Fast-forward 6 years where Pastor Haigen’s son is now a freshman in college.
PASTOR HAIGEN-Hey son, your mother and I are so happy to have you home for a while. Would you like to attend the Rally for Israel tonight at our Church?
SON-Ugh, um, I don’t think so.
PASTOR HAIGEN-Why not? Do you have plans?
SON-No dad, I don’t, but I can’t say I am a big supporter of Israel, so I don’t think I could contribute any cheers to your rally.
PASTOR HAIGEN-Well, I’m very sorry to hear that. I’ve always had the fear that college would have a negative effect on you. What are you going to tell me next, that you’re now an atheist?
SON-Dad, I haven’t stopped believing in Christ. I just don’t see the whole Middle East situation the way you do.
PASTOR HAIGEN-Didn’t we discuss this when you were younger? Have you forgotten the Christian reasons behind the support for Israel?
SON-I haven’t forgotten them. I don’t think they ever made sense to me.
PASTOR HAIGEN-How’s that?
SON-To start with, I never understood who decides who is a blessed seed of Abraham with land claims and who is not.
PASTOR HAIGEN-Let me try to simplify it. Jews, whether direct blood descendents or converts, carry Abraham’s blessing. Nobody else. It’s the word of God.
SON-Paul says in Galatians 3:29, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” But I know you don’t believe Christians have a valid land claim in Israel/Palestine.
PASTOR HAIGEN-That’s right, only Jews.
SON-But why can’t Christians make the same claims?
PASTOR HAIGEN-Because we’re not the seed of Abraham in the same way Jews are.
SON-Then why does Paul refer to us as the seed of Abraham? Isn’t the book of Galatians the word of God?
PASTOR HAIGEN-Look, we are Abraham’s spiritual seed, but not in the way Jews are.
SON-So what you’re saying is Jews, even those who deny God’s existence, are more Abraham’s seed then devout, practicing Christians?
PASTOR HAIGEN-God made a covenant with Israel and swore loyalty to her.
SON-Who is Israel?
PASTOR HAIGEN-Abraham and his descendents.
SON-So who decides who is a descendent of Abraham and who is not?
PASTOR HAIGEN-For the purposes of immigrating to Israel, the Israeli government
SON-But I thought you said they don’t require people to document their ancestors thousands of years back to Abraham?
PASTOR HAIGEN-It’s up to them to decide who qualifies as a Jew and who does not. If they recognize a person as a Jew, he can immigrate to Israel. If they don’t, he cannot.
SON-So your saying that a group of people who claim an exclusive connection to Abraham, without any proof required, are the arbiters deciding who is a descendent of Abraham and who is not?
PASTOR HAIGEN-I guess you can look at it that way, but I don’t think it’s biblical.
SON-Why? As Christians, Paul says in Galatians 3:29 that we are the seed of Abraham, which we believe to be the word of God, and you say we have no right to the land. And what about the Muslims’ claimed connection to Abraham?
PASTOR HAIGEN-As for Muslims, I don’t believe in Mohamed, the Koran, or any of their beliefs. Therefore if they claim to be descended from Abraham, I don’t believe it so I don’t believe they have a right to the land. As for Christians, I can’t imagine that God meant hundreds of millions of people when he said he would gather his people from the ends of the earth and bring them back to Israel. Christianity originated in the land of Israel and Palestine, but we never lived there, so it makes no sense that God would gather us together and send us back.
SON-I thought many Jews were converts of European descent. Why would God send them back if they never lived there?
PASTOR HAIGEN-I guess it’s because once they converted to Judaism, it’s assumed their connection to Abraham is as good as blood. If a conversion is good enough for the Jewish rabbis, it should be good enough for Christians.
SON-So basically, it the rabbis who decide who has a connection to Abraham valid enough to be entitled to the land.
PASTOR HAIGEN-Son, I really do not like your tone. You are coming across as anti-Jewish to me. Don’t forget, Jesus Christ, our lord and savior, was a Jew – he was king of the Jews.
SON-What about the Crusaders, were they Christians?
PASTOR HAIGEN-The Crusaders slaughtered many innocents in the name of Christ and called themselves Christians. But certainly they would not be considered Christians by our standards.
