My Deep Disappointment in “Christianity Today”

Christianity Today (CT) is doubtless the most influential media outlet within Christianity (The 700 Club notwithstanding), but it regularly proves that its point-of-view is decidedly political and of the right-wing, evangelical variety. Would that it would define itself as such, for the world view it promulgates often drifts over into false witness, and readers need to understand that CT is a long way from “thus saith the Lord.”

Founded by Billy Graham, it defines itself as follows:

Since 1956, Christianity Today has been a trusted beacon spotlighting the way in which Christians can live gospel lives for the strengthening of church and society.

Christianity Today consistently demonstrates through all its media how the true, good, and beautiful gospel can not only transform lives but bring hope and flourishing to individuals, cultures, and communities.

This movement now directly reaches over five million Christian leaders every month.

Christianity Today advocates for the church, shapes the evangelical conversation, brings important issues to the forefront, and provides practical solutions for church leaders.

Time and again, CT proves its anti-ecumenism bias and its rooting for the haves (always remember that ministries need those big contributions) in what is represented as “strengthening” society. Even when articles are offered that seem to present the opposite, a careful reading reveals they are always selling their politically conservative point-of-view. This week for example, Christianity Today provides an article about how Christians should respond to Palestinians with “Beyond the Nakba: 7 Ways Christians Can Affirm a Positive Future for Palestinians.” The subhead is “How to understand the “catastrophe” of 1948 and its impact on today’s Israel.” By using the word “Nakba” in its headline, the editors hope to show their understanding and empathy for the Palestinian people, but in the end, this is just another piece in support of the Zionist political narrative about the region.

Here are the “7 Ways:”

1) Recognize that it happened—and why. Sounds like a good start, but the “why” drifts a bit into propaganda (the Arabs started it).
2) Recognize the humanity of all Palestinians. Wow, this might really be good after all.
3) Recognize the Palestinians as a real people who deserve security and self-determination. Can I get an “Amen?”
4) Push back against demonization of the Jews. Wait, what? Where did that come from? I thought we were talking about the Palestinians.
5) Reject support for violence. This one seems hopeful, but it turns out to be about violence against the Israelis. I feel like I’ve been duped.
6) Support those seeking peace. Again, this is about supporting Israel’s view of peace.
7) Encourage a positive vision for the future. Here we have an apologetic for a view that doesn’t “negate” Israeli rule, saying, “It may be that the best response to the Nakba is to help Palestinians to move beyond it.” So there it is, Palestinians. Get over it already. That’s the sum total of Christian advice.

I guess what galls me the most is that here we have a document alleging advice for “Christians” on how they should approach “their Palestinian friends” about the “conflict” in the Middle East. Nowhere does it offer even a word about Israel’s behavior in the extra-judicial executions of Arabs that occur seemingly every day. Neither is there a word about the living conditions the Palestinians must endure, the ghettos and open-air prisons they are forced to call home, the severe restrictions on water and electricity, the expansion in the West Bank, or anything even remotely causal assigned to the Israelis regarding the conflict. In the narrative that Christianity Today embraces, Israel is always seen as defending themselves and Palestinians are always presented as aggressors holding some unjustified grudge against the good guys.

The Nakba isn’t something that can be assigned to the dustbin of history, for it is ongoing. For people who are commanded to judge righteous judgement, this so-called “Christian” article is hot off the press of evil. Why don’t we have the same “get over it” attitude with regards to the Holocaust? Yeah, it happened, but that was history, so just “move beyond it.” Can you see the sloppy thinking on display here? Well, Terry, you can’t compare the Nakba with the Holocaust. After all, one was genocide; the other just moving a few people out of the way, legally I might add. Right.

So what is our truly best response? To love them as we love ourselves. Get over it? Sounds like a typical right-wing plank in the platform of mischief towards the poor and disenfranchised.

And, remember, folks, the U.S. gives Israel $10 million every day, including weekends.

Comments

  1. Terry, bias is truly in the eyes of the beholder. How interesting that you see CT as right leaning and pro-Zionist, while I see CT over the past decade as left-leaning, pro-Obama, critical of Trump, and critical of Israel.

