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The History of Christianity II: From the Reformation to the Modern Megachurch

Examine the last 500 years of history through the lens of Christianity with an esteemed professor.
The History of Christianity II: From the Reformation to the Modern Megachurch is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 54.
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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enlightening Dr. Worthen is an excellent speaker, highly intelligent, informed and engaging. I learned many new things about the Protestant Reformation that were never addressed in adult church Sunday School studies or a one-year collegiate Biblical Studies program. Also, just how intertwined church and politics can be - and still are. An excellent series of lectures, well worth anyone's time.
Date published: 2022-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Eye opener This course gave me a whole new opinion on how Christianity was formed after the Reformation.
Date published: 2022-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Objective Sampling Of A World Religion I am very impressed with Professor Worthen's ability to make each episode enlightening. I think such a class should be an elective in a public high school, if taught in this manner from a historian. This would result in less mindless indoctrination. She does us a great service in giving a thorough education of all the various denominations, their beginnings, and their practices world-wide, as could be expected in one course. I appreciate her knowledge of the politics and cultures interacting with the faith over the last 500 years. I wish all evangelical Christians would inform themselves with such a class so as to realize their narrow path of salvation needs to be so very much wider.
Date published: 2022-07-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Es ist ein Rose entsprungen Es ist ein Rose entsprungen Professor Worthen's course on Modern Christianity seems to teach that Christianity is at once a consolation for the workings of a malign providence, a therapy by means of rituals, an essential component of social and community cohesion, a moral authority, the well spring of Ethics, and an ideology comprehending all of the above. It was a good and interesting as well as tolerant exploration of the miscelaneous means and significances of Religion as is mediated, asserted, and often, alas, imposed Perhaps the provenance of the reviewer would be helpful. I had a catholic and secular education in Ireland and France, hail from a German Jewish Father who was a cultural Lutheran , an Irish Mother who began in Faith but eventually culminated as an Agnostic. Our contacts with formal religion were tenuous, but my father's Ethical credo was tenacious and he detested ideologies of all stamp. As a family that mediated the spiritual through the music of Bach and Schubert and our practical reason after Kant and Schliermaker it was possible for their son to contribute to both the Salvation Army and the Humanist Society. It is difficult to characterise or denominate. I found this course accordingly interesting, well narrated and systematic and yet I felt that an essential aspect of Spiritual and Ethical and Aesthetic was elusive because not differentiated. BaruchXVII
Date published: 2022-05-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Lecture Series This was the final series I watched with my mother during her chemo sessions, each episode was superb. I especially enjoyed the lecture on liberation theology, I even ended up picking up a few books on the subject. I would gladly watch any other programs by this professor.
Date published: 2022-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Scores high on all measures Professor Worden actually teaches instead of just reading from a monitor. Lectures are well-organized, overall themes and key points are clearly developed. Interesting asides are inserted to enrich lectures without becoming a distraction. Enunciation is excellent so there is never a struggle to understand the presentation. Outstanding teacher who is in command of the content and I look forward to more courses by her.
Date published: 2021-07-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Provides an interesting perspective. I knew a lot about the reformation era, but I must admit the speaker filled in a lot of stuff about Africa and Asia that I honestly didn't know about.
Date published: 2021-07-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Banquet for the Mind If I could give this course more than five stars, I would. I had taken several Christianity courses by Dr Luke Timothy Johnson previously including the History of Christianity Part one. I thought it would be impossible to find someone as good for Christianity part two. Well, Dr Worthen has surpassed any expectation on my part and proven to be a superb successor to Dr Johnson's part one. I am amazed at her wealth and breadth of knowledge on topics as diverse as Christianity in China, Korea, Latin America, Africa, as well as Pentecostal religions, Prophetic religions, Mainstream religions and of course the Reformation and beyond. If I had to pick one lecture that i learned the most from, I couldnt. After each lecture I turn to my wife in amazement and say "I didn't know any of that." But let me add another point: her style of teaching is fantastic. She is conversational, has an unbiased manner dealing with sometimes very controversial subject matter, is very camera aware, and has a great sense of humor and irony. She is a delight to listen to and i find it hard to believe that one person can be so conversant with so many diverse areas of Christianity. How this course was put together is a credit to Dr Worthen and all involved. I wish there were more courses by her I could take. Highly recommend this course for anyone interested in religion today.
Date published: 2021-05-16
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The History of Christianity II: From the Reformation to the Modern Megachurch picks up where The Great Courses' first history of Christianity left off: with the Protestant Reformation. Taught by Dr. Molly Worthen, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina, these 36 fascinating lectures trace the story of Christianity as it transformed from the end of the Middle Ages into the diverse global religion of today.


