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Christian khawarij

Jan 14,2018 - Last updated at Jan 15,2018

The most important and strongest   statement  made by a Christian cleric in modern times should be credited to  H.E. Bishop Munib  Yunan, head of the Evangelical, Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and  president of the World Lutheran Federation. He made this declaration in his speech before His Majesty King Abdullah and a large gathering of Jordanian Muslim and Christian clerics, leaders and notables at the Baptism Site on the banks of the Jordan River, December 18, 2017.  

After   speaking of the American president’s   recent declaration on Jerusalem, about  which he said, “All must respect the historic status quo in Jerusalem and no one has the right to tamper with it.”  Going on to discuss the differences   between Western Christianity and the true, pure  Eastern Christianity he continued : ……,”We are faced with a few Christian sects in the world who view what is taking place in the Middle East and Jerusalem within a narrow religious apocalyptic, other-worldly view…[these] Evangelicals view all that is taking place: wars, destruction, human displacement and injustice as a prelude to the Second Coming of the Messiah, but we, the  Arab, genuine Evangelicals,  differ with  them totally, to the letter of the word, for they do not support justice and they politicise religion, some of them having  great influence on the American decision-making process…. we Arab Christians view them as representing religious and political extremism…. They do not represent true, pure Christianity nor do they understand or care about justice or human rights…. As Your Majesty washed  your   hands of extremist, terrorist groups that do not represent real  Islam, calling them khawarij  (outsiders, heretics), we Arab Christians wash our hands of these   Christian groups that neither represent the New Testament nor Jesus,  and we   consider them  khawarij”…” With their   literal and mistaken interpretations,   they   cause harm to the New Testament and to Jesus, Himself, who carried the message of love, dignity and justice to humanity…..”

Should the  Jordan Council of Churches as well as the Middle East Council of Churches adopt this honest powerful statement by  H. E. Bishop Munib  Yunan,   a   prominent contemporary Arab and world  Christian leader,  it  would  serve as a  reminder  to  the world that Christianity  is a  Middle Eastern religion which is still alive and well  thanks to the 2,000  years of  perseverance and adherence to the  faith, on the part of Middle Eastern Christians who need  no   help or support  from either Europe or America.  It would   also highlight  that these Zionised neo-conservative Evangelicals, with their powerful  financial and political support for up and coming politicians like President Trump, have little to do with the spirit of Christianity, or the lofty principles of justice and human rights.  If anything, their influence is a travesty of justice, Christianity, democracy and human rights.

In a recent article titled: “Developments in Western Christianity from Martin Luther to Pope John XXIII”, I explained how the opening up of the Bible by Martin Luther and his translation of it into the vernacular paved the way for Zionism’s penetration into Western Culture, leaving the field wide open for   the erroneous   misinterpretations   of the scriptures   by groups of ideologically driven zealots, originally itinerant preachers, now “televangelists”.   These groups are more like media moguls; controlling  large, very  profitable TV and radio stations and newspapers; than pastors and priests,   and  have  little if any  knowledge or understanding  of Middle Eastern diversity or  the three major monotheistic religions born here.

The path opened by Martin Luther five centuries ago was further widened by the Papal Encyclical, Nostra Aetate (Our Time)   of l965. Initiated by Pope John xxiii who had himself witnessed the Nazi and Fascist atrocities and experienced the climate of hatred, racism and intolerance in the West, it rehabilitated Judaism with Christianity.  While   rightly condemning   Nazi and Fascist atrocities against the Jews, it also emphasised   what it called, the common roots of   Judaism  and Christianity, further   emboldening   these   fanatic   “Evangelicals” fired up by the stories  in the Book of Revelations like  the Rapture and Tribulations, the Battle of Armageddon  leading up  to the “second coming of the Messiah” to even wilder vision: today, going so far as proclaiming  that President Trump is mentioned in the Bible. 

What seems to have  motivated Western Christianity was not so much the mixture of  myth  and reality of the ancient Talmudic stories dating back to “the Exodus through the Sinai Desert”, but the dedicated efforts of modern Zionists, who capitalised on some of  the  more  barbaric ideologies of  the West. 

Of course, the path towards Zionisation of Western Christianity    has been paved over many times  since the Protestant Reformation, beginning with the American Evangelical Puritan settlers who  thought of America as “the Promised Land” and the Jews as “the Chosen People” though  Jesus’ mission  clearly proclaimed  all  nations  to be  “ the chosen people”  not only the Jews.

Some Arabs welcomed the reconciliation between Judaism and Christianity as many thought that it would lead to a general reconciliation with Islam, the third great monotheistic religion born in the Middle East.  Instead, not only was the old struggle to control the Arab world renewed, but intensified by a constant barrage of   Islamophobia propaganda singling out the Arabs for hate campaigns.

It is time  to remind the world, and  the Jews, in particular, that  Judaism  has  always been accepted in the diverse, mosaic culture of the Arab world and that, true Christians  believe  that,  “Christ who is our peace has, through dying on the  cross,  reconciled  Jews and Gentiles and made them one in Himself.”  Making  all peoples of all races, henceforward, the “ chosen people”.



The writer is former director of the Royal Institute for Interfaith Studies and former foreign minister of Jordan. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

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