One of the things we don’t understand is the global history of Christianity. At some point in time Christianity became known as the white man’s religion. Most people don’t understand that it wasn’t always this way.
If you talked to someone on the street and asked them if Christianity is the white man’s religion they would probably agree with you or not know exactly what to say. We see a blond haired blue eyed Jesus. We know the history of Christian missionaries who sailed off to teach the natives the Bible and civilize them.
That’s a small piece of the story. In fact the piece of the story we know is only a little more than 500 years old.
Churches not only sprang up across what is now Europe but also into the Persian and Ethiopian empires of Asia and Africa. Here are three secrets of Christianity’s global history:
Christianity reached all the way to China by 635 A.D.
Yes Christianity reached all the way to China. It was through Christians called Nestorians. These Christians broke away from the orthodox church and began to spread across the Persian empire to the East. The Nestorians launched missionary efforts and eventually reached the Mongol empire and China.
Christianity’s most important doctrines were formulated in Africa
Most people bring up the Council of Nicea as the place we get the Christian faith we have today. At Nicea certain doctrines and the Biblical canon were approved for the Roman Empire. But the doctrine of the Trinity and the status of Jesus as God were articulated and fought over in Carthage and Egypt long before they reached Nicea.
In fact Athanasius the Bishop of Alexandria stood against the idea that Jesus was not God. His stance for Jesus being God and man caused him to be forced into exile by the rest of the church. Athanasius’ book On the Incarnation is a classic.
Augustine wrestled with how the church related to the state. Cyprian took on the way churches from different regions and perspective should relate to each other and debate issues where they differed.
A Christian Bishop represented India at the Council of Nicea
At some point Christian missionaries reached India. They had their own ecclesiastical system. And their own translation of the scriptures. Christianity in India was a thing and they even had a Bishop to represent the Indian church at the Council of Nicea.
Those who tell the story control the narrative. So it makes sense for us to believe Christianity has been a European thing. Not only was it not a European thing in its early days but now in the 21st century it’s not a European thing or a Western thing.
Christianity is vibrant and dynamic in Asia and Africa just as it was in its earliest days. This lost history of Christianity is being relived all over again in China, Nigeria, and Brazil.
So when someone says to you Christianity is a white man’s religion just hit em up with the three facts I just gave you. It will cause them to think. It will make them go back and get a little perspective. It will give them pause enough to consider maybe the gospel is for them.