Derek Cooper - "Introduction to World Christian History"
6:58PM Jun 28, 2020
Jonathan J. Armstrong
Today we're delighted to be speaking with Dr. Derek Cooper. Dr. Cooper is Associate Professor of world Christian history of biblical Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. He is the author of several books, including exploring church history, Christianity and world religions and introduction to the world's major faiths and the book that we'll be discussing today, Introduction to World Christian History, available from IVP academic. Dr. Cooper, thank you for joining us today.
And glad to be here with you.
As as we begin, there's a number of paradigm shifts going on and in the study of world Christianity and also reflected in your fascinating study, you introduce Christianity as the quote, new Asian religion of Jesus, and you speak of Christianity is born in the quote Western Asian city of Jerusalem. These catch the reader off guard, at least my As a reader, in these statements, you reflect the geo scheme of the United Nations. But wait in the political realities of the first century Jerusalem was the capital of Judea, the eastern most province of the Roman Empire. In your view, what did the what is the role of the Roman Empire in the expansion of Christianity in the first several centuries? Thank you.
Yeah, the Roman Empire was, of course, the empire in which Christianity was born. And so I think, the book of Galatians, where Paul talks about the this aspect of just at the right time the Savior was born. It's tough to know exactly what to do with that, in the sense of is the Roman Empire creating a context in which Christianity is going to be born and so in other words, it's within the Roman Empire as opposed to going farther east into the Tang Dynasty and the Chinese Empire, or going all the way West into a Celtic environment. So what is it about the Roman Empire are necessarily, and New Testament scholars have been debating endlessly about the relationship between the Roman Empire and the Jewish world. So thinking about Judea, how much did that influence Jesus and I lead students into archaeological sites. So we go to places like Israel, Palestine, and the ancient world in general. And what I always look at when we are in Nazareth with just a very small town, is just a couple of miles away there is this Roman town called sephorus. And so we can endlessly debate if Jesus ever went there, which would be very likely since it was being built up at the time that he was alive. But if so, how much of that Roman context influenced him? And then if we want to push that out further, how much of the Roman context influenced Paul and the other writers of the New Testament? I would think to some extent, just in the sense that our New Testament itself is given to us was in Greek, which is not the language that Jesus and his disciples and the earliest Christians spoke. So that's something interesting for me to think about. And then we've known for centuries that the Roman Empire was the empire that built roads. It was the empire that had infrastructure already in existence for Christians as they can navigate these different places. We think of the Apostle Paul, as he goes into what today is Turkey and Greece. It's the Roman Empire that's allowed for him to be able to travel to those places. But if we think narrowly into the first 300 years, and a lot of ways the Roman Empire, punished Christianity criticize Christianity in our earliest sources, in the early one, hundreds from Romans, they are constantly calling Christianity a sect sec t, which is something it's kind of like a political organization that is not listed. So It's not sanctioned by the government. And we know of Nero in the 60s who is punishing certain Christians. But the Roman Empire has a strategy that's going to change over time. So depending on if we're in the for West and England, or if we're in North Africa or foreign, what's called turkey today or Israel Palestine, I think there are different policies in place. So it's a really complicated question. It's a good question. And I talked about that in the introduction to that first section, because I know readers like yourself are thinking, well, the Roman Empire so important. So what is that in relation to Asia today or something along those lines?
Thank you, Dr. Cooper for that reflection. Dr. Cooper, you've written on world religions, when you speak of Christianity as a West, when you speak of Christianity as the new Asian religion, what are some of the Asian components that you're thinking of?
Yeah, I'm thinking in general Asia is the great spiritual heritage of most all religions. So, if we think about all of the world religions today, Buddhism, and Islam, Judaism, Confucianism, Taoism, even if we go back into ancient religions like Zoroastrianism, Manichaean ism. All of these are Asian religions. These are all religions that originate in what we call Asia today. And so what I'm trying to do is to group Christianity along with those religions, and for us to not associate Christianity with something that developed in the West, outside of the context of these other religious traditions, but one that was developed that was born that was created, they came into shape in the very context of these other Asian religions. So that is the the major reason why I wanted to say that is for us to realize upfront, Christianity is going to share a lot of commonalities with these other religious traditions. Of course, we can also say there's differences as well. But I think first let's put them together and see them as similar and then later on, pull out some of the differences.
