history of christianity in turkey

Discovering the Rich History of Christianity in Turkey: A Journey Through the Apostolic Period to Modern-Day Challenges

As Christians, it`s important for us to understand the history of Christianity around the world. Turkey, a country often associated with its Islamic roots, actually has a rich history of Christianity dating back to the early apostolic period.

history of christianity in turkey

In this article, we`ll explore the fascinating and often overlooked history of Christianity in Turkey. From the apostolic period and early church fathers, to the rise of Orthodox Christianity in Constantinople, to the challenges faced by modern-day Christians in Turkey, we`ll cover it all.

So, if you want to learn more about the history of Christianity in Turkey and gain a deeper appreciation for our global Christian family, keep reading.

Early Christianity in Turkey: The Apostolic Period and Early Church Fathers

Early Christianity in Turkey is a fascinating period of history, characterized by the emergence of new religious practices and beliefs. During the Apostolic Period, which began with the arrival of St. Paul in Anatolia around 47 AD, Christianity spread rapidly through trade routes and established itself as a prominent religion.

One notable figure during this time was St. Ignatius of Antioch who wrote extensively about Christian theology and emphasized unity among believers. He also advocated for hierarchical church structures that would eventually lead to the development of bishoprics.

The Early Church Fathers were also instrumental in shaping early Christian thought in Turkey. These include Clement of Alexandria who combined Hellenistic philosophy with Christian principles; Origen who produced biblical commentaries; and Basil the Great who founded monastic communities throughout Asia Minor.

Despite persecution from Roman authorities, early Christians continued to thrive in Turkey due to their unwavering faith and commitment to spreading God’s message. Their legacy continues today through various denominations that have emerged over time such as Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic Church, Syriac Orthodox Church among others.

As we reflect on this rich history as Christians around world today , may we be inspired by these brave men & women whose devotion fueled their perseverance even amidst extreme adversity . May our own faith be strengthened so that we too can navigate whatever challenges come our way!

The Byzantine Empire: Constantinople and the Rise of Orthodoxy

The Byzantine Empire was a pivotal moment in the history of Christianity, and Constantinople played an essential role in the rise of Orthodox Christianity. This period holds significant importance for Christians around the world.

As Christian youth pastors, we are called to teach our congregations about the rich history of our faith beyond what we know from our own experiences. The Byzantine Empire provides us with a magnificent opportunity to explore how religion shapes civilizations and vice versa.

At its height, Constantinople was not only a city but also an embodiment of Orthodoxy itself. Every aspect of life revolved around religious principles that permeated through every facet of society – from art and architecture to politics and economics.

The rise of Orthodox Christianity marked an evolution in Christian tradition that continues today as one-third (or roughly 300 million) members identify as Eastern Orthodox worldwide.

By studying this era’s history, young people can gain valuable insight into their faith’s origins while appreciating how it has evolved over time. Understanding such complexities is vital for building inclusive communities where diversity is celebrated rather than feared or ignored.

In conclusion, exploring this fascinating chapter in Turkey’s religious past provides us with opportunities to enhance young believers’ understanding while fostering appreciation for different practices among Christians worldwide!

The Seljuk and Ottoman Empires: Christianity Under Islamic Rule

The Seljuk and Ottoman Empires are two of the most significant Islamic empires in history. Both empires ruled over territories that were home to a large number of Christians, who had to navigate life under Islamic rule. The experience of Christianity under these empires was complex, with various factors influencing the relationship between Christians and their Muslim rulers.

One important factor was tolerance toward non-Muslims. Both the Seljuk and Ottoman Empires had policies that allowed for religious diversity within their borders. This meant that Christian communities were able to exist alongside Muslim ones without being persecuted or forced into conversion.

However, there were also periods where this tolerance eroded, leading to increased discrimination against Christians. For example, during the reign of Sultan Mehmed II in the 15th century, laws were passed restricting Christian dress and behavior in public spaces.

Despite these challenges, Christianity continued to thrive under Islamic rule in Turkey throughout both empires’ existence. Churches remained open for worship despite restrictions on building new places of worship or renovating existing ones.

Additionally, some notable figures emerged during this time who helped bridge gaps between Muslims and Christians through dialogue and mutual respect for each other’s beliefs.


Overall,the history of Christianity under Islamic rule is a fascinating one filled with many ups-and-downs but ultimately showed how people from different faith backgrounds can coexist peacefully when there is respect towards others’ beliefs regardless if they differ from your own.The lessons learned from this historical period have relevance today as we continue our efforts towards interfaith dialogue across cultures around the world.We must strive not only understand our own faith traditions but also gain an appreciation for others’.

The Armenian Genocide and the Greek-Turkish Population Exchange

The Armenian Genocide and Greek-Turkish Population Exchange are two dark chapters in the history of Christianity in Turkey. Both events had a profound impact on the Christian communities that existed in this region for centuries.

The Armenian Genocide, which began in 1915, saw the Ottoman government systematically exterminate over one million Armenians. This brutal campaign aimed to rid Turkey of its Christian minority population and was carried out with extreme cruelty. The genocide left deep scars on the survivors and their descendants, who continue to fight for recognition of this tragedy as an act of genocide.

Following World War I, Greece invaded Turkey with the aim of reclaiming territories lost during previous wars. In response, Turkish forces expelled around 1.5 million Greek Orthodox Christians from their homes and sent them to Greece as part of a population exchange agreement between both countries.

These events marked significant turning points in Turkish history but also highlighted how vulnerable religious minorities can be when caught up in political conflicts or tensions between nations.

As Christian youth pastors, it is important that we teach our young people about these historical events so they can understand what happened and why it is important to stand up against injustice wherever it occurs.

By educating ourselves about these tragedies from our shared pasts we can help build bridges across divides where there once were only wounds – honoring those who suffered while working together towards peace among all peoples regardless faith background or national origin

Modern-Day Christianity in Turkey: Challenges and Opportunities

Modern-day Christianity in Turkey is wrought with both challenges and opportunities. Despite being the birthplace of early Christianity, modern-day Turkey has a predominantly Muslim population, making it a challenging environment for Christians to practice their faith.

However, there are also opportunities for growth and outreach within this unique context. The presence of historical Christian sites such as the Hagia Sophia and the Church of St. Peter provide tangible connections to ancient Christian traditions that can be used as points of discussion and evangelism.

Additionally, interfaith dialogue between Christians and Muslims in Turkey can lead to mutual understanding and respect for one another’s beliefs. This can create an atmosphere conducive to peaceful coexistence among different religious communities.

But there are still many challenges facing modern-day Christianity in Turkey. Discrimination against minority groups remains prevalent, making it difficult for Christians to openly express their faith without fear of persecution or discrimination from society at large.

In spite of these obstacles, however, there is hope that through perseverance and steadfastness in faithfulness amidst adversity that Turkish Christians will continue spreading love throughout their communities while promoting Christ-like values like peacebuilding across cultural boundaries around them – even if they face opposition from others who do not share those same beliefs or values themselves!


Over the centuries, Christianity has experienced a roller coaster of events in Turkey. From its founding by the earliest Apostles to both persecution and acceptance under Islamic rule, Christian history in Turkey is long and varied. In modern times, Christians continue to face unique challenges while also having many opportunities for growth amongst their people groups. As we look at our own faith journeys through time inspired by those who have gone before us here in Turkey let us be reminded that with God all things are possible! So whether you’re studying or simply looking at your own faith journey take courage from those who’ve come before you as an example of what it means to follow Christ’s call even when faced with great odds – join me today on this exploration as together we discover God’s heart for His Church in these lands!