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In the chaotic maelstrom that is the Holy Land crisis, what principles can we glean from Scripture to guide our thinking? 

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #117 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.


The complexity of terrorism, violence, and war in the Holy Land calls for thoughtful response.

Partisan, ideological, or street protest slogans are not enough, and in fact many of these are hateful, inflammatory, and clearly not something a Christian should think, say, or promote.

The ethnic nature of the conflict, dating back to Abraham’s sons Isaac and Ishmael, Jew and Arab or Palestinian, involves not only nationality, disputed territory, and historic grievances but also religious or worldview differences, making this violent upheaval all the more complex.

Understandably, we can point to the Oct 7 Hamas barbaric attack on innocent, unsuspecting Israeli civilians and arrive at a point of moral clarity. Yes, those needless deaths were perpetrated by evil incarnate deserving of the harshest retribution and justice.

But then with first the bombardment of urban areas in the Gaza Strip and the subsequent advance of the Israeli Defense Force into Gaza with noncombatants inevitably killed and wounded, and the related humanitarian crises, what is right, just, and morally justifiable gets murkier.

But as soon as you suggest any murkiness here, you’ll likely hear from Israel proponents saying there is no murkiness, no moral equivalency between what Hamas did and what the IDF now is forced to do in self-defense, in what Israel considers an existential fight, and the realpolitik of justice. 

The proponents of Palestinians, including those who condemn Hamas and its terrorism, introduce another quandary that further muddies our desire for moral clarity. 

They note that 60% of Gazans lived on some form of aid, no jobs, and struggling since 2006 under Hamas dominance that ignored the citizens while Hamas built its arsenal. These pro-Palestinians decry not only the bombardment, or any Israeli action really, they argue the West ignored Hamas for 18 years, allowing the timebomb to tick in the Gaza Strip. Others say, Hamas has been in charge for 18 years and did nothing to help the Palestinian people. In fact, Hamas leaders live in high-rise luxury hotels in Doha, Qatar, Beirut, and Istanbul.

Now, the war is personal. Many in the Arab World know someone who lives in Gaza, know people who have been killed, and, again, believe the West, specifically the U.S., is backing Israel to the point of perpetuating Palestinians and Arabs as second-class citizens. While it may be difficult to grasp why the U.S. is at fault here, still, this is how many in Arab countries feel and how they are parsing what’s happening.

Of course, one does not have to embrace all this perspective to be disturbed by the images of death and destruction now emerging from the Gaza Strip. Even if your inclination is to support Israel’s right to defend itself and hold Hamas accountable, suffering and death of noncombatants is gut-wrenching, for these casualties are real people, including children, and are not just “collateral damage,” nor are they mere numbers.

One of my colleagues noted this week that major news agencies are now rounding what in the Viet Nam War days we called body counts. In other words, say 7,457 people are said to be killed, but media reports 7400 or 7500, as if, as my colleague said, we’re talking about sticks or candy for Halloween. No, each number is a human being made in the image of God.

You don’t have to dismiss or ignore Hamas’s depraved massacre to care about innocent Palestinians caught in this war between an evil ideology and a nation state. So again, moral clarity is harder to come by.

Our best, most trusted, accurate, and powerful source of moral understanding is the Scripture, the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God.

Consider these principles that speak not only into our understanding of the Holy Land crisis but of any and all trials we confront in this life:

