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The Gospel to the Mongols – Part II

In Part 1 of this post I give the background of the Ghengis Khan and the amazing takeover of the Mongols in the 1200’s.  They were Steppe people and were unmatched in their military might especially after they learned to use gunpowder from the Chinese.

The purpose of this 2-part blog post is to highlight the importance of the completeness of our gospel message.  Most people when they hear gospel or when the preach Jesus they essentially summarize the Romans Road to salvation. Specifically “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  The wages of sin is eternal death, God sent his son while we were sinners. The free gift of God is eternal salvation through belief in his name. And if you confess Jesus Christ with your mouth and believe in your heart that God rose him from the dead you will be saved.”

I don’t mean to minimize the importance or truth of the Romans Road, people who are ready to give their lives to Christ need to understand the Romans Road scriptures.  BUT, there is much more to the story, the Romans Road is a summary of the final step of God’s plan of salvation. If we compare this gospel to what we read in the first 3 chapters of the book of Ephesians then the Romans Road gospel seems incomplete or even shallow.  True, accurate, powerful but only part of the story.  There are people who will respond to the Romans Road only they are ready and become saved, many of them, I was one of those.  But there may be many more people who will respond to the Ephesians gospel since it explains things much deeper and much further back, it goes back to before creation in the heart of God.  The Romans Road gospel seems to be all about what we get from Jesus, the Ephesians gospel is all about God’s purposes from the beginning.

Paul understood this and many scholars believe recorded his gospel message in the first 3 chapters of the circuit letter that we now call Ephesians.

What if the gospel that Pope Innocent IV wrote to the Khans was instead similar to the book of Ephesians? What if it contained the same message but customized for the Mongols? If I were a friar working for the Pope in the 1240’s knowing what I’ve read in Ephesians and he asked me to write to the Khan’s Mongolia it may look something like this:

Dear Kuyuk Kahn,

I have heard that your wife is a Christian believer I pray that you might consider this letter and consider the appeal I wish to make to you on her behalf. Your power and conquering strength is unmatched anywhere on earth, there is a God in heaven who has given you this power for his purposes.  Perhaps the reason for your great power and unmatched rise to power on earth is to hear this letter me his servant.

There is something I hope to make you understand of great importance that I feel I must share with you about why we exist, about the meaning of life.  I feel compelled to reveal this to you and all of your people.  Human beings, you and I, are God’s chief creation, his chief work of art. He made us to expand the love that existed between the Father and the Son before the creation of the world, to expand into a people like himself and into a created world, it pleased him to create a family and to dwell with it. God made us but then we rebelled against him, all of us together rejected and abandoned him.  He later sent himself into humanity to provide a way back to him, a way to reconcile, a way to make peace with Himself available freely to us through Jesus Christ.

He did this in order to put his people on display to all the earth as his redeemed children, to display his great grace and mercy to all of mankind.

He also did this to put on display his wisdom to all authorities, to all spirits, and to all the people of the earth.

He also did this to make his people his very own dwelling place on earth.

When we believe in Jesus Christ, who is God’s savior, God’s messiah, and is God’s plan to reunite us with himself, we become set apart, we  become God’s dwelling place, we his people who gather for only him become his new temple, his new home and his growing family on earth.

When we believe in Jesus Christ we find new peace with God where there was no peace, we are made members of God’s household, and we can become near to our creator God because of Jesus’ blood. Now we even can fully know God and his thoughts and live his life. We can approach him directly without go-betweens, and we can know his great love, and be filled with the fullness of God; his great power is on display in us, the same power exerted when Jesus Christ was resurrected. When we believe in Jesus Christ we become a new kind of human being, not a Jew, not a gentile but a human with God inside.  When we believe in Jesus Christ our inheritance is great, beyond what we can imagine, and we are literally seated with Christ in heaven.  All men have sinned against God, the result of which is death and hell, but the free gift from God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, there is no other name under heaven whereby men must be saved.

I implore you, I beg you and beseech you to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, to confess with your mouth that he is Lord and cease from warring and destroying mankind and instead join the family of God under Jesus Christ who has promised to return one day.

