This issue is a first for Christian History. For twenty-seven issues we have focused on particular individuals, movements, or events. But never have we stepped back to look at the broad, two thousand-year sweep of Christian history. We have looked at individual trees—grand oaks such as Augustine and Calvin—but not the forest.

The very idea seemed overwhelming. How could we possibly present an overview of church history in one issue? Latourette’s classic A History of Christianity requires 1,552 pages of fine print to accomplish the same.

Yet readers had asked for an issue that would orient them to church history, an introductory guide that might be used in classes or discussion groups. And we wanted to show how the diverse figures covered in previous issues of Christian History—Bernard of Clairvaux, John Wesley, and C. S. Lewis, to name three—fit into the sweep of history. By understanding each person’s context, we can better understand his or her contribution.

I discussed these ideas with Christian History’s founder, Dr. Ken Curtis, and he mentioned a book he was planning: The 100 Most Important Events in Church History. The idea made sense for the magazine, too. Perhaps we couldn’t draw a detailed map for every mile of the church’s journey, but we could sketch the most significant landmarks, milestones, and turns in the road. The Council of Nicea, Luther’s posting of The Ninety-Five Theses, John and Charles Wesley’s conversions—these events clearly changed the course of church history. In highlighting these key events, we hoped, we could help people see the big picture, the development and change of the Christian church over time. The project would be ...

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