When I was preparing my twenty three part podcast series on church history called Triumphs and Tragedies I discerned a pattern in church history. I realize we often impose patterns that aren’t there and this is only a very general idea of the flow of church history, but it seemed to me that the 2000 year history of our church could be broken down into 500 year segments.
The first five hundred years is the Roman period–when the church is growing, enduring persecution, formulating her doctrines, being established and developing an infrastructure and authority system.
The second five hundred years from 600 – 1000 is a dark age. The papacy becomes corrupted by power struggles, the Roman Empire breaks down into fragments, there is societal chaos and the church seems mired in ignorance, incompetence and corruption. There are, of course, bright lights even then–especially in the monastic movement.