Someday politicians will wake up and understand that you can't bring peace, justice and reconciliation to the Middle East by use of larger and larger weapons. If used against Iran, there will sadly be a great deal of retaliation in terms of missiles raining down on Israel. But the Israelis believe on balance it will be safer to stop Iran from getting hold of the bomb. High stakes for a small country surrounded by enemies. Christians need to pray for peace in Palestine-Israel.
Saturday, 28 July 2012
Sunday, 22 July 2012
A few days ago the Cranmer blog was defending Evangelical Christians against ‘liberal’ attacks in the Guardian. A government advisor Alan Judd had laid into the Christian belief of creation in relation to education policy, and why it needed to be excluded from schools. Cranmer offered a very useful defence on the 20th July 2012 DfE labels evangelical Christians 'extremist'
However a few days later he posts an open letter from Rev. Nick Howard and co., which attacks the South East Gospel Partnership (SEGP) because of its refusal to sanction or withdraw fellowship from Rev. Stephen Sizer. Cranmer asks ‘Why does the South East Gospel Partnership tolerate anti-Semitism?’ 21 July 2012
The allegations that Howard makes have been examined by Police and Sizer’s own Bishop and found wanting. That isn't to say that people don't make mistakes, but if Sizer has been cleared by his own Bishop the SEGP surely has a Christian duty to remain in fellowship with him. Why then the renewed attack by Howard, now on the SEGP? Cranmer further basically accuses the SEGP of tolerating anti-Semitism. There does seem to be a determined effort here to divide and discredit a respectable group of evangelicals in an attempt to isolate Stephen Sizer. Unfortunately, the SEGP seems caught up in a proxy war within the Anglican Church over political support for Israel and Palestine. Perhaps Howard thinks the SEGP is of no consequence because they are not a Christian Zionist group, but this desire to expand the battle lines reflects badly on his cause.
So, a question for Cranmer - is it acceptable to attack Evangelical Christian groups from the Right, but not the Left? Instead, do we as Christians not have a duty to forgive our brothers and build community, or do some political manoeuvres triumph Christian faith?
One thing I have observed in life is that there is as much error on the political right as there is the left. As a social conservative I believe we need to uphold both social responsibility as well as personal responsibility. Sadly, conservatives sometimes have a bad habit of defending inequality and injustice - the same may apply to a lack of concern for Palestinians as they are forced out of their homes and land. As Christians we have a duty to work for peace, justice and reconciliation on all sides, Jews and Palestinians, as we seek to bring knowledge of Christ to all people and to all nations.
Monday, 16 July 2012
Giles Fraser offers a balanced commentary on the controversy regarding the Church of England's support for the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). Should the C of E remain silent on Israel-Palestine The General Synod has endorsed the EAPPI statement, but Fraser believes the Church of England's actions are open to challenge, even if he is sympathetic to the question of justice. He writes
"Nonetheless, the friends of Israel do themselves few favours if they insist that all criticisms of Israel's behaviour towards Palestinians are motivated by one-sidedness or hostility to Jews. I'm not saying this happens all the time. But when it does, those of us who want to be critical friends of Israel (and Palestine) find that the ground on which we stand is constantly eroded. I believe in the existence of the state of Israel and in its need for security. But the "with us or against us" approach needs to be resisted at all times. And that means holding a position that is likely to draw vociferous criticism from several different quarters. But unless this ground can be held, we concede to a dangerous binary division that can only be settled by further violence. To spell it out: critical friends have a responsibility to be both critical and to be friends."
We need to remember that there are political pressures on both sides in what is a highly charged dispute over land, but primarily Christians are called to work for peace, justice and reconciliation for all. There are human tragedies that are very real for those caught up in the conflict on both sides. Of course that is an easy platitude to say, but true nonetheless.