Featured

The History of Christianity

THOC-logo

Many young believers have no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Listen now on the following platforms:
iTunes | SoundCloud | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
Overcast | Google Play | Spotify | TuneIn

Imperial Restoration & Continuing Decay: Charlemagne’s Reign, Part 2 (History of Christianity #203)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #203, titled, “Imperial Restoration and Continuing Decay: Charlemagne’s Reign, Part 2.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is Matthew 28:18-20 which reads: “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Augustine of Hippo. He said: “You are surprised that the world is losing its grip? That the world is grown old? Don’t hold onto the old man, the world; don’t refuse to regain your youth in Christ, who says to you: ‘The world is passing away; the world is losing its grip; the world is short of breath. Don’t fear, your youth shall be renewed as an eagle.'”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Imperial Restoration and Continuing Decay: Charlemagne’s Reign, Part 2” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

As emperor, Charlemagne felt called to rule his people both in civil and in ecclesiastical matters. He appointed bishops just as he named generals, although always seeking men of worth. He also enacted laws ordering that there be preaching in the language of the people, that Sunday be kept as a day of worship and rest, and that tithes be collected as if they were a tax. Monasticism had lost a great deal of its original zeal, with many abbots who viewed their office as a means to riches and power, and Charlemagne decided that the entire institution was in need to reform. For this he counted on Benedict (not to be confused with Benedict of Nursia [NUR-SEE-AH], who wrote the Rule) a man respected for his wisdom and piety who had abandoned the court in order to become a monk, and whom now Charlemagne appointed to head the royal abbey of Aniane [AH-NEE-YAHN], which was to serve as a model to bring other monasteries in Charlemagne’s domains into compliance with the Benedictine Rule.

Charlemagne, although not himself an educated man, was a patron of learning. He revived and reformed the schools that already existed, and called to his court deacon Alcuin [AL-KUNE] of York, whom he had met in Italy, and who reintroduced among the Franks the knowledge that had been preserved first in Irish and then in British monasteries. From Spain, Charlemagne brought Theodulf, whom he made bishop of Orleans, and who ordered that throughout his diocese there should be a school in every church, and that these were to be open to the poor as well as to the rich. Soon other bishops followed Theodulf’s example, and there was a significant revival of learning that was aided by the many scholars who flocked to Charlemagne’s domains.

The glory of Charlemagne’s empire did not last long after the great emperor’s death. His son Louis “the Pious” was a conscientious ruler, but not a good judge of character. Louis was committed to monastic reform, and even before he became emperor in 814 he had requested Benedict of Aniane [AH-NEE-YAHN] to undertake the reform of monasteries in Aquitaine [AEK-WIH-TAIN], over which Louis ruled as king. After Louis became emperor, the imperial diet of 817, following his wishes, ordered that all monasteries be reformed under the leadership of Benedict of Aniane [AH-NEE-YAHN], and that bishops and other clerics should not wear jewels or ostentatious attire. The same diet also declared tithes to be obligatory for all, and ordered that two-thirds of the money received as tithes be given to the poor. Finally, the diet sought to give the church more autonomy by reverting to the old custom of allowing bishops to be elected by the people and the clergy. But there were many, including some bishops, who took advantage of Louis’s good nature, and the last years of his reign were marred by civil wars in which Louis’s sons and their partisans fought each other as well as the emperor. Repeatedly, after defeating various rebellious groups, Louis would forgive his adversaries; but rather than gaining wider support, such magnanimity encouraged additional rebellions, and even those who had been forgiven rose again against the emperor. When he died, his possessions were divided among his three sons. Under his grandson Charles “the Fat” of France, emperor from 881 to 887, most of the ancient empire was reunited, only to be divided again after Charles’s death. To these inner divisions and internecine warfare were added raids and invasions by Norsemen and others.

Next time, we will continue looking at “Imperial Restoration and Continuing Decay: Charlemagne’s Reign.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

Charlemagne’s Reign, Part 1 (History of Christianity #202)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #202, titled, “Imperial Restoration and Continuing Decay: Charlemagne’s Reign, Part 1.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is Ephesians 2:8-9 which reads: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Hincmar of Reims [INK-MAHR of RANSE]. He said: “Let the powerful beware…of taking to their own condemnation that which belongs to the church,…knowing that ecclesiastical properties are the promises of the faithful, the patrimony of the poor, the price for the remission of sin.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Imperial Restoration and Continuing Decay: Charlemagne’s Reign, Part 1” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

On Christmas Day 800 in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, three hundred and four years after the baptism of Clovis, Pope Leo III took a crown in his hands, approached Charles, king of the Franks, and placing the crown on his head exclaimed: “May God grant life to the great and pacific emperor!” Three hundred and twenty-four years earlier, the last emperor of the West had been deposed. In crowning Charles–or Charlemagne, as he came to be called–Leo revived the ancient Roman Empire, now reborn under the aegis [ee·juhs] of the church.

