Important Figures in Church History

I recently had a test in my Augustine class where I had to give short sketches of the lives and works of important figures in church history. Since I got a perfect score on this part of the test, I thought I’d share what I wrote here.

Anselm of Canterbury (A.D. 1033-1109)

Anselm wrote much on the defense of the Christian faith.  He was the archbishop of Canterbury and the originator of the ontological argument for God’s existence written in his book, Proslogion.

Karl Barth (1886-1968)

Karl Barth moved away from liberal theology during WWI and was the most influential protestant theologian of the 20th century.  His writings emphasized the importance of revelation in knowing God and the “otherness” of God.  He wrote Church Dogmatics.

Deitrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)

He was an influential Lutheran theologian in Germany who wrote much on ecumenical concerns.  He was part of an assassination attempt on Hitler, but got arrested in 1943 and hanged in 1945.  In that time he wrote on the suffering of God.

John Calvin (1509-1564)

Calvin is one of the most famous Protestant reformers during the Reformation period.  He did most of his work in Geneva, Switzerland.  His most famous work is Institutes of the Christian Religion.  The term “Calvinism” comes from his last name.

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

Edwards was the most influential Puritan pastor and theologian in American history.  He played a big role in the first Great Awakening during the 1720’s and 1730’s.  He wrote books such as Freedom of the Will and Religious Affections.  Most seem to know him by his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”  He became president at Princeton before dying.

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Luther is the most famous theologian during the Reformation period, sparking it when he nailed his Ninety-five theses to the castle church door in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517.  He’s known for his doctrines of salvation by grace alone through faith alone.  He spent most of his time in Wittenburg, married a nun, and wrote books such as Bondage of the Will.

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

Aquinas is the most influential Catholic Middle Age theologian.  He’s known for his book Summa Theologiae and for the “5 Ways” which are arguments for the existence of God.  He didn’t finish the book.

Gregory of Nazianzus (A.D. 329-389)

Gregory was one of the Cappadocian fathers based in Cappadocia, which was in Asia Minor.  Currently it is modern day Turkey.  He wrote the 5 Theological Orations and collected segments of Origin’s writings.

Cyprian of Carthage (Died in 258)

Cyprian was a Roman rhetorician who converted to Christianity in 246 and became bishop of Carthage in 248.  He was martyred in 258.

Ambrose (A.D. 337-397)

Ambrose was a 4th century theologian and bishop of Milan.  He was instrumental in converting Augustine to Christianity and even baptized Augustine.  He wrote On Mysteries and On the Holy Spirit.  Augustine says that Ambrose was in the habit of reading silently, which, apparently, was abnormal in those days.

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