<a href="https://biblicalmissiology.org/author/ghoussney/" target="_self">Georges Houssney</a>

Georges Houssney

Georges Houssney was raised in the predominantly Muslim city of Tripoli, Lebanon. He came to faith in Jesus Christ as a teenager. Soon God grew a deep love for Muslims in his heart, and he began to sense God's call for full-time service among them. Well-known for his work supervising the translation and publication of the Bible into clear modern Arabic, Georges and his family moved from the Middle East to the United States in 1982 to minister to international students. Georges is passionate about reaching internationals here and abroad with the great news of salvation. He writes and lectures internationally about ministry to Muslims, and he strives to awaken a new generation who will proclaim the gospel boldly. Georges is founder and director of Horizons International and does Muslim evangelism training through his training Engaging Islam.

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    I would be interested in anyone who could write a Christian (Evangelical and accurate) response to this. It is called, “A 7th Century War on Terrorism” – by Adnan Rashid – he basically says that the first 100 years of the Arab Muslims conquering Byzantine, N. Africa, and by implication, Persia, were just wars wages by Islam and judgments on the injustices of the Byzantium Chalcedonians (those who accepted the 451 AD Chalcedonian Creed and were persecuting the Monophyites in Egypt, Syria and other places) and, by implication, that it was a just war against Persia because the Zoroastrian government of Persia was unjust against the Nestorians. (I have read other Muslims make that claim.)

    http://www.ummah.com/forum/showthread.php?233960-A-7th-Century-War-On-Terror-Adnan-Rashid

    All modern issues and debates about all the wars/ harb / Qatal / Jihads, etc and the Palestinian issue, when understood better – it seems to me, to go all the way back to this issue – the beginning of Islam. It all seems to be the Arab Muslims carrying out and obeying Surah 9:5 and 9:29, and 8:39 and the Hadiths that say the same things.

    Ken T.

  2. Avatar

    Thanks Georges!

    I agree that the C1-C6 spectrum thing is not totally accurate or scientific, etc. – there is a lot of fuzziness in the C-3 to C-4 level; that is why I called it a “general template”. I think it has some general value – understanding that C1 is not speaking at all the language of the Muslim – staying trapped in their sub-cultures of Coptic, English(international churches of expatriates expecting Muslims to come to their services, etc.), Armenian, Assyrian, etc. (Yes, mostly forced on them by the Dhimmi system) – and not reaching out in Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, Kurdish, etc. – seems to have been a problem for centuries.

    Is there a better template or chart, without being too simplistic that would help foreign missionaries in this issue of legitimate contextualization (translation, communication, illustration in their culture) and where the line is crossed into syncretism? It seemed clear to me that the line was between the C4 level and C5 level of contextualization.

    I agree that it is wrong for an outsider to impose on the Arab churches – Isa – but I just wonder if in Evangelism – they would be willing to use it, just at the beginning, but then later explain the roots of the Yasou’a word – that that is the word closer to the original “Yashou’a” (Joshua).

    You wrote:
    “To your question about Christians welcoming Muslim invaders, this is what many historians testify too.”

    Are they completely right? or have they just adopted the Islamic line and view?
    Many are questioning this today.

    A professor said to me, “there is some truth to that”, but, [the rest is from my memory and compilation of what I have heard other Middle Easterners say] later, the Christian groups (Copts, Monophysites in Syria, etc.) saw the Islamic invaders as deceptive and they were not so welcoming when they saw their real agenda to take over, but it was too late. (The Jiziye and Dhimmi system developed later from Omar 1 to Omar Pact 2. An Egyptian Evangelical Christian and others have told me the same thing.

    The evidence from St. Sophronius of Jerusalem does not seem to line up with that view. But he was Chalcedonian. Do the Copts, the Maronites, the Oriental Orthodox, the “Rum” (those that are left from the Byzantine/Syriac ancestors that were in unity with Rome and Constantinople), Assyrians, Armenians still think that, that they were liberators?

    ” The people groups in the Arab world who see Arabs as conquerors are usually the ethically non – Arabs such as Kurds, Berbers, Circassian, etc…”

    Though not in the Arab world – the ethnic tension is especially high with Persians (Iranians) – there is a deep ethnic hatred and they especially, generally hate Omar, the second Caliph, because he led the Jihads/Wars against Persia.

