"The Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth it is this, and Protestantism has ever felt it so; to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." (-John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).

"Where the bishop is, there let the people gather; just as where ever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church". -St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca 110 AD)a martyr later thrown to the lions, wrote to a church in Asia Minor. Antioch was also where the term "Christian" was first used.

“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

"This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." -CCC 811

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Islam and Assyria: an Impossible Coexistence

Peter BetBasoo in zindamagazine.com
Chicago

Assyrian Catholic Christians (Photo Source: drzz.info)
Islam proclaims that once a territory is conquered by Muslims it can never revert to non-Muslim rule. It is this law that even today grieves Muslims for having lost Spain. Very few conquered territories have regained their independence from Islam since the beginning of the Muslim war on the world in 630 A.D.. Those that have succeeded have often faced intense pressure from surrounding Muslim states. New non-Muslim states that have sprung in the heart of "Islamic territory" -- Israel, for example -- have been perennially at defensive war with the surrounding Muslim states.

Israel's case is instructive. With significant military and monetary support from the Jewish Diaspora and friendly nations, Israel still finds itself in a precarious position. Even the threat of its nuclear arsenal cannot guarantee that a nuclear Muslim state, such as Iran, would be deterred from using such weapons of mass destruction.

Because in Islam the Shari'a is the supreme law that cannot be superceded by any other law, be it civil, international or religious, and because the Shari'a does not distinguish between church and state, any land ruled by Shari'a must ipso facto be Islamic in identity and nature. The Shari'a effectively and unambiguously defines the political State as Islam and Islam as the political State. There is no distinction between Caesar and God in Islam.

Assyria, the homeland of the Assyrians, has been under Muslim rule for fourteen centuries. Beginning in 630 A.D., when Assyrians comprised 95% of the population in their homelands, until the present, where the population is 6-8% and dwindling, Assyria has been transformed into a Muslim territory. The heritage, culture and civilization of Assyrians have been systematically destroyed by violence, oppression, and apostasy forced by the sword and jizya.

At present Assyrians cannot hope to establish a free Assyria even if the opportunity presented itself, for they are too few, divided, powerless and in a state of Diaspora. With a population of 3.5 million in the world, half of which living outside the Assyrian homeland, Assyrians cannot muster the economic, political and military resources to establish a free Assyria, and even if they could, such a state would come under immediate attack from its Muslim neighbors, the Kurds, Turks, Arabs and Iranians, and likely would not survive a few days beyond its declaration of independence. Islam will not allow Muslim territory to be lost.

Why, then, do Assyrians fight for an Assyrian state when -- knowing full well -- this cannot be accomplished in an Islamic Middle East? There can never be a free Assyria so long as Muslims rule our lands. It is time for Assyrian nationalists to wake up from their dogmatic slumber, to shed their delusions, and to realistically reassess and reappraise their national movement. The Assyrian movement to-date has failed to unite the Syriac speaking peoples under one banner. It is now time to retreat from Assyrianism and address fundamental issues that divide our people and threaten the very existence of our nation, to wit: Church fragmentation and Islam.

The Assyrian nation is divided into three main sectarian groups, controlled by three theocratic despots who prefer the preservation of their power to the preservation of their nation. They are a far cry from the days of Patriarch Yabalaha, a Mongolian who sacrificed himself for the greater good of the body of Christ. Given the division these Patriarchs are purposely sewing into the Assyrian nation, there is very little hope that Assyrians can unite in pursuit of their dream of Establishing a free Assyria.

The Assyrian masses understand at a basic level, perhaps better than most intellectuals and nationalists, that the dream of a free Assyria is just that, a dream, given the Islamic reality on the Assyrian grounds and the reality of a divided and bereft Assyrian nation.

In this regard, Assyrian nationalists have set unrealistic goals and expectations and as a result have inadvertently caused damage to their cause by failing to present to the common Assyrian man a realistic political agenda. It is telling that the number of Assyrian political parties is almost equal to the number of their members.

The Assyrian movement, whose goal is to establish a free Assyria, cannot defeat Muslims, and so long as this is so Assyria can never rise. But Assyrians can defeat Islam, and they can do this with their greatest weapon: the Bible, which for Assyrians is more powerful than any weapon made by man because it gives us the ideas of universal love, of peace and charity, of mercy and compassion, of forgiveness. These ideas cannot be defeated by anything that Islam can muster. Christ’s salvation and redemption of man is a pull that cannot be resisted by anyone to which it is applied.

I admonish the leaders of our churches to live the Word of Christ and stop dividing the Assyrians along sectarian lines, for in doing so they are dividing the Body of Christ and not following His message.

We cannot fully unite our people under the Assyrian banner, and continuing the attempt only further divides our people along the denominational fault lines. But why continue the attempt at political unification when, even if it succeeds, nothing can come of it so long as Muslims rule our lands?

Those of us who live in the West do not live under the Muslim yoke, but we face another danger: the disappearing Christianity in the West, which renders the West vulnerable to Muslim conversion. It is projected that Spain, Sweden and Italy will be majority Muslim within this century. I ask you: did we escape from our Muslim occupied lands into the Christian West only to witness the dying faith of our coreligionists, and to see Islam ascendant? Do we as Christians and disciples of Christ not have a duty to re-evangelize the secular West, to bring the Word once again to the people? The only way the West can repel the Islamic Jihad is to have deep religious conviction, to make Christ again an active part of the everyday life of the men of the West.

If the West falls to Islam, to what safe harbors can Assyrians sail?

We have twice in our 6756 year history changed the face of the world, the first time with our civilization, which was the highest at its time, and which we brought to the barbarians. The second time -- and even bigger -- was with the Word of Christ, which we brought from Cyprus to Mongolia, China, Korea, Japan and the Philippines. When Assyrian missionaries traveled the Old Silk Road on their way to China, they embarked in groups which included Jacobites and Nestorians, but they did not travel as Jacobites or Nestorians, they traveled as Christians, and in their evangelical activities they did not distinguish themselves denominationally.

It is time for the Assyrian nation to bring the Word of God to the West, because we must save the West for Christ and for us, because we cannot survive if the West falls to Islam. I challenge our Church leaders, our intellectuals, our nationalists, to set aside the political struggle and to apply the full resources of the Assyrian nation to the Christianization of the West. This means that we must not only evangelize the West, but we must fully apply ourselves in defeating Islam, not by the sword, but by the power of Christ’s words. We do so to bring genuine salvation to Muslims, to bring them to the light of Christ.

No Assyrian, regardless of denomination, can resist this calling. This is what we must do to unite Jacobites and Nestorians and Chaldeans and Arameans and Maronites. Forget Assyria for now, it is now time to work for Christ.

We must do this because it is our duty to God, for it says in Matthew 12:41, “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas [is] here.”

I ask you my brothers and sisters, how can the men of Nineveh rise in judgment if there is no Assyria? And how can there be an Assyria so long as Muslims rule our lands?

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