Monday, October 24, 2011

More Christian Unethical Anti-Christian Zionism

I found here this manifesto or declaration: An Open Letter to America’s Christian Zionists composed by David P. Gushee ("Dr. Gushee seeks to participate in the advance of God’s reign through scholarship and teaching in the field of Christian ethics") and Glen H. Stassen ("Stassen’s primary research and teaching interests are theological ethics, incarnational discipleship, peacemaking, social justice, and our need for healing in what he calls an 'Age of Interaction'."), September 19, 2011.

Remember, it is addressed to their fellow Christians.  Excerpts:-

...American evangelical-fundamentalist Christian Zionism affects US policy toward Israel and the Palestinians in distressing ways.

Not to put too fine a point on it, we wish to claim here that the prevailing version of American Christian Zionism—that is, your belief system—underwrites theft of Palestinian land and oppression of Palestinian people, helps create the conditions for an explosion of violence, and pushes US policy in a destructive direction that violates our nation’s commitment to universal human rights. In all of these, American Christian Zionism as it currently stands is sinful and produces sin...we are seriously worried about...policies that violate biblical warnings about injustice and may lead to the...serious harm to or even destruction of Israel.

We write as evangelicals to you, our fellow evangelicals. On the shared basis of biblical authority, we ask you to reconsider your interpretation of Scripture, for the sake of God, humanity, the United States, and, yes, Israel itself, the Land and People we both love.

...We think that love of the Holy Land is far better than indifference to it. And both of us, as students of the long and terrible history of Christian anti-Semitism, which culminated in the horrors of the Holocaust, far prefer a strong sense of Christian kinship with the Jewish people and their historic homeland than the centuries-long Christian pattern of theological disdain and even hatred that so long predominated...

...we take seriously all of the offspring of Abraham. Genesis 15:4-5 has God taking Abram outside and telling him that his descendants will be as numerous as the stars of the heavens. Genesis 17:4, probably the pivotal text, has God saying to Abraham: “This is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations.” Many nations, a multitude of nations; many offspring, many kings—read Genesis 17 again and see the plural nouns here.

Close readers of Scripture will know that in fact Abraham did become the father of many nations...The Old Testament clearly positions Abraham as the father/ancestor of not only the Jewish people but of a vast number of other peoples...

A close reading [of the Book of Joshua]shows that the Hebrew tribes shared the land for centuries with other groups, and that even when tribes were assigned certain portions of land, they didn’t necessarily control every square inch of it. The point is obvious later when it comes to the challenge posed by the Philistines. It is not an overstatement to say that the Israelite/Hebrew/Jewish people never had exclusive possession of the Holy Land, regardless of whatever divine promises they or we believe that they received.

...Israel’s prophets repeatedly warned that God’s covenant promise of the land was conditional on her moral performance...At a theological level, we are claiming that even if one accepts a) a divine promise of land to the Jewish people as recorded in scripture, b) a belief that this promise extends even to this day, and c) the modern state of Israel as, in part, God’s gracious fulfillment of this promise, one must also say d) the Bible, in the prophetic writings, also teaches that persistent injustice on the part of Israel has evoked, and still can bring, God’s judgment, which can extend even to war and exile. Israel’s remaining in the land depends on Israel’s now doing justice to Palestinians and making peace with its Arab neighbors that surround Israel.

Indeed, Jesus, as prophet and Savior, also prophesied that Jerusalem would be destroyed because they did not know the practices that make for peace (Lk 19:41-44)...your actions actually make it more likely to happen!

...We are not Old Testament prophets, nor do we pretend to see the future. But we have seen enough to claim that the occupation practices of the modern state of Israel are a direct violation of the most basic biblical moral principles.

We genuinely fear that someday someone or some nation inflamed with resentment at the seemingly eternal Israeli subjugation of the Palestinian people will “make your land desolate so no one can live in it” (Jer 6:8). That sounds like a nuclear bomb. Have you heard of Mahmoud Ahmedinijad?

We will leave it to God to sort out with the Jewish people of the modern state of Israel the very complex terms of his covenant with them. But we cannot remain silent about the vast array of American Christians who support the most repressive and unjust Israeli policies in the name of Holy Land and a Holy God.

We plead with you, our brothers and sisters, to find a better way, a more biblical way, to love Israel. Love Israel enough to oppose rather than support actions that violate God’s clearly revealed moral will.

David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics, Mercer University;

Glen H. Stassen, Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics, Fuller Theological Seminary;

Drs. Gushee and Stassen are co-authors of “Kingdom Ethics” (InterVarsity Press) and are members of the board of directors of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good.

Before I continue on a theological level (see this previous post on the subject and for something worse than this manifesto, see Moody), to understand the ethical Gushee, consider this from his recent visit:

The wall loomed high over our heads in massive gray ugliness, livened only on the Palestinian side by creatively angry graffiti. With guard towers, barbed wire, spikes on the ground to disable tires and ubiquitous young Israeli soldiers everywhere, the wall (Wall, really) is one of the most distressing pieces of human architecture I have ever seen.  The Wall divides Israel from occupied Palestine. It also divides Jews from Palestinians. Israeli Jews are not legally permitted to cross into the Palestinian side. Palestinians who want to leave their walled cities must cross through a security check that may or may not permit them to exit...

...In every direction we saw gleaming, new-looking and amazingly massive Jewish “settlements” -- Jewish communities planted in land that under international law, and recognized by U.S. policy, rightly belongs to the Palestinians. These are not “settlements” in the sense of modest little villages with a few shops, but rather sizable cities. They are connected to each other and the outside world through special roads that cut into Palestinian territory yet on which Palestinians cannot drive.