Excellent. Thank you, Dr. Cooper. And let's dive straight into that if we may. We are classifying Christianity as an Asian religion and and showing us some interesting dynamics, but I want to get to the heart of it. Why is it the Christianity? What is it about Christianity that is related spiritually to these other Asian traditions? If I can just read a brief paragraph from the conclusion of chapter one you right on page 46. Although it has been commonplace in the past to link early Christianity with Europe and the Roman Empire, more so than with Asia and the Persian and Chinese Emperor empires, the early Worldwide Church was largest and most widespread on the Asian continent, unquote. When we think of the Greek or Roman influence in the Christian tradition, we might think of the intricacies of Greek philosophy reflected in the doctrine of the Trinity we might speak of of the sophistication of Roman legal tradition and the way that that changes and shapes Western systematic theology. You say there's tremendous influence from the Persian and Chinese cultures as well. How is it that we see this reflected? Thank you?
Well, first, we can think of some specific documents related to China, for instance. So when around the year 1900, there was a Chinese man who was a Dallas priest, and he made himself the self appointed curator of a series of Buddhist caves in the western part of China. So they're called the Dunbar caves. And Dunhuang is an oasis town along the Silk Road and Silk Road is this major thoroughfare that starts in around turkey today. And it goes all the way and ends in China. It's about 5000 miles in general. And this was the place where Christianity was spread throughout Asia in its early centuries. And we know of Christianity going across in the form of a man named Alvin who is a Iranian priests, and he had with him about a dozen other priests. And so they took this Silk Road in the six hundreds they would have passed through done long as an oasis town where they would have stopped along the way. And eventually they end up in China in the capital called Cheyenne and the your 635. So, we do have some documents associated with that. But more particularly we see these done on caves. This man this Dallas priest discovers and around the year 1900 that there is a cave that's been sealed off, and when he dies, he finds literally thousands upon thousands of manuscripts one of the greatest finds of all time. And inside that cave, it was sealed about the year 1000. But the documents were several hundred years older than that. And of those thousands of documents, some are Manichaean, some are related to Wisdom Confucianism and Buddhism, others are related to Christianity. So there are around a half dozen or so that are more explicitly Christian documents. And those are dating anywhere from the 789 hundred somewhere in that range, but certainly before the year 1000 when they were sealed. And when you look at those documents, you see that there actually is a lot of Buddhist terminology that's used. There's a lot of Taoist terminology that's used. So Christianity is described has a religion bringing about the raft of salvation. And it's talking about other elements that you would see really explicitly in Buddhism, types of metaphors that are used for the Buddha, even metaphors related to Taoism and Confucianism, most mostly Taoism. And so as you look at those different documents, and if if anyone's interested in exploring that more, there's A really good book. It's published by Lee Tang. He's the author. And it's with Peter Lang publications. And this is a man from China who published his dissertation from to begin in Germany in 2001. It's called a study of the history of historian Christianity in China, and its literature in Chinese. And he explores some of these documents and he has actually English translations of several of these documents called the done on documents or because their literature associated with these done on caves. So there, you can see that there really is a lot of influence of the local Chinese culture. And when I go through these documents with my students, they're always amazed because I don't tell them initially what I'm reading from I'll just read some different quotes. And as they are listening to this, they are thinking that it's something from Buddhist literature or Tao is literature. Then later on, I'll introduce names like yay soon. And they begin to make some of the connections there with Jesus. And then eventually they realize, wow, this is actually Christianity. So we see that we can also move into other places, whether Iran or Iraq. And we see some of the influences of observe astron ism. So they're astron ism is is the local religion of Iran. And this is a fire religion. But I would say we don't even have to think this. That's strange, because we know from history that the Israelites were exiled in Babylon, which today is, you know, mostly Iran, Iraq. And so, we see the influences during their exile of them adopting aspects of Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism has two main gods, there's the God of good there's a God of evil and they're constantly at war with each other. And so we think about the Pharisees, we think about even some of the, the the modern views that Jesus has about resurrection about the last days. Some of these things some scholars have attributed to Zoroastrianism. And so I'd say even from the very beginning before Christianity goes east, well, it's still in Israel proper. It's already influenced by Zoroastrianism or Iranian religion. And I think that's only going to increase as a new branch is going to form which I call in the book, The Church of the East, that's nowadays, that's the accepted term before then it was called historian and historian has a really pejorative or negative connotation. So most scholars have moved away from that because they don't think that's a really accurate way to describe that Christian tradition. So I'll call it Church of the East or east Syrian, or even di o fi site, which I apologize is all of these new terms, but it away, we don't have as many documents as we would like. But there are documents there. And also with my students, when I'm teaching on early Iranian Christianity, we'll look at some specific documents that are not Christian, but are coming from Iran itself from Luke called Persian Persian Empire. And they have different documents about Christians. And they're really interesting because the Shah of Sha so we'd call the Emperor, the leader of the Iranian people, and early Christian history. He has this document that goes out and he is very critical of Christianity because of some of the dichotomies that exist within Zoroastrianism itself. So it's just really interesting to see how Christianity will take shape and how it will be similar but also different from Zoroastrianism. And that's going to be a source of concern. So those are just kind of two examples there of Christianity and China, Christianity and Iran and you see some of the influences there.
