As if we don't have enough problems with Muslim and Jewish fundamentalists, we are now confronted with yet another -ist.
As if we don't have enough problems with Muslim and Jewish fundamentalists, we are now confronted with yet another -ist. Christian Zionists, mostly from the United States, are trying to throw their weight behind one of the parties, in effect calling for the continuation of the war and carnage in Lebanon.
A small minority of evangelical Christians have entered the Middle East political arena with some of the most un-Christian statements I have ever heard. The latest gems come from people like Pat Robertson, the founder and chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network, and Rev. John Hagee of Christians United for Israel. Hagee, a popular televangelist who leads the 18,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, ratcheted up his rhetoric this year with the publication of his book, .Jerusalem Countdown,. in which he argues that a confrontation with Iran is a necessary precondition for Armageddon (which will mean the death of most Jews, in his eyes) and the Second Coming of Christ.
In the best-selling book, Hagee insists that the United States must join Israel in a preemptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God's plan for both Israel and the West. Shortly after the book.s publication, he launched Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which, as the Christian version of the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, he said would cause .a political earthquake.. With the outbreak of the war on Lebanon, he and others have called to their followers to pray for Israel, and for the continuation of the war on Lebanon. They have demanded that Israel not relent in what they call the need to destroy Hezbollah and Hamas. They seem to have completely forgotten the very core of the Christian faith.
I have been watching many American evangelicals trying to distance themselves from the calls in the name of the Almighty for the war to continue. As Christian leaders of all persuasions, including leaders of evangelical churches, are calling for Mideast peace and an immediate cease-fire, these Christian Zionists want their followers to pray only for Israel.
One e-mail message that was making the rounds came from a prominent U.S. evangelical Christian totally upset with an interview that Pat Robertson gave to the Jerusalem Post. In it, Robertson appears more pro-Israeli than the Israelis themselves and expresses anger at the notion that Israelis might not completely finish off Hezbollah – a task that he somehow sees as God's will. The author of the above-mentioned e-mail message, Serge Duss of World Vision, a Christian relief organization, called the Robertson interview .a perversion of the Gospel of Jesus.. Duss writes that he is sure that many evangelicals strongly disagree and would gladly refute Robertson's distorted theology.
Duss insists that American evangelicals are praying for 1) the people of Israel and Lebanon; 2) for a cease-fire, so that lives will be spared and 3) for peace with justice for all people in the Middle East. The discussion has reminded me of so many calls I heard as a young Christian boy growing up in Bethlehem and Jerusalem: the false prophets that have predicted the end days and the presence of the anti-Christ are too numerous to list here. But I vividly remember the very same Pat Robertson in 1982 as he spoke on C.B.N.'s .700 Club.. He stood in front of a map of the Middle East, opened up a copy of the Old Testamant and claimed to know what a particular prophecy meant in geopolitical terms. As the Begin-Sharon army at the time was besieging Beirut, he pointed out exactly what he said would happen next. In particular he was keen to repeat that the P.L.O.'s leader at the time, Yasir Arafat, was none other than the anti-Christ himself. Less than 13 years after that international broadcast, Robertson was filmed visiting Arafat in Gaza, delivering food and milk to Palestinians and applauding the peace agreement that Arafat had signed with Israel's Yitzhak Rabin.
Christian Zionists who use religious rhetoric to justify political and military actions are no better than Jewish or Islamic fundamentalists who make similar outlandish claims. Peace in the Middle East should be about the liberty, independence and freedoms of all the people of the region, and not about whose promised land the Holy Land is. For the time being, I, as a Christian Palestinian, prefer to follow the words of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount. .Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the sons of God..