ep. 87 church history

Dr. Michael Haykin

ep. 87 | Church History with Dr. Michael Haykin

On today’s episode of the Journeywomen podcast, I’m chatting with Dr. Michael Haykin about church history! Dr. Haykin is the chair and professor of Church History at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY and Director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies. He did such a great job engaging a somewhat daunting topic in a relatable way!

  1. Can you tell us a little about who you are and what you do?

  2. Why is church history a relevant topic for every believer, not just seminary students and pastors?

  3. For those like me who really know knowing, can you offer a high flying overview of church history?

  4. What are some key elements of church history that we would do well to understand?

  5. Throughout all of history, what has been and remains the most crucial thing in the life of the church?

  6. How does growing in our understanding of church history impact the way we go about local church membership and involvement?

  7. How has your own personal knowledge of church history bolstered your faith?

  8. How could you see it bolstering the faith of single women? Professionals? Young marrieds? Mothers?

  9. Who are some key historical figures you’d encourage us to read?

  10. Who are some key women who have had an impact on church history?


  1. What 3 resources would you recommend for someone who wants to develop their understanding of church history? Other than this episode of Journeywomen, can you recommend a sound church history for dummies?

  2. What are your 3 simple joys?

  3. Who has had the greatest impact on your own journey with Jesus?


“The Scriptures contain an enormous number of admonitions that are boiled down to one word: remember. That word is used repeatedly throughout Scripture. God calls his people to remember the past, obviously in terms of the Scriptures. Obviously the Bible from a biblical worldview takes history very seriously. It’s history is something that needs to be remembered. It’s not just the leaders that need to remember it, but God’s people as a whole need to remember.”

“The challenge is once you move outside the Scriptures we don’t have a divine commentary on the history of the church as to exactly what was going on.”

“We enter the scene of history, not of our own accord. We enter into a stream of history as heirs of institutions and places and traditions. We are expected by God to pass the best of those on, which contains the gospel. It’s helpful to know where we’ve come from. If we refuse to do this we are imitating the world.”

“We learn from the past. The past is a vehicle that helps us grow in certain graces, for instance, humility.”

“The challenge of the past is we have received much, ‘others labored and you have entered into their labor.’ (John 4:38)” 

“History teaches us humility.”

“It is critical that every Christian have some awareness of where we come from.”

“The New Testament period records the ministry of our Lord and the first disciples that formed into the church in Jerusalem at Pentecost, and the spread of the gospel into the Mediterranean world. The New Testament books take us up to maybe 90 A.D. by which time there probably were 15,000-20,000 believers max… By that point in time Christianity had become illegal in the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire basically was the dominant political institution which controlled about ⅕ of the world’s population. It’s the major matrix for the development of the early church. The church did grow beyond the empire, and that’s sometimes a forgotten story, so the gospel going to what is now Ethiopia, Iran, and India.”

“The major center of the gospel in terms of expansion was from the Middle East (Jerusalem, Israel) going west to the areas of the Mediterranean basin.”

“In the mid 60s, Christianity ran into persecution from the Roman state. Something you always had to reckon with when a person became a Christian was the possibility of dying as a martyr. It’s in that world that Christianity flourishes in the early centuries (until 313 A.D. at the Edict of Milan). Those early centuries lay a foundation as a church of martyrs.”

“The union of humanity and deity in the one person of the Lord Jesus Christ, two natures yet one person. All of that is hammered out in those early centuries and lays a foundation for theology and Christology.”

“With the fall of the Roman Empire which takes place in the 5th century, there is a significant loss of biblical literacy. The post Roman world in western Europe is not a literate world (less than 1% could read and write).”

“Between 500 and 900 A.D. when Europe is in shambles, there are attempts to recover literacy and to rebuild the Christianization of that world (i.e. Celtic church). The Vikings plunger up into the dark ages between 850 and 950. Most of the Vikings embrace a form of Christianity around 1000.”

“There was a recovery of learning during the Renaissance which is necessary to the recovery of the gospel. During this long period of biblical illiteracy, all kinds of problematic things came into the church (worship of relics, the papacy, theological drift where the idea of grace is compromised).”

“The recovery of the gospel does not become solid and permanent until the Reformation in the 16th Century (Luther, Calvin). They lay the foundations for various mature Christian movements and the globalization of the gospel.”

