Posting this link because Robert Cohen is spot on.
Posting this link because Robert Cohen is spot on.
Last evening, Nov. 7th 2017, people gathered at London’s Royal Albert Hall to celebrate the Balfour Declaration of 2nd Nov. 1917, as ‘Partners in this great Enterprise’. Christians and Jews together celebrating the creation of modern Israel and the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population. Maybe some of my readers will be upset by that description but if we are honest it is difficult to put any other interpretation of the facts.
Gathering inside, a mighty congregation; well, actually not so mighty. One member of ‘Raised Voices’ commented that there didn’t seem to be many people going in. I’d calculate no more than 2000 including performers, (a 600 member choir from Denmark?), in a venue that can hold over 5,000.
Outside? A very mixed bunch. Handing our leaflets was difficult, especially when RAH security backed by a massive police presence insisted we could not hand out leaflets on private property. When I was able, most people refused, were not interested in a Palestinian Christian viewpoint. Some, did take leaflets and some, a very few, seemed genuinely interested in a different perspective; they were mostly younger people.
There were pro-Israel demonstrators outside as well, including the couple from Ireland who’d ‘entertained’ us on Saturday, (not sure whether they’re sectionable, but probably harmless). One woman and her friend became quite aggressivly verbally angry when she read the banner I was carrying. The text ran as follows: ‘Biblical Christians reject imperialist, exceptionalist, Zionism. Exceptionalism is racism, “There is no distinction …” If God will not, we must not.’
What infuriated her, I believe, is that I was, ‘standing on her ground’ – ‘Bible-believing’ Christians take all God’s word seriously, and that means Zionism, the rest of us must be ‘liberals’ who don’t really believe anything and can’t really be Christian. So when I say I am a bible-believing Christian she refuses to believe it, I must really be a ‘toy’ of the ‘Muslim extremists’ who were chantinf ‘Free Palestine’ just a few metres away. More to say maybe, later, but now it’s time for a little relaxation and a coffee.
This day, 2nd November, marks the one hundredth anniversary of the letter from Arthur Balfour, Britain’s Foreign Secretary in 1917, to Lord Rothschild as representing British Jewry. It is an indictment of Britain’s present government and many opposition members of parliament that they will be celebrating this event.
There is little for which to be proud. A degree of protection for Jews? Maybe, but at what cost. Might the Nazi holocaust have been averted had Zionism not been on the rise? That question may be impossible to answer, but it is well known that Nazis and Zionists wanted much the same thing: Jews out of Europe.
The Nazis didn’t much care where they went, it was Zionism that focussed on Palestine. Not because it was the best place in terms of space and population but because it was the only place that would have attracted the bulk of European Jewry, who, in the main, were not interested in Zionism.
Britain’s part in this, dating back to 19th century evangelicalism and beyond, should not be underplayed and should certainly not be celebrated. Apologising for the ‘sins of the fathers’ may seem pointless. It is unless it is accompanied by genuine action to put right the wrongs committed in our name. Britain and America together share major responsibility for the mess that is the Middle East. It is our duty to help people of goodwill – and they are there – to begin putting things right. If our leaders will not then we, the people, must.
The latest from my count-down blog on the Balfour Centenary. To return to ‘Malc’ and his comment. Of course it is possible that God can use heathen pagan’s to carry out his will. That’s clearly the case in some of the Old Testament writings. But who does what is not the point at issue, which is, how can we discern God’s will in these matters?
In many of the books I’ve read – pro and con – the writers, if Christian, tell of an incident or an experience pointing in a direction. Then, following prayer and Bible study they understand God to be calling them in a particular direction. That is my story. I didn’t choose to be spending my time fighting for justice for the Middle East. It was an entirely unexpected direction from God, ‘well he would say that, wouldn’t he?’, which is precisely the point. How can we tell when many apparently Godly men and women hold opposing views of what God is doing?
Both sides will assert, rightly, that Bible study and prayer are crucial. Are there other clues or hints that will point us in the right direction? I believe there are, for starters:
First, never assume that our understanding of ‘the Word’ is the right or only one. I may be wrong or only partly right, and I can often learn, even from people with whom I fundamentally disagree.
Second, look for the bigger picture, starting from the Bible. Many of our sectarian problems began when people, especially in Britain, gained access to God’s word in English and read it bit by bit and literally. Stand back, read whole chunks, then read them again, and again in a different version.
Third, and always, try to see what God has done, is doing and will do. What is the story of the Bible; the over-arching narrative that underpins all else.
Fourth, what are the things that contradict or get in the way of our Spirit-enabled mission to the ends of the earth?
Returning to ‘Malc’ and Balfour inspired, No, I don’t see how it fits. Given our Jewish Messiah and given the gospel and our ambassadorial mandate (Acts 2 following Matthew and Luke), if Balfour was inspired it was not from God.
‘Malc’ commented on an earlier post that I ought to be ashamed for suggesting we (evangelical Christians) need to repent for the Balfour Declaration. I asked him what evidence he had to justify his claim that Balfour was inspired by God.I’ve heard none because there is none.
The shame I have, as I put in my reply, is for the evangelical church’s complicity in evil and in undermining the message and the mission of Jesus. I’ll be following through some of those themes on a separate 100 day blog leading up to the centenary of the letter (2nd November) You can follow that blog here
If you live anywhere near the Midlands UK you might be interested in another date. On 28th October 2017, Claudia Prestel will be speaking at an event organised by Kairos Leicester. Her title,
‘From Balfour to the Present: 100 years of conflict’