Does Anyone Care About Arab Christians?

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Bandguy

Puritan Board Sophomore
The question that I propose to dispensational Christians is this: How can God bless the nation of Israel when, as a whole the entire nation curses his son?

The same way God blessed all of us who were dead in our sin and at emnity with God. By his grace.

Romans 3:9-18

Ephesians 2:1-9
 

Founded on the Rock

Puritan Board Freshman
Regardless of whether or not all, most or even some dispensationalists believe about Arab's, the sad fact of the matter is that in the mind of Arab's, Protestant of every stripe means Israel-loving, Arab-hating Christians.

The reason I know this is because my girlfriend and her family are from Egypt, and her best friend and her family are Palestinian. Whether or not it is true, they have an idea that Protestants think Arabs are second class citiznes... I know this is not what most people believe in America, but there are those who are vocal do suggest such things... As a result, the Gospel is hindered because of this understanding of Protestantism form "Arabs"
 
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Herald

Administrator
Staff member
I'm sure there are some Dispensational's who support the Arab christians brother Bill. Of that I have no doubt. Can you name me one prominant Dispensational though who does not believe that physical Israel is the seed of Abraham and that the Body of Christ and the seed of Abraham are two different things? The ones I am in contact with here in my area are ate up with dual covenant theology.
Now I know that there are Dispensational lites out thier like Macarthur who would not go there but among Dispensationalists of various denominations they are the minority.


James - I have no qualms about criticizing dispensationalism. I came out of it and I'm still wondering where I am and where I'll wind up. My bone of contention is the lumping of most dispensationalists in the same mold. They're not all the same. There may be some dispensationalists who are unaware of Arab Christians, but that can be said about other nationalities. I have a hard time with judging an entire group in the absence of factual evidence.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Ok, I should re-phrase my position and statement. I apologize for the broad brush please forgive me.

In my circle of friends, acquaintances, and Dispensational Bible teachers that I have personally been exposed to there seems to be a lack of consideration for Arab Christians. In order to gather factual evidence this would take some time for me to compile. My statement should have been worded this way, as a whole there seems to be little emphasis on Arab Christians in the circles that I am familiar with. Obviously, this may not be true for other such dispensationalists and this is where I was wrong in my statement.

Grace and Peace

John - I appreciate your willingness to reword you statement. I know that is hard to do. I've struggled with it at times, so I thank you. :handshake:

I wonder how much disinterest of Arab Christians is due to ignorance? I would be dismayed if there was an intentional slight of Arab brothers just because they are Arab. Ignorance is another matter. What we don't see equals non-existent.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Based on my personal experience...

Kevin, everything after this statement (above) is just reinforcement of the same. I think you're suffering from anti-dispensationalist myopia. Funny. I'm no longer a dispensationalist, and I'm a frequent critic of my former theological system. But I don't see what you see. In fact, I've seen quite the opposite. I've seen Arab brothers in Christ embraced warmly and sweet fellowship ensue. BTW...my theological training is similar to yours. I've sat under the teaching of some of the "in crowd" of dispensationalism. I never heard (nor sensed) that Arab Christians were inferior, either by statement or implication. I guess we both sat under these teachers on different days.
 

Richard King

Puritan Board Senior
You know the original question is just an excellent question.

I am guilty of not even thinking of them.

You have done me a great service by bringing them to mind.
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
When I was a teenager and first getting my license, my driving instructor was a guy names Sam Mirza, born in Jerusalem and a member of St. Mark's of Antioch Orthodox Church, and gave me a tour of his church. They still worship in Aramaic! They've been on my mind since then.

But Bill's got one heck of a point. I do think that we have a tendency to get so anti-Dispensational that it clouds our judgment many times, as we reject anything that looks even mildly dispensational. While we are willing to tear apart Christian brothers' theology and subsequently talk of heresy (if they are not reformed enough), we are now taking in wholesale Maronites, Copts, Greek Orthodox, etc. (who embody almost all of what we see wrong with the Roman Catholic church) and giving them a stamp of approval. I just don't follow.

