Christian Zionism

International Day of Peace: Reflections on an Issue We Can’t Afford to Get Wrong

Today is International Day of Peace.  It is a time to slow down and reflect not only on global peace, but on the way each of our lives reflect (or fails to reflect!) the way of peace as was embodied in Jesus.

My prayer to start to start the day:

“Lord, may your people reflect, through word and deed, the peace you desire for all humanity.”

Banksy Painting on Separation Wall

There is no issue of peace more prominent than that of the relationship between Israel and Palestine.  For me, this issue is not simply one of two people groups half way across the globe, but an issue that has tangible implications for personal friends and hero’s (Muslims, Jews and Christians) that I have walked alongside over my past two summers in Israel/Palestine (or West Bank).  See my Just Peacemaking blog series for extensive on the ground reflections.

As Christians, we can’t afford to get this wrong.  Our theology and social engagement has the potential to lead to mass injustice and oppression or lead to freedom and equality in the Way of Jesus.

We are all now aware of the upcoming UN vote in which Palestine will seek to be accepted as a state.  I first heard of this vote from one of Fatah’s leading voices while sitting in a hotel conference room in Ramallah (headquarters of the Palestinian Liberation Organization).  Later, I heard the Israeli perspective of this vote from a dignitary serving in Israeli parliament.

What may come as a surprise to the majority of Americans (and many others in the West), is that Palestine’s bid for statehood has not only received vast support from the majority of world, but from the Israeli population itself.  As advocates for democracy (as Americans) and for peace (as Christians), we must do well at hearing all the voices represented in this issue.

Here are a few resources that are helpful in listening into the majority voice that is crossing political and religious lines:

  • The majority of Muslim Palestinians in the West Bank (which can’t be understood as synonymous with the Gaza strip…these represent two very different ideologies) have embraced a strategy of non-violent resistance.  I saw and was part of this first hand and met the man highlighted in the film Budrus.  Today, there is a free filming of the movie Budrus, which highlights the story of one of these movements.
  • This article in the Jerusalem post was shared by a Jewish Israeli Settler who I was able to meet a couple months ago. He makes the point that Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Western media does not represent the normative values of Israeli’s.  The majority of Israeli’s support Palestine’s UN bid.
  • Finally, the two leading Evangelical Christian Ethicists, Dr. Glen Stassen and Dr. David Gushee, drafted this article which clearly articulates a Biblical and Evangelical way forward on this issue.  It is titled “An Open Letter to America’s Christian Zionist.”

I hope these resources -- which offer leading perspectives from Muslims, Jews and Christians – are helpful in discerning a way forward in this complex issue.

As the International Day of Peace comes to an end, we again pray:

“Lord, may your people reflect, through word and deed, the peace you desire for all humanity.”

As advocates of God’s Kingdom as was inaugurated in Jesus, this must not only be an annual prayer, but a daily prayer.  

Above Pic: Banksy art on the Separation Wall in Ramallah

Just Peacemaking #3: A Call For Interfaith Dialog

With my friend/owner of a local pizza place in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem.

Christian Quarter of Jerusalem

In East Jerusalem where the majority of people are devout Muslims.

Christian Zionism

Over the past couple years I have given more attention to the social, religions and political realities of present day Israel. Both Israel and Palestine have experienced so much fear, brokenness and anger. I can’t imagine living and raising my children in such a hostile climate that so often seems to be on the brink of war. Who is “right” in this conflict and how does my ideology and theological understanding bring fuel or peace to such conflict? As Jan and I prepare to walk the streets and see the site’s of ancient and modern Israel, we have to ask these questions and hopefully bring attention to a possible resolution.

Tony Campolo is one of the most inspiring theologians, activists and social commentators of my generation. His spirited and Spirit-led words often bring me to repentance before our Creator. See his thoughts/experiences on this topic:

Christian Zionism: Theology that Legitimates Oppression

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