Friday, September 12, 2014

Bishop Julian Dobbs: Why Christianity Is Vital to the Middle East

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place. Acts of the Apostles, chapter 17, verse 26.
September 11, 2014

Christianity is intrinsically linked to the Middle East. It is in the Middle East that Christianity was birthed in the backwaters of the Roman Empire and from where the message of the Christain gospel spread throughout the Roman Empire, to Ethiopia, and to the Persian Empire. The missionary endeavors of the Church of the East brought Christianity even further, beyond Persia and Arabia, to Central Asia, India, and China. The Greek language was initially the main vehicle and then also the Syriac language, a dialect of Aramaic. The latter language allowed the development of strong literary traditions in Syrian Christianity; particularly poetry and liturgy [that remains in use today], and also teaching on theology.[1]

Last week, a series of unprecedented meetings and events were held in London, England where Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, The Most Rev. Justin Welby, hosted leaders and representatives of churches of the Middle East and the wider Christian Church in Britain, at Lambeth Palace. After discussing the plight of Christians and minority communities in Iraq, Syria and the wider Middle East, the Archbishop read from an agreed statement expressing solidarity with, and advocating for, all those who continue to suffer gross violations of the fundamental right and freedom to practice their chosen faith. He said “The Middle East is the birthplace of Christianity, and home to indigenous Christian communities that have been an indispensable part of its history. Despite the challenges, Christians in the region were and are a stabilising and reconciling presence.”[2]

The Archbishop of Canterbury is to be commended in his advocacy for the right of religious freedom and the important place of Christianity in the Middle East. However, today as in history, the existence of Christians in the Middle East, the birth place of Christianity, is being threatened by the rise of a resurgent Islam... the rest


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