Few would argue against the historic importance of Christianity. The very way our culture measures time is, in fact, based on the birth of Jesus. However, for all the importance tha Christianity holds it is still not very well understood by most people. The events surrounding the early years of the Church can be quite convoluted at times. However, by looking further into the early Church it’s possible to better understand our present.
The first thing one needs to understand is the difference between the teaching of Christ and the Church itself. One might say that Christianity began with Jesus and the Church only came into benig after his death. The main reason for this is the nature of the message. One doesn’t really need a solid infrastructure of a religion when the figurehead is walking about and answering questions. It’s only when the answers are difficult to come by that one finds need of a solid body of people to help.
What’s known as the Apostolic Church began after the death of Jesus. Within it, those who personally knew Jesus attempted to carry on his message and teachings. In the beginning, this Church had a deeply Jewish flavor to it. This is, in large part, due to the rabinical tradition which Jesus was a part of. However, as the message spread it was adapted to various other cultural traditions. The core message of Jesus was, in many ways, removed from many of the Jewish traditions.
Some of the earliest issues with the Church had to do with which aspects of Jewish teachings should remain within Christianity. For example, what foods a person were allowed to eat were intensely debated within the early church. This is especially true after 100 A.D. when those who had personally known Jesus had passed away. This era is known as post-apostolic because it’s after the apostles had died.
The next defining event occurred between 393 and 397 A.D. During this period the final decisions were made as to which writings would be considered authorized by the Church. This meant that some writings considered holy would be forgotten by time, while others would become what we know today as the Bible. Christianity would continue to grow and change in the years following these events. However, it’s at this point that one can really say that Christianity had become the religion that we know it as today.