Alphacrucis College

Details for Themes in Church History

This paper provides students with a thematic understanding of the origin and development of the Church from the times of Christ to the Modern period. 

Quick Info

  • Currently offered by Alphacrucis: Yes
  • Paper code: HIS101
  • Credit points: 15
  • Total workload hours per week: 10
  • Number of timetabled hours per week: 4 *

* Note: Papers with reduced contact hours (such as those taught in Intensive format) will have an increased assessment component.


No pre-requisites

The paper Themes in Church History is part of the subject area Church History and is offered as a part of the following Awards: Bachelor of Contemporary Ministry (New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA)).

Paper Content

Curriculum Objective

This paper provides students with a thematic understanding of the origin and development of the Church from the times of Christ to the Modern period.


Students should be able to:

  1. Identify the methods and skills used by historians, including those used to study primary documents, movements, issues and time periods
  2. Describe the sweep of the Christian tradition from both a historical and global perspective
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the interaction of the church with wider society over time
  4. Discuss the role of identity formations (e.g. gender and racial diversity, nationalisms and transnationalisms) in the Christian story as it has been lived out in cross cultural contexts
  5. Identify the importance of past foundations and future directions of the church 

Subject Content

  A survey of major themes in Christian church history.
  1.  The first six centuries of growth, struggles, controversies, relations with the state, developing  patterns and major personalities.
  2.  Medieval themes include the Christianisation of Western Europe, the supremacy of the papacy, Crusades, monastic reforms, scholasticism, heresies, Renaissance.
  3.  Modern church history including the Reformation and the great missionary wave of the 19th  century.
  4.  Revivalism through several expressions including Pietism and Puritanism.
  5.  Early church history in New Zealand

This course may be offered in the following formats

Lectures, discussion, tutorials

Please consult your course prospectus or enquire about how and when this course will be offered next at Alphacrucis College.

Assessment Methods

Book Review (25%, 1000 words); Major Essay (50%, 2000 words); Exam (25% )

Prescribed Text

Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, 3rd Edition

Representative References

Bowes, Kimberly Diane. Private Worship, Public Values, and Religious Change in Late Antiquity. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Clark, Ian G. Pentecost at the Ends of the Earth: the History of the Assemblies of God in New Zealand, 1927-2003. Blenheim: Christian Road Ministries, 2007.

Elsmore, B. Mana from Heaven: A Century of Maori Prophets in New Zealand. Auckland: Reed, 1999.

Fergusson, David. Church, State and Civil Society.   Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Forcellino, M. Michelangelo, Vittoria Colonna and the "spirituali": Religiosity and Artistic Life in Rome in the 1400s. Rome: Viella, 2009

Freeman, C. A New History of Early Christianity. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.

Glen, R.M., ed. Mission and Moko: The Church Missionary Society in New Zealand. Christchurch: Latimer Fellowship, 1992.

Guy, Laurie. Introducing Early Christianity. Downers Grove: IVP, 2004.

Freiberger, O. Asceticism and its Critics: Historical Accounts and Comparative Perspectives. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Habets, Myk, Stuart Lange and Tim Meadowcroft, eds. Evangelical Identities: Presenting the Gospel in New Zealand. Auckland, Archer Press: 2011.

Hillerbrand, Hans J. The Protestant Reformation, revd edition, New York: Harper Perennial, 2008.

Judge, E.A. The First Christians in the Roman world: Augustan and New Testament Essays, James R. Harrison ed. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008.

Kalu, Ogbu U. ed, African Christianity: An African Story. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2007.

Kidd, Thomas S. The Great Awakening: A Brief History with Documents, Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008.

McLeod, H. World Christianities c. 1914-c. 2000. Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Morrison, Hugh and Lachy Paterson et al. Mana Maori and Christianity. Wellington: Huia Publishers, 2012. 

Nichols, S.J. Jesus Made in America: A Cultural History from the Puritans to the Passion of the Christ, Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2008.

          Noble, T.F.X., Smith, J.M.H. and Baranowski, R.A. eds. Early Medieval Christianities, c. 600-1100, Cambridge, UK, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Noll, M.A. The New Shape of World Christianity: How American Experience Reflects Global Faith, Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2009.

Prentiss, C.R. Religion and the Creation of Race and Ethnicity: An Introduction. New York: New York University, 2003.

Sanneh, L.O. Disciples of All Nations: Pillars of World Christianity, Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Snape, Michael.  God and the British Soldier: Religion and the British Army in the First and Second World Wars. 1st ed. NY: Routledge, 2005.

Whalen, B.E. Dominion of God: Christendom and Apocalypse in the Middle Ages. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2009.

Woodward, Ernest L. Christianity and Nationalism in the Later Roman Empire.  Brooklyn NY: Ams Press, 2005.



Church History

Christian History and Biography

Journal of Ecclesiastical History

Journal of Religious History

Lecturers and tutors who are currently teaching this course include: Pastor Kerry Gordon.