    Terry, I was in Israel in 2005 when they removed all the Jewish settlements (at the force of gunpoint) from the Gaza Strip and gave it over to the Palestinians in pursuit of peace. But as with all of Israel’s attempts to placate her enemies, it was a failed effort. All the money that has been invested in the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip has been misappropriated and goes into Hamas’ coffers. Why does Israel not want to allow many of these Palestinians access to Israel? Why has Israel erected the Sharon fence throughout the West Bank? Because of repeated acts of terrorism. The Palestinian people, sadly, are raised from time they are infants on a steady diet of hatred and violence which I have seen and heard first hand–taught at home and in their schools to hate and even to seek to the death of Jews in Israel. They are taught that the Jews are the occupiers and that Israel belongs to the Palestinians, even though this is far from the truth.

    In Deuteronomy 1:8 (NLT) –God tells Moses:
    8 Look, I am giving all this land to you! Go in and occupy it, for it is the land the LORD swore to give to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to all their descendants.’”

    Here in Deuteronomy, God is giving the land of Israel to the ancestors of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all their descendants. While Palestinians are descended from Ishmael and are definitely related to Father Abraham, they are NOT the promised descendants that God is referring to here. However, once a Palestinian or any one comes to faith in the Messiah, they are grafted in (Romans 11:17-18). But as Paul writes, we as Gentiles as the Wild Branch, do not support the root–the root supports and nourishes us (namely the Jewish foundation of faith from Abraham, Isaac & Jacob).

    All too often, I think Palestinian believers are conflicted between their former allegiance to Islam and Biblical Christianity. They are wanting a political solution rather than a spiritual solution, and all too often they oppose God’s people, the Jews. I believe that the words of Yahweh to Abraham are still in effect today: Genesis 12:2-3 (NLT)
    2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others.
    3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”

    Any person or people who curses Israel or treats Israel with contempt will be cursed by Almighty God. As a Palestinian believer, I would want to side with those who bless Israel and the Jewish people. Having said that, I believe that we as believers need to pray for our Palestinian brothers and that they might be set free from the hatred of Hamas and the PLO.

  2. Terry Heaton says:

    Hi there Dale, and thanks for commenting. I must say that it’s amazing to me the extent to which people will twist God’s word to suit their own ends. The only unconditional promise about that land was made to Abraham and included Ishmael, who had yet to be born. All of the other promises made to Israel were conditional and based on the righteous behavior of the people, who failed every time. Moreover, since the unconditional promise preceded all the others, it is at the top of all promises, just as Paul explained that the priesthood of Melchizedek was higher than that of Levi. The first chapter of Deuteronomy is Moses speaking his own words to the people. To insert an unwritten “Thus saith the Lord” into it is convenient but false.

    Then there is the Balfour Amendment which makes promises to the Arabs living in Palestine. That foundational pro-Zionist document is now ignored completely. You assert, also, that the people of Gaza and the West Bank are puppets of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, which suggests that Israel is somehow warring with representable states. Genocide is never against governments; it’s against people, which is what we have here. This assertion also suggests that Palestinians are too stupid to know what’s really happening, which is another way of claiming righteousness in the behavior of the IDF. I just don’t buy that Palestinians are to be treated as soldiers who pose as an existential threat to the Zionist government.

    I know this is a complex and complicated region, but it is made so by a failure to appreciate the two main narratives that govern the “sides.” You say the wall is there to prevent terrorism, but I say the acts of the Palestinians are a defensive reaction to oppression about which the press never speaks. Certain Christians want so badly to believe that this is all end times prophecy coming into view that they will look the other way at anything suggesting otherwise. In that sense, it’s much more beneficial to drink the sweet wine of hasbara than to challenge anything. I can’t do that.

    I could go on and on about this, but I’ve probably already bored you or made you angry. Sorry about that. I’m pretty passionate about this stuff, and that’s generally represented in my prose. God bless you and yours.

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