God's Politics

God's Politics


Pick-and-Choose Theology (by Daoud Kuttab)

posted by God's Politics

Recent discussion on Jews and Israel reminds me of a joke we used to hear as youngsters. The joke begins with a person, who, looking for direction in life, decides to go to the Bible. Opening the New Testament and randomly searching for a verse, he gets the verse of Judas, where, after his treason, it says he went and hanged himself. Not happy with what he got, he returns to the Bible for direction, hoping that this time he will be satisfied. Then the person randomly opens the pages again and gets the verse that says, “Go and do likewise.”
It is perfectly appropriate to love Jews in the same manner as God wants us to support women’s equal rights, fight poverty, and love the poor. But it is very difficult to look at the Bible on such a pick-and-choose basis. You can’t look at the verses about the Jews, women, or the poor without also looking at the verse that says in Christ there is no Jew or Gentile, no man or woman, no lord or slave (Galatians 3:28). If we don’t look holistically at the general ethos of the Bible we miss out on what is of extreme importance in our Christian life. Prophetic interpretation cannot, and should not, be done in such a manner. As Christians, we must defend life that is created in the image of God. We also must look for justice and fight against cruelty and injustice. That, rather than today’s headlines, or the warped interpretation of the Bible based on a particular theological point of view, should be the barometer for us.
Daoud Kuttab is a Palestinian journalist, professor at Princeton University, and founder of the Arab world’s first internet radio station, Ammannet. His e-mail is info@daoudkuttab.com.



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Alicia

posted September 12, 2007 at 2:20 pm


As a non-Evangelical Christian and something of an agnostic, I’m not sure what it means to say “I love Israel.” My support for Israel’s right to exist is non-negotiable. I also support a viable state for the Palestinian people.
I visited Israel (also Jordan and Egypt) a number of years ago. My impression of the Israelis at the time was that they were far from perfect, just like all other cultures and peoples.
I thought the “Christianity Today” piece Professor Kuttab linked to was pretty fair-minded, and could not quite relate what he was saying about “Pick and Choose” theology to the original piece.



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Ray

posted September 12, 2007 at 4:06 pm


What on earth is this guy talking about??? This is 2 paragraphs of pure double-talk. Typical liberal.



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wildebeast

posted September 12, 2007 at 5:47 pm


Isn’t the key to the passage about “no Jew, no …” that it is “in Christ?” 2 Corinthians 5 says that we “no longer view anyone from a worldly point of view,” but this is only true for Christians, and means that Christ lives through us to apply ourselves to others. This does not mean that we suddenly view Christians and non-Christians the same. We are called to not associate in fellowship with Christians, for example, who continue in willful sin, but it is expected that we will live and work among such people who are not Christians, since to not do so would be “to leave the planet.” We have a higher responsibility to our CHristian brothers and sisters to hold them accountable for sin, but we also will not join our unsaved brothers and sisters in many of their activities.
Israel is not a brother or sister, and no political state could possibly qualify as a “Christian” in this sense. Many orthodox Jews do not even recognize the modern state of Israel as lefitimate, since only the Messiah can found the new Jerusalem, not to mention that the present state is secular, not a theocracy. Therefore I would call support for Israel (the state) bad theology, not pick and choose. Pick and choose exemplifies those who don’t take sin within the Body of Christ, whether it be of a homosexual nature or simply failing the list of qualifications for leadership found in 1 Timothy, seriously because the Bible teaches us to “love one another.” Either God’s word is true and we conform to it (and submit to it even where we need the Holy Spirit to help us conform), or we conform it to ourselves…and thereby pick and choose. Too bad conservatives and liberals alike prefer to remake God in their own image too often…and then look at the speck in others’ eyes while justifying the plank in their own.



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Gordon

posted September 12, 2007 at 10:07 pm


I agree with Ray – it’s very difficult to decide just what he’s getting at here. If he means to say that scripture doesn’t necessarily require that we like Israel, he should say that.



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kevin s.

posted September 12, 2007 at 11:39 pm


I believe he is referring to those who support Israel for eschatological reasons. I support Israel precisely because of the cruelty and injustice that has been heaped upon them.