  1. God is sovereign—omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent—so he’s never surprised, never uninvolved in earthly affairs. This doctrine is the basis of both accountability and hope.
  1. God is Creator and he loves all human beings made in his image, including every demographic,Jews, Arabs, Palestinians, Iranians, Russians, Chinese, even Hamas and Hezbollah. This doctrine means that no human being is unworthy, expendable, of no consequence, but a person of eternal value. This is the basis of our understanding of human reason, moral agency, and freedom. 
  1. In the Christian Church universal, what Scripture calls the Body of Christ, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Gal. 3:28. This doctrine clearly states that no one is beyond the care or reach of the Holy Spirit, and that heaven will indeed be the most diverse place we’ve ever been.
  1. We live in a fallen, i.e., sinful, evil, world, so wrong, wicked, depraved things happen. Unlike humanly devised philosophies and religions that have no ability to define sin and thus no way to respond to evil, biblical Christianity tells us the origin of sin and therefore the source of wrongdoing, not our environment, biology, or upbringing, but in our own hearts. This doctrine allows us to understand the need for law, criminal justice, and grace.
  1. One purpose of government is the legitimate use (police, military), as required, of coercive force as “agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer,”thus to preserve order, restrain evil, create security, allow human flourishing, Rom 13:3-4. Because sin exists, humanity needs protection and a way to achieve justice, including, if necessary, the right use of violence; in other words, sometimes the only way to preserve peace is through violence.
  1. Israel is a nation state, which is not the same as the Jewish people, and Palestinians are not the same as Hamas. Christians too readily jump from the pages of the Old Testament into current affairs saying, “Thus saith the Lord.” While is its true that Jews are “God’s chosen people,” and it is true that God will work through Israel in the end-times, in the meantime, it behooves us to remember that no nation’s leaders, including in the U.S., are always right and moral, and no nation, including the U.S., is always right and moral. 
  1. One can critique Israel’s response without being antisemitic or ignoring the nation’s legitimate defense of its people and plans to hold Hamas accountable, and one can care about Palestinian lives without supporting Hamas or ignoring their heinous actions, and one can desire Hamas faces retribution without being a warmonger. Nations are political actors and what they do can and should be critiqued. Evaluating Israel’s policies is not ipso facto anti-Jew or antisemitic but rather a political calculus regarding decisions enacted. Similarly, a people group like the Palestinians, can be critiqued for electing and among them many supporting Hamas, and at the same time it can be accurately said that most Palestinians are victims of a dictatorial hate group that seized control of the people and the territory. 
  1. Calls for genocide of Palestinians or Israelis, coming from the Left and the Right, even shockingly from Christians and sadly from many American university students, are not morally justifiable. There is nothing in Scripture that endorses ethnic cleansing or genocidal mania. Yes, in the Old Testament, God called upon Israel to destroy different people groups, but one, he is God and we are not, two, this was a matter of idolatry not hate, and three, God at various times stopped this kind of thinking, for example Jonah’s desire for Nineveh to be destroyed when God wanted to call them to himself.
  1. God is not the author of evil, but he will even use evil of men to bring people to Christ. Even in the darkest of times, hope and compassion can prevail. Looking back at the suffering ISIS brought to millions, and that the Islamic government has brought to its own people, we see that the Lord has used it to open the eyes of millions of Muslims to see what the true Islam is and to become open to the message of the Gospel.
  1. It's possible to work for justice and peace at the same time, pursuing a just peace, which has varied definitions but is not peace at any cost. This is practical. So often, we seem to think in either/or terms. Justice, rightly understood, is not contradictory to what God determines is peace. The problem with much current discussion is a belief justice equals peace, yet even protesters shout, “No justice, no peace.” Peace that is not built upon moral foundations defined by God is simply a temporary cessation of violence, not genuine just peace. 

We often hear Christians calling upon God to do this or do that. But my friend and colleague John Frick made an interesting observation about this. In our prayers about the Holy Land crisis, John said, we should "avoid telling God what to do." 

In other words, while we know God's character and much of his will revealed in Scripture, we do not know God's will exhaustively. 

So, the point is, while we have our desires about how this war is resolved, and we can share these with the Lord, ultimately, we should say, "Lord, your will be done. 

The Psalms, and the entire Bible, though well aware of the human capacity for evil, also proclaim that evil will not have the last word. 

Out of the depths of pain and sorrow, the believer’s heart cries out: “I trust in you, O Lord; I say, You are my God’,” Ps 31:14.


Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s 

And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2023    

*This podcast 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, or connect with me at  

Have you noticed that media tend to present what they call “news” with a distinctive political slant? 

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #116 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.


“Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God? How often have you heard this question on television courtroom dramas?

The phrase “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” is believed to have initially been coined in Old English, and to have become a staple of English trials by approximately the 13th century. The exact wording of the oath can vary, but the general principle of swearing to tell the truth remains a fundamental part of the legal system.

The oath recognizes that it is possible to tell the truth yet fail to tell the whole truth, and thus to misrepresent an occurrence. Notice, too, the oath recognizes it is possible to tell the truth mixed with non-truth—falsehood, lies—and thus to misrepresent an occurrence.

In the wake of the Oct 7 Hamas massacre in the Holy Land and the subsequent military response of the Israeli Defense Force, it’s become increasingly difficult to discern whether we’re hearing the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

I’m often perplexed by people who seem to arrive at what they consider the right and only interpretation, full blown and unassailable—no doubts, rarely any humble admission they might have missed something or simply be wrong—in highly complex circumstances like the current Holy Land crisis.

Partisans, both Democrat and Republican, without a whisper of doubt often look to their leaders or at some calculus regarding political advantage and, boom, they take a rock-solid position. This kind of approach saves time. They don’t have to think. There are a lot of these people in Washington, D.C. and in media.