It's one thing to reject dispensationalism but another to move to this position simply because it is anti-dispensational. I do grieve for the Christians in the middle east. They are a brave remnant of what was, even 1300 years ago, a Christian land. They are mostly poor - those with the means to go have left long ago. And I don't think that you could find a suicide bombing against an Israeli target by anyone other than a Muslim, though (I've read) between 15-20% of the West Bank is Christian.

But let's not go overboard.
 

Bandguy

Puritan Board Sophomore
When I was a teenager and first getting my license, my driving instructor was a guy names Sam Mirza, born in Jerusalem and a member of St. Mark's of Antioch Orthodox Church, and gave me a tour of his church. They still worship in Aramaic! They've been on my mind since then.

But Bill's got one heck of a point. I do think that we have a tendency to get so anti-Dispensational that it clouds our judgment many times, as we reject anything that looks even mildly dispensational. While we are willing to tear apart Christian brothers' theology and subsequently talk of heresy (if they are not reformed enough), we are now taking in wholesale Maronites, Copts, Greek Orthodox, etc. (who embody almost all of what we see wrong with the Roman Catholic church) and giving them a stamp of approval. I just don't follow.

It's one thing to reject dispensationalism but another to move to this position simply because it is anti-dispensational. I do grieve for the Christians in the middle east. They are a brave remnant of what was, even 1300 years ago, a Christian land. They are mostly poor - those with the means to go have left long ago. And I don't think that you could find a suicide bombing against an Israeli target by anyone other than a Muslim, though (I've read) between 15-20% of the West Bank is Christian.

But let's not go overboard.
:ditto:
 

jenney

Puritan Board Freshman
blue tick said:
The question that I propose to dispensational Christians is this: How can God bless the nation of Israel when, as a whole the entire nation curses his son?
The same way God blessed all of us who were dead in our sin and at emnity with God. By his grace.

This is what I thought at first, too, but then I realized what Blue Tick wrote was about God blessing a nation. It would shock and grieve me for any Christian to say, "How can God bless a person when that person curses God's Son?" because such were some of us, and God did bless us by washing, justifying and sanctifying us (1 Cor 6:9-11).

However, he was not writing about God blessing a person, but rather about a nation. I think that makes a huge difference.
 

Bandguy

Puritan Board Sophomore
This is what I thought at first, too, but then I realized what Blue Tick wrote was about God blessing a nation. It would shock and grieve me for any Christian to say, "How can God bless a person when that person curses God's Son?" because such were some of us, and God did bless us by washing, justifying and sanctifying us (1 Cor 6:9-11).

However, he was not writing about God blessing a person, but rather about a nation. I think that makes a huge difference.

You make a good point. However, I would respond by asking, "How is it that God blesses any nation on the Earth. Even America is full of those who curse God, murder the unborn, promote Homosexuality, etc..." Just because we are historically known as the "Christian" nation, let us not become arrogant in thinking that we are not under the same potential judgment as any other nation on earth because of our sin. It is soley by grace that we haven't been destroyed totally yet.
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
The Plight of Roman Catholic Christians

This unfortunate group of people is caught in the middle of tensions between Eastern Orthodox' and Protestants. While many Catholics sympathize politically and culturally with their fellow Mary/Saint worshippers over the Protestant people, they nonetheless are often targets of scorn from Eastern Orthodox Christians. What is most shocking, however, is that Christians of Roman Catholic descent are non-issues in the minds of most American Christians. Catholic believers are most notably ignored by many Christians in America who believe in unconditional election, amillenialism.......
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
The Roman church is apostate. It is no different in substance than the JW's or Mormons. It is a works based system. Don't expect Christians to cozy up to Rome in search of the minuscule few believers that may be there. Those believers need to come out of Romanism.

