Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The failure of the early church and the rise of Islam

The importance of Evangelism, missions, bible translation, contextualization, acculturation, church planting.

1. The failure of the early church to reach out in Evangelism, missions, translating the Bible into Arabic; hence, there was no Biblical contextualized witness. (The right kind of contextualization; that keeps the balance of the Biblical truth in the language and culture of the people; not the radical forms of it espoused by many modern missiologists [ie, the church growth movement and Fuller Seminary; "The Insider's Movement"; C-5 level Contextualization; "the Common Ground" seminar teachings; "Jesus in the Qur'an" Seminars; and "The Camel Method"] and the underlying world view of the “seeker sensitive movement” and the “Emerging/emergent church conversation”.)

“As L. E. Browne has remarked, if Christians had seized the opportunity in that age when Arabia was barely becoming literate and had “made the first Arabic book the Bible, instead of the Qur’an, the whole course of the religious history of the east might have been different.” (Samuel Moffett. A History of Christianity in Asia, volume 1. San Francisco: Harper, 1992, p. 329-330. Moffat cites Lawrence E. Browne, The Eclipse of Christianity in Asia from the time of Muhammad till the Fourteenth Century, Cambridge University Press, 1933, p. 14.”

Two Centuries after the Islamic conquest of the land of Christianity, the first project to translate the gospels into Arabic was started!

“This manuscript, presently at St. Catherine Monastery in the Sinai, “is the oldest dated manuscript of the Gospel in Arabic known to modern scholars.” (Robert Wilken. The Land Called Holy. Yale University Press, 1992, p. 251.)

“Of course the language of the Christians native to the area was Syriac [a dialect of ancient Aramaic, which only survives today in the modern Assyrian language.], a Semitic tongue, and this made the transition into Arabic easier for them than for the Christians who spoke Greek or Coptic, like those in Egypt. By the end of the 8th Century, the scholarly activity of the monks at the monasteries of Mar Sabas and Mar Chariton was beginning to be conducted in Arabic.” (Wilken, ibid, p. 251)

The Church in North Africa:

“. . . the failure to give the Scriptures to the people in their own language. They were available in Latin, but not translations were ever made into the language of the Punic people or the Berbers.” (J. Herbert Kane. A Global View of Christian Missions. Baker Books, 1971, p. 52.)

The Church in North Africa was once a thriving church, with famous church leaders such as Tertullian in the second century, Cyprian in the 3rd Century, and Augustine of Hippo, the great theologian since the apostle Paul. Kane asks the question, “How shall we account for the demise of such a church?” (ibid, p. 52)

We will continue with this in a future post.


Four* Pointer said...


According to Rome, we should not worry about the Muslims. After all, they say, Muslims are God's people too.

Don't take my word for it. Listen to what the Vatican says! They say that the Muslims worship the same God as us Christians.

From the Catechism of the Catholc Church, paragraph 841--The Church's relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day" (see Lumen Gentium section 16)."

So you see, the Muslim is our brother, because they say they believe in the God of Abraham. They deny that Christ is God, or even the Son of God, but they are saved and we Protestants are the unleanred heathen.


Four* Pointer said...

we Protestants are the unleanred heathen.

Or even unlearned.

Viisaus said...

Back in the old un-PC days, it was a quite common apocalyptic Protestant idea (shared by Martin Luther among others) that "Pope and Turk are the two horns of Antichrist":

In other words, the idea was that Papal corruption of Christianity and Islam arose around the same time, latter representing an OUTWARD, conquering tyrannical enemy of the church, while the former represented quietly, gradually infiltrating, INWARD enemy of the church. True Christianity got pincered between these two, just like Satan had planned.

In 607 AD, a usurping Byzantine emperor Phocas granted (otherwise insignificant) pope Boniface III a title "Universal Bishop" - the same title that Boniface's own close predecessor Gregory the Great had still denounced in startling terms:

"Whosoever calls himself, or desires to be called, Universal Priest, is in his elation the precursor of Antichrist, because he proudly puts himself above all others. Nor is it by dissimilar pride that he is led into error; for, as that perverse one wishes to appear as God above all men, so whosoever this one is who covets being called sole priest, he extols himself above all other priests."

Source: Pope Gregory the Great (590-604), Letter to Emperor Mauricius Augustus (against assumption of title universal by Patriarch of Constantinople) in his Epistles, bk. 7, letter 33, trans. in NPNF, 2d series, Vol. 12, p. 226 (2d pagination).

Soon after 607, Satan contacted Muhammad in the guise of angel Gabriel, and Islam got started. Co-incidence?

Alex said...


Paul Hoffer said...

Hello 4 pointer,

If you had read Lumen Gentium and Nostra Aetate referenced in the footnotes to that passage of the Catechism, you would have found that what that passage is talking about is that a belief in God, even a belief of Him found in another religion, helps prepare that person to be open of the Holy Spirit to accept the true Gospel of Christ. It is a notion that goes all the way back to Eusebius of Caesarea: Praeparatio Evangelica (Preparation for the Gospel)1:1. Simply put, Catholicism does not adhere to the notions of indifferentalism or pluralism.

