The Lasting Impact of Night Raids

This article is cross-posted from Churches for Middle East Peace.

It’s midnight. There’s a knock on the door. You yell that you are coming to open it in hopes that the soldiers don’t blow it open. Moments later, dozens of soldiers invade your house. Your children wake to masked soldiers with guns pointed directly at them, yelling in a language your children don’t understand. They force your family into one room and tear your house apart without explanation. This is the reality that many families have faced across the West Bank.

Night raids are one of the most devastating acts of the Israeli military occupation in the West Bank. The violent raids occur between midnight and 5 AM, often without the families getting an explanation. According to the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling, 1,360 night raids are executed every year, the majority within 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) of a settlement or near roads that settlers frequent. 

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How Jesus Dealt with Male Supremacy

by Bob Ekblad, originally published at his own blog.

I’ve been moved afresh by Jesus’ authentic and gentle way of engaging with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well in Sychar according to John 4. The way Jesus handles his Jewish-male believer status before a woman of another faith in heart of her territory informs and inspires me. How does Jesus deal with outsiders’ perception of his Jewish male supremacy? How does he embody the fullness of grace and truth attributed to him as the Word become flesh?

Jesus first meets the woman when she arrives at the well to draw water. He is already there ahead of her, weary and thirsty from a long journey from Judea. He requests a drink from the woman, provoking her to question why he, a Jewish man, is asking this of her, a Samaritan woman.

Jesus doesn’t apologize for himself and skirts her question. He is secure in his identity and mission. In response to her resistance to him, Jesus shifts from unwelcomed guest to generous host. He offers her living water, a faith-filled move that shows his confidence in what he has to give. After a prolonged conversation where she expresses her reservations and he responds, she finally asks him to give her living water.

When Jesus tells her, “Go call your husband and come here!” the woman denies having a husband. Jesus exercises his power at this point, showing her that he knows what is true about what she’s said, and then brings into the light what she’s left unsaid.

“You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly” (4:17-18).

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Stop Treating the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Like a Sports Event

Once again, the Holy Land has been struck by war.

I feel compelled to write something that I wish nobody should have to write, something that should be obvious to everyone but which for some ill-conceived reason can be controversial to state in certain contexts:

War is awful.

Hamas firing on and killing the Israeli civilian population is awful.

The counterattacks by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) killing Palestinian civilians are awful.

War has no winners, there is no one to “cheer” on as if it were a sports event, there is no victory in war that does not come at the price of hating, tormenting and killing your fellow human beings.

Take a look at these pictures.

The upper image shows an apartment in Israel that was hit by one of Hamas’ rockets a few weeks ago. Five-year-old Ido Avigal, pictured to the right, lived in that apartment. He died immediately.

The picture below shows a girl being rescued by medical personnel after an Israeli attack in Gaza. The attack destroyed nine buildings and killed 43 people, including eight children.

In total, 68 children have been killed in the Holy Land these last couple of weeks. 66 of them were Palestinian.

All of this is awful. It’s sickening.

Continue reading Stop Treating the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Like a Sports Event

Zondervan: Stop the publication of the white nationalist “God Bless the USA Bible”

Good news! Zondervan just decided to stop the publication of this Bible. Activism does work!

A white Christian nationalist Bible compilation called the God Bless the USA Bible is set to be published in September. Religion Unplugged reports that Zondervan, an imprint of HarperCollins and prominent US Christian publisher, has authorized its publication. (The document uses the NIV translation, all uses of which are licensed and approved through Zondervan in the United States.)

The document touts itself as “The Ultimate American Bible,” and alongside the NIV Bible translation will include text from the song “God Bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood, the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, and Pledge of Allegiance.

Continue reading Zondervan: Stop the publication of the white nationalist “God Bless the USA Bible”

The Two Walls of Israel

(a thought, and a prayer, by Ramone Romero)

If only…

I was thinking

If only all the prayers in that wall

The Western Wall

Were put into the West Bank Barrier instead

If only all those prayers

At the ruins of the temple

Were put into the lives of people

Who live among ruins

In the West Bank

In Gaza

Whose homes and lives

Have been left in ruins

If only

If only the wishes that the temple still stood

Were put into seeing the temples of people

Who are standing next door

If only their temples could be rebuilt

In lives

As living stones

If only the temples where we seek God

Were the temples of our neighbors

If only we saw

That the holy temple of God

Is people

Is one another

And our prayers were changed

Into a desire to see them blessed

If only our devotion to religion

Was a devotion to one another

To loving our neighbor

Instead of putting walls between us

If only

Think of what a holy place it could be

When our neighbor is as sacred to us

As the holiest temple of God

If only

I thought, and I pray, in hope

“If only.”

Charismania, COVID, and the 2020 Election

When Pentecostal/Charismatic Christianity emerged a century ago, many conservative Christians denounced the movement. Part of this was due to the egalitarian and counter-culture nature of the movement. Another part of it was that the incorporation of the gifts of the Spirit into worship seemed crazy – perhaps even demonic. At this point, Christians were mostly used to some variety of ordered worship, so when Charismatics came into church services and started speaking in tongues or dancing, it made a lot of people uncomfortable. They thought that Charismatic Christians were deceiving people and obstructing proper worship. A term was coined as an insult towards Charismatics – Charismania.