CHARLEMAGNE’S REIGN
When Leo crowned Charlemagne, almost all of Western Christendom was under the emperor’s rule. The main exception was the British Isles. But even before being crowned emperor, while he was only king of the Franks, Charlemagne had extended his domains beyond the borders of the ancient Roman Empire. This he did through a series of campaigns against the Saxons and their Frisian allies, on the Eastern borders of his empire.

The campaigns against the Frisians [FREE-ZHNZ] and Saxons were long and bloody. Repeatedly, Charlemagne invaded their territory and forced them to submit, only to have them rebel again as soon as he was away. Charlemagne resolved to drown the rebellion in blood and in the waters of baptism. Those who proved intractable were slaughtered. The rest were forced to accept baptism. By 784, the Frisians [FREE-ZHNZ] gave up the struggle; a year later, the final resistance of the Saxons was broken, and thousands were forcibly baptized. This was an important step, for many Saxons seem to have believed that in accepting baptism they were forsaking their gods, who in turn would forsake them. Thus, once baptized, one had no god to turn to but the Christian God. In any case, these forced baptisms had such results that soon there were Christian leaders among the Saxons, who then employed similar methods for the conversion of their neighbors.

Charlemagne also extended his power to the west. His first campaign into Spain was a disaster. He invaded the peninsula because he had been assured of support from some Muslim leaders, and that support never materialized. On the way back, his rearguard was ambushed, probably by Basques [BASKS], at Roncesvalles [RON-SES-VAH-JES]–an event that inspired the earliest existing major work in French, the Chanson de Roland [SHAHN-SAWN DUH ROH-LAHN], and left its mark on later literature on medieval chivalry. Later, Charlemagne’s armies did establish a foothold in Spain, conquering the land as far as the river Ebro [EE-BROH], and establishing there the province known as the Spanish March. Also, Charlemagne supported the efforts of Alfonso II of Asturias [AS-TOOR-EE-UHS], who was beginning the long process of reconquering the peninsula from the Moors.

Next time, we will continue looking at “Imperial Restoration and Continuing Decay.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

Eastern Orthodoxy After the Arab Conquests, Part 3 (History of Christianity #201)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #201, titled, “Eastern Orthodoxy After the Arab Conquests, Part 3.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is Romans 16:17 which reads: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from John Chrysostom [KRIS-UH-STUHM]. He said: “Let no one grieve at his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Death of our Savior has set us free. He has destroyed it by enduring it.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Eastern Orthodoxy After the Arab Conquests, Part 3” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

After the Arab conquests, relations between Rome and Constantinople grew steadily worse. The restoration of the Western empire under Charlemagne meant that the popes no longer needed the support of the Byzantine [BI-ZUHN-TEEN] Empire. And the prolonged controversy over the use of images convinced the West that the Eastern church was a puppet in the hands of the emperor. All this led to what the West called the Photian [FOH-TEE-UHN] Schism (867). Photius [FOH-TEE-UHS] had been made patriarch of Constantinople following a revolution that deposed Patriarch Ignatius [IG-NEY-SHUHS]. Both Photius [FOH-TEE-UHS] and Ignatius turned to Pope Nicholas for support, and he took the side of Ignatius [IG-NEY-SHUHS]. Photius [FOH-TEE-UHS] then declared that the entire West was heretical, because it had tampered with the Nicene Creed by including in it the word Filioque [FIL-EE-OH-KWEE] (“and from the Son”). The old creed said that the Holy Spirit proceeds “from the Father.” Photius [FOH-TEE-UHS] argued that in adding “and from the Son,” the Westerners were tampering both with the creed itself and with the ancient understanding of the Trinity, which affirms that the Spirit proceeds “from the Father, through the Son.”

It seems that this alteration of the Nicene Creed arose first in Spain, and from there was taken to France. By Charlemagne’s time, the Creed recited in the royal chapel at Aachen [AA-KUHN] included the Filioque [FIL-EE-OH-KWEE]. When some Frankish monks visiting the East recited the Creed with that clause in it, they created a scandal among the Orthodox, who demanded to know who had given the Franks authority to alter the ancient Creed of the great council. To this were added political rivalries between the ancient Byzantine [BI-ZUHN-TEEN] Empire and the Frankish upstarts, as well as the traditional distrust between East and West.

One by-product of this controversy was the resurgence of the Old Roman Creed, now called the Apostles’ Creed. The pope, wishing to alienate neither the Byzantines [BI-ZUHN-TEENS] nor the Franks, began using that old, almost forgotten creed instead of the Nicene. Eventually, through the influence of Rome, the Apostles’ Creed supplanted the Nicene Creed as the most commonly used among Western Christians.

When political circumstances changed in Constantinople, Ignatius [IG-NEY-SHUHS] was restored as patriarch, and there was an agreement that Photius [FOH-TEE-UHS] would be the next patriarch. But the bitterness engendered by the schism continued, and would eventually bear fruit.

