Whose side should we be on? – Podcast 106

We are constantly being encouraged to take sides: in wars – e.g. Israel / Palestine, Russia / Ukraine – as well as in moral issues such as the Russell Brand affair. But whose side should we take? Is it right for us to take sides? What does the Bible have to say? In this podcast we look at Mike Ovey’s essay “Victim Chic: The Rhetoric of Victimhood” to help us understand.

Also available as an audio podcast.

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2 responses to “Whose side should we be on? – Podcast 106”

  1. Adam Horvath avatar
    Adam Horvath

    As promised from Adam and Martine,,

    What we wrote and sent to our Galatians 5v1 group before we heard your brilliant podcast! Then we sent yours as a supporting link.

    How are we to think about the recent events in Israel?
    We have had a number of people contact us from the group asking us what our views are on this issue. Here is our attempt at a brief response. Perhaps in the future we might write again with further detail and clarifications in response to further questions and ongoing events.
    Our first thoughts whenever something happens like this, are, that we should learn the lessons from the past, so that we do not fall for the same traps and find ourselves deceived and supporting things we should not be.
    We should resist any pressure to come to any quick judgements about what is really going on. If we have learned anything, it is that we cannot trust the main media to present the truth.
    The main media are not interested in the truth. They are funded and controlled by very powerful interest groups. They have agendas which are not always immediately clear. Sometimes because events like this provide opportunities for them to go down a number of avenues and to push different agendas, depending on how events unfold. They are also masters of manipulating their audience.
    They usually operate some of the following propaganda tools:
    -Little if any context is given. (It is as if the events just happened out of nowhere and from nothing). Or if they presented any background, they are overly simplistic, misleading and incorrect/tell lies.
    – showing footage and claims of horrific events (some of which are true and some of which are unsubstantiated and on the basis of hearsay) are presented to create an emotional reaction in the viewer, which then clouds the ability of the viewer, to ask critical questions.
    -not providing balanced and thoughtful reflections of what is happening including a biblical viewpoint of justice.
    – instead, they provide interpretations of events and commentary that cause emotional responses to events. What they should be doing is gradually informing people through accurate and verified information, which takes time and effort and requires a degree of humility, to say what we do not know and to ask the right questions and to seek answers to those questions. But rather than doing this, they jump to judgments and interpretations of the new data being provided. Particularly they seek to get their audience to condemn one side in such a way as to demonise them and dehumanise them.
    -the media likes to stir up controversy and selects people and events to whip the audience up further. They have lots of ways to do this such as choosing to amplify some things, while remaining silent about others. Another technique used it making claims of false equivalence. (For example, saying 2 situations are equal when one situation is far worse in scope and degree, than the other. This makes the common person think that such an event is equal to another, which everyone agrees is evil. e.g. the events in x are a holocaust. When clearly, they are not equivalent because the scale of deaths are massively different in magnitude.)
    Often false flags and certain groups are blamed in order to push forward nefarious agendas. To name just a few examples: (Weapons of mass destruction (Iraq), Chemical weapons being used (Syria), Using 9-11 and the anthrax attacks in 2001 (it’s proven that this powder had the signature that proved it was produced by the American department of defence) to justify new legislation like the Patriot Act to push forward the biosecurity state. With COVID we have a pandemic of the unvaccinated used to push digital vaccine passports and ID. It is too soon to know but could the events on Oct 7th be used as the basis for war with Iran?
    Snap judgements are presented so that there are obvious ‘baddies’. Fear and moral anger and self-righteousness are created to form public mass formation. People commit themselves to one side as the good and another the bad and then, are unable to question the actions of those opposing the bad. This is made even easier if there is already a history that this group of people are bad, which the media can then connect them to. e.g., Russia is just the same as Soviet communist Russia and we have hundreds of films that represent Russia as evil and bad.
    This is then used by the authorities to justify policies that are, at best, overreactions, but are more likely to be pushing great evil. By the time people begin to realise it, there is a problem that so many people invested their beliefs and hopes in these bad policies, which makes it very difficult to reverse the direction of travel, because nobody wants to admit they were/are wrong. (e.g., the covid coverup in the current ongoing enquiry into COVID policies by British government).
    If a narrative is allowed to dominate, in which there are clear actions to deal with the problem, then dissent will be suppressed and anyone who opposes the narrative, is attacked as an enemy and treated accordingly.
