Heroes of the Faith, Church Leaders, & Our Common Christian Heritage

God's Generals     a series of videos and teaching on many of the leaders of the church through the ages by Roberts Liardon

Church History    a series of videos and lectures covering the sweep of history and its impact on the church, as well as the church's impact on history by theologian and history professor Bruce W. Gore

Heroes of the Christian Faith ~ the stories of  7 men who advanced the Christian faith by R. C. Sproul

Highlights from the History of God's People    a series by Bruce Gore.  He covers the major players in the church and the interaction they had with the political and social systems of the day, as well as sometimes with each other...

Historical Theology for Everyone ~ One Gospel Through the Centuries with Ryan Reeves,  Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

5 Minutes in Church History   with Dr. Stephen Nichols   please note this is an extensive series of podcasts and it may take some time to find what you want... editor

God in America--PBS, The American Experience    (Be aware that this channel tends to have a politically "left-leaning"/progressive/non-traditional Biblical stance -- for

   example, if you are a creationist, it will be handled as a myth; they tend to suggest that religion is a human construct only)    PBS Religion in America timeline

The American Minute by historian William J. Federer covers early ancient and classical history to today's headlines plus Christian and church history and their impact on world and American history.         American Minute monograph search           American Minute video collection

0-99   (The First Century) 

The 100's   (The Second Century)

February 23, 155 (traditional date): Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, is martyred. Reportedly a disciple of the Apostle John, at age 86 he was taken to be burned at the stake. "You try to frighten me with fire that burns for an hour and forget the fire of hell that never burns out," he said. The flames, legend says, would not touch him, and when he was run through with a sword, his blood put the fire out (see issue 27: Persecution in the Early Church).

Historical Premillennialism (NOT Dispensationalism) is believed to be traced back as far as Polycarp (1st century)


The 200's   (The Third Century)

                                                                   Born around 280 AD, the only child of a wealthy, elderly couple who lived in Patara, Asia Minor (present-day Turkey), Nicholas became one of the youngest Bishops ordained during his lifetime.  December 6 marks the death of Saint Nicholas, a 3rd-4th Century bishop who helped shape the Nicene Creed and became synonymous with generosity and holding firm to the truth even in the face of great persecution. This summary write-up shows how the Muslim invasion introduced the story of St. Nicholas into Europe ~ "Saint Nicholas~a brief history"    (Here you can learn how and why one family enjoys St. Nicholas Day.)

The 300s   (The Fourth Century)

Athanasius of Alexandria (A.D. 296-373) was the most prominent theologian of the fourth century, and he served as bishop of Alexandria. His list of canonical books was published as part of his Thirty-Ninth Festal Epistle of A.D. 367. In his writings, he declares, “these are the wells of salvation, so that he who thirsts may be satisfied with the sayings in these. Let no one add to these. Let nothing be taken away.” Known as variously as "the black Bishop" (He was a dark Egyptian) and the Defender of the Deity of Christ, Athanasius was not afraid to fight heresy, defended the orthodox position against the influence of Arianism (Three Speeches against the Arians, c. 335), and found himself in major trouble with the powers that be some 5 times!  Athanasius of Alexandria was the most prominent theologian of the fourth century, and he served as bishop of Alexandria. His list of canonical books was published as part of his Thirty-Ninth Festal Epistle of A.D. 367. In his writings, he declares, “these are the wells of salvation, so that he who thirsts may be satisfied with the sayings in these. Let no one add to these. Let nothing be taken away.” Known as variously as "the black Bishop" (He was a dark Egyptian) and the Defender of the Deity of Christ, Athanasius was not afraid to fight heresy, defended the orthodox position against the influence of Arianism (Three Speeches against the Arians, c. 335), and found himself in major trouble with the powers that be some 5 times!

 Bishop and theologian Athanasius lived a life of turmoil. He was repeatedly sent into exile. Here are some of the key events of his life.

c. 297 Athanasius born, probably in Alexandria
c. 328 becomes Bishop of Alexandria
335 deposed by a rigged Council at Tyre
336 confronts Emperor Constantine in Constantinople; is exiled to Trier, Germany, because of false accusations of enemies
337 returns to Alexandria
c. 338 Orthodox council in Alexandria exonerates him; Pope Julius I confirms the Alexandrian verdict; pro-Arian council in Antioch condemns Athanasius
c. 339 flees to Rome because a dragnet is out for him
346 restored by influence of Constans
356 driven into exile by Constantius after death of Constans
361 Julian the Apostate becomes emperor
362 Athanasius returns to Alexandria
362 holds a Council at Alexandria to reconcile Egyptian factions
362 exiled by Julian because of complaints by pagan priests
363 Julian dies on military expedition
364 Athanasius returns to Alexandria
365 flees because of pro-Arian Emperor Valens
366 Athanasius restored. Now in his later years he would help build the new Nicene party whose support helped to defeat Arianism at the Council of Constantinople in 381. 
373 dies in Alexandria

There are several videos that provide more information on this important leader who had a lasting effect on the church that stays with us today...

