Netanyahu vs. Jesus

There is a long history of uncritical support for Israel among American conservative Evangelicals. Somehow the fact that the prophets criticized ancient Israel for wrongdoing, and that the Bible depicts obedience to God as essential to possessing the land, is lost on them.

But perhaps Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent statement will change this. Because now it is not merely a choice between the prophets or Deuteronomy and the modern nation of Israel. Now it is a choice between the policies of the current president prime minister of Israel and the teachings of Jesus.

In a recent statement, Netanyahu said, “Israel is a country with national pride, and we don’t turn the other cheek.”

That is in response to the recent UN Security Council resolution about settlements in the occupied territories. But presumably no Christian, however Biblically illiterate, will miss that Netanyahu quotes Jesus and explicitly and uncategorically aligns himself against Jesus’ teaching.

And so perhaps this will jolt even conservative Christians who are used to ignoring Jesus’ ethical teachings into rethinking their stance. In the United States, there is a long history of hypocrisy with respect to this topic, as many conservative Christians claim that it is appropriate to legislate obedience to certain ethical teachings found in (or at least which can be justified using) the Bible, and yet ignoring the most fundamental ethical teaching of Jesus in our national policies.

When it comes to Israel, I want to be clear that there are more than two choices. I am not commenting on those Christians (and others) who support the right of Israel to exist as a nation, and to defend itself, while being critical of its policies towards large segments of its inhabitants both in Israel proper and in the occupied territories.

I am addressing the stark choice that faces those who think in strict binaries, who cannot be supportive and critical in a nuanced way. When it comes down to it, will you side with the one whom you claim is your Lord, and work to end the cycle of violence in the Middle East? Or will you align yourself with a politician and policies that expressly reject the teachings of the one you claim is your Lord? 

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  • Phil Ledgerwood

    You know, you’d think this would jolt American Evangelicalism, but I’ll bet it won’t. Most of them will probably respect N’s comments – fighting back and all.

    Part of this is how very little connection American Evangelicalism has with Jesus in general. It’s an American religion where guns, country, and consumerism are seamlessly woven into and, somehow, supported by the Bible.

    The other part is that I think the movement has demonstrated that there’s virtually no Christian standard they’re willing to drop in the name of American politics.

    I swear, a politician could show up wearing a T-shirt that says, “The Dispensationalists Are Right And I Am The Literal Antichrist” and worship an actual beast, but if he were Republican and pro-life, American Christians would vote for him.

    • charlesburchfield

      yah what seems to be the soup du jour is that the privilege of the Rich and Powerful appears to give them the right, apparently, to do anything they wish… as I recall one of the first things ol’ Trump said was he could go down to Wall Street and shoot somebody and nobody would say boo!! where one wins in this way one rarely realizes one has lost it all in my humble opinion…as in gaining the world and losing one’s soul. the thing is people like Trump and Leopold II go out of this life having been very busy making big trouble for moose and squirrel!!
      `€=-)

  • Cuttlefish

    Evangelicals worship cherry picked passages from the bible.

    • charlesburchfield

      Are you only now just coming to know this?

  • http://jewishchristianintersections.com/ Larry Behrendt

    James, as one of your Jewish correspndents, let me encourage you and all Christians to do what you can to encourage Israel to find a path to peace. With this said, here is a good summary of the Jewish position on cheek turning:

    “The ideal response to a slap on the cheek is to refrain from responding, waiting for an apology and perhaps even requesting one. However, if there is a chance the physical assault may continue, one is required to prevent that situation either by leaving or by fighting back. Turning the other cheek is an irresponsible response. We must protect those who need defending, including ourselves.”

    Click here to read more. At this time in our history, when so many are being threatened, the above advice sounds pretty good to me.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Thanks, Larry. Just to be clear, my criticism here, as I said, is not of those who practice self-defense, or even of Netanyahu and his policies per se, but of those so-called Christians who pretend to be loyal to Jesus no matter what, and yet who I suspect will continue to support Netanyahu and his policies even when he articulates them in no uncertain terms as diametrically opposed to the teaching of Jesus.

      • http://jewishchristianintersections.com/ Larry Behrendt

        James, I appreciate just about any criticism of Netanyahu, and yours is better than most. But I don’t think there are any principled cheek-turners among the nations of the world. Certainly, the U.S. has never seriously considered cheek-turning as a way to conduct its own policy. So, what Bibi has done here in effect is to expressly reject a value that is also rejected (but not expressly) by other nations. He’s coupled this with an inartful phrasing of a point I imagine even Christian Zionists already understand: Israel is a Jewish nation, and Judaism has a different (if just as principled) response to being slapped on the cheek.

        I think it’s important to point out that Bibi’s phrasing here does NOT show much respect for Christianity. I’m sorry about that.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          There is no need to apologize, and as a liberal Christian, I am not of the view that just because Jesus said something, it necessarily must make for a workable political strategy! :-) My point was the hypocrisy of conservative Christian supporters of Netanyahu, nothing else.

          My own view, however, is that Israel’s success in the region is going to have to involve being charitable as well as proving strength. I think the latter has been accomplished pretty effectively over the course of the last half a century or so. As someone whose family tree includes names obliterated out of existence by the Holocaust, I appreciate the desire for a Jewish homeland. But I also think that “never again” has to mean never again should these kinds of things happen to anyone, and not merely that we should do whatever it takes to ensure that these things never happen to us. And so when I saw graffiti in Hebron that said “Gas the Arabs,” frankly I was horrified. And I find myself disturbed by the turning of Bethlehem into a ghetto, given the use of ghettos for Jews down the centuries.

          If there were an easy solution, or even a difficult but ultimately attractive one, to the conundrums Israel faces, more progress would have been made than has been. I have no idea how to have a single unified state that is both democratic and a Jewish homeland. Most scenarios for carving the region into two states would lead to further conflict, just as the creation of new national borders at the end of the era of British colonialism led to conflict. It seems to me that the only real hope in the long term is to work towards something that looks like a middle eastern version of the European Union, which I think helped to reduce the rationale for conflict in places like Northern Ireland. I think that most of the desire to hang on to sites such as the temple mount is motivated by politics and territory more than religion, but the latter can be harnessed to potent effect in the service of the former. If relations with Arab neighbors could be improved to the extent that anyone who wanted to travel to a Muslim holy site in Israel could do so, I don’t think that many would flock to them in preference to holy sites elsewhere. But it might undermine the use of the issue of “who gets Jerusalem?” to continue conflict. But to get to an Israel that can prosper as a result of more open borders, rather than feel its existence imperiled, will have to involve at least some “cheek-turning.” Because I am not persuaded that Israel will ever experience peace and security by using force. Peace and security, in my opinion, require good will, and achieving those sorts of relations between ethnic, religious, and political groupings is in some ways much harder than – and requires just as much courage as – shows of military strength do.

