3 Myths That Church History Debunks (No one knows Number 2)

Three myths people believe that knowing some church history would help debunk:

1. That persecution makes the church grow stronger.

Although individuals whose faith in Christ is firm, then the Holy Spirit will see them through all persecution. This is a promise that God faithfully gives us in His Word.

But this does not mean persecution is good for a group of people. A brief perusal through different locations in history can show that. The Armenians were persecuted in the early 1900s for being Christian. One of the first genocides in modern history. This nearly collapsed them as a people group completely and had the Soviet Union not eventually intervened they'd have ceased to exist. They are still suffering in that region to this day.

The Japanese persecuted Christianity when it reached their shore in the early 1600s and completely annihilated it. In the 1800s the protestants made an attempt and had gotten some progress but persecution swept over Japan again. It is now one of the places least open to the Gospel and considered one of the toughest mission fields in the world.

Ethiopia's orthodox church destroyed a movement in the late 1300/early 1400s that attempted to bring them back to sola scriptura. Estifanos movement, though one that was centered on Christ, was crushed by the state church and now he is a completely forgotten footnote in history books. Had he been successful he would have been Martin Luther before Martin Luther, at least in Ethiopia. But today, hardly anyone even knows his name and his followers went back into the State church which worshipped Mary and the Ark of the Covenant.

I am not saying Christ has never had His church persevere over persecution or that He can't. It's just a myth that it always leads to growth. The church of Antioch was persecuted in the first few centuries and at one point it was almost completely eliminated from existence. One bishop sent to work there arrived to a church with only 8 congregants.

So do not fall for this myth. Even in places where persecution was thought to lead to church growth, such as China, they struggle greatly with good teaching and cults sweeping in and taking their newer members. 

We did an entire episode of our podcast Revived Thoughts on this myth for more details check it out! 

2. Count Zinzendorf and the Moravians were good guys.
"Preach the gospel, die and be forgotten." - Count Zinzendorf 

Living for Him Who Died for Us (Count Nicolaus Zinzendorf) -  VanceChristie.com

Count Zinzendorf led a missions movement in the 1700s and many see him as a great and wonderful leader of early missions. His quotes are used often in commentaries and in sermons all the time. 

Count Zinzendorf likely cheated on his wife. His son went on to lead a cult-like compound that celebrated homosexuality (that Zinzendorf had to write a letter to telling them to calm down as it was getting way out of hand, and involved his son marrying another man while pretending to be the "bride of Christ"). And his entire movement became obsessed with the "Side-hole" of Christ. They would write hymns/poems/songs about this imagined place and would say they wanted to be "worms" living there.

John Wesley, originally a fan of theirs who actually became converted by one of them, eventually would write stuff making fun of them and how crazy they had become. 

And after he and his son and his second wife died the leaders basically purged everything from his last few decades of life and call that time period "The Sifting" hoping you'd forget all about it. 

Elise did intense research about this subject and you can find it by listening to her Martyrs and Missionaries podcast episode on it here: https://revivedthoughts.com/podcast/martyrs-and-missionaries/episode/count-zinzendorf-and-the-moravians 

3. The Church Was United Before 1517
Over and over I have seen Catholics and Protestants put out the idea that the church was "united" before Martin Luther.

This is completely false. Before Martin Luther there were the Hussites, Waldensians, and Lollards. Before them the Roman Catholic church split from the Orthodox church during The Great Schism of 1054. Before that though the church had already split up during the Council of Chalcedon when the Ethiopian and Syrian churches broke it off with the other parts of the church. They resolved the schism and realized everybody was still worshipping the Triune God in 519 but the pieces never went back together after that. 

Quite frankly, the church has not been properly united going all the way back to 1 Corinthians.

So no, Martin Luther was not the one who divided the church and everyone was just getting along great till he showed up. 

Any other myths that church history could debunk? Send your thoughts to Revivedthoughts@gmail.com