Molly Worthen

Fundamentally, the history of Christianity is not a history of abstract "-isms." It's a story of human beings, and the story of how faith is actually lived.


University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Molly Worthen is an Assistant Professor of History at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received her B.A. in History as well as her M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Yale. Dr. Worthen taught briefly at the University of Toronto before going to Chapel Hill in 2012.

Dr. Worthen's first book, The Man on Whom Nothing Was Lost: The Grand Strategy of Charles Hill, is a backstage account of American foreign policy and higher education told through the biography of a diplomat turned professor. In 2013, she published Apostles of Reason: The Crisis of Authority in American Evangelicalism, an intellectual history of American evangelicals and the culture wars since 1945

Dr. Worthen teaches courses on North American intellectual history and global Christianity, including a popular course titled "Sin and Evil in Modern America." She has lectured widely around the United States and Canada on evangelical history and the culture wars. Dr. Worthen's research focuses on the tensions between traditional religion and modernity. She has written numerous articles for newspapers and magazines and is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, where she covers religion, politics, and higher education.

By This Professor

The History of Christianity II: From the Reformation to the Modern Megachurch
The History of Christianity II: From the Reformation to the Modern Megachurch


Prophets of Reform before Protestantism

01: Prophets of Reform before Protestantism

Start your journey in Renaissance Italy where—right in the pope’s backyard—two men gave very different yet powerful critiques of the church, years before the Reformation. By examining these representative figures, Professor Worthen unpacks several key themes running through Christianity for the past 500 years.

31 min
Luther and the Dawn of Protestantism

02: Luther and the Dawn of Protestantism

Delve into the early Reformation, which begins with Martin Luther and his 95 Theses. An original thinker and an outlaw to Catholic authorities of the time, Luther was also surprisingly conservative in many ways. Review his critique of the church and his theology in the context of the 16th century.

28 min
Zwingli, Calvin, and the Reformed Tradition

03: Zwingli, Calvin, and the Reformed Tradition

Continue your study of the Reformation with a look at several thinkers who were more radical than Martin Luther. Here, you'll explore the ideas of Huldrych Zwingli, John Calvin, and others who advanced their own theological and political critiques of the church. You'll also consider Henry VIII's quarrel with Rome and the founding of the Church of England.

31 min
The Anabaptist Radicals

04: The Anabaptist Radicals

In this third lecture on the Protestant Reformation, you’ll meet the most radical of rebels, the Anabaptists. Based on the slogan sola scriptura—the Bible alone—the Anabaptists wanted to cut ties completely between church and state, making them politically as well as theologically dangerous.

29 min
The Catholic Reformation

05: The Catholic Reformation

Protestants weren't the only ones fighting to reform Christianity. While Luther, Calvin, and others were breaking from Rome and founding independent churches, leaders within the Catholic Church pushed to consolidate the power of their ideas and institutions. Survey the founding of the Jesuits and the role of education in the Catholic Reformation.

29 min
The Church Militant in the Spanish Empire

06: The Church Militant in the Spanish Empire

One key theme from this course is the way religious motives are often inseparable from political and economic ambitions. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than Spain in the 16th century. See how Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand joined forces to create a unified Catholic nation, and how they worked to spread Catholicism into the Americas.

30 min
War and Witchcraft in the Holy Roman Empire

07: War and Witchcraft in the Holy Roman Empire

The Thirty Years' War is one of the most confusing episodes in world history. Was it truly a religious war, in which Protestants battled for religious tolerance and freedom, or was it a political ploy to depose kings and change the balance of political power? As you delve into this messy conflict, you'll discover that the war unfolded in the midst of witch-hunting hysteria across Europe.

27 min
Puritans, Kings, and Theology in Practice

08: Puritans, Kings, and Theology in Practice

The Reformation opened the door for radicals to challenge traditional authority. Follow the Puritans from England, where they pushed King James to authorize a new translation of the Bible, to the New World, where they tried to build a Christian Zion and wrestled with theology on their own terms.

28 min
Religious Dissent and the English Civil War

09: Religious Dissent and the English Civil War

Survey the fascinating history of the English Civil war, from the rise of Charles I, his battles with Parliament and eventual beheading, to the rule of Oliver Cromwell and the Restoration of Charles II. This political tumult allowed a profusion of radical sects to flourish, from the proto-communist Diggers to the apocalyptic Fifth Monarchy Men.

29 min
Eastern Orthodoxy: From Byzantium to Russia

10: Eastern Orthodoxy: From Byzantium to Russia

Shift your attention from the Protestant Reformation to another schism. Centuries before Martin Luther, Orthodox Christians in the East broke with Rome and developed their own theology. Reflect on the principles of Orthodox Christianity and see what role it played in the rise of the Russian Empire.

