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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.

 

The Christian Church, capital "C," the Body of Christ or the Church Universal, exists today in the Middle East and North Africa. What this means is that indeed there are local Christian churches and local believers in every country in the region. Now some of these churches exist in hiding, "hidden believers" as Brother Andrew called them, but they are there. And their faith is amazing and resilient.

But the church is also, in some countries in the region, suppressed, repressed, oppressed, and at times persecuted. SAT-7, Christian satellite television in the region, broadcasts daily in Arabic, Farsi, and Turkish to the Church and to all who wish to view its programs.

Here's more on this vital 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.

 

The West, including the U.S., tends to interpret everything that happens in the Middle East and North Africa in terms of religion. In other words, we see the social and political turmoil daily rocking countries like Syria and we say, religion is behind all this. Maybe, but probably not, at least not all of what we see.

Certainly religion is involved in everything that takes place in the Middle East and North Africa. To some extent religion has been involved in the protests, conflicts, or revolutions called the “Arab Spring.” But religion doesn’t explain why dictators hang on to their posts with a death grip. Religion alone doesn’t explain why people risk their lives, why fighting has morphed into vicious guerilla warfare, or why other countries in the region don’t intervene to stop the killing in Syria.

What explains most of what’s happening in the region is simply the old evil triumvirate of power, greed, and corruption. Dictators like Ben Ali, Gaddafi, Mubarak, and now Assad want to hang onto power as long as possible. They don’t want to and for the most part don’t step down voluntarily. What they do, typically, is leave office only when they are in a box.

And the triumvirate of self-aggrandizement is also at work among the opposition. Unfortunately, the rebels, insurgents, or protestors are not all freedom fighters. They are people who want power and are willing to do anything to get it. Once in control, no one is quite sure what kind of government and society the new regime would allow.

So it would behoove those of us in the West to step carefully in our foreign policy re changing or emerging regimes in the Middle East and North Africa. There’s still a place for realpolitik.

 

© 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.

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

*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.