          In other words, when all is said and done, I do think that Jesus has something useful to contribute to the matter. :-)

          • http://jewishchristianintersections.com/ Larry Behrendt

            :-) back at you! I might dispute a few of your specifics, but I agree strongly with the broad thrust of what you’ve written. I’ve written that peace in Israel and Palestine might depend on American Christians finding the right voice and using the right words. What Israel needs is a friend who says, take a chance for peace. If it fails, we’ll stand with you; your fate will be our fate.

          • jh

            Maybe we should offer a judgement of Solomon concerning Jerusalem. Destroy the city. (Ref to the story of the two women who each claimed to be the mother.)

            the one that is still willing to remain in the city despite the nuclear radiation gets to keep it.

  • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

    First, I think Donald Trump is a dangerous demagogue, and I think his getting elected is a terrible tragedy.
    But second, I think the Biblical perspective is that the West Bank belongs to the Jews: “…for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29)
    God allowed the Jews to be removed from the promised land by the Babylonians and the Romans. However, I don’t think it should be up to us to decide if and when God should remove them, again. Not even from the West Bank.

    • http://modicum.mu/ Tom Minkler

      But was it up to us to decide if and when they should be put back there? Is imposing a state on a region a right thing to do? (The Europeans and US did that with most of the middle east anyway by carving it up to suit us.) Creating a state based on ethnicity and religion isn’t necessarily right either, but we did both! What if we decided that black people had been persecuted for long enough and decided to make Texas a “black state”? Wouldn’t people be right to be pissed off? That’s the root of the whole conflict. I feel like the Arab states should just accept it and move on at this point, but i think we have to remember that at the root of all this is an extreme imposition.

      • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

        In order to make the black/Texas analogy complete, Texas would have to have been the original homeland of black people, who were trying to re-acquire it. Also, the white people living in Texas would acknowledge this, but would have invented a religion that explained why the black people no longer had a right to Texas.

        For Islam (and Christianity) both said that the Jews had been kicked out of the promised land because of disobedience to God, and that the land now belonged to the real people of God – Christians or Muslims, depending upon which religion one preferred.

    • PedasiPaul

      If we look at the Biblical promise, it encompasses far more than the West Bank.

      Genesis 15:18 reads, “In that day Jehovah made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.”

      The river of Egypt is the Nile, while the Euphrates River is east of Jordan and Saudi Arabia. So Biblical literalists presumably want Israel to expand into half of Egypt and into Jordan and Saudi Arabia as well. If Egyptians, Jordanians and Saudis prefer self-government, that’s too bad.

      • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

        Yes, there were Zionists who thought that they should try to acquire all of the land delineated in that verse. In fact, the original mandate of Palestine that the British obtained after WWI included both Palestine and Trans-Jordan. In 1920 there were Arab riots against the Zionists. In an effort to appease the Arabs, the British divided mandatory Palestine into Palestine and Trans-Jordan, and forbid the Zionists from settling in Trans-Jordan.

    • jh

      than “god” should come down and make it self-evident. I’m pretty sure that the Palestinian muslims have some verse stating that their god gave them the west bank. In fact, I’m pretty sure that in my own religion, (the religion of ME), that those lands belong to me. These are all three equally valid claims. Which one will you choose? How will you choose? Will you apply the same standard to all three claims or will you engage in special pleading?

      It’s all big talk. Just have the Jewish Yahweh use some of his magical voodoo to set the matter straight. come on. He had all sorts of miracles before. It’s time for him to show off a little bit more instead of playing this shy is he or isn’t he nonsense. Too many people are suffering that either any of the gods worshiped are shy or evil. No good deity would hide when it is capable of preventing evil.

      • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

        Hi jh,

        Perhaps God should do as you say. I’ll let him speak to you for himself in this matter. If I understand Islam, they believe that the promised land was originally given to the Jews, but that since the Jews disobeyed God, they were kicked out and now the land belongs to good Muslims. And I think I understand the modern secular view, which says that the UN voted that there should be a Jewish state and an Arab state in that area. I could be mistaken, but I believe that even though the Palestinian Authority recognizes the state of Israel, it refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Now even John Kerry has gone on record as saying that is a condition of peace. Perhaps if the Palestinians did recognize Israel as a Jewish state, peace might come more readily. I think it would leave Israelis without an excuse for recognizing the rights of the Palestinians to their own state.

        As to your claim that the land belongs to you…good luck with that.

  • http://againstjebelallawz.wordpress.com/ Enopoletus Harding

    I’m an atheist, and I support Bibi here on principle.

  • Jon Altman

    I understand where you’re going with this, but Netanyahu is not even a religious Jew.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      You don’t seem to have understood where I was going with this. At all.

  • Jeremiah J. Preisser

    “There is a long history of uncritical support for Israel among American conservative Evangelicals.”

    Ah, but it’s not just the political right. Rarely is criticism brought up from either side because those on the right feel a religious connection to Israel (We hear the often phrased, “Judeo-Christian values”) and those on the left have a political one (Many correspondents and donors are Jewish).

    Regardless, this unabashed love for Israel has to be reevaluated. Politicians and media members alike need to stop treating the topic as a no-go zone, fraught with Iron Dome-esque verbal deflections.

  • Brandon Roberts

    not christian but my philosophy is once we beat or at least weaken isis to the point their no longer a threat we don’t get involved in the middle east we’ve only been making things worse

    • jh

      I doubt we will ever get out of the middle east. As long as we are dependent on oil (something conservatives think is an infinitely renewable form of energy with zero negative externalities), we will constantly meddle in the middle east. If it isn’t ISIS, it will be something else. We would probably arm a rebellion to destabilize a stable government just so we could get a gallon more gasoline.

      The more I read about what we have done around the world, the more I’m ashamed of my country. We aren’t some shining city on a hill. We are the barbarians who would rape a woman and her children just for one penny.

  • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

    By the way, I realize that evangelical Christians think that Trump will be better for Israel than Obama was. But then there is Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, who has been salivating to make a deal with Iran, but prohibited because of U.S. sanctions. I’m willing to bet that changes.

    http://www.bourseandbazaar.com/articles/2016/12/10/new-secretary-of-state-rex-tillerson-doesnt-believe-in-sanctions

  • Barbara

    Wow, this is complete nonsense. There’s a “just war” tradition in Christianty as well. I don’t like Netanyahu, but this is a very poor and shallow non-argument.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      This comment seems odd. Do you honestly think the post was written without an awareness of Christianity’s “Just War” tradition? You seem to have missed the point of the post entirely.

      • Barbara

        There doesn’t seem to have been any point to the post. You’re scolding a non-Christian for not living according to (your take on) Christian principles – and then demanding that Christians not support him. Huh?

        How about WWII, when Americans didn’t “turn the other cheek” after being attacked? Should we all now cease supporting America as well?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          The post is addressing Christians. Did you merely skim it and misunderstand what it was about, perhaps?

        • http://jewishchristianintersections.com/ Larry Behrendt

          Barbara, my take on this (as a Jew heavily invested in Jewish-Christian dialogue) is that Netanyahu’s statement was offensive. No one asked him to “turn the other cheek.” He reached out unprovoked to an idea sacred to Christianity, and expressly rejected it. There was no need or reason to do so. He could have made his point in a thousand different ways, without invoking and then casting aside anyone else’s religious tradition.

  • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/1253135257/ Peter Calabrese

    Your article is very interesting. You are anxious for conservatives to chastise a non-Christian for denying a saying of Christ, but you made you own binary – namely you said the choice was siding with Netennyahu whom you claimis against Christ or with those who want to end the cycle of violence. And who would that be? Remember Netenyahu is responding to those who continue to teach little kids to destroy Israel – there is no one on the other side IN POWER who is actually interested in stopping the violence other than by the destruction of Israel Correctly oyu note Netenyahu would not turn the other cheek in violation of Christ;’s edict, but that does not mean that evangelicals have a choice between working for peace or supporting Netenyahu – the two are not mutually exclusive.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      No, you misunderstood my point almost completely. I am anxious for conservative Christians to examine themselves and either actually side with Jesus, or not pretend they are doing so when they doing the opposite.

      • https://www.facebook.com/app_scoped_user_id/1253135257/ Peter Calabrese

        Perhaps I falsely accuse you but you seem to contradict yourself by on thE one hand condemning Netnyahu for saying he would not turn the other cheek, but in the article saying you are not opposed to allowing for a proper defense of Israel and its right to exist. So is Netnyahu allowed to defend his people against those who are also denying Christ by vowing genocide? In other words by defending the Abbas and company who have not in word and deed denied genocide are you also negating Christ. It seems to me, again maybe I am judging you falsely, is that you just want to hit at conservative Christians who are criticizing progressives who abandoned Israel at the UN the other day. You can be critical of Israel and even work to end the settlements without giving terrorists weapons to destroy your friends at the UN. This is really about conservative Christians criticizing Obama not a theology of following Christ or not. If it was about whether supporting someone who violated Christ’s teachings supporting then you would have to also criticize progressive Christians for their reflex support of “Palestinians” who have vowed the incineration of Israel. You chose only to attack people on one side of the issue which shows me it is not really a Christian meditation on the complexity of the situation, but rather a partisan article meant to attack Christians with whom oyu generally disagree. Sorry if I offend have a good day.

        • Phil Ledgerwood

          The article does not condemn Netanyahu. The article says nothing about whether Israel is right or wrong. Nothing in the article says anything about whether or not Israel should defend herself.

          The article asks if Christians will support Netanyahu given that he expressed himself specifically using the words of Jesus Christ and said Israel will not do that. That is all the article is about. Full stop.

          This article makes no commentary pro or con on that decision or any of Israel’s policies.

    • jh

      It’s not about what Netanyahu does or says. It’s what conservative Christians do and say. Do they choose to abide by the principles that are most commonly associated with Jesus Christ (their lord and savior, at least who they claim to follow), or do they not abide by those principles?

      I suspect that, like this recent presidential election, that we all know what the conservative christian will do. I suspect a conservative christian would burn their holy text, throw other people into slavery, and kill millions of innocent children if it meant they would gain more power. They have no decent morals. They are not good people. I would go so far as to say that they are the true enemy of all that is good and decent in our civilization.

      I understood this blog post. A fifth grader could understand this post. The only people who cannot understand the gist are people who have a motive in their willful lack of understanding. (or they are illiterate, but then, they wouldn’t be posting anything.)

  • Oscar Montemayor

    I’m not worry for a man like Netanyahu say about Jesus or Christianity. I am worry for his violence and criminal acting against palestine people, and angry because his threats to anybody who criticize Israel State… ¿Chosen people?… please…

  • freff

    I don’t think it will change a lot of thinking in that population. Most Conservative Christians seem to have turned the other cheek to turning the other cheek for a while now.

  • Dennis Wilson

    I get that the writer quotes Netanyahu about not turning the other cheek. it’s about the only thing the writer says that he is not ambiguous about. That one other exception was his “occupied territories.” When the enemies of Israel use the terms “occupied territories” they are saying that the land does not belong to Israel. Well, God gave the land to Israel thousands of years ago. Therefore the land that Israel “occupies” is their land and not that of Muslim terrorists who want nothing less than the destruction of Israel including the murder of it’s people to get Israel’s land.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Throughout most of their history, the people of Judah were a separate political entity from Israel (late Samaria), and even when they were a kingdom rather than a province, it was as a vassal to an imperial power. Are you really going to try to use that state of affairs to try to justify specific territorial holdings by a modern nation state?

      Selective, decontextualized use of a small number of Biblical texts isn’t going to be as persuasive on this blog as you have found it to be in other settings.

      • Dennis Wilson

        I believe the promises of God, Israel does too. God gave promises to Abraham that the land would belong to his descendants. God always keeps, and has kept His promises. A great deal of the Old Testament records the conquering and destruction of wicked nations by the Jews to take the land that God gave them.

        Jesus is coming to earth again and He will sit on His throne in Jerusalem in this same land.

        The nation of Israel will never be destroyed and the land that Israel “occupies” is Israel’s land, God gave it to the Jews.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          Being dogmatic about your views does not change the fact that they are at odds with both the Biblical narrative and the realities of history.

          • Dennis Wilson

            I could change your word “they” to “you” and say the same thing about you.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            You can say anything you wish, if evidence does not matter to you. The things I mentioned ought to be common knowledge to anyone interested in the Bible and/or the history of Israel. You are welcome to fact check them.

