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Where is the Gospel, What Happened to Culture? The Reformed Church in Syria and Lebanon

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This paper is an attempt to address the question of gospel culture relationship from a Near Eastern perspective. Given the identity crisis challenge that the Reformed church of Syria and Lebanon is facing today, this paper discusses the following questions: is the gospel message, which is being enunciated by the Near Eastern Reformed ancestors of the American missionaries, applicable or not to the region's cultural and societal identity? Why are there features of conflict between the Reformed Near Eastern church's beliefs and values and the surrounding Christian cultural setting? Is this the responsibility of the missionaries or of the local, Arabic speaking Reformed church? These questions are answered by exposing two contemporary challenges that burden the Reformed church in the Near East. The first one is the relationship of the Reformed church to the theological and spiritual heritage of Eastern Christianity. And the second one is the relation of the Reformed ecclesial order, which is congregational and democratic in nature, to the Eastern ecclesial and social structure, which is hierarchical and autocratic in nature.


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Affiliations: 1: Near East School of Theology, Beirut


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