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OPINION: Seeking to understand Christian Zionist positions on the Middle East

Gerry Chidiac


Lessons in Learning

This op-ed is intended to be an open letter and a plea to Christian Zionist teachers to bring clarity to my confusion as I witness current world events. Perhaps many would benefit from your explanation.

As we watch the unprecedented suffering of millions of residents in Gaza, those of us in Western countries are asking ourselves, “Why would our governments support this?”  We see children wounded and killed by bombs that we paid for, and we are horrified.  We cannot understand why the life of a Ukrainian child needs to be protected, but the lives of sacred Palestinian children are “collateral damage”.

One of the primary reasons why this is happening is because Christian Zionists form very large voting blocks – and a very powerful lobby group – in the United States, insisting that the Israeli government is doing God’s work.  Many in Canada and other Western countries are also part of this movement.

I am Christian as well.  My ethnic roots go back to the Middle East, and it is even possible that, like many people in that region, I have early disciples of Jesus in my bloodline.  As I study the teachings of the Christian Zionists, I find myself quite perplexed.  I cannot make historical or theological sense out of their arguments.

I want to accept others, and the last thing I want to do is condemn the religion or life philosophy of another person.  I have always found that engaging in honest dialogue promotes acceptance and understanding.  I hope my Christian Zionist neighbours do not mind my inquiry.

We both believe in the same Bible, so perhaps we can begin our discussion there.  To me, two passages stand out, one from the Old Testament and the other from the New Testament.  The prophet Micah asks, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”  In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus tells us, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.”

The message is straightforward.  Like every other person who walks this world, I recognize that I am a sacred child of God.  I live my life treating others with kindness and respect, and we all try to work together to build a more just world.

When I hear preachers of Christian Zionism and watch tutorials on this philosophy, I find myself befuddled. I hear words that I do not understand, like dispensationalism. Does that really mean that God favours some people over others?

I also hear preachers like John Hagee talking about how there are messages in scripture that offer warnings to countries that are not allied with the State of Israel. Why would God say things like that?

I also don’t understand why there is so much concern about the second coming of Jesus and the End Times. Why would a God of love want so many of his sacred children to be exterminated in a genocidal conflict? The world will end when it ends, and we will all die when we die. Our job is to promote peace and justice while we are here. Isn’t it?

Historically, I am also puzzled. Why is there so much emphasis on the ancient tribes of the Middle East? The truth is that the Abrahamic religions have thrived in this part of the world, evolving into modern Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. As a person whose family is from the region, I understand how we see ourselves as neighbours with different religions. While there were times of conflict, we have coexisted for many centuries. Why would God require that we mistreat one another?

Thank you for clarifying. I hope we can join together in praying for the safety and well-being of all people of the Middle East, no matter their ethnicity or religion.

Gerry Chidiac is an award-winning high school teacher specializing in languages, genocide studies and work with at-risk students. Check out his website here. Find him on Facebook. Or on Twitter @GerryChidiac

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