          • Dennis Wilson

            The Bible has all the evidence I need on the subject of God’s giving of the land to the Jewish people. I trust God’s word on the matter.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            So in addition to selective citation of Scripture, you have the audacity to claim that you trust, and consider God’s word, the very collection of writings that you are misrepresenting?!

          • Ficino

            I’m guessing that you want a big war to start in the Middle East because you believe that then, we’ll get the Second Coming. And I’m guessing you wish this will all happen within a few years. Meanwhile, the devastation will be incalculable. Foreign policy dictated by religious texts is going on now amongst ISIS. Your approach is philosophically like theirs; you just advocate a different holy text.

          • Dennis Wilson

            You are not a very good guesser.

          • Ficino

            I’m glad I guessed wrong about the above. Your overall position remains factually and morally wrong.

          • Dennis Wilson

            Says you.

          • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

            Prof. McGrath,

            I believe the “Jews” of the first century often referred to themselves as Isaelites, thus revealing that they saw themselves as not just being descendants of Judah, but as descendants of Israel. Paul himself makes the identification between Jews and Israel clear in Romans 11, so that when in v.29 he says that the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable, he is referring to the Jews of his day as the descendants of Israel, and entitled to the gifts promised to Israel by God. Among these gifts would be the promised land. And modern day Jews are descendants of the same Jews that Paul refers to. So from a Biblical perspective, I would say yes, the present day land of Israel, including the West Bank, belongs to present day Jews.

            I don’t expect the modern secular world to acknowledge the correctness of the Biblical perspective. But then your post wasn’t addressed to them.

          • Marja Erwin

            “And modern day Jews are descendants of the same Jews that Paul refers to.”

            As are many non-Jews.

            And I suspect, most Palestinians of every religion.

            But in the past, people have invented claims of “divine right” [e.g. of kings] to counter demands for human rights, so I don’t see any reason to respect claims which amount to “divine right” unless they can be grounded in human rights.

          • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

            The question was what was the Biblical perspective regarding the Jews’ right to the land. I think it’s clear the answer is that yes, that perspective teaches that it is their land. Of course, it also teaches,

            “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-34).

            So I think Judaism would require that Israel respect the rights of the Palestinians. However, I think there is a problem. If I understand it, the Palestinians do not want to acknowledge that any of the land belongs to the Jews. This might be based on what I think is Islam’s teaching that God gave the land to the Israelites, but took it away from them when they disobeyed him. And I suspect this has been the basis for much if not most of anti-Zionism from the beginning.

        • PedasiPaul

          Let’s examine that promise to see exactly what land it encompasses. Genesis 15:18 reads, “In that day Jehovah made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.”

          The river of Egypt is the Nile, while the Euphrates River is east of Jordan and Saudi Arabia. So Biblical literalists presumably want Israel to expand into half of Egypt and into Jordan and Saudi Arabia as well. If Egyptians, Jordanians and Saudis prefer self-government, that’s too bad.

    • Ficino

      This position that you voice is both factually and morally wrong.

      • Dennis Wilson

        You are still not a very good guesser.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      As I already said, when Israel “possessed” the land, it was always with other people groups living in it as well, and most often under the rule of some imperial power. And if they disobeyed the law, which included not mistreating aliens, they were threatened with comquest and exile. And so the situation of ancient Israel simply cannot be used to justify corralling Arab Christians and Muslims into ghettos, and preventing them from traveling freely in what is also their ancestral land.

      • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

        I agree that it can’t be used to justify it. On the other hand, Christian and Muslim supersessionism was used as a way to oppose Jewish immigration back to the land, and refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. In such a situation, I think blaming just Israel is a little too simplistic.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          Oh, absolutely, and I am a critical supporter of Israel, not an opponent who blames everything on them. No group that was experiencing persecution which seized the opportunity to carve out of the ending colonial situation a safe haven for themselves should be judged harshly for doing so; how much less when the group has an ancestral connection to the land. But the rhetoric of “a land without a people for a people without a land” got things moving in a troubling direction. What troubles me most is when Israeli policy has done to others precisely that which Jews were seeking to avoid having done to them. But I am a critic of policies and practices, not of the right of Israel to exist, or even to incorporate territory into its nation that it conquered in a war. But the residents of those territories cannot be kept in limbo, or the territories themselves or cities within them treated as concentration camps, indefinitely. If Israel is going to appeal to the Bible to justify its existence, then you had better believe that I am going to expect them to also implement the best of its moral teachings.

          • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

            There were 500,000 to 700,000 Arabs living in Palestine at the time the Zionist movement started in the 1880s. Presently there are over 10 million people, Jews and Arabs, living in both Israel and Palestine. So yes, it was a mistake to say it was a land without a people. But then it would equally be a mistake to say there was no more room.

            But I maintain that a more fundamental mistake was the Christian and Muslim belief that Jews no longer had a right to the land, but were cursed by God. Imagine, for a moment, that there had never been Christian or Muslim supersessionism. In such a hypothetical situation I would think the land would have been seen by both religions as still belonging to genealogical Israel, or the Jews. Then imagine, for a moment, that Christian and Muslim supersessionism suddenly ceased to exist, and both religions acknowledged the implications of Romans 11:29. I suspect that it would make it easier for Israeli Jews to obey their own religious teachings about treating other people fairly.

  • Abraham

    The prime minister of Israel is not obligated to fashion his response to the UN by turning his cheek, that is a response that Christians would do. He’s a follower of Moses not Jesus.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      No one here suggested otherwise.

  • http://mywag.wordpress.com/ my wag

    There is practically no Evangelical Christianity without a good sprinkling of hypocrisy. I especially love the Prosperity Bible …..

  • Phil Griffin

    that’s it? Support for Israel comes down to them turning the other cheek? Your question should rather be which side is following the teachings of Jesus more.

  • redhatGizmo

    Jesus is a figure of Myth not of History, and that so called Golden Rule predates any Hypothetical historical jesus by centuries.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      That the Silver Rule does is common knowledge. As for the specific form known as the Golden Rule, I will ask what texts you have in mind as evidence for that claim.

      • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

        If I were the Secretary of State, I think I would appeal to Israel based upon a commandment in their own religion:

        “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-34, NRSV)

        So yes, I would say that the West Bank belongs to Israel. But then the same God who gave them the land also told them how to treat other people living in it. If they don’t want to treat them as citizens, then the least they can do is give them their own state.