29 min
Christians under Muslim Rule

11: Christians under Muslim Rule

Like the church in the West, Eastern Christianity has given rise to a range of diverse cultures and clashing theological opinions. Here, you'll discover the history of Christians in the Middle East, particularly Coptic Christians in Egypt and Syriac Christians in the Middle East. Find out what life was like under Muslim rule, and reflect on the legacy of the Ottoman Empire.

29 min
The Church and the Scientific Revolution

12: The Church and the Scientific Revolution

Are religion and science always at odds? Reflect on this lightning-rod issue as you trace the history of the Scientific Revolution from the medieval worldview through the remarkable discoveries of the 16th and 17th centuries. Find out what really troubled the church about Galileo's proposition that the Earth was not at the center of the universe.

30 min
The Enlightenment Quest for Reasonable Faith

13: The Enlightenment Quest for Reasonable Faith

On the heels of the Scientific Revolution, the "Enlightenment," as Professor Worthen explains, was not one single movement but rather a constellation of ideas and philosophers who debated the relationship between faith and reason. Explore the theories and worldviews of Diderot, Voltaire, Locke, and other Enlightenment thinkers.

30 min
Pietist Revival in Europe

14: Pietist Revival in Europe

In the ongoing clash between faith and reason, some Protestants embraced carefully reasoned arguments, but in the 17th century, another group of thinkers chose to emphasize heart over head. Survey the rise of Pietist communities and see how they responded to the historical context of the 17th and 18th centuries.

29 min
The First Great Awakening

15: The First Great Awakening

Meet George Whitefield, an Anglican evangelist who experienced a "new birth" and led a series of religious revivals up and down the East Coast. Here, you will consider the context of religious revivals, examine controversies over evangelism, and reflect on the impact revivals had on American political culture.

28 min
Religion and Revolution in the 18th Century

16: Religion and Revolution in the 18th Century

Is America a “Christian” country? Did the Founding Fathers use the Bible as a blueprint for government? What about France—how did revolutionaries there both oppress and adopt religion to advance their cause? In both cases, history is so much more complicated than culture-war slogans.

32 min
The Second Great Awakening

17: The Second Great Awakening

During the 19th century, a second wave of revivals swept North America and Britain, and this "Second Great Awakening" had tremendous consequences for Christianity in the West. After reviewing the origins of Methodism, Professor Worthen surveys the new approach to revivals and shows how America became a majority-Christian country.

30 min
The Mormons: A True American Faith

18: The Mormons: A True American Faith

Despite TV shows like Big Love, the Broadway hit The Book of Mormon, and the political career of Mitt Romney, Mormonism remains somewhat mysterious to those outside the religion. Uncover the origins and practices of this American faith, and find out how it has grown so large so quickly.

30 min
Slave Religion in the Americas

19: Slave Religion in the Americas

Although historical records are relatively scarce, the clever detective work of some enterprising scholars has revealed the rich religious world of enslaved Africans, and highlights Christianity's role in both oppression and liberation. Trace the evolution of religion among slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries, and consider how they made "white man's religion" their own.

28 min
Christian Missions and Moral Reform

20: Christian Missions and Moral Reform

How do you make people and a society Christian? What does it mean to "convert" foreign lands for Christ? In this lecture, Professor Worthen tackles these difficult questions. After reviewing early missions in Africa, she examines the role of women (particularly abolitionists) in the process of Christian reform.

28 min
The Church’s Encounter with Modern Learning

21: The Church’s Encounter with Modern Learning

Dig into the rise of the modern university and its influence on the history of Christianity. By examining modern biblical scholarship in Germany and Britain as well as advancements in 19th century science and the theory of evolution, you will gain a greater understanding of the battle between faith and reason.

31 min
The Social Gospel

22: The Social Gospel

In the 19th century, Christians debated whether to focus on saving souls, or to try to save society first. Here, learn about Protestant activists in Britain and North America who preached the “Social Gospel,” a mission to help the poor, push for social services, and effect political reform—and learn why some failed while others succeeded.

30 min
Fundamentalism and Pentecostalism

23: Fundamentalism and Pentecostalism

Reflect on the rise of Pentecostalism, which exploded into an international revival, and Fundamentalism, a movement that became far more influential in America than anywhere else. Fundamentalists and Pentecostals clashed over doctrine and worship, but Professor Worthen shows how both groups responded to the same anxieties of modernity.

