Tag Archives: george-bebawi

Kind of Like Marriage

Let us not, therefore, be insensible to His kindness. For, were Jesus to reward us according to our works, we should cease to be. Therefore, having become His disciples, let us learn to live according to the principles of Christianity. For whosoever is called by any other name beside this, is not of God. Lay aside, therefore, the evil, the old, the sour leaven, and be ye changed into the new leaven, which is Jesus Christ. -Ignatius of Antioch, one of the early church martyrs (ca. 117 C.E.), Letter to the Magnesians 10

When men are called by any other name they cease to be Christians for they have lost Christ’s name and have clothed themselves in human and foreign titles. -Justin Martyr (ca. 150), Dialogue with Trypho 35

Never at any time did Christian people take their name from their teachers among them, but from the Lord, on whom we rest our faith. Thus, though the blessed Apostles have become our teachers, and have ministered the Savior’s Gospel, yet not from them have we our name, but from Christ we are and are named Christians. -Athanasius of Alexandria (340 AD), Against the Arians 1:2

I dislike calling people onto the carpet, yet sometimes it is a necessary thing to do. The more “I think about”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/?p=310 this issue, the more “analysis”:http://cpsdiscernment.blogspot.com/2006/03/ruminating-on-emergent-church.html I hear about it, the more I read what others write on the subject, the more I have to conclude that the folks who have stopped going to church are wrong in their decision to do so. I don’t like saying this about my brothers and sisters, yet I have no option but to conclude that the church was never meant to be broken up and fractured the way it is now.

Yesterday’s sermon at “my church”:http://www.yourchurch.com hit the subject of unity very hard. One of the things that Pastor Kauffman hit on specifically is that no matter what the problem, no matter what the issue, you do not leave the church. If your leaders are drunk around the communion table, if someone in the church takes you to court and sues you for everything you have, if something occurs that causes strife and conflict in the church, you do not leave the church. It actually occurred to me that it is something much like a marriage. No matter what happens in the marriage, you stay together and work it out, no matter how difficult it is to do. ((This symbolism is, perhaps, why the sanctity of marriage is so important.))

The fellowship of the Body is so very important for the Body functions better and more ably when it is whole. If people split off whenever there is the slightest amount of trouble (or even when there is a great deal of trouble), then the Body itself is broken into small pieces and is rendered impotent.

Titles and denominations are both terribly detrimental to the unity of the Body, as Pastor and Dr. Bebawi have “pointed out”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/?p=315. In giving ourselves titles, in following one teacher over another, we lose our focus on the One we _should_ be following. We forget that it is all about Christ and him alone. It’s not about “labels”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/?p=111 – it’s about being identified with Christ. It’s about joining with the Body, with the Church, and working from the foundation of our faith, that being the Gospel, to reach the rest of the world with the hope that we have. We may disagree on various points of theology along the way, but if we agree on the Trinity, on the depravity of man, on the personhood of Christ and His work on the Cross, on the work of the Holy Spirit, then we can be unified under God and we should work together to further the Gospel, no matter the problems and issues and conflicts that arise in our midst. We need to work through them, no matter how hard it may be to do so, so that the glory of God may shine in us.

Does this mean that God cannot use those times when people go off on their own? Does this mean that God is not present when they ‘do church’ in the coffee shops and private residences of our communities? Does this mean that God does not speak to and grow His children when they are absent from the Body? By no means, but I do think that the goal should be for these people to return to the Church as quickly as possible, for the strengthening of the Body and the edification of the saints. We are made all the stronger when we gather in greater numbers.

The Church is not perfect, that is sure, for it is still composed of as-yet imperfect people. Sometimes, the Church can be downright ugly, when people forget Who it is they represent. But how we the Church grow when those who most desire to do so leave it and turn their backs on it?

I appreciate the voices of those who have left, who have voiced their concerns and have spotted some of the problems within so many of our churches. But I feel that they have made the wrong choice in leaving, in depriving us of their vision and of their hopes. I recognize and realize that they are disillusioned and burned out and hurt, but we need them all the same. If we could give up our titles of Arminian and Calvinist, of Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, and Catholic, I believe we could once again function as a unified Body and turn this world on its head for Christ. This will likely never happen, but it does not mean that we cannot, and should not, work toward that end. We will never be perfect this side of Heaven, but we do have perfection as a goal, and we should be taking steps, however small, toward that end.

