The numbers of Christians living in Iraq, mostly Catholic and Orthodox, have been dwindling for more than two decades. One exodus of Christians began during the prolonged Iran-Iraq war that stretched from 1979 to ’88. The short, violent gulf war of 1991 was followed by 11 years of United Nations economic sanctions, which church leaders say have made life miserable and survival tenuous for many.
Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from hurt and harm!"And God granted what he asked. (1 Chron. 4:10, NRSV)
"I have become all things to all people,” Paul wrote to the Corinthians, apparently not foreseeing how we would regard his wry boast. Today his efforts to ingratiate himself with very different people sound inauthentic, phony—and impossible. “You can’t be all things to all people,” is how one of my seminary professors put it.
A contemporary reader of the New Testament letter we call 1 Corinthians is likely to be a little puzzled by the amount of attention it gives to whether the Corinthian Christians could eat meat that had been offered to pagan idols. Chapters 8-10 treat this question, though not in a straight line entirely free of digression. By the time St.