Then there are ideologues, people who are intellectually and philosophically committed to a particular sociopolitical worldview, who assume positions in lockstep with their cohorts and what they consider the prevailing acceptable narrative. They rarely change their positions, even in the face of facts.

I’m not suggesting partisans or ideologues shouldn’t be free to hold their own views. I’m just wondering how they get to a point they are so certain their non-nuanced position is correct, especially when many have arrived at these positions based upon something less than the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

As a human being, I have biases too, and I am not omniscient. But as a Christian, I want to critique my own thinking and the thinking of others so that I will not be captive to culture, my own history, or as Scripture says, to “hollow and deceptive philosophy” (Col. 2:8).

The gut-wrenching nature of the Holy Land crisis has produced white-hot sensitivities. Yet discerning, thinking, and acting with moral clarity may not be as easy it first seems.

On one level, given the heinous, debased nature of the gruesome Oct 7 Hamas terrorist attack upon unsuspecting, innocent, unarmed Israelis, isn’t moral clarity starkly obvious for any right-thinking person?

Yet on another level, given the large body of Palestinian civilians now in harm’s way, enduring daily massive bombing onslaughts, maybe the morally correct response is not as easy to discern as we first thought.

Israel’s mission to eradicate Hamas. But these terrorists hide amid an urban, civilian population. High casualty rates among innocents are inevitable. People who have questioned Israel’s tactics have been accused of antisemitism. Pro-Israel supporters say Hamas, not Israel, is responsible for death of civilians.

Others, including those who support Israel, note that Israel is a nation state, which is not the same as the Jewish people. It is not ipso facto antisemitic to critique the state’s actions.

Legacy media reports, pundits on both sides of the issue, protestors, and many posting online engage in selective hearing.

Not all, but certainly many, “speak the truth,” but intentionally or maybe because they are uninformed, do not speak “the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” In other words, their biases lead them to tell only part of the story.

Proponents build their seemingly incontrovertible statement upon their confirmation bias by selectively seeking, interpreting, and remembering information that supports their existing beliefs or opinions while ignoring or dismissing information that contradicts those beliefs. This failure to grasp the whole truth can lead to a skewed perception of reality and hinder objective decision-making and critical thinking.

For example, memes have been making the rounds on social media stating that Israel has been a Jewish homeland for 4,000 years and never a Palestinian state.

This is historically demonstrable. Some of these memes are simply presented as a show of solidarity with Israel. But some go beyond this, making derogatory remarks about Palestinians as people, or ignoring entirely the fact that they exist.

Without using the phrase, these sorts of meme comments often come off as an in-your-face “No Two State solution—ever” blast at Palestinians. They are boldly saying Palestinians are illegitimate because they did not exist as an organized political entity hundreds of years ago. OK, what do these pro-Israel people, including some Christians, recommend for 5.4 million Palestinians?

You could also say that before 1776 there was no USA. Is the USA illegitimate? 

Frankly, these pro-Israel statements sound a lot like many Pro-Palestinian statements aimed the other direction, like those who chant “From the River to the Sea, Palestine must be free!” OK, what then do these pro-Palestine people recommend for 9.8 million Israelis?

Pro-Palestinian arguments frequently say Israel has treated Gaza as “occupied territory” for fifty years. It’s true, that in 1967, Israel seized control of Gaza in the Six-Day War with Egypt, Jordan and Syria, and held it for nearly 40 years, but Israel has not “occupied” Gaza since it voluntarily withdrew its troops and settlers in 2005. Hamas was elected in 2006, and began threatening its terrorist actions, so Israel, in coordination with Egypt, imposed blockades. Critics say this transformed Gaza into “the world’s largest open-air prison.” Others say Hamas is responsible for Gaza residents’ living conditions.

Pro-Palestinian arguments say Israel is an apartheid state. Meanwhile, those who support Israel note that the Israelis have extended an opportunity for territory ceded to Palestinians and a two-state solution five separate times. Yet each time, Palestinian leaders rejected these overtures. Why? Because the leaders were influenced by extremists who do not under any circumstances acknowledge Israel’s legitimate right to exist and who call for annihilation of the Jewish people

Pro-Israel people support the IDF’s bombardment, while others claim the loss of lives is disproportionate to the Hamas massacre, that killing civilians even if inadvertently is a “war crime,” and it is immoral to hold an entire people collectively responsible for the actions of a terrorist organization. Question is, how should Israel respond?

