Showing posts with label #World. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #World. Show all posts

Standing with Israel?

by K.W. Leslie, 17 October 2023

My views on Israel are not conventional. So, of course, they’re controversial.

For the average American Evangelical, the Jews are God’s chosen people. Ek 20.5 There might be more than a few antisemites among us, but for the most part we believe God established a relationship with Abraham ben Terah, and God chose Abraham’s and Israel’s descendants as his particular people. God graciously freed Israel’s descendants from Egyptian slavery. God set up a king over them whom they called Messiah (or as gentiles usually call him, Christ). Jesus of Nazareth is the final and greatest and eternal Messiah. Our religion is a descendant of the Hebrew religion. We even swiped their holidays.

Likewise the average American Evangelical also believes God promised the descendants of Israel a land on the Mediterranean Sea’s west coast, known as the Levant, or Canaan, or Palestine. The promise was conditional: If the Israelis kept covenant with the LORD and upheld his Law, they could live there and prosper. God encouraged the nations round about Israel to support it and ally themselves with it, if they knew what was good for them. Of course this is based on the presumption Israel followed God: When Israel followed God, it and its allies prospered. When it didn’t, not so much.

And because it didn’t, ancient Israel was destroyed by the Assyrian and neo-Babylonian empires. It was made a client state of them, and later of the subsequent Persian, Greek, Seleucid, and Roman empires. (With a tiny bout of independence between the Seleucid and Roman periods.) Then, in the year 70, the Romans destroyed Israel again. And it stayed destroyed.

Stayed destroyed, most Evangelicals say, until the 20th century, when the Jews reestablished the modern state of Israel in 1948. And here’s where they and I part company. The modern state of Israel is an entirely new state. It’s not the same state as ancient Israel.

It contains God’s chosen people, in that many Israelis are Jews. It consists of a lot of land which ancient Israel occupied. It’s ancient Israel’s successor state. But it’s not the same state. No more than Italy is the Roman Empire, Turkey is the Ottoman Empire, or Russia is the Soviet Union. It’s a new country, younger than the United States.

It doesn’t even resemble ancient Israel. The ancient country consisted of 13 tribes occupying 12 territories, ruled by patriarchies connected by a common ancestry, common God, and common covenant with that God. Later it had a king, whose personal loyalties to God tended to sway the whole country’s devotion, and affected their peace and stability. The current country has a Knesset/“congress,” an elected parliament, led by a prime minister. It has a military-industrial complex which keeps the country always ready to defend itself against its neighbors, fight its dissidents, and suppress a large ethnic minority of Palestinians. None of this current system is spelled out in the Law of Moses; today’s Israel is a secular state which permits freedom of religion, so they don’t follow it. Not that Jewish nationalists don’t try with all their might to make ’em follow it.

So despite what both Jews and Evangelicals claim, it’s a whole different country than the one founded by the LORD through Moses ben Amram in the 1400s BC. Therefore none of the bible’s prophecies and promises which have to do with the country of Israel, apply to present-day Israel. They were fulfilled by ancient Israel. They might look like they repeat themselves with present-day Israel… but that’s only because history repeats itself. That, and Evangelicals really like to stretch those bible passages to suit their ideas, but they’re not what God meant by them.

Why the United States doesn’t control our guns.

by K.W. Leslie, 25 May 2022

I have friends outside the United States who look at our rampant gun violence, notice how our mass shootings even happen on a daily basis, and wonder why in God’s name we do nothing about it.

Two reasons. The first is Americans consider gun ownership a right. Not an option, not a privilege, a right. We even put it into our Constitution.

Y’see in the 1760s and ’70s, the British occupying forces tried to take Americans’ guns away lest we start a revolution. (’Cause we were gonna.) Once we Americans got our independence, we became fearful lest the Brits, or any other government, try to take us over, or go too far to curtail our liberties. So we made gun ownership the fourth article of the Bill of Rights, which became our Constitution’s second amendment.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Guns aren’t an obvious and inherent right. This is why the Congress had to spell out their justification for guns: If we’re gonna remain a free state, we need militia, armed civilians who can help our police and armed forces defend our homeland. Some folks assume our National Guard fulfills the role of a militia, but nope; guardsmen are part of the Army and Air Force, and not civilians. (As demonstrated whenever guardsmen are called in to stop civilian unrest.) The way we keep civilians at the ready, is we let ’em keep their guns. And make sure they know how to properly use ’em. So once people hear the British are coming—or the Soviets, the North Koreans, the Iranians, the terrorists, or whoever’s the boogeyman today—they can grab their rifles and fall in.

