Islam And The Eastern Church

06-12-2014mosul_iraq

There was a time, not so long ago, that it felt like I was the only non-evangelical Christian, who cared about the plight of the Christian Church in Islamic lands. Worse still, every time I mentioned the situation somebody would imply that I was a racist or, at the very least, bang on and on about how terrible Christians were a thousand years ago as if that made it better for the Christians being imprisoned due to false accusations of blasphemy against Islam in Pakistan today. Fortunately the recent violent ousting of the last Christians of Mosul from their hometown by the Islamists of ISIS seems to have actually got passed the PC walls constructed around liberal Christianity and I notice that now a lot more of my social media friends are mentioning examples of the Islamic oppression of Christians without the scruples they once had.

Some, are asking "What can we do?"

I have one good suggestion. You see, I have not always had this huge concern for the Church of the East. It was not until I was studying for my theology degree in my early thirties that I was even aware of the problem. But two things happened whilst I was at university, I studied the Islamic religion and I met Christians from Pakistan and Egypt. The fear these people had for their families back home was always palpable. Through them I discovered that the persecution (even to death) of Christians in Islamic lands was very real and not some myth dreamed up by right-wing fundamentalist Christians to imply that the Islamic religion was barbarous and evil. My study of Islam at university showed me how true to the scriptures and early history of Islam modern day Islamic fundamentalists were being.

So my suggestion is this, get to know the history of the Church in the East.

As Bob Marley put it, "If you know your history, then you would know where you coming from."

51f8lDGSbJLMy recommendation is that you read Philip Jenkins book, "The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia---and How It Died." Jenkins is an unbiased writer who, in my opinion, is a little too forgiving at times, and he often refers to the bad things Christians did and do, and I know you all will like that But I promise you, by the end of the book you will be filled with a sadness for something beautiful that has been lost that is overwhelming and which will never leave you.

It is my contention that modern day, non-evangelical, western Christianity has, in trying to be Christian and loving towards everyone, whatever their faith, has ignored and let down the persecuted Christians in our world today. Furthermore, we have cast to the back of our collective mind the whole history of Eastern Christianity, labelling it as nothing more than quirky when once it was so vibrant and extensive that the western Church appeared like nothing more than a tin tabernacle in comparison. It is time for us to right this wrong and to begin to value the Eastern church as it is very much part of our heritage, especially if the roots of your denomination go back to the Celtic Christian tradition which was based far more on the pioneers of Christianity in the East than on Roman Catholicism.

Philip Jenkins book is available on Amazon all over the place in hardback and paperback book form (new and used) and is available in a well produced audio format in the United States. If you do decide to buy it, do us a favour and buy it via my Amazon widgets, so that I get some much needed commission. You can find the widgets in the right hand side bar of this page.

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Comments

Islam And The Eastern Church — 2 Comments

  1. I read it a couple of years ago. It is very good.

    I also recommend Bat Ye’or’s The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude: Seventh-Twentieth Century,

    You’re right, this is all very true to the scriptures and early history of Islam.