Today IRD was privileged to receive a visit from Sudanese Episcopal Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail from the war-torn Nuba Mountains region of Sudan. Earlier today he was escorted by IRD religious liberty director Faith McDonnell to several congressional offices. The bishop now mostly resides in South Sudan among thousands of refugees from the Nuba. He often visits the area of his diocese, although his former home has been destroyed, among so much destruction and killing by Sudan’s Islamist regime.
The bishop recalled that when he was elected as bishop at age 31 ten years ago he had to walk the breadth of his diocese, only later getting a bicycle. Eventually he got a land rover. But the war destroyed everything. Christianity is fast growing in the majority Muslim region as many turn to Jesus Christ amid their suffering. Khartoum wages its war against both Christians and Muslims who don’t accommodate its Arabist/Islamist theocracy. Now the bishop often leads worship in the cathedral in Juba, which is the capital of now independent South Sudan.
As I explained IRD’s church reform work, the bishop was amazed by the theological disputes that plague America’s liberal-dominated denominations, especially over marriage and sex. And he was shocked when I described how the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia this week hosted radical Jesus Seminar exponent John Dominic Crossan, who preached in a Northern Virginia Episcopal Church, as part of a series about Lent, that Jesus Christ did not physically rise from the dead. It’s just a political/social metaphor. Crossan doesn’t believe in an afterlife, not does he really believe in a personal deity.
The Sudanese bishop wondered how anyone claiming to be Christian can dispute the authentic resurrection of Jesus Christ, which is the heart and hope of our faith. Certainly the many converts to Jesus Christ in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan are not inspired by absurd, passé theologians like John Dominic Crossan. The Jesus Seminar message, which now bores even most diehard liberals, is only appropriate for dying churches, not the vibrant Body of Christ in Sudan and globally.
Meeting Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail was an uplifting spiritual antidote to the malaise in much of American church life.