Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My "Live" Blog of This Evening's Focus Topic

There were three Speakers on the topic "The Gospel and Religion". I'm just putting it straight up. If I pause to correct it, it won't ever see the light of your screen. Enjoy!

Professor Lamin Sanneh
The fall of Constantinople and the Fall of the Twin Towers: the Muslim world and the west

Thank you to the organizers of this conference.
We are living in Jerusalem, in case we haven’t noticed. I am delighted to stand in this Holy City. I had been a student here in the 60s and I remember being burdened by a sense (worked out later) that Christianity seems peculiar in its troubled nature in the holy land. It does not have its Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

Pilgrimage has different rhythms. Three central stages to classical pilgrimage
1. Preparation and Separation. We have had such a preparation. This time is supposed to break the habits of routine and daily practice, shaking up our sense of who we are and where we are. Separation is a stage of consciousness.
2. Transition. We are a transit people. We are going somewhere and we have left somewhere. In this stage of being in between we are supposed to concentrate. We don’t know yet where we are going to be and we are not where we were.
3. Incorporation. Received and given a new identity. We have formed a new sense of community. When we go back home, we will not be the same as we were when we left. This is a process, a path.
Great Muslim scholars have written of this.
I am aware of Jerusalem in that sense. We belong and yet we must go back, but hopefully not the same.
Time constraint forces me to summarize my paper in a scandalously brief way.

The violence that erupted following Pope Ben with reference to Holy War and reason. IT is difficult to argue that the crusades are to blame for inter religious tension. The mongul wars brought about the collapse of the caliphat.
The ghost of the crusade is a reflection of that fact, of the crusades, to reposes the birthplace of Christ. They lost their apetite and wared against each other. Islam was spared and bolstered by this collapse.

John of Segoria--Peaceful engagement for Islam. Follow peace rather than violence, harming the church and not impacting islam. The crusades have taught us that much.
Nicholas …1461:…
The explarations of the new world had immense implications for slavery, for the west.

A new chapter of violence with the twin towers. A new wave of ‘jihad’ as Saladin promised. The attacks confronted the dilemma between fighting and possibly inflaming matters, cultural diplomacy.
The time has come to mobilize resources in Judeo Xn world to counter these threats. Foster a culture of liberty and persuasion.
The unassailable evidence that the church has made giant strides against state oppression.

An example: a little known group of Islam in North Africa who have embraced pacifism. They told him this story: They won’t go to war but they like to obey the king. The king has given us a choice to build a castle or go to war. We have said that if he asks us to build him a castle, we will build him a castle, if he asks us to go to war, we will build him a castle.

If they ask me to talk about the challenge of translatability. If they ask me to talk about the challenge of Islam, I will talk about the challenge of translatability. I am entirely at their disposal. This is how some of my students treated their exam questions.

GAFCON belongs to a bigger a movement of world wide Christianity.
When he lived in Nigeria, he taught as a tutor and in the afternoons he would prepare his lecture. In the morning he would go to the market to buy fish and provisions. On the way to the market, he would be climbing over bodies of worshippers near the railway tracks which were near the airport. The seminar was about the end of colonialism in Africa and the end of Christianity. As he climbed over the bodies of worshippers and went to the doctor because he couldn’t sleep because of all the worshippers, and yet the seminar was about the end of Christianity. But he didn’t see it. The categories of ‘colonial’ ‘post colonial’ entrapped him so that he did not see it.

-Christianity is marginal in the land of its birth, it has no birthplace, no territorial call.
-It is not Gnostic, no special language
-It has no one name for God.

The youruba name for God became the name of God in the OT, the God of the Covenant. That would never have in Islam. This fantastic implications for history, theology.

Christianity is invested in languages that existed for purposes other than Christianity. It doesn’t invent language, it adopts it. This makes an enormous difference to the process of conversion, to religious and moral integration. It is a translated religion.

It is not limited to any one set of languages using cultural criteria. If the suppression of the vernacular leads to an inhibition of Christian spread. If a lingua franca is insisted upon it suppresses the spread of Christianity.

Translation in language domain parallels translation in divine revelation. The audacity of the incarnation. God who became man, it was so offensive to the Romans, to the Jews.

Translation rejects the idea of a superior language or culture. No language or culture is so elevated it can claim exclusive access to the truth of God. None is so marginal or remote it can be excluded. None are dispensable or unworthy. Christian anthropology of culture: the claims of the gospel deny normative exclusiveness to any culture so that superior cultures are relativised and brought down. Not only brings the gospel, but brings life to culture. The Arabic of the street was chosen for translation, not of the Koran. Same with Chinese. By picking the common language, it privileges the language and culture, bringing about religious revolution and social and cultural ones as well.

There is nothing that God wants to say to us that cannot be said in every day ordinary language. It opened missionaries to the charge of political and social subversion. But rather it creates new life for all language.

It is invested in language and culture. Over 90 percent of grammars and dictionaries around the world were created by missionaries around the world, allowing language to be preserved…
After 1960, christianity exploded, after colonialism.

He has spent much of his professional life defending the right of Africans to be Christian. The genius of Christianity is that it is able to repeat for Africans what it did for Europeans. For 200 years English was forbidden for Christians. Tyndale was burned. English was an unclean vernacular. Africa abounded in the gift of tongues.

It is impossible without language how to worship God, to have personality. Africa is profoundly endowed with the gift of language. It birthed Comparative Linguistics.