        • El Cid

          “”When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:33-34)”

          You have cherry picked. Here is the full context, cross referenced, across that scripture. It is self explanatory:
          Deuteronomy 29:11
          Your little ones, your wives, and the alien who is within your camps, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water,
          Joshua 9:20
          “This we will do to them, even let them live, so that wrath will not be upon us for the oath which we swore to them.”
          Joshua 9:23
          “Now therefore, you are cursed, and you shall never cease being slaves, both hewers of wood and drawers of water for the house of my God.”
          Joshua 9:27
          But Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation and for the altar of the LORD, to this day, in the place which He would choose.

      • El Cid

        Actually the Silver Rule is not commonly known, the Golden Rule is. Many variations of the golden rule are fundamental to aspirations of humanity. Aspect of it are present in major religions. The written version goes back over four thousand years. It certainly did not emerge with Jesus.

        The silver shares similarities, and basic differences, with the
        golden and is about as old. The golden is a basic moral directive: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The golden rule is the foundation for human-rights philosophies, religious and secular.

        The Silver Rule is an inversion of the golden rule. It states “Do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you.” The silver rule has its its limitations too in that it only requires an individual not harm others, and does not ask that person to engage in positive behavior.

        The Golden Rule emphasizes the positive duties of the individual. The Silver Rule regulates negative behaviors. The golden and silver rules must work in tandem to be water tight effective. They do exactly that in ISLAM.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          Islam certainly does take up both from the Jewish and Christian traditions. But redhatGizmo suggested that there were pre-Christian articulation of the Golden Rule, and that was what I asked for evidence of.

        • https://disqus.com/home/discussion/channel-politicalislam/ Pan Genek

          There is no universal Golden Rule or Silver Rule in Islam. It applies only to Muslims, or to be more exact only to male Muslims. Kafirs, dhimmis and women are not to be treated same as Muslim men under Sharia.

          • El Cid

            Absolute drivel. An Atheist telling me, a Muslim about Islam and Shariah Law. And you expect me, that I somehow am obligated to respond to you, why?

          • https://disqus.com/home/discussion/channel-politicalislam/ Pan Genek

            No, I don’t expect any response. You can’t admit it is true, and you don’t have any logical arguments to disprove it. So you’ll either keep silent or burst into insults, as you usually do.

          • El Cid

            “No, I don’t expect any response.”
            Why then do you post to me? Bread upon the waters or looking for answers in the wind?

            “I can’t admit it is true, and you don’t have any logical arguments to disprove it.”
            I don’t have to prove or disprove my belief to you or to anyone else. Of course you can’t admit to that which you don’t know. You know little of anything except to troll Muslims because you know they have the patience and courtesy to reply to you.

            Nevertheless, I don’t understand your negative interest in Islam. And why can’t you read and research it for yourself if indeed your search for knowledge is in earnest and you are capable of being true to yourself in search of it. Besides you have not, can not have, the measure of me. Not ever, not in anything. Religious or secular. Period.

            You people can’t even translate the word “Islam” or “Muslim” or “Deen” in to one word in English. These words have deep meanings in Islam. The West can not under the significance of “God is Great” after all these years of badgering it. You especially are a concrete thinker and abstract thought is way beyond your limit horizon.

            So you’ll either keep silent or burst into insults, as you usually do.”
            No, not really. You are wrong again. The insults and provocations come from you. In fact you don’t even know when you are insulting a Muslim because they tend to keep quite about it.

            This is your usual bait and switch. I usually don’t bite on nonsense. I am a Muslim. I know what I believe in. And I don’t have to explain, justify or defend Islam. Islam needs no defense. Islam defends itself.

            However if a question is asked in honesty and in earnest and in sincerity even when I have cause to doubt it, I still reply to the best of my ability. For this reason alone, your lack of honesty, and for no other I tend to avoid your boorishness by walking away in peace.

            I could fill the pages here in context. But for me the Qur’an is the Word of God. One Word is enough. But since you cannot think in the abstract, one verse, in the concrete, and one in concrete and abstract will do:

            [Qur’an4:36] Instructs Muslims – men, women, children, I knew and practiced it as a child: “Do good to all”. This verse includes the Golden Rule and includes ALL of humanity in all its scope and status.

            Also embedded, concrete and abstract, for ALL of humanity in [Quran83:1-3] “Woe to those who cheat: they demand a fair measure from others but they do not give it themselves”.

            Here is take home for you: The Golden and Silver Rules thread throughout the Noble Qur’an: Period!

          • https://disqus.com/home/discussion/channel-politicalislam/ Pan Genek

            Oh yes, prophet Muhammad was doing lots of good to all the Kafirs whom he killed, robbed and enslaved.

          • El Cid

            “Oh yes, prophet Muhammad was doing lots of good to all the Kafirs whom he killed, robbed and enslaved.”
            There you go again. Off on your usual tangent. I may consider answering it after you tell us when did you stop beating your wife and molesting your children.

            Have nice day
            Done!

          • https://disqus.com/home/discussion/channel-politicalislam/ Pan Genek

            So do you want to say that Muhammad was practising the Golden Rule when he was destroying the ancient culture of the Quraysh? Does it mean he wanted the same to be done unto him and his people?

  • Ficino

    Hello James, I think you sort of answer your own question at the end of your article when you speak of those who think in strict binaries. I believe some evangelicals can come to more nuanced views about the present policies of the Israeli govt. But I suspect that if and when they take strong stands against those policies, they will be labeled as heterodox or worse by their own evangelical tribe. Evangelicals who try to go beyond binary thinking seem to run into pushback even here on Patheos.

    The Jesus packin’ heat brand of evangelicalism turns on its own quickly. Perhaps any rise in awareness of Palestinians’ rights among members of evangelical groups is more likely lead individuals to consider leaving evangelicalism than it is to change American evangelical public stances.

    Back in 2001 (yes, a month before 9/11) I was in Jerusalem and conversed with a Presbyterian representative. She said that few American evangelicals realize that there exist millions of Arab Christians (some evangelicals might not think those folks are true Christians …). Her work was with denominations, to try to help them help Palestinians who face difficulties in the occupied areas, as well as Arabs, Armenians and others who undergo difficulties in Israel proper. I don’t know whether she is still at this work, for since then, the tides in Israeli politics have flowed decidedly the other way.

