Recovering Evangelicalism – Seeking a Justice-based peace in the Middle East –

Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

alt-Right -Richard Spencer

Richard Spencer, as reported in Ha’aretz, makes clear what has been evident to many of us for years, Zionism is racist nationalism. Uncomfortably, Israel’s nationalism is compromised by Jewry’s ethnic diversity; uncomfortable, not least, because of historic parallels. Israel invites Jews anywhere and everywhere to ‘come to Israel’, but they’d better be religious and orthodox at that. Spencer wants to protect white Americans. Black ones, many of whose families came under duress (polite way of not mentioning ‘slavery’) hundreds of years before Mr.Trump’s family, can go back where they came from. Not that that is always easy to work out – black people can be ‘mixed heritage’ too.  The parallels Spencer draws are not liked by Zionists, which doesn’t mean they aren’t accurate. Nationalism is nationalism whatever other label is attached: alt-Right (=white supremacist) for America, Zionist for Israel; I don’t know what term Mugabe uses for black Zimbabwean’s but I’m pretty sure he’s got one.

Spencer is probably happy to call himself a ‘white zionist’ as long as the real ones go to Israel and stay there. Nationalists can unite – as long as they do so at a distance. At the period in history when we are most inter-connected fear of ‘the Other’ causes many to look for simplistic solutions. Simple solutions are available; typically they are ones used by bullies. They are short-sighted and therefore short-term. We need wise people as leaders – where are they?

 

 

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Evangelicals lacking courage

Fear of being called ‘antisemitic’, of being thought divisive, of losing influence or income? Are these some of the reasons few evangelical charismatic church leaders have had the courage to engage with Christian Zionism. (Odd, when we engage easily enough with the LGBT issue). Palestine has too easily been dismissed as a local difficulty with complicated history involving disputed texts and of little relevance to ‘our ministry and mission’. I have heard from ministers, “there’s no interest among my congregation” – as if that should be a defining factor – when I know people in their congregations who are interested.

Not relevant. When ‘extremist terrorism’ arrives on our doorstep and we demand instant explanations from politicians, the easy answer is, it’s a different religion or culture. It isn’t necessarily meant arrogantly, but that is what it is. Is religion in UK or USA or Germany or Denmark, one-dimensional?  “Those terrorists hate us”; a statement that ought logically to be followed by the question, “why?” and some attempt at rational analysis, is left hanging, as if it helps solve the problem.Obviously it doesn’t; and the logic is not actually that difficult, as long as we are prepared to look candidly at our history.

Cultures and religions have coexisted in relative peace and calm for centuries in many parts of the  world. Not that it has always been peaceful and calm, we know life is more comlicated. But, if people hate us —  and surprisingly few do — from where does the hate come? Extremism is not something cultured in a petrie dish that unhappily escaped due to some laxity in Frankenstein’s laboratory. It has a background, a history. People do not, usually, put themselves in harms way without good reason. In the last 100 years Britain and America sent hundreds of thousands of young men to fight, and many to die, motivated by a desire to defend their homes and a hope for freedom. It is lazy and arrogant thinking to assume that terrorism is fuelled by motives less powerful, even less pure, than our own.

Our Evangelical and Charismatic failure to attend to both history and theology in dealing with Christian Zionism; sometimes in a misguided attempt to avoid involvement in politics, (as if ); is the more sad from the perspective of our kingdom mission imperative because of the immense damage Zionism and its so-called ‘Christian’ parter has done and is doing to God’s world and God’s gospel.

Lord Have Mercy.

Letter from a (desperate) friend

Only yesterday I received this. I’m posting it now in the hope that Christians in leadership in US and UK will see it. If you know someone(s) who is a church leader, please make them aware of this plea from sister and brother Christians.

You may find some of the phraseology strange; you may disagree with some of the sentiments. That’s OK: but, I urge you to listen to the authentic voice of our Middle Eastern Faith. Is the ‘story’ one-sided? Yes, but far less so than the one we usually hear. If you are familiar with my blog you will know that I check my sources. I’ve spent time both at the British Library and the National Archives, apart from the books I’ve bought. May I assure you that the actual story is far, far worse than anything you have heard in the mainsteam media. Please –  read with care, and, if you have questions, all you have to do is comment…

‘Open letter from the National Coalition of Christian Organisations in Palestine’ Open-letter-to-WCC-2017-final-NCCOP

Taking ‘the Name’ in vain – 50 years on.

The Third Commandment states,

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. (Ex.20)

It is surely ‘wrongful use’ to claim something as a miracle from God which is evidently not a miracle. Christian Zionists and organisations like Christians United for Israel claim that the events of 1948 and 1967 are clear demonstrations of God’s miraculous actions on behalf of Jews. Quite apart from the absence of Biblical evidence for the ‘return’ (required by their theological system), there is overwhelming evidence to show that neither victory of the Zionists was in any way a miracle.