I read a lot of articles and try to read representative arguments on both or several sides of the issue. What I find, over and over, is that a given media outlet presents events based upon selected, incomplete histories filtered by its left, liberal, or conservative perspective, or filtered by its pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian biases.

What this means is, a given media outlet may present truth, but rarely the whole truth and nothing but the truth. 

In the face of the Holy Land crisis, I find it mind-blowing to watch American university students, later all ages, protesting not simply on behalf of an admirable concern for Palestinian lives, but chanting “Gas the Jews,” “Israel, Israel, you can’t hide, we want Jewish genocide,” “Long live the Intifada,” “Divest from Zionist genocide now,” “F___ Israel,” “Glory to our martyrs,” etc. American universities have become the source of the very anti-civilizational, barbaric values they were designed to obviate. I never thought I would see open antisemitism, particularly coming largely from those in the political spectrum who have been preaching about hate speech and political correctness for the past decade. But it’s there and it is full blown.

It’s also been disturbing to read commentary, Left and Right, even some Christians, calling for genocide of either Israelis or Palestinians. But on no level is genocide morally justified.

For a few decades now, American culture has been systematically jettisoning the idea of right and wrong in favor of morally relativistic hedonism. The nihilistic chaos we see now is what you get with moral relativism.

While it’s interesting to debate these things, on the ground, people are dying. If you were in the Oval Office, or you were in a position of influence, what would you do?


Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s 

And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2023   

*This podcast 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, or connect with me at  

It’s been said that truth is the first casualty of war, and this seems the case as the Israel/Hamas conflict produces a fog of war, but we’re also seeing some things with more clarity.

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #115 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.

In times of crisis, especially war, what people really believe emerges in the crucible of fear and anger.

I have been astounded—and disturbed—by some of the reactions to the Holy Land conflict that I have seen thus far.


Hamas live-streamed their terror. Israel showed the world the pictures and videos of the terror. But many people simply denied the terror happened. It was remarkable watching progressive members of Congress refuse to acknowledge the terror. It was more remarkable to see how many antisemites came out of the shadows to cheer on the murders of Israelis while denying the murders even happened.”

“Many antisemites have taken to denying the babies were decapitated, claiming the story was debunked. The story was not debunked. In fact, reporters and military officials have all come forward as eyewitnesses to say they saw it for themselves. 

But, even if the babies had their heads, they were still murdered.”

What do people really believe? Recent, rampant antisemitism, blatantly and bluntly shouted on college campuses and in street demonstrations around the world and in the U.S. is evidence.

Those of us who read or research the radical left knew this was there, but now there’s no excuse for the public knowing this kind of hate is part and parcel of leftist, godless, socialist viewpoints. What has been most surprising to me is the audacity and extent of this antisemitism, like protesters in Australia chanting “Gas the Jews.” Until now, I could not have imagined anyone but neo-Nazis chanting a phrase like that. 

A new phrase is circulating in varying versions: “Palestinian babies are as precious as Israel babies.” Now what right-thinking moral person would disagree with this?

But why is this phrase circulating now, just as Israel is seeking to hold Hamas to account, which seems to suggest the phrase is speaking more to Israel than Hamas. 

In any event, the phrase with associated cuteness memes is making the rounds on social media.


Another clarity: what at first was called “misinformation” has morphed into constant fears of “disinformation,” which of course does exist, but mostly is a term used by the radical left to label any comment that calls into question what’s now called the “prevailing acceptable narrative.” In the blinded minds of the radical left, they think anything with which they disagree should be silenced.

The word, “narrative” is a good word, but it’s been co-opted to mean an ideological messaging point of view. “Prevailing acceptable narrative” is a phrase used now as a bludgeon to silence discussion, on a par with “the science is settled.”

We’ve not only lost our ability to identify right and wrong, now we celebrate wrong, even evil.

This is happening because “America lacks a cohesive and coherent moral compass. In 1981, around 90 percent of Americans identified as Christian, today that number is closer to 60 percent and declining rapidly. America once debated the truth. 

Now, everyone has their own truth, and anyone can be a woman. The ‘woke’ application of relativism across our institutions has banished meritocracy and undermined the rule of law with a politicized federal bureaucracy. The knock-on effects of moral decline and mediocrity are enormous.”

Decades of public education teaching moral relativism is now rearing its head in people arguing that what Israel is doing in self-defense is somehow morally equivalent with what Hamas did in a horrific infiltration resulting in mass execution.

Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) are two of the most vocal and visible terrorist-sympathizing voices on the Hill. Both have a history of anti-Semitic shenanigans, Omar with the more extensive list, including the infamous tweet about Israel having hypnotic powers over the world. Omar, remember, couldn’t denounce radical Islamic terrorists who committed the 9/11 attacks, describing it as an event where ‘some people did something.’” 