But while we're at it let's lament the fact that we have not reached out to left handed Christians...blind Christians...Slavic Christians....Icelandic Christians...let's make every nationality part of the victim class.
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
The Roman church is apostate. It is no different in substance than the JW's or Mormons. It is a works based system. Don't expect Christians to cozy up to Rome in search of the minuscule few believers that may be there. Those believers need to come out of Romanism.

But while we're at it let's lament the fact that we have not reached out to left handed Christians...blind Christians...Slavic Christians....Icelandic Christians...let's make every nationality part of the victim class.

Big difference---they baptise in the name of the Holy Trinity and the RC baptism is a valid Christian Baptism. Not true of JW or Mormans. There are some similarities that is true, however both JW and LDS are chiliastic cults and have more in common with the Dispensationalists we were talking about above then they do with RCs.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Borders in the modern world are important for more than cartographers or geography students. From time immemorial they served as boundary-markers that enclose, not deliniate, areas of control (or influence).

With the establishment of nation-states, and the assertion of control over virtually all the inhabitable world, societies (which often exited with "fuzzy" boundaries previously) came increasingly to be defined by those boundaries. But there are still identities--societies--that cross national and cultural boundaries. Religion is one of those (see 1 Ki. 12:25-27).

Muslims are devoted to a religion which is primarily earthly and sensual. Their version of paradise is simply the rutting of animals (in recruiting the suicide bombers, the young, aimless males are encouraged to "just keep thinking about the virgins..."). Now, because of the this-worldly emphasis of this religion, it is a simple thing to explain Muslim outrage over perceived attacks on their co-religionists in other parts of the world. It is relatively simple to connect tangible violence against them in one place to reprisals perpetrated by them anyplace.

Chrstianity is SUPPOSED to be primarily spiritual and heavenly. But this does not fully explain why in the main there is such widespread ignorance and apathy concerning the temporal sufferings of their co-religionists. Christians whose first social identity was to "King Jesus" would still have no trouble identifying and entering into the sufferings of their brothers and sisters. In fact, they are SUPPOSED to be concerned about even the plight of their enemies, and not only their friends.

The true explanation for the apathy is that for the most part, Christians are not Christians first, but worldly. They are mainly concerned about their earthly identities and nationalities, except for an hour or two on Sundays. They are so earthly-minded that they're no heavenly good. Because they relegate spirituality to another "realm", they make the most of the tangible societies they see and participate in on earth.

Thus, the only church they really know or care much about is the place they drop their money and their backsides. They want the best preacher they can buy, the best building they can buy, and a good write-up in the local newspaper once or twice a year. The other Christians they identify with most are not those who are theologically, denominationally, or even ideologically consistent with them, but culturally homogenous. Hence the appeal of "broad (American) evangelicalism".

Just today I got another monthly "Franklin Graham-gram" plea for $. This is the kind of thing that stands-in place of genuine concern for world "relief" and missionary evangelism. See, as far as I can tell, this $ is to go for promoting American-style mass marketing appeal crusading (as opposed to cross-cultural missions); shoe-boxes of American-style faithjunk including comic-strip Bible stories, coloring books, and a colorful crew neck T-shirt with a western logo on it for Kids; and reconstruction efforts in stricken areas in order to remake them in America's image, to build up social goodwill (for later crusades), and help Americans feel good about themselves.

All so very American. But back to borders. Iraq is, er... used to be a society and a culture. Think of the society like an organism. Its defenses were assailed, like a person getting hit by a truly virulent disease from outside. Then, the head is amputated, just going to attach another one (that's easy!). Have you ever thought about surgey as trauma? Is sure is. That's why you want an experienced, certified doctor doing it. Not just someone "certifiable". Now the experimentation really gets going. Oooops, forgot about managing the immune system while the head is off. Wait! is that Cancer? You keep sewing the head on, I'll try cutting this part out... wow, I think there's some serious gangrene here too, wasn't here when we started... Lucky for this guy we were here to save him!


