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My Take: Jesus would support Palestinian statehood bid
The author argues that Jesus was primarily a peacemaker.
September 21st, 2011
12:27 PM ET

My Take: Jesus would support Palestinian statehood bid

Editor's Note: Carl Medearis is an international expert in Arab-American and Muslim-Christian relations and is author of the book Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism.

By Carl Medearis, Special to CNN

This week at the United Nations, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has promised to ask for recognition of a Palestinian state. If he does, the United States will veto. Why?

Largely because of something we'll call Christian Zionism, an American theological movement that preaches a Christian obligation to help Jews reclaim the biblical Promised Land.

I travel constantly, speaking about the Middle East to evangelical Christians across America and Europe. I lived in Lebanon for 12 years and churches invite me to talk about how to love their Muslim neighbors.

Often before I get invited to speak at churches and Christian conferences, I go through an awkward period of questioning, an interview that feels more like an interrogation.

Pastors and conference leaders want to size me up to make sure I’m “safe” for Christian audiences. The interrogation usually goes something like this:

“Carl, we love your books and your message. You have a lot of insight on how Christians can be more Jesus-like to our Middle Eastern neighbors. We hope you’ll talk a lot about that!”

Translation: Please, for the love of God, don’t say anything controversial about Israel or the Palestinians.

Though they are too polite to ask, what those pastors and conference leaders want to know is what is my position on Israel. For them, the modern Jewish state is a direct fulfillment of Bible prophecy, the catalyst for a series of events that will culminate in the return of Jesus.

As the Palestinians press ahead in their bid for statehood, prepare to hear from this crowd. These Christians number in the tens of millions and they go into a state of frenzy every time a politician so much as winks at the idea of Israel giving up a few settlements or withdrawing to pre-1967 borders.

They’ll tell you their concern has nothing to do with their particular interpretation of the Bible and everything to do with America and Israel’s national security interests.

Don’t believe a word of it.

When it comes to U.S. policy on Israel and the Middle East, Christian Zionism is the elephant in the room.

Christian Zionists believe that when God told Abraham 4,000 years ago, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you” he was making a promise that extends to the modern state of Israel. Any nation that “curses” Israel will face God’s judgment.

Not all evangelical Christians believe this, but the ones that do are the loudest voices in the media, and they lead huge organizations.

Television evangelists like Pat Robertson and John Hagee mobilize millions of Christians every year to write to their congressmen demanding that Israel be allowed to expand settlements indefinitely. They seem to oppose every peace deal that comes to the table.

There’s a reason for this. In their minds, the modern Israeli state is not only a fulfillment of biblical prophesy. In a bizarre twist that leaves most outsiders dumbfounded, Christian Zionists say the Bible predicts that Jews and Palestinians will forever be at war until Jesus returns.

They say the only person that will bring peace before the end of the age is—wait for it—the devil, in the form of the anti-Christ.

When you hear some Christian politicians say, “The land belongs to Israel”, what they’re really saying is if America blesses Israel – that is, if it gives uncritical support to the Jewish state - God will bless America. If America curses Israel, God will curse America.

When it comes to Israel and her neighbors, many Christian Zionists believe that peacemaking is the devil’s work.

They may forget that it was Jesus who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers."

One of the reasons Jesus was crucified was because of his refusal to embrace a nationalist agenda. But Christian Zionism blesses military action by the modern state of Israel, under the banner of "national security," including the demolition of Palestinian homes to pave the way for new settlements.

So how would Jesus vote this week if he had a seat at the U.N.?

Surely love, compassion, justice and peace-making would top his lists of concerns for all involved. Maybe he would give a new parable - the Parable of the Good Palestinian - offending all who would hear.

Rather than allowing obscure Old Testament promises to dictate our foreign policy, what if we stuck to the clear commands of God - love your neighbor, your enemy and the foreigner in your midst - which appear in Exodus, Leviticus and three of the four gospels.

Many Christians in America think of Jews and Christians as “us” and anything that sounds Muslim or Arab as “the other.” But the call of Jesus is to be more loving towards the “other” than towards the people we think of as “us.”

