Tag Archives: justice

Thematic Bible Conference for Ethnic Reconciliation?

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The W4CAA’s annual Thematic Bible Conference in Princeton (30 June to 1 July this year) is not that big, but I have high hopes for this conference as a way to promote the Church’s ministry of reconciliation and healing for the nations. In particular, I think God can use it to train Coptic Christians to reach their Muslim neighbours from Ægypt with the gospel, and Chinese Christians to reach their Uyghur neighbours, and in so doing reconcile nations that are not at peace with each other.

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Peace between Copts and Muslim Ægyptians

In 2005, Jersey City saw a Coptic family of 4 murdered, and a local Ægyptian community once living side by side in peace, sharing Ægyptian origin and culture, was sharply divided. The murders followed close upon fights in Ægypt which had killed 20 Copts and one Muslim Ægyptian. The father who was killed in Jersey City had been involved in some fiery debates with Muslims in Internet fora. Copts strongly suspected Muslims, and Muslims who did not want to be blamed. And the Coptic community in New Jersey, particularly in Jersey City, was quite large. According to the New York Times in 2005, Copts were more than 12% of Jersey City: ‘The Census Bureau does not track religious affiliation, but both Coptic organizations and the Jersey City chapter of the Council on Arab-Islamic Relations estimate the number of Copts to be above 30,000 and the Muslims to total about 25,000, out of the city’s population of 239,000.’ Discord between Christians and Muslims in Jersey City touched at least 23% of the whole city. I suspect these wounds have often been renewed: last year, on Palm Sunday, ‘many members of the Coptic Orthodox Church of St Mark awoke to the news that people dear to them [in Ægypt] had died or were wounded simply for being Coptic Christians.’ Bombings of two Coptic churches had killed more than 40 people and injured at least 100. O Lord, Ægyptians need a peace that only thou canst give.

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As Religion News Service reported,

Dr. Mona Tantawi, a New Jersey Muslim from Egypt and a pediatrician, was profoundly moved by Copts’ reaction and sees continued attacks on Coptic churches as an attempt to destabilize Egypt.

‘The Egyptian community, Christian or not, we are the same culture,‘ she said. ’What happened was devastating, and when I look at their reaction? … They are really living out the teachings of Jesus.’

It seems the righteousness of the Copts has caused Muslims in New Jersey to give glory to God, and Jesus has commissioned the Church to also show Muslims the word of God, which is the word of everlasting life. If inductive Bible study in a context of hospitality became a way for Coptic Christians to extend peace and reconciliation to their Muslim neighbours from the same country, I know not what a powerful witness that could be in the world, a witness to the power and justice and mercy of God. If Copts in America were encouraged and equipped to show the greatest love for their Muslim neighbours, perhaps Copts in Ægypt itself would be empowered to do the same up and down the Nile. The point is not debate between Christians and Muslims. The point is not to win by the convincing arguments of man’s ingenuity. The point is for everyone to know the peace that comes from Jesus, from the word of God himself; for by his word God brings peace, and by his stripes we are healed.

Peace between Han Chinese and Uyghurs

Farther south, the DC area is home to America’s largest population of Uyghurs, more than Los Angeles. Several thousand Uyghurs have made their home in northern Virginia, and I know of 5 Uyghur restaurants – I ate at one of them, Queen Amannisa, on my birthday. Everyone who pays attention to Xinjiang (Chinese Turkestan and Dzungaria) knows how Han Chinese and Uyghurs have been shaken by ethnic strife. The Chinese Communist Party, fearing Salafi Islamist separatism, has clamped down even on marriages done the traditional Uyghur Muslim way; riots some years ago killed many people, and some Uyghur Salafis (modernists who do not follow a traditional madhhab) have fought for Daesh (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq. Han Chinese often fear that Uyghurs may be terrorists; Uyghurs often see Han Chinese as invaders in their homeland. At the same time, last year I saw an advertisement for an Uyghur restaurant, Dolan Uyghur Restaurant, at a Chinese supermarket. Chinese folk like Uyghur food and hospitality, and Uyghurs want their business.

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God has a reason for putting North America’s largest population of Uyghurs in the DC area. I think the next move falls to the Chinese churches in northern Virginia. It is Han Chinese Christians who have to bring Christ’s message of peace to the Uyghurs in the DC area, forming relationships with them and inviting them to see for themselves the gospel of God’s kingdom, the gospel in which Jesus Christ reconciles the nations to God and to each other. The gospel is a beautiful thing, and it is Han Chinese believers who must be God’s ambassadors of reconciliation, that the Han Chinese and the Uyghurs may be friends in the love of God.

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The Law of Liberty

For it is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

Hong Kong, proud on the sea,
Thy freedom’s not thine own
To keep as treasure hid for thee,
But given to be known.

Behold, thy fate is bound
With that of China’s shores;
Thy spirit’s future will be found
In him who’s at thy doors.

The God who waiting stands
Will send believers out
Through doors that, faced with bright demands
For freedom, shut with doubt.

That way was closed to peace,
To those with earnest plea;
But let these doubtful strivings cease
When Love shall set us free.

See if there be a King
Like unto him who’s born,
To whom unknowing nations bring
Their tribute in the morn.

Beyond our highest sight,
Of brightest heaven’s birth,
The God of God and Light of Light
Descended to the earth.

The rulers crucified
His flesh in treason’s name,
Who slew the King none could abide;
Dying, he bore our blame.

But all the tyrants’ will
Could not his flesh corrupt,
Nor martyrs’ flesh for ever kill:
Their vain schemes he’ll disrupt.

Today all hear his voice:
Let none harden their hearts
Against the Lord, but all rejoice
That darkness soon departs.

He conquers spirits now
With dreadful word of pow’r,
And peoples at his feet will bow
Today and at th’ last hour.

Come, rulers of the earth,
And lay your golden wreaths
Upon the Child of virgin birth,
Your iron into sheaths.

Lead Them Not into Death

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he history of Israel as told in Kings and Chronicles shows that a wicked man will lead others into ways of destruction and death. It also shows that a good ruler will not by himself be able to bring the people closer to God unless they themselves can commit to obedience to Him. Continue reading

The State’s Duty to God (Part 2A): Upholding Justice

This is Part 2A of a (rather irregular) series on what the state is obligated to do under God’s authority.

[I base the following on exhaustive searches in the Bible (ESV) of “govern”, “rule (v.)” and “ruler”.]

Being Just in Ruling and Judging

Encoding and executing justice while shunning injustice is the first function of the state, its duty before God.

Wisdom: Discernment Between Good and Evil

Wisdom, the thing to which which we ought to attach the most value in a ruler, is employed in service of its purpose. For the state, or rather for its leaders, the purpose of wisdom is to be able to judge between good and evil for the sake of, in the words of the U.S. Constitution, “establish[ing] justice”.

When the Lord appeared to the great king Solomon in a dream at the beginning of his reign, saying, “Ask what I shall give you,” the king asked thus: Continue reading

Not the Common Good but the Total Good

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e (not, really, I am not using the royal “we”) hear too much of the term “common good” thrown around as justification for expansion of government’s powers.

Tell me “common good” no longer. The term reeks of uselessness and ends justifying means. Goodness defined is not from commonality, it is from God alone. So tell me of authority and justice and righteousness, of God’s heart and of His distribution of proper roles, for what is written is not about man but about God: Continue reading