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The Future of the Orthodox Churches - John Mark - 03-12-2007 02:36 PM

Dear all,

It is quite possible that in 3 or 4 generations time there will be no substantial Christian presence left in the Middle East. It would seem to me that the question of what Christianity will look like in the future is very important to ponder. Particularly because the Oriental Orthodox who other the Armenians and Ethiopians/Eritreans, Indians are likely to be in the wilderness so to speak without some very significant change occurring.

The issue also is perhaps more of the problem of there being in the future little or no Christian presence in the region than the movement of Christians away from the Middle East - diaspora is a common theme in Christian history after all. (?)

Could it be in a few decades time that the Coptic Pope resides in the USA or Europe as the head of the Church of the East now does?

any thoughts,

In Christ,

JM


Future of the Orthodox Church - John Charmley - 03-12-2007 03:45 PM

Dear John Mark,

Clearly western policies`in the region have not helped the cause of the Church, and it might be helpful if we stopped trying to be 'helpful'.

That said, there is no sign that the Coptic Church is not going to flourish, and its growth in the diaspora is in many ways a bonus; the same is true of the other Churches; but it seems improbable that in Iraq or Palestine there will be many Christians in a few years time. The sad thing is that our policies have made a bad situation much worse - and that goes back to the early twentieth century.

But we have His assurance that the Gates of Hell will not prevail against His Church - although there are times we could be a little more helpful.

In Christ,

John


the future of the orthodox churches - kirk yacoub - 04-12-2007 09:29 AM

It is very pessimistic to doubt the prospects of the Church prospering in the Middle East or, indeed, elsewhere. It is perfectly apt to quote our Lord's promise that the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against His Church, and the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatios Zakka I Iwas always quotes this to explain the continued existence of the Syriac Church in the Middle East, despite centuries of persecution and massacres. In Turkey the Church is actually expanding. We should never forget what Christ told Pilate, namely that he held high office because of God the Father's will, and all political leaders should remember that.

Kirk Yacoub


- Louis - 04-12-2007 10:15 AM

The persecution and the extremeties of the Islamicists in the middle east, I feel, may serve to strengthen the conviction of the faithful and perhaps even show to others the good and true path in Christ.

On the other hand the Islamic authorities are doing all in their power to suppress Christianity. I think I shall resort to trust in God also, im sure the middle east has meaning in the wider scale of things.

Best wishes,

Louis


Re: the future of the orthodox churches - John Mark - 04-12-2007 04:46 PM

kirk yacoub Wrote:It is very pessimistic to doubt the prospects of the Church prospering in the Middle East or, indeed, elsewhere. It is perfectly apt to quote our Lord's promise that the Gates of Hell shall not prevail against His Church, and the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatios Zakka I Iwas always quotes this to explain the continued existence of the Syriac Church in the Middle East, despite centuries of persecution and massacres. In Turkey the Church is actually expanding. We should never forget what Christ told Pilate, namely that he held high office because of God the Father's will, and all political leaders should remember that.

Kirk Yacoub

Dear Kirk,

I sympathise with what you have written. However I do feel that the rate of emigration by Middle Eastern Christians has been exponential over the last few years - not to get into the rights or wrongs of the Second Gulf War but that is the catalyst so to speak.

I don't doubt that the gates of hell will not prevail but I would seriously propose that the Church may well be geographically alienated from the ME by the end of the century.

There is a need for a unifying figure for Eastern Christianity - both OO, EO and Roman Catholic - where is Jacob Baradaeus when you need him!

In Christ,

JM


Christians in the Middle East - John Charmley - 04-12-2007 07:58 PM

Dear John Mark,

The causes for gloom are certainly legion - but on the whole I'm with Kirk on this one.

Ironically Israel, so supported by the US, is no more sympathetic to the Faith than are the Muslims. That said, Christianity in Egypt, Syria and Jordan, continues to prosper, and in Turkey to grow. The diaspora helps ensure that the fate of those communities cannot quite be ignored in the west, however strong the desire to do so might be.

There is no doubt that the continuing split in the Orthodox Church does nothing to help matters; there is something close to absurd about having a Greek Orthodox Patriarch calling himself the Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa when his total flock can be measured in thousands. Until we put an end to the scandal of division, Christians will continue to look like a squabbling rabble to the Muslims.

Oddly enough I wonder whether the real enemy will not turn out to be what it is in the West - secularism? Should there be an advent of democracy in that region it is liable to be accompanied by secular values.

In Christ,

John


the future of the orthodox churches - kirk yacoub - 06-12-2007 10:35 AM

Let it be remembered that the Syriac Orthodox Church changed the English translation of its name from Syrian to Syriac precisely to avoid being identified as the Syrian Arab Republic's version of the Russian Orthodox Church. The title Syriac emphasises the Tradition of Liturgical Language, a tradition which has, until comparatively recently, been confined to parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and the Holy Land, as well as the Indian sub-continent. The Syriac Church has never been an official Church of any state, a fact which has caused immense problems, but which also has allowed the Church to function beyond temporay human borders. The Church began in Antioch, then part of the Roman Empire, spread into what was then known as Mesopotamia, itself divided between the Roman and Persian empires, both of which no longer exist, it being noteworthy that the Church was early rooted in that part of the Persian Empire which is now known as northern Iraq, a state which only came into being at the behest of the Great Powers after World War 1. I believe that this freedom from national or secular state ties has given the Syriac Orthodox Church the possibility to play a strong ecumenical role. It is a matter of joy that Anglicans and Roman Catholics in Great Britain have been able to meet the Syriac faithful in acts of worship and to feel the power of the Syriac Liturgy.This is another positive indication of how Orthodoxy is thriving, through its spreading of Christian love towards other denominations, showing my Church to be not an ethnic enclave but part of the living fire that Baptism in Christ imparts to us.

Kirk Yacoub


Thank you - John Charmley - 06-12-2007 12:28 PM

Dear Kirk,

Thank you for putting the point so beautifully - and perhaps that is one of the reasons why so much we get from you, and from your Church edifies us all - it is truly 'catholic' as well as truly orthodox.

In Christ,

John