950s produced a movement that continues to have wide influence. In the southern U.S., the more moderate neo-Evangelicals, represented by leaders such as Billy Graham, have experienced a notable surge displacing the caricature of the pulpit pounding country preachers of fundamentalism. The stereotypes have gradually shifted. Some, such as Jerry Falwell, have managed to maintain credibility in the eyes of many fundamentalists, as well as to gain stature as a more moderate Evangelical.

Evangelicalism is not a single, monolithic entity. The Evangelical churches and their adherents cannot be easily stereotyped. Most are not fundamentalist, in the narrow sense that this term has come to represent; though many still refer to themselves as such. There have always been diverse views on issues, such as openness to cooperation with non-Evangelicals, the applicability of the Bible to political choices and social or scientific issues, and even the limited inerrancy of the Bible.

However, the movement has managed in an informal way, to reserve the name "Evangelical" for those who adhere to an historic Christian faith, a "paleo-orthodoxy", as some have put it. Those who call themselves "moderate evangelicals"(although considered conservative in relation to society as a whole) still hold fast to the fundamentals of the historic Christian faith. Even "Liberal" Evangelicals label themselves as such not so much in terms of their theology, but rather to advertise that they are progressive in their civic, social, or scientific perspective.

There is some debate as to whether Pentecostals are considered to be Evangelical. Their roots in Pietism and the Holiness movement are undisputedly Evangelical, but their doctrinal distinctives differ from the more traditional Evangelicals, who are less likely to have an expectation of private revelations from God, and differ from the Pentecostal perspective on miracles, angels, and demons. Typically, those who include the Pentecostals in the Evangelical camp are labeled "neo-evangelical" by those who do not. The National Association of Evangelicals and the Evangelical Alliance have numerous Trinitarian Pentecostal denominations among their membership. [ [http://www.eauk.org/churchsearch/ Church Search ] ] Another relatively late entrant to wide acceptance within the Evangelical fold is the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Evangelicals are as diverse as the names that appear—Billy Graham, Chuck Colson, J. Vernon McGee, Benny Hinn, J.I. Packer, John R.W. Stott, Pat Robertson, Jimmy Carter, etc.—or even Evangelical institutions such as Dallas Theological Seminary (dispensationalist), Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Boston), Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Chicago), Wheaton College (Illinois), the Christian Coalition, The Christian Embassy (Jerusalem), etc. Although there exists a diversity in the Evangelical community worldwide, the ties that bind all Evangelicals are still apparent. A "high view" of Scripture, belief in the Deity of Christ, the Trinity, salvation by grace through faith, and the bodily resurrection of Christ, to mention a few.

10/40 Window

Evangelicals defined and prioritized efforts to reach the "unreached" in the late 20th and early 21st centuries by focusing on countries located between 10 degrees and 40 degrees North of the equator and stretching from North Africa across to China. This area is mostly dominated by Muslim nations, many who do not allow missionaries of other religions to enter their countries.

Spread of secularism

In Europe there has been a general move away from religious observance and belief in Christian teachings and a move towards secularism. The "secularization of society", attributed to the time of the Enlightenment and its following years, is largely responsible for the spread of secularism. For example the Gallup International Millennium Survey [http://www.gallup-international.com/survey15.htm] showed that only about one sixth of Europeans attend regular religious services, less than half gave God "high importance", and only about 40% believe in a "personal God". Nevertheless the large majority considered that they "belong" to a religious denomination. Numbers show that the "de-Christianization" of Europe has slowly begun to swing in the opposite direction. Renewal in certain quarters of the Anglican church, as well as in pockets of Protestantism on the continent attest to this initial reversal of the secularization of Europe, the continent in which Christianity originally took its strongest roots and world expansion.

In North America, South America and Australia, the other three continents where Christianity is the dominant professed religion, religious observance is much higher than in Europe. At the same time, these regions are often seen by other nations as being uptight and "Victorian", in their social moresFact|date=February 2007. In general, the United States leans toward the conservative in comparison to other western nations in its general culture, in part due to the Christian element found primarily in its Midwestern and southern states.

South America, historically Catholic, has experienced a large Evangelical and Pentecostal infusion in the 20th century due to the influx of Christian missionaries from abroad. For example: Brazil, South America's largest country, is the largest Catholic country in the world, and at the same time is the largest Evangelical country in the world (based on population). Some of the largest Christian congregations in the world are found in Brazil.

Australia has seen renewal in different parts of her Anglican Church, as well as a growing presence of an Evangelical community. Although more "traditional" in its Anglican roots, the nation has seen growth in its religious sector. Some of its religious programming is even exported via satellite.


ee also

*History of the Roman Catholic Church
*Revival (religious)
*Timeline of Christianity
*Bible belt
*Esoteric Christianity Christian religion as a Mystery religion
*Jesus in the Christian Bible
*Cultural and historical background of Jesus

Print resources

*cite book |last=Fuller|first=Reginald H.|title=The Foundations of New Testament Christology| location = New York|publisher=Scribners| year=1965 |id=ISBN 0-684-15532-X
* cite book
last = González | first = Justo L.
title = The Story of Christianity: Vol. 1: The Early Church to the Reformation
location = San Francisco
publisher = Harper
year = 1984
id = ISBN 0-06-063315-8

* cite book
last = González | first = Justo L.
title = The Story of Christianity, Vol. 2: The Reformation to the Present Day
location = San Francisco
publisher = Harper
year = 1985
id = ISBN 0-06-063316-6

* cite book
last = Latorette | first = Kenneth Scott
title = A History of Christianity, Volume 1: Beginnings to 1500 (Revised)
year = 1975
location = San Francisco
publisher = Harper
id = ISBN 0-06-064952-6 (paperback)

* cite book
last = Latorette | first = Kenneth Scott
title = A History of Christianity, Volume 2
year = 1975
location = San Francisco
publisher = Harper
id = ISBN 0-06-064953-4 (paperback)

* cite book
last = Shelley | first = Bruce L.
year = 1996
title = Church History in Plain Language
edition = 2nd edition
id = ISBN 0-8499-3861-9

* cite book
last = Hastings | first = Adrian
year = 1999
title = A World History of Christianity
publisher = Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing
id = ISBN 0802848753

External links

The following links give an overview of the history of Christianity:
* [http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/cgi-local/DHI/dhi.cgi?id=dv1-49 "Dictionary of the History of Ideas":] Christianity in History
* [http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/cgi-local/DHI/dhi.cgi?id=dv1-50 "Dictionary of the History of Ideas":] Church as an Institution
* [http://www.wikichristian.org/index.php?title=Church_history_and_denominations Church history at WikiChristian]
* [http://11.1911encyclopedia.org/C/CH/CHURCH_HISTORY.htm Church History] in the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica

The following link provides quantitative data related to Christianity and other major religions, including rates of adherence at different points in time:
* [http://www.thearda.com American Religion Data Archive]
* [http://www.baptistpillar.com/bd0547.htm Historical Christianity] , A time line with references to the descendants of the early church.

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