*Below is Pastor Andrew’s teaching outline from Sunday evening’s church history study, not a word for word manuscript. This is meant as aid in seeing the thought and direction of the lesson.

Matthew 16:18 ESV

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Christ’s church never dies. There are ups and down, there is expansive growth and times of drought and idolatry, but the work of the spirit moves in every generation as he calls and grows his own.

the middle ages are an essential part of that story.

They continue to show us God’s favor and sustaining work in the most of great hardship around the world, and even within the church itself.

So, for the next seven weeks we will examine the period of Church history from the close of the Patristic era to the pre-reformation controversies of the 14th and 15th century.

Overview of next 7 weeks:

Regional discussions and progression rather than chronological.

– Islam and the church (The church in North Africa and the Middle East)

– Charlemagne and the West (The Holy Roman Empire)

– Byzantium and the East (the Orthodox Church)

– The European Church

– The Crusades

– Scholasticism


Key Events that birthed the age:

-Islam’s’ growth

-The end of the Monophysite controversy within the east by Islam.

-The New West birthed by the Franks. setting Rome & H.R. Emperor against the Patriarch of Constantinople and the Byz. Emperor.

I. Islam:

The second largest faith in the world began 600 years after Christ and flourished in the soils once populated by the Christian faith.

  1. Muhammad

-Born around 570AD

-Raised by His uncle Abu Talib. Though raised poor he would become rich in adulthood as a Merchant working for a wealthy widow whom he would marry. they had 6 children

-He traveled throughout all of Arabia and encountered many different faiths along the way. though in His home Paganism was still the primary religions, though monotheistic “God-Creator” religions had begun to prosper.

-In 610 He claimed to have received a vision from Allah: Arabic translation of “God. “through the Angel Gabriel.

-His wife encouraged him that the vision was not a demonic appearance but rather a true vision. She was the first convert; whose numbers quickly began to swell.

  1. Theology

-Believed in the complete and utter oneness of God. He was completely other set apart and distant from His creation. The greatest sin that exists is idolatry. His view of Oneness left Christianity’s trinitarian theology as good to him as paganism.

-Allah’s most important divine attribute was Power. He was the source of all that happened both good and evil.

-Jesus was a four-runner of Mohamed a great prophet of Allah preparing the way

  1. 5 Pillars:

-Shahadah-” There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet”

-Salah- 5 prayers a day facing Mecca

-Zakah- The giving of Alms to the poor

-Sawn- Ramadan

-Hajj- The pilgrimage to mecca every Muslim must take at least once in their lives.

  1. Jihad is not a pillar of the faith but is found within its teaching. It is the struggle. It is used for both the inward struggle to fight for obedience to the faith and the outward struggle to spread the faith.
  2. Qur’an:

-A series of 114 Messages said to have been given to Muhammad by Gabriel

-First complied after his death by the 3rd Caliph (Othaman). Debate rages as to whether or not he had variants burned that disagreed with his interpretation.

-Only the Arabic versions are divine. all others are interpretations

  1. Hadith:

-Traditions said to have been passed on by Muhammad or done by him.

-As the perfect example of righteousness everything he did was a model to be followed

-Along with the Qur’an it forms the essentials of the faith.

  1. Conquest

-originally the Islam was forced out of Mecca (622), for it threatened the established paganism.

-Flourished in the northern region now known as Medina. He would become the religious and political leader of the whole region.

-He would return to mecca in 630 with an army of 10000 and took over the city. Converted the citizens by offering them amnesty. and turned their greatest shrine into His own sacred temple: the Ka’ba.

-Arabia for the first time had begun to form a unified system of religion and governance under Muhammad. After Muhammad’s death his successors would take Islam across Northern Africa to Europe itself as they advanced their faith through the sword.  within 100 years there existed a unified Islamic empire from India to Spain.

-The Church’s own political wars helped to fuel the conquest given by the advancing Islamic forces.

-The theological conflict raging in the eastern church between the orthodox faithful and the monophysites had turned bloody, leaving the church in disarray and without protection. The Byzantium empire’s treatment of the heretical sect left them unprepared when Persia swept in and began conquering Egypt and Syria.

The Coptic sects accepted pagan rulers who were kind to them rather than the harsh treatment of the Byzantine church. The byzantine empire would launch major offensive against the Persian empire., eventually conquering them (622-628), but unable to leave behind and military forces. This left the door open for Islam to sweep across these demilitarized nations.

