Amens and Amendments to Rich Nathan's Israel Sermon

By Deanna Murshed 1-15-2008

I commend Pastor Nathan for the courage and commitment to truth required to publicly reconsider what has strangely become status quo in parts of the U.S. evangelical world - an almost "biblical immunity" and unconditional support granted to the modern nation state of Israel. I especially appreciated the way he offered a lens for even the most serious adherents of scriptural authority to theologically unravel Christian Zionism.

As he showed, the way forward depends neither on tossing certain passages aside, nor on citing them individually, but on viewing them in light of the overarching meta-narrative of the Bible and the general direction of God's redeeming history.

Although there is more that I said amen to than questioned in this sermon, I'll offer (humbly) some things he may want to consider as he continues, or expands this dialogue:

1. The role of the U.S. and Great Britain in helping establish the fledgling Zionist state. Many Americans just don't realize where Arab anti-American sentiment stems from because they're unaware of how their own country has operated (and continues to operate) in foreign affairs.

2. That Middle Eastern Christians, or "Arab" Christians, are not monolithic in their opinions on the creation of modern state of Israel. There are a great deal (probably most, actually) who did NOT support the initial establishment of an Israeli nation state, however limited in its borders, and even if they now support its security. This is often confused as anti-Semitism though it has more to do with the above point (about the assistance of Israel by western powers) and that Christian Arabs have lived side-by-side with their Muslim and Jewish brothers and sisters for millennia without national separation. Many may also not view biblical justice as necessitating land ownership via a newly created nation-state.

3. That biblical justice is also linked to the idea of restitution, in the sense that he who commits the crime is the one expected to pay for it. The part in the sermon about biblical justice can also acknowledge that the horrendous mistreatment and annihilation of the Jews was not done by the Arabs of the East but by the Europeans of the West. Again, this doesn't necessarily mean that their homeland does not belong in the East, but there may be a rub (for Arabs) in implying that biblical justice would demand Easterners to pay (in land and lives) for the sins of Westerners. Of course, no ethnic group is ever totally innocent, but the presumptuousness of Western nations in applying solutions is a part of the problem for Arabs of all religious faiths.

4. Finally, under the last heading "What Christians should do"

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