Dr. Hassaballa Condemns Beheading of Monk in Istanbul

In the Name of God, the Kind, the Beautiful
In keeping with my consistent policy to condemn acts of violence against the innocent, let me be one of the first to condemn the beheading of a monk in Istanbul. The monk was from the countryside, and apparently the populace was enraged at a church hymn which the monk was accused of modifying. Assailants cut off his head, placed it on a pole, and paraded with the head in the streets. This, after many parts of the city were set on fire by angry mobs.
Such horrific violence is abhorrent to me, and I stand and speak out against such barbarity. This is not what God has called for His servants on earth to do. There is nothing godly about beheading a fellow human being. No Prophet of God would ever condone such brutality. I condemn it unequivocally.
If you are confused…do not feel bad.
No such incident has occurred in Istanbul…in current times. But, such an incident did occur in Constantinople around the year 511. Now, in your mind (be honest) were you thinking that it was Muslims who beheaded a Christian? The truth, you may be shocked to know, is that this incident was Christian on Christian violence:
The church of the day had a beloved hymn, the Trisagion or Thrice Holy, which praised, “Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal” (Orthodox churches sing it to this day). But the emperor, Anastasius, wanted to revise it in the Monophysite fashion, by lauding this God “Who was crucified for our sakes.” The new formula proclaimed that it was God alone who walked the soil of Palestine in the first century and suffered on the cross, a view that ignores the human reality of Jesus. So angry were the capital’s residents that they launched a bloody riot:
Persons of rank and station were brought into extreme danger, and many principal parts of the city were set on fire. In the house of Marinus the Syrian, the populace found a monk from the country. They cut off his head, saying that the clause had been added at his instigation; and having fixed it upon a pole, jeeringly exclaimed: “See the plotter against the Trinity!”

This is taken from Philip Jenkins’ book, Jesus Wars, on page 31. The point of the exercise of this blog post is perfectly summarized by Jenkins’ himself:


We can imagine the response if, in the twenty-first century, a Muslim mob beheaded a dissident theologian and paraded the grisly trophy around the streets. Not only would the crime be (properly) denounced, but Westerners would assume that such behavior was part of the fundamental character of that religion – a bloodthirsty, warlike intolerance that could be traced back to the sternest passages of the Quran. The beheading would be seen as a trademark of Islamic fanaticism. Surely, we would say, Christians would never act like that. But they assuredly did. (p. 31)

I could not have said it better myself.

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