    One last comment before moving on: Often the agenda involves the creation of a crisis and the pushing of a solution to that crisis. Another common agenda is to divide people in order to rule. Do we see this happening?
    They weaponise compassion and they weaponise calls for justice and the try to force people to choose one side or the other with no views in the middle.
    One link to video exposing recent media propaganda and how people can be caught up in the deception.
    https://www.ukcolumn.org/video/uk-column-news-6th-november-2023
    (beginning to 34 minutes).
    —————————————————————————————-
    So, what are we to think about the events in Israel/Gaza?
    What has complicated this issue, is how many have tried to tie events with theological views about Israel and even Islam. People tend to bring to these events previous views held about Israel and Islam and to read the events through these beliefs. I will come back to this later in this document.
    Since we are Christian’s, we ask ourselves ‘What does the bible tell us our response should be?’
    We are to be peacemakers and we are to condemn sin. Ultimately all human beings are in rebellion with God and stand condemned. Judgment is coming from a holy, righteous and just God. Yet God has sent His saviour into the world, Jesus Christ to bring peace (Isaiah 9:6). God demonstrated His love for us by dealing with our sin and being the ultimate perfect peacemaker. He did it through His son dying on a cross in our place. Read Romans chapter 5:1-11, especially verse 1;10 and 8. Jesus’s disciples, his followers, are also to be characterised as peacemakers. For example, in the Beatitudes Matthew 5:9 ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.’ In other words, God is the supreme peacemaker and so his children (though adopted in Christ Galatians 4:5-6) will also display this characteristic. Although peace-making ultimately is to do with reconciliation with God. It also permeates into other areas like making peace, where there are family quarrels, all the way up to making peace between waring nations.
    In this particular situation we suggest having a short-term approach and response as events unfold and then having a longer-term approach, which will require patiently waiting for gathering more information and using discernment and wisdom. Knowing the truth can take time and effort. We need to watch the geopolitical actions to see what the agendas are of different powerful interest groups. We can then have an informed opinion about what is going on and to look at what scripture teaches us to form whether we agree or oppose such actions.
    The short-term approach:
    It is highly likely that we do not take a side and that we condemn all sides. We can condemn sin wherever it is and by whoever does it. That applies to the immediate sins of killing innocent people, kidnapping etc and it also applies to past failures especially the leaders. It is the people who generally suffer for the failure of leaders and their policies. We can also call out people to respond in repentance for the things that they have done wrong and to call out to God for mercy and forgiveness. We can also call for justice to take place, not vengeance or disproportionate retribution. We can call for peace. To come together and to have reconciliation. To work through the issues and to deal with complicated histories and complicated social, economic, geographical issues.
    So, in this particular situation we should all find it easy to look at the information/data and realise that some horrific evil actions were done. We should condemn the terrorist actions of HAMAS in the mass murder, horrific murders, and the killing of innocent children, mothers and fathers. Kidnapping and violence etc. From a biblical perspective these events should be condemned. We can do this whilst being discerning, because not all the claims of atrocities will be true (e.g. 40 babies being beheaded).
    However, where we need to be very careful is, in what we allow ourselves to approve and allow ourselves to promote, as the response and the solution to the problem. This is what the media are very good at manipulating their audience in. (In fact, this is where their agenda is revealed. They want to get their audience to approve the actions, in response to the crisis. They want to justify what the governments do etc) We do not want to be saying that this justifies World War 3 or a war with Iran. It may be true that Israel has a right to defend themselves, BUT and this is a big BUT, this does not mean that they are free to act in any way they like. For example, in Genesis chapter 34 Dinah is raped but her brothers respond in verses 25-29 by murdering all the males. When we are angry at injustice, we can justify our sinful actions in response and often, these can be far worse.
    I also condemn the disproportionate and sinful response by Israel (government) which is leading to the killing of many children, mothers and fathers and the injury of many more. Their actions are also causing a humanitarian crisis. I would also condemn any policy that tries to move over 2 million people from Gaza which intentionally leads to those people never returning to that land.
    What do I say to the person who says to me “Well what would you do? You can’t just let the killings of all those innocent people go unanswered. And what about the continued threats from HAMAS?”
