Monday, May 14, 2007

About Protestant Pilgrimages

Evangelicals go essentially to visit the sites of biblical significance on what are primarily educational tours. These in themselves will only perpetuate and reinforce a pietistic faith rooted in the 1st Century, without addressing either the present Middle East conflict or necessarily engaging in theological praxis. The presence of an ancient and Oriental Christianity is either ignored, misunderstood or even criticized for desecrating the archaeological sites with what are often regarded as pagan shrines.

Fundamentalist pilgrims visit the Holy Land for similar reasons but with the added schatological dimension, believing themselves to be witnessing and indeed participating in the purposes of God, at work within Israel in these 'Last Days'. They believe they have a divine mandate to support the state of Israel.

The third, most recent and smallest category of pilgrimage to emerge is associated with the term 'Living Stones'. These pilgrimages in contradistinction seek to counter the ignorance of many Evangelicals and the harm caused by Fundamentalists, by engaging in acts of solidarity with the Palestinian church. These pilgrimages include opportunities to meet, worship with, listen to and learn from the spirituality and experience of the indigenous Christians.

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