King's Evangelical Divinity School

2 April 2011

How Not To Be Taken Seriously

Imagine, purely hypothetically, if Israel indiscriminately fired a missile at an Arab bus station, killing one person and wounding around 30 others. I don't mean an Israeli retaliatory attack, or a missile fired at a target hidden within the bus station, or an act carried out during  war. I just mean imagine if the Israeli military, completely out of the blue and for no reason whatsoever, decided to blow up a bus station in the Arab West Bank or Gaza. There would - rightly - be complete uproar and utter global condemnation. At the vanguard of such protest would be the many Christians who are deeply critical of Israel and despise Christian Zionism. After all, they have a track record of criticising Israel's actions whenever the opportunity arises. Well, it has been a little over a week since a terrorist bomb - completely unhypothetically - was denotated at Jerusalem's main bus station with the express intention of causing as many civilian casualties as possible. Yet we've barely heard a squeak from the Christian anti-Israel brigade. Indeed, so far I've only come across one Chrisian organisation critical of Israel which released a statement condemning unequivocally the Jerusalem bombing (earning my respect, despite disagreements I may have with them, as an organisation to be taken more seriously).

Now imagine that if, during the course of this hypothetical Israeli attack on the Arab bus station, the only person to die was actually an Evangelical Christian. Just consider for a moment the massive significance of such an occurrence for those who condemn Christian support for Israel. Inevitably, Christian friends of Israel would be severely criticised for supporting a state committing an atrocity that had resulted in the death of a believer, and come under tremendous pressure to ditch such support for Israel. Yet the single individual who died in last week's far from hypothetical cowardly bombing in Jerusalem by Palestinian terrorists was indeed an Evangelical Christian, a Bible translator with Wycliffe who was brushing up on her Hebrew in preparation for her return to Africa to translate portions of Scripture into a little-known African language. Yet more than a week after the bombing and death of Mary Jean Gardner, Christian critics of both Israel and the Jewish state's Evangelical friends have been strangely quiet... well, quiet about that particular bombing, but in some cases far from quiet in continuing to demonise Israel during the past week (including just a day or two after the Jerusalem bombing).

At best, such hypocrisy is distasteful to the memory of a believer who was brutally killed as she went about God's work (and thus a real martyr, a far cry from those who - in the name of God- wrap explosives and bags of nails about their body and denotate themselves among everyday folk going about their business). But there is also another issue at play here, one where some (not all) Christian critics of Israel are so driven by hate towards the Jewish state that they will quite easily draw on the plight of believers if it suits their political purposes (indeed they have a track record of doing so), yet remain eerily silent when the situation is completely reversed. It all rather smacks of taking a side "right or wrong", which is deeply ironic given this is the very charge they lay at the door of anyone remotely holding to the view that God retains a plan and purpose for the Jewish people (whether or not they are Christian Zionists). It also demonstrates a complete inability to respond to issues and events honestly and objectively, and such selectivity doesn't go unnoticed by those who want to engage in genuine debate and dialogue. Indeed, there is a very important lesson to be learned here for Israel's Christian friends, namely, to avoid similar selectivity and lack of objectivity when responding to the conflict. There are some people on both sides of the debate who genuinely seek to be sincere and objective, dealing openly and frankly with some of the complexities of the current conflict, engaging fairly with arguments on the other side, and as such commanding respect and a far greater likelihood of being listened to (I, for one, will now take much more seriously the group which unequivocally condemned the Jerusalem bombing, while I have debated with Christians who take a different view from me but whose honesty and fairness has won my respect). Then there are the others who are highly selective, simplistic, polarised and disingenuous, even if it means ignoring an inconvenient truth, all in the name of "my side right or wrong" (or in this case "Israel is always wrong"). They are a classic example of how not to be taken seriously.


Andrew Sibley said...

Calvin - for the record I have offered my regret at this action on Mike Moore's website, and expressed the need for prayer for all round peace on my blog Zion's New Name
No one gains from this and we should offer our sympathy for the loss of life without showing political favouritism or point scoring.

For my part the main issue is foundationally theological and relates to what it means for Israel to be 'in Christ' or in 'Messiah'. I believe that there is a coming revival amongst the Jews who will be brought into Christ at the end, but I maintain that all things are through Christ.

Romans 11:25-36
25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and in this way[e] all Israel will be saved. As it is written:
“The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
27 And this is[f] my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”[g]

28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now[h] receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and[i] knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”[j]
35 “Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”[k]
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Unknown said...

Calvin, your main motive of looking at Israel is your right belief that God has a plan for them in spite of most of them being objecting Jesus Christ whatsoever. Muslims at least accept Him as a prophet and one who will judge the world in the end. But forget not that Israel is generally careless of what happens to the poor civilian palestinian arabs who are caught in the middle. If Gaza is ruled by Hamas why the West Bank is not helped more in creating a prosperous and fair society? Because they don't care! Jews with meaningful exception of socialists by conviction - do not care about others. Why? Because they do not care about God's will - if they did they would be much more considerate.

So Andrew, its not theological but social and behavioural in nature our problem with the Jews. May God bless them in knowing Him and with peace!

Anonymous said...

so driven by hate...that they will quite easily draw on the plight of believers if it suits their political purposes (indeed they have a track record of doing so), yet remain eerily silent when the situation is completely reversed. It all rather smacks of taking a side "right or wrong".

Ha! Pot, kettle, etc.

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