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.”
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!