The Lost History of Christianity - There's so much more than thought!

570 views
395 views

Published on

Most histories cover the Church's expansion into Europe, America and the rest of the world.
Yet Christianity also developed in the East: in Mesopotamia, Persia, Armenia, India, China and also Africa.

Published in: Spiritual
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
570
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
3
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
17
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

The Lost History of Christianity - There's so much more than thought!

  1. 1. Material from Wikipedia and The Lost History of Christianity by Philip Jenkins. Page 1
  2. 2. Most Church Histories look at the expansion of the Church into the Roman Empire, into Europe, America and then to the rest of the world. Yet Christianity also developed in the East: in Mesopotamia, Persia, Armenia, into India and China and also Africa. Perhaps the reason why this is ignored is because it was the “Nestorian” or Jacobite Church which spread into these areas predominantly. Nestorius was excommunicated in 431 for views which were later upheld by the Orthodox Council of Chalcedon and largely his excommunication was for political rather than theological reasons. His followers went east. However there were already multitudes of believers to the east at this time. And 800 years after Christ while Europe was still barely Christian, the east was largely Christianized with many metropolitan sees overseeing millions of believers. Material from Wikipedia and The Lost History of Christianity by Philip Jenkins. Page 2
  3. 3. In its first millennium many of the largest centers of Christendom were located in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Christianity spread to Armenia, Georgia, Iran, Turkmenistan, across the Silk Road to the Pacific Rim in China, the Tibetan Himalayas, the Ganges River of India, Bahrain, Yemen, Ethiopia, Sudan, and of course central and southern Egypt. In Africa, Ethiopia and Nubia would both become Christian kingdoms in the fourth century. Review of book by Jono & Shari Hall In 800AD, their influence was such that the Nestorian Patriarch Timothy was said to be more influential than the Pope. Even Kublai Khan was renowned for his tolerance of Christians, and many of them rose to prominence in his court and administration. Page 3
  4. 4. The Christian Church of the East, also known as the Nestorian Church, is part of the Syriac tradition of Eastern Christianity. By the 6th century it had spread widely through Asia. Material from Wikipedia and The Lost History of Christianity by Philip Jenkins. Between the 9th and 14th centuries it was the world's largest Christian church in terms of geographic size, stretching from the Mediterranean to India and China. Eastern churches also contextualized the gospel in unique ways as they encountered other religions like Buddhism (e.g. the Jesus Sutras in China ) Page 4
  5. 5. The church grew rapidly, and following the Islamic conquest of Persia, it was designated as a protected dhimmi community under Muslim rule. From the 6th century, it expanded greatly, establishing ties with the Saint Thomas Christian community which existed in India, having evangelical success among the Mongol tribes in Central Asia. In China it became home to a thriving Nestorian community under the Tang Dynasty from the 7th to the 9th century. In the 13th and 14th century the church experienced a final period of expansion under the Mongol Empire. Material from Wikipedia and The Lost History of Christianity by Philip Jenkins. Page 5
  6. 6. In the early days of Islam many of the leaders of the church simply saw Islam as a Christian heresy, in much the same way that Arianism had been a few centuries earlier. It is interesting to note that much of today’s Islamic practices are very similar to the Christian practice of the lands where Islam developed. The assumption that much learning in science, literature and maths came from Islamic sources has been debunked with many scholars being of Christian origin under Islamic rule. Other influences include the construction of the pulpit, the fasting practices of Ramadan, the Judaic customs of circumcision and strict food regulation, and imitation of Byzantine church architecture for the construction of mosques. Review of book by Jono & Shari Hall Page 6
  7. 7. Islamic hierarchy ruled largely eastern Christian populations for many centuries. During the first few centuries of Muslim rule, persecution of Christians was local, sporadic, and without official support. Christians served in the highest levels government and were known as the best scholars in the land. However, they were increasingly subjected to harsher dhimmi laws, and outbreaks of widespread, organized persecution began to be sanctioned by the government in the late tenth and early eleventh centuries. Review of book by Jono & Shari Hall Page 7
  8. 8. The church experienced a rapid period of decline starting in the 14th century. The Mongol Empire dissolved into civil war, the Chinese Ming Dynasty overthrew the Mongols and ejected Christians and other foreign influences from China, and many Mongols in Central Asia converted to Islam. Material from Wikipedia and The Lost History of Christianity by Philip Jenkins. The Muslim Mongol leader Timur (1336–1405) nearly eradicated the remaining Christians in Persia; thereafter, Nestorian Christianity was largely confined to upper Mesopotamia and the Malabar Coast of India. Page 8
  9. 9. After the Mongol invasions and the persecutions of the Mamluk dynasty in the fourteenth century, Christianity would disappear in Nubia, China, Iraq, and Persia and would enter into significant decline in Armenia, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Georgia. Most remaining churches did not survive the massacres of an estimated 800,000 Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Review of book by Jono & Shari Hall A main reason that Christianity died out in the Near East but not in the west is because of the close affiliation between state and religion. Arabic and Ottoman forces who promoted Islam, while European forces promoted Christianity. Page 9
  10. 10. Q: But what about the old saying, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church"? •  Tertullian said that from the church in North Africa, before the church vanished. •  In 698 AD, the Muslim Arabs conquered Carthage. 100 years later only a tiny number of Christians remained. That church died. Interview of Philip Jenkins by Stan Guthrie. Paraphrased here for brevity. Q: What causes church death? •  I’ve never heard of a church simply fading away through indifference. Persecution kills a church. •  Armed force, usually in the interest of another religion or an antireligious ideology. •  Sometimes that may mean the destruction or removal of a particular ethnic Christianity community. Churches die by force. They are killed. Page 10
  11. 11. Q: How do history’s lessons apply to Iraq, where Christians are under pressure from Muslims? •  Iraq is a classic example of a church that is killed over time. •  The church will probably cease to exist within our lifetime. •  In the last 50 years it has dropped from about 5% to 0.5%. - You can't continue losses like that forever. •  Christian communities will be all but eliminated. •  Even the small communities living on the Nineveh plains are mainly waiting for visas to allow them to leave the country. Interview of Philip Jenkins by Stan Guthrie. Paraphrased here for brevity. Page 11
  12. 12. Q: Why does persecution sometimes strengthen a church and other times wipe it out? •  It depends on how far a church establishes itself among the masses and not just of a particular class or minority. •  Christianity established itself in North Africa as a religion of the Egyptian people. •  After almost 1,400 years under Muslim rule, there was until very recently, a thriving Coptic church that represented 10 percent of the Egyptian people. •  This is perhaps the greatest example of Christian survival in history. Interview of Philip Jenkins by Stan Guthrie. Paraphrased here for brevity. Page 12

×