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Doodler

posted September 13, 2007 at 1:18 am


I too found the writer’s obtuse references to be confusing.
It is imperative to take Bible scriptures in context, it is important to remember that two can not walk together lest they agree (Amos). As I have begun to study the history of Islam, Allah is not the Lord of Jesus Christ any Muslim will be clear on that topic.
Additionally, Islam promotes the murder of all infidels that do not worship Allah, again and again, their leaders throughout time have made statements encouraging this. Just as Christians desire to share Christ. Islam desires to convert the world, but if people do not convert, then murder is appropriate to stop infidels from continuing to populate the world and to stop the corruption of the world. Do all Muslims desire or focus on killing non-Muslims – of course not, but if the author is warning us not to pick and choose scripture, we must ask the author to do likewise.
Just as their are sects and dominations within the Christian Community; likewise this exists in Islam. However, this view is taught to some extent in all the religious training, as this is a basic tenet of faith. Furthermore, to state this tenet doesn’t exist, is an acceptable, since lying to an infidel, because the infidel does not worship Allah. Lying to other followers of Allah is not acceptable, because it is misleading another follower of Allah.
Christ taught us to walk in peace with one another. He did not however condone irreligious practices, examples include when he took the cords to drive out the moneychangers or when he addressed the Pharisees and the Sadducces as White Washed Tombs.
I do not hate Muslims. I am commanded to love all but I am not called to give a nod to anyone who misquotes scripture (regardless of their religious views or purposes).
I am not sure if I am able to post the wonderful books that give the history but I hope everyone will study to show themselves approved unto the Lord.



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Robert Alu

posted September 13, 2007 at 2:44 am


“If we don’t look holistically at the general ethos of the Bible we miss out on what is of extreme importance in our Christian life.”
Dear Daoud Kuttab,
I appreciate your efforts, as a Palestinian Christian, to alert us through this blog site to the injustice in the Middle East that some in American ‘evangelical’ circles, wilfully or accidentally, help to perpetuate in the name of “God said we are to bless Israel”.
As a Christian I am aware that the Bible is clear both that non-believers are to know that we belong to Christ by our love towards other Christians (John 13:34) and also that followers of Christ, ESPECIALLY, are to love our ‘neighbour’ as ourselves.
(Figure out, for yourself, whom we are given permission to NOT love)!
Quite obviously Jesus’ description of who that neighbour is (Luke 10:29- 37) may prove painful to many – and so – as with so much of what constitutes the essence, the distinctives, of what ought to be a Christian ethos, it is simply glossed over, ignored or interpreted to suit the prejudices of those who refuse to be taught, or criticised, or to examine the facts (or study Scripture), on these pages and elsewhere.
Expect to read a lot about how the Palestinians are terrorists and Israel deserves to defend ‘herself’ against constant attacks from them in comments here. Expect Palestinians – starting with yourself – to be vilified and their belief systems (real or imagined) to be brought into the ‘discussion’.
Expect very very little criticism of the western church’s treatment of the Jews for all the centuries leading to the end of the second world war and western countries’ partial responsibility for the messy political situation in Palestine. Expect even less criticism of the Israeli government.
Yes, the ‘church’ in the west – more often than not in the name of Christ – has been behind every imaginable form of oppression and exploitation practically everywhere. I daresay that the present condition in the Middle East is actually a result of ‘Christian’ persecution of the Jews over the millenia! The Holocaust was/is such a shocking climax that we seem to have been overcompensating ever since! Still, expect little remorse from Christians commenting here.
Blind support for the secular state of Israel by some Christian Zionists, no matter what, although wrong, is not so strange, taken in historical context. Neither is self-fulfilling end times prophesy.
What is disheartening is reading so many sincere, well-intentioned (no doubt) comments here that are partial and unsympathetic to what is real human despair on the part of the Palestinians who have lived under occupation for such a long time.
Now it does not matter whether the people who are suffering are Al Quaeda terrorists or their daughters and grandmothers or even if they are Christians. They are my neighbours and they are suffering. In a very real sense they are like the man who “fell into the hands of robbers”. I should, at the very least, acknowledge that.
It is VERY VERY difficult (Christianity isn’t supposed to be easy), but I needs must ask MYSELF – “Are all people created in God’s image? Jews? What about Arabs? Does God really love a white American baby, born in California, exactly the same as He does one born in a mud hut in Africa or Afghanistan?” Or, are some ‘more equal than others?'(to quote from the classic).
And, back to the [2nd] greatest commandment, Jesus asked, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” (Luke 10).
(Not the priest. Not the Levite. It was the Samaritan, a fellow that the Jews would not socialise with, that proved a ‘neighbour’!)
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Isn’t Jesus Christ simply amazing? Is he saying that I only qualify to be a neighbour when I feel another’s pain? Is he saying that I am disobedient if I do not have mercy on the suffering, regardless of who (or where) they are?
Is he the same Lord I follow? Truly? What would/does he say about my attitude towards the situation in the Middle East?
May the Lord God bless you all!
Ma-asalam, Shalom, Maranatha!
– Alu
Dar es Salaam