SON-Then how do we know that all Jews who call themselves Jews are truly Jews as Abraham and Christ were Jews? Because they go by the same name and CLAIM a legitimate connection? So self described “Jews”, who cannot prove to be descendents of Abraham, who deny Christ, and many of which deny the very existence of God, are supposed to be given our full support, both morally and financially, to take by force the land of a people, some of whom are Christians, who CAN prove they have lived in the land of Palestine for centuries?
PASTOR HAIGEN-I see your point. But don’t forget God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Are you willing to doubt that Jews are the exclusive descendents of Abraham and risk God’s curse?
SON-I don’t understand. It sounds like God was speaking directly to Abraham, and giving a warning to those who would bless or curse Abraham, not every potential descendent he may have into perpetuity.
PASTOR HAIGEN-Where do you come up with these interpretations? That IS NOT how this verse is generally interpreted.
SON-So the validity of an interpretation is dependent on how many Christians accept it? Can’t the majority be wrong since interpretations of scripture have changed over the centuries?
PASTOR HAIGEN-They can be, but that’s why we pray to Jesus Christ to give us wisdom in interpreting the word of God.
PASTOR HAIGEN-Do you see now?
SON-Not quite. What does it mean for us to bless the descendents of Abraham?
PASTOR HAIGEN-To give them support: Morally and financially.
PASTOR HAIGEN-Well, of course not. We should not support them if they commit acts of evil. But we do have to be careful withholding anything from them, because they are always fighting for their survival. They are surrounded by millions of people who want to see their country destroyed.
SON-But I read that Israel has something like the 4th or 5th strongest military in the world. They have hundreds of nuclear bombs, and weapons that are just about as advanced as that of the U.S. Enemies who want them destroyed may surround them, but their neighbors are hardly able to carry out these wishes even if they wanted to.
PASTOR HAIGEN-Look son, Israel is not perfect, but I truly believe that God has blessed us because of our support for Israel.
SON-How’s that dad?
PASTOR HAIGEN-Look at how rich and powerful our country has become.
SON-But Israel wasn’t even created until 1948. Decadence, promiscuity, corruption, divorce, and crime have skyrocketed since 1948. I’m not saying this is due to our support of Israel, but I fail to see what blessings have come our way since then.
PASTOR HAIGEN-Although we have our problems, we’ve been blessed. Most of those problems you’ve mentioned are a function of our turning our back on Jesus Christ, not due to our support for Israel.
SON-But if your interpretation of scripture is correct, we should be blessed for blessing the seed of Abraham, regardless of our relationship to Christ. God didn’t say you must follow my son and bless the seed of Abraham to be blessed. He said, “I will bless those who bless you.” I sure can’t think of any blessings, unless you consider 9-1-1 a blessing.
PASTOR HAIGEN-Wait a minute. I think 9-11 happened because of our sin. God took his hand of protection off of this nation due to our sin: Sexual deviancy, immorality, and general ungodliness.
SON-But if God wanted to punish us for our sins, he could have caused a massive earthquake or other natural disaster. The fact remains a disaster didn’t simply befall our country, it was attacked by Arab Muslims who have a long list of grievances against us, many surrounding our unconditional support for Israel.
PASTOR HAIGEN-So you think God has cursed us for our support for Israel?
SON-I’m not saying I know God’s plan regarding 9-1-1. But if our country and the church have been deceived, and our unconditional support for the nation of Israel isn’t in accord with God’s wishes, 9-1-1 very well could be a message from God. Surely the attack of 9-1-1 has more connection to our policies in the Middle East then our general ungodliness.
PASTOR HAIGEN-Look son, even if you disagree with my theology, don’t you think the Jews deserve a homeland because of their horrible suffering in the Holocaust?
SON-First, I don’t think they have the right to make a false claim on another people’s land due to their own suffering. What about the Armenian genocide that took place in the 1920s at the hands of the Turks? Why don’t they get a homeland? And what about Tibet, which has been virtually destroyed by the Chinese? Why don’t we support them?
PASTOR HAIGEN-Those things are terrible, but it’s not the same. The Holocaust is unique.
PASTOR HAIGEN-Because Hitler tried to rid the entire continent of Europe of Jews, and the number of Jews killed was in the millions.
SON-Stalin tried to rid the Soviet Union of non-communists. He purposefully starved to death at least 20 million people. Why is that less horrible?
PASTOR HAIGEN-Well, we can’t try to right every wrong. But Israel is home to God’s chosen people. God promised the land of Israel and Palestine to the Jews.
SON-I give up. I think were back to where we started.