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Christian Zionism

It challenges our Lutheran commitments

We were tired, staring at the airport version of the news while waiting through a layover on the last leg of our journey. It was 2002 and I was returning with a group of ELCA Lutherans from Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. It had been my first trip to the region.

Christian Zionists from the U.S. and
Christian Zionists from the U.S. and around the world gathered in Jerusalem to march in a parade of support for Israel in October 2006.
A headline flashed on the screen, reporting the latest sales figures for the Left Behind series of end-times thrillers. The 10th book had been published and sales of the series were in the tens of millions. The books aren’t just thrillers. They have an agenda of promoting particular evangelical perspectives on faith and politics. In relation to the Middle East, they promote a particular form of Christian Zionism.

One of my travel companions took issue with my disapproval. “It’s just another way of reading the Bible,” she exclaimed.

“You’re right,” I said. “The problem is that people are dying because of that way of reading the Bible. We just saw them.”


Crisis or opportunity?

Christian Zionism presents Lutherans with an opportunity to clarify their understandings of topics ranging from ways of reading Scripture to ways of engaging political questions.

The 2007 Churchwide Assembly voted in part to “acknowledge the Churchwide Strategy for Engagement in Israel and Palestine, including its call for ‘increased engagement with conservative Christians and a clearer and more forceful expression of Lutheran theology in the public debate.’”

The meeting point between religion and politics can sometimes feel dangerous. But it isn’t dangerous for us alone. While claiming that unconditional support of Israel’s military policies is “God’s foreign policy,” some Christian Zionist leaders have urged a preemptive nuclear strike on Iran. It’s the people of the Middle East — especially Jews, Muslims and Christians in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories — who daily bear this threat of perpetual warfare.

My engagement with these questions is a matter of biography and relationships. I was raised in an evangelical church steeped in the rapture theology underlying the Left Behind books. This particular theology — known as premillennial dispensationalism (see "Key terms") — dates from the 1800s. After campus ministry introduced me to the Lutheran tradition, I enrolled in an ELCA seminary. I also became acquainted with Lutherans from the Middle East, including Munib Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.

As these relationships deepened, I began to see how the theological and cultural content of mainstream American Christianity supported political positions that harmed Palestinian Christians. Reflecting deeply on Paul’s teaching about the body of Christ — “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26), I wondered why Christian Zionists paid so little attention to the witness of Palestinian Christians.


It’s about politics

Christian Zionism isn’t simply a collection of beliefs. A person isn’t a Christian Zionist only because they believe in the rapture or they happen to be a Christian who, with the majority of Americans, sympathizes with Israel.

Instead, Christian Zionism is best understood as political action, informed by specifically Christian commitments, to promote or preserve Jewish control over the geographic area now containing Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Political activity can take many forms, from hosting a pro-Israel rally at a church to circulating petitions to voting.

Not all Christian Zionists are motivated by end-times hopes. Indeed, many are keenly aware of the history of Jewish suffering at Christian hands, especially during the Holocaust. They often feel called by God to help further strengthen the State of Israel to provide a safeguard against future Jewish suffering.

Most Christian Zionists simply support what they perceive to be best for Israel. For Christian Zionists in the U.S., this approach aligns them with most aspects of current U.S. policy toward the Middle East.

For many Christian Zionists, seeking the best for Israel means rejecting any effort to promote an end to Israel’s conflicts with its Arab neighbors on anything but Israel’s terms. Some seek to prevent U.S. support for any negotiations that may lead to a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The latest group to form in this manner is Christians United for Israel, led by televangelist John Hagee.

Although most Christian Zionists seek to go along with how Israel pursues its self-interest, some aren’t content to go along. In late 2005, Ariel Sharon, then Israeli prime minister, ordered the removal of Israeli settlers from Gaza. He was incapacitated by a massive stroke in January 2006. The same day, evoking Joel 3:2, televangelist Pat Robertson pronounced: “Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the E.U. [European Union], the United Nations or United States of America. God said, ‘This land belongs to me, you better leave it alone.’”