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Robert Alu

posted September 13, 2007 at 2:45 am


“If we don’t look holistically at the general ethos of the Bible we miss out on what is of extreme importance in our Christian life.”
Dear Daoud Kuttab,
I appreciate your efforts, as a Palestinian Christian, to alert us through this blog site to the injustice in the Middle East that some in American ‘evangelical’ circles, wilfully or accidentally, help to perpetuate in the name of “God said we are to bless Israel”.
As a Christian I am aware that the Bible is clear both that non-believers are to know that we belong to Christ by our love towards other Christians (John 13:34) and also that followers of Christ, ESPECIALLY, are to love our ‘neighbour’ as ourselves.
(Figure out, for yourself, whom we are given permission to NOT love)!
Quite obviously Jesus’ description of who that neighbour is (Luke 10:29- 37) may prove painful to many – and so – as with so much of what constitutes the essence, the distinctives, of what ought to be a Christian ethos, it is simply glossed over, ignored or interpreted to suit the prejudices of those who refuse to be taught, or criticised, or to examine the facts (or study Scripture), on these pages and elsewhere.
Expect to read a lot about how the Palestinians are terrorists and Israel deserves to defend ‘herself’ against constant attacks from them in comments here. Expect Palestinians – starting with yourself – to be vilified and their belief systems (real or imagined) to be brought into the ‘discussion’.
Expect very very little criticism of the western church’s treatment of the Jews for all the centuries leading to the end of the second world war and western countries’ partial responsibility for the messy political situation in Palestine. Expect even less criticism of the Israeli government.
Yes, the ‘church’ in the west – more often than not in the name of Christ – has been behind every imaginable form of oppression and exploitation practically everywhere. I daresay that the present condition in the Middle East is actually a result of ‘Christian’ persecution of the Jews over the millenia! The Holocaust was/is such a shocking climax that we seem to have been overcompensating ever since! Still, expect little remorse from Christians commenting here.
Blind support for the secular state of Israel by some Christian Zionists, no matter what, although wrong, is not so strange, taken in historical context. Neither is self-fulfilling end times prophesy.
What is disheartening is reading so many sincere, well-intentioned (no doubt) comments here that are partial and unsympathetic to what is real human despair on the part of the Palestinians who have lived under occupation for such a long time.
Now it does not matter whether the people who are suffering are Al Quaeda terrorists or their daughters and grandmothers or even if they are Christians. They are my neighbours and they are suffering. In a very real sense they are like the man who “fell into the hands of robbers”. I should, at the very least, acknowledge that.
It is VERY VERY difficult (Christianity isn’t supposed to be easy), but I needs must ask MYSELF – “Are all people created in God’s image? Jews? What about Arabs? Does God really love a white American baby, born in California, exactly the same as He does one born in a mud hut in Africa or Afghanistan?” Or, are some ‘more equal than others?'(to quote from the classic).
And, back to the [2nd] greatest commandment, Jesus asked, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” (Luke 10).
(Not the priest. Not the Levite. It was the Samaritan, a fellow that the Jews would not socialise with, that proved a ‘neighbour’!)
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Isn’t Jesus Christ simply amazing? Is he saying that I only qualify to be a neighbour when I feel another’s pain? Is he saying that I am disobedient if I do not have mercy on the suffering, regardless of who (or where) they are?
Is he the same Lord I follow? Truly? What would/does he say about my attitude towards the situation in the Middle East?
May the Lord God bless you all!
Ma-asalam, Shalom, Maranatha!
– Alu
Dar es Salaam



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Susan

posted September 13, 2007 at 9:10 am


I’m not sure what you are trying to say. However, there is a rather dubious statements coming from some Palestinian Christians that are trying to de-Judaize Jesus and his followers. Then the Jews and not the Romans become the oppressors. Yes, Jesus was a part of mainstream Judaism of the time. Please read The Misunderstood Jew by Amy-Jill Levine.



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Donny

posted September 13, 2007 at 9:11 am


Mr. Kuttab,
You are blogging for Sojouners, a Progressive organization. “Pick and choose” theology literally defines the progressive. Pick and choose theology is bad.
I notice one thing about “Israeli’s. They do not wish to slaughter their neighbors because they are not Jews. They may not feel inclined to celebrate Palestinian, Arabic or Islamic life, and on that I cannot blame them, but if the Palestinians somehow gain rule over the Israeili’s, then there will be violence and death meted out to Israeli’s until they are wiped out.
That is why I support Israel and I do not support Palestinian causes.