The final schism came in the eleventh century. The Bulgarian archbishop, Leo of Ochrid [OCK-H-RIID], accused the West of error because it made clerical celibacy a universal rule, and because it celebrated communion with unleavened bread. When the dispute grew, Pope Leo IX sent an ambassador to Constantinople to deal with it. But his choice was most unfortunate. Cardinal Humbert, his legate, knew no Greek and did not care to learn it. He was a zealous reformer whose program included clerical celibacy and the autonomy of the church from civil rulers. To his mind, the Eastern married clergy, and the authority that the Byzantine [BI-ZUHN-TEEN] emperor had over the church, were the very enemies which he had vowed to destroy. He and patriarch Michael Cerularius [CER-RU-LARE-EE-UHS] exchanged insults. Finally, on June 16, 1054, when the patriarch was preparing to celebrate communion, Cardinal Humbert appeared at the cathedral of Hagia Sophia [HA-YA SO-FEE-AH], walked to the high altar and, in the name of the pope–who actually had died shortly before–placed on it a sentence of excommunication against “heretic” Michael Cerularius [CER-RU-LARE-EE-UHS], as well as any who dared follow him. Cardinal Humbert then left, shook the dust from his feet, and set out for Rome. The break between East and West was finally accomplished.

Next time, we will begin looking at “Imperial Restoration and Continuing Decay.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

Eastern Orthodoxy After the Arab Conquests, Part 2 (History of Christianity #200)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #200, titled, “Eastern Orthodoxy After the Arab Conquests, Part 2.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is Ephesians 2:19-22 which reads: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Silouan [SIL-OH-AN] the Athonite [ATH-OH-NITE]. He said: “Understand two thoughts, and fear them. One says, “You are a saint,” the other, “You won’t be saved.” Both of these thoughts are from the enemy, and there is no truth in them. But think this way: I am a great sinner, but the Lord is merciful. He loves people very much, and He will forgive my sins.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Eastern Orthodoxy After the Arab Conquests, Part 2” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

In any case, the request was well received in Constantinople as an opportunity to extend Byzantine [BI-ZUHN-TEEN] influence. In response to Rotislav’s [RAAS-TIY-SLAAF] request, two brothers, Cyril [SIRR-UHL] and Methodius [MEH-THAW-DHEE-AWS], were sent as missionaries. They had grown up in the Balkans, among Slavs, and therefore already knew something of the language. They had also shown their mettle in a previous mission to Crimea. In Moravia, they were well received. Cyril [SIRR-UHL] devised a way to write Slavonic–the Cyrilic [SIRR-UHL-IK] alphabet, still used by most Slavic languages–and translated the Bible, several other books, and the liturgy. But they soon ran into opposition from German missionaries, who claimed that the only proper liturgical languages were Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. Finally, Cyril [SIRR-UHL] and Methodius [MEH-THAW-DHEE-AWS] went to Rome, where the pope decided in their favor, but put them under his jurisdiction. Thus, for years the Moravian church was torn by a three-way contest between Constantinople, Rome, and the Germans. Finally, in 906, the Hungarians invaded the area, and the kingdom of Moravia disappeared. However, the pioneer work of Cyril [SIRR-UHL] and Methodius [MEH-THAW-DHEE-AWS] bore fruit among all the Slavic peoples, some of whom eventually joined Western Christianity, while others became Orthodox.

Meanwhile, the Bulgarians had grown strong in the Balkans. They too had been visited by both Western and Orthodox missionaries when their leader, King Boris, decided to become a Christian. After being baptized, Boris requested of Photius [FOH-TEE-UHS], the patriarch of Constantinople, that an archbishop be named for his kingdom. Since Photius [FOH-TEE-UHS] asked questions and demanded that certain conditions be met, Boris turned to Pope Nicholas, who sent him two bishops but refused him an archbishop. Finally, Photius’s [FOH-TEE-UHS] successor to the see of Constantinople did consecrate an archbishop and several bishops to lead the newly formed Bulgarian Orthodox Church. After a brief pagan reaction, Christianity was consolidated under Boris’s son Simeon. In 917, Simeon asserted his independence from Byzantium [BI-ZUHN-TEE-UHM] by taking the title of “czar”–meaning caesar or emperor–and ten years later a similar action was taken in ecclesiastical matters when the archbishop was given the title of patriarch. Although at first Byzantine [BI-ZUHN-TEEN] authorities took these actions to be a usurpation of power, they eventually were reconciled to them.

The greatest missionary success of the Orthodox Church, however, was the conversion of Kievan Rus [KEE-VUHN RUS], and eventually Russia. Around 950, Queen Olga, who ruled the principality of Kiev [KEEVE], was converted and baptized by Germanic missionaries. But it was under her grandson Vladimir (980-1015) that Christianity began making significant progress. For reasons that are not altogether clear, Vladimir sent for missionaries, not from the West, but rather from the Byzantine [BI-ZUHN-TEEN] Empire. He and many of his subjects were baptized in 988, and this date is usually given as the beginning of both the Ukrainian and Russian church–for the princes of Kiev [KEEVE] would eventually rule in Moscow, which at the time of Vladimir’s conversion was just a small village. There is also some question as to how much force Vladimir used to induce his subjects to become Christians. His son Yaroslav [YUR-OH-SLAV] the Wise (1019-1054) strengthened the ties with Constantinople, and moved further away from Rome. By 1240, when the Mongols invaded Russia and ruled the country for over two centuries, Christianity was the national bond of unity that allowed Russia to survive as a nation, and eventually to be rid of the invaders. In the sixteenth century, after Constantinople had been taken by the Turks, Russia declared that Moscow was “the Third Rome,” its rulers took the imperial title of czars, and the bishop of Moscow that of patriarch.

Next time, we will continue looking at “Eastern Orthodoxy After the Arab Conquests.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

This is the Urban Christian News podcast. Here are the top stories you need to know about today.

According to ABC News, A white man who pleaded guilty to torching three historically Black Louisiana churches in a 10-day span was sentenced on Monday to 25 years in federal prison. Holden James Matthews, 22, learned of his fate in federal court in Lafayette, Louisiana, at the conclusion of a two-day hearing in which parishioners displaced by the 2019 arson rampage gave emotional victim impact statements, with one person saying to Matthews “some believe you should receive the death penalty.” Prior to Judge Robert Summerhays issuing the sentence, Matthews apologized for his crimes and said he wanted congregants of the churches he destroyed to know he had found faith in the Lord. Matthews, according to prosecutors, could have been sentenced to 70 years in prison. He pleaded guilty in February to three counts of using fire to commit a felony and three counts of intentional damage to religious property, which are hate crimes under the Church Arson Prevention Act of 1996.

According to CNN, Gunmen with automatic weapons opened fire in central Vienna on Monday evening, killing at least two people and injuring dozens, as people savored the final hours of freedom before Austria entered a nationwide Covid-19 lockdown at midnight. Austrian leaders have called the shooting a terror attack, and police have launched a city-wide manhunt for at least one suspect. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said there was still a “very tense security situation,” as people across the city were asked to stay put and avoid returning home until the danger had been averted. Speaking on Austrian public broadcaster ORF, Interior Minister Karl Ne-ham-mer said several suspects had assault rifles. “We are still in battle against the would-be terrorists,” he said. Gunfire erupted at about 8 p.m. in the busy shopping and dining district near Vienna’s main synagogue which was closed. Vienna mayor Michael Ludwig said the gunmen appeared to shoot at random as people dined and drank outside due to the warm weather and virus concerns.

According to the Christian Post, The U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six has rescued an American missionary who was kidnapped by an armed group last week in the West African nation of Niger. Jonathan Hoffman, the public affairs assistant to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, said in a statement that U.S. forces conducted a hostage rescue operation during the early hours of Saturday morning in Northern Nigeria to recover an American citizen who had been held hostage by a group of armed men. The abduction was not believed to be terror-related. Hoffman assured, “This American citizen is safe and is now in the care of the U.S. Department of State. No U.S military personnel were injured during the operation.” The American citizen is 27-year-old Philip Nathan Walton, who was kidnapped last Tuesday from his farm in the remote southern Niger village of Mas-sa-la-ta, which is located near the border with Nigeria.

According to the Hill, Federal law enforcement agencies are bracing for possible unrest over the outcome of the 2020 presidential election following a highly divisive presidential campaign season. The National Security Integration Center, a key national security and counterterrorism component within Immigration and Customs Enforcement, warned in an internal email late last week about planned protests inside the Capital Beltway. “From November 4 – 7, Civil Unrest is planned throughout Downtown Washington DC. LE Intelligence Agencies have monitored several messages on protesters’ social media sites stating, ‘If you want to throw down come to Washington DC on November 4th,’” reads one of the bullets in the email. In a sign authorities are preparing for the worst, a “non-scalable” fence has been erected around the White House ahead of Election Day to create a buffer should protests turn violent. And businesses in D.C. and across various U.S. cities are boarding up their windows to help protect storefronts from the risk of looters and vandalism. No matter the result, the chances of violence appear to be rising amid clashes between supporters of the two presidential candidates.

According to the Christian Post, A New Jersey youth pastor has been arrested and charged with blackmailing young boys across four states to get them to record and send videos of themselves performing sexual acts, authorities say. Thirty-year-old Sean Higgins, who serves as a youth pastor and music leader at Harbor Baptist Church in Hainesport, a suburb of Philadelphia, was taken into custody last Thursday and charged with 28 criminal counts that include first-degree aggravated sexual assault and manufacturing child pornography. According to Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina, the six identified victims range in age from 12 to 15. The boys reside in Alabama, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and South Dakota. The youth pastor’s crimes do not involve any members of his congregation or the church’s school. Higgins also serves as a teacher at Harbor Baptist Academy, a private K-12 school that has about 75 students enrolled.

According to NBC News, An eighth grade Missouri boy died over the weekend of Covid-19 complications, becoming the state’s, and one of the nation’s, youngest deaths from the coronavirus. In a statement, Dr. Lori VanLeer, superintendent of Missouri’s Washington School District, said that the Baumgarth family confirmed their 13-year-old son Peyton had passed away from complications of the virus. VanLeer said Peyton died less than two weeks after he last attended class. The boy’s last day of eighth grade was on October 22. He began a quarantine on October 26. Within a week, his symptoms worsened. Baumgarth was hospitalized and over the weekend succumbed to complications of Covid-19, his family told the school district.