Some Hamas sympathizers in the American university and the US Congress argue that the attack didn't happen at all. How seemingly intelligent individuals can embrace such provably false ideas is perplexing.


Another thing has been made starkly clear. Many people are willing to argue for and support peace at any cost. 

I heard Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, AOC, say she believed all parties in this conflict wanted a de-escalation. She willingly ignores both statements and evidence of evil in the name of her version of peace. It makes me wonder whether she has read the Hamas charter, listened to them or Iranian leaders, and does she really believe Hamas will respond to reasoning? Where is justice in a peace achieved at any cost?

A guest of SAT-7’s program last week, A Different Angle, Freddy Al-Bayadi, a Christian member of the Egyptian parliament said, “Peace is tied to justice. If we are calling for peace, then we must call for justice as well. We see biases in some media agencies and governments, where they lean to one side or another regardless of what that side is doing, so they defend that side from any aggression while remaining silent about aggressions being suffered by the other side…Our role as Christians is to clarify that truth and peace come together.”

Certainly, Christians are called upon to pursue peace, God’s peace, in the lives of every individual, by grace through faith in Christ, and God’s peace in the world in which we live. (Rom 12:15-21). The challenge is how to establish a just and lasting peace and upon what values and criteria is peace established? And the bigger question is that this Israel/Hamas conflict is only ostensibly about land. What it is really about is ethnic demography and hate.

How can I say this? Look back at the Khartoum Resolution, 1967, which clarified that Arab states intended to act according to the “three NOs”: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel. The Six-Day War followed shortly thereafter in 1967.

How do you establish peace between two groups when one of them wants to exterminate the other?


Here’s a fourth issue made clear: many people quickly side with Palestinian perspectives out of an a priori choice, and in a similar way many American evangelicals side with Israel a priori. Is this choice rooted in confirmation bias or their worldview or the undue influence of media?

Christians organizations in the U.S. have quickly aligned themselves, leaning toward or firmly placing themselves on one side or the other, Israel or Palestinian. 

Most of these Christian entities favoring Palestine are thankfully not endorsing Hamas terrorism, nor are they expressing antisemitic ideas. They are rather expressing concern for the Palestinian people who are trapped in either the Gaza Strip or the West Bank.

Palestinian proponents say Israel is “occupying” Palestinian territories, perpetuating an apartheid state. Israel proponents say Israel is not “occupying,” only walling and blockading the “disputed” Palestinian territories because of the ongoing threat of suicide bombers (significantly reduced since the West Bank Barrier Wall was built) and, to protect against mass attack like the Hamas infiltration.

Global opinion says Palestinians are not Hamas. True, but others note that Gaza residents celebrated in the streets when they got news of the Hamas massacre. And Israel says the people of Gaza elected Hamas in 2006, and Hamas is responsible for the difficult living conditions in Gaza.

The likelihood of escalation with more state or terrorist actors getting involved is very high. This certainly should be part of our prayers, that Hezbollah does not get more involved coming out of Lebanon in the north, that Iran and Syria stay out of this, that Hamas terrorists be brought to account, and that a just peace can soon be established.


Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s  

And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2023   

*This podcast 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, or connect with me at  

Hamas terrorists recently launched an unprecedented incursion of Israeli territory, killing more civilian Jews in one day than any time since the Holocaust.  How now should Israel and the world respond?

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #114 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.


Hamas is a terrorist group, ostensibly representing the people of the Gaza Strip, a group dedicated in its charter to the elimination of the nation state of Israel and of the Jewish people. If any organization could qualify as a hate group, Hamas is it.

Recently, more than one thousand heavily armed, apparently Iranian-backed, Hamas assassins broke through the walled border into Israel and slaughtered defenseless people of all ages. 

Thousands from 36 different countries were killed. Adjusted for population, the total murdered in cold blood adds up to at least six 9/11 attacks. The ones who survived the initial onslaught were taken hostage and back to the Gaza Strip.” No military establishments were targeted. This was an act of extermination, an ethnic-cleansing massacre.

Reaction worldwide has been both revealing and discouraging. Most reasonable people agreed and continue to support Israel’s right to defend itself.

You don't have to pretend the Israeli government is perfect to understand its need to protect its people-- and acknowledge that hatred of Jews is alive and as sickening as ever in our world today.”

“Pope John Paul II said this in 2000 at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. His words feel near today. "How could man have such utter contempt for man? Because he had reached the point of contempt for God. Only a godless ideology could plan and carry out the extermination of a whole people."

