Rev. Dr. Andrea Zaki, the president of all Protestant communities in Egypt and one of the most prominent Christian leaders of Egypt, has recently presented an important Christmas message on January 5, 2018. He is the president of the second biggest community in Egypt and the biggest Protestant community in the Arab world. He represents hundreds of thousands of Egyptian Protestants. He is also a prominent Evangelical theologian. In his Christmas message, he addressed several significant and perhaps controversial points.
First, he connected terrorism with Herod who sought to dehumanize others for the sake of maintaining his power. Dr. Zaki said that such terrorism has appeared through history. We encounter it when Cain killed his brother Abel, when Herod killed the children of Bethlehem, and when Egyptian Christians are being killed. But God chose Egypt to be a place of refuge. Abraham came seeking bread in Egypt, the children of Israel came to Egypt because of the famine during the times of Joseph, and Jesus found refuge in Egypt when powerful people sought his life. This was part of the divine prophecy that reaches its climax in Christ in whom the prophecies of the Old Testament are fulfilled.
Second, Dr. Andrea said that most Christians around the world including Egyptian Evangelicals believe that the prophecies that were fulfilled in Christ will not have another fulfillment. He said (my translation), “Most Christians around the world including Egyptian Evangelicals believe that the prophecies that were fulfilled in Christ, glory be to him, were fulfilled once and for all. Therefore, the [old] concept of the chosen people of God is over. In the past, God chose the people of Israel not to grant them a privilege over other nations but to commission them with the responsibility of making the One God known. But this nation sought privileges and abandoned their responsibility for a long period of time until the coming of the appointed time, in which all prophecies were fully and completely fulfilled in the glorious Christ. Christ is the head of a body that consists of all nations.” From this perspective, Dr. Andrea clarifies that the state of Israel is a political entity, not a fulfillment of prophecy.
Third, Dr. Andrea insists on rejecting gnostic dualism. Jesus wanted to change the world not only the spirits. He did not focus on saving souls while ignoring healing the bodies. “He did not prefer changing individuals over changing societies.” Thus Christians must seek a holistic and comprehensive change rooted in a holistic Gospel. The church must stand against abusing the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed. The church must stand against the powerful who rob the poor and the innocent of their dignity. Only this approach is compatible with bringing the Kingdom of heaven on earth as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer.
Fourth, Dr. Andrea asserted connecting our social action with a life rooted in loving God. He insisted on connecting loving God with loving our neighbor as well as connecting a life of prayer and repentance with serving the marginalized. The church is a messenger of love to all communities. It is a community that seeks to advocate justice and mercy by forming a just culture.
In his short message, Dr. Andrea addressed Christology, eschatology, missiology, and ecclesiology. He provoked the church to take a holistic gospel rooted in the love of God as embodied in Christ. He presented his theology addressing Christians and Muslims publicly. The message of Dr. Andrea has many components that need to be discussed and integrated into a new Middle Eastern Evangelical spirituality. It will be wise to reflect on his thought-provoking, and perhaps controversial message. Some of the statements of Dr. Andrea are a clear challenge to Dispensationalism, Two Covenant Theologies, Christian Zionism, and New Christian Zionism. He also challenges gnostic teachings in Middle Eastern churches and apathetic theologies that ignore the social responsibilities of the followers of Christ. Regardless of the convictions of the reader or the writer, it is clear that the Middle East is coming to an era in which its leaders are addressing controversial issues from a contemporary Middle Eastern perspective. Diligent theologians can no longer ignore their important voices.
To hear Dr. Zaki's message on video - see this youtu.be/7ymu3VZmItg (Arabic)