According to The Media Collective, Sadie Robertson Huff has launched a new endeavor, LO WORSHIP, encompassing a record label and publishing group, and introducing a new band by the same name, comprised of worship leaders Brantley Pollock (Church of the City, Franklin, Tennessee), Kaylea Mayo (Christ Church, West Monroe, Louisiana) and Cazaiah Franklin (Nashville). The first single from LO WORSHIP, “Compass,” written by Pollock, Mayo and Robertson Huff is available today, along with a lyric video. LO Worship will join Robertson Huff on her Spring 2021 ministry events. Robertson Huff says, “I started LO Worship because I wanted to write songs that support the messages that Live Original is already sharing: that one encounter with Jesus can change everything. People don’t always remember a 40-minute sermon—but they do remember a song! I wanted to help people find the words to sing over themselves in hard times. Worship has always done that for me. LO Worship is a group of friends, songwriters and musicians that I have gathered to together to use their gifting to write songs which magnify Jesus and lead people to that encounter with Him.”

You can read these stories and more at UrbanChristianNews.com

In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!

Eastern Orthodoxy After the Arab Conquests, Part 1 (History of Christianity Podcast #199)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #199, titled, “Eastern Orthodoxy After the Arab Conquests, Part 1.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is 1 Timothy 3:16 which reads: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from St. Ignatius Brianchaninov [BRI-AN-CHAN-NIN-OV]. He said: “Make your one aim in life the doing of the will of Jesus in every circumstance, however important or trifling it may seem.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Eastern Orthodoxy After the Arab Conquests, Part 1” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

Although it is obvious that every church thinks of itself as orthodox, that title has become such a hallmark of Eastern Chalcedonian [CHAL-SUH-DOW-NEE-UHN] Christianity that it is often called the Orthodox Church.

After the Arab conquests, the Orthodox Church was blocked to the south and east by Islam, and thus its expansion was in a northerly and northwesterly direction. Those areas of Eastern Europe were populated mostly by Slavs, who had invaded them after the Germanic peoples. They occupied most of what is today Poland, the Baltic countries, Russia, Slovakia, Serbia, and Greece. Those who had crossed the Danube [DAN-YOOB] were, at least nominally, part of the Byzantine [BI-ZUHN-TEEN] Empire. The rest were divided among many tribes and nations. Then a new group of invaders, the Bulgars [BUL-GRZ], conquered a vast portion of the Danube [DAN-YOOB] basin, where they ruled over a mixed population of Slavs and other former subjects of the Byzantine [BI-ZUHN-TEEN] Empire.

Such was the situation in 862, when a letter arrived in Constantinople from King Rostislav [RAAS-TIY-SLAAF] of Moravia, one of the Slavic kingdoms:

Many Christians have arrived in our midst, some Italian, some Greek, and some German, and they have spoken to us in their different ways. But we Slavs are simple people, and have no one to teach us the truth….Therefore we pray you to send us someone capable of teaching us the whole truth.

Rostislav [RAAS-TIY-SLAAF] was not as naive as he made his letter sound. He feared that the Western missionaries in his kingdom would serve as a spearhead for conquest, as had already happened in other areas where missionaries from the Frankish Empire had worked. He was also aware of the rivalry between Eastern and Western Christians, and his letter was an attempt to use that rivalry to safeguard his kingdom.

Next time, we will continue looking at “Eastern Orthodoxy After the Arab Conquests.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

The Dissident Churches of the East, Part 2 (History of Christianity Podcast #198)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #198, titled, “The Dissident Churches of the East, Part 2.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is John 10:27-28 which reads: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from William Saroyan [SAR-OY-AN]. He said: “I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of un-important people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia. See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “The Dissident Churches of the East, Part 2” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

The other major “Monophysite” [MO-NOF-UH-SITE] body is the Armenian church. By 450, when the Persians tried to impose their religion on Armenia, Christianity–which had arrived there through the work of Gregory the Illuminator–had become the rallying point of Armenian nationality. This was just before the Council of Chalcedon [KAL-SI-DON], and the Armenians hoped that the Roman Empire would come to their aid as fellow Christians. But then Theodosius II [THEE-UH-DOH-SHUS], who had promised such aid, died, and his successors Pulcheria [PUL-CHER-EE-AH] and Marcian [MAR-SHEN] simply let Armenia be invaded by the Persians. With 1,036 soldiers who fought to the last man, the Armenians defended the mountain passes, hoping that this delay would give the Romans time to intervene. But it was all in vain, and the country was overrun by the Persians. Since it was precisely at that time that Pulcheria [PUL-CHER-EE-AH] and Marcian [MAR-SHEN] called the Council of Chalcedon [KAL-SI-DON], it is not surprising that the Armenians rejected the decisions of that council. For that reason, they were dubbed “Monophysites.” [MO-NOF-UH-SITES] They in turn declared that those who had gathered at the council–who had declared that in Christ there are “two natures,” the divine and the human–were not only traitors, but also heretics.

