When we hear the word “jihad” I bet most of us are on the same page. We conjure up images of terrorists with guns, or someone with a bomb strapped around their torso, or even someone flying a plane into a building. These images of jihad are predominant in our minds because experience can be a powerful teacher.
The word jihad means “struggle.” Islam speaks of a “lesser” and “greater” jihad. Islamic apologists will often insist that “the greater jihad is the struggle within one’s soul to bring one’s life to conformity to the will of Allah.” Is that what jihad in Islamic Theology really means? Do the Islamic terrorists consistently get it wrong?
What about Christian Jihad? Can there be any such thing? Anti-Zionist Stephen Sizer thinks so. Somehow I figure this jihad isn’t about Christians hijacking planes in order to have a captive audience to preach the gospel to. Nor is it about innocuous explosive vests filled with Bible tracts. Nope. “Christian Jihad” is a “biblical basis for proactive peacemaking.” So says Sizer:
The term Jihad tends to be associated with Islam…But the fact is violent extremism is found in all religions. I could easily quote Islamic or Jewish leaders who justify the use of violence in the name of God, but I will give you one example from a well-known Christian.
The well-known Christian Sizer refers to is Ann Coulter. Coulter’s comments followed the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York. Yet Coulter isn’t representative of Christian Zionism, especially where she suggests killing certain people and/or forcibly converting them to Christianity.
Sizer’s essay implies that, just as Muslims indulge in peaceful jihad (see Spencer and Wood above), so must Christian peacemakers. Christian Zionism is a threat which Christian jihadists must avoid because it allegedly is:
…an exclusive theology driven by a political agenda which elevates one nation over others, rather than an inclusive theology centred on Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. Christian Zionism uses the Bible to justify racial superiority, land expropriation, home demolitions, population transfer, colonial settlements, the denial of international law and fundamental human rights…It not only fuels Islamophobia but also anti-Semitism and imperils the existence of the indigenous Christian community in the Middle East. It incites and exacerbates Islamist retaliation against both Jews and Christians.
That’s an impressive list of warnings! But as we Italians might also say, what an impressive load of bologna! Hijacking all those Bible verses in order to support Palestinianism doesn’t really cut it when they’re taken out of context. Moreover it’s oxymoronic for a “peacemaker” to obsessively and inaccurately demonize one side of a conflict.
Far from “proactive peacemaking,” Sizer’s jihad rhetoric is an excuse for attacking Israel and Zionism, just like the real jihadists. These inflammatory statements serve as further incitement to Israel’s enemies. It also poisons the well for those who are unfamiliar with the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
We know Sizer isn’t alone in practicing “Christian Jihad.”
CAMERA reports that Yusef Daher regularly draws from his “peacemaking” status to delegitimize the Jewish State. Daher is executive secretary of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Center. He supports BDS and runs Daher Tours, where you can see some nice pics of “Occupied Golan.” Daher also happens to write for the anti-Zionist entity Kairos Palestine. They, in turn, are supporters of activist Naim Ateek.
There’s a lot of networking going on among Christian Jihadists. We have Christ at the Checkpoint Conference contributors such as Gary Burge, Munther Isaac and Mitri Raheb, among many others. Dr. Thomas Ice has reported on his experiences at one CATC Conference. Perhaps none of his observations were more telling than this one:
With all their emphasis upon so-called peacemaking they displayed no passion for the preaching of the gospel as having a role in the mission of the Church or at Bethlehem Bible College. Isn’t that what Christ’s last words to the Church were right before His ascension? Instead, they are bringing division within the Body of Christ with their social activism, which is not commanded in Scripture.
Dexter Van Zile has written about Lutheran Pastor Mitri Raheb’s anti-Israel propaganda. According to Van Zile, while Raheb doesn’t indulge in the same level of incitement as Abbas, he still views Hamas as an “integral part of Palestinian resistance.” Van Zile cites Raheb:
Hamas is a Palestinian political movement that has an important role. No one can deny this. The Church is in constant communication with Hamas in the West bank via many delegations from the Church. Some people in the church believe in the armed resistance, and we do not disagree. Once you have occupation, you will have resistance.
Raheb later tried to walk back his comments. But he also stated that “writing is an important part of the Palestinian resistance.” You know, writing about all that wicked stuff Israel gets up to. But say nothing about how the PA and Hamas oppress their own people, just like a good jihadist.
The term “jihad” should never be used in context with Christianity. It comes from a source which is decidedly anti-Christ and anti-biblical. In a real sense what these people are practicing is jihad. But there’s nothing Christian about it.
If we want to be peacemakers, let’s begin by praying for peace. Let’s stop telling lies about Israel and pouring more fuel onto the flames. If we’re going to cite Bible verses warning about Zionism’s failings, let’s not ignore the ones foretelling Israel’s national restoration.
Scripture doesn’t speak of a homogenous spiritual Israel comprising of majority Gentiles along with a sprinkling of Jews. This Israel is “Jewish” – it comprises the tribes of Israel (Revelation 7). This may offend some Palestinian Christians, but it’s biblical.
Finally, there are great concerns in the Middle East regarding Russia, Syria (what’s left of it), Iran and Turkey. The same biblical verses which speak of Israel’s redemption, also warn of future conflicts which bear striking parallels to potential Middle East scenarios.
Could the Lord be returning soon?
God could well intervene and stop the clock. One of our roles is to believe God’s word and remain watchful, not indulge in pretentious Christian jihad against Israel. In the meantime let’s abide in Christ and look for opportunities to proclaim the Good News of salvation to the lost.