Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gaza - A Christian Litmus Test

I got an e-mail last Monday asking me to volunteer to come to Gaza ASAP to help with the medical relief. Of course it would not be safe and I had mixed feelings about it, but I said yes. Maybe I would have had second thoughts if I had not been depressed. Anyway, it is a week later and they have never ask me to come so I'm sure I will be going.

But now, moving on to another subject . . . Gaza, and the Christian response to it.

I'm sorry about the graphic photo, but it is reality.

Our pastor did his monthly dinner talk last Sunday on the situation in Gaza. I had mixed feelings about going, but I did decide to go at first. In the end I stayed home because Denise came home from work with a migraine.

But, I know most of my pastor’s views on the Middle East, because we’ve had other conversations about it. He represents the mainline view of Evangelicals. I’m sure if I had gone to the dinner meeting, I would have been frustrated . . . not just because of his views, but the fact that I would be the only dissenting voice. Once again (and this is why it is hard being a Post-Evangelical going to an Evangelical church), I would at least appear as the weak, misinformed (or confused by “worldly” views) Christian or a full-blown heretic at most. Maybe someone would even consider that I wasn’t a Christian at all. This is what our head elder suggested when I made the comment that I didn't believe that the universe is only 6,000 years old . . . but that’s another story.

So most Evangelicals believe the following about the situation with Israel:

1) Israel is still God’s chosen people and, according to the dispensationalists, God will once again work through that nation.

2) That it was God’s plan for Israel to become a nation again in 1948, and indeed the establishment of Israel was a sign that Christ’s return was imminent.

3) The way that Israel was established was fair. The Jews, coming in from Europe, had an agreement with the Palestinians to buy their land at an above the market value. The Palestinians were happy to do that. Later the Palestinians (just because they are evil people) decided to hate Israel for no reason and they have been the source of all the problems since.

4) We must always support Israel because God is on their side. In the recent war (like all wars that Israel is involved in) the Palestinians got what they deserved.

What amazes me is how dogma can be such a filter through which we view reality, to the point that we can’t see the obvious. There is not one serious student of Middle Eastern history that would see the development of the nationhood of Israel in this light, unless they too had been seduced by some political (Zionist) or religious dogma.

Certainly dogma has its place, to keep us on the straight and narrow. But dogma can also be a substitute for thinking and certainly a tool for determining your personal self esteem and judging others. The thinking goes, “I think the correct doctrines therefore I’m a good guy (on God’s side). They think something differently, so they are the bad guys.”

I had an e-mail from a medical practitioner friend named David yesterday. He is a Jew with strong ties to Israel. He was telling me that he had just returned from “Gaza” the day before and was safe and sound. But I knew he was visiting his family on the Israeli side. When I told him that I was considering going to Gaza proper, he send a brief comment about, “Yeah . . . they’re the ones firing missiles at my family.” But, knowing Dave fairly well, I wrote him back, “David, I am a-political. I don’t care which side of the line I’m on. I could patch up Israeli kids as easily as Palestinian kids and really think you would do the same.” He replied, “You’re right . . . I would.”

So, looking at the situation in non-political terms and certainly non-religious (eschatological) terms, you would see 1400 people (most of who are innocent bystanders, children, women etc.) killed on one side. Besides that, they were on the side where the resources are very, very limited. Then on the other side, 10 people killed, of whom, 5 were innocent bystanders? It is so obscene that only someone blinded by some ridiculous political or religious dogma would not see the great human tragedy. I have had several messianic-Judaistic friends who I’m sure are cheering about Israel’s invasion and wished that they had killed more Palestinians. How hateful.

I really like Micah 6:8 when I think how I should think about any circumstance. I simply states: “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

I've talked to many Muslims and Christian-Arabs. The number one issue why they don't like American and especially American Evangelicals is how they place dogma over human lives. If the Palestinians had not be dealt with unfairly there would have never been the ground swell to create Al Qaeda. Of course there's been other issues the Arabs have for hating us . . . not even mentioning the Shah of Iran situation, or us arming Iraq and Iran to fight each other. I'm not justifying in any way the evil they've done. They are without excuse.

