Thursday, January 01, 2009

theology matters

I've been watching the developments between Israel and the Palestinians with deep pain and grief. While it is clear that Israel certainly has the right to defend itself, it is equally clear that the actions of both sides - Hamas and Israel - have been profoundly immoral and counter-productive to the ends either is supposedly seeking. The violence doesn't work and this situation is a prime example of that fact. It has been going on for decades and nothing is solved nor will it be until someone has the courage to stand and say, "Enough!"

That said, I want to address the issue of theology as we watch this. People often act as if theology is just a mind game that doesn't impact the real world except when talking about radical Islamists. I would say that theology - the way we understand God - is central to the way we behave and is critical in all of our interactions.

Regarding Israel, I have heard many Christians completely support their actions for one of two reasons - either saying that Israel is "The Chosen People" and basically can do whatever they want on "their land." Or... coming from some kind of dispensationalist stand that sees this all as a part of God's plan as revealed in prophecy and that peace in the Middle East is a bad thing.

Both are bad theology and result in the support of policies that are, let me say it flat out, sinful, immoral, and counter to the yearnings of God. Other theologies that we sometimes see at play are a deist view that God is in reality absent so our faith need not inform our actions at all or a theology commonly known as atheism which likewise allows for a variety of other kinds of moral structures for evaluating actions. Some have a theology that sees God as vengeful and concerned primarily about retribution. Finally there is a theology that sees mercy, justice, love, and community as the primary yearnings of God. Each would result in very different ways of evaluating the situation and in very different resulting actions.

For too long the church has neglected its role in teaching good, critical theology to church members, instead allowing them to be spoon fed garbage from popular authors with sensational visions of the future or allowed them to embrace some cultural theology that just reinforces whatever culture they happen to live in.

If the churches did and taught good, critical theology, we'd be standing up shouting for Israel and Hamas to stand down and to seriously work towards a permanent solution to the conflict and we would be using all of the leverage we have to that end.

10 comments:

thanksgiving1st said...

Amen....let's talk.

It seems to me the problem goes back to the onset of the way the British handled the division of lands and the promises they made to the Arabs that helped them to overthrow the Turks. It wasn't handled correctly.

Like the Lord angry at his people for Saul and his house's sin against the Gibeonites (2Samuel 21: 1) there is unfinished business that the world does not theologically understand that has been done against some Arab peoples (watching the movie Lawrence of Arabia might help explain some of it).

Theology and its interpretation has everything to do with the battles in the area of what we refer to as Israel and what some refer to as Palestine and perhaps some refer to as Canaan.

But how do we get to the good, critical theology that you are speaking of is the real question?
We can begin by sharing with one another and not discarding the plate that the Lord puts in front of us in pleasant wisdom and understanding. If I come to you and tell you a part of the puzzle that I believe will fit right...and you tell me that I just must accept that the world is flat and not circular...then I cannot reveal what I know for it to be pleasant food for thought. This is the case where many are not teaming up together to bring forth truths to effectively build that spaceship to outer planets together but some are trying to do it without the help of another and clearly want to extinguish the contribution that another might make that would more quickly and peaceably solve the problem.

Yet there are still peacemakers on planet earth. Shall we continue?
Cause surely we must find out the root of the problem first,. David cried out to the Lord, "why the famine for 3 years?" and then the Lord answered and clearly told him something he would not have expected. That the sins of others had affected the people of that generation as they had just ignored it and went on with business as usual and failed to have learned the lesson of keeping their word and working towards righteousness. Yet the famine ended when David paid attention to the learning of the root of the problem and then worked the plan accordingly.

Pleased to greet you in Christ! Due to an unforseen death of my dog Toto...in my bit of grieving I happened to google "when did Toto die?" (I have no idea why I googled that as she had died that very morning)...I came across the blog and learned of you also. The words just flowed as I learned of each of your concerns...I wish to obey Yeshua, (our LORD JESUS the CHRIST) so I am glad I spent that time writing instead of grieving and I clearly see that my dog Toto had some purpose even on the day she died. She looked somewhat like a sheepdog and we work for the Kingdom of Heaven. She was a very blessed dog indeed...she was the mother of a 'puppy with a cross' (Promise) that God designed in answer to a prayer.

Jeff said...

I'm so glad to hear that you are a trusted source for "good, critical theology" and won't spoon feed me garbage. Where can I subscribe to your newsletter as I long to learn from such a master as yourself?

Thanksgiving First said...