While paying close attention to Israeli policy, Christian Zionists also often try to promote U.S. foreign policy. Christian Zionist commentator Michael Evans cites Genesis 12:3 as a “selfish reason” Christians should support Israel: “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.” Evans’ point is clear: “When we support Israel we are supporting the only nation that was created by an act of God,” and if we go against prophecy, “America will lose the blessing of God and America will tragically lose the war on terrorism.”

Some U.S. policymakers share this perspective. “We are Israel’s best friend in the world because of the character we have as a nation,” U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., once said from the Senate floor. “This is not a political battle at all. It is a contest over whether or not the word of God is true.”

Some evangelical Christians have questioned the way Christian Zionism often allows prophetic perspectives to inform approaches to policy. As Richard J. Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, Calif., has said, “Evangelicals who are Christian Zionists want to see events unfold, but they aren’t so concerned about justice.”


It affects our relationships

A Zogby International poll of likely voters just before the 2006 midterm elections found that 31 percent of Americans agreed that “Israel must have all of the promised land, including Jerusalem, to facilitate the second coming of the messiah.”

The same question was asked in a poll of ELCA congregational leaders released earlier this year. The survey found that 6 percent agreed with this statement, 57 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed and 37 percent weren’t sure.

An even greater percentage (61 percent) disagreed with the notion that Genesis 12:3 — “I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse” — could be applied to U.S. foreign policy toward the State of Israel.

Especially since Christian Zionist attitudes have some influence on U.S. policy, the movement has implications for Christian relationships with Jews and Muslims. The movement also affects North American Christian relationships with Arab Christians, including Palestinians.

Jews have long been aware of evangelical and fundamentalist support for Israel. Overall, Jewish response to this support has been ambivalent. Many suspect that Christian support is a cover for secret missionary efforts. Other Jews, however, have urged cooperation with Christian Zionists, saying Israel needs any friend it can get.

Christian Zionist solidarity with Israelis and other Jews sometimes implies that they stand against most of Israel’s neighbors, most of whom are Muslim. “If a line has to be drawn, then draw the line around both Christians and Jews,” CUFI’s Hagee has repeatedly said. “We are one. We are united. We are indivisible.”

Many Muslims in the U.S. and abroad feel they have been placed on the outside of that circle. In the context of the “war on terror,” being on the outside of that line can have deadly consequences.

Peter Pettit, director of the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding at Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pa., has said, “To see Christian Zionists fashion a new hobgoblin out of ‘radical Islam’ … must lead those of us who know the legacy of Christian anti-Judaism to cry out for a more humane and discerning approach to those we see as our enemies.”

Many Palestinian Christians aren’t sure where they stand in relation to Hagee’s line. Palestinian Lutheran pastors are clear that they, as Palestinians, accept their lives as Christians living in a majority Muslim context. For some western Christians, however, it seems that if Palestinian Christians can’t be understood as suffering under Islamic oppression, they must have sided with Islam. Palestinian Christians thus forfeit North American Christian accompaniment and sympathy since they are on the non-Judeo-Christian side of the divide.

Sensing this type of rejection, Palestinian Christians have led the effort to criticize Christian Zionism. Lutheran bishop Younan in 2003 declared that Christian Zionism is a heresy. In 2006 he was one of the signers of Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism issued by the Patriarch and Local Heads of Churches in Jerusalem. While criticizing the movement as “anti-justice, anti-peace, anti-reconciliation,” Younan provides a positive vision: “My Jesus is never the Jesus of the sword,” he said. “My Jesus is the Jesus of the cross.”

Politically motivated attacks on Islam call for a response from Lutherans in North America. This is especially the case when those attacks separate North American Lutherans from Lutherans seeking to preserve the faith in the land where Jesus walked. But Christian Zionism can be even more dehumanizing to both Jews and Muslims, especially when its political activity is motivated by Left Behind-style end-times scenarios.