Imagine waking up today, and not just thinking, "You know, I might have an accident driving to work today." Or, "What if a manic shoots up my work/classroom/McDonalds today--OK, not much chance of that." But rather, "With 6-7 bombs going off every single day, in unpredictable (but crowded) but necessary places to go--like the grocery store or the bakery--I have a 20% chance of being injured or killed this year. Is it worth a try today?" What starts happening to a society, to a city, where this is typical? Where murders fueled simply by revenge grow exponentially? Meanwhile the doctors (who you never asked to operate) just keep telling you to lie still, they are "working on it", not their fault your lousy veins are collapsing and they can't feed you painkillers (assuming they had enough).

The body starts to look like swiss cheese. It starts to look like the bombs and bullets are ripping the fabric of society apart. There's not enough resiliency for the body to close up and repair itself. Its going to try to compartmentalize to survive, but that means that each part is now competing in some sense with the rest for whatever common resources there are.

In this scenario, you had this Christian community. It was small, and separate, disparate, but it functioned in the old society in some way. I dunno, maybe like "salt and light"? Now, you may think that the bombs and killings are doing the most damage to the larger segments of the society. That's where the most visible damage is occuring, certainly. But the less visible segments are not unaffected. How can they not be? Or do we think that the Sovereign Lord typically hands his own people bullet-proof vests in times like these? The society disintegrates, but the church like adamantine thread withstands it all unsinged? Undamaged?

No. The 200 years old Presbyterian church in Iraq is also disintegrating, being blown to smithereens by bombs and cut down by executioner's bullets. We already talked about that one the other day. Llike any smaller organism, just a few cuts kills faster than many cuts may in a larger organism.

The borders that make Iraq look like just another odd puzzle piece on the map are like the walls of Frankenstein's castle. The surrounding states just want the screams to stay confined to that place. They know their authoritarian societies are precarious if this quarantine is ineffective. And they really don't want the "doctors" to pay them a housecall.

Christians all over the Middle East feel the pressure. In many ways, their enemies around them see them not as salt in their society, but as having ties to the west, to the invaders form of faith, and they wall them off as infectious. Just makes them more invisible to outsiders. Makes them vulnerable inside and out. Lumps them into "Islamic" culture.


If I could just do one thing, I wish I could make Christians in the west see themselves as Christians first. As belonging to King Jesus, and to the rest of King Jesus' people. I wish I could make them see that the heritage of this nationality here in this land is a wonderful legacy, but the culture that owns the land today has more in common with the culture, society, and government of the Roman Empire, than it does with their Christian forefathers.

Instead of seeing this place--and everything it stands for--as worth defending at any reach and at any price, including moral cost, I wish we were more willing as a Christian sub-culture to take an adversative stance to the godlessness around us, to let some things go as not worth holding on to, like misers after pennies. "Let goods and kindred go," anyone? "This mortal life also"?

We need to expand our borders and shorten them at the same time. We need to think about the kingdom of God as a world-wide program, containing many commonalities that subsumes a host of distinctions without destroying them. And we need to abandon our foolish alliances with godlessness, identities based on nothing more than place of birth and State claims of sovereignty and ownership of our persons. Be as ruthlessly utilitarian about your "citizenship" as the Apostle Paul was about his.

Focus instead on living as strangers and pilgrims in this world, but no less on directing the affairs of your borders, your family and home, as though it were the sole propriety of King Jesus. Only on a foundation made of many such bricks can a society truly be renovated, if indeed it will be before Jesus comes again.
 

Founded on the Rock

Puritan Board Freshman
Just got this from my Moody e-mail account:


Theology of Israel and its Political Implications:
A discussion on Christian Zionism
With Dr. Michael Wechsler and Dr. Gary Burge

Time: 7:30pm Thursday, April 19th
Location: Room 328, The Sweeting Center for World Evangelization

Dr. Gary Burge is Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College in Wheaton Illinois. He received his Ph.D. in New Testament from King's College, The University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He authored many books, including "Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians are not being told about Israel and the Palestinians". He has spent a significant amount of time in the Middle East and is a supporter of the rights of the Palestinian people.

