The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to Its History, Doctrine and Spiritual Culture (Part VIII)

When Byzantium was at its zenith, it expanded its sphere of influence by a vast system of federation and alliances with outlying states and peoples. To be adopted by the emperor or to be married into the imperial family was a way in which a political web of treaty and interdependence was extended far and wide as a form of kinship relation of princes all looking to the Byzantine emperor as the center.

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Christian Greek Orthodox Under Islamic Rule and Enslavement 1453-1821

John Meyendorff in his book The Orthodox Church, Its Past and Its Role in the World Today, writes, "The capture and sacking of Constantinople by the armies of Mohammed II in 1453 was nevertheless one of the greatest catastrophes in the history of Christianity. In 1456 Athens also fell and the Parthenon, which for a thousand years had been a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was transformed into a mosque, like Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.

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The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to Its History, Doctrine and Spiritual Culture (Part VII)

In the course of the twentieth century Christianity, demographically speaking, became the most extensive and universal religion know to human history. At the beginning of the third millennium there were a total of 2,000 million Christians on earth--one-third of the entire world's population. Among that number the Orthodox are present as 210 million souls bearing witness to the history of the Church, its active present, its anticipated future. One of the important aspects of that witness is the complete unanimity in the faith of the Orthodox believers, and their common allegiance to the self-same spiritual ethos of their theological tradition.

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The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to its History, Doctrine and Spiritual Culture (Part VI)

After the last council in 787 AD, the political affairs of the Byzantine Empire went into a long decline, largely because of the pressure of the advance of Islam in the form of the Seljuk and Ottoman Turks. The emperor's role in the gathering together of the synodical bishops, and his supervision of the proclamation of their decrees as part of Christian law for the Eastern Churches, was progressively hindered by the political reality that saw more and more parts of the ancient Christian lands now under the control of Islamic rulers, the caliphs, and then the sultans.

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