GAFCON belongs to the tremendous sweep of Christianity around the world. In loosing its territory, it was swept around the world, the heart of Christianity is in the heart of every believer.
Paul never contemplated coming to Jerusalem without fear for his life. He worked his whole life to bring Jew and Gentile together. GAFCON must embrace the rhythm and momentum of the Christian renewal that has more ahead of it than behind it. Let us not consume the energy and movement in internal disputes, explanations, definitions. Converts have arrived without infrastructure, without wealth, without plans. GAFCON is part of the wave of the future. Link to movements that are happening around the world, transcending nationality, race and language.


Dr. Salim Munayer
Palestinian Christian/Isreali, from a small village (didn’t get the name). Able to trace his family to the 12th century. In 1948 the city of Falidi was conquered by the Israeli army, they were ordered to go to Jordan, passing by the church his great great grandfather built. Maybe to find shelter in the church—1200 Christians found refuge and there became refugees. Traumatic time all this time. It is now a mixed city. Was sent, then, to Jewish High School. And there studied Jewish History and the justification for the state of Israelis which is predicated upon ‘Christian’ persecution in the West.
The issue of your ethnic religious context, in this land particular. The conflict of this land is destroying this land and not giving us room to breath. To be a minority Palestinian and then Christian—he began to search for answers to this painful conflict. His uncle put an add in the paper, a Christian Israeli answered, a group was formed of Palestinian Christians and Jews. There he because a Christian, studying the Bible with this man. The cross not only reconciled him to God, but to the people around him.

The situation, the conflict is going to lead to an explosion.
The theological questions his students later asked, ‘from the village to the college every evening and morning I go through the check point and I am going to be mistreated, what would Jesus do?’

‘what do we do about the land that we were going to build on but was taken from us?’
‘what do we do at the Bible college? What people are in the bible?’ ‘I don’t want to learn about the people who are hurting me’.

Why do we come on pilgrimage? To see Jesus?

The Bible that we cherish suddenly seemed to work against their ethnic identity.
Tried to bring Palestinian Christians and Messianic Jews together for conversations. Ends up in argument.

Theology of reconciliation of the cross is
1. justice for the Palestinian Christian
2. hope for the Jewish Christian


Rev. Evan Thomas
First large significant Anglican gathering in Jerusalem, is that it? Better late than never.
In Hebrew: blessed are those who come in the name of the Lord, be blessed in the house of the Lord.
Thank you for this unique privilege. The opportunity to address you in this important week. Indigenous messianic Jewish community, he commends us on our courage to take this stand. The leaders of his church convey their love and greetings to us all. They want us to know that they stand with us in the position we are taking and pray it will bring much fruit and the numbers we see coming to faith, in Africa especially, will be seen throughout the world, in the west. They pray that this church will be a great tool in God’s hands for this.
Whether we believe that Israel is an act of God or an aberration of history, it is important to believe that the challenge for reconciliation requires a messianic presence. Reconciliation theology will always point to Ephesians 2:14-16 “he himself is our peace”. His community and Salime’s personify these words. They are locked in an ‘uncontrollable conflict’. The attrition effect of security issues, of military occupation, of terrorism, brings a continual state of uncertainty. It effects world view and robs us of hope. Jesus has destroyed the dividing wall of hostility, but in our hearts the temptation is always there to reerect the wall.
He lives in the narrowest part of the Israel—only 16 kilometers along the west bank. During the first 6 months of the intefada, 16 attacks were carried out. That was the beginning of the security wall which ended the attacks. They were safe, but now truly divided. How would this effect the most basic fellowships of Christians on both sides of the wall.
‘If anyone says he loves God and hates his brother, he is a liar…whoever loves God must love his brother’. For us to be true disciples of Christ, we must commit ourselves to pursuing peace, even at the cost of social disloyalty or challenging our belief systems.
1. The conflict is very complex. For example, while the Oslo peace accords tried to work it out, it has never worked.
2. Our respective collective memories are very different. Intentionally perpetuate our own versions through education and commemoration. To understand better, they brought leaders together to relate about this common history of the creation of the Jewish state, and then step into each other’s shoes and role play the events. This simple act was so powerful…
3. The enormous imbalance of power. This includes the military, economic and political power. Israel controls all energy and much of the water supply. They were able to bring Gaza to its knees by stopping all fuel supplies. This imbalance is reflected when faith communities are brought together, create a level playing fields. Hard to not be in charge and dominate the dialogue.
4. Dehumanization and Demonisation. Example, as a soldier, he was patting someone down, he recognized him, his brother, his enemy. Demonisation occurs in identifying God with yourself, and the enemy as the instrument of the devil, justifying the use of violence.
5. Identity: parts of it are positive (language, history, culture) at the same time our total identification with one group means problems in relating to others. For a long time, his pastor’s group was exclusive to his group. He was convicted that this should cease. Came with a strong challenge—where is the rest of our family? Where are our brothers? It was interesting that the position of exclusion was on the pretext that it would hinder our prayer for the nation, that it would confuse theology. For most messianic Jews, prophetic scripture about the language is inseparable from basic theology. For four years now they have had combined retreats. Arab brothers base their identity in the cross. This brings a healthy dynamic.
At the end of the day, Israelis and Palestinians are living in very small house as a very dysfunctional family. These obstacles are that, they need to be faced with understanding and with the authority that is ours in the name that is above every name. We are light and salt, together. We have to do so understanding that we live amongst our very troubled peoples.

Come back. But don’t just come to see the stones. Come to connect, to build relationships with the living stones of the land. Peace be with you all.

1 comment:

R said...

Wow.
~R