Inter-Christian relations in the Middle East

One of the most contentious issues right now among the small Christian communities throughout the Middle East concerns the relationship between evangelicals and the traditional Orthodox and Catholic churches. There is an article on it at CT but here is the section I found interesting:

5. The need for cooperation between evangelicals and non-evangelicals. It was indeed shocking and sad that the council of the Catholic and Orthodox bishops in Jordan denounced the presence of the evangelical churches and their institutions in the newspapers and television, resulting in further media backlash. This has brought pain and confusion to the average Jordanian citizen and shame to Christians in the eyes of Arabs in the region. It is difficult to understand how the Catholics and Orthodox churches call on the cessation of all evangelical activity in the country when they and the evangelical churches are equally registered as churches in the country; both have the same common foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible, and at least the Nicene, Athanasian, and Chalcedonian creeds, and they together do not constitute more than 3 percent of the population!

It is understandable that many Catholics and Orthodox Christians are angry that some evangelicals view them as not being true believers. Surely some evangelicals err in this regard and should cease from judging others. But evangelicals are good people and sincerely seek to serve Christ and see all who carry Christ's name walk in truth with him. They desire to share the weight of this responsibility with all churches that have the same vision. Yet it is imperative that intervention takes place at the highest ecclesiastical level to seek ways of cooperation.

Comments

Don said…
We went through this in the Soviet Union.

If we look at the numbers of Christians in the Middle East, and the number of non-Christians in the Middle East, we should see that we've all got our work cut out for us.

I wrote an article about this here, especially directed at and about the Orthodox. Perhaps we need a little dialogue amongst ourselves!
Abu Daoud said…
Yeah, both sides need a reality check. Read your article and liked it.
Anonymous said…
Well for some clarification, Catholics have spent years hearing that they are "dead" from evangelicals and, particularly in America, being discriminated against by evangelicals.

Despite the so-called "Great Tradition" that evangelicals cite as part of our common inheritance, they do not even subscribe to the fullness of Christological orthodoxy inasmuch as they do not include the Third Council of Constantinople and Nicaea II.

There is not, as many evangelicals put it, a "common mission." There are great doctrinal differences that cannot be glossed over by simply using the name of Jesus Christ. I think various Protestant denominations can work cooperatively with Catholics and the Orthodox, but that would concern mostly charity work. But in no way would it affirm that they are in line theologically.

Janice
Abu Daoud said…
Hi Janice,

There is plenty of blame on both sides. It's one thing to say a church is dead, and another thing to do what the Catholics in Jordan did, which was to ask the government to kick out evangelicals that were doing crazy things like teaching Iraqi refugee children and working at medical clinics for free.

The Catholic churches here in MENA do not have the life that one sees in the US.
Don said…
Janice, from the standpoint you've brought up it's even more profound that you say. This is because many Evangelical churches not only do not recognise any of the Councils at all, but also they do not subscribe to either the Apostles' or Nicene Creed as an official doctrinal statement or as part of their doctrinal statement.

I dont' think that this justifies many of the attitudes that each side holds towards the other, but it's a fact.

If you want to really go out on a limb, you might consider this. How this affects you entirely depends upon your perspective.

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