Arab Christian Leader: Errant Bible Reading Misleads U.S. Christians
Dr. Martin Accad, the Dean of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut, has been stranded in the U.S. since the Israeli/Lebanese war started. As rep0rted earlier in this blog, he has written two heart-rending accounts in Christianity Today about the way Christians in the Middle East are abandoned by U.S. Christians who uncritically support Israel. Now, in an article for Ethics Daily.com here: http://ethicsdaily.com/article_detail.cfm?AID=7693, Dr. Accad says that one problem for U.S. Christians is a widespread misinterpretation of Scripture: Confusing biblical Israel with the modern political state of Israel. The “new Israel,” Accad reminds readers is the universal Christian community and not ANY political entity. I would add that even in the Hebrew Scriptures, the prophets had no trouble criticizing biblical Israel.
Accad rightly criticizes “Christian Zionism” (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Zionism ), a widespread belief in U.S. folk theology that believes the modern state of Israel’s founding in 1948 was the fulfillment of prophecy. This leads to an incredibly uncritical support of Israel that discounts Israel’s victims, whether Muslim or Christian. Accad also has strong words against U.S. foreign policy, showing why its Middle East militarism and economic imperialism is perceived throughout the Arab world (both by Muslims and Christians) as a new crusade. Because the U.S. and Israel are so close as allies, this leads Arabs to respond to Israel not as a nation of refugees with an inherent right to exist in security, but as a pawn in Western, especially American, imperialist moves.
There is plenty of blame to go around. I will certainly not hesitate to criticize Arab autocrats or Muslim fundamentalists, especially groups using terrorist tactics. But Accad is right that it is very difficult for Christian leaders in the Arab world to confront Muslim leaders over the violent ideologies of (some versions of) Islamic teaching when they can point to uncritical Christian support of American and Israeli violence. Until American Christians repent of our violence addictions and return to the nonviolence of Jesus and the early church, we will have a very hard time talking about others’ violence without smelling of hypocrisy. The belief that Christians can kill people is another “errant Bible reading.”
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