Under the Persians, the Armenians proved unwilling to give up their religion and traditions, and were granted a measure of autonomy. Then came the Arabs, under whose regime, in spite of sporadic persecution, Armenian Christianity flourished. In the eleventh century, the Turks took the country, and their harshness led many Armenians to emigrate to Asia Minor, where they founded Little Armenia. But eventually this region was also taken by the Turks, who ruled it with an iron hand. Early in the twentieth century, they massacred thousands of Armenians. Entire villages were wiped out. The survivors scattered throughout the world. Meanwhile, the older Armenia continued its traditions, first most of it under Soviet rule, and then as the independent Republic of Armenia.

While these various bodies continued existing into the present, by the second half of the twentieth century they had been touched by the ecumenical movement, and there were in all of these churches–as well as in those that had always held to the Definition of Chalcedon [KAL-SI-DON]–growing numbers that felt that many of their disagreements were verbal rather than real, and thus a rapprochement had begun.

Next time, we will continue looking at “The Dissident Churches of the East.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

The Dissident Churches of the East, Part 1 (History of Christianity Podcast #197)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #197, titled, “The Dissident Churches of the East, Part 1.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is John 20:29 which reads: “Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from St. Augustine. He said: “Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “The Dissident Churches of the East, Part 1” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

Although the various councils came to positions that eventually gained general acceptance in the West and within the borders of the Byzantine [BI-ZUHN-TEEN] Empire, such decisions were not always well received by churches beyond the confines of the empire. One of these was the Persian church. Since Persia was a traditional enemy of the Roman Empire, Christians in that nation took pains to show that their faith did not make them foreign agents. When they did not succeed in this, they were cruelly persecuted. In 410, the Persian church organized itself as an autonomous church, under the leadership of the patriarch of Ctesiphon [TES-IH-FON]–the Persian capital. When Nestorius [NES-TOR-EE-UHS] was condemned shortly thereafter, a number of theologians of Antiochene [AN-TEE-OH-KEEN] inclinations, fearing further reprisals, crossed over to Persia, where they settled in the city of Nisibis [NIH-SEE-BUHS] and founded a school that eventually became the main center of theological education in Persia. As a result, the Persian church came to hold views that other Christians called “Nestorian [NES-TOR-EE-UHN].” At its high point, this church had flourishing missions in Arabia, India, and even China. But political adversities eventually diminished its numbers, and the few thousand Nestorians [NES-TOR-EE-UHNS] who now remain are scattered all over the world.

Within the borders of the Byzantine Empire, the main strongholds of “Monophysism” [MO-NO-FIZ-ISM] were Egypt and Syria. In Egypt, opposition to the decisions of the council was coupled with unrest on the part of the people of ancient Egyptian stock, the Copts, who felt exploited and oppressed by the empire. In the cities, there were many Greek-speaking Christians who felt quite satisfied with the existing order, and who generally accepted the Chalcedonian Definition of Faith. After the Arab conquests, the Coptic Church became the main Christian body in Egypt. Those who held to Chalcedonian orthodoxy were dubbed Melchites [MEL-KITES]–that is, “imperial” Christians. Both churches–the Coptic and the Melchite [MEL-KITE]–have continued existing side by side until the present day, although the Coptic Church is the larger of the two. Since the church in Ethiopia had always had close ties with Egypt, and few directly with the rest of the church, it followed the lead of the Coptic Church in rejecting the Council of Chalcedon, and thus becoming “Monophysite.” [MO-NOF-UH-SITE]

Something similar happened in Syria, although the country was more evenly divided between Chalcedonians and “Monophysites.” [MO-NOF-UH-SITES] The great leader of the latter was Jacob Baradaeus [BAH-RAH-DEE-US], an indefatigable traveler and organizer, and for that reason their church came to be called “Jacobite.”

Next time, we will continue looking at “The Dissident Churches of the East.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

Further Theological Debates, Part 3 (History of Christianity Episode #196)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #196, titled, “Further Theological Debates, Part 3.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is 1 Timothy 3:16 which reads: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from John of Damascus. He said: “In former times, God, who is without form or body, could never be depicted. But now when God is seen in the flesh conversing with men, I make an image of the God whom I see. I do not worship matter; I worship the Creator of matter who became matter for my sake.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Further Theological Debates, Part 3” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

The most influential theologian among the icon·​o·​dules was John of Damascus, who lived under Muslim rule and was a high official in the caliph’s government before he resigned from that position to become first a monk and then a priest. His Exposition of the Orthodox Faith is significant both as a systematization of Eastern Orthodox doctrine and as the first major Christian writing written in the context of Islam and in response to it. John is also famous for his theological distinction between what can be known (the kat-a-pha-tic) and what is by its very nature a mystery and cannot be known (the a-po-pha-tic).

John of Damascus and the rest of the iconodules saw their position as a corollary of christological orthodoxy. If Jesus was truly human, and in him God had become visible, how could one object to representing him? Furthermore, the first maker of images was God, who created humans after the divine image. John, whose theology was such that he was among those condemned by the council of Constantine V, argued:

Why do we venerate one another, if not because we are made after the image of God? … To depict God in a shape would be the peak of madness and impiety … But since God … became true man … the Fathers, seeing that not all can read nor have the time for it, approved the descriptions of these facts in images, that they might serve as brief commentaries.

