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Relics and People Yes to One, No to the Other CHUCK COLSON

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Relics and People Yes to One, No to the Other CHUCK COLSON Empty Relics and People Yes to One, No to the Other CHUCK COLSON

Post  Admin on Wed 13 Apr 2011, 12:08 pm

Relics and People
Yes to One, No to the Other

April 12, 2011 Chuck Colson

A recent BBC headline read "Jordan battles to regain 'priceless'
Christian Relics." What followed is a story about an archeological find
that could "change our understanding of how Jesus was crucified and
resurrected, and how Christianity was born."

It's a fascinating story with an ironic twist.

Like the Dead Sea Scrolls, the latest sensational archeological
discovery was found by a Bedouin in a cave. The Jordanian government
claims that, following a flash flood a few years ago, the Bedouin found
two niches exposed by the flood. He opened the niches and absconded with
their content to Israel. The Bedouin claims that the relics have been in
his family for a century.

Regardless of which account is true, everyone agrees on the spectacular
nature of the find: 70 books, each containing five-to-fifteen lead pages
bound by lead rings, what scholars call "codices." While the writing,
which is in a code based on ancient Hebrew, is still being translated,
the images have prompted some to speculate that the find will "perhaps
be more significant than the Dead Sea Scrolls."

The most striking image features a depiction of the walls of Jerusalem
with a Roman-style cross and a tomb in the foreground. Another image
depicts a menorah, which first-century Jews were forbidden to depict.
Phillip Davies of Sheffield University told the BBC that what is being
depicted is a crucifixion outside the city walls.

Sound familiar? Other scholars noted that the books were found
"approximately" where Christians fleeing persecution in Jerusalem were
said to have gone. Little wonder that people are calling it potentially
"the major discovery of Christian history," and are giddy at the
prospect of holding "objects that might have been held by the early
saints of the Church."

Still, I can't help but notice a huge irony in this story: While people
are arguing and fighting over repatriating Christian relics to the
Middle East, no one seems to care about the flight of Christian people
from the same region.

Nina Shea, who has been sounding the alarm about the fate of Christians
in the Middle East for years, sums up their plight this way: "Unless
something happens fast there is not going to be a future for
Christianity in the Middle East."

Paul Marshall of the Hudson Institute concurs. Increased violence
against Christians and government indifference (or worse,
collaboration) , means that Christian communities in most of the region
"are beginning to go, and in a couple of decades, unless the situation
changes...They will die out."

Even places like Egypt where Christians are too numerous to "die out,"
they will face increasing hostility, which, in turn, will encourage
further emigration. If you want to see what Middle Eastern Christianity
looks like, your best bet will be Southern California or Toronto, not
Bethlehem.

We find ourselves in an absurd situation where 2,000-year-old Christian
relics are more welcome in the lands where Christianity originated than
the descendants of those original Christians.

While I welcome this convincing evidence of how Christianity was born
there, I am even more interested in seeing that it doesn't die there.

[For further reading, click here]
http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/16846
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