For 23 days in December and January, Israel struck targets throughout the Gaza Strip while Hamas sent a barrage of unguided rockets and missiles to towns in southern Israel. In the end, 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were dead, with 4,000 Palestinians and dozens of Israelis wounded. Media coverage was intense, but American and Arab media covered the war in significantly different ways.
I first thought it must be a joke when I saw the cover emblazoned with the line, “If the promises of God are inviolable, then Israel’s attachment to the land is underwritten by God’s decree” (Does the promise still hold? Jan. 13). I double-checked the date of the issue, thinking perhaps it was from last April Fool’s Day and that a delightful tongue-in-cheek satire was in store.But no, to my utter amazement Gary Anderson expounded on that premise in all seriousness, as though the theological perceptions of some tribe of believers (of which I count myself one) actually had standing in affairs of contemporary national sovereignty.
Two years ago, when U.S. and Canadian Lutheran bishops began planning a hands-on visit to the Holy Land for their inaugural Bishops’ Academy, they had no idea what the political or security situation would be on the ground. They relied on faith.
The heads of Christian churches in Jerusalem have denounced the devastating hostilities in the Gaza Strip as well as “all forms of violence and killings from all parties”—an appeal in the closing days of 2008 heard from government officials and religious leaders alike.
Professor Anderson takes up what must be the most vexing problem facing us wherein faith collides with political reality. I agree with Anderson and would not presume to instruct or challenge him, though I would make the accent somewhat differently.
Gary Anderson does well to remind us of Paul’s word that God’s promise of the land to Abraham and his descendants has never been revoked. That promise, however, includes the promise to bless the world and to bless it precisely in showing a new way to possess land.
Gary Anderson rightly reminds us that Chris tians must be conscious of anti-Semitic traditions in Christian theology. I affirm the importance of this context and at the same time would highlight the need for a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as essential for the security of Israeli Jews and Palestinian Christians and Muslims.
A new administration in Washington brings the promise of new approaches to deadlocked and dangerous international conflicts. President-elect Obama has indicated his intent to rethink and recast our relationship with Cuba, for instance. Anyone who visits Cuba can see how the U.S.
I am disappointed with Marlin Jeschke’s response. Like many Christians, he is so concerned to highlight the universal dimensions of the Abrahamic promise that he neglects the specific promises of God to a single people. For him, the doctrine of election remains a scandal.