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§ 8. Christianity in Asia.


Asia was the cradle of Christianity, as it was of humanity and civilization. The apostles themselves had spread the new religion over Palestine, Syria, and Asia Minor. According to the younger Pliny, under Trajan, the temples of the gods in Asia Minor were almost forsaken, and animals of sacrifice found hardly any purchasers. In the second century Christianity penetrated to Edessa in Mesopotamia, and some distance into Persia, Media, Bactria, and Parthia; and in the third, into Armenia and Arabia. Paul himself had, indeed, spent three years in Arabia, but probably in contemplative retirement preparing for his apostolic ministry. There is a legend, that the apostles Thomas and Bartholomew carried the gospel to India. But a more credible statement is, that the Christian teacher Pantaeus of Alexandria journeyed to that country about 190, and that in the fourth century churches were found there.

The transfer of the seat of power from Rome to Constantinople, and the founding of the East Roman empire under Constantine I. gave to Asia Minor, and especially to Constantinople, a commanding importance in the history of the Church for several centuries. The seven oecumenical Councils from 325 to 787 were all held in that city or its neighborhood, and the doctrinal controversies on the Trinity and the person of Christ were carried on chiefly in Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt.

In the mysterious providence of God those lands of the Bible and the early church have been conquered by the prophet of Mecca, the Bible replaced by the Koran, and the Greek church reduced to a condition of bondage and stagnation; but the time is not far distant when the East will be regenerated by the undying spirit of Christianity. A peaceful crusade of devoted missionaries preaching the pure gospel and leading holy lives will reconquer the holy land and settle the Eastern question.


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