This command works both ways. When I’ve had audiences with leaders in the Hezbollah or Hamas, I tell them the same thing: That Jesus said to love your enemies. Who are your enemies? Israel.

It’s true that there are elements of Palestinian society that do not want peace, no matter the price. They need to be isolated and dealt with.

The same goes for elements of Israeli society that don’t want peace. The good news is that extremists are a minority on both sides of the conflict.

People ask me all the time what I think about Israel and end-times theology, and how the Palestinians factor into that.
Here’s my answer: If your end-times theology trumps the clear commands in Scripture to love neighbors and enemies, then its time to rethink your theology.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Israel • Opinion

soundoff (1,520 Responses)
  1. Ryan

    God promised Abraham he would make him a great people and told Moses that he would give him all the land. But he also told Ishmael that he would make HIM a great people also but there was nothing about land. David defeated the Philistines (modern day Palistinians) with a stone in one fell swoop. So the land was technically given to Israel by God after the Israelites defeated their enemies. The Palestinians and Jews are from the same tree, just different branches. Jacob and Ishmael. Ishmael was the older son and was to receive everything but Jacob tricked Isaac and got it instead. I think both sides have forgottent that as well. But God promised the land to Abraham. If it was supposed to have gone to Ishmael, it would have happened that way but it didn't. Joseph was sent to Egypt, eventually followed by the rest of his family and friends where they became the country they are today.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      Can you actually prove that any of that fable is true? You know, with some sort of outside, third party verification of your historical facts? You expect the world and the rest of your fellow Americans to make sweeping policy changes (that will certianly cost MANY lives), based on the merits of your 2000 year old fairy tale?

      September 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  2. Tom

    I think the author confuses "evangelicals" with "dispensationalists." Evangelicals are simply those who have had an "awakening" experience" and proclaim the "good news of Jesus" through revelation from God/Jesus. Prgressive or traditional dispensationalists, of whom some are so-called "evangelicals," believe in the essence of the Israeli State as necessary fulfillment of Biblical prophecy...however each may interpret those events. It is a shame that the author confuses the two.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
  3. Bob

    Jesus would have been very alone with the PALS. There are more Christian Pals living in South America than all of the Middle East (1 million). Why even refer to them as Pals, just more muslims who have driven out any one different from them. Perhaps CNN might dedicate some print for the genocide that has occurred throughout the Islamic world against non-Muslims. That is the true "elephant" in the room.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
    • LKJ

      What genocide? Give me facts and figures.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  4. sandie

    I am going to pray for you that God will move in your heart and show you His truth and i am also going to pray for the rest of us that God will protect us from satans messengers

    September 21, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • think for yourself

      No worries, satan and hell do not exist. These fictional stories were created to keep the sheeplings from leaving the pasture.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • Annmarie

      Great post!!

      September 21, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • Annmarie

      I meant Sandie's post was great !!

      September 21, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • Right thing

      @Sandie

      You go Girl!!!

      September 21, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • think for yourself

      Yep, good job Sandie! Keep talking to yourself, see how much it helps.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    The only way there will be peace is when both groups recognize each other’s right to exist.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
  6. doug*

    Turning the other cheek for the next suicide bomber or mortor attack mite be a little bit much even for jesus

    September 21, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • The Dude

      For every 1 Israeli killed (typically a soldier) 1000 Palestinian men women and children are murdered by Israel.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • doug*

      http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stats/deaths.html
      I know 1000/1 was full of crap but fili free to make up more facts

      September 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
  7. Angel

    Mr. Carl Medearis,

    Before you decide to express your opinion of what Jesus would do and a sunject you know nothing about, please educate yourself. First Palestinians no just want to be a state, they also want Jerusalen, or part of it to be their capital. Israel is God's chosen land and spliting Israel goes against God's wishes. Unfortunately, it is written that that is exactly what will happen and therefore fulfilling the Bibles's prophecy.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • oh wait

      It appears Carl Medearis got his message from the muslims to tell the Christians what they should do..Nice!

