As the dawn broke, the news of turmoil and conflict echoed across our lands, reverberating through our communities with the cries and pains of our distant brothers and sisters in Israel. The shocking reports revealed the unleashing of violence by the terrorist group, Hamas, onto the state of Israel, taking us through a myriad of emotions and eliciting reflections upon our beliefs, unity, and the path forward in such trying times.
Our screens became inundated with heart-wrenching scenes of suffering and devastation, evoking memories of our own nation’s tragic experiences and reminding us that these initial sorrowful moments are often just the precipice of an arduous journey. In these moments of strife and escalating conflict, we find our hearts knitted together in prayers for peace, while also affirming Israel’s inherent right and obligation to shield its citizens from harm.
It’s vital to acknowledge that the canvas of evangelical Protestant perspectives towards Israel is broad and varied. While some find their support of Israel grounded in eschatological views that see the modern state of Israel playing a pivotal role in biblical prophecy, others navigate these waters differently. Some Christians, affirming that the promises of God are consummately fulfilled in Christ, do not tether their theological perspectives to the 1948 Israeli Declaration of Independence. Thus, they may exhibit a willingness to voice disagreement with Israel when its actions appear misaligned with their ethical and spiritual standards. We openly confess that no government, including the Israeli Knesset, is free from potential missteps or infallibility.
Yet, amidst our diverse theological landscapes and political views, our hearts converge upon a unified support for Israel during this dreadful onslaught.
There are Christians who adhere to pacifism, holding that any military action is inherently wrong. However, a substantial number throughout church history have subscribed to a form of just war theory, recognizing war as a grievous, yet at times, morally justified reality under circumscribed circumstances.
Even within the biblical narrative, we witness Jesus interacting with soldiers (Matt. 8:5–13) and urging them, as with all individuals, towards repentance. Nonetheless, military service itself was not denounced as sinful. Apostle Paul elucidates the role of the state in wielding the sword against wrongdoers (Rom. 13:1–4), underscoring that states, while endowed with certain authorities, are bound by the immutable justice of God and shall face divine judgment if their actions tread upon the paths of injustice.
In times of war, especially at its commencement, discerning right from wrong may be enshrouded in a veil of complexity. However, this present scenario with Israel is exempt from such moral ambiguity. The unabashed attacks on innocent people, executed by Hamas and its backers, casts a clear and discernible shadow of injustice.
The echoes of history remind us of the dark days when attempts were made to placate a malignant German Reich, even amidst its orchestration of genocide. Following the defeat of such malevolence and the establishment of the state of Israel, the new nation perpetually lingered under existential threats, often entwined with the same anti-Semitic tropes exploited by the Nazis.
As Americans, we extend our solidarity to Israel, recognizing it as a fellow democracy amidst a region pervaded by illiberal, authoritarian regimes. And as Christians, we turn our attentions especially toward the violence directed toward Israel, as we would for any member of our broader spiritual family. Given that we, as believers, are grafted onto the promise made to Abraham (Rom. 11:17), and acknowledging our Savior, Jesus, as a Jewish man from Galilee, any hatred or violence towards the Jewish people becomes a direct affront to Him, and consequently, to us.
Amidst the flames of war, we discern terrorism for the evil that it is and likewise perceive the moral justification of a robust response to such terrorism. Regardless of our interpretation of biblical prophecies or our disparate views on global politics, it is pivotal that we, as American Christians, stand in unity with Israel during this tumultuous epoch, holding firm to our prayers and convictions, whilst navigating through the vast sea of our variegated beliefs.