9 Facts You Didn’t Know About the History of Christianity | Phactual

9 Facts You Didn’t Know About the History of Christianity

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9 Facts You Didn’t Know About the History of Christianity

All we can say is that Christianity has a long and often very ugly history.

  1. There were more than four gospels

The New Testament of the Bible has four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. However, there were more – 52 more, with names like the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Truth, and the Gospel of Judas. The problem with all of these accounts of Jesus was that they did not agree with each other, so they were divisive for the young church. Argument ensued, eventually leading to the writing of Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon in the year 180, where he wrote,The heretics boast that they have many more gospels than there really are. But really they don’t have any gospels that aren’t full of blasphemy. There actually are only four authentic gospels. And this is obviously true because there are four corners of the universe and there are four principal winds, and therefore, there can be only four gospels that are authentic. These, besides, are written by Jesus’ true followers.”

"Also, yo' momma."

“Also, yo’ momma.”

  1. Christianity was an apocalyptic sect

Early Christians believed that the end was nigh. Jesus, John the Baptist, and the apostles all believed that the end of the world was imminent and would happen within their followers’ lifetimes. Some secular scholars even believe that this was Jesus’ main message. Remember Matthew 3:2: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”


  1. The early church was partly controlled by Jesus’ relatives

Following the death of Jesus, the administration of the church fell to the apostles and Jesus’ relatives. The best example is Jesus’ brother James, who took over the church in Jerusalem while the apostles dispersed.

  1. There were literal underground churches

It probably comes as little surprise that some of the Romans were not fond of the Christians. Official persecution happened on and off until the year 313 AD, when Constantine, the first Christian Roman emperor, issued the Edict of Milan, where he agrees to treat the Christians with benevolence. So, while these persecutions were in effect, some Christians took to tunnels under their cities as safe havens.

  1. The earliest Christian people were just Jewish people

Jesus Christ was a Jew. The early Christians were also Jews, whose main distinction was that they believed, like Jesus did, that the world was coming to an end.

  1. Christians were blamed for the Great Fire of Rome

Remember the mention above that the Romans did not like the Christians? At one point, a huge fire erupted in Rome that lasted six days and completely destroyed three whole sections of the city (out of 14 total – only 4 escaped damage). The emperor at the time, Nero, blamed the horrible fire on the Christians.

Not that it would have made them feel better, but at least they were persecuted by a dude with a mullet and a gross jowl beard. By cjh1452000 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Not that it would have made them feel better, but at least they were persecuted by a dude with a mullet and a gross jowl beard.
By cjh1452000 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

  1. Church doctrine was decided by a Roman Emperor

In AD 325, Christianity was divided. There weren’t a uniform set of rules across Christendom, and Christian sects disagreed bitterly about the nature of Jesus – was he “begotten” directly from God’s being, or was he created out of nothing? Or, in other words, is Jesus just as divine as God? So, Emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicea, inviting Christian leaders from all across the world to finally hash it out.

  1. There was a God contest to convert people

As Christianity expanded, they eventually ran into barbarians in the north who still worshiped the Norse gods. So, the Emperor sent Bishop Boniface to what was then called Germania to convert the people. According to the vitae (biographies) about Boniface, he chopped down a sacred tree of the German people known as Donar’s Oak, sometimes known as “Thor’s Oak.” Reportedly, while Boniface was chopping down the tree, a wind miraculously blew it over. The Germans were apparently amazed that Boniface wasn’t struck down by their gods and converted, bowing to the power of this new God.

"My God is greater than your God. Also, yo' mamma."

“My God is greater than your God. Also, yo’ mamma.”

  1. There were three Popes once

In what was known as the Western Schism, three Popes were elected at once. It happened due to something called the Avignon Papacy, where the seat of the Pope was moved out of Rome and into France. Then the Pope finally decided to return to Rome and died. The Roman people forced the election of a Roman pope – this was intolerable with many cardinals, who left Rome and elected their own pope, starting a new line of Avignon popes.

These two popes excommunicated each other.

Later, after efforts to resolve the double papacy peacefully failed, the cardinals gave up on the two existing popes and added a third, Alexander V. He excommunicated the other two, and they excommunicated him. This situation didn’t end until both the Roman pope and Alexander’s successor resigned, the French pope was excommunicated, and a brand new pope was elected with the backing of most of Europe.

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