Where Have All the Christians Gone?

In my last post on the Jaipur Literature Festival, the largest free one in the world, I mentioned sitting in two sessions of William Dalrymple. In August I posted in part on my favorite book of his, From the Holy Mountain. For those interested you can order it from my Recommended Books page. Here is that post from August.

Encounters of Faith in Asia: Past, Present and Future

Church _of_the_East_Syrian_Orthodox_Church_Color 140220Where was the first Christian church building, probably in 180 C.E.? Where was the first place outside of Antioch that Christian missionaries were sent out to the east? Where were two of the first Asian Christian theologians based, Bardaisan and Tatian? Where was the first Christian theological college/university, near to the year 200 C.E.? The answer is the city of Edessa, 180 km to the NE of Antioch. Edessa, now the modern Turkish city of Urfa, was the staging area for a strong missions movement to the east that may have included three of the original twelve apostles: Thomas, Thaddeus and Bartholomew. The gospel did not only move west to the areas around the Mediterranean Sea but also further east in Asia, a sometimes unknown or downplayed part of history.

The beginnings of the Christian church were not in the West but in Asia, in a region known today…

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