Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Three-hanky theology

I'm going to comment on this post:
If I had my druthers, I'd rather not pick on Bethlehem Bible College. Problem is: their statement has been hailed in many quarters of the Internet as representing the authentic Christian response. Modeling how Christians ought to view the issue. Striking the right balance. 
I have great sympathy for the plight of indigenous Christians in the Mideast. They find themselves caught in a vice. Usually it's a Muslim vice but sometimes they are squeezed between Muslim and Israeli combatants. It's a pretty untenable position. 
By the same token, I realize that Arab Christians aren't free to speak their minds. Even if they were more sympathetic to Israel, or resentful of their Muslim overlords, they can't afford to say what they really think. 
If the question of "occupied territory" simply involved Israelis and Arab Christians, I'd take a different position on israeli claims. The problem is that Muslims make compromise impossible. 
Unfortunately, the statement issued by Bethhem Bible College is sappy-headed sentimentalism. Bad theology underwriting bad ethics. 
Today God weeps over the situation in Palestine and Israel. Today God weeps over Gaza.  With God, our hearts are broken when we see the carnage in Gaza and in Israel. 
i) Does God weep at the sight of violence? Is God sitting on the throne with a big box of Kleenex, daubing his moist eyes and blowing his nose whenever he sees human violence? 
Honestly, what kind of God merely weeps in the face of evil? How does that help anyone?
ii) Imagine if a sniper entered an elementary school. Imagine if an armed security guard was on duty. An hour later, police have secured the scene. You have 20 dead children. A TV reporter interviews the security guard: "Why didn't you do anything?"
"Oh, I did," says the guard. "Every time I saw the sniper shoot a child in the head, I cried. I pleaded with the sniper to stopping killing them."
Would we consider that a satisfactory response?
iii) If God is that passive and ineffectual, then the logical response would be to conclude that, "Hey, God won't intervene–ever. So we better arm ourselves to the teeth and take preemptive action. Shoot first, ask questions later. For we are on our own. No one will rescue us–least of all God. It's every man for himself."
“All forms of violence must be refuted unequivocally”, stated the Christ at the Checkpoint manifesto…As Christians committed to nonviolence, we do not and cannot endorse Hamas’ ideology.
i) Okay, so they're pacifists. Now I realize that at this point, armed resistance is probably futile. Arab Christians are vastly outnumbered and outgunned by the Muslims. So pacifism is making a virtue of necessity–like people who become vegetarians because they have no meat to eat–even if they wanted to. 
ii) Suppose, for the sake of argument, that God is a pacifist. Does that mean you should be a pacifist? Follow his example?
Problem is, God has nothing to lose. It doesn't cost God anything to be a pacifist. He's invulnerable. He doesn't bleed. He can't be hurt. If anything, the comparison invites the reverse strategy for Christians.
At the same time, we are shocked by the unproportional and inhuman response by the Israeli military and the disregard of civilian life and specially innocent women and children.
In a fallen world, sometimes it's necessary to take life to save life. Otherwise, even more innocent women and children will die. 
A "disproportionate" response may be necessary to remove the threat. 
In the face of this, we affirm – using the words of our own Dr. Yohanna Katanacho:
We are against killing children and innocent people. We support love not hatred, justice not oppression, equality not bigotry, peaceful solutions not military solutions. Violence will only beget wars, it will bring more pain and destruction for all the nations of the region. 
That's the cycle of violence nonsense. But violence doesn't necessarily beget more violence. 
Suppose a couple of men armed with baseball bats break into your home, threatening you and your family. You have a choice: you can reach for a gun or a box of Kleenex. 
Here's my advice: put the box of Kleenex down and pick up your gun. Two well-placed bullets will end the violence before it begins. 

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