In Your Face!
Thank you for writing to our humble JTC Museum of Fine Art and the "In Your Face" column. You seem to be a regular reader our our mind droppings. Undoubtedly you have read many Chick tracts that support Israel, and you challenge the notion that Christians *must* support modern Israel with military aid.
I do not find in Scripture (New Testament only) where early Christians had a duty to defend Israel or give military aid, simply because for the most part Christians weren't in the military nor were in a position of power to render such decisions. Early Christians simply didn't believe that they were going to be around for long anyway, since they awaited the return of Christ.
However, I do not find in the New Testament where Christians are to oppose Israel either. Many modern Fundamentalist Protestants draw much of their pro-Israel/Zionist theology from the Old Testament where obviously God favored His chosen people. Psalm 121: 4 "Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep" and Zachariah 2:8 "8 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye," are two oft quoted passages to show that God will curse those who curse Israel.
Within the New Testament, pro-Zionist theology is hard to build. Paul in Romans affirms that his fellow Jews are still God's people, yet simultaneously, he likens those who are biological Jews as "illegitimate" for rejecting Jesus Christ. Non-Jews (Gentiles or Goyim) are "true Jews" as spiritual descendants of Abraham, and inherit God's favor over the physical Israelites! Romans 9:6 states "For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel" and Paul yet still affirmed his own Jewish identity. He further wrote in Romans 11:1 "I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew."
If one were to build a case for being opposed to a Palestinian state, one should really do it apart from any supposed explicit teaching in the New Testament. The NT knows of no position one way or another. Perhaps the best way to arrive at a position on this controversial issue is to use biblical principles of justice. Many non Zionist Christians oppose the Israeli government demolishing Palestinian homes on the West Bank, and cite this as injustice. Biblically, the Jews were punished by God for injustices they inflicted on others as likewise any who inflicted injustices on Israel were punished.
However, many Palestinians have no real interest in sharing land with Israel. Many wish Israel would not exist entirely. Palestianian Muslims have no historic interest in Jerusalem except the Dome of the Rock. Jews do have a stronger claim to the land, and haven't resorted to the same measure of atrocities that Muslim terrorist have engaged in. If anything, many Christian Americans should be firm in their resolve to punish Palestinian extremists who hate the American style of capitalism and democracy that modern Israel is adopting. This doesn't mean that modern Israel is not guilty of their own civil rights atrocities since they have persecuted Christians. This seems lost on American Christians-the fact that Christians in modern Israel are being persecuted for being Christian. American Fundamentalist Christians *seem* more loyal to modern Israel than to their own spiritual brethern who share the Gospel in Israel, and are persecuted for it. Not all Palestinians are Muslim terrorists, many are Christians who want the same freedom that we want for ourselves on this side of the world.
This is a complicated area. I would summarize that I find no Christian duty to defend Israel, yet I also find no Christian duty to defend the Palestianians' claim to a state of their own, either. If the United States can articulate a good reason for military involvement in that region, such as preserving a democracy and a non-Muslim state, then I can support it. However, there just isn't any clear cut biblical grounds for this position.
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