Who was Athanasius & Why is He Important?  5 min YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGQeMKIJDu0  Dr. Ryan Reeves

Athanasius   Bruce Gore: 4th C  video class  48 min  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oe0V9s5VlIk

Athanasius  https://www.ligonier.org/learn/series/heroes_of_the_christian_faith/athanasius/?  21 minute audio teaching  by RC Sproul

During the fourth century, a battle raged over the deity of Jesus Christ. If you were placed in this battle, how far would you go to ensure that the world knew that Jesus was no mere man? In this message, Dr. Sproul introduces us to Athanasius—a man who was willing to risk it all for the sake of the Truth.

St. Athanasius  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsiOJxynVc4     from Catholic online  3+minute video

Augustine, Bishop of Hippo   born November 13, 354; died died August 28, 430    "By any measure, the greatest Christian thinker of the first millennium of the church's history was St. Augustine (or Augustin), who served for most of his adult career as the bishop of Hippo, a seaport town in North Africa. Augustin would have seemed an unlikely candidate for this honor, however, given the hostile attitude he maintained toward the Christian faith for the first 30 years of his life. When he finally did come to faith, his hostility was transformed into a powerful and insightful theological mind, which shaped the direction of the Christian movement from his time on."  Bruce Gore

The Life of Augustine  from a series of Christian History and Philosophy lessons by Bruce Gore 

The 1300s   (The 14th Century)

John Wycliffe, an English scholastic philosopher, theologian, Biblical translator, reformer, English priest, & a seminary professor at the University of Oxford.  He was born sometime in 1330, in Hipswell, Yorkshire, England and died of a stroke on December 31, 1384, in Lutterworth, England.

   As an English priest & Oxford  scholar, plus a promoter of the first complete translation of the Bible into English, he was one of the forerunners of the Protestant Reformation. He was thought to be heavily influenced by Augustine of HippoWilliam of OckhamRoger BaconRobert Grosseteste,  & Thomas Bradwardine.  The politico-ecclesiastical theories that he developed required the church to give up its worldly possessions. In 1378 he began a systematic attack on the beliefs & practices of the church. The Lollards, a heretical group, propagated his controversial views.  Religious unrest was a factor under Richard II's unrest. England had been virtually free from heresy until John Wycliffe began his career as a religious reformer with two treatises in 1375–76. He argued that the exercise of lordship depended on grace &, therefore, a sinful man had no right to authority. Priests & even the pope himself, Wycliffe went on to argue, might not necessarily be in a state of grace & thus would lack authority. Such doctrines appealed to anticlerical sentiments and brought Wycliffe into direct conflict with the church hierarchy, although he received protection from John of Gaunt. The beginning of the Great Schism in 1378 gave Wycliffe fresh opportunities to go against the papacy, & in a treatise of 1379 on the Eucharist, he openly denied the doctrine of transubstantiation. He was ordered before a church court at Lambeth in 1378. In 1380 his views were condemned by a commission of theologians at Oxford. He was forced to leave the university. At Lutterworth he continued to write voluminously until his death in 1384. The movement he inspired was known as Lollardy. Two of his followers translated the Bible into English. Others went out to spread Wycliffe’s doctrines, which soon became popularized. The movement continued to expand despite the death of its founder & the government’s attempts to destroy it.

John Wycliffe, the Morning Star of the Reformation     podcast & article on Wycliffe

John Wycliffe, Morning Star of the Reformation     Enjoy this 14+ minute biography of Wycliffe by John Bona of The Story of Liberty.net

The 1400s  (The 15th Century)

The 1500s   (The 16th Century)

Martin Luther, the Catholic priest that was a key player in the Reformation, was born (November 10, 1483, to February 18, 1546). He was a German  

  monk who began the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, becoming one of the most influential and controversial figures in Christian history.

