Tuesday, November 08, 2011


I got into it again on facebook today with an old friend from way back in my Southern Baptist days. It started with this status update she posted:

The Bible states many times that we are to stand with Israel at all costs. I believe in God's word and will continue to believe that his word is more powerful than any other form of power. This is why our current situation will not stand long.
That's when the fun began (slightly edited for coherence).
How do we know that the modern Israel nation state is the same thing as the Biblical notion of Israel, God's children?

Because it says so in the Bible and I have faith.

I think I'm not getting my point across. What I'm trying to say is that there is a difference between what everybody calls "Israel" today and what everybody calls "Israel" in the Bible. In the Bible, "Israel" means, roughly, the Jews, a.k.a. God's children, the descendants of Abraham. But today "Israel" means the ethnically, for the most part, Jewish nation state in what was for centuries called "Palestine," covering parts of what were once called "Judea" and "Israel."

A couple of notes. First, there are Arabs who are Israelis, a minority, to be sure, but definitely not Jewish. Second, that there were once two nation states that were ethnically Jewish, Judea and Israel, makes it plain that the Bible differentiates between ethnic "Israel" and nation states called "Israel." I think American Christian Israel-supporters, so-called Christian Zionists, have made a fundamental mistake in confusing the two.

That is, supporting the modern nation state called Israel and supporting God's children are not the same thing.

Yes, but just because many Jewish individuals are on Wall Street does not mean that is the modern Israel. There are a ton of regular white Protestants and many Muslims on Wall Street as well. I understand the old Israel and the new, but my point is that regardless of modernization, you still heed what the Bible says.

Right, but the point I'm trying to make here is that the Bible says to support Israel, meaning God's children, rather than a modern nation state with nuclear weapons, which also regularly oppresses its minority Arab population, the Palestinians, and which has been caught, multiple times, spying on the United States. That is, "Israel" is not "the Jews," and "the Jews" are not "Israel."

Well, if Russia and Germany, along with Japan are also not the same countries as before, do we also let them down? We can go on forever about this, but I know what is written in the Old and New Testament Ron and it clearly states the changes we face in Revelations due to our actions in regards to Man vs. Man. I once had a professor in college say the worst act of violence is Man vs. Man and that in our lifetime we will witness more blood shed than in all of our previous wars combined.......I'm beginning to believe this may be the truth.

But it also states in the Bible that the old Jews will be relocated to the land of Milk and Honey...(United States) and that Christians should remain the guardians of the Jewish state. It talks about Abraham vs. David all through the Bible Ron.

Okay, let me try this from a different angle. You know how Jesus speaks of his kingdom being something other than a geographic region with borders and a government? Same thing with Israel. Israel is a people, Biblically speaking, not a government, not a geographic region with borders. I mean, when the Jews were in bondage in Egypt, were they no longer Israel? When they were in Babylon were they no longer Jews? Were they no longer Jews after the Roman-enforced diaspora? Did they only become Jews again after the founding of modern Israel? Is it the nature of Israel to sometimes be Israel and other times be nothing?

No, Israel will always remain Israel regardless of the geographic location of the people. Even in the Torah it states they are the chosen ones....go on.

Well, okay. Here's why this is an important distinction for me.

First, as a democracy, modern Israel has a sizable minority of citizens who disagree strongly with how the nation state treats the Palestinians, with how it deals with the rest of the region diplomatically, and this minority is "Israel" just as the hawks and conservatives are "Israel." Is it God's will that we only support Israel's political majority?

Second, Israel, the modern nation state, has committed crimes against humanity in its periodic collective punishment of the Palestinians--this is a fact, and is not debatable. Indeed, the late Israeli leader Moshe Dayan once described Israel's policy toward the Palestians as making them "live like dogs." I am reminded of the grave crimes of King David in the Old Testament. Would God have us supporting David's adultery and murder, because, as king, David embodied the nation of Israel? Would God have us support Israeli tanks crushing rock-throwing Palestinian teens in the street? Deprivation of much-needed medicines? Artillery attacks on civilians?

The whole Christians-must-support-Israel mandate is far more complicated, I think, than most people realize.
And at that point, she deleted the entire post. Fortunately, I managed to save it because I felt like I articulated some good points. I mean, good points for Christians who think they have to support Israel because the Bible says so. The reality is that once you get away from various interpretations of the Bible, you can start having a rational discussion about Israel, in terms of diplomacy and national interest. But as long as you feel bound to support Israel by an ancient book that was started during the Bronze Age, you have some severe problems in terms of logic and determining exactly what the Bible means when it says believers must support Israel.

The reality, I think, for fundamentalist Christians, is that the Bible isn't really clear on what supporting God's children actually means in this day and age. But Pat Robertson and his ilk just keep pumping this crazy stuff out, day after day, such that their followers are only capable of asserting that they must support Israel, no matter what it does. And when questioned about it, they just kind of start sputtering and then shut down--did you catch the assertion that America is the "land of milk and honey"?

We've really got to start dealing with this in theological terms or the fundamentalist right will continue to push lunatic policies until Kingdom Come. Literally.