  • Daniel G. Johnson

    I am not generally in agreement with Netanyahu. But, McGrath places the “turn the other cheek” comment out of context. With Jesus, the saying is a call to an existential free choice to break a cycle of anger. Netanyahu’s use of the saying is not an allusion directly to Jesus but to Christians, gentiles generally, and whoever who for a long time have sought to impose cheek turning on Jews in order to coerce Jews to drop national and cultural claims and agendas. For example, I have too often heard Christians/gentiles demand that Jews “get over” the Holocaust by “turning the other cheek”. The same sentiment has been applied to terrorism inflicted on Jews and Israel. Clearly, Netanyahu has taken up the vibe of impositional cheek turning in the event of how the Obama administration handled the UN resolution. The facts of the actual event can be argued. The motivations of both Netanyahu and Obama can be argued. But, for McGrath to use the cheek turning comment as an opportunity to set up a melodramatic Jesus (& his crew) vs. Netanyahu (& Israel) is frankly, disgusting.

    “Israel” should not be name-dropped as if it is a monolithic factor in the equation. Israel’s politics are as divided as America’s. Netanyahu keeps his office by a thin margin in a multi-party system. If McGrath really wants to contribute to something constructive in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I would suggest he actively support centrist Israelis who seek to pull Netanyahu more to the center. Cancel your order for the “I’m on Jesus’ side” t-shirt.

  • Sue langstaff

    I just read your article “Netanyahu vs. Jesus.” I am an Orthodox (Eastern), formerly Anglican Catholic, so do not get lumped in with “evangelicals,” on these political issues. However, my response to your piece is that the”contradiction of principles argument” you make concerning the two sides, seems to be “making a mountain out of a molehill.” The times when Jesus speaks of “turning your cheek,” are not interpreted by Catholic theological scholars as what amounts to a “suicide pact” either for nations or individuals. To take one of Jesus’ quotes out of context and then blame the evangelicals for ignoring that “crucial” issue, so to speak, is simply not understanding Christianity. I don’t have space to discuss Biblical exegesis with you, but after years of studying Christian thought, formerly an atheist years ago, I can assure you, Netanyahue’s remarksi are not in any way a contradiction for Christians when it comes to protecting national sovereignty. Christians would not immediately disdain Netanyahue’s remarks, whether their implication was inadvertant in terms of his knowledge of doctrine or not, because their compass is based on the actions and moral Judeo-based values, friendship and alliance which the two nations have depended on for years.

    God Bless,
    Sue, Parker CO

  • Sundialer

    What wrongdoing or disobedience to God is Israel guilty of that Mr. McGrath referring to…acting in its national defense, failure to make concessions for peace? Just how many times must Israel turn the other cheek before people finally acknowledge that the problem may not be Israel’s unwillingness to negotiate with the Palestinians in good faith, but the Palestinian leadership’s absolute failure to reciprocate. From the very beginning, the Palestinian Authority has worked tirelessly and without respite to delegitimize and isolate Israel. Generations of Palestinian children in schools and mosques have been indoctrinated to hate Jews and hold them in the deepest contempt by means of the vilest lies and propaganda. Its hard to have a good faith partner for peace to which you can turn the other cheek when that partner is intransigent, intolerant, and unwilling to compromise at every turn. To them, not only are Israel’s settlements in the West Bank illegal, but its very existence is illegal. Some peace partner!

    How ironic, that in the hope of peace with its Arab neighbors, Israel left the Sinai in 1979 and gained peace with Egypt. The Palestinians denounced this effort and Egyptian PM Anwar Sadat was assassinated. In 2000, Israel left southern Lebanon, and in 2015, it left the Gaza strip…all in the hope of land for peace. Israel’s efforts were rewarded with terrorist entrenchment in these lands from which it had withdrawn. Hamas in Gaza. Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, and ISIS terrorist cells in the Sinai, each lobbing hundreds of missiles into Israel and causing chaos and disruption. In 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak virtually conceded to Yasser Arafat everything the PA wanted, including a limited “right of return” for Palestinian refugees. Arafat rejected it all. In 2008 Ehud Olmert made even more concessions to Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas walked away from the table. The settlements are three percent of the West Bank…Israel’s ancient homeland of Judea and Samaria, and it has been Israeli policy to give it up for peace, and indeed, Israel has demonstrated the precedent that it will give up land for peace. But the Palestinians do not want peace or direct negotiations where it would have to compromise…where it would have to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. The PA has had more success using third parties to force Israel to bend to its demands where it receives all the concessions and gives up nothing.

    With the passage of UN resolution 2334, the two-state solution is not merely dead, it is most sincerely dead, and the Palestinians have been given a new and more prestigious legal weapon with which to assert their claims against Israel…even to the point of stripping Israel of Judaism’s most holy sites in East Jerusalem. The PA has no reason to concede anything at all now and the Arab powers will ramp up their use of the conflict for leverage in rallying the world to its side in its ultimate quest of a final solution, the complete obliteration of Jewish culture, history, and identity in the land under the guise of Palestinian rights. They have said as much.

    What does it mean to “turn the other cheek” to such inexorable and violent implacability? Jesus also taught that it is not ethical to throw your pearls to pigs…No?

  • See Noevo

    Bibi has long been my favorite foreign statesman/politician.

  • tonygeorge

    The article of another raving anti – Semite who seem to populate this site. Because our (Jewish) doctrine doesn’t mandate turning the other cheek in the case of an assault, no good Christian should support Israel? Ever notice how we Jews are like the canaries in the mine – first the Muslims drove the Jews out of the Middle East, now the Christians are being decimated. Don’t support Israel (where Christians are thriving and increasing in number)? Fine, then support the Muslims in Syria and Jordan and Egypt (where the % of Christians is diminish from about 20% only a few decades ago to probably 5% now). But you’ll show those Jews, after all we killed Christ, right?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Wow, I still manage to be surprised by those who will take even something such as the suggestion that Christians ought not to support one particular Israeli politician’s policies, and try to suggest that it represent anti-semitism. You do realize, don’t you, that pretending that the only options are unquestioning support of any one politician, or antisemitism, only makes you seem like an irrational extremist, and does nothing to contribute to the discussion of the substantive issues?

      • Charles N

        once again you accuse someone of something that that person never did. and then offer a portrayal of that person, in fact of a whole group of people you don’t know.

        no one has said we cannot criticise netanyahu!!! my god maybe you need to learn a bit more about israeli or jewish culture.

        the question is the imbalance of your focus. do you get it? BY NOT APPLYING THE SAME MEASURE TO THOSE WHO THREATEN THE VERY EXISTENCE OF THE JEWS IN ISRAEL, you reveal one of the classic signs of anti-semitism.

        would you agree that the global media and the United Nations show a similar imbalance?

        in my responses, I gave you a whole lot of the bigger picture, which I hope would go toward trying to see the bigger picture of what you are wading into.

