July 22, 2006

The Apocalyptic Worldview: War in Lebanon

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 1:31 pm

No one believes, or at least will admit to believing, that the outbreak of war in Israel, Gaza and Lebanon is a good thing. But some believe that these events are fulfilling God’s Word in our presence.

Neil Little, a Toledoan who has programs on WGGN-FM (97.7) in Sandusky, said he is concerned that the networks reporting on the Middle East fighting are not making any references to Bible prophecy.

“Nobody is bringing up that this is what was prophesied in Jeremiah and Isaiah — that Israel would be bombarded,” Mr. Little said. “I understand what the geopolitical issues are all about, but I believe the coming of Christ is just around the corner. I preach it. I don’t want to scare people, but Christians should know what’s going on.”

The pre-trib pre-millenial dispensationalist worldview holds that many of these events are inevitable because “prophesy demands it”, as Hal Lindsey wrote in The Late Great Planet Earth. This leads to a fatalism: “Gee, it’s terrible that innocent men, women and children are dying, but you know, it’s God’s will, because prophecy demands it.” Hezbollah lobs rockets into Israel? Jeremiah. Christians in Lebanon are dying? Isaiah.

This fatalism results in a curious inaction, in a silence in the face of war, almost as if to work for peace in the middle east would be to thwart God’s will. Condoleeza Rice is delaying a U.S. call for a ceasefire to give Israel some time to root out Hezbollah, a move to which none of Bush’s Christian supporters are objecting. I wouldn’t presume that apocalyptic eschatology is driving Rice’s current policy towards the conflict, but I do think it is driving the approval of those policies by much of the Republicans’ base. After all, if we actually achieved a just peace in the middle east, we would be proving God a liar.

This attitude is behind much of the Christian Zionism in the U.S. Genesis 12:3 describes God’s promise to Abram that God will give him the land of Israel, and that “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you”. This becomes the proof-text for an unqualified support for Israel regardless of the wisdom and morality of its actions. U.S. pressure for Israel to stand down in the current conflict would be seen as abandoning God’s command that Abraham’s descendants will live in Israel. As Richard Mouw, President of Fuller Seminary, writes:

Even if we believe that God wants the contemporary nation of Israel to prosper in the land that was promised to her ancestors, evangelical Christians do Israel no favors by refusing to criticize what the Israelis are presently doing in the Middle East. No one cared more about the well-being of the Hebrew people than the prophets of ancient Israel. Yet those prophets regularly criticized Israel’s leaders for their corrupt practices. They minced no words when they were convinced that the people of Israel were guilty of injustice: “O Israel, return to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity”

So here is yet another downside to the apocalyptic worldview. Conservative Christians are abandoning God’s will for us to speak truth to power and to be peacemakers in favor of a fatalistic acceptance of all manner of tragedy in the middle east and an unquestioning support for any and all of Israel’s actions.

10 Comments

  1. That is the one problem I have had with my fellow Christians and Israel. Supporting Israel does not mean that you think they are always right. I support many people and criticize them when I think they are wrong and vice versa. There is nothing wrong with a little constructive criticism. At all.

    Comment by Angel — July 22, 2006 @ 4:02 pm

  2. Spot on, Bob. It’s a mystery to me how any Christian can credibly argue that trying to make peace or do justice is an attempt to thwart God’s will. Jesus provided many examples of what it means to live in God’s kingdom, to live in discipleship, and love is clearly paramount. Targeting bombs on noncombatant men, women, and children – not collateral casualties but deliberate targets – as leverage for achieving military or political goals is unconscionable and in no way resembles the will of God revealed to us in the person of Jesus.

    Comment by Johann — July 25, 2006 @ 7:59 am

  3. I used to think that our views regarding eschatology didn’t matter. But because of this and other recent events, I’m beginning to see why it does.

    Comment by BruceA — July 26, 2006 @ 8:29 am

  4. What troubles me — regardless of who’s right and who’s wrong in the Middle East — is the excitement that such tragedy generates among the proponents of the “left behind” mentality. “These are exciting times to be living,” I’ve heard them say. Yeah, try living in the Middle East, dodging rocket fire, pulling the bodies of little children from bombed-out buildings — then you’ll really be “excited.” I’m always amazed at the power of theological idiocy to drown out compassion for humanity.

    Comment by SteveJ — July 26, 2006 @ 8:39 am

  5. Great piece, Bob. And kudos to those who have responded!

    Comment by Tony — July 26, 2006 @ 1:22 pm

  6. I just want to say how much I admire your blog. I’ve been reading off and on for a while. I’m not a Christian, and the topic of this post is exactly what scares me about the current politicization of religion in the US. It’s a relief to read a more progressive viewpoint, and I hope the progressive Christians in this country develop a louder voice soon. There’s so much more sanity and compassion among your numbers. I can appreciate any religion having a set of prophecies it looks at, but to just let war happen, or to consider it “exciting” as one commentor quoted—I find that frightening. Didn’t Charles Manson hope to bring about the apocalypse prophesied in the Bible? At least he’s in prison now. Anyway, please keep up the great blog. Thanks.

    Comment by Barbara — July 27, 2006 @ 8:40 am

  7. Hey!
    i like your blog,and i would like to add something what i find very interested,as a christ i beleive in god,and i believe that everything is for a reasson,i support america and israel and everyone who fights against terrorisem,and i saw in the bible a couple of times about the war between israel and lebenon,and the bible is also saying about syria and the war in iroq,and god said that he will destroy the terrorist at the end,and only the good will survive,when i read it in the bible a couple of years ago it sounded a little …but now i see that everything is coming trough,
    if anyone would like to know where the bible is talking about it,you can e-mail me and i will get back to you.

    joel

    Comment by j.j. — July 30, 2006 @ 11:04 pm

  8. I dont think everything Israel does is correct but I believe,as a christian,we should stand beside her.Enjoy your comments!

    Comment by phyllis evans — August 8, 2006 @ 11:09 am

  9. Murder of innocents in any form is inhumane and despicable. Whether it is innocent civlians caught in the crossfire of bombs and rockets, guerilla fighters using innocent civilians as human shields behind which they fire their
    weapons, racial and religious genocide or the murder of innocent unborn children (using the
    ludicrous argument that the unborn are anything BUT human) who are made deliberate targets
    and convenience casualties those who want sex without responsibility or commitment.
    Murder of innocents, in any form is ugly, hateful and wrong regardless of the politically
    correct names we use to describe it.

    Comment by Puki — August 17, 2006 @ 2:43 pm

  10. […] Original post by Streaming Christianity! by CrossLeft.org […]

    Pingback by Biblical Prophecy » The Apocalyptic Worldview: War in Lebanon — August 24, 2006 @ 9:23 am

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