The controversy raged for years. The West simply ignored the imperial edicts, while the East was rent asunder. Finally, the Seventh Ecumenical Council gathered at Nicea in 787. This assembly distinguished between worship in the strict sense, la-tri-a, which is due only to God, and a lesser worshipful veneration, du-li-a, which is to be given to images. Although the iconoclasts regained power for a time, in 842 images were definitively restored–an event that many Eastern churches still celebrate as the “Feast of Orthodoxy.” In the West, the decisions of the council of 787 were not well received, for the distinction between la-tri-a and du-li-a was difficult to make in Latin. But eventually the difficulties were overcome, and most Christians agreed on the use of images in church, and on the restricted veneration due to them.

Next time, we will begin looking at “The Dissident Churches of the East.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

Further Theological Debates, Part 2 (History of Christianity Podcast #195)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #195, titled, “Further Theological Debates, Part 2.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is John 10:37-38 which reads: “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from St. Ephraim [EE-FRUHM] the Syrian. He said: “Thou, O Christ our Savior, hast become for me the path of life which leads to the Father. There is but one path, and it is my joy, and at the end of it is the heavenly kingdom.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Further Theological Debates, Part 2” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

But the emperor erred in thinking that he could regain the allegiance of his subjects who still rejected the council of Chalcedon [KAL-SEH-DON] by condemning, not the council itself, but the writings of three Antiochene [AN-TY-AH-KEEN] theologians who were particularly distasteful to those who rejected the council–Theodore of Mopsuestia [MOP-SUE-ES-TEE-AH], Theodoret of Cyrus, and Ibas of Edessa [EE-BAHS of ED-ES-AH]. What ensued is usually called the Controversy of the Three Chapters. Justinian was correct in that these three were among the Antiochene [AN-TY-AH-KEEN] theologians whose christological views most offended the Monophysites [MO-NOF-UH-SITES]. But this created such a stir that eventually Justinian was forced to call a council, which gathered at Constantinople in 553. At Justinian’s prodding, the council, which eventually came to be known as the Fifth Ecumenical Council, condemned the Three Chapters. (Many objected to the condemnation of people who had been dead for quite some time, and whose contemporaries did not consider heretics. Therefore, rather than condemning them, the council condemned those among their writings that the Monophysites [MO-NOF-UH-SITES] found most offensive.) But this did not satisfy those who wished to see the decisions of Chalcedon [KAL-SEH-DON] withdrawn, and therefore Justinian achieved little for all his efforts.

The last emperor who sought to regain the allegiance of those opposed to Chalcedon [KAL-SEH-DON] was Heraclius [HER-UH-KLY-UHS], early in the seventh century. Patriarch Sergius [SER-JEE-US] of Constantinople proposed that, while there are indeed two natures in Christ, there is only one will. Although Sergius’s [SER-JEE-US] position is not altogether clear, it seems that he meant that in Christ the divine will took the place of the human will. In any case, this was how he was interpreted, and thus the objections raised against his view were similar to those raised earlier against Apollinaris [UH-POL-EE-NAHR-IS]: a man without a human will is not fully human. Sergius’s [SER-JEE-US] position, which came to be known as Monothelism [MAA-NUH-THEE-LI-ZM]–from the Greek mo-nos (“one”), and the-le-ma (“will”)–gained the support of Pope Honorius [HOH-NAWR-EE-UHS], and long debates ensued. But then came the Arab conquests, which overran Syria and Egypt. Since those were the areas where opposition to Chalcedon [KAL-SEH-DON] was strongest, imperial policy no longer sought to reconcile the anti-Chalcedonians [KAL-SEH-DON-EE-UHNS]. In 648, Constans II prohibited any further discussion on the will or wills of Christ. Finally, the Sixth Ecumenical Council, gathered at Constantinople in 680-681, condemned Monothelism [MAA-NUH-THEE-LI-ZM], and declared Pope Honorius [HOH-NAWR-EE-UHS] to have been a heretic. (Much later, in the nineteenth century, this condemnation of a pope as a heretic came to the foreground in the discussions surrounding the proclamation of Papal Infallibility.)

Then came the controversy regarding the use of images. In a way, this was a final episode in the christological debates. In the early church, there seems to have been no objection to the use of images, for the catacombs and other early places of worship were decorated with paintings depicting communion, baptism, and various biblical episodes. Later, when the empire embraced Christianity, several leading bishops expressed concern that the masses now flocking to the church would be led to idolatry, and therefore they preached, not against the images themselves, but against their misuse as objects of worship. In the eighth century, several Byzantine [BI-ZUHN-TEEN] emperors took steps against images. Emperor Leo III (who ruled in 717-741, and is not to be confused with the pope of the same name, who ruled in 795-816) opened the controversy when he ordered the destruction of a statue of Jesus that was highly regarded by many of the faithful. In 754 Constantine V, Leo’s son and successor, called a council that forbade the use of images and condemned those who defended them. The reasons for these decisions are not altogether clear. Certainly, the presence of Islam, with its strong teaching against any physical representation, was a factor. Also, the emperors may have wished to curb the power of the monks, who were almost unanimously in favor of images–and part of whose income came from the production of images or icons. In any case, the entire empire was soon divided between “iconoclasts”–destroyers of images–and “iconodules”–worshipers of images.

