Urban Legends of Church History

by John Adair, Michael Svigel

Urban Legends of Church History

by John Adair, Michael Svigel

Trade Paper
Urban Legends Church History surveys forty of the most commonly misunderstood events of church history, from the period of the early church through the modern age.


Urban Legends of Church History surveys forty of the most commonly misunderstood events of church history from the period of the early church through the modern age. While these “urban legends” sometimes arise out of falsehood or fabrication, they are often the product of an exaggerated recounting of actual historical events. With a pastoral tone and helpful explanations, authors John Adair and Michael Svigel tackle legendary misconceptions, such as the early church worshiping on Saturday and the unbroken chain of apostolic succession. Urban Legends of Church History will correct misunderstandings of key events in church history and guide readers in applying principles that have characterized the Christian church since the first century.

Table of Contents


Part I: Urban Legends of the Early Church (50–500)

1. The Earliest Christians Worshipped on Saturday

2. The Church Apostatized Shortly after the Apostles

3. The Sands of the Colosseum Are Stained with the Martyrs’ Blood

4. The Lord’s Supper Was Originally a Love Feast or “Community Meal"

5. The Earliest Church Didn’t Know the Difference between Orthodoxy and Heresy

6. An Emperor, Pope, or Church Council Canonized the Bible

7. Pagan Philosophy Contaminated Christian Theology

8. The Doctrine of the Trinity Developed Centuries after Jesus

9. The Emperor Constantine Made Christianity the Official State Religion

10. Women Never Served as Church Officers in the Early Church

Part II: Urban Legends of the Medieval Period (500–1500)

11. Nothing Good Came from the “Dark Ages”

12. The Substitutionary Atonement First Appeared in the Middle Ages

13. The Roman Catholic Church Ruled Europe with Uniformity

14. The Christian Faith Was Lost during the Middle Ages

15. The One True Church Went Underground during the Dark Ages

16. The Medieval Catholic Church Completely Abandoned Salvation by Grace

17. The One True Church Is Marked by an Unbroken Chain of Apostolic Succession

18. Abelard and Anselm Debated over the Atonement . . . and Anselm Won

19. The Eastern and Western Churches Split over Just One Word in the Creed

20. The Roman Catholic Church Regularly Burned Heretics at the Stake

Part III: Urban Legends of the Protestant Era (1500–1700)

21. The Protestant Reformers Concocted the Doctrine of Salvation by Grace through Faith

22. The Reformers Believed the Bible Was the Only Source for Theology

23. The Reformers Were Trying to Restore the Church of the New Testament Era

24. The Reformers Removed the Apocrypha from the Bible

25. Protestants Don’t Accept the Church Councils and Creeds

26. The Anabaptists Were the Predecessors of Modern Baptists

27. John Calvin Summarized His Theology in “Five Points”

28. Jacob Arminius Denied Depravity and Taught That Christians Could Lose Their Salvation

29. The King James Version Was the First Authorized Protestant Translation

30. The Pilgrims Fled Religious Oppression to Establish a Society of Religious Freedom

Part IV: Urban Legends of the Modern Age (1700–Present)

31. Modern Scholars Were the First to Notice “Problem Passages” in the Bible

32. The United States Was Originally a Christian Nation

33. Fundamentalists Were the First Christians to Believe in the Inerrancy of Scripture

34. None of the American Founding Fathers Were Orthodox Christians

35. Christians Took Genesis 1 Literally until Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

36. Atheism First Threatened the Church in the Modern Era

37. The Church Has Never Been as Divided as It Is in the Modern Era

38. The Swiss Theologian Karl Barth Was a Liberal

39. Calvinists Nearly Killed Evangelism and Missions; Non-Calvinists Revived Them

40. Date Setters and Sign Seekers Are a Uniquely Modern Phenomenon.

Name and Subject Index

About the Authors

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