Dr. Cooper that is absolutely fascinating. And in the reading I have been doing on world Christianity. I've not come across these sources before. So I'm extremely excited to review what you found. Thank you for sharing that with us. As I have been digging into world Christian history, one of the pervasive problems is the problem of sources. And as I understand it, we have nothing of Chinese. I had thought that we had nothing of Christian Chinese literature before the first millennium. But you've corrected me on that point. I'm still under the understanding that we have nothing of sub Saharan African Christian history or South American Christian literature until the 15th century. We have some literature in the east, the church of the East that I am aware of Syriac, Armenian, Georgian, for example, but even the literature that I know of there is dwarfed massively by the deposit of Christian literature that we have in the first millennium in Greek and Latin. How do we tackle this problem of sources if Christianity is expanding all around the globe at a relatively early period, even as early as the first millennium How can we document that and read about these Christian communities?
Yeah, great question. And I have a couple of ways I'd like to take that question. So the first I'll try to make a note is I want to talk about sources themselves and where they lead. And the second is how languages work. And then we can maybe come to address that specific question about these other documents and other languages. So in terms of the sources, what I stress when I teach and I have increasingly come to conclude that we in the West in particular have a bias toward written sources toward Literary Sources, and this is what I encountered as I went through seminaries and went through graduate school and completing my PhD is we're always looking for the written sources. But what I always tell my students as we follow any artifacts that exists the artifacts lead us It's not necessarily the written sources, that's one form of an artifact. But over the years, I've come to very much appreciate anthropology and archaeology, because they give insight into the material culture that is often going to lead us into having discoveries of what Christianity actually looked like in these different regions. And so I'm teaching in class right now. And while Christian history and one of my projects is I have my students do what I call a group artifacts project. And so, I do not give them any written sources to be used. But I say I give them one of several different categories of artifacts. So for instance, crosses and crucifixes would be one example. And cemeteries can be another example. Other artifacts, there's literally dozens and dozens of artifacts, but and this is something I talk about in my book you mentioned exploring church history. I talked about in the opening part about looking at Christianity and church history, specifically as to the lens of artifacts, and the artifacts are going to illuminate the past for us. And although we really focus on one aspect, the written sources, let's let these others lead the way. So I would say we have lots of artifacts and constantly archaeologists are discovering more and more artifacts, frescoes, icons, crosses and crucifixes, again, the list goes on and on and on. Those can tell us a lot even thinking of burial practices in Georgia. I remember reading that before around the fourth century that there were certain burial practices of the Georgians were the way that they would have the bodies and their actual tombs, and the way that they would have the artifacts kept and with them, and then after Christianity comes in Christianity is the official religion already by the fourth century in Georgia, that burial practices change. And so now, people are positioned differently. And they have different artifacts with them in their actual tombs. So that right there actually says a lot about Christianity without actually using words. So that's just one small example. But there are lots in and as we're learning more about Central Asia, so Christianity and Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and so forth, same types of things have emerged. We don't have all the written documents that we'd like. But we have a lot of archaeological data when we're going to get more in the future. The second I would say is about language itself. So I agree with you that Greek and Latin are the languages that we have a plenty, and we wish we had more other written sources like in Chinese, for instance, about Christianity, but I kind of phrase it a little differently with Think about this. I was in Singapore a few years ago. And Singapore has English as its national language. And so I think, from one perspective, people in Singapore speak English, therefore, they must have the same worldview as Americans.
