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The Resurgence of the Gospel, Part Five: Glimpses of the Work of God

Historian Woodrow Walton helps us look back over the big events and movement of history to see how God was working to make the story of Jesus known throughout the world. In this postscript to the Resurgence of the Gospel series, he ties together what the challenge of the Turkic-Moslem curtain meant and how it affected the people of Europe and the global mission of Christianity. Part of The Gospel in History series.


Part 1: “The Medieval Prologue and the Remapping of the World

Part 2: “Recharting the Christian World Mission

Part 3: “The Challenge of the Muslim Curtain

Part 4: “The Reconversion of Europe

This postscript and bibliography is Part 5 of the “Resurgence of the Gospel” series.


Part of Eurasia and Africa, with Europe highlighted in green.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

What has been offered in the “Resurgence of the Gospel” series is an overview of Eurasian and African Christian mission leading up to the time of the Ottoman takeover of Asia Minor and the capture of Constantinople, an action which prompted both recovery of the water route and overland roads to central and east Africa and initiation of deep-water navigation. Not only was Europe re-connected with Asia through this process, but this also opened a never-before meeting of Europe with southern Africa and the Asian countries bordering the Indian and Pacific oceans.

A statue of Olaf Tryggvason stands in Trondheim, Norway.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Global navigation also brought about the happy accident of connection with the Americas. Olaf Tryggvason, king of Norway and a convert to Christ several years before 1452, was influential in the baptism of the first European discoverer of North America, Leif Ericson, as well as Hallfred, the Scandinavian poet of skaldic verse. About thirty years before 1452, there was a contact with Greenland in the Atlantic, northeast of Canada. Greenland became Scandinavian property. The last Norwegian shipment of Cod and timber left Greenland approximately ten years before the fall of Constantinople.

A replica of John Cabot’s ship.
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Portuguese fisherman also had contact with the North Atlantic. On one Portuguese fishing operation there was a visiting sailor from Venice, Italy, by the name of Cristobal Colombo, known better by the English rendition of his name, Christopher Columbus. In the early 1490s, both Columbus and another Italian made attempts to reach Asia by turning west beyond the Gibraltar into the Atlantic. Columbus made landfall in what is now known as the Dominican Republic on a Sunday. He named the bay, Santo Domingo, “Holy Sunday.”

Columbus sailed under the auspices of Spain. Another Italian sailed under the auspices of England. He reached what is now known as Nova Scotia. His name was Giovanni Caboto, better known in North America as John Cabot.

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Category: Church History, Summer 2019

About the Author: Woodrow E. Walton, D.Min. (Oral Roberts University School of Theology and Missions), B.A. (Texas Christian University), B.D. [M.Div.] (Duke Divinity School), M.A. (University of Oklahoma), is a retired Seminary Dean and Professor of biblical, theological and historical studies. An ordained Assemblies of God minister, he and his wife live in Fort Worth, Texas. Walton retains membership with the Evangelical Theological Society, American Association of Christian Counselors, American Society of Church History, American Academy of Political Science, and The International Society of Frontier Missiology.

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