The continued persecution of Christians in the Middle East is one of the great
underreported stories of the 21st century.
Douglas Murray, in his insightful book The Strange Death of Europe,
warns us that there is a real danger of Europe losing its Christian roots,
values and freedoms, something which he as a gay atheist deplores.
I fear that the conversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque is a sign of more
troublesome times ahead.
(Interior of the great dome, Hagia Sophia /Paris Review)
The other day I offered a post regarding the news that the once-massive
Christian enclave of the East, the Basilica of Hagia Sophia,
had once again fallen to Muslim rule ( or perhaps ‘once again’ is not accurate as Muslim rule has shadowed the church since the 15th century–it just hasn’t been a practicing mosque but rather a museum in a Muslim nation)
Hagia Sophia, constructed in 532, stood as a Christian beacon in the East, as well
for the West following the sack of Rome, until 1453–
the year when Constantinople fell to the Ottomans.
She was desecrated and turned into a mosque.
Several hundreds of years passed when the mosque next became a museum.
And then change came once again last week when the church turned mosque,
turned museum returned to a Muslim Mosque.
For nearly a thousand years, she faithfully served her flock.
And so the question that sits like an elephant in the middle of the world’s living room…
what does this mean for the Faithful now…
Our friend the Wee Flea raises this same question in his most recent post…
“The Tale of Two Buildings–the Hagia Sophia and the Free Church Manse
David begins his post by reflecting on the demise of Christianity
in the very place of her inception, the Middle East…
The Assyrians for example have shrunk from 1.3 million in Iraq to less than 250,000.
They have scattered over the world.
There are around 40,000 Assyrians in Sydney – one of whom is my barber!
In Turkey, Christians are systematically persecuted.
Foreign church workers are arrested and expelled;
evangelical churches are regularly attacked by extremists.
To even suggest that the killing of over one million Armenians by the Turks in 1914-1923
was genocide will result in you going to jail.
I recall in 2007 being in Ephesus just after three Christian leaders
had been brutally tortured and killed –
the fear amongst the Christians was palpable.
I suspect that turning the Hagia Sofia into a mosque will only make things worse
as it will encourage the more radical Islamists to fulfil their dream of a society
where Sharia law is fully enacted, and the Christians and secularists are removed.
Another Hagia Sophia in Nicaea, where the Second Council of Nicaea was held in 787,
has already been turned into a mosque. It is a concerning development which
raises a number of questions.
Turkey has, like China, signed the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights,
which amongst other things, guarantees freedom of worship, expression and belief.
Like China, it appears that its signature is meaningless.
Another area of concern is the problem of the lack of freedom in many Islamic countries.
In the West, Muslims are rightly free to worship and build mosques –
something I have defended in the past and will defend again.
There is a bigger issue here.
I have no problem with there being different religions within a pluralistic and tolerant society.
But what if that religion itself is opposed to pluralism and tolerance,
which I argue Islam is, and seeks to impose its own Sharia law?
David continues his post with a more personal reflection regarding the Chruch manse that he
and his family called home for 27 years…a church manse turned Muslim home with the
entire neighborhood becoming Muslim…
A casual observer might think that David’s feelings are somewhat racist in that he is concerned
about a Scottish neighborhood becoming Muslim, but he clearly notes that Islam is
not a race but rather a religion…and it is one that has at its core the goal of
the decimation of Christianity…
And so yes, there are big questions that remain—
What is happening to the Chruch from both within and from with-out
See David’s full post here:
A Tale of Two Buildings – the Hagia Sophia and the Free Church Manse – CT
What does this all mean for Christians and Christianity as a whole? You have this very significant symbol of a long standing and revered church transformed in to a mosque and here we have a a very active and violent Marxist attempt under the guise of BLM to “deconstruct” the foundations of this country which of course means the abolition of Christianity. Doesn’t bode very well for the future I’m afraid.
Tricia—as a kid, I was always mesmerized by the stories of the early saints and martyas of the church. I often imagined living life in early Rome, sneaking about and worshiping in secret—in the cover of darkness or hidden in catacombs. I imagine my defiance if ever discovered and arrested.
I would face the torture with fortitude.
