From Theology of Transparency to Theology of Coexistence
The Challenge for Egyptian Christians
The Egyptian church has long existed as a minority within a nation dominated by the political, religious, and cultural power of Islam. In this book, Andrea Zaki Stephanous explores the complex relationship that exists between the church and the Egyptian state, tracing the impact of recent political, theological, and societal developments on Christian engagement with broader Egyptian society.
Dr. Zaki explores the development of Egypt’s protestant theology against a backdrop of over fifty years of Egyptian history, from the rise of political Islam to Egypt’s most recent revolutions. He demonstrates the significance of the church’s growing commitment to interreligious dialogue, community development, and social engagement as tools for manifesting the kingdom of God amidst the significant cultural and sociopolitical challenges faced by Egypt’s Christians. An indepth overview of the Coptic Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS) is included as a powerful example of kingdom values in action and the potential of the church to transform society through tangible, incarnational love of neighbor. While this book is an excellent resource for those interested in Christian-Muslim dialogue, political theology, or the modern Egyptian church, it is also a powerful source of encouragement for Christians globally, especially those serving in contexts hostile to the gospel message.
I have had the privilege of knowing Dr. Zaki since he was a seminary student and can testify to the incredible way in which God has used him to positively impact the church in Egypt and Egyptian society as a whole. This carefully written book reveals the theological, social and political principles which he espouses and how they can help us understand and impact the Egyptian and Middle East scene with a biblically based approach. Dr. Zaki’s holistic approach, based on his understanding of the kingdom of God, is essential in a context where Islam has been promoted as the answer to all our needs, whereas the gospel as only meeting our spiritual and eternal needs.
The Bible Society of Egypt
This book is a must-read for anyone who wishes to understand events in Egypt, especially in the last fifty years, and the implications for Christian witness and ministry in the largest Arabic-speaking country in the world, as well as in the Middle East more broadly. The author, Andrea Zaki, is one of the most authoritative and influential evangelical statesman of his generation in the Middle East.
In a text characterized by penetrating and sharp analysis, deep historical awareness, and balanced reasoning, Dr. Zaki argues that transparent dialogue and compassionate societal engagement are essential characteristics of Christian witness, especially in Islamic cultures. We would do well to heed his prophetic call to exit our Christian ghettos and engage in transparent verbal witness and dialogue, together with compassionate involvement with others, especially with the downtrodden, marginalized poor and vulnerable, irrespective of their cultural and religious background.
Lindsay Brown, DD
International Director, Lausanne Movement
Former International General Secretary,
International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES)
This book is a sophisticated wrestling with the nature of Christian mission by the head of the Protestant Churches in Egypt and also the head of the largest non-governmental social service agency in Egypt. Zaki integrates an extensive analysis of the ever-developing field of community development with a careful understanding of holistic mission from a solidly biblical perspective. The amazing success of Zaki and his organization in improving Muslim-Christian relationships in Egypt points the way for how to do the same, not only across the Arab world, but everywhere around the globe. An important book.
Ronald J. Sider, PhD
Distinguished Professor Emeritus,
Theology, Holistic Ministry and Public Policy,
Palmer Seminary at Eastern University, Lansdale, Pennsylvania, USA
This book is one of the most exciting and enlightening monographs that has appeared during the last decade. In this relatively concise book, Dr. Zaki engages contemporary theological, political, and sociological scholarship with practical experiences from the church in Egypt, a country of a majority Sunni Muslims. Frequently, Zaki draws practical lessons from his work experience in CEOSS, and from the unique experience of the Egyptian church during the Arab Spring.
In my view, the model of transparent coexistence offered by Zaki’s book breaks the ongoing theological and socio-political debates which keep asking the traditional questions – “evangelism or social action,” “secularism or theocracy?” Congratulations for such a great contribution.
Atef Gendy, PhD
Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt
Table of Contents
- A Note on the Arabic Transliteration
- Egyptian Society and the Church
- The Church in Egypt
- Political Islam
- The Challenge of the State of Israel
- The Clash of Civilization
- The Arab Spring
- The Church and the Kingdom of God
- The Kingdom of God in Modern Interpretations
- Salvation or Social Action?
- The Theology of Samuel Habib
- Models for Christian Engagement
- The Church and Coexistence
- Church, Citizenship, and Coexistence
- The Theological Basis for Coexistence
- Religion and Power
- Religious Pluralism, Dialogue, and Mission
- Religious Freedom and Coexistence
- Evolution of Developmental Action
- The Evolution of Conceptual Understanding of Development Action in Egypt
- The Concepts of Growth and Development
- Evolution of Inclusive and Sustainable Development Strategies
- Facing the Future
- Locally Based Initiatives
- A Brief History of CEOSS
- CEOSS Example Initiatives
- The Impact of CEOSS