I continue to be flabbergasted by Christian leaders who promote war and violence as the solution to the issue in Gaza. I am constantly hearing things like:
- “Hamas is evil and must be eradicated”—as if Hamas will actually be eradicated by this war (more on this point later); and
- “Just war theory says that self-defense is acceptable and even necessary”; and,
- Then there was Russell Moore’s article, “Bothsideism About Hamas is a Moral Failure.
I believe that this sort of rhetoric is greatly mistaken and is itself far more than a “moral failure.” As I asked in an earlier post, How can anyone rejoice at death?
What I find tragically ironic about all of this is that propaganda and deception are the first weapons of empire. As I discuss in my podcast on the 7 Seals, the first Seal represents false teachings and false Christs. Sadly, the second Seal represents war. This is the order. We use false teaching/ideology to justify war.
In case you are unaware, we at determinetruth.com have been producing a series of livestream events (all of which can be found on the determinetruth YouTube page –be sure to subscribe to the page for updates on new releases and see below for a description of each of the livestream/webinars).
In the last livestream, I began to summarize the content of the previous livestreams/webinars. My goal was to provide an all-in-one episode so that others can have a resource by which they can be equipped to begin having conversations with others. Of course, my goal was not quite accomplished, as one hour proved to be insufficient. As a result, I will continue the conversation on Tues Dec 5 at 5:00PST/8:00EST.
So, in this post and the next several ones that follow, I will provide a transcript of these livestreams.
Why don’t we listen to those who have suffered?
I would like to begin by asking why we cannot learn from others.
When there is an ad campaign from MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) we ought to listen; we ought to grieve with them and vow from that day forward we will never drink and drive, and we will do all we can to make sure that no one else does either. No parent should have to bury their child because we had too much to drink
Or, when a father comes on an advertisement crying out for us to put our phones down while driving because their child was killed because someone was texting and driving, we ought to grieve with them and vow from that day forward we will never text and drive; and that we will do all we can to make sure that no one else does either. No parent should have to bury their child because we had to answer a text.
So also when we see an organization like “The Parents’ Circle Family Forum”—which is a group comprised of Israeli and Palestinian parents who have lost children in the ongoing conflict and who demand a just and peaceful solution to the conflict because they do not want to see another set of parents have to join their group because another child has been lost—we ought to listen. And we ought to do all that we can to make sure that no more children die. We ought to do all that we can to demand an end to the violence.
Why don’t we listen to those who have seen?
It is interesting that many of the people whom I know that are involved in some form of advocacy with respect to this conflict have similar stories. One of the most common elements in their stories is, “I went to the land, and I met people, and I heard their stories.” There are some who have neighbors or family members who have shared their stories with them.
So, I ask, “ If we won’t listen to those who have suffered, maybe we can listen to those who have seen.”
But we can’t support Hamas
I want to assure you that I strive to be neither pro-Israel nor pro-Palestine. Instead, I endeavor to be pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian. I really hope that at the end of the day, I am striving to be pro-Jesus. And I am firmly convinced that the way forward is for the church to advocate for all life: which means that this war must end.
NB: In future posts, I will note that Israel has also been guilty of terrorism against the Palestinians. In other words, this is not about supporting a good government against terrorists. It is about supporting all people. It is about supporting justice and peace.
Promoting peace is neither un-American, nor antisemitic, nor Islamophobic.
When we denounce the US government, we are not denouncing Americans; nor are we being un-American. In fact, we may well be pro-America because we are not only exercising our right to free speech, but we are doing so in what we believe to be America’s best interest.
In the same way, when we denounce Netanyahu or Ben Gvir and their radical policies, we are not being anti-Israel or antisemitic. We can love Israelis and denounce their government’s policies. Just like when we speak out against Hamas we are not necessarily being anti-Palestinian, anti-Muslim, or anti-Arab. We can love the people of Palestine and condemn their officials and the actions of Hamas.
Opening thoughts on where I stand
- Jesus said, “The Truth shall set you free” (John 8:32)
As I have noted before, we named this ministry “Determinetruth” because that is our goal: to determine the truth. The problem is that truth is uncomfortable and often inconvenient. This is why we are so reticent to change: to change our beliefs or our practices. We don’t want to. We are fine just the way we are.
But, as Christians, we should be the first ones to acknowledge the truth regardless of how painful it is.
After all, discipleship begins by taking up our crosses (Mark 8:34).
This means that are to love Israel and the Palestinians. In Luke 6:35, Jesus says that when we love our enemies we are acting like God.
- The nature of the Kingdom of God is that Jesus’ ethic is an ethic of cross-bearing love.
As I have noted, and I am sure I will continue to note, Jesus’ kingdom is such that He suffers violence. Thus, while the nations inflict violence, the people of God are called to follow the way of Jesus in taking up our crosses (Mark 8:34).
- This means that when it comes to war and conflict among the nations We are called to be advocates for peace: Blessed are the peacemakers (Matt 5:9)
This is why I am so grieved to see Christian leaders calling for war or justifying war on the basis of some notion of “Just war theory.”
While the Kingdom of God is predicated on love for the other and while members of the Kingdom of God suffer violence, the kingdoms of the world use violence and power as a means of maintaining their rule.
In fact, as I said in the first of the livestreams, nations cannot adopt a biblical ethic and survive. World leaders cannot say to another world leader, “Go ahead and slap me on the right cheek. I’ll love you anyways.”
But just because world leaders can’t—and won’t—do this, doesn’t mean that the church should cease speaking truth to power. In fact, we must constantly remind them that the way of justice and peace is the only way to hope for all.
- Peace and justice are the only solutions that provide hope for an end to violence: All who live by the sword will die by the sword” (Matt 26:52)
Now, I am not naïve. I recognize that there are times in which nations must defend themselves and protect their people.
But, I am strongly convinced that this is not one of those moments. I am convinced that more violence will only lead to more violence.
This means that to love Israelis and Palestinians we must advocate for a just and peaceful solution to this conflict and we must do so now.
Encouraging war is neither Christian nor loving.
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