CHRISTIANITY IN ARMENIA AND INDIA
Many modern Christians have little conception of quite how far the gospel spread in the early centuries of the Church, nor what a large variety of cultures have composed - and still compose - the greater Christian world. Western Christians are perhaps especially apt to forget that, in the early years of the faith, the gospel fared somewhat better in the East, and travelled far along the thriving trade routes opened up by Hellenistic culture.
Of all Christian nations - that is, nations in which Christianity is or has been the faith not only of the people but of the state - the oldest is Armenia. It was around the year 300 that the Armenian royal household received baptism and adopted Christianity as the royal religion some 13 years before the Christians of the Roman empire were granted the right to practice their faith by the Edict of Milan.
(THE AUTHOR IS COMPLETELY WRONG; ONE WONDERS HOW MUCH REAL RESEARCH HE DID ON WHAT HE HAS JUST STATED. I HAVE GIVEN YOU THE TRUE HISTORICAL RECORD [UNDER THIS SECTION OF HISTORIES] AS EVEN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH ADMITS: IT WAS BRITAIN WHO AS A NATION ACCEPTED TRUE CHRISTIANITY AS HER NATIONAL RELIGION - Keith Hunt)
The First Christian Kingdom
In many ways, the history of ancient Armenia resembled that of Judea. It had been a subject nation for centuries by the beginning of the Christian era. It was conquered by the Persians under Darius I (550-486 b.c.), by Alexander the Great, by the Seleucids and - after a brief period of independence — by the Romans in 66 b.c. For many centuries thereafter, situated as it was between the Roman and Persian empires, it was dominated now by one, now by the other, and even on some occasions by both; and it absorbed their religious influences.
According to tradition, however, the influence of Christianity began as early as the apostolic age. The Apostle Thaddeus is said to have arrived in Armenia in 43 and was joined by the Apostle Bartholomew in 60. Both died there as martyrs, along with a large number of other Christians. And, in the early second and early third centuries, many more Armenian Christians died at the hands of the Persians.
(ALL THIS WHILE BY THE MIDDLE OF THE SECOND CENTURY BRITAIN HAD OFFICIALLY ADOPTED APOSTOLIC CHRISTIANITY AS HER NATIONAL RELIGION. SEE OTHER STUDIES UNDER THIS "HISTORY" SECTION - Keith Hunt)
Yet the actual founder of Armenian Christianity - as a national religion with an indigenous institutional structure - was St Gregory the Illuminator (240-332), a Parthian prince who fled his homeland as a youth along with other refugees from a Persian invasion, and was educated as a Christian in Caesarea. In 287, he returned to his homeland to preach the gospel following the restoration of the Armenian monarchy under Tiridates III. Tiridates, however, was an ardent devotee of the old gods and had Gregory arrested and thrown into a dungeon, where he remained for around 13 years while his coreligionists suffered terrible persecution. According to tradition, the king — suffering a painful illness — finally released Gregory, was healed by him, and (along with his entire household) converted to Christianity. Gregory then returned to Caesarea, was confirmed as the 'Catholicos' (or supreme Primate) of Armenia, and was greeted on his return by the king, in full royal procession. Mass conversions and baptisms supposedly followed.
(NOW REMEMBER THIS FELLOW WAS OF THE THEOLOGY OF ROME - A ROMAN CATHOLIC. THE CHRISTIANITY ARMENIA ADOPTED WAS ROMAN CATHOLICISM - Keith Hunt)
Evangelism and Tradition
National legend may exaggerate the ease with which Christianity triumphed. Local forms of paganisms persisted for many years in Armenia. But, with Gregory, a national Armenian Orthodox Church was established, with an organized hierarchy. Churches were built, pagan shrines were reconsecrated as churches, monasteries were founded, and a cathedral was built for the Catholicos in the city of Echmiadzin. All the evidence suggests that the new faith was extremely successful.
