March 24th, 2012| Topic: RaMbLeS | 2


I was in Istanbul a couple of weeks ago. One of the highlights was visiting the Hagia Sophia (“Holy Wisdom”).

Once a church, then a mosque, now a museum. One of the most impressive (and important) structures on the planet!

Emperor Justinian I built the church between 532–537 AD, choosing a physicist (Isidore of Miletus) and a mathematician (Anthemius of Tralles) to design the structure, decorated with Greek columns from the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, purple marble (porphyry) from Egypt, green marble from Thessaly, black stone from the Bosphorus area, and yellow stone from Syrian. Roughly 10,000 people were involved in its construction. As the story goes, when the Emperor first set foot within the church, he declared, “Solomon, I have surpassed you!” For a millennium it had the greatest dome in the world—185 feet high and 105 feet in diameter (Paris’s Notre Dame would fit easily under this dome, or even the Statue of Liberty minus her torch)—until the Renaissance dome by Brunelleschi in Florence.

And for nine centuries it was the seat of the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, the “Vatican of the East.” It is the church in which Cardinal Humbert, in 1054, excommunicated Patriarch Michael I Cerularius—the beginning of the Great Schism between the Eastern and Western Churches.

The Ottomans conquered Constantinope in 1453 and took over the building. Sultan Memhed II (the Conqueror), impressed with this grand edifice, converted it into an imperial mosque. Mosaics and frescoes were plastered over (thankfully, not destroyed!); bells, altar, iconostasis, and cultic vessels were removed; functional elements for a mosque—four minarets, a mihrab (niche directing worshippers to Mecca), and a minbar (aka pulpit)—were added, and the church was transformed. For 500 years, the Hagia Sophia mosque became the model for almost every other Ottoman mosque.

In the 1930s, in the early days of the Turkish Republic, under its founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, it underwent its current transformation into a museum.

Thus it still stands, an incredible and fascinating blend of East and West, in a city straddling Europe and Asia.

Church to mosque to museum. Hmm … is that a parable or what?

Or do you not know that your body is
a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you ….

1 Corinthians 6:19a

The individual believer is Jesus Christ is a temple wherein resides the Holy Spirit.

… the Spirit of truth,
whom the world cannot receive …,
but you know Him because He abides with you ….
John 14:17

God abiding in us! Pouring out his love to us!

… the love of God has been
poured out within our hearts
through the Holy Spirit
who was given to us.
Romans 5:5

Believers are temple! And if temples, then holiness must be an abiding characteristic.

Flee immorality.
Every other sin that a man commits is
outside the body, but
the immoral man sins against his own body.
Or do you not know that your body is
a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you,
whom you have from God,
and that you are not your own?
For you have been bought with a price:
therefore glorify God in your body.
1 Corinthians 6:18–20

Temples, but not our own. We belong to another, to the One who bought us with the price of his own blood.

Therefore ….

[May] He would grant you,
according to the riches of His glory,
to be strengthened with power
through His Spirit in the inner man ….
Ephesians 3:16

… so that we may keep our temples dedicated to God.


  1. John Hilber March 25, 2012 at 8:27 am

    After being out of the country and distracted by various and asunder things for the past few weeks, I returned to find Homiletix “changed” into a new incarnation (well, whatever the word would be for “new look”—-“invideation”?). But true to the adage “form follows function,” this invideation is both attractive and serves well your broader and noble purposes! Well done. I look forward to more . . .


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