The Church's One Foundation
The Church's One Foundation Podcast
Podcast #15: The Lie of the Via Media
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Podcast #15: The Lie of the Via Media

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Dear Friends,

I trust you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with family and friends.

In this article, our prayers continue for Israel’s war against Hamas.

Blessing upon Blessing,

D. Paul


The Lie of the Via Media

There is something comforting in moral equivalence. It says more about the observer than the observed. With little effort other than the nodding of the head, I find myself objective, fair, and sympathetic, confident in being right by avoiding polarizing extremes and arriving at that “middle ground,” where I am centered, secure, and certain in my ability to see both sides of any issue.

The “myth of moral equivalence,” as coined by former US Ambassador to the United Nations, Jean Kirkpatrick, is perfectly exemplified in a “prayer of lament” that I read recently, compliments of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). I quote directly:

O God of life and love and peace,

We witness the violence and injustice in your Holy Land

And our hearts break. Our hearts break for the people of Israel—

For the victims of violent attacks by Hamas

For those who live with fear and insecurity

For those who suffer from the inter-generational trauma of violence.

Our hearts break for Palestinians—

For the victims of violent attacks by the Israeli military

For those being denied water, electricity and medical care

For those who are refugees, long displaced from their homes.

Well, there you have it—case closed—there are no winners or losers here, no right nor wrong party, with neither goodness nor evil prevailing. It’s a draw. Both plaintiff (Hamas) and defendant (Israel) are equally guilty. Moral clarity has been obfuscated by moral parity, bolstered by the parroted “Our hearts break…our hearts break…our hearts break” in dramatic triplicate.

While we should and do “mourn with those who mourn,” it is only the Israeli father (and those whom he represents), whose daughter has been raped, burned, and thrown into a ditch, who speaks authentically and honestly with a “broken heart.” Appropriating another’s anguish to authenticate “moral equivalency” is nothing other than sentimental cant. But, invigorated by evoking the “God of life and love and peace,” our Mennonite friends (along with numerous other denominations) have judged Israel’s responsive behavior as equivalent to the gleeful barbarity of Hamas, favoring to highlight Palestinian refugees who are “long displaced from their homes” over the Jews’ numerous diasporas throughout the millenniums.

This is the lie of the via media—that compromising, murky “middle way,” which, for all of its self-satisfaction, fails to discern the very evil at its core.

A survey from the Ramallah-based pollster, Arab World Research & Development (AWRD), recently reported that when Gaza residents were given options between a “one-state solution for two peoples,” a “two-state solution for two peoples” or “a Palestinian state from the river to the sea,” 74.7 percent of Gazans surveyed selected “a Palestinian state from the river to the sea,” endorsing the total elimination of Israel and every Jew along the way. Where is the moral equivalency here? If Hamas surrenders, there is peace; peace with conditions, yes, but peace. If Israel surrenders, there is extinction.

This is why the numbers game is a ruse. If it takes thousands of Palestinian deaths to prevent the eradication of Israel and its seven million Jews, then it will take thousands of deaths, tragic as every death will be. And to answer those shouting “Free Palestine,” time and again Palestine’s assorted leadership of terrorist racketeers have rejected a two-state solution. In truth, they concur with those shouting “Hitler was right!” A pure Palestine—standing solo and stretching from the rolling waters of the Jordan to the “Great” Mediterranean Sea—is their endgame.

Inevitably, we find ourselves asking, “Why such hatred?” Perhaps it begins and ends in envy—territorially, economically, and spiritually—envious of Israel being assured in the Hebrew Scriptures, “I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations” (Isaiah 42:6, RSV). We Christians, immersed in the Judeo-Christian ethic for two-thousand years, reject that light at our own peril.

Nevertheless, while embracing that glorious hymn, “There’s a wideness in God’s mercy,” we reject the wideness in God’s character as revealed to us in our Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible). Yes, it is true: God is a “God of life and love and peace,” but, in His judicious sovereignty over a sinful world, He is also the God who presides over death, hate, and war. He is not ours to dissect. Abrasive as some Old Testament scriptures may sound to the modern, progressive ear—“Punish these evildoers! Let the wicked be swept away! Save us from these blood-thirsty men! Show no mercy to wicked traitors! (verses from Psalms 58, 59, NIV)—God, it would appear, is quite capable of taking sides, as testified to by the Psalmist, who gives thanks accordingly: “If the Lord had not been on our side—let Israel say—if the Lord had not been on our side when men attacked us, when their anger flared against us, they would have swallowed us alive; the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away. Praise be to the lord who has not let us be torn by their teeth. We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 124 NIV).

Well, no muddling around here in the via-media lie. God (if you accept the Psalmist’s witness, as I do)—the Maker of heaven and earth—has judged who is right and who is wrong and decided whom he will help accordingly.

But what about Jesus, you ask, who said, among other things, “Put your sword back in its place…for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52, NIV). Hamas has lived by the sword, was the first to draw the sword against Israel, slaughtered innocents intentionally by the sword, and, after the cease fire and hostage exchanges have run their course, will no doubt die by the sword. These are harsh but true words. The moral clarity of Jesus is certain: He is neither a via-media pacifist nor a radical, shouting provocateur. Christ, like his Father, is who He is, and in his mysterious, transcendent, often paradoxical nature, He is not ours to dissect.

And so, we pray. Pray for a true and lasting peace for Israel, for Gazans, and for the entire Arab region, many who are supporting Israel in its fight against Hamas. And to our Christian brothers and sisters within the region—don’t be discouraged, “knowing that He who calls you is faithful,” and that your fellow-believers around the world are holding you up in prayer. Hold fast to the faith, for it is you who are inspiring us to press on! And when peace is restored, we will…

Rejoice with you (those who rejoice),

We will Rejoice with you,

Rejoice with you,

Rejoice with you,

in triplicate plus, thanking you and praising our Lord Jesus Christ, the Church’s one foundation, for his faithfulness!

Amen

A post shared by @yfclebanon

PS: The above is compliments of Youth for Christ in Beirut, Lebanon (Nov. 20, 2023), where I briefly ministered nearly sixty years ago with its founder, Lenny Rodgers.

D. Paul

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The Church's One Foundation
The Church's One Foundation Podcast
Dramatist, D.Paul Thomas, writes and podcasts on the Church's one foundation--Jesus Christ her Lord!