    I would say we do not have to have a response about what we would do. Our condemnation of sin and our call and demand for peace is enough. We demand that our leaders act upon this. We are not full-time diplomats. We are not living there and do not have enough knowledge about the situation. We do not know all the resources and means by which we could potentially respond. All we have to do is to point out what is wrong. We can condemn actions which are wrong and we can point to what should and should not be done. We don’t need to take sides other than the side of the victims and there are victims on both sides. We can point to the failure of the leaders who act immorally. What can be done has to be within what scripture says. It has to be just and righteous. The end does not justify the means. There are moral ways to act which may not satisfy vengeance but will satisfy justice and the victims. Don’t use the victims to justify causing more victims. Lastly, we are peacemakers, so we want to act by calling out sin and to call for repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation as well as calling for justice, for those who perpetrated such evil crimes.
    How this is done practically, I don’t have to know or have a plan. That is for the various leaders around the world to work out. But this is what we need to demand from them. That is what the church should be calling for and putting pressure on all sides. They are not to act in our name by causing more deaths of innocent people. We demand peace, de-escalation and not escalation and more war.
    Now let me return to the complication of Israel an Islam.
    There is a backstory to the events in Israel/Gaza. Many of us do not have a lot of knowledge about the historical events leading to the present day. I for one, have been reading and listening to different sources, in order to get some context to the current situation. It is frankly a mess. Sinful human beings have a habit of sinning again and again in complex ways. There are no ‘goodies’ only sinful human beings in need of God’s grace and mercy. This is not the place or time to go over the history. And I don’t feel qualified to give an accurate account. So, I am not going to say who the land belongs to or whether there should be a two-state solution etc. I am going to talk briefly about a theological view that is popular and is I believe clouding our views, about what is going on. It views Israel as central to God’s end time plans and how these plans are necessary for the return of Christ. Usually as part of this eschatological view, is the belief that the bible supports a return of the Jews to the land of Israel and the rebuilding of the temple. Usually, this view holds to these events being part of an end time escalation which leads to some form of rapture of Christians for 7 or 3 and half years followed by the final battle (Armageddon) and Christ’ s return. This is often referred to as dispensationalism. There are many varieties of this view, so I am not going to address these. But I am going to make some theological comments which some of you may be uncomfortable with. However, because some of you may disagree with me, does not mean I should hide what I think is the truth. It is the truth that God uses to liberate us. This is not the place for a long defence of my view but I will give you an outline as it pertains to the Israel/Gaza events. Historically the dispensational view is a relatively new view Dispensationalism | Ligonier Ministries 5 min. This view arose in the nineteenth century with the Plymouth Brethren Church in England. So, for the first 1800 years this is not what the church believed. One of the four significant features to dispensationalism (mentioned in the 5 minute article) is that they see a distinction between Israel and the church. Prior to dispensationalism, the understanding was that there is one people of God. Instead, they taught that there are two peoples of God, as it were. John Nelson Darby the founder of dispensationalism, taught that God had a distinct and unique plan for Israel, and a distinct and unique plan for the church. Dispensationalism also has a literal hermeneutic that gets applied to prophecy and apocalyptic literature, which includes the building of a third temple. Because of these views some Christians believe that they should support the current state of Israel no matter what they do.
    This view is not right. I have already stated above that we must respond to events through what the bible has to say about righteousness. We call out sin no matter who does it. In the Old Testament God punished Israel, with the exile to Babylon, because they broke their covenant with God. Just because God had chosen them did not mean he would overlook their sin.
    We should not be for Israel because God has some special plan for them. Just as Muslims should not be for HAMAS because the Palestinians are Muslims. We should be for human beings because they are made in the image of God. They all need to repent and receive Christ as their saviour.
