In the waning years of the Ottoman Empire, a delegation of imams approached the sultan in complaint. Western pressure forced the state to allow Christian churches to ring their bells.
“Do they all ring at the same time?” the sultan asked. No, he was told. “Then don’t worry,” he replied, “until they can agree.”
Perhaps apocryphal, the story illustrates the long history of division plaguing Christianity around the world.
The Ottoman empire is gone, and Turkey is now a secular state with official freedom of religion. Bells are hardly heard these days at all, though in smaller numbers the ancient Christian communities remain.
But from Istanbul – once Constantinople – where the “Great Schism” sundered Catholicism and Orthodoxy in 1054, a new book heralds a new beginning.
Christianity: Fundamental Teachings is a simple, 95-page presentation of the common beliefs of all Turkish churches. Its 12 chapters include descriptions of the nature of God, the salvation through Jesus, the work of the Holy Spirit, the inspiration of the Bible, and the role of the church.
But its most explosive page is the preface of endorsements.
The Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch, The Armenian Patriarchate, the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Turkey, and the Associate of Protestant Churches all approve it, and recommend that it be widely read.
“You can’t find a page like this in all of church history,” said Armenian Bishop Sahak Mashalian, the principle scribe. “It is akin to a miracle.”
Please click here to read how it developed, at The Media Project.