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It is sickening to consider centuries in which people "in the name of Christianity" attacked and killed Jews who in persecutors' minds had become uniquely responsible for the crucifixion of Christ. This record is extensive and reached its climax in the Holocaust, which was not of course the responsibility of Christians as such but nevertheless occurred in a nation with a long heritage of Christian church experience. And sadly still, some Christians supported the Nazis.

Now, since the establishment and recognition in 1948 of modern Israel as a nation state, we have decades in which people “in the name of Christianity” seem to want to care for the Jewish people. This is a legitimate and worthy attitude. The problem arises when so many people, again “in the name of Christianity,” conflate this caring for Jewish people with the modern nation state of Israel. Many in the Western Church do not seem to be able to separate the people from the nation itself. 

Yet Israel is indeed a modern nation state, so it operates with realpolitik and takes actions, like all other modern nation states, in its perceived self-interest, actions which may or may not be morally justifiable. The problem in the Western Church grows when in this scenario when Western Christians seem to believe Israel can do no wrong and therefore Israel is not often held accountable by Western Christians for its political actions. 

The problem gets worse when in turn Western Christians look upon Palestinians as somehow uniquely unworthy of care and concern, that they are somehow ipso facto a threat to all Jews and the state of Israel so Palestinians must be treated as enemies. Western Christian leaders often speak against Palestinians, if not all Arabs, as somehow “other,” a group we’d all be better off without. Sort of the way Jonah looked upon Nineveh—let’s just nuke ‘em and get it over with—until God reminded him, “Should I not be concerned about that great city?” (Jonah 4:11).

God looked upon Ninevites not as an existential threat to Jews in Ancient Israel but as people in need of his love, forgiveness, and redemption…just like he looked upon Jews. Jonah got his theology and his politics twisted, not unlike many Western Christians are speaking today.

Palestinians, like Jews and Gentiles in general, are just people made in the image of God. God commands us to love them like we love ourselves, along with, by the way, Russians, Chinese, Syrians, Iranians, North Koreans and more.

True, some Palestinians are bad actors, but so are some Jews and other Gentiles. And dare I say, some Westerners including Americans? Assigning blame and condemnation or what has been called collective punishment to an entire people group for the actions of a few is the worst form of prejudice and injustice. 

Most Palestinians are just families, not terrorists. Most are trying to survive as refugees unwanted not only by Israel but also by Middle Eastern/North African and Western countries alike. Condemning all Palestinians as evil or unworthy just for being Palestinians is no different than condemning all Jews just for being Jews. 

It therefore behooves the Western Church and individual Christians to reconsider this group-think identity politics response. It seems that a truly Christian view and action would be to work for peace, security, and justice for all peoples.

 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2018   

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with meat www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Recently, on Facebook I saw a Christian leader and his wife at a black-tie banquet in Florida, “Celebrating Israel.” It was a Christian affair. I’m not sure what they were celebrating per se. 

Of course, I am not “against” or Anti-Israel as such. It’s just that I think being supportive of, caring about, and praying for Jews or the “peace of Jerusalem” as Scripture commands is decidedly different from blessing or blindly defending everything the modern nation-state of Israel does.

This confusion is evident in social media, but it’s long been a part of American Christian culture, the idea that to be considered politically correct in a conservative Christian community or church one must be loud-n-proud when talking about Israel. I’ve long seen people on social media sort of “beat their chest” about being “Pro-Israel” as a way of demonstrating their Conservative or Republican or Christian bona fides.

Again, let me be clear. I am not against or anti-Israel, much less anti-Jewish people. They, like all others, are part of the divinely created human race, are in need of salvation like all the rest of us, should be able to rear their children in peace and security, and should be appreciated for who they are and what they contribute to global society. Certainly, actions that bespeak antisemitism, racial discrimination, or the worst in the genocides of history, are wrong, immoral, and evil, not the attitudes and behaviors that bless civilization, or the Church.

This said, I still wonder about the over-the-top posturing I see among conservative Christian Americans pertaining to Israel, and by implication, pertaining to Arabs, Persians, and Turks living in the Middle East and North Africa. To hear some Christian leaders speak on television, you'd be forgiven for thinking if they are not anti-Arab they certainly sound anti-Arab. But God created Arabs too.

For comparison, let me think aloud about my country the USA. I am patriotic, red-white-n-blue, glad to be an American, proud in some sense of the land of the free and home of the brave, but I do not believe and would not make the case that the USA has always done the right things or done things right, much less given Republican or Democrat, or for that matter Whig or Federalist, leaders have always done things right. 

I think one can love his/her country without arguing it is and always has been right or best. And I think one can critique one’s country without buying into the contemporary revisionist line that the USA has never done anything right, so we must reject and put down and deny our ideals in favor of any and all global alternatives.

Back to Israel, I want this nation-state of people to enjoy human rights to life and liberty, to self-determination, dignity, and respect. I want for them peace, security, and prosperity. But I want these things for other Middle Eastern and North African countries too. It need not be zero-sum, us or them, America supports Israel or American Christians support Israel no matter what they do. No, it can be an intelligent and sophisticated relationship committed to lofty ideals and values.

American Christians and/or Conservatives and/or Republicans or Democrats need to think before they speak, honor good and right causes, reject bad and wrong behaviors, work together for mutual benefit in a free and peaceful world.