(YES AS ROMAN CATHOLIC THEOLOGY. NOTICE "ORGANIZED HIERARCHY" AND "MONASTERIES" - "CATHEDRAL" - ALL ROMAN CATHOLIC INSTITUTIONS - Keith Hunt)
In 365, a more robust campaign of Christianization in Armenia was inaugurated at the general synod summoned by the Catholicos Nerses (a descendant of Gregory): legal reforms were instituted, and hospitals, orphanages, and homes for the blind, for lepers, and for widows and orphans were built. Under the Catholicos Sahak I (r.387—439), a scholarly priest named Mesrop was commissioned to create an alphabet for the Armenian language, and a great age of translation of Christian texts from Syriac and Greek began, including — from 404 to 433 — the Bible. Church schools were also established.
(YES THE ROMAN CATHOLICS DO ALL THESE THINGS - FORGETTING ALL THE SINS AND EVIL THAT CAME FROM ROME [INCLUDING AS WE SHALL SEE, WARS] AND ONLY LOOKING AT WHAT IS MENTIONED ABOVE, IT WOULD SEEM ON THE OUTSIDE, ROMAN THEOLOGY WAS VERY CHARITABLE - Keith Hunt)
In common with certain other 'Oriental churches', the Armenian Church broke with the imperial Church of Constantinople and Rome after the Council of Chalcedon in 451, which the Armenian Church rejected officially in 506. This schism left Armenian Christianity somewhat isolated — a condition that was exacerbated by the Islamic conquest of the country in the seventh century.
(SO EVEN THE ROMAN CHURCH HAD ITS SPLITS, BUT ALL WERE STILL PART OF THE SAME FALSE BABYLON MYSTERY RELIGION; A MOTHER CHURCH THAT HAD DAUGHTERS - Keith Hunt)
The St Thomas Christians of India
No less ancient than Armenian Christianity, perhaps, is the native Christianity of India. From very ancient times, there has been an established community of Christians among the Malayalam-speaking peoples of the southwestern Malabar coastal region of Kerala. They are mostly the descendants of East Syrian merchants who travelled along the trade routes that passed through the Red Sea and settled there. These 'Nasranis' or 'Malankara Orthodox Christians' (as they are known) call themselves the 'Thomas Christians' because they believe that Christianity was originally brought to Kerala in 52 by the Apostle Thomas, who remained in the country until his martyrdom in Mylapur, in Madras, around 72.
There is no reason to reject this story as legend. The trade routes to India were already quite ancient by the first century a.d., and were frequented by merchants from the Near East and the greater Mediterranean world; and there was a small Jewish community in Kerala from before the Christian period. A late second or early third-century Gnostic text, The Acts of Thomas, tells of the Apostle's journey to India; this highly romanticized account nevertheless draws upon an established tradition. The fourth-century Christian historian Eusebius records that Pantaenus, founder of the Christian School of Alexandria, travelled to India as a missionary in the second century, only to find Christianity already established there.
(PROBABLY VERY TRUE. JUST AS WHEN ROME ENTERED BRITAIN 500 OR SO YEARS AFTER JESUS, THEY FOUND WHAT THEY CALLED "HERETICAL" AND "JEWISH" CHRISTIANITY, AND BEGAN TO ERADICATE IT. BY THE 11TH CENTURY THE LAST 7TH DAY SABBATH KEEPERS IN WALES WERE CONQUERED BY ROME. BRITAIN BECAME ANOTHER ROMAN CATHOLIC COUNTRY, AND FOR THE 3 PERCENT OF CHURCH GOING PEOPLE LEFT IN BRITAIN TODAY [SHE IS A VERY SECULAR COUNTRY] , MOST CHURCH OF ENGLAND, SHE STILL IS ROMAN CATHOLIC, ONLY THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND DOES NOT HAVE THE POPE AT ITS HEAD - Keith Hunt)
We can say with certainty, however, that East Syrian Christian refugees, fleeing persecution under the Persian emperor Shapur II (309-79), came in great numbers to Kerala, and that by the late fifth century the Indian Church was ecclesiastically united with the Syrian 'Church of the East' — another 'Oriental' church that broke with Constantinople and Rome some time after the Council of Chalcedon (but for reasons radically different from those of the Armenians). Later waves of East Syrian immigration took place in the eighth and ninth centuries.