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Alicia

posted September 13, 2007 at 10:12 am


Robert Alu, thank you for your post.
As a “Christian agnostic” who has no desire to convert anyone, and not the least evangelical bent, my support for Israel’s right to exist stems from a belief, not in Zionism, but in the idea of a homeland for the Jewish people, particularly the Jews of Europe, who were almost wiped out by the Nazis.
I appreciate the position of those who believe that the Israelis are “colonial” peoples, much like South Africans, Australians, Americans, or Moors in Moorish Spain, or Muslims in Jerusalem following the first Muslim conquest of Jerusalem.
If being a colonial people negates the right to exist, where does that end? With, perhaps, three quarters of the human race wiped out?
Do I care about the sufferings of the Palestinians? Of course. But, I also feel those sufferings have been prolonged by their delusional and corrupt leaders, and by the Palestinian peoples themselves.
If the Palestinians had launched a non-violent campaign for a state following the example of Martin Luther King or Gandhi, they would have had a viable state years ago. But, too many of the Palestinians, especially the leadership, wanted a “One State solution” and that goal could not be achieved peacefully.
Thanks for listening.



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kevin s.

posted September 13, 2007 at 10:27 am


Well said, Alicia.



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John G. Pierce

posted September 13, 2007 at 6:59 pm


Galatians 3:28 has nothing to do with it. Women
don’t cease to be women because they are “in Christ,” do they? Neither do Jews cease to be
Jews. Read Romans 11:26 (and surrounding verses
for context), which tells us that “All Israel shall be saved.” The Jews are God’s Chosen People –always have been, always will be. God has
chosen, for His own sovereign purposes, to work
through them. Israel is only about the size of
New Jersey — no room there for two nations, especially when the inhabitants of one (Palestinians) hate the others (Jews) just for being who they are, and want to destroy them completely.
All this idealistic blather will not change the
hatred which goes back to Abraham’s wrong choice to have a child with Hagar.
As with virtually everything else on Sojourners’
site, this article is designed to attack conservative Christians, NOT to advance the
gospel.



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marilyn seven

posted September 13, 2007 at 7:12 pm


Daoud Kuttab, thank you. Robert Alu, thank you. Western Christians have been far too unaware of, and unrepentant for, the horrendous effect of centuries of Christian anti-Semitism, paving the way to the Holocaust. I was eight years old when American soldiers entered the camps at the end of WWII. Somehow, I thought, “This is not over.” That history, I believe, has brought us straight into the deadly, distorted, unconscionable Middle East mess we face today, now including Iraq. Weep for the despair of all there whose hope is being strangled, whose actions in the face of despair are destructive — and work for peace. Martin King would have done so. We must, too.



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Rick Nowlin

posted September 13, 2007 at 7:18 pm


As with virtually everything else on Sojourners’ site, this article is designed to attack conservative Christians, NOT to advance the
gospel.

PUH-LEEZE! Since when do conservatives have a monopoly on the Christian faith? And, BTW, “conservative Christians” have been attacking those not like the form nearly 30 years! Since when does coming from another, less popular perspective represent an attack?



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Gordon

posted September 13, 2007 at 8:47 pm


This is a difficult issue for me. Although I generally favor the right wing of the Christian political spectrum, I nonetheless see the point of some of the Palestinian criticisms of Israel. I suppose it helps to not be a dispensationalist. The Israeli position historically has been that the Palestinians chose to leave, prodded by Arab anti-Semites. But there is substantial evidence to suggest that many were driven out by the Israelis.
On the other hand I think Israel has a right to exist, and that leaves me with an uncomfortable conundrum: what to do about the Palestinians, who also have a claim to the land. I don’t believe for a moment, things being as they are, that an attempt to integrate the Palestinian population and Israel into a single nation would result in anything other than the slaughter of someone, and it seems unlikely that the existing Israeli population would voluntarily leave. So the question for me is how in the world could we ever solve this problem?
A good friend of mine, a Catholic who comes from the far left of the Christian political spectrum, once told me that the most difficult moral choices are always those in which one has to choose between two evils. That is pretty much where I end up with this.