As Israeli journalist Gershom Gorenberg has put it, many Christian Zionists see “Jews as actors in a Christian drama leading toward the end of days.” He insists that “real Zionism, as a Jewish movement, is … aimed at taking Jews out of the mythological realm and making them into normal actors in history. … So what’s called Christian Zionism is actually very distant from Zionism.”

Christians challenge Christ’s command to love our neighbors as we love ourselves if we base our future hope on an apocalyptic war that ensures the death of all non-Christians. When this is the case, Israelis and Palestinians are not neighbors to be loved, but pawns in a cosmic drama.


Comments

Cheryl

Cheryl

Posted at 3:12 pm (U.S. Eastern) 5/26/2009

I was so glad to see the cover story in the June 2009 issue of The Lutheran. The information presented was well-balanced and comprehensive. I also have tried to explain to fellow Lutherans that the Left Behind series portrays a God that I cannot believe in, that is,  the God I find in reading the entire Bible. This God also is not the God that Luther discovered after many years of fear and self-loathing. Too often the adjective "Christian" is attached to viewpoints that cannot be called Christian, but somehow those views are legitimized by attaching the word "Christian" to them.  "Christian" Zionism ignores call from Jesus not only to be thankful for God's blessings, but to use that blessing to be a blessing to all God's people. 

ROLLIE

ROLLIE

Posted at 8:08 pm (U.S. Eastern) 5/26/2009

 

I was out of the Church for 35 years, but our Lord, Good Shepherd that He is, came and called me back. Upon my return, one of the things that surprised me was what a big deal Lutherans made of their being Lutheran. At first it was quaint, if not quite cute. But now, as one who is speaking the truth in love, I say we need to think of ourselves as Christians first and foremost. Again in love I am saying this, we are not all that special. Millions around the world in other churches believe in Grace through Faith just as we do. From what I have read of Luther, and it is not much, I think he would agree with me. Please stop trying to tell me what Lutherans believe or what Lutherans commitments should be, please if you wish to discuss beliefs and commitments, please let us ponder them as Christian beliefs and Christian commitments.

 

ROLLIE

ROLLIE

Posted at 8:11 pm (U.S. Eastern) 5/26/2009

 

I'm uncertain as to what the author means by "occupied territories." It is my understanding that back in 1947 when the United Nations carved out territories that were to become Israel and Palestine, that more than half of the land that was to become Palestine is now parts of Jordan, Saudi Arabia. And Egypt. Does the author include these areas that were to be part of Palestine as "occupied territories?' It seems to me that the only country in the Middle East who has made any attempt to provide land for the Palestinians is Israel. Israel is the only country that allows Palestinians to be citizens, to vote and to hold elected office. Yet the Israelis are the only people the Palestinians attack. What's up with that?

john

john

Posted at 9:03 am (U.S. Eastern) 5/27/2009

In WW1 Britain and France defeated the Ottoman empire and the states of Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq were created. At that time there were no people in that area calling themselves "Palastinians".  Jordan was created on 80 % of the Palestine Mandate designated by the  League  of Nations to  be part of Jewish Holy land. Jews have never been able to own property there. In 1947, the UN mandated creation of 2 states on 20% ofPalestine Mandate. One state for Israel and one state for the Arabs. Arabs rejected their state and launched a war against Israel  If the Arabs had accepted there would have been an Arab state and an Israeli state since 1947.

Reza

Reza

Posted at 9:21 am (U.S. Eastern) 5/27/2009

 

If Jesus Christ was alive today, he would be an Arab Christian, former Jew, living in occupied Palestinian, town in West Bank; who would not get Israeli travel permit to visit Jerusalem. This is the fate of Palestinian Christians and Muslims today, thanks to Christian Zionism.        