(MORE CATHOLICISM; MORE FAMILY BREAK UP; MORE DAUGHTERS FROM THE MOTHER CHURCH - Keith Hunt)
All, it seems, were quite hospitably received by the native Indian rulers, perhaps because theirs was a prosperous merchant population. They were granted legal charters for their community, accorded an extremely high caste in Indian society (only a step below Brahmins), and given extensive jurisdiction over their own people. From early on, Christian processions were allowed to display the full sumptuous ornament usually reserved for the ruling caste. In turn, certain Indian practices — usually associated with Hindu beliefs - were adopted by the Thomas Christians. It even became common for Christian men to withdraw from the world in their sixty-fourth year to devote the rest of their lives to contemplation and prayer, in keeping 'with ancient Hindu' practice.
(MORE UNSCRIPTURAL PRACTICES, THIS TIME ADOPTED FROM THE HINDU RELIGION - Keith Hunt)
THE LEGEND OF KING ABGAR
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According to a very old and popular legend known throughout the ancient and Medieval Christian world, Christianity penetrated into the eastern reaches of Syria not only in the days of the Apostles, but during the time of Christ's earthly ministry. The tale is recounted in two ancient Christian
sources, Eusebius' "Ecclesiastical History" and "The Teaching of Addai," supposedly written in the first century. Both works contain letters - in slightly different versions - allegedly exchanged between King Abgar V the Black of Edessa, in Syria, and Jesus himself.
According to the legend, certain ambassadors from Edessa and their scribe Hannan, while passing through Jerusalem on their way home to Syria, heard of Christ's miraculous powers. They brought word of this new wonder-worker back to Abgar, who had long been afflicted by leprosy, and the king immediately sent Hannan back to Palestine with a letter for Jesus, entreating him to come to Edessa. In the letter, Abgar speaks of the marvelous things he has been told: how Christ has restored sight to the blind, caused the lame to walk, cast out devils, and raised the dead; 'from this I have concluded you are either a god descended from heaven,' he says, 'or the son of God'; he then begs Christ to come and heal him of his disease and offers Christ the protection and hospitality of his 'small yet very beautiful city'.
According to the tale, Jesus sent a response back with Hannan. In this letter he praises Abgar for 'having believed without having seen', and then explains that he cannot leave his homeland until he has accomplished the mission for which his Father has sent him into the world. He promises, however, that when he has ascended, he will send one of his disciples to heal the king. According to The Teaching of Addai, Hannan even painted a portrait of Christ to take with him back to the king's palace. (I DOUBT THIS VERY MUCH - Keith Hunt)
After Christ's ascension, the story continues, one of the 72 disciples who also followed Christ was sent by the Apostles into Syria. This disciple - one Addai by name - fulfilled Christ's promise to Abgar and healed him of his leprosy. The king then received baptism and ordained it for his subjects, and Addai became the bishop in Edessa. Addai was succeeded by Aggai, a local convert; but the next king, Manu, restored pagan worship to his city, and Aggai died a martyr.
NOW THIS LEGEND MAY WELL BE TRUE. THERE IS MUCH IN THE GOSPELS AND NEW TESTAMENT WE ARE NOT TOLD. AND WHEN CHRISTIANITY WENT TO THE GENTILES, IT COULD WELL HAVE GONE TO PARTS WE ARE NOT TOLD ABOUT IN THE NEW TESTAMENT. BUT WHAT HISTORY DOES RECORD IS THE GRADUAL CONQUEST OF TRUE CHRISTIANITY AND PAGANISM [IN THE MAIN] BY THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH. AND YES AS THE LEGEND ABOVE, A RETURN TO PAGANISM IN SOME LANDS. TRUE CHRISTIANS WERE AS JESUS SAID, TO BE THE "LITTLE FLOCK" AND THE "SALT OF THE EARTH" - NEVER BUT SCATTERED HERE AND THERE THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. Keith Hunt