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Well, we’ve come to the end after two years of reading “Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years” and we share our final thoughts here.
Howard and Chris share what they have learned and gained from reading this book; Michael writes about the historical development of how Greek pagan philosophy seeped into Western theology and how it has affected our contemporary reading of the Bible; I share my thoughts on divine intervention (or non-intervention more specifically) and history or my attempt to understand God’s role in history after having read this book.
We hope and pray that we will use the knowledge gained from this session wisely. I believe that this is just the beginning of our journey into learning more about the history of the Church.
After a long hiatus, we will share our final thoughts on MacCulloch’s book.
Please write a summary of these main points:
- Go back to your very first essays here to see if reading this book fulfilled some or all of your expectations. What were the strengths and weaknesses of this book in relation to your expectations from the start?
- Provide one (no more than two if need be) area or moment of Church history as told by MacCulloch that was most interesting for you or changed your perspective of Christianity.
- Finally, how has your faith been affected after having read through Church history? What lingering questions or thoughts do you still have?
We will have our final meeting on Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years next Sunday, May 3.
UPDATE: Chapter 19: A Worldwide Faith (1500 – 1800) – Submissions: Bartolome de las Casas and Christianity in Japan
Here are our essays for Chapter 19.
Christianity goes global, to the South and Central Americas and all the way to Japan.
And of course, a lot of bloodshed and death on both sides – for the native populations as well as persecutions for Christians.
A great movie to watch about the missionary activities of the Jesuits in South America was “The Mission” starring Jeremy Irons and Robert De Niro.
Time-lapse History of Europe and the Middle East in the Last 1000 Years, Emergence, and Divine Sovereignty
I came across this rather interesting time-lapse map of Europe, Western Russia, and present-day Turkey, where you see the dynamic evolution of human history over the course of a millennia which is still going on right now.
(Also, history is so much more kick-ass with music from the movie “Inception” in the background.)
For a little over a year now we have been studying the history of the Christian Church and delving quite a bit into the history of Europe from ancient times, through the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages, the Byzantine Empire, and now into the Reformation, so the vast movements in this map should be familiar to those in our group.
I was never much into history, but if you want to be a serious student of theology, a solid knowledge and foundation in history is invaluable to see how ideas and beliefs began and evolved over time, and how everything fits together. Studying history may radically alter your beliefs even.
Also, in my spare time, I’ve been delving into the science of emergence by reading Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software by Steven Johnson. Here’s an excerpt of the book that I read today that directly relates to history and the map shown above, specifically in terms of information and energy flow as cities, civilizations, and countries grow more and more complex over time.
Last week, as our group was discussing the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, we also talked about the roots of antisemitism in church history. Our understanding was a bit foggy at best.
However, after watching the second episode of the PBS series “The Story of the Jews”, narrated by Simon Schama, I gained a better understanding of the long, and very shameful history, of Christians murdering and persecuting Jews throughout the centuries. And of course, Muslims have had a long history of persecuting Jews as well.
Schama places the Christian roots of antisemitism with the writings of St. Paul, and then hatred toward Jews reached its heights with the fiery preachings of John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, during the 4th century AD who associated Jews with demons and the Devil, and as “Christ-killers”.
When you think about it, as Mr. Schama discusses in this episode, having strictly monotheistic Jews accept the Trinity or the deity of Christ would not only be unacceptable to them, but downright weird. Even claims that Jesus was the Messiah as prophesied in the Old Testament by the prophets seems unconscionable to Jews who believe that with the coming of the Messiah, he would usher in an age of peace throughout the world – but as you know from history, the world has hardly been a place of universal peace after Jesus.
Watch the episode here.
“God is not the answer; He’s the question.”
Diarmaid MacCulloch, Prof. of History of the Church at Oxford University, talking about his book, Christianity: The First 3000 Years, that we are currently going over.
Fascinating look into the Coptic Church in Egypt and its present precarious plight.
Surprised that there were charismatic Coptic church services there.