Joy to the world!" Christians look forward to a joyous Christmas season each year. Yet, surprisingly, for the first 300 years of the church’s life there was no Christmas celebration of Jesus’ birth. Possible reasons include:
The death and resurrection of Jesus have been the central events of the church’s faith confession since it was founded (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). It’s not surprising that the Lord’s crucifixion and rising to life should become the focal points of communal Christian worship and remembrance.
In A.D. 381 the Council of Constantinople rejected the teaching of an elderly bishop from Syria, named Apollinaris. Apollinaris had theorized that Jesus Christ’s divine nature displaced Jesus’ human mind and will. To him, Jesus possessed only a divine nature, and therefore did not truly take on the fallen nature of humanity.
My one purpose in life is to help people find a personal relationship with God, which, I believe, comes through knowing Christ." —Billy Graham
Graham’s evangelistic tours in America and around the world have awakened many people to the need for a spiritual rebirth and a personal relationship with Jesus. It is estimated that some three million people have responded to Graham’s offer at the end of his campaign sermons to come forward and accept Christ.
Augustine (354-430) has been called the most significant Christian theologian "since New Testament times."1 He was born Augustinus Aurelius in the North African town of Tagaste, in today’s Algeria.
His pagan father, Patricius, was a Roman official and his mother, Monica, was a devout Christian. They sent their brilliant son to a prestigious school in Carthage at age 17, where he studied rhetoric. The teenage Augustine took a young woman as a concubine, whom he kept for 15 years. She bore a son, Adeodatus, "given by God."
The 27 books of the New Testament are the Scriptures of the church. They are understood to be written by the apostles or their close associates, such as Luke and Mark. Along with the Old Testament they comprise the official canon1 of the church.
"Eleven o’clock Sunday morning is the most segregated hour, and Sunday school is still the most segregated school of the week," is an oft-quoted statement from Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968). King was referring to the fact that during his lifetime most African-Americans worshiped in congregations and churches mainly or entirely composed of black people.
These African-American churches’ roots go back to the North and South of the Revolutionary War period of the 1760s and 1770s. Like whites, blacks also began to come to Christ during the religious revivalism of the period.
Is the Bible the truth of God or merely composed of human ideas?
In January 1989, John Shelby Spong, the Episcopal bishop of Newark, New Jersey, raised some disturbing questions about the Bible’s truthfulness. He disputed it during a televised debate with fundamentalist minister Jerry Falwell. Millions of Americans were watching the network news show as they ate breakfast.
On October 6, 1536, Englishman William Tyndale (c.1494-1536) was strangled by the civil executioner in Belgium and his dead body was burned at the stake. His crime? Tyndale had translated the New Testament and major portions of the Old Testament from the original languages into English so that all English-speaking Christians could read the Scriptures in their own tongue.
We used to take a dogmatic stand on the question of the "intermediate state," that is, whether a person is unconscious or conscious between death and resurrection. Our present teaching is summarized by the following: