On the Never-ending Need of Western Christians to Warn the non-Western Church

I believe in a global theological accountability. We are all shaped by our contexts, personal and communal concerns, anxieties, questions and capabilities. This shapes how we read the Bible, how we develop theologies, what tools of interpretation we utilise, which metaphors we use and what topics we cover.

This is not relativism, not a denial of universal and absolute truths, but the humility of knowing that God and his truths are often beyond our man-made creations and perceptions. That is why we need the experiences of the global and historical Church, with all of its shades and colours, to be with us if we are to advance his Kingdom and ignore pitfalls of our own bubbles. Church history is full of episodes where a particular country and the Church in it gets carried away with its own social and political constructs, all along thinking that ‘God wills it’.
Thus, as I try to develop a theology for today’s Middle East, I need Christians from Latin America, East Asia and North America as well as Europe to keep me accountable; to challenge me where I need to be self-critical and to learn from my experiences. Simply put, without such a theological accountability, we are vulnerable to confusing our own constructs, culture and nationalism with the truths of God.  Continue reading “On the Never-ending Need of Western Christians to Warn the non-Western Church”

Richard Rohr – Letting Go: A Spirituality of Subtraction – 8 – Being A Christian vs Being A Proper Person

The Christianity that I have seen emerge in the West has been in great part a Christianity of being nice, a Christianity of being proper. Gerald Mackenzie argues that the gospels are talking about something else.

Comment – Many people in the ’Christian’ West reduce Christianity to being a nice person. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus himself was not nice, at least not to Pharisees and other religious people, and those he was really nice no did not make him gather any points righteous people of his day. Neither were OT prophets nice people, unless they were false prophets. Being nice is clearly overrated in today’s Christian world. Maybe that is why Christianity has become so dull and unattractive to most of our contemporaries.

Salim Munayer – Beyond Bells and Smells. The Gap between Eastern and Western Christianity – 4

Political Barriers

The Arab conquests in the seventh century coupled with the spread of Islam and the subsequent wars between Christians and Muslim political powers such as the Arab invasions, the Crusades, the Ottoman invasions of Europe, World War I, the creation of the State of Israel and now two Gulf Wars have also disrupted the relationship between the Eastern and Western Church.

By the early nineteenth century, western travellers in the Muslim world became more common and painted a vivid Orientalist picture of this ill-understood other. This was perhaps an improvement to the very limited contact between East and West that preceded it, however this began a rather skewed relationship between those with the power to narrate and those whose lives were ostensibly narrated in such discourses. Even our contemporary understanding of Arabic speaking Christians, and Eastern Christianity more generally, comes largely through western media which is influenced by geo-political interests which often ignore the situation of the church. We know little about the recent history of the Assyrian church in Iraq, or the Armenian Church in Ottoman Turkey for example, because reporting on these situations of persecution and genocide would harm international relationships and alliances. Continue reading “Salim Munayer – Beyond Bells and Smells. The Gap between Eastern and Western Christianity – 4”

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