Or so thought my youthful bravado self.
Even over the past decade as we’ve seen more and more about the persecution of Christians worldwide, I’d like to think I would be courageous.
But here, at home, we have something much more sinister and insiduous.
No less full of persecution with the end goal being Christian eradication—yet am I courageous in our oh so woke society.
Do I take to the streets in defense of my faith?
Churches are being attacked..both here and in Europe and it is not by Muslim extremists…but extremists non the less.
I can’t help but think God has prepared you, me, Tom, Kathy, IB, Wally, CS et al, to be those who dare to meet in the catacombs albeit the catacombs today are our neighborhoods and cities.
Am I will to risk everything for my faith—I hope I will be able to answer yes.
Is this a prepartion of an ending, a clash of both Good and Evil—of course we can’t answer that…but it sure does feel like it.
It does feel like it Julie and I often wonder as well if I have the courage to stand tall in the faith, even I the face pf death. I’d like to think so but then I look at how often I self censure myself to avoid conflict and it becomes pretty apparent I am not made from the same cloth as Saints. I’m glad to have the good company of you and our other WordPress friends, we are stronger together. And oh how much I learn from everyone!
I so agree Tricia.
I’m actually working on a post for tomorrow and I ‘m touching on our conversation, using my comment to you (I cleaned it up grammatically :))
I’m not cut of the same cloth either as I too try to avoid the “in your face” that the Left throws in ours.
I try to be polite and civil as I lack the Ben Shapiro quick mind and tongue.
I’m better with the after thought, not too fast thinking on my feet.
Probably why I blocked Ark long ago—I grew weary of jabbering back and forth—I tried kindness but he prefered anger and an arrogant sense of knowledge and I felt somewhat like a deer in headlights.
But I can’t help but think we are here now for a purpose–we must pray that God gives us what we will need when the time comes.
The saints never knew they were saints.
They were just men and women holding fast to Christ no matter what.
May we hold very tight!
Oh good, can’t wait to read it! My problem is I can be vicious with my words and it really takes a concentrated effort to not respond how I would really like to. God takes over and gives me His grace to extend but so often not given in return by the other person and it just gets exhausting.
I blocked Ark many moons ago as well for the same reason.
I do have to often watch my knee jerk responses—I tend to let my emotions get the better of me without truly thinking out what needs to be said rather than what I simply want to say.
The reconversion of the Hagia Sophia to a mosque is indeed a sad event for Christians. As you say, it does not bode well for tolerance. But that beautiful building has for years been in secular use. Notre Dame is likewise valued more for its historic than religious meaning.
But Christians are the Body of Christ. We are the church, not our buildings. Whatever may happen to those buildings, we should live and breath the Gospel, especially in these last days.
You know Anna—probably part of my dismay comes from having been raised in a Cathedral as my church home—albeit a great deal smaller in scope compared to the likes of a Hagia Sophia or Notre Dame—so many of Europe’s grand chruches, and even many of the smaller churches, are simply now historic museums—up until the fire, masses were stilll held in Notre Dame as the tourists were simply pushed back.
And even St. Patricks in New York is much the same with the tourists being pushed back during services.
And I know what you say—we are a living church body—stone edifices are beautiufl tangible gifts of faith but they do not make us who we are as Believers…
But with all that said, I am greatly troubled by a trend from not only Muslims but from now a Marxist left that wishes to destroy ‘the Church’ here at home—the extermination of Chrisitiany has always been the end means for the spititual darkness that claims this earth as its own…I suppose I just wouldn’t be around when everything began to fall into place!
I wish there was some ability for the UN to enforce its Declaration on Human Rights in all the countries that have signed it. As a Christian, I am not afraid of open sharing of ideas and beliefs in the marketplace. Clearly, Muslim governments and the Chinese government are afraid of religious freedom. Their fear speaks eloquently about the power of God’s Word–power that we
Christians in the free world not only take for granted, but generally neglect and ignore. J.
and in our neglect and arrogance of a “right”
I fear we will find much of our demise to our freedom and right in that very arrogance…
Shame on Turkey
They are letting their Muslim leanings shine through
Totally and unfortunately