      September 21, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  8. The Dude

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eqKb5ViN_Q

    September 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • Sillysecularwriter

      What is so funny(not) about this "video" and its innuendo's of intolerance of Christianity is you would not see any Christian's out rioting because you show a video mocking Jesus. Try showing a video mocking islam...see how many people you send into a frenzy. I would say that is intolerant.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • The Dude

      If I lived in a country with a large population of Islamic idiots trying to tell everyone how to live I probably would make such a video. But Alas I live in America where the biggest idiots are the Christians.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
  9. Dave Davis

    This article and almost all others from Commie News Network now comes to the masses packaged as a fair and unbiased "opinion" piece. Extremely convenient for a major network to hide its own opinion pieces behind someone elses name.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
  10. Joe

    Oh man Carl, you are gonna stir up the hornets nest with this article! I mean you are talking about loving your enemies and forgiving them for their trespasses? Certainly those words can't be in my bible? You sir are not preaching Christianity! lol. Oh, wait no I get it, you must be some kind of Liberal, because surely you aren't educated in what you talk about. In all seriousness, I like the article. Good stuff.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • tough love

      You've shown us all the light Joe. You're right when Jesus confronted evil by calling people out, chasing out the money changers and telling them they needed to change, if only you and Carl were there to say you're having a bad day Lord, just forgive without confronting them, you're just calling them hypocrites out of anger, just be nice. Yup thanks for the milk toast fluff watered down gospel that sounds so much more pleasant, shant we say? Let's do lunch some time. Or maybe love means confronting evil. Maybe turning the other cheek actually isn't rolling over and saying nothing, it's being struck, standing up and looking the person right in the eye and saying you missed a spot.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  11. Ronald

    Excellent article! The Christian Zionists are nuts. They completely ignore the teachings of Jesus which is to love your neighbor. I completely agree with the author. Christian Zionists believe in Dispensationalist interpretation of the Bible. The funny thing is that Dispensationalism originated in England less than 150 years ago because of one man's interpretation of the Bible.

    A true Christian would back the Palestinians indeed!

    September 21, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • Annmarie

      I'm writing you a Rx for a brain MR:
      "rule in brain"

      September 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  12. Salty Bob

    Salty Bob
    In the beginning man created the gods
    The truth about organized religion. I hope you glean a small bit of useful information as I have. What games religion is playing in America and the world today? We live in a country where we can choose for ourselves how much or little Religion we want in our lives, but the followers of most religions just don’t understand the word no. Not in my life not in my schools not in my government, NO, is the choice I have made for me and my family, the following reasons are part of the problem as I see it.
    First: religion is in no way real. The word religion or god is nothing more than an expression or product of human fear and weaknesses or imagination. The Bible/Koran, a collection of ancient myths and stories borrowed from many different cultures over thousands of centuries. Followers of Christianity, Islam, and others want to make decisions for us based on their interpretation of myths and stories from ages past that have change from teller to teller until were left with what we see today.
    These groups' are working hard and spending millions trying to influence our politician to pass laws based on their interpretation of these myths. Trying to convert the USA into a religious state. The only way this will end if things continue as they are is one group will out spend another and gain control in instant we could be living in the United Sates of Islam, sounds kinda funny but there are at the moment 2 sects with the money it will take to make the leap and crush the Wall of Separation. The Wall of Separation is supposed to protect us from all religions infringement upon our schools teachings of science to find real truth and knowledge. Not try and recruit our kids with fairytales or with some aged dogma from an era long dead, our children deserve better.
    Second: Organized Religions have overstepped their boundaries on many occasions. It divides us as a people to choose ignorance over logic, to forsake the future for a ruthless past. Religion started with early mans rites and ceremonies to honor nature, it grew into Charlemagne outright murder of the innocent in the name of Christianity, to jets crashing into towers killing thousands in the name of Islam. The time of burning witches, belief in a flat earth, the murdering of doctors, and crimes against women and children or the followers of gods many other immoral and vile acts against humanity as a whole can no longer and should no longer be tolerated, no matter what religious book or god they believe demands it, religious leaders must be held to account for the acts of its followers.
    Third: Coerced observance is the main method these groups use. Worship me or you will be tortured in a pit of fire for all eternity or, murdered outright. Fear mongering, tyranny, Remember the Dark Ages religions rule in that dark, distant past did not serve our ancestors well. Many of these groups place supernatural abilities on some of their members, kinda like the early versions of super heroes, born of a virgin nice trick or walk on water, hmm or cure the blind and sick shamans come to mind, super strength Hercules so many more. Throughout history you will find many who have claimed special abilities or feats. From every religious group again more fairytales entertainment for people who had very little else to do and lots of free time for the mind to wonder. No interpretation no matter how subtle can change the fact that their holy books are nothing more than a collection stories meant to entertain or teach something to the children or control people of that era nothing more.
    Fourth: We put our trust in our elected officials to maintain the wall of separation, to prevent religions ever-reaching grasp from tainting the consideration of new laws! This country was not founded on the rule of anyone's religion, but more the lack of religious influence in the governing of this country. But time and again you hear religious overtones spouting out of our leaders, and wannabe leaders, the wall is crumbling.
    If anyone of good conscience should agree with what I have said band together, so we can bring this country the very world we live on into the 21st century free of these groups and revel in all the promise this century has to offer so our children's children's children can look back in pride and say they did this for us and our posterity. This is after all a very small world and a great leaping point into the vast unknown. I so hope more minds are opened and see beyond the centuries of engrained dogma. I just hope we have not destroyed it all by that time.
    R.E.W.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      I could not have stated it any more eloquently, Bob.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • carlos mendez

