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It is the story of a dedicated missionary effort and the ever expanding witness of Christians from Antioch to Peking, nearly 6,000 miles by foot, until multitudes of Christians lived from the 30th to the 120th longitude in medieval times.
The facts and analyses that follow concerning the church's great epic of eastward advance, it is hoped, will bring encouragement, edification, and perhaps warning to our contemporary churches in their present mission to the unreached.
Much of the material of the latter two parts was prepared during studies at Calvin Theological Seminary when writing on the theme, "The Theology of the Nestorian Missionaries in China from 600-1000 A. The writer is much indebted to the very able assistance of Dr.
Fred Klooster, professor of systematic theology at that institution, under whose direction the paper was written.
D., a party of foreigners from the distant West, a vague area known to the Chinese for many centuries as Ta Chinn, reached the capital city of the Great Chinese Empire, Ch'ang-An, later called Hsian-fu. They indicated that theirs was a religious mission to bring to the empire knowledge of the doctrines and salvation of Jesus Messiah.
The emperor gave them permission to practice their religion which he officially named the Ta Ch'in Chiao, the Ta Chinn religion.
The story of the Church of the East's mission to Asia is one that needs to be told to today's church.Here is evidence that God gives strength and conversions in the direst and seemingly most impossible circumstances.Here also is evidence that pitfalls to the church's mission always exist.Was there anything unique in their theology or christology which motivated this great missionary zeal?And why did this tremendous missionary effort end in failure?