Reflections on Fear and Faith – The Institute of Middle East Studies

Source: Reflections on Fear and Faith – The Institute of Middle East Studies

Arthur Brown on fear & faith, a constant topic of conversation for Christians living in the Middle East.

Kenneth Bailey on Foot Washing in Middle East Context

Ken Bailey illustrates brilliantly here how important it is for us to understand the original cultural context in order to understand the Bible.

Israeli Settlements Explained

The latest discourse of Secretary of State John Kerry on the danger for peace in the Middle East represented by the constant extension of the Israeli settlements in the Palestinian occupied territorries stirred again the debate on the lack of solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the obvious resistance of the Israeli right wing government to come to a peaceful two-state resolution of this conflict.

I am sure many of you, especially those who have been influenced by Zionist propaganda – whether Christian Jewish or secular, or by the suspect dispensationalist interpretations of the sacred text, wonder what is the big fusss with these seettlements. Continue reading “Israeli Settlements Explained”

Mesajul unui pastor din Orientul Apropiat

Dragi pastori din Europa,

Salutări în Hristos,

Ne aflăm într-o perioadă de timp foarte critică în ceea ce privește refugiații care se îngrămădesc să intre în țările voastre. Aveți o oportunitate de aur. Fie o acceptați, fie o pierdeți și pierdeți și Europa pentru totdeauna.

Familiile care ajung pe țărmurile țărilor voastre sunt zdrobite, rănite și nevoiașe. Un bun venit călduros le-ar putea schimba perspectivele și convingerile numaidecât. Ei fug de tirania islamului și se află într-o luptă reală în ceea ce privește credințele lor. Ei au crescut cu mentalitatea că fac parte din cea mai bună națiune și religie creată vreodată pe pământ și creierele lor sunt spălate să creadă că toți ceilalți sunt pierduți. Nu li s-a permis niciodată să gândească sau să se îndoiască de aceste lucruri. Li s-a spus că vin de la Dumnezeu. Continue reading “Mesajul unui pastor din Orientul Apropiat”

Sat 7 – The Bishop of the Poor, Justin Welby – An Interview

The interview begins at minute 4.55. It is interspersed with other short statements and video presentations on the Christians in the Middle East, with commentaries unfortunately only in Arabic.

Paradise lost: is Christianity doomed in the Middle East?

Paradise lost: is Christianity doomed in the Middle East?.

On the fate of Christianity in the Middle East. A thorough article.

Comment on the Recent IDC Gala Dinner by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom

Bishop Angaelos
Bishop Angaelos

Now that the dust has settled after the recent In Defense of Christians (IDC) Gala dinner in Washington on 10 September 2014, I feel it is appropriate to comment because of the nature of my work on inter-religious relations and reconciliation in Britain and around the world.

My observation was of a large gathering of people, particularly connected to Iraq and Syria, experiencing very real and personal pain, and had come together to represent relatives either displaced, persecuted, missing, or murdered. In my own address and in my general view as a Christian and a minister I believe there is complete clarity that advocacy must be for all who suffer persecution, Christian or otherwise, and that this is a time for collaboration to this end. Continue reading “Comment on the Recent IDC Gala Dinner by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom”

Ted Cruz Booed Off Stage at Historic Summit on Middle East Christians

Organisers of an inaugural event held in Washington to highlight the persecution of Christians in the Middle East have said they remain focused and ‘undaunted’ after an incident in which a US senator was booed off stage for his support of Israel.

Attendees at the inaugural In Defense of Christians (IDC) Summit heard warnings that the brutality facing Christians and minorities in the Middle East is only worsening; and were reminded of the need for a united effort to bring an end to the atrocities to prevent further destabilisation in the region.

On Wednesday, Ted Cruz, a Republican junior United States senator from Texas, was speaking during the gala dinner at the summit, which has drawn together global leaders in the US capital over the past three days. Continue reading “Ted Cruz Booed Off Stage at Historic Summit on Middle East Christians”

The Patriarchs of the East – Religious Extremism is a Major Threat for The Area and The Whole World

Patriarchs of the East
Patriarchs of the East

At the heart of a Middle East soaked in blood, the Patriarchs of the East published a press release condemning conflicts and violence which overwhelm the entire region, and most particularly the persecution of innocents and Christians. The religious fundamentalism, and those who feed it through financing its armed movements, affecting the balance and stability in the region, is unequivocally denounced. The Patriarchs therefore send forth an urgency plea to the international community.
Following a brotherly invitation by His Beatitude and Eminence Cardinal Bishara Butros al Rai, Patriarch of Antioch and of the whole East for Maronites, Their Beatitudes the Patriarchs of Eastern Churches convened at the Patriarchal Palace of Dymane, on 7 August 2014. Among the attendants :
– Catholicos Aram Kshishian I, Catholicos of Beit Kilika for Orthodox Armenians ;
– Patriarch Gregorius Lahham III, Patriarch of Antioch and of the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem for Greek Catholics ;
– Patriarch Yuhanna Al Yazajee X, Patriarch of Antioch and of the East for Greek Orthodox ;
– Patriarch Mar Aghnatios Yousef Younan III, Patriarch of Antioch for the Syrians ;
– Patriarch Mar Aghnatios Afram II, Patriarch of Antioch and of the East for Orthodox Assyrians ;
– Patriarch Narcis Bedros XIX, Catholicos and Patriarch of Kilika for Catholic Armenians ;
– the representative of Patriarch Louis Raphael Sakko I, Patriarch of Babel for Chaldeans ; and Bishop Shlimon Wardouni, Patriarchal Vicar.

Continue reading “The Patriarchs of the East – Religious Extremism is a Major Threat for The Area and The Whole World”

A Prayer for the Middle East

prayer of a child

Lord, you are the rightful Advocate of peace, teach us to carry the torch of peace and justice that it may reside within the hearts of Palestinians and Israelis, and radiate in our Middle East. Banish the violence and evil within all combatants in Syria, Iraq, Palestine and Israel. Through the grace of Love transform the Middle East into a heaven, where Sunnis, Shiites, Jews and Christians can live together as brothers and sisters, and sons of You Almighty God.

Welcome into your kingdom all children killed in Gaza, and comfort the wounded people from both sides, sustain parents and families who are under siege and fire. Sustain our staff in Gaza that they can provide light and hope in a very desperate environment.

Lord, it is time to end violence and hatred. We cannot go on like this, something should change and we are waiting for your intervention. Change our hearts and transform lives of all people especially children. Strengthen our faith that we continue to witness Your love and mercy among people surrounding us.

Lord we trust in You.

(I have received this from my friend and colleague Dr. Charlie Abou Saada, in Bethlehem, Palestine.)

 

Ethics Daily Interview with Dr. Martin Accad on the 2014 Consultation of IMES

Martin Accad, director of the Institute of Middle East Studies at Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Lebanon, talks with EthicsDaily.com about IMES’ 11th annual Middle East Consultation, which aims to foster more understanding between Muslims and Christians. For more information, visit the ABTS website.

Imam Yahya Hendi – A Prophetic Voice of Justice and Unconditional Love for Religious Minorities

alt
Imam Yahya Hendi, President of Clergy Beyond Borders

I call on all Muslims to commit themselves to the following principles:

1. Our faith is built on mercy, compassion peace and justice, not violence. Hence, We speak for a faith that does not condone violence against our Christian neighbors, or their churches.

2. All Muslims stand in support of the Christians of the Middle East

3. We affirm our belief that the Muslims of the Middle East are thankful for many of the Middle East Christians who continue to bless the Middle East with their presence and witness to the Almighty God. Continue reading “Imam Yahya Hendi – A Prophetic Voice of Justice and Unconditional Love for Religious Minorities”

Brian O’Neel – Middle-East Christians. Faith Under Fire

maloola
Maloola, ancient Christian Aramaic city in Syria, which was plundered by rebel forces

Despite daunting challenges in predominantly Muslim societies, many followers of Jesus continue to bear brave witness to their faith.

SEDNAYA, Syria — Many know of the mythical Phoenix, the bird legend said to have the power to regenerate itself from the ashes of its predecessor in a Middle-Eastern desert. Given the incredible persecution faced by contemporary Christians in the same region, an analogy between the faithful in the Middle East and the mythological fowl might seem unlikely.

However, Christian leaders insist the Church in some Arab-speaking lands is indeed resurrecting out of the cinders of its burned houses of worship, the beheaded bodies of its faithful and the long-standing discrimination it has faced since Islam violently wrested this part of the world from Christendom, beginning in the seventh century. Continue reading “Brian O’Neel – Middle-East Christians. Faith Under Fire”

BBC News – How the West Messed Up the Middle East at the End of WWI

Middle East map - 8 May 1916
The original secret Sykes-Picot map of 1916: “A” would go to France, “B” to Britain.

A map marked with crude chinagraph-pencil in the second decade of the 20th Century shows the ambition – and folly – of the 100-year old British-French plan that helped create the modern-day Middle East.

Straight lines make uncomplicated borders. Most probably that was the reason why most of the lines that Mark Sykes, representing the British government, and Francois Georges-Picot, from the French government, agreed upon in 1916 were straight ones.

Sykes and Picot were quintessential “empire men”. Both were aristocrats, seasoned in colonial administration, and crucially believers in the notion that the people of the region would be better off under the European empires. Continue reading “BBC News – How the West Messed Up the Middle East at the End of WWI”

Christians face extinction in Middle East, warns UK Minister

Christians face extinction in Middle East, warns UK Minister.

A sobering warning. But it seems that Western Christians could not care less. The Zionists among them are more concerned about supporting the racist aims of the secular state of Israel that about what happens with the Christians in the Middle East.

World Watch Monitor – Christianity in Danger of Becoming Extinct in Its Birthplace

UK historian says Christians in Middle East are endangered species

Last month, World Watch Monitor released a report, Beyond Count, highlighting the alarming frequency with which Christians are fleeing the Middle East. Now a British historian has added his voice to those concerns.

By Dr. Jenny Taylor

Respected UK historian Tom Holland told a briefing in London this week that the world is watching the effective extinction of Christianity from its birthplace.

In an apocalyptic appraisal of the worsening political situation in the region, a panel of experts provided a mass of evidence and statistics for the end of the region’s nation states under the onslaught of militant Islam.

“In terms of the sheer scale of the hatreds and sectarian rivalries, we are witnessing something on the scale of horror of the European Thirty Years War,” said Holland. Continue reading “World Watch Monitor – Christianity in Danger of Becoming Extinct in Its Birthplace”

World Watch Monitor: The population of Christians in the Middle East

Summary

The number of Christians leaving the Middle East is a matter of educated conjecture, according to a new report on Christian migration from the Middle East.

Report author Markus Tozman says seeking accuracy is important because the fate of the Christian population in the Middle East affects human rights in the region, as well as power structures across the Arab world.

The task is made difficult partly by census counts across the region that, when conducted at all, tend to be irregular and their documents kept from public view, Tozman writes.

Across the five countries covered in the report — Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey — the story is much the same. Head counts of Christians are often shaded up or down for political reasons — inflated by minority Christians to retain representation in government; deflated by majority Muslims to undermine Christian claims for benefits. In the absence of accuracy, Tozman reports, the very arithmetic of population becomes politicised.

“Mere estimates and analyses of primary and secondary sources are in many cases not enough to gain a completely accurate picture,” Tozman writes.

“In the light of the currently deteriorating situation,” he writes, “no one can predict how the numbers of Christians in the Middle East will develop in the course of the next years, but a further decline is highly likely.” Continue reading “World Watch Monitor: The population of Christians in the Middle East”

Our Responsibility for the Church in the Middle East

What do we owe to the Church in the Middle East in general and Palestine in particular and why our indifference can condone even more injustice in the (not so) holy land and can make the Church disappear from the land where she was born twenty centuries ago.