    Now briefly with respect to the dispensational view suggesting God has a special and distinct plan for them. First this is a new idea that was not held for the first 1800 years of the church. So, I don’t think this view can be a correct view of scripture. When you look at scripture it is clear that Jesus brought about the new covenant in fulfilment of God’s promise e.g., Jeremiah 31:31-34. This new covenant brought an end to the old covenant as was promised. There are not two parallel covenants running side by side. The shadows of the Old Testament pointed to Jesus. Therefore, the Temple, the sacrificial system etc came to an end because Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, he is our eternal High priest, He is the Temple that the Old Testament Temple pointed toward. He is the mediator between man and God. There is a whole letter, the book of Hebrews, that goes into detail about this. There is no need for a rebuilt temple. Salvation is found in Jesus. Paul in the letter to the Romans and Galatians (extensively) makes the point that salvation is through faith in Christ’s salvation work alone. It is available to Jew and gentile alike. It is clear in the first letter of Peter that the promises that were given to God’s people Israel in the Old Testament now apply to Christians both Jewish and gentile Christians. The first Christians were Jews who received Christ and worshipped Him as their saviour. Peter in Acts 10 has a vision by which God made clear to Peter that the eating of unclean food no longer applied. It was a shadow, a teaching tool to show the people for their need to be made clean. Peter was told – “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” This was before meeting Cornelious and preaching the gospel and the gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit and being baptised. (Note – what Jesus taught on this in Mark 7:18-20)
    The people of God are now Christians made up of Christian Jews and Gentiles. Please read Ephesians chapter 2 verse 11 to Chapter 3 verse 6; Galatians chapter 3 especially verses 7 -9 and 23-29; Romans chapter 3 verses 21-31.
    So, if Jews are to be saved today it must be the same way as gentiles are saved by receiving Christ as their saviour and believing in His saving work on the Cross and His resurrection from the dead which points forward to the believer’s resurrection from the dead.
    There is much confusion and debate about what various passages say about the events leading to Jesus’ return. (Too much to go into now). However, if we take the Olivet discourse Matthew chapter 24-25 where Jesus teaches about the end of the age. It is clear that Jesus speaks about different things that happen until his return. One thing he mentions are the events of the destruction of the temple in AD70. He mentions other things that will happen throughout this period (the end times refers to the whole period from Jesus’ ascension and his return) until his return. They are not about what happens in a few years before his return.
    Some maybe asking what about Romans 9-11? There are a number of views on these verses but what they do not talk about is a third temple or that Jews are saved in a different way to gentiles.
    For interest I take chapter 9 is apostle Paul addressing the question of whether God’s word has failed insofar as the majority of Jews were not experiencing the blessings of the gospel. The response is that this is not the failure of God’s Word, for ‘not all who are descended from Israel are Israel’. His word is being fulfilled in ‘true Israel, evident in the fact that now, as always, He is preserving a remnant (9:27-29. In Chapter 11 Paul addresses in the light of Israel’s rejection of the gospel, has God rejected his People? (11:1) Paul’s answer insists that God has always preserved a remnant of believing Jews, and in due course the full number of the elect of Israel will be brought in.
    For the view that I take on Romans 9:26 ‘and in this way all Israel will be saved.’ Listen to:
    G. K. Beale – Hidden But Now Revealed (“Fullness of the Gentiles,” Abomination of Desolations, Etc.) – YouTube 9min 45sec to 24 min. (Only 14 mins)
    However, we take these passages about the end times including Revelation and there are a lot of debates and valid different views. What is not right is the view that we must side with the current Israel come what may and justify whatever their leaders and the army etc do. We must stick to Biblical righteousness and condemn all sin and call all to repentance and peace as there is plenty of sin on all sides.
    For further reasons and the dangers of thinking you must stand with Israel come what may listen to:
    Armageddon & Israel in Bible Prophecy: Voddie Baucham – YouTube 15 min
    Another useful view on this issue which also touches on the dispensation view:
    How Should Christians View Israel? – YouTube
    (1hr 30 mins)

    God bless you for all you do Phil and our offer still stands if you and your precious family ever fancy visiting EASTBOURNE we’d love to show you round the highlights best spots!

    Love in Christ from Adam & Martine xxx

    1. Thank you Adam & Martine – that’s excellent. And it’s really encouraging to hear that you have a vibrant Galatians 5:1 group. “It is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free.” Amen and amen! Christians absolutely must be thinking through these issues.

      It’s funny, like many Christians I don’t think I have really thought much about Israel before. It’s just sort of been there through most of my life and I’ve taken it for granted. But the last few weeks I’ve really thought about what’s going on, and I like what you have to say about the history and dispensationalism. Part of the problem is, although dispensationalism originated in Britain, we don’t really have it here any more – but it has become incredibly popular in the States. I only really encountered it at college, where I had some American tutors. It’s hard for us Brits to imagine how big an impact it’s had on US politics.

      Thank you again for your offer to visit Eastbourne – we would love to come one day!

      God bless you both and thank you again. Phill

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