“As with the Nazis, and ISIS more recently, any thought that Hamas has a righteous cause is the perversion of any kind of truth or concept of God. Woe to those who have the luxury to pretend otherwise, especially in the West. It's a delusion that spirals into all sorts of justifications for evil.”

Other groups have loudly protested Israel, not just out of concern for Palestinian civilians living in Gaza but in explicit support of Hamas and its tactics, many of these groups blaming Israel, and otherwise expressing bold antisemitic statements.

Demonstrations of “overt support for Hamas killers by the diversity, equity, and inclusion crowd on a lot of campuses” took place under the sponsorship of groups that have been promoting—I should say demanding—racist, so-called “anti-racism” policies and woke philosophies rejecting American Judeo-Christian values. 

Isn’t it strange that groups that have been lecturing the American public about inclusion and anti-racism suddenly find themselves endorsing antisemitic hate?

The usual suspects protesting on behalf of terrorist murderers…are the same leftists working overtime to destroy America from the inside out. They, and the murderous ideology they support through terrorist groups like Hamas, must be defeated.”

Many in American media and among the radical Left argued a moral equivalency in what Hamas did and what they believe Israel is going to do. Conveniently ignored in this is that Israel has always held the moral high ground, not calling for mass execution of Palestinians or Arabs but simply proclaiming its right to exist. 

A saying that’s emerged during the current situation is that “if Arabs put down their arms, there would be peace. If the Jews did the same, they would be annihilated in the Middle East.” It’s hard to find evidence to question this aphorism.

Each Israeli citizen serves in the nation’s military. This includes Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot, who did a two year hitch in the IDF. Because of this, I mistakenly assumed that Israeli citizens, who know how to use rifles, had guns in their homes. However, this is sadly not the case. “In Israel, a lot of these people were slaughtered, unable to resist. The reason: Israeli gun control. There was some sort of myth out there that every Israeli had a rifle in their house, but that's not true. 

Everything is very centralized and very controlled. You couldn't get a gun except in very rare circumstances. There weren't enough people with guns.”

So, reasonable people affirm Israel has a right to conduct legitimate security operations to defend itself from terrorism, and most of these voices, certainly among world leaders, also call for efforts to protect Palestinian Gaza citizens, who are not ipso facto Hamas. But this is an extreme challenge.

As (U.S. Secretary of State Antony) Blinken put it: ‘Hamas continues to use civilians as human shields. Something that's not new, something that they've always done, intentionally putting civilians in harm's way to protect themselves ... So that's one of the basic facts that Israel has to deal with.’"

Add to this that Hamas took more than one hundred hostages, likely including Americans, who likely will be used as human shields. Why else would they take hostages?

Hostage rescue is one of the most complex and dangerous of military missions, usually performed by elite fighting forces. Here, soldiers looking for hostages will have to go into an urban warfare context potentially fraught with danger literally around every corner. It is therefore impossible to believe that what is coming won’t be bloody and deadly.

Calls for an “immediate cessation of violence,” while perhaps understandable on a sentimental level, don’t stand up in a real, fallen world. What Hamas did is on a scale with the worst death squads in history – savagery aimed at executing, raping, and beheading Jews and then mutilating their bodies. Would American allies have urged the United States toward a non-violent response after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Dec 7, 1941, just to stop the “cycle of violence?”

So, what does legitimate, justifiable, righteous defense in this horrific instance look like?

Christians have often looked to what is called Just War theory, originally propounded by St. Augustine, who held that individuals should not resort immediately to violence, but God had nevertheless given the sword to government for a good reason (Rom 13:4).

Just War theory “is a doctrine, also referred to as a tradition, of military ethics that aims to ensure that a war is morally justifiable through a series of criteria, all of which must be met for a war to be considered just…The criteria are split into two groups: ‘right to go to war’ and ‘right conduct in war’.”

Right to go to war  Competent authority, Probability of success, Last resort, Just cause.

For purposes of this podcast, I am going to focus not on going to war, because this one has started, but on how a war is conducted

On the Right conduct within war, Just War theory weighs in with five principles:

  • Distinction– War must be directed toward combatants, not non-combatants. This prescribes acts of terrorism, attacking neutral targets, bombing residential areas, or killing surrendered combatants.
  • Proportionality – The idea is harm caused to civilians or civilian property should not be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated by an attack on a legitimate military objective. 
  • Military necessity – An attack or action must be intended to help in the defeat of the enemy. It must be an attack on a legitimate military objective.
  • Fair treatment of prisoners of war– It is wrong to torture or otherwise mistreat surrendered or captured enemy combatants.
  • No means malum in se – This is Latin for “wrong or evil in itself.” It means combatants may not use weapons or other methods of warfare that are considered evil, such as mass rape, forcing enemy combatants to fight against their own side, or using weapons whose effects cannot be controlled, like biological/chemical weapons. 

