My mother is Chaldean Catholic; my father is Syrian (some say it “Syriac”) Orthodox. They’ve always had an ecumenical marriage. When we lived in Greece as refugees, my dad met American evangelical missionaries who told him that his and my mom’s faiths were only “traditions” – that they were not really Christian. In order to be a real Christian, they said, he and my mom had to be “born again.”
That was my parents’ first exposure to that particular type of American evangelical dogma – the kind that views the ancient Christian churches as mere cultural forms bereft of zeal for the Lord Jesus Christ. This is only one manifestation of the ignorance of Western Christians about their brethren in the East; until the genocide of Iraqi Christians made some news in recent years, many didn’t even know there were any Christians in the Middle East. They thought it was a land of Muslims only. Some of the Middle Eastern sectarian fighting, in part, happens as different sects try to educate the West about the context and the landscape of Christianity in the Middle East. I don’t think it’s going well.
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