        I will not write more here, but I am sure you are aware of what it means for you if you get it wrong on this nation. even common decency, logic and awareness of the incredible forces that threaten Jews, and today distort media and political bodies, would require you to be careful about jumping in on the pile-up. Yes Prof McGrath, “speak tenderly to Jerusalem”.

        Forgive me for using the phrase “shut up”. I hoped to use it as a way to demonstrate the extremity of your position, specifically in your capacity as a professing expert on things that concern the creator of this universe, and not as a personal directive for you to not hold an opinion or share or discuss.

        I would encourage you to find BALANCE and consider whether you truly believe that the forces over the influential powers of this world are not godly. For deeper info there is a plethora of sites that could answer to a genuine interest in the truth, for eg elderofziyon.com

        I sincerely wish you all the best, in Christ,

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          You really ought to be ashamed of yourself for cheapening words in this way. In using the tired tactic of accusing even longstanding supporters of Israel who are of Jewish ancestry of “anti-semitism” merely because they point out the irony of conservative Christians unquestioningly supporting a politician who disagrees with Jesus’ teaching, you are distracting from the real problem of antisemitism which political extremists in Israel, and American Gentile Christian Zionists, do much to foster.

          So once again, I request that instead of hurling insults and accusing people with a moderate viewpoint of being extremists, only to pretend that your preceding comment did not contain such things and close with a kind-sounding greeting, is it really too much to ask that you actually discuss substantive issues in a substantive manner?

  • Charles N

    “Christ has become a servant to the Jews to show that God’s promises made to their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are true – that their descendants would possess the land of Canaan forever, be a people, be blessed, would bring benefits to the whole world spiritually and materially, have Yehovah as their God forever, enjoy the validity and action of these promises forever, and control the political and commercial life of those that hate them. And so that the people of the world who are not Jewish might glorify God for His mercy shown to the Jews (which is consequently available to them, the gentiles).

    – According as it has been written in Psalm 18:49 – ‘God — who is giving vengeance to me, And He subdues peoples under me, My deliverer from mine enemies, Above my withstanders Thou raisest me, From a man of violence dost deliver me. Therefore I confess Thee among nations, O Yehovah, And to Thy name I sing praise, Magnifying the salvation of His king, And doing kindness to His anointed, To David, and to his seed — unto the age!’

    – And again it says in Deut 32:43 – ‘If I have sharpened the brightness of My sword, And My hand doth lay hold on judgment, I turn back vengeance to Mine adversaries, And to those hating Me — I repay! I make drunk Mine arrows with blood, And My sword devours flesh, From the blood of the pierced and captive, From the head of the freemen of the enemy. Sing ye nations — [with] his people (Israel), For the blood of His servants He avenges, And vengeance He turns back on His adversaries, And hath pardoned His land — His people.’

    – And again in Psalm 117:1 – ‘Praise Yehovah, all ye nations, Glorify Him, all ye peoples. For mighty to us (Israel) hath been His kindness, And the truth of Yehovah [is] to the age. Praise ye Yah!’

    – Again Isaiah says in Isaiah 11:10 – ‘And there hath been, in that day, A root of Jesse that is standing for an ENSIGN of peoples, Unto him do nations seek, And his rest hath been — honour! And it hath come to pass, in that day, The Lord adds a second time his power, To get the remnant of His people that is left, From Asshur, and from Egypt, And from Pathros, and from Cush, And from Elam, and from Shinar, And from Hamath, and from isles of the sea, And He hath lifted up an ENSIGN to nations, And gathers the driven away of Israel, And the scattered of Judah He assembles, From the four wings of the earth.’

    And the God of the hope shall fill you with all joy and peace in the believing, for your abounding in the hope in power of the Holy Spirit.”

  • Charles N

    Netanyahu did not say that he is opposed to jesus or jesus’ teaching of turning the other cheek or even to the jewish Prov25:21 teaching which goes further than turning the other cheek. shame on you.

    But he did say that Israel doesn’t turn the other cheek and that they have national pride. Do you understand what he is saying? Is it difficult? He is saying that they do not turn the other cheek and that they have national pride. Do you understand whta that means? It means that they have national pride and that they respond when attacked (a pretty good idea in their situation).

    Jesus doesn’t have a monopoly on the phrase turn the other cheek. It is part of secular speech as is “the golden rule”, as is a significant part of the King James text.

    shut up professor of religion oh my

    history is about to ride all over your little stall.

    (the little hiccup which will possibly become a very big hiccup is the ease with which you do not use equal scales for the jews and their neighbours. may god help you)

    • Charles N

      now a religion prof who at this moment in history is willing to make his principal aim be the president of this tiny nation, in the light of what has just been passed by the nations of the world, and seen in the light of what the bible speicfically says about jerusalem and dividing the land, and in light of what history teels us bout the historical racial genocide and persecutuon against jews in palestine, and about the 150 years of jewish majoprity in jeruslaem, the continuous jewish presence in hebron and other parts of judeah (yes, thats right JEWdeah), and the fact that here is the only situation in the world where we are saying that we want one race of people to not be allowed to be there.

      thats academia for you.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      This is a very odd comment indeed. Your “argument” seems to be that since some people borrow phrases from Jesus or Christian tradition, therefore those who disagree with that wider usage are not disagreeing with Jesus or Christianity. Perhaps instead of making a weak claim and then hurling insults, you could explain why you think your stance is logical and reasonable?

  • Phil Quernouille

    Well its possible that Netanyahu doesn’t actually know the Christian significance of this phrase, given that it also widespread in common English usage. Point taken though. Good personal advice, but unlikely advice for a nation state. Also, like a lot of Jesus’ statements, this one is vague because it’s difficult to translate.