All these principles, developed by great minds in ancient times, refined and deepened on behalf of Christians by St. Augustine and later St Thomas Aquinas, and then tested in the crucibles of war for centuries, make sense, are laudatory, and remain worthy standards.

The difficulty is, of course, on the ground in real-world, complex battle.

The difficulty lies in the sinful human hearts of soldiers from all countries.

The difficulty occurs in interpretation. For example, proportionality. What is a proportional response to 9/11? To the Hamas massacre? Or distinction and military necessity? How do you fight in a densely built out cityscape, door to door, basement to basement, without almost inevitably harming noncombatants?

So again, how do we evaluate what’s “Just”?

As a believer, I hold a moral abhorrence of war, but I recognize that because of sin, sometimes war is necessary. Sometimes war is necessary in the interest not only of safety and security but freedom and peace.

As believers, we desire peace, we should work toward a just peace, and at times we may face the obligation to defend peace.

As a believer, I hold to forgiveness and reconciliation, but I recognize that dark hearts do not always respond, and nothing is left but for legitimate government to act on behalf of justice and peace.

Pray for all people in the Holy Land.


Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s 

And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2023   

*This podcast 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, or connect with me at  

Hamas extremists demonstrated the evil of their worldview when they surprise-attacked unprepared Israeli villages, a concert, and families, indiscriminately slaughtering all in their path. How should we evaluate such tragedy?

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #113 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.

Jews and Arabs have been in conflict since the earliest days of the Old Testament Israelites and their neighbors.

Clearly, some Jews—not all, but definitely some—hate Arabs. And some Arabs—not all, but definitely some—hate Jews.

I am not using the word “hate” as it is now used incessantly on social media to indicate anything anyone does not like or with which they disagree. I’m using the word “hate” in its original dictionary meaning—an intense negative emotional response towards certain people, things, or ideas. And I add the current dictionary, or I should say psychological definition of hate that includes an attitude that gives rise to open enmity, hostility, or aggression. So, in this contemporary social-psychological sense, hate is not just an emotion but an action.

This perpetual—terminal really—animosity is not so much a matter of politics or even demography as it is moral philosophy, a choice. It’s not inherited in DNA. It is modeled and taught.

October 7, 2023, about one thousand Hamas terrorists entered Southern Israel from Gaza, kidnapping, raping, and murdering innocent Israelis. In some cases, whole families were wiped out. Israel has responded with significant military action and fighting continues.

Several issues are worth discussing here.

  1. Many have responded with calls for an immediate cessation of violence.

This is understandable and desirable on several levels. But it skips over a few serious considerations.

One point of view has been noted in major media, what about self-defense? Does Israel have any right to defend itself? Is the country attacked not justified in responding in like manner that it was attacked, at least for preservation of life if not justice or retribution?

Interestingly, most conservative commentators have said, yes, to this question, and so have most moderate to liberal political leaders, including the President of the United States and former president Barack Obama.

On the other hand, predictably, a long list of Progressives, i.e., those on the political Left, have not only called for an immediate cessation of military response by Israel but have indeed blamed Israel for Hamas’s unprovoked attack. These Progressives have also claimed Hamas’s actions were understandable, given the terrible living conditions extant in the Gaza Strip, and then they called for Israel to stand down—saying nothing about Hamas standing down, just Israel.

A second consideration regarding calls for an immediate cessation of violence includes the idea of self-defense but focuses even more specifically upon safety and security.

Think about this example: If your children were in a school invaded by gunmen, the first thing you’d want is not a cessation of violence. What you’d want is the police to do whatever was necessary, including violence on the perpetrators, in order to protect your children by re-establishing their safety and security. After that, then you could think about a cessation of violence.

So, there is a sense in which calling for an immediate cessation of violence is like gun control arguments. It makes the use of violence by the bad actors and that of those defending themselves morally equivalent. And it does not get us where we want to go. Do this and only the bad guys will have guns.

Again, calling for an immediate cessation of violence certainly seems logical, but it fails to account for the existence of sin and evil. It fails to acknowledge that one scriptural purpose of government is the right use of coercive force to protect life and liberty.