Charismania is commonly used as an insult to describe Charismatic Christians as unstable. People may perhaps see our prophetic visions, speaking in tongues, and claims of supernatural healings as delusional. It is a criticism of the Charismatic Movement that I know well.

While I do not think that Charismatic spirituality and worship are false, I must say that as a Charismatic looking into the wider world of Charismatic Christianity, we do have a serious problem. The movement has for a long time been infested with false doctrines such as end times theology, prosperity preaching, and cults of personality. The movement is also infested with false prophets, false healers, and con artists. And like the early church, the movement has been twisted in order to serve the empire. We have a very serious problem of not “testing the spirits” (1 John 4:1).

Continue reading Charismania, COVID, and the 2020 Election

Why Justice activists need spiritual healing

(This article also appears at Just Theology.)

Christians who take Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats seriously understand that we are called to serve “the least of these” in love. In addition to individual acts of mercy, many have come to understand that providing aid to “the least” means addressing the systems of inequality that skew our collective resources toward “the most” instead. This leads to various expressions of justice activism.

I am by no means a fervent activist. While I have attended some protests, I am more likely to express my convictions through letter writing, phone calls, donations, conversations, prayer, and service. Yet I know members of my seminary, friends, and those in local activist communities give more of themselves and take much greater risks. And I know activist efforts take a toll. My friends have suffered compassion fatigue, burnout, and shame and guilt at not being able to offer more when community demands are pressing. Working for justice takes a physical and emotional toll. It takes a spiritual toll as well.

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Christus Victor – Happy Easter

I wanted to wish all members, fans, and readers of PCPJ a happy Easter. Even though secular culture tends to emphasize Christmas, the most important day in the Church calendar is actually Easter, when we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord. It is in the events of Easter that Christ becomes the victor. Our Lord has looked sin, injustice, death, and imperial power right in the face, and He defeated them. These things led to His torture and execution, and Jesus rose from the dead anyway. In Easter, Jesus is declared the Lord of lords and the King of kings. He is more powerful than Herod and Caesar, principalities and powers. He has defeated even death itself.

2020 and 2021 have been dominated by the powers of sin and death it seems. In the United States, the news cycle has been suffocating due to COVID-19, the presidential election, political corruption, police brutality, the protests and counter-protests, wars and rumors of wars. It has been a dark year. We couldn’t even properly celebrate Easter last year. But Christ is victor.

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Pentecostal Leaders Call on Church to Address Sexual Violence

Following the 2021 Society for Pentecostal Studies Annual Meeting, Pentecostal leaders released a statement calling on the global Pentecostal movement to denounce all forms of sexual violence, reclaim faith communities as safe places of healing, and hold perpetrators accountable. Titled Pentecostal Sisters Too, the statement references and borrows its name from the #MeToo movement. At the SPS’s 2018 meeting, in response to the hashtag #pentecostalsisterstoo, survivors, both men and women, shared their own stories of sexual abuse.

The theme of the 2021 meeting was This Is My Body: Addressing Global Violence Against Women, a topic that could not be more timely. The past two weeks have seen the exit of Beth Moore from the Southern Baptist Convention (in part due to her vocal support of sexual abuse survivors), the murder of Sarah Everard, and the murder of eight people at massage parlors in the United States—including six Asian women. The man who killed these women blamed his actions on a “sex addiction,” claiming that he committed murder to prevent temptation. An active church member, the shooter expressed “extreme self-loathing, guilt and public confession” after visiting massage parlors. He expressed his fear of “falling out of God’s grace.” In response, a statement from his home church says it will remove him from membership, since it “can no longer no longer affirm that he is truly a regenerate believer in Jesus Christ.”

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False Prophets and False Idols: The Sad State of American Evangelicalism

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. – Matthew 7:15

Beloved, don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. – 1 John 4:1

American Evangelicalism has been taken over by hypocrites. It is not new as this trend started several decades ago, but now we can see clearly the corruption before us. Conservative Christians, who claimed to be standing up for “traditional Christian/family values” supported a rich, womanizing con-man for president. People like John MacArthur, Wayne Grudem, and many leaders of American Evangelicalism made claims that Trump was the lesser of two evils since he was supportive of “traditional Christian/family values” despite being a flawed candidate. MacArthur in particular likes to take shots at LGBT people and said that he endorsed Trump in 2020 due to Trump’s social conservative views. However, Trump doesn’t seem to agree with MacArthur:

John MacArthur, like many of the leaders of American Evangelicalism, is a hypocrite and false prophet. Which I know this is strong language, but I am genuinely upset over the sad state of the Evangelical Church, and its hypocritical ways. How these people claim to follow Jesus but seem to ignore everything he said. How they are “pro-life” while against welfare services, pro-war, and anti-pandemic relief. Continue reading False Prophets and False Idols: The Sad State of American Evangelicalism

Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice