Main NewsOpinions

Christians must confront the weaponization of a sacred promise

By : Fares Abraham

Jordan Daily – In a House education committee hearing Wednesday (April 17) on antisemitism on campus, U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, a Republican from Georgia, used a passage from the Book of Genesis to intimidate the president of Columbia University, insisting that American universities teach their students about “what will happen under the wrath of God” if they do not support Israel.

Allen grossly misappropriated the 12th chapter of Genesis, in which God tells Abraham, who will be the father of the Israelites, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.” At one point, Allen asked the Egyptian-born President Nemat Shafik, “Do you want Columbia University to be cursed by God?” His question not only implied divine judgment against Columbia but also overstepped his legislative role.

Undoubtedly, antisemitism is a horrific prejudice that has led to appalling atrocities. It must be condemned not only at universities but wherever it is found, and I commend the House committee for its efforts to address this issue. However, I strongly condemn the use of the Bible as a tool for shaping U.S. policy or for suppressing civil political debate in academic settings.

When political Christians like Allen claim divine approval for their ideologies or views, they engage in what can be described as spiritual terrorism, using biblical texts to instill fear among non-Christians. This fundamentally contradicts our Christian faith.

Growing up in the West Bank, I often saw evangelical leaders deploying the ancient words of Genesis in support of the modern state of Israel. This conflation created serious confusion for me as a Christian Palestinian. Though an expression of love for the Jewish people, their quotation of Genesis approved of a secular state that imposed oppressive military law on my family and severely restricted my access to churches in Jerusalem and other holy sites. Israel unjustly prevented my wife, born in Gaza, from legally residing in the West Bank and hindered my wife and me from pursuing our desire to launch a ministry in Bethlehem.

Many theologians and Christian scholars have addressed the misuse of Genesis 12:3. In Christian readings, the blessings promised to Abraham are fulfilled through Christ’s sacrifice, as the Apostle Paul teaches in his Letter to the Galatians, and Jesus, the one and true seed of Abraham, embodies the ultimate realization of these blessings. To enjoy the Abrahamic blessings, we abide in Christ’s redemptive work, rather than blindly support geopolitical strategies.

The harsh reality of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank did not deter me from pursuing my God-given dream. Guided by a vision to share the gospel, I founded Levant Ministries, dedicated to sharing God’s love throughout the Middle East. On April 12, near Alexandria, the birthplace of Dr. Shafik, I addressed more than 6,000 evangelical Christians from some 300-plus churches across Egypt and other Arab countries at a prayer conference led by my dear friend Pastor Sameh Maurice.

In my address, I highlighted the plight of Christians in Gaza, including members of my wife’s family who are still sheltering at two churches in Gaza. I also consoled Palestinian families mourning the immense loss of more than 34,000 lives, predominantly women and children. Similarly, I extended my prayers for the innocent Jewish victims of the Oct. 7 attacks, emphasizing that the overwhelming majority of people in the Middle East are not antisemitic. On the contrary, we seek to live in peace with our Jewish and Muslim neighbors, striving to ensure justice for all.

As a Christian leader serving across the Middle East, I am principally guided by the example of the Jewish Messiah, who consistently challenged misguided theological frameworks and denounced spiritual terrorism throughout his ministry. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus condemned the idea of violent retaliation for disbelief, even among his own disciples, during an incident where the Samaritans denied him entry into their territories (possibly motivated by antisemitic sentiments.)

When his disciples James and John suggested a deadly punishment — calling down fire from heaven to consume the Samaritans — Jesus sharply rebuked them. He firmly dismissed any notion of divine justice. This response underscores Jesus’ approach to overcoming prejudice and animosity through reconciliation, rather than through vengeance and violence. As followers of Christ, we must adopt this attitude of grace.

It’s important to recognize that God’s promise to Abraham extended far beyond a mere strip of land. Manipulating Scripture to advance political agendas under the guise of divine wrath is a betrayal of our biblical core values. By embodying the grace that Jesus showed to all, including his adversaries, we honor our commitment to God in a world plagued by animosity and strife. This is our sacred calling as followers of Christ — a solemn responsibility we must fulfill as we live out our faith in a broken and divided world.

Fares Abraham, a Palestinian American born in Bethlehem, is the CEO of the Levant Ministries and an adjunct professor at the Liberty University School of Business.

Source : Religion News Service (RNS)


Back to top button