Orthodox Primates Stress Need for Peace and Stability in Middle East

Synaxis of the Primates of the Orthodox Churches of the Middle East

At the invitation of His Beatitude Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos II, and in the framework of the pastoral care of the Senior Patriarchates of the Middle East and the Apostolic Church of Cyprus, arrived today, 27th March 2012, Their Beatitudes, Patriarch Theodoros II, of Alexandria and All Africa, Patriarch Ignatius IV, of Antioch and all the East, and Patriarch Theophilos III, of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, to participate in the  Synaxis of the primates of the Orthodox Churches, in order to discuss  the situation of the Christians in the region of the Middle East and to find ways of solidarity, strengthening and support of the Christians to maintain their presence in their ancestral homes.

This Synaxis of the Primates aims at further strengthening the bonds amongst the Orthodox Churches in the region of the Middle East and to improve the cooperation amongst them, as well as the relationships amongst all the fellow Christians and to develop the harmonious and friendly relations between the members of the three Monotheistic religions. In addition, through the Orthodox Synaxis, the representatives of the Orthodox Churches of the Middle East could have meetings and discussions, searching for answers to many important issues, which are related to the Christian presence in the Middle East.

The Primates of the Churches discussed as well the challenges of the region in view of the political and socio-economic changes that are currently taking place in the Middle East at large, and stressed on the need to resolve all conflicting matters through peaceful means and constructive dialogue. Continue reading “Orthodox Primates Stress Need for Peace and Stability in Middle East”

Arab Baptist Theological Seminary: Launching of Master of Religion in Middle Eastern & North African Studies

Arab Baptist Theological Seminary :: Launching of Master of Religion in Middle Eastern & North African Studies (MRel in MENA Studies) | October 2012 | Beirut – Lebanon.

This two years degree is a very interesting masters degree programme, designed and led by my friend Dr Martin Accad.

It is frames especially for people who already have a job. It requires only 2 weeks of residential every year, the rest of it being based on online interaction with tutors.

Anybody interested could contact Diana Farhood, the Project Coordinator.

Evangelical and Christian Presence in the Middle East

The Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches has organised on 13-15 February in Beirut, Lebanon a conference on the Evangelical Christian presence in the region.

Please read below the final communique of the conference.

* * *

In light of the radical changes that the Middle East region is currently passing through; changes that directly impact the present and future destiny of its Christian inhabitants — instilling in them a genuine fear of what lies ahead — the Fellowship of Middle East Evangelical Churches (Lutheran – Anglican – Reformed) held its first international conference on “Evangelical and Christian Presence in the Middle East” from Monday 13 to Wednesday 15 February, 2012 in Beirut, Lebanon. The Conference was attended by most of the ordained and lay leaders and heads of the member Churches of the Fellowship, as well as delegates from sister Evangelical churches and church institutions in Lebanon, the ME region, Europe, the USA, Canada and New Zeeland. Continue reading “Evangelical and Christian Presence in the Middle East”

11 December – Day of Prayer for Egypt and the Middle East

Dear Friends,

Please join me in praying for Egypt and the Middle East this weekend.

All of us have watched with interest the political and social changes in the Middle East since January and have been praying for the region.

The American Baptist Churches USA have called for a special day of prayer for Egypt and the Middle East on 11th December. They are encouraging Christians around the world to join them in this day of prayer. Continue reading “11 December – Day of Prayer for Egypt and the Middle East”

Middle East Viewed from Space

Traveling in the (not so) holy land


Bethlehem – Church of Nativity

I am traveling these days in the Middle East and may not be able to approve comments promptly. Please be patient. Thanks.

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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…

Sinodul episcopilor catolici din Orientul Apropiat

In perioada 10-24 octombrie are loc la Vatican Sinodul episcopilor catolici din Orientul Apropiat, un eveniment unic, cu importante implicatii pentru aceasta regiune a lumii.

Iata mai jos un articol de pe situl Catholica despre aceasta reuniune: Continue reading “Sinodul episcopilor catolici din Orientul Apropiat”

Imperial History of the Middle East

Very interesting, isn’t it?

(Thanks to my colleague Lisa Mondori for this.)