So, please return to us, those of you who have left. We need your energy, your vision, your hope of what _could_ be and what _should_ be in our churches and in our Church. We need that inspiration, that continual renewal of vigor, especially where that vision has grown stale and stagnant. More’s the power when you are with us and when we are together as one for the cause of Christ.

What Are the Differences Between Christianity and Islam? Part 1

Dr. George Bebawi is perhaps the closest thing we will ever see to Timothy. ((Timothy was a young pastor in the early days of the church who came under the guidance and tutelage of the apostle Paul. He was half Gentile, half Jew, a family heritage typically frowned upon and despised in those days.)) Here is a man who is half Egyptian, half Jewish and who converted from Islam to Christianity. As a result he has been imprisoned twice and tortured by the Egyptian government for his faith.

Dr. Bebawi now resides in the US and is a member of my church. Pastor Kauffman began a six-part ‘interview’ series with Dr. Bebawi that will bring to light some of the major differences between Chrsitianity and Islam. This is the first part:

*What are the differences between Christianity and Islam?*
by George Bebawi

Islam is a rapidly growing religion – even in America. As Christians, it is extremely important that we understand our own faith as well as the major and subtle differences between Christianity and other faith. The following provides a brief overview regarding some intial differences between the two belief systems:

*What is the significance of the names, “Christianity” and “Islam”? In what ways do the names help to distinguish the two religions from each other?*

_Christianity_
First, let’s start with Christianity. Christianity took its name from Christ. In Antioch the disciples were called Christians. The word in the Greek essentially refers to those who belong to Christ Jesus or follow Christ Jesus. In the sub-apostolic period (about 100 C.E.), Christians called themselves Christoi which means, “The anointed ones by the Holy Spirit of God.” Christos is the Greek translatioin of the Hebrew Messiah which means the “Anointed.” Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit at his Baptism and the Father declared him as his beloved Son. The followers of Jesus are also anointed by the Holy Spirit.

bq. You have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you have knowledge.
– 1 John 2:20

So we take our name from the great gift which God the Father bestowed on us by his Spirit through the mediation of his Son. Hence, our name goes back to the Christian doctrine of the Triune God.

_Islam_
In contrast, Islam means, “Submission and surrender to Allah and submission to his Law or Sharia.” Sadly Islam has confused the Holy Spirit of God with the angel Gabriel. Moslems think that the Holy Spirit is an angel and not God.

What is lost by this confusion between Gabriel and the Holy Spirit are the follow points that make for stark theological differences from the Christian faith:

  1. God does not dwell in the human form.
  2. Submission to God is the work of the human will alone and thus we do not submit to come close to God but to the Law.
  3. The human person is not sanctified by the Holy Spirit and made holy by God and thus remains far away from God. This means an eternal separation from God.

To this we have to add that the earthly life which the Moslems expect to have in Paradise is logical and is in harmony with their understanding of the divine-human relationship. Christians know that, _”the kingdom of God is not of food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”_ (Rom. 14:17).

_The Importance of a Name: The Witness of Ancient Christian Writers_
In conclusion, in light of these initial observations, it might be helpful to end by reflecting on the words and insights of some of the early church fathers who helped shape and guide the Church in its infancy. These comments serves as guides to protect the Flock from heresy and false teaching and continue to echo through the centuries of church history, making them still very applicable to our situation today:

“Let us not, therefore, be insensible to His kindness. For, were Jesus to reward us according to our works, we should cease to be. Therefore, having become His disciples, let us learn to live according to the principles of Christianity. For whosoever is called by any other name beside this, is not of God. Lay aside, therefore, the evil, the old, the sour leaven, and be ye changed into the new leaven, which is Jesus Christ.” – Ignatius of Antioch, one of the early church martyrs (ca. 117 C.E.), Letter to the Magnesians 10

“When men are called by any other name they cease to be Christians for they have lost Christ’s name and have clothed themselves in human and foreign titles.” _Justin Martyr (ca. 150), Dialogue with Trypho 35

“Never at any time did Christian people take their name from their teachers among them, but from the Lord, on whom we rest our faith. Thus, though the blessed Apostles have become our teachers, and have ministered the Savior’s Gospel, yet not from them have we our name, but from Christ we are and are named Christians.” -Athanasius of Alexandria (340 AD), Against the Arians 1:2