The Church has existed since the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, probably around 30 AD. It has therefore been in existence for almost 2024 years. There is an enormous gap between the few apostles who began proclaiming the resurrected Jesus Christ at Pentecost and the billions of present-day Christians scattered across the globe. Nevertheless, it is still the same Church that struggles, as best it can, to proclaim the Kingdom.

During these 2023 years, Christians, assisted by the Holy Spirit, have endeavored in every situation to adapt the ways in which the Church engages with the world. What we inherit today is a sedimentation of insights, convictions, structures, and ways of doing things… which we must accept as stemming from the listening of our predecessors to how the Spirit suggested they respond to the world’s salvation needs in which they lived, but with the necessary distance as we go through a crisis of changing eras that affects all of humanity.

In this extremely rapid journey through Church history, we will try to highlight the major turning points that have already been taken in history, the time it took for them to unfold, and the consequences that the decisions made, more or less consciously, by Christians of that time had on the subsequent course of history. Periods of childbirth The history of the Church, written as the history of Christians, is marked by periods of intense labor in childbirth, redefining the mission, the way of living in the Church, and periods when the Church is rather in the implementation of what the previous momentum initiated.

A period of renewal is a situation of crisis, of profound rebalancing of ways of living and believing. These periods are often linked to the overall history of humanity, which forces the Church and Christians to renew themselves. The big questions will be asked anew in these critical periods, and circumstantial answers will be applied.

To all these questions, answers will be provided in the history of the Church, which will guide the future. This will be followed by a fundamental question: what should be done with the decisions made in specific circumstances. Should some of them be considered as part of what is called “the essence of the Church,” which would mean that they are no longer open to debate? If yes, how to discern those that are not open to debate from those that can be amended?

This discernment is one of the most important challenges of the crisis we are currently experiencing. The Church has already gone through many crises, which have led to major reforms. But major reforms take time. Some will stretch over nearly 2 centuries. Experimentation will often precede formulation. I have identified, like many historians, four (plus one) periods of childbirth in the history of the Church, summarized in the following diagram. From the second millennium, this pattern and course only concern the West…

This text is an excerpt from the book “CHRISTIANITY AND ITS CHALLENGES” written by Jérémie TCHINDEBE.

We invite you to read the following article “The Church in the Christian Empire“.

Christianity. Christianity

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