Case-Making 101: A brief history of Christianity

Last week we looked at some of the reasons we are called to be “Case-makers” for the Christian faith. If you are in the baby boomer generation you might still consider us to be a “Christian” country. If you are a millennial your experience in public education most likely puts you in tune to the fact that we are in a post-Christian era, and some would argue anti-Christian in western society today. It is important for a Christian Case-maker to understand that skeptics and others will claim that Christianity is an outdated western cultural and philosophical human invention, but is that true?

Let’s take a quick tour of Christianity’s roots:


1. BC/BCE: Christianity is a middle-eastern religion that started in Jerusalem (not a western invention) and is rooted in the Jewish faith that goes back to the creation of the world by God. The Christian Old Testament is identical to the Jewish Hebrew Bible with the exception of book order and groupings. The Hebrew Scriptures, know as the Tanakh, contain the 37 books of the Old Testament in three groupings: The Law, the Prophets and the Writings. This has not changed over time.


2. AD/CE First Century: Christianity is founded on Jesus, the promised Messiah of the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures). This is evidenced by: 1) Jesus’ fulfillment of hundreds of prophecies made in the Old Testament by various prophets; 2) Jesus’ life and ministry that included a multitude of miracles with the explicit purpose of proving His dominion over creation and love for humankind; and 3) Jesus’ defeat of death by crucifixion through His resurrection three days later, witnessed by more than 500 people.


3. First through Third Centuries: Classical Christianity is born. The New Testament is written by and from eyewitness accounts to the life and ministry of Jesus. The followers of Jesus’ teachings after His resurrection were originally called “the Way;” later on called Christians by others to represent who they were worshipping. They began as Messianic Jews who realized that Jesus had fulfilled the prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures and had resurrected in defeat of death. Christianity spread in a very short time to Gentiles in the surrounding regions and ultimately worldwide. These early Christians witnessed, believed and taught that Jesus was the Son of God, God incarnate, born of a virgin, died for our sins and resurrected in defeat of death. Many of these early Christians were martyred for the faith, none recanted on their beliefs.


4. Fourth through Fourteenth Centuries: The Roman Emperor Constantine becomes a Christian. Church and State are blended, and for the next one-thousand years the Church of Rome rules religiously and has major political influence worldwide. However, the Bible is not available for the average person to read for themselves, they are subject to Church leaders who begin to corrupt the teachings and message of the Scriptures, adding rules and regulations determined by Papacy (today we can have confidence that the original Bible has been preserved because we have well over 25,000 early manuscripts with over a 99.5% agreement in textual criticism). Some will cite wars that started in the name of Christianity during this time but we will find that it was, and always is, true Christians who are running in to help those in need when everyone else is running out.


5. Fifteenth through Sixteenth Centuries: The Protestant reformation happens. Martin Luther and others begin to translate the Bible into common languages, and because of the Gutenberg Press, for the first time people can get and read the Bible for themselves. Some of the false teachings and interpretations by the Church of Rome are exposed, but unfortunately this happens in other places too, like England.


6. Seventeenth Century: The birth of a new country. The Pilgrims come to America in order to worship God freely. They build an impressive (but little known) monument in Plymouth as a guide and vision for a successful government and it is still there today. Check out this 15 minute clip from Kirk Cameron’s documentary called “Monumental:”

The full documentary is available on DVD or Netflix. Go to Kirk Cameron’s website for more on this documentary and others.


As America begins to grow we find evidence that the founding fathers based government and education on Biblical standards such as the Ten Commandments and the pursuit of knowledge from God’s perspective. Our Universities began as Christian Universities to teach the Scriptures and share the Gospel (Harvard, Yale, Princeton and many others). Harvard’s original motto Veritas (truth) was for the pursuit of God’s truth evidenced by their charter that included this statement: “To consider well the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ, which is eternal life.”


Public schools used the Bible to teach basic reading and writing as evidenced by the New England Primer, and…

The “Old Deluder Satan Act” of 1647:

“All towns of 50 or more must have a school to teach the Scriptures to keep Satan from deluding the people… it be one chief project of the old deluder Satan to keep man from the knowledge of the Scriptures.”


