CHICAGO, IL (September 24, 2013) — Christians in the United States need to move beyond their “bifurcated” discussions about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and live out their moral obligation to pursue a “third way” of reconciliation in the region, two Covenant ministers who have long studied the issue said during a CovChurch.tv webcast on Friday.
“The Christian community has a unique role to play in terms of advocating a solution. We say that’s pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian, pro-peace, pro-justice, and ultimately pro-Jesus,” said Mae Cannon, who serves as senior director of advocacy and outreach—Middle East for World Vision USA. Her doctoral dissertation focuses on the history of the American Protestant church in Israel and Palestine.
“We have an obligation as Christians, first to the gospel and to reconciliation, and to justice, and we have an obligation as brothers and sisters about the suffering and struggle of both parties in this,” said Jay Phelan, senior professor of theological studies and former president and dean of North Park Theological Seminary.
Unfortunately, the discussion among Christians in the United States has been more divided than the “robust discussion,” that is happening even in Israel, Cannon said.
Phelan added that there has been among mainline Christians a “substantially uniform preference for the Palestinian side of the issue. And then you have among the more conservative side of evangelicals an almost uniform preference for the Israeli side of the issue.”
Few want to acknowledge legitimate points of the other, Cannon and Phelan agreed.
Phelan and Cannon also noted that Palestinian Christians in the region often feel “caught in the middle” of the conflict and threatened by Israeli soldiers as well as militant elements of Hamas.
Phelan noted that the Christian Palestinian community has existed in the region since the earliest days of the faith. He added that their religious leaders have told him that whenever he talks to Christians in the west, “Tell them we exist.”
The webcast can be seen here.