Whilst the victories of the Zionist forces in 1947-9 and 1967 may not have been a foregone conclusion, neither were they victories against all odds. In the case of 1967 every intelligence agency believed that Israel would win a war in a week if attacked by the Arab nations. Given that Israel was not attacked but attacked Egypt without warning; that Syria was unable to engage because they’d culled their senior military staff and their tanks (Russian) were too big to get across the only bridge; and that Hussein (Jordan) fought a defensive battle only when attacked and waited 2 1/2 days before risking his air force against massive Israeli air superiority, the real question is:why did it take Israel so long!

As to 1947-9, the Zionists had been planning for military action since early 1920’s knowing that they only way to a ‘Jewish State’ was to evict (ethnically cleanse) the majority Arab population, and that could only be done by force. Better trained, better equipped, better led, and for most of the time having a larger force in the field, the real question for the Haganah was not ‘Can we win?’, but, ‘how much land can we take before America gets worried and stops us?’

Had Britain i 1941/2 been overrun by the Nazi war machine, would we have fought back with whatever weapons came to hand? Does not every occupied people have the right to resist their persecutor?

50 years on from the ‘6 Day War’ it is beyond time for our leaders, including our Christian leaders, to stand up and speak out. Instead of taking God’s Name in vain, they must stop blaming the persecuted, and avoid insulting God by acting for justice, and speaking Truth to Power. If it costs ….

Election Question

The Tory- led coalition, then government, under Mr. Cameron and Mrs May, have presided over an unnecessary recession. By 2010, following the ‘bank bailout’, the British economy was beginning to recover. That potential recovery, which could have matched that of USA, was knocked on the head by George Osborne’s ill-judged but ideologically driven increase in VAT.
The Tory-led government then demanded across-the-board savings of 40% over the lifetime of the parliament from Local Government. Think it through logically. I’m certain there were councils that were appallingly inefficient and could make 30% savings with relative comfort. But there were many councils already running efficiently for whom even 10% reduction in grant from government (remember that’s our money) would require deep cuts in services. The notion of across-the-board savings makes no sense.
In order to generate the money they needed the government decided to re-organise social benefits. It’s not contended that they needed reorganising; successive governments have created (no doubt with good intentions) a veritable ‘dogs breakfast’. We’ve had the ‘bedroom tax’ with it’s impact upon poorer older people and families. We’ve had benefit cuts for people with disabilities, and we’ve had cuts in policing; thank you, Mrs May, Home Secretary who presided over that; and cuts in Border Agency staff (well done again Mrs. M), and we’ve decided that lone refugee children are not welcome here.
And in the meantime we have given money to set up schools in places where they are not needed, we have privatised parts of the NHS so the money we put in goes into dividends for shareholders and generous pay packets for directors. And we’ve told many of the people who run the NHS that they’re not welcome here.
Does any of that sound like good sense? Does it sound Christian? It doesn’t even sound like Old Testament Israel was supposed to be. Israel got it wrong and we have made the same ‘Maccabean’ mistake. There is no point in electing a ‘strong, stable Christian’ leader who is neither strong nor stable, who has helped lead us into the mess we’re in, and doesn’t act like a Christian when in power.
Christians, ‘swim against the tide’ of common wisdom, but in this case, here in 2017, both common sense, wisdom for the future and thinking Christianity say, “time to change”. Listen to what Jeremy has actually said rather that what the media says he said. Always check your data. As for me, I’m with Jeremy, not for my future, which will likely be brief, but for mine and your children.

Pentecost and ‘Law’

‘Law’ is good at telling us what we mustn’t do. But — and this is what Paul was getting at in Romans — law doesn’t help us in being positively good people. If we are ‘good’ because we’re afraid of getting caught, that’s one thing, the negative. Being ‘good’ because that is who we are is entirely different, it’s ‘the law of the Spirit’. Only possible because of The Cross and Pentecost, ‘goodness’ is not something that comes naturally. If you are a parent you only have to think of the look in your toddler’s eye when you tell them “no”.

The things that Jesus taught, “you have heard it said … but I say to you …”, aren’t things we learn then apply by rote. They are realities of which we become aware, often gradually, when the Spirit dwells in us by grace. Murder is wrong, but if hate leads to murder, I need to learn how to not hate. Welcoming God’s Holy Spirit is the beginning of learning how to live by kingdom values – quite different from ‘the world’s’ …

So, on this Pentecost Sunday – above the horrors and uncertainties that seem to surround us – ‘Welcome! Holy Spirit – teach me, change me, fill me’.

Have a Blessed Day

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