Dr. Michael G. Wechsler is an Associate Professor of Bible at the Moody Bible Institute. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He teaches classes including Biblical Hebrew and another on the Book of Genesis. He has headed numerous tours of Moody students to Israel and has spent much of his life following the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Professor Wechsler personally considers himself to be a Zionist.

Topics of the discussion include:
* What is modern Zionism? Is anti-Zionism a form of anti-Semitism?
* What role should theology play in the political situation in Israel/Palestine?
* Interpretation of the theology pertaining to Israel as a nation state.
* Does Christian theology support the modern State of Israel?
* Discussion of the current political situation between Palestinians and the Israelis.
* And more….

Come listen to a great discussion on one of the most important subjects affecting our world today!

This event is sponsored by the Student Theological Society at the Moody Bible Institute.

_______________________________________________

I just thought that this was somewhat relevant to the discussion... I just know that the vice-presdient @ Moody said in chapel that the people ought to serve the nation of Israel because they are the chosen people of God. They said Israel is not always perfect, but we should support them. Hopefully this is somewhat relevant.
 

Blueridge Believer

Puritan Board Professor
"I just thought that this was somewhat relevant to the discussion... I just know that the vice-presdient @ Moody said in chapel that the people ought to serve the nation of Israel because they are the chosen people of God. They said Israel is not always perfect, but we should support them. Hopefully this is somewhat relevant".



And therein is a problem. If national Israel after the flesh is the "chosen people of God", what is the Body of Christ? We sould serve Israel after the flesh? I don't think so. We are to serve our Lord Jesus Christ and his body.
In my opinion, Zionism is racism.
Israel is not always perfect? They are never perfect. Neither is any other nation on earth after the flesh.
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
Big difference---they baptise in the name of the Holy Trinity and the RC baptism is a valid Christian Baptism. Not true of JW or Mormans. There are some similarities that is true, however both JW and LDS are chiliastic cults and have more in common with the Dispensationalists we were talking about above then they do with RCs.

In my book the trinity aspect is totally irrelevant. It matters to paedos because of your view of baptism, but to me to it matters little for the Papists deny sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia and solus Christus. In fact they deny soli deo gloria.. But I don't want to turn this into a discussion on the validity of Roman baptism. I was part of the darkness which is Romanism for seventeen years. Thank God that He called me to Himself or I would still be enslaved to that demonic infested religion.
 

Founded on the Rock

Puritan Board Freshman
And therein is a problem. If national Israel after the flesh is the "chosen people of God", what is the Body of Christ? We sould serve Israel after the flesh? I don't think so. We are to serve our Lord Jesus Christ and his body.
In my opinion, Zionism is racism.
Israel is not always perfect? They are never perfect. Neither is any other nation on earth after the flesh.

Ya, when he said those things at chapel I could hardly containt myself. All the guys on my floor (K-9 represent!) knew where I stood on everything and thought it was pretty funny. They were not that hard line. Most of them were either leaning towards CT or Progressive. Still though, after going to a school like Moody (albeit, only for a semester), and growing up a dispensational church, there is this idea that there really are not Arab Christians. Now if there happend to be an Arab Christian, that is great, but they are certainly not thought about.... The Jewish people are thought more about than Arabs (in my experience).
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
For those interested an Iranian-Christian Pastor, formerly with VOM will be speaking at my church:

Village Community Church in Wrightwood, CA.
7:00 pm
Friday, May 25th

visit www.villagecommunitychurch.org for driving directions

This pastor, whose father and brother are also pastors and who just recently escaped from Iran, will be bringing a message entitled: "Prosperity and Persecution". It is a message focusing on Christianity in Iran (persecution) and Christianity in America (prosperity).