Hi Jeff and Hi Roy,

Seems to me a good place to start is to see if either of you or anyone else is familiar with the MacMahon letters, the Sykes-Picot agreement, the Balfour Agreement? Here is the info about the McMahon letters..
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hussein-McMahon_Correspondence

You see there were certain agreements with the Arabs about their fighting as allies with Britain and in exchange they would receive certain lands as they already lived there and had been for many years. Many Arabs died in the fight to free themselves with Britain helping them in the battle against the Ottomans. In fact it was their work that helped to secure that Hitler didn't move into those lands.

Now what happened is when Britain and France decided to bring the Jews there to assist them in getting free of the horror that was facing them in the Germany and other nearby areas such as Russia...that they imposed a change (and I do mean IMPOSED) of who was to get the lands that were promised to the Arabs and automatically included the Jewish people. And then when the Jewish people saw that Britain and France were moving them into what used to be Israel of the Old Testament area...they automatically started laying claim to the lands using the Bible as their claim. The use of Ezekial's writings to lay claim to the area has angered the Arabs and rightly so...for nowhere does the Lord God Almighty state that after the Arabs overthrow the Turks that they are to give the land to the Jews (???) So that is where the 'hornet's mess' started...and every year there is more claim by the Jews that they are supposed to have the lands (without Palestians living on the lands). So some of the Palestians after many years of being taught by their fathers of what a trick the British played on them...starting taking up arms against the Jews and blaming them....when the whole thing started when Britain and France changed the plan ...and then told the Arab people that MacMahon had not understood the plan correctly. Do you realize that it is reported that they even had military planes fly over the Palestian area dropping 'flyers (brochures)" during the time period up to 1915. Those 'flyer' were papers announcing the offer that the Arabs could receive independence and the land if they took up arms against the Turks in alliance with Britain.

When Britain withdrew from Palestine on May 14, 1948 the same day the Jewish people proclaimed the independent state of Israel...which also started the Palestian War....and they are still fighting today.

Some of the Jewish people are laying claim to the land by referring to the Bible books, especially Ezekial's writings and expecting the Arabs to accept that the Lord want Israel as a nation again. What is real strange about that is that they are overlooking what the Lord God actually told Ezekial in chapter 47: 22, 23 and thereby they are in disobedience to the handling of the situation of the land with the Arabs if indeed the Lord wanted Israel to take over the land again. Here is what the Lord God said about dividing of the inheritance, (the land):
"And it shall come to pass, that ye shall divide it by lot for an inheritance unto you (Israel and the tribes), and to the strangers (Arab/Palestians if you are using it in an up to day way of claiming the inheritance)that sojourn among you (and they did when they first got there), which shall begat children among you (and they did); and they shall be unto you as born in the country among the children of Israel (like family); they shall have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. (really?..how was this important command of the Lord's overlooked all these years?)
"And it shall come to pass, that in what tribe the stranger sojourneth, there shall ye give him his inheritance, saith the Lord GOD"

So many peoples have died that should have received the inheritance of the land of Israel as they sojourned among them..what a waste because of a "lack of knowledge" of the scriptures. Our former President's should have understood Ezekial 47: 22, 23 if they were to try to have real peace talks...and perhaps some Torah trained scribes might have been able to see this and perhaps have persuaded the people to accept the already existing sojourners. Too late for some folks.

Need I also mention that Christ told the Samaritan woman at the well that the future would not include 'worship in Jerusalem or in her high mountain'? Why do some Christians want the Jews to fight the Arabs and rebuild a Temple when even Jesus commanded it would not be so. Christ is the Temple ...no more temple needed rebuilt if you believe that Christ is the eternal Temple that GOD is pleased with.

So please let me know if you have read any of the above info regarding how the Palestian/Israeli events have proceeded since prior to 1915. thanks

roy said...

I have to say Jeff that I'm tempted to come back with the same adolescent sarcasm you have reverted to... but I'll let that one go.

When you are ready to really talk theology and to seriously discuss issues of life and death to real people, including (if you call yourself Christian) brothers and sisters who are Palestinian Christians, then I'll be glad to dialogue with you.

Sarcasm doesn't move anything forward.

Thanksgiving First said...

My apology...I just read the email that I received about your recent statement and it appears it was not directed to me but the "Jeff" that posted before me.

Yet I have posted and waited with joy awaiting to hear back from you..and even asking Christ when he would have you look at this work....and to my surprise you just ignored my post and used your anger to respond to "Jeff's appearance of sarcasm" and maybe he wasn't being sarcastic...as this is a blog.