  Luther called into question some of the basic tenets of Roman Catholicism, and his followers soon split from the Roman Catholic Church to begin the

  Protestant tradition. His actions set in motion reform within the Church. A prominent theologian, Luther’s desire for people to feel closer to God led

  him to translate the Bible into the language of the people, radically changing the relationship between church leaders and their followers.

A Man Named Martin Luther, Part 1 -  The Man  Lutheran Hour Ministries (2015) - In this five-session Bible study, Luther's life and times are examined through the lens of history, religion, and theology. Expanding on commentary from Rev. Gregory Seltz, Speaker for The Lutheran Hour, numerous scholars add their expertise and perspective to render an illuminating portrait of the life of this extraordinary human being. 

A Man Named Martin Luther, Part 2 - The Moment  A Man Named Martin: The Moment examines the errant teachings and wayward traditions of the Late Medieval Church that eventually sparked the Protestant Reformation, a theological overhaul set in motion most notably by Martin Luther's nailing of the 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg.                  

A Man Named Martin Luther, Part 3  - The Movement  Lutheran Hour Ministries (2017) - From Luther's 95 Theses in 1517 to the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, God was at work in the Reformation. Fierce debates over Scripture, church doctrine, and late medieval church practice led to theological positions articulating salvation as God's grace in action, with man being left to add nothing to his own salvation. In A Man Named Martin - Part 3: The Movement, viewers will see how the Reformation transformed European society and, eventually, left a profound impression around the globe.

The 1600s    (The 17th Century)

The 1700s    (The 18th Century)

The Reverend George Whitefield   As a boy in Gloucester, England, he read plays insatiably and often skipped school to practice for his schoolboy

   performances. Later in life, he repudiated the theater, but the methods he imbibed as a young man emerged in his preaching and were part of what

   made Rev. Whitefield the most famous religious figure of the eighteenth century.  He was  born on December 16, 1714, in Gloucester, England, and

   died on September 30, 1770Newburyport, MA.


The Reverend John Knox Witherspoon was a Scottish-American Presbyterian minister and a Founding Father of the United States.  He was the only

   clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence and was considered a part of the Black Robed Regiment, and a high-value target for the British

   government.   He was born on  February 5, 1723Gifford, United Kingdom, and died on November 15, 1794, in Princeton, NJ.

John Witherspoon as Pastor, Preacher, and Patriot  Rev. Kevin DeYoung speaks on the life and thought John Witherspoon, followed by a

           discussion with Dr. Peter Lillback and Hugh Hewitt. This lecture was part of the Faith in the Public Square conference held at Westminster

           Theological Seminary on October 7, 2016.

John Witherspoon, Museum without Walls  5 minute video  

Young Witherspoon, The Man Who Shaped America    6 minute youtube of his formative years as a preacher in Scotland

John Witherspoon, The American Minute   a brief history by historian Bill Federer.        The American Minute Video of John Knox Witherspoon

The Right Rev. Richard Allen  He was born into slavery in Philadelphia on February 14, 1760 & died a free man in Philadelphia on March 26,1831.   

Allen's family was sold later to a Delaware farmer and during this time while yet a slave was converted as a young man to the Methodist religion.  Taking his faith very seriously, he preached to family and friends and eventually led both blacks and whites in his congregations and meetings, especially once he was moved from slave to indentured servant by his master, who also had become a believer and who came to feel holding slaves was wrong. He was a sought speaker by circuit riders and Methodist leaders.  He at one point was part of the preaching staff of St. George in Philadelphia and brought in so many freed converts that the white congregants became uncomfortable to the point that eventually a split with St. George's came and Allen and others joined together to form their own fellowship. Eventually, after a court ruling that supported the new congregation in its own right to hold services separate from St. Georges, Allen helped other congregations in other states achieve independence and thus began the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and denomination.  Mother Bethel was the first and founding church, and it is there that Allen and his wife Sara are interred. 

Bishop Richard Allen Apostle of Freedom, a 23 minute documentary by Union Bethel A.M.E. Church

The Black Robed Regiment--from the founding Era through the War of Independence from the Crown of England

These history videos are centered around the dynamic history of the church and her many voices  before and during the US War of Independence from Great Britain, especially those known as "The Black Robed Regiment." The Colonials really did not want to overthrow King George, but his determined ignorance of their rights as Englishmen drove the American English to finally declare a separation from the Crown and to stand up for the rights of mankind to be free agents as they understood it from the Holy Scriptures. "The Black Robed Regiment" was a Crown reference to the many preachers and Scripture teachers who saw in the Bible man's right to life, to liberty and to self-determination as prescribed by Jehovah, Himself. 

