I find it interesting that the final two kings of Byzantium were Catholics, not Orthodox. They had always been Orthodox before this, at least as far back as there was a distinction. But what is even more interesting is how many of the church leaders, and people of Constantinople and the surrounding provinces rebelled against these Catholic leaders, and even sided with the Turks in trying to turn over their rule. They actively cried out that they would prefer the yoke of the Muslims to that of the Catholics. This was in the 15th century, about seventy to a hundred years before the Reformation took off.

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It is very likely Constantinople would have fallen to Islam eventually anyway, because Byzantium was quickly becoming an unimportant city to the Christian powers of Europe. But it was not guaranteed. The Islamic world had its own issues, was not unified in this era, and faced attacks from various other forces in its region as well. However, this division, and this siding of the Orthodox people in Byzantium with the Turkish Islamic invaders, in multiple ways guaranteed this fall.

As Oman notes about their attitude: “The opinion of the majority of the Greeks was summed up in the exclamation of the Grand-Duke John Notaras—“Better the turban of the Turk in Constantinople than the Pope’s Tiara.”[1] It is incredible to think about, but this was the sentiment among many of the Byzantines in this era.

The Unlucky Country - Zimmermann & Moens

I am not so silly as to say there should not be divisions in the church. There should be, Paul himself says this in 1 Corinthians 11[2]. How else can there be separation from the true and false? But there are those kinds of divisions which are so stupid as to only be seen as the result of the church coming under the judgement of God. The Byzantines choosing the Turks over the Catholics was choosing the worst possible choice for Christianity in Greece, as history has now proven. God must have been giving them over to their foolishness.

I cannot help but see a similar stupid division today in those Christian leaders who choose to side with the secular godless culture, and multiculturalism, over their Christian brethren who call for Christian Nationalism. Of course there are disagreements among the church, there always have been and always will be in this world. But large segments of the Church leadership are siding with the very forces that want to expunge Christianity from society, even if just slowly and methodically through propaganda in education, media and the arts. The church leaders who should be siding with their brethren instead turn against them because of some fear of a resurgent Christianity which might change the order they are used to, while siding with an order that has slowly been poisoning the church already. The inevitable result of this is obvious to anyone with eyes to see.

History doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes.


[1] Oman, Charles. The History of the Byzantine Empire: From Its Glory to Its Downfall (pp. 60-61). e-artnow. Kindle Edition.

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Matthew Littlefield writes to think through some of the current issues facing society, the Church and whatever else comes to mind that might be interesting to process. Matt's focus is usually historical or scriptural, though he will address current issues from time to time as well. He is a co-author of The Ezekiel Declaration and the book, Defending Conscience, How Baptists reminded the Church to defy tyranny. He blogs most days at YoungGospelMinister.blogspot.com.

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