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The History of the Christian Church

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Providing Insight into the history of the Christian Church

Providing Insight into the history of the Christian Church


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Providing Insight into the history of the Christian Church




Rabban Sauma Part 12

This is the last of a dozen episodes on Rabban Sauma.Having met with all the dignitaries his embassy on Arghun’s behalf required, Sauma was anxious to return home. The delay caused by the Roman Cardinals failure to appoint a new Pope had lengthened his stay beyond what he’d anticipated. Although no record of it is given, Arghun may have urged Sauma to return by a specific date. So he packed up and started the journey back to Persia. It was April 1288.And remember, accompanying him was the...


Rabban Sauma Part 11

This is the 11 episode in the story of Rabban Sauma, and we’re closing in on the conclusion.After a month-long tour of the holy sites in and around Paris, Sauma had a final audience with King Philip. He meant it to be the crowning achievement in the royal treatment he’d lavished on the Chinese ambassador.It was held in the upper chapel of Saint-Chapelle where the just completed stained glass windows filled the room with light, giving the room its nick-name – The Jewel Box. Being newly...


Rabban Sauma Part 10

This is episode 10 in the on-going epic saga of the Chinese Marco Polo – Rabban Sauma.Realizing he couldn’t get anything done in Rome since there was no Pope, and that the dozen cardinals charged with the task of selecting him were competing for the post, Sauma decided to take his request for a military alliance between Christian Europe and Mongol Persia against the Muslims Mamluks in the Middle East, directly to the Kings of France and England.Leaving Rome, he stopped in Genoa on his way to...


Rabban Sauma Part 9

This is Episode 9 in the on-going epic tale of Rabban Sauma.Finally, Sauma has arrived in Europe. After two months aboard ship, his party arrives in Naples. Which is unusual because the trip from Constantinople ought to have taken less than a month. Here again, it’s Sauma’s account that seems to be lacking detail. Being a commercial vessel, most likely they’d used the route to further their business, so had put into port along the way for days at a time.Sauma took some time in Naples to...


Rabban Sauma Part 8

This is episode 8 in the remarkable tale of a Chinese Marco Polo named Rabban Sauma.Well, it’s taken us 7 episodes to get to the point of Sauma’s story that’s set him as a historical figure we even know about. If it weren’t for what follows, even though he’s already lived a genuinely epic life, he’d be little more than a footnote to his companion Marcos’ story. For it was Marcos, not Sauma who became the Catholicos, the reigning patriarch of the entire Nestorian Church, under the name of Mar...


Rabban Sauma Part 7

This is the 7 episode in the on-going saga of Rabban Sauma.Last episode ended with the Mongol Ilkhan Arghun in Persia surrounded by enemies. He had a powerful ally in the Great Khan Khubilai, but Persia and China were too far apart and Khubilai was already locked into his own troubles in his contest with his cousin Khaidu.Arghun had risen to the Ilkhanate in Persia by supplanting his nemesis Ahmad, a pro-Muslim ruler who’d been removed & executed after a short reign. Arghun worried Ahmad’s...


Rabban Sauma Part 6

This is the 6 Episode in the amazing story of a Chinese monk named Rabban Sauma.We ended the last episode with Sauma’s protégé and friend Markos, firmly ensconced in the seat of the Catholicus of the Church of The East.Because we’ve already had 5 episodes in this series spread over 5 weeks, it’s easy for subscribers who listen to each episode when it goes up, to forget the arc of Markos’ story.He showed up at the door of the monk Sauma’s cell in the Fang Mountains of China when he was only...


Rabban Sauma Part 5

This is Episode 5 in the on-going saga of Rabban Sauma.We left Markos and Bar Sauma headed to Tabriz, the Mongol Ilkhan’s capital in Persia.By way of recap, “Ilkhan” means “under-khan.”The Mongol realms of the late 13 C were fractured and divided up into warring camps. The Ilkhans of Persia owed allegiance to the Great Khan, Khubilai, whose capital in China would eventually be known as Beijing. Lying between the Ilkhante in Persia and the realm of Khubilai was a Central Asian breakaway...


Rabban Sauma Part 4

This is Episode 4 in the Saga of Rabban Sauma.After their 6 month rest at the oases of Khotan, Bar Sauma & Markos renewed their journey West. Cautious of the fighting taking place between Khubilai Khan and his cousin Khaidu, their guides escorted them around the regions of greatest threat, lengthening the journey by several weeks. They stopped at a Talas, a town in what is today Kyrgyz.500 yrs before, Talas was the scene of one of the most important battles in history. The forces of the Tang...