Next time, we will continue looking at “Further Theological Debates.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.

Further Theological Debates, Part 1 (History of Christianity Podcast #194)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #194, titled, “Further Theological Debates, Part 1.”

When I became a believer in Jesus Christ, I somehow had the false idea that Christianity began when I got saved. I had no concept of the hundreds of years of history that Christianity had gone through since the time of Jesus Christ over 2,000 years ago. I have found that many believers, young and old, have the same false idea. The purpose of this broadcast is to dispel this notion by sharing with listeners the history of Christianity from the ministry of Jesus Christ all the way up until the present day in an easy-to-understand format. You don’t have to worry: this is not a lecture. This is a look at the basic facts and figures of Christian history that every believer and every person needs to be aware of.

Our Scripture for today is Psalm 25:5 which reads: “Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from John Chrysostom. He said: “The Holy Scriptures were not given to us that we should enclose them in books, but that we should engrave them upon our hearts.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Further Theological Debates, Part 1” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

The Chalcedonian [KAL-SEH-DON-EE-UHN] Definition did not put an end to christological debates, particularly in the East. There were many in Egypt who considered Dioscorus [DEE-OH-SKOR-US] a martyr, and believed that Flavian and Leo were heretics. A large number of believers in Syria held similar views. In both cases, their theological objections were also spurred by resentment against the central government in Constantinople, which collected taxes in the provinces and did not return to them proportional benefits. To this were added cultural and ethnic tensions that existed since the time of the first Roman conquests, and had never been resolved. In order to regain the loyalty of these people, the emperors sought theological compromises that would satisfy both them and those who held to the decisions of Chalcedon [KAL-SEH-DON]. It was an impossible task, for the reasons for disaffection were not purely theological. On balance, all that the emperors achieved was to alienate both the Chalcedonians [KAL-SEH-DON-EE-UHN] and the others, and to force the church into endless controversy.

The first to follow this unwise policy was Basiliscus [BAH-SIL-IS-KUS], who had deposed Emperor Zeno [ZEE-NO], and who in 476 annulled the decisions of Chalcedon [KAL-SEH-DON] and called a new council. But this never met, for Zeno [ZEE-NO] regained the throne and Basiliscus’s [BAH-SIL-IS-KUS] projects were abandoned. Then Zeno [ZEE-NO] himself published a Henotikon [HEH-NO-TI-KUHN] (“Edict of Union”) in 482, in which he simply directed that all should return to what was commonly held before the controversy. But this created a new stir, for many, particularly Pope Felix III, declared that the emperor had no authority to prescribe what was to be believed. Since Zeno [ZEE-NO] had the support of Patriarch Acacius [UH-CAY-SHUS] of Constantinople, the dispute resulted in an open breach between the bishops of Rome and Constantinople. Called the Schism of Acacius [UH-CAY-SHUS], this separated the East from the West until 519, well after the death of both principals. At that time, Emperor Justin and Pope Hormisdas [HOR-MIS-DAHS] reached an agreement that was in fact a return to the decisions of Chalcedon [KAL-SEH-DON].

Justin was succeeded by his nephew Justinian, the ablest emperor of the Byzantine Empire, who restored its military glory by reconquering North Africa and Italy, rebuilt Hagia Sophia, and codified the entire system of law. He was convinced that the differences between Chalcedonians [KAL-SEH-DON-EE-UHN] and Monophysites [MO-NOF-UH-SITES] were mostly verbal, and that the two parties could be reconciled through a series of meetings and dialogues. Much later, historians of Christian thought would come to the conclusion that on this score he was probably correct. But he seems not to have realized that to a great extent what appeared to be purely theological disagreements were in fact the results of much more difficult and intractable cultural, social, economic, and political conflicts. Thus, Justinian restored to their sees several of the Monophysite [MO-NOF-UH-SITE] bishops who had been deposed during the reign of Justin, and some were even invited to visit the emperor and his wife Theodora at their palace, where they were received cordially and respectfully.

In 532, at the emperor’s urging, a theological conference took place in Constantinople. The most distinguished Chalcedonian [KAL-SEH-DON-EE-UHN] theologian of the time, Leontius [LEE-ON-TEE-UHS] of Byzantium, interpreted the Chalcedonian [KAL-SEH-DON-EE-UHN] Definition in such a way that some of the leading Monophysites [MO-NOF-UH-SITES] declared that the way was open for a rapprochement. One of them even declared that he was ready to accept the Chalcedonian [KAL-SEH-DON-EE-UHN] Definition. At the end of the conference, many hoped that the schism would soon be healed.

Next time, we will continue looking at “Further Theological Debates.”

Let’s pray.

—PRAYER—

Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.