The Black Robe Regiment   a 9 minute youtube by historian David Barton

“Black Robed Regiment“  by Pastor Dan Fisher;  An hour long reenactment as a member of the Continental Army, the Reverend Peter Muhlenberg

The Black-Robed Regiment! (Revolutionary War)  a statement on the impact of the church, its preaching, and its teachers both then and today by

                Bradley Dean       

The 1800s    (The 19th Century)

Billy Bray, the Enthusiastic Evangelist    born 1 June 1794, Twelveheads, a village near Truro, in Cornwall, England; died 25 May 1868   (aged 74)

"I was born in the fire and could not live in the smoke."  William 'Billy' Trewartha Bray was a tin-mining, uneducated drunk who would become a famous Methodist preacher known as "God's man with a shout."  In his early life, his rough and tumble way of living and working led to his practically living in the pubs of Cornwall near the mine in which he worked.  Even after he married and had seven children, his wife had to come to the pub almost every evening to bring (or drag) him home so he might be able to get up the next day and start it all over again.  His life changed dramatically when he was confronted with the reality of hell and the devastation of his choices not only to himself but to others...especially his friends and family.  Billy Bray became the most enthusiastic of evangelists for the Lord and daily witnessed and confronted others with the reality of Christ's saving grace, of the freedom that comes with salvation, and of the consequences of not turning to the Lord as friend and master. 

Billy Bray, Enthusiastic Christian   -- stories about and lessons from the life of Billy Bray    

Billy Bray and a  Positive Christian Attitude - a 3 min video by Pastor Doug Batchelor  

Glory!  a 3 minute about Billy Bray and his supreme confidence in Jesus as Savior and Lord 

“Preacher’s Ghost  a song by Seth Lakeman about Billy Bray.  Click here for the lyrics.

Fanny Crosby, Hymnist, activist, and Christian leader   born 1815

Fanny Crosby: Prolific Blind Hymn Writer     a one minute video on her life by the Museum of the Bible

George Muller, the Man of Prayer & Compassion, born at Kroppenstaedt, near Halberstadt, in the kingdom of Prussia, on September 27, 1805. Died-1898.

George Muller, His Testimony as portrayed by reenactor Douglas B. Whitley, Jr.  This 40 minute video presents Mr. Muller's life story.

George Muller, My Journal.  George Muller's spiritual journey in his own words ~ In these personal accounts from his own pen, he shares with us a biographical sketch of his early life and specific incidents spanning the years from 1830 to 1863, including his early days in ministry up through caring for thousands of orphans. These selections were gleaned from the journal that Müller kept throughout his life by HeartCry Missionary Society.

David Livingstone, Evangelist and Explorer     19 March 1813 – 1 May 1873  born in Blantyre, Scotland; died in Zambia (aged 60)

Just as William Carey had opened the doors for missionary labor in India, David Livingstone paved the way into the interior of Africa with a similar vision.  Livingstone was a Scottish Christian Congregationalist, pioneer medical missionary with the London Missionary Society, an explorer in Africa, and one of the most popular British heroes of the late-19th-century Victorian era.  He was born in a tenement building for the workers of a cotton factory on the banks of the River Clyde under the bridge crossing into Bothwell in the mill town of Blantyre, Scotland .  His lifelong, lonely quest produced an explosion of knowledge of the 'dark' continent and made Livingstone one of the most celebrated men of his age. From his own perspective, however, his objective was straightforward. He only wished to see in the wake of his efforts hundreds more missionaries who would establish in Africa a Christian presence that would spread the gospel, and drive out the horrific abuses of the slave trade that dominated the African world.  He died in 1873 at the age of 60 in Chief Chitambo's village at Ilala, southeast of Lake Bangweulu, in present-day Zambia, from malaria and internal bleeding due to dysentery

David Livingstone, 1813-1873  Historian Bruce Gore explains Dr. Livingstone's place in Christian history and his efforts to wipe out slavery.

Dr. Livingstone, I Presume?    A documentary by "In Search of History" detailing Livingstone's life and the search to find him when he seemed to vanish into the interior of the mysterious continent of Africa while trying to bring Christianity and medical help to its citizens. 

David Livingstone, a short biography  by Ravi Zacharias details the Christian faith and foundation of this medical missionary's life.

