Monday, October 22, 2012

When social justice equals no justice

By Jan Markell
When a college forum talks about being pro-peace and pro-Jesus, why do I become suspicious? When the event is sponsored by a Department of Reconciliation Studies, why do I become uncomfortable? The answer is, in part, that I graduated from this once rock-solid school in prehistoric days when Christian colleges were a safe bet. 

Bethel University in St. Paul, Minn., is like most Christian schools today. They are trying to be cutting edge, and they are trying to tell the truth from their perspective. But when the forum is about leaving the “traditional pro-Israel stand” and learning to embrace the tormented Palestinians instead, you will begin to understand the dilemma. The attempt at “reconciliation” is disingenuous. The whole truth won’t be told.

And indeed, Bethel University’s “Hope for the Holy Land” offered no hope and didn’t tell the truth.

The speakers were on tour promoting Christian engagement in Palestine and Israel. They included Lynne Hybels from Willow Creek Church in Illinois, Sami Awad from the Holy Land Trust and Mae Elise Cannon from World Vision.
I did not know that at the same time my friend and fellow journalist Jim Fletcher was attending “Catalyst East” in Atlanta, one of the greatest gatherings of young evangelicals in America. And, they are largely pro-Palestinian. I shudder as I compare notes with Fletcher because the conclusion is obvious: Israel’s days of enjoying unquestionable support from the evangelical community is eroding. He heard a few of the same voices I did.
Fletcher writes, “Lynne Hybels presented no context with regard to physical conflicts between Israel and her Arab neighbors. For example, in her admittedly brief overview of the region, war seemed to spring up out of nowhere. No mention of Arab invasions of Israel in 1948 or 1973, or the cataclysmic decisions of Egypt’s Nasser in 1967, which led to Israel administering the disputed territories of Judea/Samaria, or as the world largely knows it, the West Bank.” 

He continues, “For example, Hybels and others have begun framing the issue in terms of ‘pro-peace, pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian, and pro-Jesus.’ Other speakers such as Glenn Stassen, David Gushee, Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo savage Christian Zionists in the most odious terms. Hybels presents a softer, gentler side of Palestinian advocacy.”

I made the same conclusion about Lynne Hybels. If you have to listen to Palestinian propaganda, it is nice to hear it in a soft-spoken voice. The same can be said for Christian Arab Sami Awad. Both are people you would like to get to know better. Both are sincere Christians who just happen to believe what Palestinian Christian leaders have said more than they choose to believe many verses in the Bible as it concerns God’s land and people. Lynn and Sami aren’t being disingenuous. They have different interpretations of the Bible, theology and the facts on the ground.
The problem is they are speaking into the minds of young people who may not be able to properly process the information. These same young people will soon become pastors and teachers to the church at large, and the untruths will be further implemented in the church.

How can you genuinely be pro-peace if there is no truthful talk about the following?


No comments: