The thousand-year Byzantine Empire was one of the most powerful and vast empires the world has ever known, and it was Christian. During its lengthy reign, it produced a mass trove of Christian art, architecture, legal jurisprudence, theology and culture. It built, perhaps, the most magnificent church building ever built, the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, which is said to have changed the history of architecture.
Yet, the mighty Byzantine Empire fell to Islam in the 15th century and serves as a reminder to us that we must not trust in our advanced technology, stock market wealth, or military might, but our trust must be in the Lord. As David said in Psalm 20:7, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”
Why did the Byzantine Empire fall to Turkish Ottoman invaders in 1453? I will address three reasons in this article—three trends that weakened the church and Empire and made both vulnerable to the Islamic invaders. They are (1) The church’s preoccupation with political power; (2) the loss of personal faith to outward ritual and liturgical formalism; and (3) theological rigidity and strife. FULL REPORT