No Co Ever: Episode 1 from No Compromise Radio on Vimeo.
This was a very good video discussion, regarding the problems with modern Evangelicalism and "The Elephant Room 2" and compromises with T. D. Jakes and his modalism and anti-Trinitarian doctrines and his word of faith/prosperity theology, two very dangerous heresies. And, as Phil Johnson says, "damnable heresies".
I agree with everything these gentleman said on the issues of doctrine and the problems with the Elephant Room 2
. . . except for one small side comment that Carl Trueman made that I think is important for Christians to understand.
The one small comment was one that Carl Trueman made and I am very surprised that he said it. I really appreciate Carl Trueman, and I enjoy his blog at Reformation 21; and I tried to find his email at the Westminster Seminary Website, but I could not. I respect him greatly, and his work in church history and historical theology is very important. So nothing personal is meant here, and I know he is very mature and will take this for the merit of the issue.
When talking about the Christians at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD, Professor Trueman said they were Turks. [around the 31 minute mark] Professor Trueman was right that the men at the Council of Nicea were not "white men", but they were not Turkish either. They were Greeks and Egyptians and Syrians (The Syrians before the Arabs conquered them in the 600s AD.) That is an amazing mistake by a church history professor, in my opinion. They were mostly Greeks, Syrians, 2 Latins from Rome, and Egyptians (Athanasius, for one) and others from around the Roman Empire. The Turks did not live in what is today called Turkey at the time of the Council of Nicea. The Turks (Seljuk and Ottomans) did not come to that land until before the Crusades (1071 AD) and they did not completely conquer the area known as Anatolia and Constantinople until 1453 AD. No Turks lived in these areas in the New Testament days nor in early church history until the 900s AD! It is possible that there were some Turkic peoples there from the time of Attila the Hun in the 400s, but not that many, and not any in 325 AD.
It is amazing to me that people don't take the time to study what happened to the Greeks and the Byzantine Empire. The Arabs first attacked after they conquered Syria/Palestine and Persia and N. Africa. (632-722 AD) They tried to take Constantinople in the 600s and 700s but failed.
The Arab Muslims converted the Persians by force (Jihad, Qatal, Harb) from the 630s into the 900s. Jihad جهاد (struggle/effort/striving) and Qatal قتل (the word for "slay" or "fight" = "fighting to the death" in battle - Surah 9:5, 9:29) and Harb حرب (War) are integral aspects of Islam from the time Muhammad conquered Medina in 622 AD.
Then the Arab Muslims converted the Turkic peoples of Central Asia, starting in the 600s, and by the 900s AD, the animist Turks had become Muslim. (Today these areas are called Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kirghestan, etc. Tajikistan is mostly a Persian speaking area - ethnically the Tajiks and southern areas of Uzbekistan are Tajik-Persian (Bukhara and Samarqand) ethnically and were part of the old Persian Empire. The Arab Muslims also converted the Kurds to Islam by force. Saladin ("Salah e din" = صلاح دین = "genuine religion"), the famous Muslim leader against the Crusaders, was Kurdish. Today the Kurds are spread throughout western Iran, Northern Iraq, Eastern Turkey, and the top corner of Syria.
The Seljuk Turks were hired as the palace guards and military force for the Arabs in Baghdad. The Turkic peoples became the dominant fighting force. the Seljuk Turks attacked the Greek Byzantine Empire in 1071 AD at the Battle of Manzikurt near Van in the east (was part of Armenia). The Byzantines were defeated by the Seljuk Turks.
This caused the emperor in Constantinople to call for help from the Pope in France. The Crusades were launched. (1095-1299)
After the Crusades, the Ottoman Turks became the dominant Turkish people and eventually conquered all of Anatolia and then Constantinople fell in 1453 and it was renamed Istanbul.
So, today, the area known as Nicea (The Turks call it Iznik today, and it is about one hour outside of Istanbul), where the Council of Nicea was held in 325 AD is in the same area as the country of Turkey; but at the time of Nicea there were no Turks there.