They don't, of course, they're going to be very much influenced by China and India in particular. But they still have English as their official language. And we could say the same thing in India, for instance, India's has English as its official language and, and different states. But Indians think very differently than Americans or Australians or people from England and Scotland and so forth. So I would say just because we have a source in Greek, it doesn't mean it's necessarily reflecting Greek philosophy, and just thinking in particular with the New Testament itself. So Jesus did not speak Ricci spoke Aramaic and Hebrew A dialect of Arabic, but the authors are recording it in Greek. So does that mean that they are the same as Plato? Or Aristotle? Or some classical figure? I would say no, I would say they're very different indeed. And the last is maybe getting to your specific question about these different sources. So I think that you you hit on a couple that are really important to stress and that is that we do have a lot of documents in Georgian, and in Armenian, and so for for listeners who may not know much about Christianity knows regions. Christianity was the official religion in the fourth century was the state religion of both Armenia and Georgia. And as was almost always the case, as Christianity goes into new regions, the Christians are the ones who make an alphabet for the spoken language. And they began having written forms and they have the Bible and other liturgical documents. So Armenia and Georgia are very rich and written literature. The challenge is that there's just not as much translated into English but if we could read Georgian Armenian we would really have a treasure trove of Christian documents because essentially Christianity melded within those cultures. And so we can see the, the Armenia in Georgian worldview all throughout those documents at least the ones who have access to an English and in the years to come to be more and more of those
other places and Africa. I can say the same thing. So old Angola is is one of the languages that's spoken and what we call the Sudan today, so there were three major kingdoms, and in general scholars call it the newbie and Kingdom. Were the Nubian empires and because the people are new Viens for those of us who live with the Bible in the Old Testament, it's called Kush. So this region was Krishna Eyes and it was a state religion in the sixth century and the Sudan. So there is literature there. And scholars are finding more I was in fact reading this week. And it was in biblical archaeological review where they were talking about a document called dance of the Savior. And that was written in old Angola. And so there was a Polish team of archaeologists in the 1960s have excavated a series of churches, monasteries, and the Sudan. And so, they found this in the Nubian kingdom. So, there are those documents. The same can be said for the Ethiopian kingdoms, which we called the Abyssinian or XML kingdoms. And so we can find documents in Greek there but also in hammerheart, the language there, so we do have some of those documents and then I would make sure we talk about Arabic sources. So there are Christians writing in Arabic. Already in the six hundreds. So Christianity is going to be the major religion where the Arab world is going to emerge in terms of Islam. But I'll point out just two quick sources for for those listening. One is called the Orthodox Church in the Arab world 700 to 1700 anthology of sources. So this is a recent documents published by believe this is New York University Press are actually no sorry, ni University Press. And in it there is an anthology of all Christian sources from as early as the seventh century, going all the way for 1000 years. So we see that there are lots of Arabic sources and this is just scratching the surface. So and the book and introduction I, I basically give them a man I say, which I think I read in this book. That have all of the Arab Christian documents, written sources that we have available in English, you really have less than 10% that have actually been translated. So there are literally just thousands upon thousands of documents that are in monasteries that are in churches that are in private collections that are written in Arabic, that are slowly, very slowly being translated into English. And then one other source I'll give this is by Michael pen, and it's called when Christians first met Muslims, a source book of the earliest Syriac writings on Islam. This was recently published by University of California Press and Michael Penn's a great scholar. And he has written a couple of books that are relating to Syriac Christianity and how as it interacts with Islam, so this was specifically Syriac, but we get a good flavor of Christianity from different perspective from a different context. So I know that's a lot of information to kind of throw out there but just to say we we are finding more and more documents and as more and more scholar so I encourage my students to say co learn old on gollon go learn Coptic and I should say Coptic of course is another really important language essentially a Christian language. And we have lots of documents that are that are written in Coptic and more and more of those are translated to English. So as we can get more and more Christian scholars who are learning Coptic learning Syriac learning Arabic learning Chinese, I'm fully convinced that we will discover more documents. And as archaeologists are doing their work, they're going to discover more documents and so that we can translate these into English. So as has always been the case with Christianity, we are waiting for science to advance to be able to give us all information that we want. But we have a lot more than we had a century ago. And a century from now we're going to have a lot more than we have now.
Dr. Cooper that's, that's hugely important. So thank you so much for sharing those sources. Again, I've been following this field, and it is just sort of beginning to blossom. Thank you so much for sharing those very important sources with us. Let's move to Central Asia if we can. One of the anomalies in the narrative that I see you construct here is that we understand that we're perhaps over 20 million Christians in Asia around the year 1200. But when Roman Catholic missionaries come to what we call China, in the 16th century, Christian Christianity is virtually entirely unknown. How can we explain this huge shift in 300 years?
