The Protestant Romance with Zionism HERE
Archive for the ‘Middle East’ Category
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’
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.