Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Grandmotherly advice

Since Jamin Hubner has made a big deal about O. P. Robertson, let’s examine Robertson’s political proposals (from p51 of The Israel of God):

1. All Christians should agree that all people in the land of the Bible should be free to worship according to their conscience without fear of reprisal. This freedom should include the right of each religious group to communicate its faith to others.

i) Let’s grant that for the sake of argument. Suppose tomorrow all Christians come to an agreement that Jews, Christians, and Muslims in the Holy Land should be free to do that. Having agreed to that, all Christians then go back home, eat dinner, go to bed, get up the next morning, and…what? What’s different from the day before? Aside from the fact that as yesterday, all Christians agree on this, how has the world changed? What practical effect does that have? None.

After all, the hypothetical fact that all Christians now agree on this doesn’t mean all or any Muslims agree on this. Christian agreement doesn’t have any direct bearing on what Muslims agree to. So other than a unilateral feel-good gesture, what does it amount to? What’s the net impact?

ii) Moreover, devout Muslims will never agree to this. For them it’s treasonous. Islam doesn’t subscribe to freedom of conscience in religion. Remember the law of apostasy?

iii) Also, there’s a lot more to Islam than worship. Muslims demand the freedom to practice every aspect of their faith. And they have a social blueprint. They also demand concessions from the infidel. The infidel must do nothing offensive to Muslim sensibilities.

So what’s the point of Robertson’s first proposition? It’s like he didn’t ask himself what comes next.

2. All Christians should work for justice wherever questions of the ownership of real property in the land of the bible arise. If land is taken, the previous owner should receive fair remuneration for, or replacement of, that land.

That sounds nice in theory, but what about specifics?

i) For instance, suppose a Muslim homeowner in Israel is allowing his basement to be used as a tunnel to transport weapons for terrorists. Suppose the Israeli gov’t bulldozes his house. Should he be compensated for his loss?

ii) Likewise, look at what hte Muslims have done to the Christian presence in Bethlehem (or Egypt or Iraq, for that matter). Who’s depriving whom?

3. All Christians should reject violence or revenge as the way of conducting relationships. In all cases, peaceful negotiation should be preferred to armed conflict.

i) Why should violence be rejected as a way of conducting relationships? Relationships with whom? If it’s your sworn enemy, what’s the alternative? A bouquet of daisies?

ii) Why should peaceful negotiation be preferred “in all occasions” to armed conflict?

What if one side is just stalling for time to develop its offensive capacity? What if the longer you let the other side to play for time, the weaker your position to fight back? What if you whittle away your military options through diplomatic concessions until it’s too late to mount a successful defense or preemptive strike?

When he turns from theology to politics, Robertson sounds like a sweet old granny admonishing the neighborhood gang bangers to just be nicer to each other. 

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