Friday, June 16, 2017

Remember the Suffering Christians of the Near East, and Study Their Ancient Heritage

My reading on my day off today. Christians in the Near East are part of communities that go all the way back to the Apostolic age. They include the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Church of the East. Their Scriptures and liturgies are the most ancient in the world. I am studying both the Western Syrian Church tradition, represented by the Syrian Orthodox and Catholic Maronite Churches, and the Eastern Syrian Church tradition, represented by the Assyrian Church of the East and Chaldean Catholic Church.

Today, Christians in Iraq and Syria are suffering true persecution, and are even in danger of having their communities wiped out. The Christians being persecuted include Greek Orthodox and Catholic Christians as well. The Coptic Christians in Egypt, who are also Oriental Orthodox Christians, are experiencing acute persecution at this time as well.

This week, ICE rounded up and arrested Assyrian Christians in Michigan for deportation. This deplorable act by an administration that promised to protect these communities.

This is a heritage that needs to be preserved and celebrated, and should be studied by all Christians. I get really angry when certain American evangelicals treat these Christians as though they were not Christians. These Christians are our elder brothers and sisters and faith. We should study and see that we conform to their tradition, theology and liturgy.. We owe it to them to pray for them and to advocate for them, and we owe it to ourselves to familiarize ourselves with this most ancient, authentic, Semitic tradition of Christianity.

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