 

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2018   

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

I love my country. Wherever you are from, you probably love your country too. It’s called patriotism, “love of the fatherland.” Rightly understood and lived, there’s nothing wrong with patriotism.

Loving my country, though, does not mean that I believe “My country, right or wrong, but right or wrong my country.” It does not mean that I believe everything my country has ever done is perfect or right or correct or even in some cases moral. The USA, like all countries comprised of human beings, has some darkness in its record. Loving my country does not mean that I think every American leader is always correct or, in some cases, even admirable at all. Point is, I can love my country in spite of its flaws.

Christians believe they should “pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” as they should because this statement is in the Scripture. Many Christians believe that Jews are “God’s chosen people.” This is also referenced in Scripture. But respecting or loving Jews is not the same as believing the modern nation-state of Israel is always right, it’s actions must be defended blindly, or worse, that loving Jews and appreciating Israel must mean Christians should dislike, reject, or worse, hate Arabs, Persians, or Turks, no matter what some of them may say or do regarding Jews or Israel. Just like my country, the USA, has flaws, so does Israel.

But a lot of conservative Christians confuse this issue. If some American television preachers aren’t anti-Arab, they certainly sound anti-Arab. They think this makes them biblical. In a similar vein, too many Christians use social media to demonstrate their Christian bona fides by making categorical, one-sided statements in support of anything Israel the nation state does, or making implicit and often explicit anti-Arab or anti-Palestinian statements. They think this makes them biblical.

But we should remember several things:

Love is possible despite flaws, otherwise none of us would be loved. We can love our countries, love Jews, and also love Arabs, Persians, and Turks. We can honor Israel as a nation-state without suspending our ability to critique its actions and without aligning against others in the Middle East and North Africa. The same is true in reverse.

Whatever your opinion of the “two-state solution” for Israelis and Palestinians, whatever your view of the Trump Administration’s December 2017 official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, remember that God loves Palestinians as much as he loves you. Remember that your patriotism for your country is a blessing, while Palestinians long for an official country of their own that they may love. Remember to apply your Christian critical thinking and knowledge of theology across the board, for your country’s leaders and actions, for Israel’s, for those representing Palestinians, for all.

Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2017    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

 

 

Arabs and Jews. Need I say more to get your attention? These people groups have been at odds since Abraham's lifetime. 

But my topic is not so much the fact Arabs and Jews are often in tension if not conflict, but rather, how Christians evaluate, describe, and respond to the people of either and both lineages. I've written about this before in this blog: Must Pro-Jew Mean Anti-Arab, or Jews vs Arabs Or Jews And Arabs. But now I've written a new piece for broader distribution called "Confused Christians: Jews Versus Arabs Or Jews And Arabs."

What interests and what grieves me about this topic is how easily some Christians seem to align themselves with a way of interpreting the Scripture that ends with Christians believing the modern secular state of Israel can do not wrong. Further, people who embrace this approach argue that the United States should stand as Israel's uncritical ally. For many, though not all, who assume this position, it's an easy next step to taking an anti-Arab outlook.

For the record, I'm not against Israel per se, and I am certainly not anti-Jew. But neither am I anti-Arab or anti-Palestinian, or for that matter anti-Turk or anti-Iranian. This I can say about a people or people group even though I certainly disagree from time to time, if not often, with what given national governments do or how they position themselves, whether Israel or Arab world countries, Turkey, or Iran.

The article entitled "Confused Christians" simply recognizes that the Word of God calls upon Christian people to love all, to forgive as Christ forgave us, to share the message of the Gospel with all, to be no one's sworn enemy. This isn't la-la land thinking. I acknowledge the presence of evil in the world and the necessity of dealing with it harshlly via law and order, criminal justice systems, governments, and unfortunately at times armed forces and coercion. But these biblical principles of justice stand for all people, no matter their ethnic, racial, or national heritage or homeland.

Christians, I believe, need to pray for and work toward peace and reconciliation between Jews and Arabs even if history seems to suggest the impossibility of this outcome. God loves Jews and Arabs and salvation by faith in Christ is available to all.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

 *This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

Americans, if not Westerners in general, view the Middle East and North Africa through what I call "filters." We see through a lens darkly. But then again, Middle Easterners and in this case specifically Arabs also hold a set of misconceptions about Americans that affect their view of who we are and what we are about.

Here are a few things to consider:

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

“Arab Spring” is the phrase or name that pundits, academic and media, use to describe protests in the Arab countries of North Africa and the Middle East, beginning with Tunisia in December 2010. Demonstrations and even violence continue to this day, in particular at this moment in Syria.

One problem with the name is that demonstrations have not been limited to Arab countries and the experience and outcome of most have not been as much “spring”—openness, renewal, new politics and opportunity—as some would have hoped. At this moment, it’s difficult to know whether to be optimistic or pessimistic about “What’s next?” in countries like Libya or Egypt, let alone Syria or Yemen.

Another problem is that the “Arab Spring” has not necessarily brought a time of freedom and better conditions for all minorities, including the Christian minority in the region. Even the “New York Times” once used the phrase “Christian Winter” to describe fears and concerns about backlash and what might be. This concern continues.

In the midst of this, SAT-7 continues to broadcast Christian teaching based upon a biblical worldview that supports respect for all human life, support for liberty for all human beings, freedom of thought, worship, and expression, and encouragement of a worthy work ethic, productivity, honesty, and respect for property rights.

Here’s more on the subject:

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.