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John Holmes

posted September 13, 2007 at 11:42 pm


A small comment made by a friend after returning from working in Israel with World Vision, was that there seemed to be a need to partition the whole area into 2 parts. One area, better if it was mostly desert, for the hawks, from both sides, and the rest in the other. This would confine fighting to those which could not accept peace. A solution – probably not.
I feel that while the Israelii position is driven by “It shall not happen again”, many policies and activities developed seem not to have an ultimate peaceful outcome which can include all sides. In many conflicts the combatants tend to copy each other in attitudes. Shades of WW1 ‘war to end war’. Too much hurt.
The circle of violence breeds more – where are/ who are the circuit breakers?
On a more contemplative note, listening a very anti war Jesuit Priest being interviewed on radio , when asked when did he become an anti-war activist, said that it was when he was on the shore of Lake Galilee meditating on the beatitudes, watching an Israeli Jet bomb a Lebanese village. Blessed are the peace makers.
Some Middle East commentators suggest that as many Christians are caught up in the middle and are leaving/force out, so that perhaps the most socially innovative group in the Palestinian community is being removed. Where is the Salt/Light?
My general comment for Daoud Kuttab is the Australian expression – “Hang in there Mate”, the Master told us to recognize the brother.



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Amazon Creek

posted September 14, 2007 at 2:01 am


I completely agree with what Mr. Kuttab is saying. And it goes way beyond just the issue of what our attitude should be about Israel.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: You can prove ANYTHING you WANT to prove using a “proof-texting” method of studying the Scriptures. There is a proof-text for just about anything.
This is not the only message board I frequent. And HONESTLY, reading through some of the posts that appear on this board – vividly reminds me of a board where New Agers used to present all these “studies” with proof-texts that Jesus taught…ready for this – reincarnation!
They had the verses about being born-again. They had the verses about Moses being Elijah. About Elijah coming again.
Hey…those are very ambiguously worded sentences – you COULD interpret them to mean reincarnation – as long as you only focus on the verses themselves and ignore the larger picture. Like why, open as Jesus was about all the important things, didn’t He just come out and TEACH reincarnation – if something so important was in fact real? The larger picture doesn’t support such an interpretation of these verses.
And that’s what I go back to – the FOREST, not the trees. “Observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.” What is the larger pattern?
We don’t need proof-texts. We need our ENTIRE minds renewed. We need the mind of Christ. What were His priorities? His values and attitudes?
Not picking out isolated verses that could be interpreted several different ways – and finding a way to make them prove what we want them to.
Look for something, anything long enough…and you, me, anybody will FIND precisely what we’re looking for in the Scriptures.
And we’ll still miss renewing our spirits with the mind of Christ.