  • Moravians in 1720s sending missionaries to other parts of Europe, Muslim North Africa, The Caribbean, Sri Lanka, Native Americans in America, and Greenland.

  • In the English speaking world, the Baptists and William Carey at the end of the 18th Century.

“Globalization continues through the 19th Century. It becomes confused at the end of the 19th Century because many of the nations that are sending missionaries are also engaged in widespread imperialism. So it’s not always clear whether missionaries sent out are sent as agents of the church or agents of western culture (i.e. David Livingstone).”

“There is an arrogance that starts to emerge in the late 19th Century where the Europeans and the Americans feel that they have been given a burden for the education of the rest of the world and the rest of the world has to embrace their culture. That has sometimes been a problem for the expansion of the gospel.”

“The last hundred years or so have seen this massive globalization to the point that now the two-thirds world (Sub-Saharan Africa, India, China, South Korea, Latin America) have seen this explosion of gospel churches.”

History of the Church Overview

1st Century - Expansion of Church

4th - 5th Century

  • Final battles laying out grammar for God and thinking of Christ

  • Augustine

  • Early church with the embrace of Christianity from Roman Emperors. What does it mean to be a Christian in a culture that claims to be Christian?

  • Monasticism established as spirituality of the church (lives of celibacy and simplicity)

16th Century - Reformation

  • Recovery of the gospel for evangelical protestants

  • 5 solas of the Reformation

  • Life and achievements of the reformers (Luther, Calvin, Cranmer)

17th Century - Puritans

  • Again asked, “What does it mean to be a Christian in a society that claims to be Christian?”

  • Desire to bring the gospel to bear in every sphere of life

18th Century -  Revivals

  • Jonathan Edwards is important because of his insight into human psychology, thinking and reflections on the experience of revival, and his incredible view of God.

  • Globalization of the gospel beginning with missionary movement (Andrew Fuller and William Carey)

Without the Spirit we can do nothing.”

“Our great need in North America today is revival.”

“Church history can inform and help us evaluate things that we take for granted as normative. The accusation that evangelicals who are concerned about social justice are trying to import cultural marxism into our churches. That’s a failure to understand the way in which our forebears, men like John Wesley, William Wilberforce, even Jonathan Edwards himself were very strongly committed to two things. One is the purity of the gospel, the preaching of the gospel, and the necessity of new birth. At the same time that those who are born again in Christ, that their lives would demonstrate a significant fruit that is born out in activism, in social good.”

“It was evangelicals that ended the slave trade. It was the fruit of a revival and social activism.”

“If you are a Christian, you not only have a care for your fellow man but also for the other creatures that God has placed in this world.”

“The feminist movement has been a challenge for our culture and a blessing because it has forced historians to grapple with the fact that the story we have told has been so male-oriented.”


The Journal of Esther Edwards Burr, 1754-1757

Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More by Karen Swallow Prior

Susie: The Life and Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon by Ray Rhodes

Reformation Women: Sixteenth-Century Figures Who Shaped Christianity's Rebirth

by Rebecca VanDoodewaard

Eight Women of Faith by Dr. Michael Haykin

No Other Foundation: The Church Through Twenty Centuries by Jeremy C. Jackson

Reformation Heritage Books for Children by Simonetta Carr

Empowered: How God Shaped 11 Women's Lives by Catherine Parks

Women to learn about

Esther Edwards Burr (1732-1758)

Perpetua (Died 203)

Monica mother of Augustine (332-387)

Macrina (330-379)

Julian of Norwich (1342-1416)

Idelette Stordeur de Bure Calvin (1509-1549)

Brilliana Harley (1598-1643)

Anne Dutton (1692–1765)

Anne Steele (1717–1778)

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784)

Selina Hastings (1707-1791)

Josephine Butler (1828-1906)

Amy Carmichael (1867-1951)

Elisabeth Elliot (1926-2015)

Henrietta Mears (1890-1963)


History, libraries, book stores

Spending time with his wife

Spending time with his adult children  



  1. Why is it important to value church history?

  2. What is something you learned regarding church history?

  3. Identify an area of life where learning about history changed your view of the present?

  4. How is your view of the gospel strengthened by history?

  5. How has your view of the church been challenged by this episode?

  6. What are you going to do or implement as a result of what you’ve learned this week?


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