      You are totally out of senses, out of context or out of your mind. I totally disagree with your opinion and your irrelevant nonsense fairy tale you are spewing. You need to do some research before you say another word. I don't think you know what you are saying.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • Jumping Jack

      You are totally out of senses, out of context or out of your mind. I totally disagree with your opinion and your irrelevant nonsense fairy tale you are spewing. You need to do some research before you say another word. I don't think you know what you are saying.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • Gavin Ford

      PERFECT! You absolutely nailed it.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
  13. tough love

    That's funny my Bible says Jesus confronted violence with beat your swords into plowshares. Carl's bible has him saying, "it's all good, bro."

    September 21, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  14. john

    jesus would probably puke at the entire conflict

    September 21, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • Annmarie

      Like it or not, you'll be meeting Him soon enough. You can make all the stupid comments you want to His face at that time.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
  15. viknat

    Palestinian's love people like you, they will even give you a nice vest for you to wear when you visit Israel. P.S. don't touch the wires

    September 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
  16. Salty Bob

    NO he didnt exsist. jesu that is!

    September 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
  17. Dave A

    This guy is spot on... another example of how American foreign policy is held hostage by Israeli/Jewish interests!

    September 21, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • Annmarie

      Dave you've been watching too much SpongeBob SquarePants again.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
  18. Really?

    Hey CNN, We understand you only allow writers with an extreme bias against Christianity to write for you, do you ever allow Christians to write artilces? That will hurt your agenda won't it?

    Continue singing your islamic praises daily!

    September 21, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • Bill

      Yes exactly – this man is a Christian pastor. Must be one Anti-Christian guy, right?

      September 21, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  19. What about Palestinians Christians???

    For the Christians in United States, do you know how many Palestinians and Arab Christians were killed by Israelis? Do you think Israelis care about the Christians? Also, ask the Jews if they believe in Jesus? No they don’t. Go Christians and protect the people who don’t believe in you or your God!!!! What a Joke!!!

    September 21, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
  20. hawaiiduude

    the anti christ IS modern israel. How much more anti christ can you be than jewish? Read the talmud lately? Todays practicing joos hate jesus they don't even like to make a plus sign in math because it looks like a cross. Google that. and google jews spitting on the cross.

    http://encyclopediaegypt.com/israel/l032001.htm

    September 21, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • The Dude

      I am not a jew and I spit on the cross.

      I hope you are not a Native Hawaiian (a real Hawaiian) Because you are worshiping the make believe god of the White devil.

      Worship your Volcano...it is tangible and real.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.