I’m not arguing here for violence. I’m not trying to justify all forms or unproportionate levels of violence. I’m just saying that in a fallen world, sometimes, “just use” of violence by law enforcement or military is essential and morally justifiable.

Now some have said that violence just results in more violence, but is this true? Actually, in a fallen world, legitimate uses of violence by law enforcement or military may be the only path to stop more violence.

  1. Another comment made by many, including Christians, is to call for peace. 

Again, is there something wrong with peace? Of course not. Then what is the problem? If you call for peace you must think about what kind of peace. Do you mean peace at any cost? This may be the result of immediately ceasing to use violence without first stopping the evildoers.

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declared “Peace for our time" in his September 30, 1938 remarks in London concerning the Munich Agreement. He was roundly criticized for this because it came across to the British people for what it was, naïve appeasement that allowed for the emergence of Adolf Hitler. In other words, Chamberlain’s “Peace for our time” was seen as peace at any cost.

What motivates people to pursue peace? Does calling for peace really cause people to change their minds and hearts? Will peace and justice ensue if we just reason with aggressors?

Peace, like love, must be grounded in something objective. John Lennon’s 1969 anti-war song, “Give Peace a Chance,” is an example of a vain wish. The lyrics of the song do not even make sense.

Peace of this nature has never happened because sin still exists. Only God’s peace, which is grounded in his character and available to us by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, can truly change hearts.

  1. Pundits on both sides—Left and Right—are basically calling for annihilation, genocide of either the Jewish or the Palestinian peoples.

It’s like Jonah’s attitude toward the Ninevites of old. Just nuke ‘em, Lord, and be done with it.

On a human level, we understand why reacting to rape and kidnapping and babies slaughtered might lead one to respond with revengeful calls to “smote the enemy hip and thigh with a great slaughter” (Judges 15:8, KJV). But then again, needless to say, I hope, this is not a Christian perspective.

First, there are many innocent civilians living in all parts of the Holy Land. They are not terrorists, nor are they per se an enemy of anyone. Second, Christians, isolated believers in Christ, also live in all regions of the Holy Land. There are underground churches in the Holy Land. Do these people deserve annihilation? No, they do not.

Third, some people have rather glibly said that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip should just get out of there. But how do they do this? They do not have a recognized country and many of them have no legitimate passport, money, or connections needed to travel. Their overland routes are controlled by Israel or Egypt and internally controlled by Hamas, while naval routes are often blockaded.

With the exception of Jordan and Lebanon, Palestinians are not welcome in most of the Arab countries in the Middle East. So where do they go?

I believe Israel, like any nation, has a right to defend itself. Now what this looks like and what constitutes proportionate response in terms of Just War theory is open to debate.

I think the unprovoked and unprecedented Hamas attack upon civilians, villages, families, concertgoers, all non-military targets, was an act of terrorism. The fact that civilians were raped and kidnapped, and that this was widely reported on social media, is another example of how Hamas is creating terror.

I believe the Gaza Strip is a tragic historical and political development in that this region has become a trap for 2.4 million people living in an area the size of metro-Philadelphia.These Palestinians are victims of historic ethnic hatreds, international politics and war, false religion, and selfish, autocratic, self-imposed leaders.

I believe God loves Jews and Arabs, indeed all Gentiles, and that as Scripture speaks plainly, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). This means God offers his grace, forgiveness, redemption, and hope to Palestinians and Israelis, Hamas terrorists, Iranian imams, and Afghan Taliban, everyone.

While the political and religious heritage of the people of the Middle East is incredibly complex, the answer to their problems, and to ours, is the same. It is simple: faith in Jesus Christ who makes all things new (Rev. 21:5).


Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s 

And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2023   

*This podcast 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, or connect with me at  


When has the human race ever been without war? The Pax Romana maybe, but not many other times before or since. It seems we are forever working to prevent war, preparing for war, in the midst of war, or winding down wars one after the other.

Recently I wrote an article called “Waging War, Pursuing Peace.” I tried to understand my own thoughts and feelings, my own perspective, if you will, on this never-ending issue.

I despise wars and the destruction they work on humanity, nations, cultures, and economies. I’m not a pacifist, but I yearn for peace and think we should all work for peace.

“War is hell,” General William T. Sherman famously said, and he should know for he and his troops left a trail of burning and bitterness through the South during the Civil War that is yet felt today.

War isn’t glorious, though combatants and civilians caught in its grip can be heroic and admirable. War is destruction and death.

But peace at any price is too costly. At times wars are moral and essential to combat evil.

So what we should pursue is not just peace but a just peace.


© 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 or follow him at