So pls delete my most recent post that I just posted in my anger at what you posted...and let's start anew...and pls do read my posts and I hope you enjoy the conversation on this blog as I do agree with your intitial posting on this blog.

Hope you can forgive me for posting without reading that it was not directed personally to me.

I wish you would have received me in joy rather than use your energy to respond to Jeff...as I am trying to work with you.

roy said...

thanksgiving 1st,

Please don't feel dissed. I often don't comment on comments , especially if they more or less agree with what I had said. Comments like Jeff's do hook me though as they are counter-productive. If someone wants to begin a dialogue, let them do that. If they just want to snipe... well, I wish they'd just go away.

I uess my original post really had two very different issues... the task of doing good theology and the way that relates to the current situation in Israel/Palestine. There i no question, as you have said, that the Palestinians got a raw deal. But tere is also no question that Israel does exist and will not disappear so we go on from what we have.

And I'm sorry to learn of the loss of your dog. I know how a pet can embed itself into our hearts.

Thanksgiving First said...

Pls let me tell you that I just spent many minutes responding to your last post...and then it disappeared after I clicked the submit to the post button.

I am disgusted with myself not copying and pasting my comments before relying on the workings of the computer doing right.

I am going to write again right now..and then post again. Thank you for replying to my apology.

Have you read Ezekial 47: 22,23 and understood what I meant? Do you think anyone has ever mentioned it in the peace talks?

Both Hamas and Israel are approaching these situations without the Leading of GOD...as GOD has clearly said they should share.

I am hoping that someone in the higher places would present Ezekial's point of view by the Lord concerning the inheritance being divided with the sojourners (strangers) in the way ...I don't think it is too late to find refuge in GOD in reasonableness and truthful wisdom.

I would like to send you the miracle story of my dog Toto but need an email address. i will now look at your church site and see if there is one.

Thanksgiving First said...

Roy..

I understand that many in the world have learned to relate to the Palestian area as "Israel" as many read their bibles and look to that area as in its history. That does not give Israel the right to call the land Israel again and move out the Palestians and other strangers that were there already. Yet since many in high places of UN,USa, etc. have 'accepted' Israel as a nation then they really don't know what to do about Palestine.

Have people that are in knowledge about the wars between Christ and satan (which have been existing since Christ received legal rulership and since satan was cast out of heaven) ever considered that satan is duping the world trying to get israel to build another temple (which Christ said there would be no longer worship in Jerusalem and said so centuries ago)......?

satan convinced Hitler and hitler's regime that they were to destroy the jews...( and they sure did go about it)....then the Allied forces stopped the hitler regime and the destruction of the jews. but remember that it didn't stop satan....he only needed to find a way to gather the Jews together and then raise up a way to destroy them all in one place. What better dupe project then to make them think that GOD wants them to gather together in Israel as a nation again? He could order a wipe out then easily as soon as they approach trying to take back the mount. This is why it is so very important that people understand the 'theological issues' at play as they are important and they do matter.

Since Christ has not promised New Jerusalem to be a physical land mass in which is referred to as the nation of Israel and Christ also is already the Temple and the worship Himself...then He surely isn't trying to build an earthly temple in Jerusalem and isn't behind the jews in doing such.

Based on my research and it has been extensive...I would not advise any Jewish person to forsake their existing homes and move to Israel at this time and perhaps not for the future. If indeed there is to be a re-enactment of the times of AD70 then any Christ believer should flee Judea. I recommend reading Josephus writings about the horrors of that land prior to the destruction of the tEmple. As if those events have not happened (and they have) as some people think that they have yet to happen...then surely there will be great devastation and destruction.

Thanksgiving First said...

BTW...I listened to that video clip where the girl sings and you play the guitar...BEAUTIFULLY DONE!

also would you pls remove (delete) my negative post above as my anger was a combination of my hurt (still grieving) and my desire to share being insulted by not reading your post correctly. I sure wish Jeff had posted himself more clearly as he sure could have learned much in approaching the talk in wisdom. And maybe he was...maybe he has been disgusted with some theology and was really cheering you on! wasn't clear though..was it. Christ had told me to ignore the way I read it and to say hi in my next posting to both him and you. Wisdom from above.

Jeff said...

Oh great teacher...PLEASE do not resist the temptation to come back at me with "the same adolescent sarcasm." Give in...let it out! Actually if you could insert it into the context of some good critical theology, that would be most helpful.

As of now, I consider you to be my leader.