Africa: Christian Long Before Europe

Africa: Christian Long Before Europe

One of the best classes I took during my undergrad years was a class on the history of Christian in Africa taught by Jonathan Hildebrandt (who also wrote a book on the subject). The best part was that the class didn’t start in the modern era, where a lot of folks and books start, but in the first-century with the Twelve Apostles and those who followed in their footsteps.  While the full history is too long to trace here, it is noteworthy to mention that the Gospel of the Kingdom spread throughout Africa very early on – there were even large nations deep within Africa continent who declared Christian as the national religion long before the Roman Empire did so.  (Makuria is one such nation which has recently come into the news due to a recently discovered burial crypt.) Below is a video that highlights an aspect of Christian in Ethiopia, one of the very, very few African nations to successfully resist European colonialism. However before you watch the video, here are some cool tit bits about the history of Christian in Africa. I would also recommend reading Ramon Mayo’s blog series on “Christianity is Not the White Man’s Religion” where he not only explores the spread of Christian into Africa, Syria and other non-European areas. (Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6) Acts 8 tells the famous story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. What folks may not know is that this Eunuch went back to Ethiopia and started telling everyone there about Jesus – effectively making him the first missionary to cross international boundaries. “This man...
Introducing The New Archbishop of Canterbury

Introducing The New Archbishop of Canterbury

It has been a busy past couple of weeks for the global Church – first there was the election of a new Coptic Orthodox Pope and now there is naming of Rowan Williams’ successor as the Archbishop of Canterbury. While Protestants in the USA may not think much of these two events, they are actually very, very, very HUGE events as they affect the lives of millions Jesus followers around the world. Take the Archbishop of Canterbury, for example, whoever sits in that chair affects the direction of the entire Anglican Communion, which has around 85 million members worldwide. The Coptic Orthodox Church is a tad smaller at 18 million members – bring the total number of people affected by the two leadership changes to 103 million believers. That, my friends, is a lot of people! But, alas, we have digressed from the main focus of this post which was to introduce you all to the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury, Bishop Justin Welby. Currently Justin Welby is the bishop of Durham, having succeeded Bishop N.T. Wright in that position last year. Which brings up the interesting point that Webly has only been a bishop in the Anglican Church for a year – hardly the resume one would expect for the new Archbishop… However, it must be pointed out that Welby has quite the track record that more than over shadows this lack of experience. For example, he has worked as an arbitrator during religious conflicts around the world with the Coventry Centre for Reconciliation and he has 11 years of experience as an oil executive, which shows that he...
Introducing the New Coptic Pope

Introducing the New Coptic Pope

Yesterday the Lord of Lords answered the prayers of His Coptic children in the choosing of a new leader for the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. As mentioned earlier, the new pope was chosen by a blindfolded child who drew the name out of a pot holding the names of the three final candidates. While this tradition may sound strange to those of us in the West, there is in fact a lot to be said about allowing God to guide the hand of chance. If I remember correctly, the Old Testament records use of lots (similar to throwing the dices)to decide major issues. Later on the fifteen to seventeenth century AD the Moravian Church used a similar concept as the Coptic Church to choose their leaders. The only difference was that the Moravians would include a blank piece of paper, effectively giving the Lord the chance to veto the names of everyone in the running (a choice that I think the Coptic Church would be wise in adopting). But I digress… The man God chose to lead the 18~ million member Coptic Orthodox Church is Bishop Tawadros. At 60 years of age, Bishop Tawadros used to run a pharmaceutical factory in Egypt and studied medicine before that. He joined the priesthood in 1985, became a monk three years later and then a bishop in 1997. Folks with the church happy with his election as they are hoping his broad experience and managerial skills will help guide them through the craziness and uncertainty of the future. To our Coptic brothers and sisters, we rejoice with you all and pray...
Electing a New Coptic Pope

Electing a New Coptic Pope

While most of the world is focusing on the USA Presidential election, there is another election going on in Egypt that is even more important. It is the election of the successor of Pope Shenouda III of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria who died on March 17, 2012. Established by St. Mark (the same guy who wrote the Gospel of Mark) around 42 AD, the Coptic Orthodox Church has about 18 million followers worldwide with 2 to 4 million currently living in Egypt. They are also part of the Oriental Orthodox Communion, a group of six churches in full union with each other. Not to mention the fact that, as if having this large of a flock wasn’t enough, the new pope is going to have to deal with the political upheaval of the new government of Egypt. It is a task that can only be done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit…. The election itself is very interesting to me as it is done in a way that is contrary to how other church groups election their popes. Rather than choosing a new pope from among the existing bishops, the Coptic Church gathers a list of monks, bishops, abbots or priests whom have been endorsed by six bishops or twelve of the 24 members of the General Lay Council. A committee of nine bishops and nine laypersons will then narrow this list down to five or seven candidates. From there, a 2,400~ member Electoral College (diocese representatives, community leaders, bishops, etc.) votes to narrow the list down to the top three candidates. The entire church body...
Two Major Events Happened This Weekend

Two Major Events Happened This Weekend

This weekend there were two major events within the Greater Body of Christ (i..e the Global Church) that will literally affect the entire world. The first event happened on Friday, March 16th, when Archbishop Rowan Williams announced that he would be stepping down as Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of 2012 in order to accept the position of Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. Seeing how Archbishop of Canterbury is the symbolic head and leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which is the fourth largest Christian communion on the planet, this is a pretty big deal. It becomes even a bigger deal once you consider the impact the new Archbishop will have on the currently decades-long theological standoff within the Anglican Communion between more traditional Global South members and the theological liberalism of the Western/North American members. Interestingly enough, one of the top four contenders currently in consideration for the job is the Uganda-born Archbishop of York, John Sentamu. Currently the second most senior cleric in the Church of England, Archbishop Sentamu used to be a member of the High Court of Uganda before running afoul of then dictator Idi Amin. I bring this up because if Archbishop Sentamu is selected as the Archbishop of Canterbury it would mean a greater connection to the Global South, which may be enough to swing the Anglican Communion back to a more historical-church foundation (a good thing in my option as a third-party watcher). The other big event that happened this weekend was the death of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, the Pope and Lord Archbishop of the Great City of Alexandria...