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THE

SIX AGES OF THE CHURCH


1. The First Age: The Beginnings of the Jesus Movement (30-325)
2. The Second Age: The Christian Empire (325-640)
3. The Third Age: The Conversion of the Barbarians (640-960 CE)
4. The Fourth Age: A United Christian Europe (960-1517)
5. The Fifth Age: A Ghetto -Church (1517-1830)
6. The Sixth Age: Our Age (1830-to the present?)
• A major turning point
in Christian history
came in the early 4th
century AD, when the
Roman Emperor
Constantine converted
to Christianity.
2. The Second Age:
The Christian Empire (325-640)
Edict of
Toleration
Church
persecuted
by Rome

1 100 200 300 400 500

Paul Polycarp

Peter Marcion Diocletian


John Tertullian Constantine
Constantine — from
persecution to acceptance

•Constantine created a
favorable environment for
Catholics after his victory over
Maxentius in 312.
•He had a vision of Christ
before battle and his soldiers
used Christ’s monogram on
their shields (chi and rho).
•This led to the unification of
church and state interests
(which is not always a good
thing in history)
Edict of Milan (313)
“Perceiving long ago that religious liberty ought not to be denied, but that it
ought to be granted to the judgment and desire of each individual to
perform his religious duties according to his own choice, we had given
orders that every man, Christians as well as others, should preserve the
faith of his own sect and religion … We resolved … to grant both to the
Christians and to all men freedom to follow the religion which they
choose, that whatever heavenly divinity exists may be propitious to us and
to all that live under our government. We have, therefore, determined,
with sound and upright purpose that liberty is to be denied to no one to
choose and follow the religious observances of the Christians, but that to
each one freedom is to be given to devote his mind to that religion which
he may think adapted to himself, in order that the deity may exhibit to us
in all things his accustomed care and favor … [Freedom] shall be restored
to the said Christians, without demanding money or any other equivalent,
with no delay or hesitation … For by this means … the divine favor toward
us which we have already experienced in many matters will continue sure
through all time” (in Eusebius, CH, X.V.).
• Towards the end of the century, Emperor Theodosius
made Christianity the “official” religion of the empire
(380). This marked the beginning of Christendom in
the sense of the political society…The Constantinian
coalition of the Church and the Empire brought
mixed blessings to the Church but also unleashed
bitter discords: Popes & Emperors struggled for their
freedom & autonomy.
EFFECT OF THE EDICT AND THE
PROCLAMATION
EMPEROR CONSTANTINE AND EMPEROR THEODOSIUS
The Christian religion became legal, persecution ceased, and
thousands of pagans now found it convenient to convert to the
emperor's faith.

• Allied with the


Roman Empire,
Christianity
gradually rose
in power and
hierarchy until
it became the
"Christendom"
that would
encompass the
entire western
world in the
Middle Ages
and
Renaissance.
• In the meantime, the considerable
religious, cultural, and political
differences between the Eastern and
Western churches were becoming
increasingly apparent.

• Religiously, the two parts of


Christendom had different views on
topics such as the use of icons, the
nature of the Holy Spirit, and the date
on which Easter should be celebrated.
• Culturally, the Greek East has always tended to be
more philosophical and abstract in its thinking, while
the Latin West tended toward a more pragmatic and
legal-minded approach.

• The political aspects of the split began with the


Emperor Constantine, who moved the capital of the
Roman Empire from Rome to Constantinople (in
modern Turkey). Upon his death, the empire was
divided between his two sons, one of whom ruled the
western half of the empire from Rome while the other
ruled the eastern region from Constantinople.
• The Council of Nicea declared the Son (Christ)
to be of "one substance" with the Father.
• This declaration was expressed in the Nicene’s
Creed
The Nicene Creed
• We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
• We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, light from light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human.
• For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
• We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father [and the Son],
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
• The 2nd age is known as the:
– “Age of the Church Fathers” (title of the theologians
& teachers) – Athanasius, Basil, Gregory of Nyssa,
Gregory of Nazianzus, who clarified the doctrine of
the Trinity until Council of Constantinople (381). John
Chrysostom (golden mouthed) one of the most
famous preachers of all times. Augustine of Hippo is
the Father of the West – doctor of grace &
predestination.
• The 2nd age is
known as the:
• Age of
Monasticism – a
lay movement
started in Egypt
with the
hermits who
lived by
themselves.
Challenges in the 2nd Age
• Power & riches weakened the Church’s
spiritual vitality.
• It also caused by outside forces, the
Barbarians over-ran the West and the Roman
Empire came to an end in 476.
• In the East, a new era started with the birth of
Islam (622). They conquered the Byzantine
Empire.