Hussein Ibish – Fate of Christians Will Define the Arab Future

Arab Christians

The assault by Islamist thugs – with the apparent connivance of Egyptian government security forces – on a funeral at the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo on Sunday may be looked back upon as a grim milestone.

It wasn’t just that two people were killed and 90 hospitalized. This wasn’t just a violation, by hoodlums and police alike, of the revered center of an ancient religious tradition and community. It was rather that the whole idea of a tolerant, pluralistic Egypt – one that can fully include, honor, and respect its Coptic minority – came under a physical, psychological, and, most importantly, political assault of the first magnitude.

As Egypt goes, so goes the Middle East. If the Coptic community of Egypt is thus abused, disparaged, and attacked, what kind of societies are emerging in the Arab world? The regional implications are chilling. Continue reading “Hussein Ibish – Fate of Christians Will Define the Arab Future”

Kenneth E Bailey – A Tribute to Arab Christians

You, my Arab Christian brothers and sisters, come to us representing a form of Christianity that does not mourn the loss of power influence because you have not had any for over a thousand years.

You have not confused the Cross and the flag and your national flags were not placed on your pulpits in worship.

You have not needed to struggle over “family values” because your families have remained incredibly strong. Continue reading “Kenneth E Bailey – A Tribute to Arab Christians”

Kenneth E Bailey – Realities Affecting Arabic Speaking Christians

Kenneth E Bailey

Three Important Realities Affecting Arabic Speaking Christians

1. Today 60% of the Christians in the world are now found in Africa, Asia and South America. And among those 1.3 billion, mostly new, Christians there are at least 2 million pastors with less than six weeks of theological education.  Who is going to write the books that will meet the needs of this enormous new influx into the Christian faith?  Who will help them struggle with their theology and assist in giving direction for the Biblical commentaries that will speak to their needs? Continue reading “Kenneth E Bailey – Realities Affecting Arabic Speaking Christians”

Historical Reasons for the Western Ignorance of Arabic Speaking Christians

I have discovered today, on the website of EMEU a very important article written by well known Biblical scholar and Middle East specialist Kenneth E Bailey on Arabic speaking Christians, a neglected topic in Western Christianity. I will present here, in a series of posts some important parts of this text, especially for those who are not able to delve through the 12 pages of this text.

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Four Historical Reasons for the Western Ignorance of Arabic Speaking Christians

1.   The first is the Council of Calcedon in 451, where a division occurred between the Greek and Latin traditions on the one hand and the Semitic-speaking Eastern Christians on the other hand.

2.   The Muslim conquests of the 7th  Century formed a second curtain. After Islam conquered the Middle East very little Christian contact between East and West was possible, regardless of good intentions.

3.   A third curtain was created by more than a millennium of wars between Muslim and Christian centers of power. These began with the Muslim invasions and continued on through the Crusades, the Turkish invasions of Europe, the rise of European imperialism, the Middle Eastern theater of the First World War, the creation of the state of  Israel and now two Gulf wars. In each of these conflicts Christians in the East and Christians in the West found themselves, by historical accidents, on opposing sides.

4.   Finally, comes the linguistic curtain. Western Christian scholarship has always granted the importance of Latin and Greek. But who in Western Christian scholarship, in any major theological discipline, goes on to acquire Arabic, Syriac and Coptic? Yet the treasures of 1900 years of Church history, theology and
Biblical studies await the daring and the diligent who are willing to pay the price to cross those daunting linguistic barriers.

These four curtains are formidable. Yet today, living in the Middle East there are 265
million Muslims, 2 million Arabic-speaking Jews, and the above-mentioned 15
million Arabic-speaking Christians.

(Source, HERE.)

Arab Christians. The Forgotten Faithful

National Geographic has published in June 2009 a comprehensive article on Arab Christians. I am sure you will find it very informative, given the general ignorance of western Christians on this topic, even if you may not agree with the conclusions of the author (Don Belt).

I paste below the beginning of this article and I hope this will wet you appetite for reading the whole text. May some time for it. It is real worth it.

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Easter in Jerusalem is not for the faint of heart. The Old City, livid and chaotic in the calmest of times, seems to come completely unhinged in the days leading up to the holiday. By the tens of thousands, Christians from all over the world pour in like a conquering horde, surging down the Via Dolorosa’s narrow streets and ancient alleyways, seeking communion in the cold stones or some glimmer, perhaps, of the agonies Jesus endured in his final hours. Every face on Earth seems to float through the streets during Easter, every possible combination of eye and hair and skin color, every costume and style of dress, from blue-black African Christians in eye-popping dashikis to pale Finnish Christians dressed as Jesus with a bloody crown of thorns to American Christians in sneakers and “I [heart] Israel” caps, clearly stoked for the battle of Armageddon.

They come because this is where Christianity began. Here in Jerusalem and on lands nearby are the stony hills where Jesus walked and taught and died—and later, where his followers prayed and bled and battled over what his teaching would become. Huddled alongside Jewish converts in the caves of Palestine and Syria, Arabs were among the first to be persecuted for the new faith, and the first to be called Christians. It was here in the Levant—a geographical area including present-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and the Pales­tinian territories—that hundreds of churches and monasteries were built after Constantine, emperor of Rome, legalized Christianity in 313 and declared his Levantine provinces holy land. Even after Arab Muslims conquered the region in 638, it remained predominantly Christian.

Ironically, it was during the Crusades (1095-1291) that Arab Christians, slaughtered along with Muslims by the crusaders and caught in the cross fire between Islam and the Christian West, began a long, steady retreat into the minority. Today native Christians in the Levant are the envoys of a forgotten world, bearing the fierce and hunted spirit of the early church. Their communities, composed of various Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant sects, have dwindled in the past century from a quarter to about 8 percent of the population as the current generation leaves for economic reasons, to escape the region’s violence, or because they have relatives in the West who help them emigrate. Their departure, sadly, deprives the Levant of some of its best educated and most politically moderate citizens—the people these societies can least afford to lose. And so, for Jerusalem’s Arab Christians, there is a giddiness during Easter, as if, after a long and lonely ordeal, much needed reinforcements have arrived.

Read on…

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