For those of you who don’t know me (ok – let’s face it, if your reading this, you already know me…and are probably wounding if it’s too late to deny all knowledge of the being named Ardell), I like missions history – especially as it deals with early church history. As such, I have been studying the topic off-and-on for the last eight or nine years. At different times throughout those years I have found folks (I believe the number is six) who actually enjoyed listening/talking about this subject.
Well, to the relief of my wife and all sane beings in Idaho, the Good Lord (who is also probably tired of hearing me talk) allows me to co-teach a class about the subject.
Yelp – I am now teaching a class about Missions History, World Religion and Cross Culture Adaptation to fifteen VCOM (Vineyard College of Mission) students. Seeing that the class is mandatory, they have to show up ever week! (Now if they would only stay awake...)
Now I know you are all dieing to know what I’m teaching this poor blessed students. As such, I have posted part of my outline for last week below for you all to drool over. Lord willing, I will continue to post more information about the class was we work are way through this semester (hold on, stop! Slow down – poking your eyes out won’t solve anything… you don’t have to keep reading if you don’t want too. That’s right; put the folk back on the table. Thank you).
I) Apostolic Period: 33-95 AD
a. The Apostles – forced out of Jerusalem in 70 AD
i. Thomas – India
ii. Simon the Canaanite– Africa and Britain
iii. Simon Peter – Samaria; Roman; other places?
iv. Bartholomew – Armenia and India
v. John – Asia Minor (modern day Turkey)
vi. Andrew – North between the Caspian and Black Seas
vii. Matthew – Ethiopia, Egypt
viii. Philip –Asia Minor (modern day Turkey)
ix. James the son of Alphaeus – Spain?
II) Post Apostolic 95-313 AD
a. J. Herbert Kane, A Concise History of the Christian World Mission (1987)
“Coming to the second and third centuries we find that information regarding the expansion of the Christian church is even more meager. We read of large and influential churches in Alexandria, Carthage, and Edessa; but we do not know when or by whom they were established. Here again there are wide gaps in our knowledge. It would seem that Christianity continued to spread along the main roads and rivers of the empire: eastward by way of Damascus and Edessa into Mesopotamia; southward through Bosra and Petra into Arabia; westward though Alexandria and Carthage into North Africa; and northward through Antioch into Armenia, Pontus, and Bithynia. Later still it reached Spain, Gaul, and Britain before crossing the borders of the empire into more remote parts such as Ireland, Ethiopia, and China.”
b. Pantaens of Alexandria went to India in 180 AD (found a church founded by Bartholomew)
c. Gregory the Illuminator – Missionary to Armenia
i. Converted Armenian’s King, King Tiridates
ii. Still exists – one of the oldest churches in Christendom
iii. New Testament first appeared in the Armenian language in 410 AD
III) Christianity become corrupt: 313-500 AD
a. Key Dates
i. Conversion of Emperor Constantine (323 AD)
1. Christianity when from the tombs to the palace almost overnight
2. People became ‘Christianity’ for political reasons, not because of a personal faith.
ii. Christianity becomes the “official” religion of the Roman Empire
It is Our Will that all the people We rule shall practice that religion which the divine Peter the Apostle transmitted to the Romans. We shall believe in the single Deity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, under the concept of equal majesty and of the Holy Trinity. We command that those persons who follow this rule shall embrace the name of Catholic Christians. The rest, however, whom We adjudge demented and insane, shall sustain the infamy of heretical dogmas, their meeting places shall not receive the name of churches, and they shall be smitten first by divine vengeance and secondly by the retribution of Our own initiative, which We shall assume in accordance with divine judgment.
Emperor Theodosius 380 AD
b. Patrick, missionary to Ireland (389? – 461?)
i. Evangelical Celtic believer from Britain (not connected to the Roman Church)
ii. Father was a ‘deacon’; Grandfather was a priest in the Celtic church
iii. Patrick did not become a believer until he was captive by an Irish raiding party and became a slave in Ireland
iv. Escaped after 6 years; went to Gaul to study; in 432 AD went back to Ireland as a missionary
v. Changed Ireland for God
vi. Unlike Roman Catholics, Patrick and the Celtic missionaries that followed placed a lot of emphasis on spiritual growth.
c. Frumentius – missionary to Ethiopia
i. Going to India with his uncle and a friend
ii. Seized by pirates in the Red Seas; sold as slaves to the King of Ethiopia
iii. Became the virtual ruler of Ethiopia upon kings death; ruled on behalf of the kings son, Ezana
iv. When the new king was old enough, Frumentius and his friend was set free; went to Alexandria
v. Commissioned as a bishop and returned as a missionary
vi. Converted Ezana to Christianity
vii. Ethiopian church is the only African church that was not conquered by Islam