March 24, 2005

This Week in Church History

March 23, 322.

This is the anniversary of the death of Gregory the Illuminator. Gregory is credited with helping in the creation of the first Christian nation in the world. And it wasn't the United States.

There were certainly Christians in Armenia when Gregory was born -- tradition says that Bartholomew and Thaddeus both visited the country and preached Christ to them in the first century AD. There were churches in existence in 257 when Gregory was born, so there could be some truth to the legends.

Unfortunately, Christianity was not a popular faith. The Persian rulers of the land had all but extinguished it by the time of Gregory's birth. Gregory's nurse had to flee the country with him when his entire family was killed in retaliation for his father assassinating the Armenian king. Gregory was raised in Cappadocia, and learned the Gospel there. He soon returned to Armenia, where he preached the gospel.

He wasn't popular. The king persecuted him. His life was in danger. But his faithfulness won converts -- ultimately including the king himself, who declared Armenia a Christian nation.

The church in Armenia was incredibly strong -- lasting until the Turks massacred Christians there in the 20th Century. It was the first to have a Bible in it's own national language. And it was a strong voice for Christ in Europe.

I learned a lot from this study. I tend to consider state churches as a bad thing -- it isn't necessarily that way. Armenia is a perfect example of a state church done right. Unfortunately, men of Gregory's caliber are rare in this day. Few men today would be capable of balancing the power and responsibility that Gregory had.

What can we learn from this? We can learn a lot from Gregory's faithfulness, and his commitment to spreading the gospel. He had little hope of success, and could expect to be killed for his faith. He didn't stop.

We can also see the value in Christians united in their faith. While I still have a problem with the idea of a national church, a body of Christians united in purpose and faith can achieve amazing things. While there are some things that should divide Christians (issues concerning the deity of Christ, the value and role of Scripture, salvation by grace through faith, etc.), we often let insignificant things separate us. We need to determine what we must agree on, and what we can agree to disagree on. If we can do that, we can show the world the kind of church that the apostles saw, and that was present for thousands of years in Armenia.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 01:24 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 451 words, total size 3 kb.

March 07, 2005

Today in Church History

(TWO in one 'week'! You'll get spoiled, I know you will ...)

March 7, 1274.

A man who is arguably the best theologian of the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas, died this day at 48. Aquinas adapted the writings of Aristotle to Christianity (for good or ill), in the process engaging Averroists in both Christianity and Islam in debate. His Summa Theologiae is still studied by students of all denominations all over the world. His teachings on the relationship between faith and are still studied (and are the subject of the next 'Faith and Reason' segment that I am working on).

Aquinas wasn't always this popular. His classmates thought he was stupid -- they called him a "dumb ox." His aristocratic family thought he was throwing his life away. Nobody thought he would ammount to anything.

They were wrong. The full impact of this man's theology and philosophy cannot be measured even today, but it is safe to say that the Roman Catholic Church, at the very least, would be vastly different in teaching and practice without him.

An outstanding resource on Aquinas can be found here.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 05:53 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 194 words, total size 1 kb.

March 05, 2005

Today in Church History

(It's BACK! Did you miss it?)

March 5, 1797.

Henry Nott arrives in Tahiti to begin his missionary work. Twenty-two years later, he rejoices in his first convert.

How many of us would have that kind of patience? How many of us would stay in a country to minister after all those who came with us were killed by the natives? How many of us would have stuck with it?

We live in a society that demands instant results. We have microwaves because we can't wait for our food to cook. The other day, I saw microwaveable peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches in the freezer section at the grocery store. My wife assured me that they are not a new thing. It takes longer to nuke the sandwhich than it does to spread peanut-butter and jelly on bread!!

We have the internet so we can communicate instantly with anyone, no matter where they are. My first modem was a 300 baud modem for my Commodore 64. I still have it somewhere. Now I have a cable modem that gets me information almost instantly. And in another ten years, THAT will probably be too slow.

We are a people who cannot wait. And some things require patience -- like evangelism. God does not work in our time, even though we expect Him to. We need the patience of a Henry Nott, and we will see change.

Nott's first convert? King Pomare II, one of the most violent men in the world at that time. His conversion changed Tahiti forever. You never know who you can reach, if only you don't give up.

Posted by: Warren Kelly at 05:05 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
Post contains 278 words, total size 2 kb.

<< Page 1 of 1 >>
17kb generated in CPU 0.0098, elapsed 0.0421 seconds.
57 queries taking 0.0364 seconds, 117 records returned.
Powered by Minx 1.1.6c-pink.