A FB friend asked me about my position on Israel:
"I'm really interested in your view regarding Israel....I've noticed what I consider to be a disturbing trend in the church regarding a complete lack of objectivity when it comes to things Israel. Over recent days I've read posts from Christian friends who state they 'stand by Israel', even when Israel is bombing civilians, killing children etc., they can do know wrong. Christians have stated that all the world's media is in some way biased toward Hamas and against Israel, and the reports aren't accurate.
I'm a supporter of Israel! but I don't think everything they do is right and blessed by God. There seems to be what I would call a cult of Israel I the church...to me it's really strange because God loves the Palestinians as much as the Israelis, Jesus broke down all barriers ( neither Jew nor Greek etc.) and made us one body ( that's my view anyhow). Do you think Israel holds some special place still ( in god's eyes), as in the promise to Abraham or was that all realised in Jesus.
this is not a test or anything! I'm genuinely interested in hearing someone's views on this. I haven't been active in the church for about 10 years, and it seems to me that issues re Israel are so much more prominent in. The church than they were back in the day. It could be that the church in Australia is so much more americanised than it was 10 years ago. This is really more a theological question re your understanding of Israel in scripture?"
This is a complex question, so for ease I have formulated some theses I could defend. These may give you a clue as to how I see things. the names in parentheses are scholars from whom I learned on a thesis. I think I could add more but wanted get back to you as quickly as possible. Thank you for writing.
1. Ancient Israel was a people chosen by God to bear witness to God’s saving acts which in turn witnessed to God’s character.
2. Ancient Israel’s election was not grounded in privilege; it was a call to serve (Karl Barth).
3. Ancient Israel had a pattern of forsaking God and following after other gods; thus the importance of the ‘law of anti-idolatry’ in the Jewish tradition (Sandor Goodhart).
4. Ancient Israel preferred the structures of other nations: kings and empire which could never be God’s way inasmuch as these are structures grounded in sacrifice (James G. Williams).
5. Ancient Israel perceived itself as a community in Exile; the Prophets made clear this Exile was brought about because Israel had committed itself to an understanding of God apart from God’s self-revelation as anti-sacrificial, anti-king and anti-empire (Raymund Schwager).
6. Ancient Israel was a community in exile in many ways in Jesus’ day (N.T. Wright).
7. The tri-fold platform upon which Ancient Israel grounded itself, viz., Torah, Temple, Land was virtually disintegrated between 70 and 135 C.E.
8. All that remained to Israelite identity was Torah study.
9. The modern state known as Israel is not identical to the people of the Older Testament
10. Dispensationalism and certain forms of Zionism are incorrect to seek such an identity.
11. Jesus’ and Paul’s proclamation of the ‘Malkuth Ha Shem’ (the reign of God) was not limited to the holiness codes of Torah, nor the sacrificial system of Temple, nor the territorial boundaries of ancient Israel.
12. Anti-Semitism is a most heinous form of scapegoating (the ‘sin against the holy spirit [Karl Barth]).
13. The Christian church’s complicity in anti-Semitic acts and theologies, including the concept of the ‘blood libel’ are grievous stains on her history.
14. The further destruction of European Jewry during the Shoah (1933-45) wrought a turning point in world history.
15. European guilt over the Shoah led to poor decision making following WWII and the partitioning of what now constitutes the land of Israel. The displacement of native Palestinians (Nakba) was neither right nor wise.
16. The decisions of the government of modern Israel cannot be identified with the will of God. However, like all nation-states Israel can claim the right to self-determination and self-defense.
17. Christians unwisely take sides in the current Israel-Palestinian conflict when they should be actively engaged in peacemaking.
18. Israel has neither more nor less blessing than any other state; the God of all creation has no interest in principalities and powers other than their deconstruction.
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