    But also, many Egyptians (Copts, and evangelicals who came out of the Coptic church) and Lebanese and Jordanian and Syrian Christians have said to me, “I am not Arab” – my ancestors are Egyptian, or Phoenician, or Byzantine, or Syrian or Assyrian, or Armenian.

    Thanks so much for your time and work in these areas!

  3. Avatar

    Dear Ken,
    Thanks for your comment.
    On the matter of the name Isa versus Yasou’ I am in full agreement with you. I am well aware of the fact that in Farsi and Turkish the standard is to use Isa. But this is not the case in Arabic. The Arabic Church has chosen to translate from Hebrew Yashoua rather than Greek Isous. It would be wrong for an outsider to impose Isa on the Arabic Church. This has been a divisive issue. I supervised several Bible translations other than Arabic. In Kurdish for example we chose Isa but in Arabic we retained Yasoua.
    I know about the organization you left. They are losing people and support but they are not changing their views because they see themselves are leaders in the Insider Movement. I pray they will wise up and reform their ways.
    Ken, I agree that there are legitimate contextualization practices. But much of the current use is not appropriate. We need better guidelines to help churches and missionaries do appropriate Contextualization which I believe I do often. But I do not subscribe to the paradigm of the C1-C6. It takes people deeper and deeper in the direction of C6. I believe the emphasis in our work should not be on contextualization but rather on Transformation. Contextualization and Transformation meet somewhere in the middle but they are going in different directions. Like a trail in the mountain, a hiker going up the trail and another going down the trail see the same trees and rocks along the way but they are going in different directions. Contextualists tend to move toward acceptance of culture therefore it they do not challenge people to change. They certainly want to change some evil practices but the trend is acceptance rather than change. Transformation begins with change and retains what does not need to change.

    To your question about Christians welcoming Muslim invaders, this is what many historians testify too. The people groups in the Arab world who see Arabs as conquerors are usually the ethically non – Arabs such as Kurds, Berbers, Circassian, etc…
    Thanks again for your post.
    Georges

  4. Avatar

    Georges,
    Thanks for this excellent summary of the history of translation of the Bible into Arabic and the influence of missions efforts by westerners on the situation.

    I don’t see the problem with using “Isa” عیسی instead of “Yasou’a” یسوع as long as we are explaining and teaching who the real “Isa” is – eternal Son of God who became flesh, and how that leads us to the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. (John 1:1-5; 14; Hebrews 1, Philippians 2, Colossians 1; etc.)

    Iranians and Turks have no other word for Jesus than “Isa” in their Bible translations. The reason why the Arabic speaking world retained “Yasou’a” is because of the Syriac and Byzantine culture. (Greek language and Syriac/ Aramaic) Those areas that were not part of the old Byzantine/Greek Empire don’t have the background of the word closer to Joshua / Ya-shoua – Greek – Hebrew.

    I agree that taking out “Father” and “Son” is wrong and crossed the line.

    I left a mission agency in 2009 because they were promoting the “Common Ground” and “Insider’s Movement” and C-5 level of contextualization too much. They would argue that it was not required by all, only allowed if a team wanted to experiment with it. Some of the leaders said 40 % of the teams experiment with different levels / aspects of C-5/Insider’s / common ground methods. Other leaders said only 15% experimented with aspects of it. Some disagree with each other on how widespread those methods are. The problem was the IM/C-5/ common ground methods was getting all the attention, promotion, and attention, and those that disagreed had to be quiet, because that is considered not “grace oriented” toward other Christians.

    Don’t you think there is a legitimate level of “contextualization” (translation, communication, understanding – like a C-3 or C-4 level – assuming the Travis spectrum/paradigm as a general template) and there is a point at which is crosses the line into syncretism and confusion and compromise?

    You mentioned above that the Christians viewed the Arab conquerers as oppressors.

    Is there hard evidence for the often repeated statement in the history of the Arab invasions of 636-732 AD and beyond, “The Christians (Monophysites – Copts, Jacobite-Syrians, non-Chalcedonians; and the Nestorians in Mesopotamia vs. the Zoroastrian Persian government) welcomed the Arab invaders as liberators from their Byzantine (Greek soldiers, Chalcedonians – those that held to the Chalcedonian Creed.) oppressors/persecutors.” ? Even you made a similar statement in an old article that I have from your “Reach Out” magazine years ago. St. Sophronius of Jerusalem does not appear to have “welcomed” them, but he was Chalcedonian/Byzantine in his theology. He was not Monophysite or Nestorian.

    Sincerely,
    Ken Temple

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