-Islamic Conquests:

-Damascus 635

-Jerusalem 637

-Antioch, Caesarea, & the Syrian coast 638

-The remainder of Syria 639

-Persia 639

-Egypt 640-641

-by the 8th century Afghanistan and Northern India fell.

-Attempted to crush the Byzantine empire

-Attacked Constantinople- 5-year battle from 673-678

-Ended with the implementation of Greek fire

-In 679 All hostilities ceased as Constantine IV and Muawiyah (5th Caliph) established a peace treaty recognizing each other’s sovereign territories.

-Swept across N. Africa 50-year war against the Berber Kingdoms. Who when they fell became some of the most ardent Muslims? They would take the faith fiercely into Spain and push on to France before being crushed at tours. In 1492 Islam would be pushed back out of Spain. Known as the Reconquista or reconquest.

  1. Division

-The initial unity of the Islamic State was short lived. With the assassination of their third leader Othman in 656 there arose a conflict as to who rightfully should lead the people both religiously and politically:

-The Shia’s (The Party of Ali)- Believed that the only ones qualified to lead must be direct descendants of Muhammad.

-Believed that only an Imam (Living leader) from Muhammad’s family would lead the people correctly.

  • Beginning with Ali Who married Muhammad’s daughter Fatima.

-The Sunnis- Believed the nations elders should choose, or at a minimum each Caliph should choose His own successor.

-They believed that the teachings were more important than a single man.

-Muawiyah governor of Syria at the time was the most ardent supporter. Champion that Ali and his allies had Othman killed.

-Civil war broke out between the two parties. While Ali was temporarily victorious, he would continue to be opposed, until he was assassinated in 661. Muawiyah would become the new Caliph and appoint His sin after him.

-The Shia’s would reject this new caliph and attempt to overthrow his rule. Their plot was discovered, but the rose up anyway, being killed. Introducing a new idea of Martyrdom into Shia theology.

-These division continue to today with Sunnis being the majority party around the world, and Shia’s being the minority party located mostly in Persia (modern day Iran).

-These division would also lead to the breakup of the empire under new nation states. by the 10th century Islam ceased to have one central political and religious center.

II. The Church w/in the Middle East

-General rule of life in Islamic controlled territories:

-the Caliph ruled the empire, first from Damascus then Bagdad. their regional provinces were called emirates and were ruled by emirs.

a. Protection & Persecution


-Under Islam all Arabs were bound to the faith without exception.

-Each generation was different, but the overall structure was that non-arbs were not forced to convert.

-Christians and Jews awarded some special protections as having been “people of the book” though they had corrupted their revelations.

-The Coptic church continued to exist and grow in Syria and Egypt (thus its existence to this day).


-Non-Muslims were restricted in the freedom and rights they could experience.

-They were required in every city to be responsible to one Bishop who would answer for the whole church.

-Christians were required to pay heavy taxes to remain outside of Islam.

-Required to wear special cloths marking them as non-Muslims.

-Not allowed to own a sword or horse.

-Could not proselytize or even announce services or display symbols of the faith publicly.

-Many caved to these restrictions and converted for the benefits of citizenship wit the world. (How important is the book of revelation to these Christians)


-Physical violent persecution of Christians did take place in many local areas.

-Any Muslim converting to Christianity was sentenced to death.

b. Theology in the face of Islam.

John of Damascus (675-759)

-Served as Prime minister to the Caliph Abd-ul-Malek, before moving to Jerusalem.

-In Jerusalem he wrote the Fountain of Knowledge.  3 parts

  1. Philosophy
  2. Heresies
  3. Exact Exposition of the Orthodox faith.

-Claimed to be the most important work of the orthodox eastern faith to be written.

-Defended Chalcedonian theology against the Nestorians and Monophysites.

-translated into Latin in the 12th century influencing a new generation in the creation of systematic theology.

-Composed many Hymns and other works, including Barlaam and Josaphet One of the most read novels of the Byzantine era.

-He would right extensively in support of Icons in the church.


Christendom’s response to Islam

-Mostly seen through warfare as the nation states sought to protect their own lands and territories.

-However, some theologians took up the pen and began the work of writing theological texts meant to evangelize Muslims.

-Francis of Assis (1182-1226) To be considered at a later date.

-Raymond Lull (1232-1316)


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