Some of the more well known Christians have included the Apostle Paul, Augustine, Martin Luther and C.S. Lewis. Yet every person impacts on the world in some way. We may not remember who the man was that led Billy Graham to Christ, but he certainly has changed the world.
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Famous Christians of the early church
The Gospels and Acts in the New Testament describe some of the most significant early Christians. Of particular importance were the women and disciples who met Jesus after he had risen from the dead and so passed the gospel onto the world. The events of Acts 2 describe how the Apostle Peter gave an instrumental speech in the formation of the early church. A few years later, the Apostle Paul was instrumental in taking the gospel to Gentiles (non-Jews) who were pagans.
In the following generations great persecution occurred against Christians throughout many parts of the Roman Empire and a number of Christians such as Polycarp stood firm in their faith acting as strong witnesses for Christ. It has been said that their blood was the seed of the church.
As Christianity became more widespread and disputes over its doctrine and teaching arose, a number of scholarly Christians wrote great works of defense for Christianity. These men who were known as apologists helped to clarify and define some of the important points of Christian faith. Irenaeus, for example, argued against Gnosticism, an exclusive knowledge-based religious movement.
Christianity became accepted by the ruling classes especially in the 4th century AD, when the Roman Emperor Constantine I converted to Christianity.
Famous Christians of the Middle Ages
During the middle-ages, a number of Christians played significant roles in developing Christian thoughts and ideas such as Thomas Aquinas. Other Christians played enormous roles in the politics of the time such as Pope Leo III who brought unprecedented political power to the papacy.
Famous Christians of the Reformation period
Some of the most significant Christians in history were a group of men known as the Reformers who challenged the Roman Catholic Church which was the established church of the day. Martin Luther is probably the best remembered for beginning the movement that lead to the fragmentation of the church in Western Europe and the formation of Protestant churches to rival Roman Catholicism. In England, King Henry VIII and his desire for an annulment of marriage, started a sequence of events that lead to the formation of the Church of England which also broke from Roman Catholicism.
Recent famous Christians
In more recent times Christians such as John Wesley have been instrumental in bringing about a renewal of personal faith. People such as William Carey have played major roles in mission, taking the gospel to Africa and Asia.