I am a Christian from Jerusalem. My roots in the Holy Land go to one thousand years ago, so says my family tradition. Some would argue that our roots as indigenous Christians might go back further and link up to the early Church in Jerusalem. In this sense we are a Christian fundamentalist family deep-rooted in the foundations of the Christian faith.
As a Christian from Jerusalem, I owe great debt to two monotheistic traditions: Judaism, on the one hand, because of the Old Testament which is the basis of my faith in the New Testament and to Islam, with whose adherents my family, for centuries, has shared the experience of living side by side in Jerusalem. Thus my fundamentalist Christianity is enlightened by the history of the Hebrews on the one hand and by the experiential sharing with Moslem neighbors, on the other.
As a Christian believer, I strongly adhere to the teachings of Jesus Christ and his message of compassion and forgiveness. This Christian message has taught me to accept others; not to judge lest I be judged and to consider every human being, irrespective of background, in the image of the Creator. This is the basis of living in Peace with oneself; one’s religion; one’s world and with all the nations, religions, cultures, nationalities that make up the mosaic of life on our planet.
It is this comfort that my faith gives me that also causes me great spiritual and moral tribulation when I hear someone of your stature making statements of judgment on Islam and its Prophet. Not only do I find this offensive to Moslems and their religion but also as well to our Christian faith and practice. A commitment to stop violence, all violence, should also include a commitment not to utter verbal violence. What our world needs now is more understanding, compassion and healing across continents and within societies. It is on persons like yourself that such a burden falls. Uttering statements that project hostility and enmity and in generalizing tones make you part of the problem confronting our world today and not part of the solution.
Could I plead with you to return to the fundamentals of our Christian
faith and to become a constructive force in our world and especially in
our Middle Eastern region? Could you please bring hearts together instead
of distancing them from one another? Could your faith and belief afford
to accept others, irrespective of their backgrounds? Could you please be
a force of healing in our troubled world?
Is it much to expect these things from a person of your stature?
Jerusalem, October 5, 2002
Dr. Bernard Sabella, Ph.D.
Executive Director Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees
Middle East Council of Churches
Jerusalem Tel: +972-2-6271715 - Email address: email@example.com