Rabban Sauma Part 3

This episode continues our series on the remarkable Rabban Sauma with Part 3.In Part 1, we looked at the opening chapter in Sauma’s life. By way of a quick recap . . .He was the treasured son of an Onggud noble family who from an early age showed a remarkable passion for pursuing the spiritual. Adept in his studies and excelling in piety, by the age 25 he was a member of the Nestorian clergy, a monk-priest. It was the year 1248.Choosing a life of isolation rather than a monastery, he...


Rabban Sauma Part 2

This is Part 2 of our series on Rabban Sauma.We begin with a brief review of the political scene into which Rabban Sauma’s story fits.Trade between the Roman Empire and the Far East was established as early as the First Century. But this trade was conducted by intermediaries. No single Western merchant made the entire trek to China, nor vice-versa. Goods traveled a ways from East to West or West to East by local caravans, which deposited them at a market, to be picked up by another caravan...


Rabban Sauma Part 1

Rabban Sauma is the title of this Episode, Part 1.So -- there I was, walking through the Genghis Khan exhibit at the Reagan Library, reading the various offerings on the Great Khan and Mongols - a subject that as a student of history I find fascinating when I came upon an offering that launched an investigation. It spoke of a Nestorian priest who was a Chinese version of the famous Marco Polo. As I read the exhibit’s terse account of Rabban Sauma, I knew I had a new investigation to make....


Some, Not Others

Think I’m on safe ground when I say à Those listening to this are mostly likely students of history. Your knowledge of the past is probably more comprehensive than the average person. And of course, the range of knowledge among subscribers to CS spans the gamut from extensive to, well, not so much. Yet still, more than the average.If asked to make a list of the main thinkers of the past; philosophers, theologians, and such like, of Western tradition, we’d get the usual. Socrates, Plato,...


Just Doing the Job

Taken as a whole, leaders demonstrate a wide array of skills and talent. While great leaders often exhibit some consistent marks, there’s simply no set script they follow. No inventory of essential traits all must possess to excel. Indeed, some great leaders demonstrate contradictory traits from each other. One is gregarious, another reserved. Once is upbeat and energetic, another taciturn and subdued.Many of the Church’s great leaders have been brilliant, their intelligence ranking them as...


Come Outers

During the early-mid 19 C, an interesting phenomenon spread over the thinking of parts of Western Europe and the US. It was a general negativity about the present, but a strong optimism about the future. In some places, it was almost giddy. The current political and economic situation might be a mess and the number of social ills piling higher. But the Enlightenment’s promise of a bright new day gripped the imagination of thousands. The recent boom in technological progress with things like...



In this episode of CS, we’ll take a look at something many of our listeners are familiar with; at least, they think their familiar with it – Evangelicalism. Not a few of them would describe themselves as Evangelicals. But if pressed to describe what exactly that means, they’d be hard pressed to say. And they have little to know awareness of the historical roots of the movement they are indeed a part of. // So, let’s start off with a little definition of terms.Evangelicalism is a global...



In this Episode of CS we’ll take a look at a figure of church history anyone who’s done any reading in such has likely encountered – Eusebius of Caesarea. He’s a prominent figure because he’s known as the Father of Church history for his classic work Ecclesiastical History which charts the course of the early church from its inception to the late 3 C.His history of the Church was originally composed in 10 volumes. He began it during the Great Persecution of 303–313 and completed it around...



In his marvelous one volume book on Church History, Bruce Shelley relates how the World Council of Churches came up with its motto.In 1962, its General Secretary, Willem Hooft, met a delegation of Russian Orthodox leaders in a Leningrad hotel over breakfast. The Russians complained the current WCC motto left out a crucial element of their theology, without which they couldn’t join. They needed to see some reference to the Trinity, however brief.From discussions with many Protestant groups,...


500 Years – Part 6 // The Way It Was

The title of this episode, Part 6 in the Series 500 Yrs, in commemoration of the Half-Millennial anniversary of The Reformation, is “The Way It Was;” a brief look at popular religion of the Middle and Late Middle Ages in Europe.(more…)


500 Years – Part 05 // Can’t We All Just Get Along?

10/15/2017 we come up to the 500 year anniversary of Reformation Day, when Martin Luther tacked his revolutionary list of exceptions to current church practice and belief to the Castle Church door in the German town of Wittenberg, we’re faced with the realization that the Reformation embraced many more people than the popular telling of history enumerates. Many more.(more…)