Yeah, so when I teach on Christianity in China, I look at Christianity in three waves. And I say to students that the first wave of Christianity In China arrives in the six hundreds. And so we have documentation of Albin who arrives with his priest from Iran. And they arrive in the year 635. And she on which is the capital of the Tang Dynasty. And the Tang Dynasty is a newly created dynasty in China's history. So immersion 618 goes all the way to 907. And so the Christians really hit the jackpot with the Tang Dynasty because the Tang Dynasty is even known today in Chinese history as one of the most tolerant one of the most religiously curious and open minded of all of its dynasties. So, the Emperor at that time tehsil was rolling over China. And it was the largest city in the world about a million people and specifically the capital where he was, but he's ruling over these people and this strange group of Iranian Christians arrive and they begin to discuss Christians With the Emperor and because of his open mindedness, he allows these Christians to translate their documents into Chinese. And he actually paste them to do that. And they finished that task in the year 638. So it takes him a few years. And they do that. And we know about this because there's this document. It's called the monument sutra.
It's also called an historian steely
this document was completed in 781. And the author was an Iranian who had the Chinese name changing. And he is the one who translated the documents from Syriac, which was the main language of the East Syrian, a church of the East Christians into Chinese. And so as he does this, he talks about the history of Christianity in China and how it emerges there and how the Emperor proclaims it as an official religion when it's backed by the state and so most people People are blown away to know that as early as a six hundreds Christianity was a state religion in China, which was. So to get to your question, well, if we know about this history, and I mentioned the Dunhuang caves, which let us know, the extensiveness with which is very far west of this area. And also if we had time I could I could talk about the images that we found in caves of Eastern Christians in the 708 hundreds places like Coco, have these different artifacts, frescoes and so forth associated with these Christians who were living there. But to get to this question, Christianity was so prevalent, so why when Matteo Ricci arrives in 1583, in China, that he's actually not very familiar with the impressive history there. Because the monument sutra it wasn't founded until 1623. So Matteo Ricci was dead before he ever knew anything about this force first wave of Christianity. So he dies in 1610 in Beijing, and he's going to get a proper burial. But it's only going to be 13 years later, when this document is
this, the stealing it's a nine foot steel. So steel is just it's a giant limestone
artifact that's that's full of this story. So that's found in 1623. And that has the early history of Christianity which essentially had died out of the Tang Dynasty into 907. And as is often the case, when one dynasty ends, all the things associated with that and with it, we actually have documents from the Tang Dynasty that are not Christian. And it talks about how Christianity is pushed out. There's a variety of reasons which we don't have to get into detail but all of the foreign religions are kicked out of the Tang Dynasty. There's a backlash of support for them.
And we have a document that
has the Christianity is pushed out all The people who live there who are Chinese can remain but all of the foreigners have to leave. And they have had tax exempt status for a couple of hundred years since 635. that's taken away from them. So the document shows is pretty clearly that Christianity is essentially going to become extinct. So that takes us to the second wave of Christianity and that really coincides with the Mongols so we can assume that the first wave of Christianity was somewhat successful. From the six
hundreds to the 1800s 1900s.
The Tang Dynasty ends and with that, I think Christianity eventually or ultimately becomes extinct. The Mongols are an interesting people because as much as we associate them with with raping and pillaging Of course, which which they did. They were also very supportive of Christianity, at least in the initial years. So we think of Genghis Khan, he's married to a Christian wife, two of the greatest military men of all time. Cool. Khan and Hulu are these amazing Mongol rulers. Their mom was a Christian, they were both baptized, they were exposed to Christianity. And when kubla Khan and goes and destroys Baghdad, he's going to wipe out the Muslim population, but he actually preserves all of the Christian population intact. And his wife is Christian, and he makes sure that they're well protected. So the Mongols are very favorable toward Christianity early on, and they go and take over China. And so this Yuan Dynasty, which lasts from 1271 to 1368, is going to be thoroughly populated by Christians. There are Christians who are
within the Empire as well as those that are associated with the court of the Mongols.
And these are all of course Church of the East Christians as I should have mentioned, the first wave is Church of the East Christians. The second wave is church in the US Christians.
And so Christianity is is supported by the state, just like with it Tang Dynasty. And it's it's very favorable among the court. And a lot of the important leaders would be associated if not intermarried with Christians. So this is also the time that we see Marco Polo, Marco Polo, his dad and his uncle were the first Europeans to make it all the way into China in the late 1200s. And Marco Polo is actually
secretary for about a dozen years to kubla Khan.
