Jan 13, 2009
When my son Michael died suddenly at age 38, he left a pregnant wife and an infant. At the funeral I told those who crowded the cemetery that I had been there—when I lost my wife suddenly after a car accident. I said that I knew that as time passes people move on and fade away. I pleaded with family and friends to stay with Michael’s widow and children for years to come.
Two years later, the family is still there. So are some friends, some of the time.
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.
A few years ago, when I asked the head of Renk Theological College in Southern Sudan to name his top priority for the school’s faculty and curriculum, he said without hesitation: “We need biblical language teachers.”
This was not the answer I expected. Just a few days before, on June 6, 2004, the government of Sudan and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army had initialed the Navaisha Draft Peace Agreement, arresting the genocidal war that had raged for 21 years and left more than 2 million dead in the South and millions more displaced.
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. I understand the large claim of his statement to be that the land is providentially and eternally promised to Israel, and no amount of Christian supersessionism or political realism can vitiate that claim. So far so good.
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Anderson does well to remind us of Paul’s word that God’s promise of the land to Abraham and his descendants has never been revoked.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. Both theological frameworks are necessary for a theology of the land, but Anderson fails to mention the latter one.
Disarming: A Christian women's group in Japan has produced New Year postcards, in English and Japanese, to promote a war-renouncing clause in the country's 1946 constitution. Some politicians have in recent times tried to amend this clause. Tens of millions of New Year cards are delivered throughout Japan on January 1 (ENI).