32 min
Apocalyptic Faith in the 1800s and Beyond

24: Apocalyptic Faith in the 1800s and Beyond

Christianity started as an apocalyptic religion, and prophecies of "end times" have endured. Take a look at different strands of apocalyptic thinking and their relationship to the Bible and to society. Then unpack how apocalyptic preaching became so popular and examine how several churches and evangelists preached about the last days.

32 min
The Church and the Russian Revolution

25: The Church and the Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution of 1917 is arguably the single most cataclysmic event in the history of religion in the 20th century. After surveying the landscape of religion in Russia in the early 20th century, including the various Christian minorities, take a look at the Bolshevik coup and Lenin and Stalin's subsequent efforts to stamp out religion.

29 min
The Rival Gods of the Cold War

26: The Rival Gods of the Cold War

Continue your exploration of Soviet religious persecution and consider life behind the Iron Curtain. In this lecture, you will see how Khrushchev and Brezhnev continued Stalin-era pro-atheist policies. Then turn to the persistence of the Catholic Church in Eastern Europe—particularly Poland, home of Pope John Paul II.

29 min
Rebellion and Reform in Latin America

27: Rebellion and Reform in Latin America

Trace the history of religion in Latin America from the 18th century through today. After reviewing the history of colonialism and revolution, you will reflect on the relationship between the church and liberation theology in Mexico, Argentina, and elsewhere. See how Jorge Bergoglio—a.k.a. Pope Francis—struggled to balance pragmatism and idealism in politics.

30 min
Vatican II and Global Renewal

28: Vatican II and Global Renewal

In 1962, thousands of bishops gathered in Rome to convene the Second Vatican Council. Here, they debated how the church should respond to the challenges of modernity. Explore the high drama of these debates and see how Catholic reforms in worship, church authority, and doctrines of sexuality made real-life impact everywhere from America to the Philippines.

30 min
Secularism and the Death of God

29: Secularism and the Death of God

For Western Christians, the 20th century seemed to bring growing secularization. Professor Worthen unpacks this term and places it in the historical context of the 1950s and 1960s. See how religion has increasingly become a private business, one worldview among many, and theologians proclaimed the death of God—despite Billy Graham’s booming revivals.

31 min
The Gospel and Global Civil Rights

30: The Gospel and Global Civil Rights

One theme we've seen again and again is the morally complex role of churches in social change. Here, you'll reflect on the stories of the American civil rights movement and the South African battle over apartheid to explore the ambivalent role of Christian institutions and ideas in the 20th century's global struggle for human rights.

30 min
Culture Wars and the Christian Right

31: Culture Wars and the Christian Right

Along with secularization and changes in Christian faith and practice, the second half of the 20th century also witnessed the eruption of today’s “culture wars”—the clash between traditional religious morality and secular pluralism. Explore this tension in American society and politics, and then see how the culture war is a global phenomenon, playing out in religious debates around the world.

30 min
Liberation Theologies in Latin America

32: Liberation Theologies in Latin America

Revisit Latin America to examine the role of Protestant missionaries and their rivalry with the established Catholic Church. After surveying politics and culture in Latin America over the past century, you'll see how Catholic leaders responded to evolving societies. The lecture concludes with a look at liberation theology and the impact of the Christian Right.

30 min
Prophetic Religion in Modern Africa

33: Prophetic Religion in Modern Africa

Christianity today is a truly global religion. Even as church attendance declines in America and Western Europe, Christianity is growing rapidly around the world. Here, Professor Worthen reviews the explosion of controversial revival movements in Africa, as well as the promise—and peril—they offer to struggling believers trying to survive times of political upheaval.

32 min
Chinese Christianity: Missionaries to Mao

34: Chinese Christianity: Missionaries to Mao

Continue your study of contemporary global Christianity. In China, the rise of Christianity has met with an uneasy mix of enthusiasm and suspicion. After reviewing early Christian contact with China, Professor Worthen traces 19th and 20th century missions, delves into the brutal Cultural Revolution, and reflects on religious tensions under the Communist regime.

30 min
Revival and Repression in Korea

35: Revival and Repression in Korea

After the United States and Brazil, South Korea sends more missionaries into the world than any other country. Find out how Christianity became such a thriving faith in this relatively small nation—while fellow believers to the north suffer savage repression, and Pyongyang enforces a state religion devoted to the worship of former dictator Kim Il-sung.

30 min
The Challenge of 21st-Century Christianity

36: The Challenge of 21st-Century Christianity

In this final lecture, consider three challenges for Christians in the 21st century: their encounters with the world of Islam, their attitude toward global capitalism, and their reaction to the forces of secularization. Discover how understanding the past 500 years of history can help us better understand these challenges today—and how to prepare for the future.

33 min