What You Will Find at Church History 101

CH101 attempts to accurately present the data of the early church. How do we know what happened after the New Testament period? We have an enormous amount of documents from the first three centuries written by those who were leaders. It is amazing that we have so many written sources.

Unfortunately there are many web sites where you can find all kinds of misleading information on the early church. The early church fathers are not easy to read or understand - not easy to read because they tend to be verbose - they are known to drone on and on. They can be difficult to understand because they discuss issues of the day that are not as clear for us. Like the NT writers, sometimes they refer to things their readers fully knew but the details have been lost in the sands of time.

I try to present the data without making theological or doctrinal judgements - just the information as clearly as possible.
I welcome EVERY single serious comment, question or criticism - and I answer almost every single one. The Feedback section is where I will sometimes go beyond the basic data and give you MY personal opinions.

How Did We Get the New Testament?

This is the most common question I am asked when talking with university students. This is an important question. The Christian Church has always believed the New Testament documents to be inspired, thus how we came to our current list of writings is crucial. Watch the videos.

- How do scholars date the NT documents?
- How did the early fathers come up with the listing NT documents?
- What were the factors that pushed the early church to come up with this list?
- When was the canon list finalized?

Emperor Constantine

Constantine is an important figure in early Christianity and this is a very popular section of this site.
Constantine and the Christian Empire, by Charles Odahl - represents 31 years of research, retracing the steps of Constantine across Europe and the Eastern Empire. The most exhaustive work on Constantine ever published.

Numerous CH101 readers have written to me with questions and critical comments about what I have written regarding Emperor Constantine. There is a significant percentage of conservative Protestants who believe Christianity suffered greatly under Constantine. As a young man I was taught that the Catholic Church started with Constantine and this was when Christianity lost its way.

While there are some valid points to be made for Christianity losing its zeal and spiritual power, Constantine gets a bad rap in MY opinion. If you are interested in learning more about Constantine I would highly recommend the text by Charles Odahl to better decide if Constantine was a Christian or just a political opportunist.

Here are some of the articles I have offered on Constantine:
Constantine comes to Power
Constantine and Christian Faith
Constantine at the Council of Nicea
Constantine and Sun Worship (Sol Invictus)
Constantine and Christians in the Military
Constantine Against the Donatists

Tradition and Evangelicalism

If you are interested in knowing how the history of Constantine has been misreported, I highly recommend my book review on DH Williams, "Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism."

Prof. Williams shows how many Reformers misrepresented the history of Constantine by relying on an 8th century forgery for "facts." I highly recommend his book.

"One of the things I was attracted to fairly quickly is the way in which the early writers did not compartmentalize faith as practice and faith as doctrine. They did not separate faith into the intellectual and the spiritual....For these early writers everything was spiritual. All their ethics and all of their theology was driven by their spirituality."

You might also want to read the interview I conducted with Prof. Williams. He is a genuine Christian scholar and was kind enough to sit with me for a few hours to discuss his book and his faith.