The Church's One Foundation
The Church's One Foundation Podcast
Podcast #14: Those "Feckless" Evangelicals
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Podcast #14: Those "Feckless" Evangelicals

They may be among Israel's best friends
Transcript

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Dear Friends,

Picking up from our previous podcast, The Complicit Church, we continue our discussion on Israel.

Feel free to comment and, as always, your passing this podcast along to a friend is appreciated.

Pressing On,

D. Paul

Those “Feckless” Evangelicals

In my podcast of October 16, The Complicit Church, I quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer who wrote, “Only he who shouts for the Jew can sing the Gregorian chant!” Sadly, with few exceptions, the Church remains silent in condemning the horrific attack on Israel by Hamas. Many media outlets refuse to call them terrorists, and prefer neutral words like “fighters,” “attackers,” and “combatants.” Throwing all reason aside, some of our more vocal, political churches are accusing Israel of having provoked these attacks, and so the victim becomes responsible for the crime. This poisonous thinking has manifested itself in demonstrations from Brooklyn to the banlieues of Paris, accompanied by a vile rhetoric demanding Israel’s elimination, “From the river to the sea!”

Though I no longer speak from a physical pulpit, I’ve attempted to remain apolitical when writing and podcasting The Church’s One Foundation. I’ve another podcast on Substack that sufficiently satisfies my political proclivities. But frequently, the geo-political and eschatological collide, and such is the case with Israel, America’s greatest ally in the Middle East and the ageless “apple of God’s eye,” as the prophet, Zachariah, notes. Having spent months in Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, and Egypt as a young man prior to the Six Day War (June 5-10, 1967), I’ve a warm spot in my heart for the region, and a strong allegiance to Israel’s abiding commitment to democracy and peace. Israelis are by nature a welcoming people and have befriended both Muslims and Christians within its borders and beyond since her inception in 1948.

Though nearly sixty years ago, I remember well that sunrise service on Easter Sunday morning when I delivered a brief sermon at the Garden Tomb, just outside of Jerusalem’s walls, adjacent to Skull Hill, and thought by many to be Golgotha, the place where Christ was crucified by the Romans. I was traveling at the time as a young evangelist under the aegis of “Youth for Christ International,” and at the green age of twenty-one was grateful for those Judeo-Christian ties that granted me the liberty to exuberantly shout to a small but spirited crowd in front of the empty tomb, “He is risen!”, which was followed by an equally ebullient refrain echoing off the rocks and stones, “He is risen, indeed!”

Now, sitting in my office in Indianapolis, Indiana, on this last day of October, 2023, with the horror of October 7 still fresh in my mind, I find myself, like Bonhoeffer, wanting to shout for the Jew, wanting to shout for Israel—unapologetically—and forcefully enough to overcome the relentless din of those spiteful protestors who spew their antisemitic hatred into the public square, assisted by an empathic media and the tacit blessing of a complicit Church.

Perhaps you share my sentiments; perhaps not. Apparently, though, we Christians who are staunch supporters of Israel are being portrayed as warmongers and Christian Zionists, a narrow portraiture that few evangelical Christians fit into gracefully.

A passing acquaintance of mine from years ago, author and journalist, Joe Klein, has recently written about such Christians, saying, “…the feckless right, including American evangelicals rooting for Armageddon, will want to see Gaza bulldozed” (Hopeless in Gaza, Oct. 9, from “Sanity Clause,” at josephklein.substack.com). God bless Mr. Klein (and he has!), but he would do well to spend more time with those evangelicals who reflect a wider range of diverse opinions. Evangelicals are not a “feckless” monolith. After seventy plus years of being one, I speak freely in saying: “We are not a zealous cult longing for some catastrophic, final conflict. Tens of millions of us pray for a prosperous and peaceful future for Israel, wish Hamas to be rooted out and destroyed, Iran denied the nuclear bomb, and all radical Islamists intent on the destruction of Israel soundly defeated. In the meantime, we leave the multiple “Armageddon narratives” up to God, whose “ways are not our ways.”

As for wanting “to see Gaza bulldozed,” well, there is no joy in that, only sorrow—sorrow for the innocents who may be injured or killed in the pursuit and defeat of Hamas. But of this we can be certain: the vast majority of the hundred million or so evangelicals in America want an unfettered Israel, free to do whatever they believe is necessary for victory and their survival. The Allies bombed Dresden, Cologne, Essen, Hamburg, Berlin, etc., to rubble, along with Hiroshima and Nagasaki leveled, resulting in millions of civilian casualties. Without this force majeure, we more than likely would be living under a swastika flag with the Jewish people extinct. Our now pontificating to a tiny Israel surrounded by hateful enemies committed to its obliteration is the height of self-righteous hypocrisy.

The Church at large should be doing two things: first, encouraging the White House and Congress to provide all the necessary matériel Israel requests—and provide it now; secondly, pray. Because we have faith in a faithful God whose love for Israel “endures forever,” let us not be “hopeless” like some, but envision anew, in hopeful expectation, the reality of those ancient words from the Psalms: When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them” (Psalm 126:1-3 NIV).

It will be a long and arduous battle to extirpate Hamas, but when that joyous day comes (and it assuredly will ), may we not-so-feckless, faithful Christians be standing arm in arm with our Jewish brothers and sisters, rejoicing with all of Israel!

Amen.

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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!