The Salvation Army

William Booth  born 10 April 1829, Sneinton, Nottingham, England; died 20 August 1912 (aged 83)     

William Booth -- Salvation Army 1953 Documentary  Made in honor of Booth, this British  documentary contains both motion and still pictures,

               some over 100 years old.  

William Booth-God's soldier: A Keith Daniel Sermon    Evangelist Keith Daniel, of South Africa, speaks of the dedication, valor, and courage

               that drove William Booth through tough opposition, and chronicles how "the General" led the Salvation Army to war against the devil.

The Salvation Army: Then and Now (as of 2006)   A comparison of the origins and what the Army is in the 21st Century



Charles Haddon Spurgeon   born 9 June 1834, Kelvedon, England; died January 31, 1892, Menton, France (aged 57)

The Life of Charles Spurgeon (Documentary)  This hour-long British documentary covers his life, details his conversion, and tells the tale not only

             his tremendous impact on England and the church at large but also of his doubts and the many attacks he endured in his 40+ years of

             preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ as "the peoples' preacher".

Through the Eyes of Spurgeon - Official Documentary by Stephen McCaskell.  This is a recent addition to the sevaral historical looks at Spurgeon.

The Spurgeon Center   Making visible the life, legacy and library of Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Center allows users to see and study the gospel

              through the lenses of the “Prince of Preachers” with access to nearly 6,000 volumes from Spurgeon’s personal library.  Eventually, all of his

              writings will be available online. 

Dwight Lyman Moody  born February 5, 1837, in Northfield, Massachusetts; died December 22, 1899.

Moody, the full movie.     "Out of 100 men, one will read the Bible, the other 99 will read the Christian." - D.L. Moody   Moody was born into poverty.              His earliest memories included one at the age of 4 when his father suddenly died of a massive heart attack.  Since they could not pay the

            rent, everything they owned was confiscated as payment by the owner of the home.  Life suddenly became very hard. His mother was

            pregnant and later gave birth to twins, giving her the difficult work of raising seven fatherless children, and yet her love and encouragement

            to stay in church eventually guided Dwight to the right path.  Dwight struggled a bit with schooling and was known as a troublemaker when

            young.  He eventually left home, worked for his uncle in a shoe store, became a consummate salesman, and returned to his faith.  He gave

            all to the Lord, and in doing so changed his world.  Known as a powerful teacher and evangelist on both sides of the Atlantic, Moody tried to

            never let a day go by that he did not speak to someone about the Lord Jesus. 

D. L. Moody shares his testimony.  Douglas B. Whitley Jr. reinacts this sermon/testimony in which Moody summarizes his life. 

The Growth of the Pentecostal Church

Samuel "Kaboo" Morris, Missionary to the US     born sometime in 1873 in a small village in  Liberia;  died 12 May 1893 in Fort Wayne, IN. 

Smith Wigglesworth 1859-1947    A God's Generals presentation by Roberts Liardon             

  The Assemblies of God Heritage magazine  has an extensive article about Wigglesworth

  Smith Wigglesworth on Prayer, Power, and Miracles   a free ebook of a collection of thoughts and teachings by Wigglesworth



Samuel Kaboo Morris was a Liberian prince who endured being captured and enslaved by a rival tribe, managed a miraculous escape,  converted to Christianity at around the age of 14. made his way to the US aboard a ship to NY.  While aboard, his testimony and strong love of Christ led to several of the crew converting to Christianity.  Once in the US,  became a important Christian voice for all who crossed his path.  He enrolled in Taylor University in Ft. Wayne, IN, where his witness continued to change the lives of those who knew him.  

The Story of Samuel Morris: A Spirit-Filled Life   A 42 min biographical video produced by Taylor University covering Morris' short life & impact.

Faithful Heroes: Samuel Morris, from Prince to Missionary     A biographical blog which includes 2 children's videos on Morris. 

The 1900s    (The 20th Century)

The Azusa Street Revival was an historic Pentecostal revival meeting that took place in Los Angeles, California, and is the origin of the Pentecostal movement. It was led by William J. Seymour, an African American preacher. It began with a meeting on April 9, 1906

From Tragedy to Triumph, the story of  William J. Seymour            Racial Reconciliation Through The Holy Spirit

The Azusa Street Revival of 1906    This documentary explains Seymour's Christian faith,  his personal history, and it puts the revival into the historic

                context of the early 20th Century.