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Robert Alu

posted September 14, 2007 at 3:28 am


Alicia,
You seem to have a much better grasp of Israeli/Palestinian history than I do.
However, in your response to my comments you do not address the issues I raised. No, you do not seem to have heard me …
Okay – I believe in a two state solution. The Israelis have every right to exist in a country of their own. So do the Palestinians, but of course!
Still, does any one part of the world need to be separated strictly just for one religious or ethnic group? That’s a topic for another day, yet may be the source of a lot of the mess.
Now,
The Nazis were not Palestinians, dear Alicia. They, most of them anyway, were ‘temple tax’ paying Christians. Their anti-Judaism was nothing new nor strange to the world at that time. It was simply the culmination of almost 19 centuries of Christianity in Europe. During all that period western Christians did not care that the Jews were ‘God’s chosen people’, a sentiment I keep hearing so often these days that I want to say ‘Shut Up’ and read Galatians 3:28, John 1:11-13 etc!
If the Holocaust causes your sympathy for the establishment of an Israeli homeland, I must say I agree wholeheartedly. However, you and I seeking another scapegoat for Jewish persecution – in the name of the Palestinians – is wrong. For centuries it was Christians who persecuted the Jews. To see Israel persecute another group of people – in the name of their security – is a sad irony. To have Christians backing them in this is not at all strange. But it is deeply sad.
The secular state of Israel, which for centuries pre-1948 did not exist; which you concede may be a colonial occupier, actually continues to dispossess, displace, ‘imprison’ and ‘strangulate’ the indigenous peoples, with the support of Christians such as YOU and ME. It demolishes their dwellings and pens them in walls. They are cut off from relatives and livelihoods. Leaders are targetted and assasinated. Navigating a short distance can be a nightmare. I cannot think of anywhere else on earth that this is happening to anyone else.
When you say that is okay I ask, why? Is it, just possibly, because the Palestinians are not WASPs?
Christians’ support for injustice and oppression is the thrust of my entry. It does not hurt to ask if we are being Christlike here, does it?
In apartheid South Africa, Rhodesia and so on such behaviour as the Israeli government’s attracted sanctions and condemnation. (Although not all Christians went along with that!
Nelson Mandela was sent to prison for being a ‘terrorist’. Many western Christians, including Ronald Reagan’s Admnistration, readily agreed that Mandela’s ANC was, indeed, a terrorist organisation …)
Alas we always seem to be part of the problem!
The Palestinians have suffered because they are guilty, according to you, of not pursuing non-violent means (among other things) to end their problems, in the example of Gandhi and Martin Luther King!
Well, first of all that is a lie. In a very real sense just hanging in there and not moving away from Gaza, the West Bank and Israel itself is, for most of the Palestinians there, especially those targetted for assasination, a form of non-violence.
Much of the Palestinian resistance has been non-violent. What violence there is, and it is OVER-REPORTED really, hardly compares to that of the occupier. Secondly, there is increasingly little evidence that anything that the Palestinians can do now will move the Israeli regime’s ‘emotions'; no, not with the unqualified support of the world’s only superpower and some of the world’s most influential Zionists – a good number of American Christians.
Thirdly if you oppose violence then you need to oppose the violence, on a much larger scale, of the Israeli government too. After all, to quote good old Gandhi, “an eye for an eye will make us all blind.”
Still, the Palestinians and Israelis are not my subject, Alicia, except in the sense that the Palestinians, tragically, seem to have “fallen into the hands of the robbers”.
My subject, and I believe it is what Daoud Kuttab is addressing too, is how us Christians pick and choose what suits us from the Bible. Whatever causes it, laziness, prejudice, political expediency, whatever … it is wrong.
I am talking about the faults of Christians like you and I, so please do not focus so much on the sins of the Palestinians and the nobility of the Israelis.
Talking about non-violence why should we Christians expect anyone to be non-violent when we, especially in the west, have specialised in getting rid of those who come bearing a message of peace? That includes the now beloved Martin Luther King!
You and I have got beams in our eyes!
God is truth. The church has been woefully inept at speaking truth to power. God is also love. The church has too often loved Him only in the abstract, choosing not to pick the words in 1 John for application in our lives: “anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”
If Christians like you and I Alicia, had the Spirit of God and were obedient to peacemaking – and given all the political power that we have (especially in the west) – the problems in the Middle East (and elsewhere) would:
a) Never have occured.
b) Long have been resolved.
Very simply (even simplistically), if we were all about being ‘Peacemakers’ then both the Palestinians and the Israelis would run to us Christians to ask us to mediate in their problems!
Who is going to be a neighbour to both the Palestinians and the Israelis? When are we Christians going to stop looking for scapegoats? It begins with you and I, Alicia.
“The greatest friend of Truth is
Time, her greatest enemy is
Prejudice, and her constant
companion is Humility.”
CHARLES CALEB COLTON
ENGLISH POET (1780-1832)
Shalom aleichem!
Assalaam alleykum!
Peace be upon you!
– Alu
Dar es Salaam



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Alicia

posted September 14, 2007 at 1:52 pm


I thank you for responding, Robert, however, I feel that you are putting words in my mouth in many of your statements.
It is my belief that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians want peace. Palestinians who have urged moderation risk being killed by the extremists in their midst. So do Israelis — remember Yitzak Rabin? Do I believe that the homes of Palestinian suicide bombers ought to be bulldozed? No. But I understand the frustration that has led the Israelis to do such things.
My problem with the Palestinians is not that they are not WASPs, but rather that many of them seem to have embraced the “suicide bombing death cult.” My problem is with people who believe that the Palestians are total victims in this situation, and are thus absolved of all responsibility for their actions.
In my opinion, people who take this stance towards the Palestinians are saying, in effect, “They are children. They can’t be held accountable.” Victims are not responsible, therefore they cannot be criticized for anything. That is a very patronizing and dismissive stance in my opinion.
I may think many of the Palestinians are delusional, because they appear to be following a path that can only lead to “mutually assured destruction” but I don’t think they are children who cannot be held responsible. We need to hold both sides responsible, and stop giving the Palestinians the “victim” pass.



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marilyn seven

posted September 14, 2007 at 8:08 pm


Alicia says: My problem with the Palestinians is … that many of them seem to have embraced the “suicide bombing death cult.” My problem is with people who believe that the Palestians are total victims … thus absolved of all responsibility for their actions.
Misery breeds misery. Ditto violence. Ditto despair. All suffer in this world. All struggle. All are victims. All are responsible. Am I my brother’s keeper? Who is my neighbor?



