Investing in the spiritual rebirth of the Jewish people

August 2014

War in the Middle East

by Rt. Rev. J. H. Rodgers
Bishop John Rogers serves as a board member and as CMJ’s Theologian in Residence. He received his Th.D. from the University of Basel, Switzerland and has served as both professor and dean-president in US seminaries.
The present situation in the Middle East generally and [particularly] between Israel and the Hamas-led Palestinians of Gaza raises the question of war. When is it right? How must it be conducted? What must be its aim?

We need to define our terms. What is war? One definition is that war is an armed conflict between one nation and another or between sizable factions within the same nation. The various conflicts in the Middle East certainly qualify as war under that definition. What is unique in these conflicts is that where one of the members of the conflict is Muslim, the ultimate aim of the Muslim party is conquest, that is, to establish Sharia Law over both parties of the conflict or in extreme cases the utter obliteration of the non-Muslim party.

In the West, where Christian teaching has been influential, there has grown up a view of war referred to as the Just War Doctrine. It clearly bears the mark of Christian influence. What does it teach?

First, war can only be fought as the last option, only after every other means of resolving the conflict has failed.

Second, war must only be fought as a war of defense. It is an expression of the people’s right of self-defense.

Third, the war must be morally just, that is, to right an injustice on the part of one of the parties.

Fourth, the aim of the war is to restore peace between those in conflict, to establish a just peace.

Fifth, the use of force is to be as little as possible concomitant with winning the war.

Sixth, the noncombatants (civilians) are to be protected as far as possible.

Seventh, the victor in the war is to deal charitably with the party defeated.

Eighth, if there is no genuine hope of winning the war, then it must not be entered into.

From the above conditions of a just war, it is clear that terrorist activity falls outside the lines of a just war, for the chief weapon of terrorism is to attack noncombatants, in order to gain world-sympathy and/or to make the cost of the war too high for the other party to carry on.

If that is true, you may ask, what then is a small group that feels itself unjustly treated to do if it cannot use terrorism? The answer is that they can pray, petition those in authority and the nations for justice and engage in passive non-conformance, with a willingness to go to jail. That is what Martin Luther King did in the U.S.A. What a difference it would make if that were done in the Middle East. But, Islam does not seem to lead in that direction.

What, you ask, can we Christians do at the present, when our Christian brothers and sisters are undergoing persecution in the Middle East, and Israel is under constant rocket attack? How do we support the conduct of a just war in the Middle East? We can pray, asking God for a mighty move of the Holy Spirit in the Middle East, turning many to Messiah Jesus. We can pray for the disciples there, for their safety and their ability to witness in love to their enemies. We can pray for more moderate heads to prevail. We can contact our senators and representatives and ask them to speak out condemning all terrorism and particularly the genocide against Christians going on in parts of the Middle East. We can ask them to urge the President to do the same and to stand by those who are seeking to follow the lines of a just war. And we can send aide for relief to those on all sides who are caught up in the turmoil. Christ Church in Jerusalem, for example, will see that our aide gets to the right places. May the Lord guide each of us to our particular calling with regard to the situation in the Middle East!

UPDATE -- Ancient Scrolls Tour

Daryl Fenton reports from Kalispell, Montana  |  August 6, 2014
Today marks "Day 8" of our teaching journey (see CMJ Touring with Hebrew Scrolls Exhibit below). Over three hundred people in four congregations saw the complete 16-scroll Tanakh (Old Testament/Hebrew Bible). Since this is the only such collection in the world that can be seen, most likely it is a once in a lifetime experience. These particular scribal copies date back to the 14th century, and each has its own story. Time and time again we hear, “I never understood how carefully God preserved his Word.”
See where we will be (on our calendar) and meet us as we travel the West Coast and finish the tour in Albuquerque, August 17th.