Friar Adam

Imagine now what if the Khan’s and the Mongols would have responded to this letter, read it everywhere they went and become Christians who knows how history would have changed.  Would they still have destroyed Baghdad and everyone in it?, not if they were following Christ.  If they hadn’t destroyed them how would have history played out?  Would the Mongols have skillfully spread this gospel throughout Asia, Europe, and the Middle East? Who knows?  Had they accepted Christ would they have become politically dominant beyond the hundred years of their military dominance?  Would have the Catholic countries in Europe still become much more powerful than the Muslim countries in the Middle East with an Asian Mongol super-power present? It is fun to dream about what could have been.

Now apply this to today as we preach at church or at crusades, or to our friends how would people respond differently? How would our colleagues at work respond? How about our children who stray in their teens and 20’s?  if we told them the entire story, if we memorized the entire gospel with its ties to the creation and our reason for existing.

KAhn letter to pope

To be clear I am proposing that the preaching of Jesus Christ should include God’s reason for creating in the first place, how salvation ties into God’s eternal plan, and the how to of getting saved (Romans Road) just as it does in Paul letters.

The Gospel to the Mongols – Part I

Carlins Khans

As I grow older I grow increasingly fascinated with history.  One fantastic story is the rise of the Mongols led by Genghis Khan in the 13th century.  The military might of this people was astonishing.  They were unmatched on the battlefield for their time.  They took over most of Asia, the Middle East and large portions of Europe before they self destructed.  One fascinating portion of this story is the interaction between the Khan’s and the Christians (Pope) and between the Khan’s and the Muslims (Caliph) in Baghdad.

In this four-part blog post I will share the interactions between these groups and  the result of the interactions.  I will also dream about what could have been had the Pope preached the same gospel to the Khan’s, that the apostle Paul recorded in the first 3 chapters of Ephesians. In part II of this post I will attempt to write my own version of this gospel letter to the Khan’s aligned with Ephesians 1-3.

A great place to hear this entire story from a secular perspective is on the podcast called Hardcore History with Dan Carlin, Dan did an amazing podcast series on the Mongols called the Wrath of the Khan’s. Check it out in iTunes.

Carlins Khans

The background about this interaction with the Christians and Muslims is that the Khan’s are conquering wherever they go. They have already routed both Christian and Muslim armies with surprising ease. Amazingly no countries seem to be able or willing to join forces to defend themselves against these armies.  The Mongols were ruthless in their conquering ways and there almost seemed to be a destiny attached to the Mongols that no one could overcome.

In Rome Pope Innocent IV was in charge and you can find his entire 1400+ word gospel letter here. If you don’t want to read all of this here is my quick summary.

The letter is very long and it seems to be written in a way that only another devout Catholic theologian could understand. Makes me wonder if Pope Innocent understood that he was speaking to mostly uneducated people from another language.  There is lofty, wordy and deep doctrine which was probably way over the head of the Khan’s, assuming it was even translated properly.  Pope Innocent does spell out the story of the fall of man and the virgin birth and the death of Jesus for the sins of man but, it is difficult to pull that out of the letter.  The letter’s tone seems to me conciliatory, it was an appeal, it was not aggressive and threatening which possibly may have saved Rome so I give Pope Innocent a lot of credit for this letter.

The Khan’s response is what I would expect, he barely understood it, you can find the text of the Khan’s ~400 word letter here.  It was full of questions, he questions if it were not God’s will for them to take over the world, well then why was it happening? The best statement we see in both the Christian and Muslim response from the Khans is “we shall see what the will of God is.”

The interaction between the Mongols and the Muslim Caliph in Baghdad was quite different.  The Caliph came off as derogatory, threatening and superior to the Mongol King.  The Mongol seemed indifferent about the Christ and Muslim religions, they were out to conquer the world, they cared not for the different Gods and religious disputes.  They felt like it was their destiny from heaven to conquer. When the Caliph threatened and insulted the younger Khan, the result was devastating.  The Mongol armies came down to Baghdad and absolutely annihilated every man, woman and child in the city, including the Caliph himself.  It was probably one of the most brutal and horrible scenes of murder, rape and destruction in history.  The damage done to the Muslims was great, the effects of this no doubt are still be with us today over 700 years later.

You can see the Mongol-Caliph interaction here.

Rome was not routed and destroyed as was Baghdad.

In Part II of this post I will write (with the benefit of hindsight), what I think would have been a better gospel letter to the Mongols based mostly on Paul’s gospel recorded in Ephesians 1-3.  I will also dream about all that would have changed in history had the Mongols responded to Jesus Christ in the late 1240’s.

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