Deborah Shafer

Deborah Shafer

Posted at 1:20 pm (U.S. Eastern) 5/27/2009

Hitler deeply appreciated Martin Luther's anti-semetism.  The worst evil genius of Germany was not Hitler or Frederick the Great, it was Martin Luther, stated by Dean Inge.  Martin Luther introduced the reformation, and was convinced the Jewish people would be delighted with his new version of Christianity, and would join him on an assault of the Roman Catholic church.  When this didn't work he stated:  Concerning the Jews and their lives, to burn synagogs or churches, homes should be broken down and destroyed.  Adolph HItler attended a Catholic church as a boy, and heard all the fiery anti-semetic rantings from Luther.  When Hitler became a demonic monster, the Catholic Church and Pope Pius XII never critisized him.

Unite against anit-semetism. Isaiah 56:10 A dumb dog is one that refuses to bark, in the day of danger, therefore, it is worthless.  America's pulpits are full of them.  They speak as paid professionals, but not for the word of God!

steve cohen

steve cohen

Posted at 1:32 pm (U.S. Eastern) 5/27/2009

Sadly, the biblicla perspective is completely missed. What is of msot importance is NOT who controls what part of the land, but who is in God's Kingdom through salvation or not. We could invest hugue sums of money or efforts for so-called justice, while Jewish people and arabs face a Christless eternity - their real need goes unmet. it is time to repent of the unbiblical so-called two-covenant theory which worngly postulates that jewish people are saved outside of Christ. I am a Jewish Christian who lived 23 years outside of Christ because my neighbors never took the initiative to pray or witness. Now we are working  to bring change: www.appleofhiseye.org. Please join us.

Rev. Cathy Ellen Rosenholtz

Rev. Cathy Ellen Rosenholtz

Posted at 1:55 pm (U.S. Eastern) 5/27/2009

Here is the letter to the editor of The Lutheran that I am emailing today:

I write this letter of concern from what is a perhaps a unique perspective in the ELCA: as a pastor who grew up in a Jewish-Lutheran home, and who has made it a part of my life's work to address misunderstandings of Judaism and the Jewish people by Christians, especially Lutherans.

 

While I share with the author of "Christian Zionism" (Robert Smith, June 09) his rejection of Rapture theology and his belief that such views are ultimately no friend of the Jewish people, I find that the article as a whole, and especially the accompanying study guide by Robert Blezard, present an incomplete and problematic portrayal of those who love Israel. Smith says that he would like to "help us break through the simplistic rhetoric that too often surrounds the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," yet his definition of Zionism (p. 23) conveniently omits the essence of 2000 years of Jewish longing for their homeland, and Blezard compounds this by his biased description of the issue.

 

While I realize that the article is meant to address Christian (and not Jewish) Zionism, to do so in a way that dismisses the centrality of the land of Israel to Jewish identity perpetuates the one-sided misunderstanding that in my view has characterized recent ELCA pronouncements on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. If this article and study guide are the only exposure that some readers have to the issues discussed, and especially if they live in a place where listening carefully to Jewish neighbors is not possible, they will come away with at best a partial understanding, and at worst, fodder for continued bias. I expect better from the ELCA. 

ROLLIE SMITH

ROLLIE SMITH

Posted at 9:26 pm (U.S. Eastern) 5/27/2009

Reza,

Jesus Christ is alive today!

john

john

Posted at 10:37 pm (U.S. Eastern) 5/27/2009

Following the1948 attacks by Arabs against Israel, thousands of Arabs  fled Israel  even though encouraged by Jewish leaders to stay in Israel.Today  those Arabs  that fled are the continuing refugee problem since they are not welcome anywhere. Jordan is the only Arab country that will grant them citizenship.    180,000 Jews liv ing for hundreds of years in Arab lands were forced at gunpoint to leave their homes and posessions. With muchwork and expense Israel took them back.Also in 1948170,000 Arabsdid stay in Israel and today number more than 1,400,000. they have12 representatives in the Israeli parliament,judges sitting  on Israeli courtsand on the Israel Supreme Court.  They enjoy more freedom, education, and economic opportunitythan any comparabl Arab people  anywhere in the Arab world.