Thing is, we Americans tend to describe our rights as sacred and God-given. In other words holy. With all the other baggage which comes with civic idolatry.

Proper religion involves self-control, but civic idolatry means when we Americans get it into our heads that something’s a right, we treat it as an unlimited right. Zero control. No limits. Absolute.

Fr’instance freedom of speech. We treat it like we can say absolutely anything, no matter how offensive, profane, or seditious. And should be able to say anything, without any repercussions from our neighbors or employers. That’s why we’re often stunned when there are totally repercussions: We lose jobs, money, status, or relationships over the dumber things we say. But what’d people expect would happen? Freedom of speech only means government can’t censor or censure us. Everybody else can.

So that’s the very same way many an American gun nut looks at guns: The right to bear arms means we can own any gun we like, decked out with any accessories or ammunition we like, take it anywhere, and shoot anyone we perceive a threat. ’Cause it’s a right. Constitution says so, which makes it sacred.

Now read the second amendment again. It describes our American militia as well regulated. Is it? Not in the slightest. Largely it’s not regulated at all.

This is where the United States goes horribly wrong. If the amendment were scripture, we’d be guilty of taking it out of context. Our militia is unregulated, and whenever any politician tries to regulate it, the gun nuts scream tyranny. And the gun lobby has bought so many senators, nothing gets regulated. Nothing changes for the better. Hence the daily shootings.

The Nashville Statement, and sexism.

by K.W. Leslie, 04 September 2017

Last Tuesday, 29 August, the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood released a manifesto they titled the Nashville Statement. Likely they balked at calling it the Nashville Creed, ’cause even though the creeds predate Catholicism, there’s still a sizable number of anti-Catholic Protestants that figure everything which took place before 1510 is “Catholic” and therefore wrong. But I digress.

In short, the statement is a declaration against homosexuality and transsexuality. Supposedly it presents the “biblical” view on these subjects, although if you read it y’might notice it neither quotes, nor provides references to, the bible. Whatsoever.

Nor does it refer to the Holy Spirit. Whatsoever. Supposedly any repentance and transformation is gonna be achieved by “the grace of God in Christ,” i.e. the force of God’s loving attitude, as opposed to the person of the trinity who empowers change and applies grace. You’ll see in a bit why this significant lapse in trinitarian thinking oughta raise some eyebrows.

Obviously the Statement’s been getting pushback from pagans who wanna know where on earth these guys get off condemning them. And of course from theologically liberal Christians who feel it’s graceless to condemn people for an issue which they believe is not entirely settled. And of course from gay Christians.

I’m not theologically liberal. (Though people who consider me more liberal than they are, will certainly take issue with that statement.) Nor am I gay. Nonetheless I have two issues with the Statement which prevent me from signing off on it, much less signing it.

The most obvious, and the one that’s not gonna need a lot of commentary from me, is its divisive intent. Like I said, it’s an attempt at a creed: This is how they figure all true Christians should believe, and if you agree you’re orthodox, and if you don’t you’re heretic. The Statement draws a pretty obvious line in the sand, and expects people to choose a side. But divisiveness, need I remind you, is a work of the flesh. Ga 5.20 Instead of loving our neighbor as ourselves, this Statement is gonna make us bite and devour one another, Ga 5.14-15 and do nothing to further God’s kingdom.

Yeah, I know. Many a Christian will insist the kingdom’s gotta be pure. By which they mean as little sin in it as possible. I agree. How do we go about doing that? Discipleship. We encourage people to follow Jesus’s teachings and the Holy Spirit’s leading. It’s the Spirit’s job to sort all that stuff out. Jn 16.8 It’s not a manifesto’s job. It’s not our job either: Our job is to love our neighbors and lead them to Jesus.

The reason Christians swap the job of loving our neighbors, for the job of denouncing sin? Obviously they hate sin. Less obviously, they don’t so much care for their neighbors. The neighbors sin, and they hate sin. Their “good news,” which is no longer so good, becomes about how the neighbors are sinning, and the world is perishing. The only bright spot is how Jesus saves us from perishing, Jn 3.16 but the rest of the preaching? Death, hellfire, and damnation.

Well, enough about that. The other issue I have is how the Nashville Statement is a subtle declaration against egalitarianism, the belief that women are priests, teachers, and ministers in the church, same as men. And that’s the particular axe I’m gonna grind today.