The movement from a Christian society to a secular society begins here with Philosophical changes in the universities leading to a trickle-down effect in our public schools resulting in a culture shift (Christian teachers leave the universities and retreat to the pulpits and seminaries):

  • The Enlightenment Period (early 18th century)
  • Scientism/Inductive reasoning (late 18th century)
  • Modernism/Evolutionary theory (19th century)
  • Postmodernism and Secular Humanism (20th century)
  • Post-Christian America (21st century)

By the 20th century universities came under the influence of a secular humanist worldview in all of the major educational disciplines adversely affecting the public schools by the mid 1900’s:

  • 1925 Scopes trial (evolution vs. creation)
  • 1933 Dewey’s educational theories based on humanism
  • *1947 Separation of Church and State (exactly 300 years after Old Deluder Satan Act!)
  • 1961 Secular humanism was ruled a religion (they received tax benefits), yet it was allowed to be the reigning philosophy in education because it was deemed ‘non-institutional.’
  • 1962 No school prayer
  • 1963 No Bible reading in public school
  • 1980 No Ten Commandments (or other religious postings) allowed in public places

The result of this progression?

  • Public Education expelled Christian thinking and therefore expelled God.
  • Christian thinkers retreated to the pulpits and seminaries.
  • Academic Scholars who held to a Christian worldview in their fields of study begin to be blackballed.

I highly recommend watching this entertaining and insightful documentary by Actor Ben Stein to get a full grasp of what has happened in academia: “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”  (apprx. 1:38 mins)

The trickle-down effect from the universities to our public schools has led to the overall change in culture and worldviews that we see today where God is nowhere to be found.

These philosophical changes have lead to many of the ‘isms’ we see in the 21st century, none of which include God in any significant way…

In science:

Naturalism, Materialism, Physicalism, Evolutionism

In society:

Secularism, Relativism, Hedonism, Anarchism

In faith:

Pluralism, Skepticism, Agnosticism, Atheism

Checkout this 4 minute promo for Nancy Pearcey’s book “Saving Leonardo” a book that I highly recommend reading for any thoughtful Christian. She touches on so many important areas of life that have shifted our culture’s worldview and in many ways that we are often unaware of:

According to Nancy Pearcey and Francis Shaffer the academic emphasis on the fact/value split has lead to the apathetic attitude towards religion today and many of the “isms.” Facts are truth, values are negotiable. Facts are objective, values are subjective. This has made it nearly impossible for Christian truths to be taught in the public arena, even though they are facts they are treated as negotiable and subjective values.

Science God
Nature Religion
History Spiritual Matters
*Reason *Faith
Matter Supernatural
Rational Irrational
Truth Opinions
Culture Morals

Notice: *Reason is separated from *faith

Essentials Christians should know when you engage the culture:

Find out where the person you are engaging is coming from (what belief or “ism” do they hold to?) then be prepared to articulate the following:

  1. Know how Christianity fits in the big picture historically
  2. Understand the educational and philosophical changes our country has gone through
  3. Recognize that public education has increasingly become secular in all of the major disciplines and that many people have unknowingly been indoctrinated by that
  4. Understand how philosophical changes in education has led to many of the ‘isms’ we see today
  5. Understand the fact/value split is the way many people see religion and Christianity in particular
  6. Have confidence that Christian thinkers are returning to marketplace of ideas and their work is out there competing with secular philosophy, and winning! (Keep visiting this website and others)
  7. Become a Christian Case-Maker: Arm Yourself with resources and share them! Own your faith, know what you believe and why you believe it, then share it with others!
  8. Remember the Holy Spirit will change the heart of others as He has ours, we are to plant the seed and He will water it!

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:15

Join us next week as we continue to look at Christian Apologetics and the importance of truth.


You will not find this material in the public school curriculum even though it is based on solid evidence and grounded in research. It is ironic that following the evidence to where it leads stops at the door of our public schools as they will not let a “Divine footprint” in!  Join us as we examine evidence for Christianity and learn how to become a thoughtful defender and ambassador of your faith.

Click into the resource page of this website to view many of the top Christian thinkers and apologists along with some of their work; connecting to these types of resources is essential in your Christian growth.

Please let me know what you think: Give feedback, ask questions or send concerns in the comment section of the blog.

Teri Dugan

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