Reza

Reza

Posted at 9:13 am (U.S. Eastern) 5/28/2009

Rollie Peace be with you,

If Jesus Christ was alive today, he would speak out for the people who are voiceless. He would show us that, we are all Gods children. He would stand for justice for all human being. Go through an Israeli check point for one day to get to the other side of your own farm and then tell me if Jesus Christ is alive today? What is sad is how blind we are to the suffering of others. Terrible thing happened in Second World War, 6 million Jews lost their lives, but more Russians lost their lives, count in the Gypsies and many other innocent; but it happened in Europe. It had nothing got to do in Middle East. Jew, Christian, Muslims and many other have lived for years on and they should all do today. We are trying to wash our past sins and have become blind to present sins. To my Jewish friends / cousins, if we are saying why did no one speak up during Holocaust, why are we not speaking up for people when their homes are being demolished by so called democratic government of Israel? If we truly are saying never again, should we not say to all? We all come to this world with nothing and we will leave with nothing. So why don't we look in our hearts and see people as human being. When we see suffering on the oppressed, speak up for justice. Like my friend Rollie Smith says that Jesus Christ is alive, would he not say the same things I am saying. If we looked at all our prophets, from Adam....., Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed, they taught the same words of God. Let us all be compassionate to one another. Tomorrow if I need blood transfusion to sustain life, it could from a Jew, Christian, Muslim, or any one. That is how fragile we all are.       

Stephen Miller

Stephen Miller

Posted at 6:55 pm (U.S. Eastern) 5/28/2009

Reza,

You are mistaken.  Jesus is alive.  He overcame death.  Mohammed is dead in his grave, and DID NOT teach the same words of God.

And when you say "we are ALL God's children", if you are including unbelievers in that statement, that is not true.

John 1:12; But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name...

Only people who recieve Jesus have the right to become children of God.

Jesus also told us that we would have tribulation in this world but he would never leave us (believers).  This world and all it's pain is not where it's at.  Eternity is where it's at.

Do not accuse Israel of oppression while Palistinians fire rockets at their homes from the cover of schools and hospitals.

ROLLIE SMITH

ROLLIE SMITH

Posted at 8:01 pm (U.S. Eastern) 5/28/2009

 

Reza,

I rejoice and give thanks and praise to our Lord Jesus Christ that you call me a friend. I thank you as well that you bless me in this. When Christ walked this earth, there were many in that day who looked to Him to stand for justice in the manner which you advocate. But see, my friend, that would only be addressing the symptom and not the origin of oppression and injustice. He stood for justice by dieing on the Cross for every human being that has ever lived or ever will live. By His death and resurrection, He defeated sin and Satan, the origins of all injustice and oppression. For the all the suffering and loss of life in the second World War had so very little to do with geography and everything due to sin and Satin. Even today in the Middle East, geography is not the issue, the issue is sin and Satan. If we in this world find ourselves subject to oppression and injustice at the hands of humans, we must realize that these same humans who wrong us are also under the oppression of sin and Satan. We must have compassion for them and love and forgive them as Christ forgave those who crucified Him. This is what He says for us to do today. We must pray for those who persecute us and by our actions and spoken testimony and the help of the Holy Spirit proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them so that they may repent and come to know and love Him. Then they will cease their oppression. For those who are not in Him, I realize this sounds like madness. But it is most certainly true. There can be no peace among peoples or nations until each individual has peace within them, and we will never have Peace until we live in the Grace of God that is found in Christ. Reza, my friend, again I thank you for calling me a friend, and I want you to know that I pray to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that you will find Peace in His Grace.

john

john

Posted at 12:48 am (U.S. Eastern) 5/28/2009

And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing, and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee, and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. Gen12:2-3. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI taught on the election of Israel and that the church learns and draws sustenence from the Jewish people. Other nations coveting election,seek to arrogate election unto themselves. Islam insists that the Jewsreceived the true revelation from Allah but perverted it. As long as Jews walk the earth, Muslims can never be comfortable in their proprietorship of the final revelation. A jewish commonwealth with its capital in Jerusalemconstitutes a perpetual affront against the authority of Islam as  the final revelation. Perhaps this is why Muslims seek the obliteration of the state of Israel  and the death of all Jews while Israel  fights simply for survival.

