Sunday, June 17, 2012
St Francis Magazine: Early Church and Muslim Missions
The new SFM has just recently been published and our intrepid editor, John Stringer, asked me to write the comment from the editor for the issue, as he was a) recovering from a hangover after drinking too much Arak, b) in prison, or c) busy handling snakes. Here is what I wrote, and I just inserted the links in there, read, click, and enjoy:
Over my years in the Arab world I have noted that it seems like from time to time someone comes up with the Next Big Idea. The Next Big Idea is accompanied by seminars, conferences, books, mp3’s, material on YouTube (maybe), and articles in any number of journals (and perhaps in this one). You already know some of them: CAMEL, BAM, Kingdom Circles, person of peace, friendship evangelism, IM, CPM’s, NRM, and so on.
In their own ways they may, sometimes, contribute to real breakthroughs in relation to the Church’s witness in the places where we live. But what about the context of the early Church? Sporadic government-sponsored persecution; travel, migration, and translation issues; a small and often poor Christian population surrounded by a large non-Christian population which thinks it gets Christianity, but is terribly misinformed—do these sound at all familiar to you?
Yet the early church grew, both within the setting of the Roman Empire, and outside of it as well, in places like Armenia, Axum (Ethiopia), India, and Persia. This historical reality led us to the conclusion that we should look more closely at the parallels between the life and ministry of the Early Church in relation to what we are doing today.
So we have articles on Augustine and the Letter to Diognetus and, patron saint of evangelicalism, Saint Paul himself. We are also proud to present an Orthodox perspective on St Constantine, so often maligned (and misunderstood) in the evangelical world. One of the strongholds of Christianity used to be North Africa, and we are glad to include an article on St George’s Anglican Church there today.
Perhaps the next big idea will not be something new at all, but recapturing something old and good, something venerable and wise but forgotten. Messiah said, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” We evangelicals are quite good at the new treasures, but if we are instructed about the kingdom, then we will not abandon the old ones.
Peace be with you,