  • Tammy Robison

    There can not be peace in the middle east until Christ returns to defend Israel and rein on earth, then there will be peace. The Muslims do not want peace, giving them land will not bring peace, they’ve already proven that if Israel gives them more land they will use it to better attack them. They have pronounced to the whole world for many years that they intend to destroy Israel. The muslims only desire is to wipe Israel off the map, that’s what they live for. They say that Jews have no right to exist. The scripture instructs us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem but that peace will come when Christ comes to take His rightful place as King over all but first there will be a false peace,

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I suspect that you would object if someone were to generalize about Christians on the basis of what some do admittedly believe and do, in the way that you are doing towards Muslims here. This despite the obvious fact that you cannot in fact be a Christian, since you are not even trying to follow Jesus’ teaching and to treat Muslims the way you would want to be treated…

      • Tammy Robison

        Speaking the truth does not make me unchristian and I beleive that I would indeed treat muslims the way I want to be treated. Sometimes the truth hurts but it does set us free. Everything I said is true and Jesus called the pharisees a brood of vipers so does that mean that He broke his commandment becsuse he spoke the truth? In fact people hated Him and crucified Him because He is the truth. Even the Islamic Scholars say that a suicide bomber is justified in committing suicide and murdering others because it’s what the Qur’an teaches. Muslims believe in the Qur’an and terrorism is their way of life, thats a painful reality but denying the truth doesn’t help anyone. I feel great compassion for the muslims because they are taught at as very young children, even kindergarten children are taught to hate and kill Jews and they grow up being programmed to do this and they don’t know any differently and I praise God that He is doing a great work in the muslims and revealing Himself to them. If muslims say they don’t believe what the Qur’an says then what would make them muslims?

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          Not everything that people say to denigrate others is true. But many are nevertheless happy to pretend that they are following in Jesus’ footsteps when they do so – while anyone slandering them in comparable fashion would be accused of doing Satan’s bidding.

          • Tammy Robison

            To denigrate or slander is to criticize unfairly or falsely accuse and I have done neither. Islam has not hidden their intent, Infact most of the world is suffering their brutality. What I find strange is those who defend and support their ideolgy, therefore supporting the mass torturous murders and raping of innocent children, women, and men. Instead of confronting the truth they condemn those who do.

          • Gary

            I agree with you. It is not easy to walk in someone else’s shoes. Everyone can complain about Benjamin Netanyahu. However, they tend to not be in Israel, and not face an immediate threat of violence. When I was in Israel, I was patted-down, and searched, when I entered a shopping mall. I was submitted to some directed, pointed, vetting, when I flew out of Tel Aviv airport. The airport had security walking the corridors with Uzi’s. A person that pleads understanding of Muslims is OK from a theoretical standpoint. However, a person is STUPID if he ignores the ever present threat that exists by Muslim terrorists that are not challenged, because of stupid, lax, security measures. Pleading “open boarders” will result in the same situation that exists in France and England. A citizen that is born in Britain, but travels to Syria, Turkey, and Libya, and returns, without being investigated, vetted, and challenged to explain his whereabouts and circumstances, represents the ultimate, stupid, liberal stance on border control.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            Are you referring to passages like this one?

            “Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.”

          • Gary

            Except Num 31 occurred many thousands of years ago. I don’t currently see a Jewish State making similar statements.

            However, I do see an Islamic State making similar statements, in 2017.
            Perhaps that is what Tammy is suggesting.

            https://cdn.jihadwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Approximately-100-Crusaders.jpg

            Or perhaps this:
            http://en.alalam.ir/news/1975753

            There seems to be many options. None of which are from thousands of years ago.

            It could be argued that the Islamic State in question is not Islamic. Perhaps that is what you would suggest. However, if a poll was taken in the Islamic world, I wonder what percentage would agree with Tammy, and what percentage would agree with you. I think the answer at present is debatable.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            Given that the vast majority of Muslims are not involved with ISIS or supporters thereof, and more Muslims are victims of ISIS than members thereof, the problem is the characterization of Islam in a monolithic fashion as though a small fraction represents the whole.

          • Gary

            I’d say the subject is debatable, until there is an outcry from the majority of Muslims. As of yet, it’s pretty much “all quiet on the Western Front”. But I would say my comment has as much to do with the subject as yours, concerning Num 31. I still can’t believe you sent that to Tammy, and challenged her Christian beliefs. She may be misguided. But no more than the Muslims who support ISIS by being quiet, and not speaking out. Easy now a days to criticize Christians, both right and left. But heaven forbid, a Muslim individual, or as a group, to be criticized. That is unacceptable. Honesty works both ways.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            If you think the majority of Muslims have not voiced outcries, then you have presumably not been listening to them. If you have been watching Fox News expecting them to publicize what the majority of Muslims say, then might I suggest that you instead go directly to organizations like ISNA and listen to what they have to say. And then you might ask yourself why whatever your favorite news outlet is never did anything with their fatwas or press releases.

            The vast majority of Christians accept evolution – but you might not know it listening to the media, or certain other sources. To know what the majority has to say, often one has to be more than a passive recipient of information.

          • Gary

            I watch CNN, Fox, and MSNBC.
            “The vast majority of Christians accept evolution”… that’s not a valid comparison. Every public school in the U.S. teaches evolution. I don’t think that is a subject that makes national news broadcasts.

            It is still debatable whether the majority of Muslims would support the turning in to police of prospective terrorists. I have heard stories of Muslims reporting suspicious activity. But usually it is always reported after the fact, so I tend to go by results, not stories told after the terrorist event. The same stories made the rounds in Manchester. You would think fellow Muslims would have been aware of a terrorist traveling to Libya, Turkey, and Syria recently, and report it. I would also expect that if England had the same sort of airport security that Israel has, someone at arriving flights would have questioned a passport stamped with Libya, Syria, and Turkey stamps. However, the security people in England probably have the same attitude as you do regarding challenging a Muslim. No can do, because of political correctness. I would have challenged anyone with those stamps, whether Christian, Muslim, or atheist.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            If you informed yourself, you would know that a great many public schools in the United States skip evolution in order to avoid controversy from denialists.

            You would expect that Catholics would have informed the police about IRA activity in Northern Ireland during the troubles too, I presume, or otherwise would assume that all Catholics anywhere in the world are terrorists or sympathizers?

            Please just treat Muslims fairly, the way you would other groups more familiar to you.

          • Gary

            Please just treat Christians fairly, the way you would other groups more familiar to you.

            I don’t mind sparing with you. I also don’t mind taking heat. Using Num 31 against me would be acceptable, to me. But don’t use it against a person like Tammy, several days after she quit commenting, to throw her briefs into her face, kind of like a pie in the face. You seem to not recognize your “absurdness”.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            Blog conversations often happen over extended periods of time. I did my best to respond in a timely fashion even though I was traveling. There is nothing absurd about that. Blogs sometimes get comments years after a post first appeared. As illustration, Tammy posted here a half a year after the post appeared on my blog. And so in view of that, at the very least, don’t you think your attempt at criticism might be misguided?

          • Gary

            I see your problem. Getting Christian News from Numbers 31, and getting Muslim News from ISNA. Narrow view of the world.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

            What an absurd comment. Compare the Bible and the Qur’an, or ISNA and a mainstream Christian organization.