Reza

Reza

Posted at 9:58 am (U.S. Eastern) 5/29/2009

Rollie Peace be with you,

Thank you for your blessing and kind words. I too bless you and your family and hope you stay in your path of God. We are all God children, for those who believe in God, those who don't, I respect their views. When common people come together, we understand how much we have in common. I am struggling father, son and husband trying to raise two kids, think about how to pay for college, will I have medical insurance, can I afford to buy extra bag of grocery for our local food pantry, along with many daily task that occupies our daily life. I am sure all humans on earth share similar dreams and hope to live comfortably, raise good children and have a happy life.

The issue at hand is Israel / Palestine. This was not a religious conflict at the beginning and for a long time. Sadly it has become one. Jews, Christian, Muslim and many others have lived in the land for long time. There have been conflicts but it was more on personal basis, like we have today in any country. It is the colonial mentality that created the problem and mixed with religion has made it explosive. If you look at the faces of the suffering of the Plantains and Israeli; Christians, Muslim, Jews and other, Zionism has been a disaster.

Seeing all the suffering in the world, I pray for all human being on earth who call this planet home, that we have compassion among ourselves. We are fragile and interdependent creation of God, if one believes in higher being or nature for those who don't. Your going to heaven is not affecting my chances and the other way round too. Hence, while one earth, lets us follow the teaching of Christ, Moses, Mohammad or any other great figures of time, to bring out the best in each of us. It will lead us path of God and be good steward to His land.

If you shared a meal together with any group of people, I can guarantee you, that you will not carry the social stigma of that group. In order to be a good Muslim, I first have to be a good Jew and good Christian first, because par your belief, teaching of Moses and Christ is valid. The 10 commandment is still center piece of our belief. Prophet Mohammad did not bring a new religion, he validated the teaching from Adam... Abraham, Moses to Christ. Prophet Mohammad left us a set of guideline to follow, until Jesus Christ returns. Sadly many Muslims have for gotten their own religion and don't follow their own religion. As a Muslim I am better treated in the western Christian nations than the so-called Islamic countries, case in point why so many Muslim migrate west. If you notice there is no way a Muslim would ever dare to say any bad thing about Moses, Christ or any other prophet, despite many bad things they do.

Reza

Reza

Posted at 3:32 pm (U.S. Eastern) 5/29/2009

Stephen Peace be with you,

Are you saying a dead Prophet is a false Prophet? If that is your rational, you are saying Prophet Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon and all others are false too, because they were buried here on earth just like Prophet Mohammad. If you think you are saying only Christians are God children, how would you explain all the people on earth before the coming of Jesus? Are we not all descendant of Adam, hence are we not all children of God, weather one believes in God or not?

I can not justify loss of any single innocent human being, weather they are Jew, Christian, Muslim or none religious. We have lost too many lives and seen too many horrors and it has brought the worst in all of us. I say follow the teaching of Christ, Moses, Mohammad or any other great figures and bring the best in each of us, we will have a better world and follow the path of God.

Christian and Muslim believe Christ is coming back before the end time, but no explicit time was given, just some signs. God does not need help; He will do things at His own will and power. God does not need our help to brutalize one group of people to prepare the coming of Christ. The sad part is Christian Zionism have hurt more Christians of Middle East than helped their daily lives. That is the reality of Zionism.  If you don't believe me, go to West Bank, Gaza and talk to Palestinian Christians & Muslims and see how occupation have brought the hardship to their lives. Like I said before; if Christ was alive today, he would still be Palestinian Arab Jew Christian from occupied West Bank.

