St. John the Baptist and the Mandaeans

When we were in Denmark earlier this year I met a young man attending an Arabic-language Christian congregation. We spoke for a while and he explained that he was Mandaean, but awaiting Christian baptism. How am I supposed to feel about this as a Christian?

While they were in the midst of an Islamic country, I see them as brave and courageous. That they convert to Christianity after they leave for Sweden (or wherever) I see as the fulfillment of God's grace for them. That they resisted the temptations of converting to Islam was God's grace in their lives. That they now receive the fullness of the Christian faith is also his grace, and is, of course, the main point of Saint John the Baptist's preaching.

John the Baptist, I think, is much more central to the whole Gospel story than we give him credit for these days. Jesus said, "From the days of John the Baptist til now, the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it" (Mt 11:12). Also, Mark, the earliest Gospel, begins the account of Jesus' ministry at the baptism of John. Also, Jesus' initial proclamation of the Gospel is identical to John's: Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

And all the way through Acts, they are encountering disciples of John the Baptist. Why should today be any different. In my country and many others, these disciples are entering into the Kingdom of God and his Son. Let God be praised.

A great article on the present state of the Mandeaens is at the IHT.


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