Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Are Antiochians Anti-Semites?

Antiochians are Christians. In fact it was in Antioch where "they were first called Christians". Christians love one another and love all people. They teach and practice that we are to "go into the all world and preach the gospel to every creature." The fact exists, however, that Antiochians are predominately Arabic, being raised, even as Christians, in an Arabic culture. The age-old struggle between the Arabs and the Jews for the area of Palestine has political as well as religious elements. This struggle has influenced many of today's Antiochian Orthodox leaders as they have watched their brother Arabs displaced by the establishment of the Nation of Israel. As individuals and groups make their way to the Antiochian Orthodox Diocese it is important to deal with existing imbalanced ideologies, especially Dispensationalism, that elevate the Nation of Israel to the status of being THE God-ordained center of all of human history. This is simply not the view of the Church, be it Antiochian or any other Orthodox Diocoese. The "Israel" of the biblical prophecies and the recipient of the New Covenant is The Church not the Nation of Israel in Palestine. Accusations of anti-semitism usually comes as a result of failing to differentiate between the Jews as a people and Zionism. One must understand that Arabs are not the only ones who oppose the Nation of Israel. Many Orthodox Jews do as well and are organized in their efforts to bring their own people back to an Orthodox Jewish faith.

I have discovered recently, however, what I deem to be Arab bias against Israel and favoritism toward Arabic Nations by some of our Antiochian Orthodox leaders, but a closer look will reveal the bias to be political in nature and not one of anti-semitism. Orthodox do not "hate" Jews which is the core definition of "anti-semitism."

By the way, Leslie Levine, our sponsor and godfather on the day of our chrismation into the Church, is Jewish. Leslie Levine is a cantor in our Church. Some of his chanting is in Arabic. Does God hear the prayer of the Jew if chanted in Arabic? Hmmm...

"In Christ there is no Greek nor Jew..."

A hard look or sometimes an easy glance may reveal warts on your fellow Antiochian Orthodox believers, but it is not likely one of those warts will be anti-semitism.

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