I just read a Christian ministry fundraising letter that boldly stated a pro-Israel view alongside a subtle anti-Arab view. The letter hoped to raise funds for a preaching program by suggesting to readers this ministry “stood with Israel” against all its enemies.
Clearly this letter is also pro-Jew, basing some of its outlook on the scriptural command to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” But it goes beyond this. The letter seamlessly blends biblical teachings about Jewish people generally and Jerusalem specifically with current Middle East political tensions, the state of Israel’s actions, and end-time prophecies.
One problem with this approach is that it offers a confusing and debatable eschatology (end-times doctrine) and a questionable, at best, mix of religion and politics.
Another problem with this approach is that it spiritualizes Israel the nation-state, thus sanctifying everything the current government does.
Now let me pause here. I've written on the subject before in a piece called "Jews Versus Arabs Or Jews And Arabs." The point is, why can't I be pro-Jew and pro-Arab?
I am certainly not anti-Jew, nor am I in any way suggesting Christians should not care about, pray for, or otherwise support Jewish people. I am not suggesting Jews or Israel have no enemies; of course they do. I am not “siding with” anti-Israel commentary, much less some political and religious leaders who regularly make threatening hate-statements about Israel.
I am saying that some Christian, and some conservative and some Republican, leaders are so eager to proclaim a perceived stature within the ranks that they make over-the-top rah-rah statements of “defense of Israel” at the cost of sounding, if not being, anti-Arab. These statements are designed to establish their credentials in terms of fidelity to the cause. “I’m for the defense of Israel, so I must be real," as a truly spiritual Christian, a truly staunch conservative, or a truly pure Republican.
As I noted above, I’m not anti-Israel. But to be supportive of and care about the Jewish people must I also believe that every move the nation of Israel makes is indeed, by definition, a correct one? Must I support the current government uncritically, blindly?
I love my own country. I am glad and grateful to be an American. But I do not believe every act of the USA or a given government is always the correct, good, or moral one. And I say so or vote so. I offer critique because I love my country, not because I do not.
I do not believe in “My country right or wrong but right or wrong my country.” This is an irrational and potentially dangerous hyper-patriotism, not responsible patriotism.
And why must I, if I love the Jewish people and pray for the peace of Jerusalem, suddenly become anti-Arab? Do all Arabs hate Jews? Of course they do not. Are all Arabs “bad” by virtue of their ethnicity? Of course they are not—if you believe so, you have succumbed to racism. Are all Jews “good” by virtue of their ethnicity or religion? Of course they are not, nor are Americans.
And for that matter, not just Arabs but Persians: are all Persians (Iranians) “bad,” enemies of America and Israel, because they are Persians? Of course not. Do all Iranian citizens agree with their leaders? No they do not. Then why lump them together? Why demonize an entire people group because of a given regime?
Much more concerning: why should Christians necessarily adopt anti-Arab or anti-Persian views simply because they care about Jews? Where in Scripture does it say we should despise or work against the Gentile?
So I think the Christian ministry that mailed the fundraising letter I read is not only wrong but irresponsible. I think that in its zeal to be biblical it misinterprets the Bible.
To be pro-Jew does not require one to be—unthinkingly—pro-Israel, even if you wish to support or defend Israel’s right to exist. To be pro-Jew in no way requires one to be anti-Arab, anti-Persian, anti-Turk, or anti-anyone. In fact, adopting a position that is categorically against any people group is a form of racial prejudice and is, therefore, non-Christian or, if you prefer, un-Christian.
The summary of the matter is that Jesus’s redemption and the life-giving Christian faith are for everyone, for Jew, Arab, Persian, Turk, for Gentile, for red and yellow, black and white, for male and female, for great and small, for one and all.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012
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