Any of you in the SoCal area are more than welcome to come up to the mountains and see us for this event.
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
I assume most Palestinian Christians are cultural Christians (Antiochan or some type of Eastern Orthodox) which is why I made the comparison with Roman Catholics. I also assume they despise Presbyterians generally.
The 'Holy' land draws in all kinds of bad religion.
Let's not cozy-up with bad religion just because we hate Israel.
 

Pilgrim

Puritanboard Commissioner
I assume most Palestinian Christians are cultural Christians (Antiochan or some type of Eastern Orthodox) which is why I made the comparison with Roman Catholics. I also assume they despise Presbyterians generally.
The 'Holy' land draws in all kinds of bad religion.
Let's not cozy-up with bad religion just because we hate Israel.

True, but let's not assume that there are no believers there either. My understanding is that the Presbyterian church in Iraq was relatively orthodox all things considered. Hostilities in that region generally have not served the cause of Christ, and I think that was the point of the OP. Some popular dispensationalists have appeared to have more enthusiasm in advancing the cause of Israel and Zionism than in advancing the cause of Christ and unfortunately they all sometimes get painted with that broad brush. I think that is some of what Bruce was getting at with being no heavenly good, the tendency to think in terms of what appears to be in our nations best interest rather than kingdom thinking.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't hate Israel.

For that matter, most "Christians" in the USA are cultural Christians and many of them (including many so called evangelicals) generally despise confessional Presbyterians.
 
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Bladestunner316

Puritan Board Doctor
I ahve nto read the article yet though I will put your thread title intrigued me. Often in my Dispensational days I always thought of the ME as Mostly Muslim and slightly Jewish never thinking that there were actually Christians there.
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
True, but let's not assume that there are no believers there either. My understanding is that the Presbyterian church in Iraq was relatively orthodox all things considered. Hostilities in that region generally have not served the cause of Christ, and I think that was the point of the OP.
Yes, indeed. The Lord certainly calls men out of every tribe, tongue, and nation.

Some popular dispensationalists have appeared to have more enthusiasm in advancing the cause of Israel and Zionism than in advancing the cause of Christ and unfortunately they all sometimes get painted with that broad brush.
I guess if they don't want to be broad-brushed they should better articulate their exceptions. Possibly they look at Palestinian Christians and see them not as true Christians which is understandable. Most Palestinian Christians are earthly minded, not knowing they are strangers and pilgrims looking for a heavenly city.

(BTW, I support Israel too, mostly because they have a democratic form of government. I also have special feelings for Jewry because of its heritage.)

Ironically, dispensationalism has subtle anti-semitic overtones: their eschatology involves an eternal state which has 'separate but equal' locations for Jews and Gentiles. It's sort of an eternal Jim Crow state!
 
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salaam alaykoum

Inactive User
Being the daughter of Christian Lebanese, and having been to Lebanon twice, the Middle East is very close to my heart. A Christian brother gave me the following link a year or so ago and I thought you all might be interested.

http://merf.woh.gospelcom.net/

MERF stands for Middle East Reformed Fellowship
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
In Bethlehem there is Baraka Bible Presbyterian Church, and the pastors, George and Danny Awad (father and son) are genuine -- and genuinely Reformed -- believers. I have fellowshipped with them both through the conferences & seminars of MERF at the John Calvin Centre in Cyprus.

Before we initiated English-language services the congregation in Limassol was almost entirely Arabic-speaking (I would preach and teach through translators).

A good book to read would be Elias Chacour's Blood Brothers -- this slim volume (with some others) turned me around in my views of the Jewish-Arab situation. A Jew, I had been indoctrinated by the American churches (& Messianic Jews) to a Zionist viewpoint. But no longer. I will post shortly some brief essay-type stuff here on this.

Steve
 

non dignus

Puritan Board Sophomore
Samantha and Steve,

I am very interested in your experiences. I'm sure I'm not alone here. Please elaborate.
 
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