Beliefnet News

by Michelle Rindels
Washington – A broad coalition of evangelical leaders is
attempting to “correct a serious misperception” that all evangelicals
oppose creating a Palestinian state.
Led by Ron Sider, a professor at the American Baptist-affiliated
Palmer Theological Seminary and head of Evangelicals for Social Action,
the coalition sent a letter to President Bush expressing support for a
proposed two-state solution.
“The only way to bring the tragic cycle of violence to end,” reads
the July 27 letter, “is for Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate a
just, lasting agreement that guarantees both sides viable, independent,
secure states.”
Historically, evangelicals have adopted a pro-Israel stance in
defense of the biblical “chosen people.” The letter reflects a more
nuanced perspective on the conflict — one that affirms legitimate
property rights on both sides while also placing blame for violence on
both sides.
“We know that blessing and loving people (including Jews and the
present state of Israel) does not mean withholding criticism when it is
warranted,” the letter said, suggesting that “the best way we can bless
Israel” might be to “remember … the profound teaching on justice that
the Hebrew prophets proclaimed so forcefully.”
Thirty-four evangelical leaders signed the document, including a
former president of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, current
presidents of Fuller Theological Seminary and Bethel University, the
editor of Christianity Today and the national director of Vineyard USA.
The letter was released not long after a recent Washington
convention hosted by John Hagee, a San Antonio megachurch pastor who
heads Christians United for Israel, a staunchly pro-Israel group. He
told The New York Times, “Bible-believing evangelicals will scoff at
that message.”
The letter also affirmed the new diplomatic role of former British
Prime Minister Tony Blair, and requested a meeting with Bush to discuss
how evangelicals might help the administration negotiate peace in the
Middle East.

Copyright 2007 Religion News Service

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