Friday, May 30, 2003

Converting Iraq?
Tim Cavanaugh at Reason has put on his miter to write about a subject that is getting less coverage than it deserves: Evangelical Christians and postwar Iraq.

He observes: "Now there are many reasons to be concerned about seeing evangelicals unleashed in the Arab world -- not least of which is their tendency ... to see the Middle East as a playground for enacting millennial fantasies ... But these alarms over evangelical missions in Iraq overlook two points.

The first has to do with religious freedom. Proselytizing, converting, passing out literature, importuning people with your witnessing, even vituperating rival religious beliefs, may all be fairly irritating in practice, but they are also essential to the very concept of freedom of worship. A countryside dotted with motivated, suspiciously cheerful missionaries is a signal that religious liberty is in good shape. Certainly a faith as total and dynamic as Islam can withstand the relatively feeble attractions of a few born again missionaries ...

The second point is less obvious, but will be familiar to anybody who has seen how the evangelization process works in Arab communities: When evangelicals proselytize Arabs, they don't focus on Muslims but on Christians. Specifically, on followers of the traditional eastern churches -- Orthodox, Coptic, eastern-rite Catholic, and so on -- that occupy small minority positions in the Middle East.

No comments:

Blog Archive