At least he refers to them as "communities". But he falls for an apartheid road claim.

This blog is not the place for an academic discussion of Christian Zionism (but see here; here; here; here; and here.

Nevertheless, consider this:

1. Nowhere in the world is Christianity and Christians under threat of death and elimiantion more than in the Islamic world, which would appear to parallel what Islmic forces are doing to Israel and Zionism and yet these two theologians ignore this aspect except to basically blame the Jews.

2. Ethics seem not to apply to Arabs according to their thinking.

3. Their Biblical interpretration is wanting. Here is one Christian response. Here is the IJEC. And another. A third. For a Jewish position, see AISH. And for an Islam pro-Israel view, see here and Sheikh Palazzi and also here.

In short, as in other instances, we have politically prejudiced professors, of the libertarian persuasion, reinterpretating Scripture/Bible from a throwback from the future without any comprehension of the actions and ideology of the Arabs of the territory of the former Mandate of Palestine.

They ignore the history of the Jewish-Arab conflict in this country, the murderous character of their opposition and their continued immorality, their prevarications and propaganda.

In short, I doubt they are true Christians.



I have been sent the response to the two gentlemen from the ICEJ USA


...[your] conclusions not only demonstrate a flawed understanding of biblical justice, but a degree of theological inconsistency and historical ignorance that are deeply troubling in professors of your standing in such highly respected institutions such as Fuller and Mercer.

...Our support for Israel does not mean that we think Israel is perfect, or that we blindly support all of her policies. She has many good policies and some bad – like all states do. We tremble not over God’s promise to judge Israel and correct her when necessary (Jer. 30:11), but His ultimate judgment of the nations for their treatment of Israel and the Jewish people (Isa. 60:12; Joel 3:2; Matt. 25:31-40). We pray for the peace of Jerusalem knowing that the answer to that prayer will mean great blessing for both Arabs and Jews – in fact, all the world...

The underlying attitude of the document is shocking and should be of a great concern to the respected Fuller Theological Seminary. To suggest that Israel deserves a devastating war and nuclear annihilation and that Christian Zionists are “aiding and abetting” Israel’s sin thereby causing any future war and possible nuclear wipe-out is a position that Fuller Seminary urgently needs to distance itself from.

...the authors’ opening recap of the present day situation is their over simplification of complex issues that have long histories. The authors do not seem to take this history into consideration which makes the reader wonder if they even know it...

...the authors blame the lack of negotiations on the ideology of the Netanyahu government: Zionism. What is missing is any reference to the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize Israel’s right to exist and their decades long use of violence aimed at her eradication...

...As to the actual borders of the land, that is something entirely up to God, as the Apostle Paul affirmed in Acts 17:26. Israel’s borders changed many times in history and it is true that during times of judgment there was a loss of land. It is not up to us to determine her borders but to support her right to exist in security and peace.

But the scriptures also describe a spiritual reality that the authors never mention. That is; throughout Israel’s history there has been a relentless, evil attempt to destroy her (Psalm 83). The book of Esther is a compelling example of this...

...let’s look at Israel’s treatment of aliens starting with the treatment of the Arabs within Israel itself. They have citizenship, can vote (including women), have freedom of speech, have their own political parties, serve in the Knesset, serve on the Supreme Court and can even be “Miss Israel.” Israel is the only country in the whole Middle East in which the Christian Arab population is growing. Why aren’t the Christian Arabs fleeing Israel like they are the Muslim world? Obviously, they have found more justice in Israel than in any of the Arab countries...

...We tremble not over God’s promise to judge Israel and correct her when necessary (Jer. 30:11), but His ultimate judgment of the nations for their treatment of Israel and the Jewish people (Isa. 60:12; Joel 3:2; Matt. 25:31-40)...if we want to help bring justice to the Palestinian people then we need to be honest and admit that their problem is not Israel but their own corrupt and cowardly leaders and we need to call for those leaders to lay down their goal of eradicating Israel, recognize her right to exist as a Jewish state and broker an agreement for the sake of the Palestinian people.

Susan Michael, ICEJ USA Director; Dr. Jürgen Bühler, ICEJ Interim Executive Director; Rev. Malcolm Hedding, ICEJ Vice Chairman.



YMedad said...

and see this recent post

Anonymous said...


"2. Ethics seem not to apply to Arabs according to their thinking."

I hope it's not really their thinking but their politics. As stated here:

[begin quote]

“What if Arabs had recognized the State of Israel in 1948?” asks Abdulateef Al-Mulhim in a recent column in Arab News: “Would the Arab world have been more stable, more democratic, and more advanced?” His affirmative answer emphasizes how much better off the Palestinians and their fellow Arabs, as well as non-Arab Muslims, would have been had some Arab leaders not used the Palestinians “for their own agenda to suppress their own people and to stay in power.” The Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh censures Fatah and Hamas for depriving thousands of Palestinians “in the two Palestinian states in the West Bank and Gaza Strip” of the individual liberties that flourish across the border in Israel. The Israel News channel YNet quotes a Syrian publicist as saying, “Our government shoots at us; Israel works to return even rotted bones. Maybe the problem is with us.” (He is referring to earlier prisoner exchanges where hundreds of Arab prisoners were traded for the corpses of Israeli soldiers.) Not until these sentiments prevail will Arab citizens begin to enjoy the opportunities Israelis take for granted.

[end quote]


If the Arabs would have invested in helping their own people rather than destroying the Jewish nation (and any supporters), would we still be facing this worldwide war?