I'm certainly not advocating, like Ahmadinejad that the nation of Israel should be wiped out or removed. Of course not! No, we must now live with the situation that the US and UK created. I have the same respect and love for the Israeli people as the Palestinians. However, we must have humble repentance and true love for all men, women and children.

Now erase the entire Scolfield dispensationalist thinking and put on the eyes of God, look towards Justice and Mercy, and how can you not feel compassion for any innocents that are harmed reardless of who they are? What would Jesus really do? The litmus test determines if a Christian is more committed to a particular (man-made) dogma, or the principles of scripture, God's justice for all.

See also:


Justin said...

Not that it counts for much, but you'll have my blessing and prayers on your behalf as you go. I hope, deeply, your effort is fruitful.

Regarding the picture... can anyone tell me, with any amount of certainty, what God has in store for these people? I mean, did they ever have a chance in this life for something good? Can I trust God to deal with them rightly?

Anonymous said...

As i have read the Qur'an, much of it puts dogma over the value of human life. I wish the blood shed would stop. Tell me, if you were charged with defending your family, and a radical group that yearned for your families extermination fired at you from behind a human wall of their own people, what would you do? Must be a hard decision.
If my leader wanted me to fire indiscriminately from a highly populated civilian area,into other civilian areas with no true targeting system, just to cause terror, and I knew that the retaliation would be laser guided bombs that although the most accurate in the world would cause collateral damage , I would get new leaders.
I don't even own a scofield.

Justin, you can always trust God to be righteous.

MJ said...

Oh, the Quran puts dogma far above human life, and at this point in history, Islam is far more Dualistic thatn Evangelicalism. I haven't said anything to defend Islam and that's certainly not my goal. My goal is to defend all God-breathed human life, Israeli or Palestinian.

I'm certain that is is hard for those on the receiving end of the Hamas missles. There have been a few innocent people killed by them and that's horrible. But Palestinians have tremendous value in God's eyes too. Americans tend to see them as far less valuable than Israelis or our own children.

If a bunch of evil gang bangers were shoot missles out of some inner city civilian area in LA, would we call in the military and kill 1000 innocent men, women and children (Americans) in order to try and flush out and kill 2-300 bad guys? All I'm saying is that Palestinians have no less value in God's eyes than Americans. We are not God's special people and every one else is crap.

Anonymous said...

Pre-Millenial Dispensationalist Anti-Semitic Zionism, et al:

1) Israel is in The Land. This is a Fulfillment (TM) of End Time Prophecy. Therefore...

2) What happens is God's Will. Israel is Fuflilling (TM) God's Will in Prophecy and Can Do No Wrong. Anyone who does not support Israel 1000% is Rebelling Against God's Will. But...

3) Israel must be "Judged" (destroyed) in The Great Tribulation (TM) for rejecting/killing Christ.

Jews, Arabs, whoever -- to an Anti-Semitic Zionist/Protestant of Mass Destruction, none of them are people. Only pieces to move about on the End Time Prophecy Chart.

Headless Unicorn Guy

Ctenuchid said...

Tell me, if you were charged with defending your family, and a radical group that yearned for your families extermination fired at you from behind a human wall of their own people, what would you do?

...launch bombs and air strikes to kill *their* families - because that's clearly God's way, right? It angers me so much to see people, Christians no less, essentially say in so many words that the Palestinians deserve what they're getting from the Israelis.

You know what I would do if my family were killed? I'd go over there and try to talk to those Palestinians. I'd try to forgive them. I'd like to think the kind of family I'd belong to would be ashamed of me launching bombs, ordering air strikes and sending tanks and infantry to kill innocent people in some immature lust for revenge.