Monday, March 16, 2015

Fr Georges Massouh: Fleeing Reality for Imaginary Controversies

Arabic original here.

Fleeing Reality for Imaginary Controversies

Christians divide their Bible into two parts, the New Testament and the Old Testament, though most of them believe that there is a discrepancy between the two testaments. The New testament "abrogated" the Old Testament. That is, Christianity regards the Old Testament, after the coming of Christ, to have taken a secondary place, even if it was kept in the Bible.

Christianity regards Christ as the sole model that Christians must emulate, while the prophets and personalities of the Old Testament are only a model insofar as their words and deeds resemble the words and deeds of Christ. If we take, for example, the Prophet Elijah, we can say that we cannot emulate his killing the pagan priests of Baal, while we can emulate his repentance before God and his zeal for faith.

Likewise, Christianity regards the Old Testament as paving the way for the coming of Christ, especially through the books of prophecies that point to the coming of the Savior who will redeem the world. It is natural for the role of the Old Testament and the era of the prophets to come to an end with the coming of Christ, in whom all the prophecies were realized. With the dawning of Christ, the sun, all the stars and all the moons were outshone...  there is no light apart from His light.

After the Copts, the sheep of Jesus Christ who were slaughtered by ravenous wolves, and after the Assyrians who were expelled from Hessake and Mosul and the assault on Christians in the "Islamic State in Iraq and Syria" ... some Muslims who claim to be moderate criticized Christians who wrote about their coreligionists' tragedy under this oppressive state. These Muslims ignored current reality and took refuge in imaginary and sophistic controversies, as though they were justifying the murderers' heinous deeds. They fled from reality and evoked from history  the Crusades and some verses of the Old Testament in order to convince their readers that Christianity also justifies violence!

It is unfair to evoke the Crusades in the context of talking about Eastern Christianity. Eastern Christians suffered from the Crusades (which Muslim historians called the Frankish wars) which invaded our Middle East "under the pretext of defending Christians and Christianity in the face of the oppression and torments caused by Muslim caliphs, sultans and emirs to Eastern Christians or because of their preventing Western pilgrims from arriving in Jerusalem", so they claim. Historians agree that the leaders of the Crusades exploited the religious factor in order to justify their wars, as there were other causes-- economic, commercial, etc-- that led them to wage these wars, especially since Eastern Christians were targeted just as Muslims were.

So is there revenge against the Crusaders in slaughtering Eastern Christians and subjecting them to annihilation? Saladin expelled the Crusaders from Jerusalem in 1187 and Jerusalem today is occupied by the Zionists. Muslims ignore it because they are busy killing each other, Sunnis and Shiis, takfiris and those whom they say are apostates... For this reason, religious minorities apart from the Jews are paying, along with Muslims, the price with their blood and their presence. Where is a Saladin to come to us today to liberate Jerusalem from the new Crusaders?

As for the New Testament, which abrogated the Old Testament, there is not a single verse that begins with the verb "kill" in the imperative. No "kill!" and no "fight!". There is no call in it to invade or wage holy wars... No one can justify violent acts by relying on the Holy Gospel, the Christians' scripture, especially not invasions, killing, slaughter, suicide bombings, stoning, forced expulsion, and the kidnapping of women...


Anonymous said...

Are Fr. Massouh's views on the crusades, Islam and Israel typical of Arab Christians in general?

Samn! said...

I would say his views are common among Christians in Lebanon, Syria and Palestine, yes.

Anonymous said...

And would it be fair to say that it is the result of living as a minority in countries where Muslims are a majority, and where holding or propounding views contrary to this would be risky business?

Samn! said...

Not terribly. In Lebanon, many right-wing Maronites openly hold views that are nostalgic about the Crusades, unsophisticatedly anti-Islamic and sympathetic to Israel. On the other hand, you'd be far pressed to find people in Orthodox Christian cultures, whether Arab or non-Arab, that view the Crusades as anything other than being as much an attack on Eastern Christians as on Muslims.