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Robert Alu

posted September 15, 2007 at 3:13 am


Alicia,
I am sorry if it seems that I ‘put words in your mouth in many of my statements.’
That was not the intention.
I am equally sorry that, even after my lenghthy entry, you reduce your response to how the Palestinians are delusional and therefore to blame (well, mostly, according to you) and totally ignore what I am saying, and, may I add, what the article was addressing.
I asked a number of questions, all aimed at looking at the role of those who call themselves the followers of the Prince of Peace, Christians like you and I.
If you understand the frustration of the Israelis then it shouldn’t be such a stretch to understand that of the Palestinians – and you have mentioned bulldozing. Now, what is there to be gained by deciding who of the two is the villain?
When are we CHRISTIANS going to stop blaming the victim(s) of our wrongdoing, in this case both the Israelis and the Palestinians?
We are, indeed, partly responsible. That is my argument.
When are we going to be motivated by the truth and love?
When are we going to take a long, hard, honest look at ourselves and, if we find that we actually do not care, just confess and repent if we feel called to do so, haha?
Why pretend to care when it is clear, by our actions, indeed by our reasoning, that we do not share the Spirit of Christ?
And, when I say you and I Alicia, I do not mean that there are no Christians who do care, obviously there are. I just mean to say that, on the whole, we evangelicals have been so wrong and continue to be so wrong, generally speaking, about the Middle East.
And I presume that it is mostly because of our almost unqualified support for Israel. I will repeat what I said earlier, guilt seems to have a part in it. After being shocked by our attitudes towards the Jews in the past we have swung to the other extreme, where they now can do no wrong in the eyes of some Christians.
Thank you Marilyn Seven for capturing succinctly what it takes me so many words to express. Now, Marilynn, did you mention that you were in the Nazi camps during the war? Please tell me more?
Alicia, the question is: When are we going to stop patterning our thinking and behaviour on the Scriptures that suit us while neglecting the big picture?
James 2:8-13.
May the good Lord give you peace!
– Alu



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Sarasotakid

posted September 15, 2007 at 9:16 am


“Well said, Alicia.” Posted by: kevin s.
Is it the part about non-violent resistance that you thought was good in Alicia’s post, Kevin? If it was, that would hardly be a consistent ethic for such an avid supporter of the Iraq war as yourself. And if it is the part about corrupt Palestinian leadership, based on your past posts, you don’t seem to care a bit about any corruption in this present U.S. administration.
The bottom line of your reasoning is that the Palestinians are getting what they deserve because they have supported bad leaders. I suspect that there is dispensationalist theology mixed in there. Whatever it is, it is nothing less than a convenient way to dehumanize people with whom you have no affinity and to justify the appalling conditions to which they are subject.



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Eric

posted September 15, 2007 at 12:16 pm


Put it more simply: when I meet my neighbor, which I am admonished to love, should I ask for an ID card, DNA test, genetic or ethnic profile to establish exactly what love God provides for that person?
Theology which distinguishes among ethnic lines is a sad sad sad insult to the message of Christ.



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JCinSunnyLA

posted September 15, 2007 at 2:14 pm


It’s a Shadow World
Someone (a philosopher whose name escapes me) once said, “I think, therefore I am.”
How profound it must sound to the tune of “Que Sera, Sera”. But let’s get real, shall we?
We are rapidly approaching the virtual reality of electronic materiality—the day when a computer can tell the rest of the world whether we are here, there or anywhere at all; and whether we ever were, for that matter. How surreal it must feel to wonder not just whether your life mattered in the grand scheme of things both real and imagined, but whether it ever could have happened at all. Of course, this is pretty much on the level of string theory, alternate universes and time paradoxes.
Logically, if you never existed as far as this world is concerned, you cannot exist at all without God’s Holy Will. And it is God’s Will that we not ignore the signs of the times. Unfortunately, many people see the signs and do not understand what they may portend. Even with the anointing of God’s Holy Spirit, no one can ever “know it all”—for God did not always reveal His purpose in sending His prophets hither and thither. Then again, prophets were never anointed to know it all, but to tell what they knew to be true—what they knew to be right and just and pure in the sight of God Almighty. Any specifics pertaining to a particular person, place, thing or event were strictly on a “need to know” basis. And true prophets of God have had a tendency to be right in the end—whatever the short-term trend.
You cannot find what you most definitely are not looking for, and too many people are looking for the wrong things in the wrong places—in this life now and for the life in the hereafter. The truth of the matter is that too many people are no longer interested in inconvenient truths of the matter. They forget what really matters most to the Lord of Hosts. Consequently, they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear. Much to their surprise, they will never find the reward they believe they have already attained.
Oh, but you may say that things are changing, and everything will be better now. There is an old saying (actually two) that “the more things change, the more they stay the same” and “the rich get richer while the poor get poorer”. Jesus Christ Himself said that the poor would always be with us. This was a statement of fact, not judgement. He did not come before to judge us, but to save us.
The next time He will come in the Full Power and Glory secured in His Victory over Death and His Resurrection to Life Everlasting—and then He will be our Judge and Advocate. He could not have done it on His own; He had to follow the Will of His Father. He had to ask for the strength to carry on, and He resisted any temptation to “carry on” in the usual way of this “worldly” world. Oh, but you say, “He was the Son of God. It was easy for Him because He was perfect.” Easy or not (and I doubt that God would make something so important “easy”), the fact remains that Jesus is the only One who could have done what He did for all of us.
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
Certainly, one must know Christ to be saved in this life. But many that profess to know Him merely know His name and His claim to fame. They are far apart from His Holy Heart and the Way, the Truth and the Life. Let it all go, and then you will know why the sky is blue when the light shines through while clouds are gray on a rainy day.
Someone once said (and I really should know who it was): “I think, therefore I am.”
(Actually, I know it was Rene Descartes. I just couldn’t recall it at the time I wrote this in September of 2005.)



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Susan

posted September 16, 2007 at 2:49 pm


Eric, I dont bring up the fact that Jesus was Jewish not for reasons of ethnic pride. I bring it up because of a history of denying Jesus’s Jewishness in the Christian Church. I also bring it up to point out that Jesus’s belief’s were Jewish and came straight out of Judaism.
I bring it up because classic Western Christian antisemitism now pervades the Arab world, both Christian and Muslim.



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Robert Alu

posted September 17, 2007 at 3:05 am


What is “classic Western Christian antisemitism”?
Of course Jesus was a Jew!
Isn’t one of the biggest obstacles that those of the Jewish faith have with him coming as Messiah that very ‘Particularity’!?
If there is one thing on which all the three religious groups would WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree, really, it is that Jesus was a Jew.
Now Jesus certainly did not begin a religious movement known as ‘Christianity’, ‘The Way’ or any other. Most definitely he would have been quite pleased if the people he was sent to, beginning with fellow Jews, simply understood his message (see John 17:3) and acted on it.
You and I know that it is our varying responses to this message that are at the root of the discord.
The Jews will not worship a simple Jewish boy, no Susan. The Bible is clear about that (Mark 6:1-4 & John 1:11).
The Muslims have their last revelation and their crusading last prophet, Muhammad. According to the Koran Jesus is simply one of the major prophets. Not God. And, he was not crucified, according to them, but, rather, saved miraculously at the cross and ascended straight to heaven!
The Christians, misunderstanding, or deliberately misinterpretating, or simply indifferent to the message of the ‘kindom of heaven’, have exercised crude political power IN THE NAME OF CHRIST since the days of the Roman empire.
Some of the horrible things done in his name by the church – especially in the west, used to be simply labelled Anti-Judaism. Partly we (CHRISTIANS) persecuted the Jews because they, according to us, crucified the Messiah!
After the Holocaust we hear more the term Anti-semitism. It may be true that it is on the rise, certainly there is a perception of that in the UK. It is depressing, indeed.
I believe that it is very important to try and understand why, if it is true, Arabs of both Christian and Muslim persuasion are hateful towards the Jews. And, to claim that it is, somehow, because they would like to shift the blame for the crucifixion from the Romans to the Jews is laughable, though ironic – being a position that the church took for centuries!
I do not know that blaming Pontius Pilate for the crime has made anyone anti-Roman or anti-Italian. Can someone please explain this to me? Can someone also explain why – in the Oxford Dictionary – a:
‘Semite’ is ‘a member of a people speaking a Semitic language, in particular the Jews and Arabs’,
‘Semitic’is an Afro-Asiatic subfamily of languages that includes Hebrew, Arabic, and Aramaic and certain ancient languages such as Phoenician and Akkadian.
– of or relating to these languages or their speakers.
YET:
‘anti-Semitism’ is
hostility to or prejudice against Jews.
– DERIVATIVES anti-Semite n. anti-Semitic adj.
How come ‘Semitism’ and ‘Semitic’ cover more peoples than does ‘anti-Semitism’?
What’s going on here?
Be that as it may, highlighting Jesus’ Jewishness is hardly a useful thing to do, in my opinion, especially for us, Christians.
Truly, if there is one group today that has experience about prejudice (as perpetrators) and needs to repent it is the church, especially in the west! A very real perception in the Arab countries today is that America wishes to get rid of Muslims and divide up their lands – I kid you not – so many believe that there is an ongoing war against Islam!
What the world in general, and the Middle East in particular, needs are repentant, contrite followers of Jesus Christ actively living out his message. Thus far we have been mostly identified with various prejudices, to our eternal shame.
The few individuals who’ve shown the way in loving their enemies and waging peace rather than war have done it ‘against the religious grain’ and succeeded in the face of opposition from church leaders!
May the good Lord have mercy on us all!
– Alu



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