Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hageee & Parsley

There's a dark and violent Christian underground feeding on twisted interpretations with a lust for violence leading, they hope, to the Second Coming of Christ.

They're called Dispensationalists, Christian Zionists, are highly legalistic, sometimes called Reconstructionists - that is, wanting America to adopt Old Testament law, especially those parts that support punishment. If they had their way, they'd create a society similar to the Taliban. They pluck from the Old Testament proof texts that, when lifted out of context, can be used to support the worst possible ideas.

Though supportive of Israel, they believe that war in the Middle East will bring about God's intervention and the ultimate destruction or conversion of Israel. Their interest in Israel is purely utilitarian - neither loving Israel nor respecting it.

They despise the Roman Catholic Church and consider all other Christians to be either deluded by Satan or servants of Satan.

And, by the way, all the quotations assembled from the Old Testament in support of their views are without legitimacy - within the Old Testament, both Isaiah and Jeremiah offer an alternative vision; Jesus and the Apostle Paul, picking up on Isaiah and Jeremiah, offer an alternative view of things further refined, as God moves beyond the borders of Israel, and canceling, if you will, the alleged promises of a return to the Land and a restoration of the Monarchy. Israel ceased to exist as a nation in the 6th century BCE - and though harboring dreams of restoration, it never came to pass. Jesus was a Jew, so was Paul, and they took a very different tact; rather than promoting the dream of restoration, they crafted a view of God's people without a specific land, citizens of the world.

The sad and broken history of anti-Semitism that erupted within Christianity is not so much the result of the New Testament as it is the result of the conversion of huge numbers of Gentiles (all the first Christians were Jews) and the subsequent transformation of Christianity into a state religion under Constantine (325 CE). The long smoldering ill will of the Roman Empire against the Jews was quickly and decisively translated into the Christian Church as it now buttressed and then replaced the Roman Empire.

Christianity named the Jews "Christ Killers" and resented their convictions, standing apart from the church as they did. Sadly, the Church decided that as long as the Jews exist, they are a threat to its power and its view of the world.

The State of Israel today, created in 1948, is a political entity no different than any other nation. To believe that moder-day Israel is a special dispensation of God and therefore deserving a special place in the sun is to profoundly misread the Bible.

Yes, let Israel be safe, but let's understand the plight of the Palestinians, and let's not turn a blind eye to the atrocities committed by Israeli authorities every day against the Palestinians. Israel is bent upon the eradication of the Palestinians, both Muslim and Christian - hundreds have been killed and thousands have fled, being subject to inhuman treatment and the constant threat of injury or death.

Hagee and Parsley are just plain wrong, but highly effective in their organizational abilities and powerful speakers. Sadly, American Christianity in the last 150 years has deteriorated, surrendering its intellectual heritage and becoming increasingly Biblically illiterate.

Too many lambs, and too many shepherds who fleece the flock (see Ezekiel 34).

The flap with McCain is at least bringing this dark underside to view and exposing its hideous face.

God does move in mysterious ways.