Frankly, if you are going to be critical of Catholicism, you should at least take the time to read and understand what you are criticizing.

God bless!

Paul Hoffer said...

Hello viisaus (Finnish?):

As a humble Catholic, I am not afraid of the passage you quote from Pope St. Gregory the Great or the import of such passage. If you had decided to show the "wisdom" reflected by your choice of internet appellation, you should have tried to understand the context of the paragraph you referenced and then wisely refrained in casting aspersions. Here is the entire letter:

Epistle from Gregory to Mauricius Augustus:

The provident piety of my lords, lest perchance any scandal might be engendered in the unity of Holy Church by the dissension of priests, has once and again deigned to admonish me to receive kindly the representatives of my brother and fellow-priest Cyriacus, and to give them liberty to return soon. And although, most pious lord, all your injunctions are suitable and provident, yet I find that by such an admonition I am reproved as being in your judgment indiscreet. But, even though my mind has been wounded in no slight degree by a proud and profane title, could I possibly be guilty of so great indiscretion as not to know what I owed to the unity of the faith and to ecclesiastical concord, and to refuse to receive the representatives and the synodical letter of my brother on account of bitterness from whatever cause intervening? Far be this from me. Such wisdom had been unwisdom. For what is due from us for conserving unity of faith is one thing; what is due for restraining elation is another. Times therefore were to be distinguished, lest the newness of my aforesaid brother might in any point be disturbed . Whence also I received his representatives with great affection. Whatever charity I owed to them I displayed, and honoured them more than it had been the ancient custom to do, and caused them to celebrate the sacred solemnities of mass with me; since, even as my deacon ought not to serve, for exhibition of the sacred mysteries, him who has either committed the sin of elation or corrects it not himself when committed by others, so it was right that his ministers should attend, in the celebration of mass, on me, who, under the keeping of God, have not fallen into the error of pride.

I have however taken care to admonish earnestly the same my brother and fellow-bishop that, if he desires to have peace and concord with all, he must refrain from the appellation of a foolish title. As to this, the piety of my lords has charged me in their orders, saying that offence ought not to be engendered among us for the appellation of a frivolous name. But I beseech your imperial Piety to consider that some frivolous things are very harmless, and others exceedingly harmful. Is it not the case that, when Antichrist comes and calls himself God, it will be very frivolous, and yet exceedingly pernicious? If we regard the quantity of the language used, there are but a few syllables; but if the weight of the wrong, there is universal disaster. Now I confidently say that whosoever calls himself, or desires to be called, Universal Priest, is in his elation the precursor of Antichrist, because he proudly puts himself above all others. Nor is it by dissimilar pride that he is led into error; for, as that perverse one wishes to appear as above all men, so whosoever this one is who covets being called sole priest, he extols himself above all other priests. But, since the Truth says, Every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled (Luke xiv. 11; xviii. 14), I know that every kind of elation is the sooner burst as it is the more inflated. Let then your Piety charge those who have fallen into an example of pride not to generate any offence by the appellation of a frivolous name. For I, a sinner, who by the help of God retain humility, need not to be admonished to humility. Now may Almighty God long guard the life of our most serene lord for the peace of holy Church and the advantage of the Roman republic. For we are sure, that if you live who fear the. Lord of heaven, you will allow no proud doings to prevail against the truth."

Paul Hoffer said...

Last comment to viisaus cont.

A little history lesson-the Bishop of Constantinople decreed that he was to henceforth called by this title, which indicated a primacy of honor and authority even over the See established in Rome. Pope Gregory, as bishop of Rome, opposed and condemned this usurpation of power. It is without doubt true that Pope St. Gregory repudiated in strong terms the title of "universal bishop," and relates elsewhere that St. Leo rejected it when it was offered him by the fathers of Chalcedon. St. Gregory understood it as involving the denial of the authority of the local diocesan (Epistle 5:21). No one, he maintains, has a right so to term himself universal bishop as to usurp that apostolically constituted power. But Gregory, himself asserted such immediate jurisdiction over all the faithful
Accordingly, we see Pope Gregory overturning Epistle 6:15) a sentence passed on a priest by Patriarch John of Constantinople, (who first claimed this title for himself) an act which itself involved a claim to universal authority and then states unequivocally that the Church of Constantinople is subject to the Apostolic See (Epistle 9:12).

Now to be fair, it is true that the term was later applied to the Pope in later centuries, but it was used in the sense that Pope had universal authority over the Church on earth, not in the sense that he was to be honored above all other priests or bishops.

I hope that such aids in your understanding of the passage you quoted.

God bless!

Paul Hoffer said...

Hi Alex:


Grace and Blessings to you!!!