A joint commission of Turkey’s major Christian denominations has published a historic book of concise Christian doctrine, receiving the unprecedented endorsement of all the nation’s Orthodox, Catholic, Armenian, Syriac, and Protestant churches.
According to Armenian Bishop Sahak Masalyan, keynote speaker at the formal book launch in Istanbul of the English edition in February, the “most spectacular aspect” of the book is in fact its first page of endorsements, which he declared “akin to a miracle.”
This book “expresses the shared beliefs of the churches in Turkey. We approve its publication and recommend that it be widely read,” the statement says.
Undersigned are the ecclesiastical leaders of all mainstream branches of the Christian faith in Turkey: the Orthodox patriarch, Armenian archbishop, Syriac metropolitan, chairman of the Catholic bishops, and the church leader chairing the Turkish Association of Protestant Churches.
“For churches that have ostracized each other for centuries, leaving a legacy of deep divisions and resentments,” the back cover explains, “to sign their names to such a work is no small step toward Christian unity.”
Entitled simply Christianity: Fundamental Teachings, the slim 95-page volume was first released in Turkish in 2015 by the Bible Society of Turkey. Its purpose is spelled out clearly in the preface: “To help every Christian in Turkey understand their own faith doctrines … held in common by all Christian churches.”
Turkey was key to the history of the global Christian church through many centuries. Its significant cities such as Ephesus were visited by the apostle Paul, himself born in Tarsus, and several New Testament books are named after its towns and regions.
Istanbul, until 1453 known as Constantinople, became the center of Eastern Orthodox Christianity and home of the medieval world’s largest church, Hagia Sophia, now a mosque and national museum. It was also where the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches broke communion during the Great Schism of the 11th century. Christianity Today.