Be the best Christian you can be, and follow the teaching of Palestinian Arab Jew Christ. Jesus, peace be upon him had compassion and love, not what you are saying. What got Jesus in so much trouble when we was on earth, is he spoke up against injustice, regardless who the authorities were. Don't get me wrong, before I can say anything to others, we Muslims don't follow our own teaching. Islam teaches, if one kills a single innocent human being, it is as if he destroys entire humanity and if one saves an innocent human life; it is as if he saves entire humanity. Not very different from the teaching of Prophet Moses, Jesus and all others who God sent. Like I had mentioned before, I have to be a good Jew, Christian before I can be good Muslim.

Jeanie

Jeanie

Posted at 9:04 am (U.S. Eastern) 6/4/2009

I felt that it was time for an article to be written such as this and agreed with it wholeheartedly. 

Additionally, there is so much said about Arabs being anti-semitic (which is not true and is a stereotype), That being said,  I think that the literal definition of a semite also includes Arabs. 

Jesus was an Arab Palestinian Jew.  He was a Middle Easterner, as was Mary, etc.  Based on European artists' depiction of Mary and Jesus as being golden haired, etc. this is often overlooked or not realized. 

There are Palestinian Arabs that are of Muslim, Christian and Jewish faiths. 

 I disagree with the comment made that we should not be told what Lutherans are to believe etc.  I am quite proud to be a Lutheran and as such choose to attend an ELCA church.  I guess that if it didn't matter to me what Lutherans belive, etc.  I could attend one of the many non-denominational Christian churches that exist.  But I have chosen to be a Lutheran and as such am interested in what we believe as Lutherans.  Lutherans are not the only Christians that state what their denomination believes -  Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc.  all do the same and individuals choose to attend those particular churches for what their particular denomination believes. 

 Yes, we are all Christians but for those Christians that are upset by Lutheran beliefs and attend a Lutheran church, there are many non-denominational Christian churches that they may attend and perhaps find to be a better fit for them.   THat's okay, that's why there are different denominations and this is America and all religious beliefs are to be respected. 

 

 

Hank

Hank

Posted at 3:07 am (U.S. Eastern) 6/13/2009

I'm missing something in Mr. Smith's article.  Do I understand correctly that Mr. Smith blames Christian Zionists for all the trouble between Israelis and Palistianians?  I'm a 1958 adult convert to Christianity in the Lutheran Church and am generally comfortable with Lutheran teachings on end times. But I'm not so arrogant as to give virtually no credibility to other iinterpretations such as those of Pastor Hagee, etc. Smith's theological position driving his t of view is  seems to blind him to any position but his own.  Why does he pay little to no attention to rocket attacks on Israel?  Why does he  not speak to Hamas, Fatah, Hezzbolah, etc. What does he think of the fact that these parties and their supporters have vowed to destroy Israel?  Should Israel be destroyed?

I know many Lutheran scholars believe they have a corner on the truth.  Don't get me wrong. I respect them and more often than not I agree with them.  Otherwise I wouldn't be a Lutheran. Yet  they can be wrong on occasion. What if Smith is wrong and Hagee is right?  Or something in between. 

I submit that none of us know for sure what will happen in the final outcome, e.g. when the Lord returns.Embarassed

Hank Roesing, Palmer, AK 

Chuck

Chuck

Posted at 6:43 pm (U.S. Eastern) 7/22/2009

It is garbage like this is why I left the ELCA.  Whether it is Hanson praising the neo-Nazi Arafat, or the the ELCA "studying" a boycott of Jew made goods from the mideast, this church is so anti-Semitic. The Palestinian-Arabs have pledged the extermination of the Palestinian-Jews. And a little hint to the writers of this column, "Palestine" is a term for a geographic area, kind of like "Applachia". There is not such thing as a "Palestinian" person in the way you use it. That term was invented by Arafat in 1967.

Dan

Dan

Posted at 5:10 pm (U.S. Eastern) 1/7/2010

Wow!  The ELCA decides it knows better than God on a host of matters and now they decide to attack Christians that support Israel. Everyon needs to read www.exposingtheelca.com;

As Yusef Diya al-Khadidi, Mayor of Jerusalem (1899) said, "Who can challenge the rights of the Jews in Palestine?  Good Lord, historically it is really your country."



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