Saturday, August 15, 2015

Recommend-a-blog (11)

For a regular newsletter, this is grim stuff, no getting around it. It’s not light Sunday afternoon reading before tea.

Which, given the subject matter, is probably what we should expect.

Professing Christians throughout Asia and the Middle East are dying for their faith daily and the Gatestone Institute has the details, if you want them. Many, perhaps most, are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

(The question of whether “Coptic Christians” exercise saving faith in Jesus Christ has been a subject of internet debate recently. Like Catholicism, Coptic traditions put a premium on works. “Coptic” simply means “Egyptian”, and their branch of Christendom originated in Alexandria. Though originally used to refer to the Orthodox, the term has been expanded over time to include evangelicals and Catholics. The Coptic Orthodox have been accused of denying the human nature of Christ, but as we all know, within any “faith tradition” or denomination there are numerous gradations of personal belief. From my perspective, once you start dying for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ, I stop judging your theology. The Lord is well equipped to sort out who actually belongs to him.)

Gatestone is far from a Christian entity. Their “About Us” page says:
“Gatestone Institute, a non-partisan, not-for-profit international policy council and think tank is dedicated to educating the public about what the mainstream media fails to report …”
The Gatestone boards of directors and advisors read like a Who’s Who of prominent American and Israeli Jews with the occasional Arab tossed in for good measure: Alan Dershowitz, Elie Wiesel, Baroness Caroline Cox, Ahmed Charai. The site is unapologetically political, geared toward promoting human rights, a strong economy, energy independence and a capable U.S. military presence in the world, so be advised.

Not all those being persecuted are Christians either. Ayatollah Boroujerdi is called “Iran’s Mandela”, but is held for political and not religious reasons. Robert Levinson is a retired DEA and FBI operative arrested and held hostage in Iran in 2007 while doing research. The stories of suffering Christians are sprinkled among those of others.

Most of the reporting is secondary, in the sense that it has been gleaned from other internet sources rather than witnessed personally. It is not usually sensational or graphic. Writers like Raymond Ibrahim diligently link and reference everything they are alleging, and it’s pretty appalling. Western Christians unaccustomed to specifics may find certain articles on the Gatestone Institute site tough to stomach. I can well understand the reluctance of some believers to read too much about how common sex slavery or beheadings are becoming.

Still, if you care what’s actually happening to Christians on the ground in Pakistan, Syria, Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Yemen, Ethiopia, Iraq, Iran and even Canada — and especially if it matters to you in your prayer life to make your requests specific, personal and relevant — I have not found more carefully documented detail on the subject anywhere on the internet.

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