The Turks never heard the gospel. The Crusades are still major stumbling block to Muslims, especially the Turks. The Crusades were somewhat understandable in the sense of a "just war" and self-defense, but the horrible mistakes, and the slaughter of the Greek Eastern Orthodox by the Latin Crusaders is a major scandal and shame, as was the Crusading against Jews along the way to the "holy land". Today the Turks are still 99 % Muslim and there is some outreach to them, but not much. The Arab Muslims have not been evangelized much either in history. The Persians were not much either. The ancient Persian church before Islam was mostly the ethnic Assyrians in Mesopotamia (today's Iraq); not the ethnic Persians farther east. Henry Martyn translated the first complete copy of the Persian NT in the 1800s. He died in 1812.
Let us reach out with the gospel to Muslims.
Why make such a big deal about a minor comment not related to the main topic?
The reason why this so important to get right is that the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19; Luke 24:46-47) is to peoples, nations, ethnic people groups, not "countries" or "political boundaries". The Greek word for "nation" is ethna (εθνη) and carries with it the idea of a cultural-ethnic people group that is unified by language and culture. So even though the land of Turkey (and Egypt and N. Africa and Syria and Mesopotamia) had the gospel in earlier centuries, it was snuffed out by Islam in most of these areas, and eclipsed in places where there is some small evangelical witness left.
This is important because God is saving people from all the nations, peoples, tribes, and tongues, as the gospel goes out. (see Revelation 5:9 and 7:9) Some "nations" are spread over several political boundaries (countries) and some peoples/nations are within political boundaries and don't have their own country. A classic example of this is the Kurdish people, who have never had their own political country and are spread over 4 countries. (Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria)
The OT background of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19 and Luke 24:46-47 is in Genesis 12:1-3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14; Psalm 2:8, 67:1-7, 96:3-6, 87:4-6, Isaiah 49:6 and many other passages that use the word "families" (Mishpakha = משפחה ) and "nations" = "goyeem" גוימ and peoples עמימ ("ameem") .
A good book that explains the Biblical idea of nations and peoples is John Piper's Let the Nations Be Glad! (Baker) and the articles by Ralph Winter and John R. W. Stott and others in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. The Perspectives book is, overall, a good missions book, but there are some articles in it that I would disagree with, just in case any one wonders.
Addendum: (August 31, 2012)
I want to apologize if it seems I was being too nit-picky on Professor Trueman's statement. I think if someone reads the whole thing that I wrote above, they can see why I wrote what I wrote, and that it was not meant as a "potshot", but an honest pointing out of the importance of understanding that aspect of church history in relation to missions and the spreading of the gospel among unreached people groups. A big problem is that missions people are weak in theology and historical theology and church history; but also sometimes theologians are weak in missions. I noticed that in seminary also, they have their separate disciplines and yet there is a great need for more inter-connectedness of these disciplines because they all come together in the challenge of Islam in today's world. Islam is what should cause us who believe the Bible to also understand it and evangelize Muslims and also integrate it with church history and historical theology. (and politics, culture, just-war theory, etc.) The challenge of Islam will force us to deal with the implications of it to all of these areas of study and knowledge.
Someone (D. Waltz) pointed out an article that Professor Trueman wrote, in which he was a little more accurate on the situation:
"Still, let us go back to the fourth century and see how the `middle aged white guy' critique measures up. Well, at the Council of Nicea in 325, many of the participants were no doubt middle aged -- which Paul in the Pastorals would actually seem to think is quite a good thing in a church leader. But white? I suspect they were ethnically more akin to modern day Turks or south eastern Europeans, not that racial categories really meant anything then. The key category in the fourth century was that of Roman citizenship, not skin color."
The modern Turks are a mixture of many peoples. But they originally came from Central Asia, and they were not at Nicea in 325 AD and they were not in those lands in NT days that is now called "Turkey"; and they were never reached with the gospel in history; as I pointed out earlier. They did Islamic wars/Jihads/killing against the Byzantine and Armenian men, and probably took many of the women as wives from the original people groups that lived there. So, there is probably some Greek, Syrian, Arab, Galatian, Armenian, and other ethnicities within the modern day Turks who live in Turkey. Today, Turkey is officially 99 % Muslim and very unreached with the gospel.