And we have documents of kubla Khan himself writing to the Pope, asking for him to send Christian priests and he says, if you will send us Christian priests and if these are agreeable to us, we will convert to Christianity. And actually, for many years, we have a lot of these documents from these Mongols in Central Asia and East Asia, writing to the Pape Ian's papacy insane, we will convert to Christianity senior priest, we want to consider it at what the really wanting is they're trying to squeeze out the Empires in between the variety of Muslim empires that have emerged in Egypt and the Middle East. So they're thinking of a Christian Mongolian Alliance. And so the Mongols are constantly writing and trying to become associated with or partners with Christianity in the West. So with that, we see Christianity going to be very favorable, it's going to be supported. And it's also at this time that some of the, because of this interaction that some of the first Catholic priest entered in the 1300s.
So there's a man named john of manticore vino.
And he arrives and he immediately gets to work in Beijing, and he becomes the Archbishop of Beijing, from Roman Catholic Church. And he basically spends all this time baptizing and converting the Church of the East Christian. So this is something I'm sure will come Back to later about unity and the body of Christ. But it's so often the case when the Catholic Christians arrived, they don't work with the local people. They work with the christianized people, but are just from a different denomination, as was the case there but he baptized is something like 10,000 people, most all of them are already baptizes IE Syrian Christians, but guess that's beside the point. But as was the case with the Tang Dynasty, the Yuan Dynasty is going to end. And when it ends, Christianity ends with it. And so that's actually a really easy one because the Mambo the Yuan Dynasty or Mongols. They're not the indigenous Han Chinese. And there is an immediate backlash against all foreign religion, all foreign people. And so the Ming Dynasty replaces the Yuan Dynasty and this is actually Han Chinese. And so they take over in 1368 and get rid of any indication of something foreign. So again, not surprising that Christianity dies. So that finally, to get to your question in the 16th century, when these Catholics like Matteo Ricci, and the Jesuits started entering China, they don't know about this illustrious history there because Christianity had died out in the first wave. It had died out in the second wave. And so now it's a third wave.
Dr. Cooper that is immensely helpful. Thank you so much for your patience and going through that. Dr. Cooper, if I can close with a question that I've been asking all of our guests, what would it mean for the church today to be united? How would we recognize this unity and what is it that we can do as Christians to pursue Christian unity today?
Yeah, I hate to be a pessimist. But I think that Christians have shown ourselves to not be very good at securing or pursuing unity. And I think today and The Christian world that we live in there are around 50,000 different Protestant denominations. And that doesn't include any of the Catholic
orthodox varieties. And there's lots of divisions within those two traditions as well.
So if we think of these 50,000 Protestant denominations and what they could possibly have in terms of unity is highly debatable. So if we think of traditions or specific denominations, discrete denominations, if we look at the Presbyterian Church, for instance, in America, it is full of rampant division. There is the larger body, the Presbyterian Church USA. There's the PCA the president church in America, there's the OPC the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, there's the Bible Presbyterian Church, there's the evangelical Presbyterian Church. There is the evangelical order covenant order of Presbyterians echo which is was the most recent one. So we think what is the what is the union They're, it's tough to say. And so when I think of unity, I think in terms of, are we talking of theological unity? Are we talking about political unity? economic unity,
ethnic unity. Exactly. What are we talking about here in America, we're in the midst of an election. And if we look at the variety of Christian traditions here, even within denominations, there is not unity, theologically, could it be the Nicene Creed is what binds Christians? Well. It couldn't be in one perspective, but on from a different perspective, there are a lot of other Christian traditions that don't necessarily look to the Nicene Creed or witnesses certainly abide by the Nicene Creed. So I think that's a wonderful question. And like you I'm very interested in that professionally and personally, and one of the reasons why I'm so interested in working Christianity is because I'm interested in unity I'm interested in for the body of Christ to perceive to pursue some type of unity. But I don't know exactly how that's to be accomplished. And I'd love to hear your responses as well
or ideas that you could point me to, because I think that we have a long way to go.
Dr. Cooper, thank you for that response. We've had the pleasure today of speaking with Dr. Derek Cooper, associate professor of world Christian history of biblical Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania and author of our text today, Introduction to world Christian history available from IVP academic, thank you so much for being with us.
Thank you Dr. Armstrong.