Brian McLaren loves Israelis; promotes White and Ateek

Evangelical theologian Brian McLaren writes:

Please be assured, I love the Israeli people, and I want nothing more than for them to enjoy God’s blessings in a safe and secure homeland. Even in my critique of the occupation by the Israeli government, I’ve tried to be respectful and fair, and careful in my language – although I’m sure I’m far from perfect in anything I say or do. Because I love Israelis and want them to experience true security, I hope they will change certain unjust policies that I believe undermine what they truly want and need.

I suppose that McLaren’s declaration of love for Israelis is welcome, as is his admission that he is fallible in this area.

Perhaps now would be a good time, then, for McLaren to reject his endorsement of Ben White’s call for boycott against Israel. Which other countries would McLaren also recommend boycotting?

McLaren’s endorsement of Ben White is especially worrying given that White seems to think:

Of course, uncritically supporting any Israeli policy for political or eschatological reasons is not the best way to show one’s love for Israel. In the same way, neither is promoting such a polemic thinker as Ben White on the thorny issue of Israel/Palestine the best way to show one’s love for Israel.

I’d like to believe McLaren when he does say he loves Israelis, and he definitely advocates dialogue rather than violence. I hope McLaren could become one of the voices who seeks to find a third way between the polemic talks of Christians boycotting against Israel on the one hand and an overly-romanticised nationalist Christian Zionism on the other hand.

But there’s more.

Now McLaren is warmly speaking of Sabeel’s leader Naim Ateek, despite Ateek’s expressed support for a targetted boycott of Israeli teenage dancers.

So does McLaren love Israelis or not, given that he’s promoting a man who wants to exclude Israeli teenagers from global culture?

In a sense though, it shouldn’t matter. Christian leaders should not need to say they love Israelis. If they teach that Christians should love everyone, then Israelis shouldn’t be a quirky case where the ‘love’ needs some kind of Zionist or anti-Zionist rationalisation.


Filed under boycotts

7 responses to “Brian McLaren loves Israelis; promotes White and Ateek

  1. modernityblog

    Well, it might have been worse, he could have said “some of my best friends are….”

  2. Glasspole

    So it seems that McClaren loves Israelis as much as Ateek does.
    This is of course the same Ateek who is an outspoken heretic and racist.
    Ateek’s views are patently antisemitic, and disgust me.
    McClaren holds Ateek in such high regard that “everyone should read everything written by him”. This is not “guilt by association”; this is “by their deeds you will know them” and, 1 Corinthians 15:33 ESV

    Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”

    Proverbs 13:20 ESV

    Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

    Who is the bigger fool? The fool, or the fool who follows the fool?

  3. Hi Joe and others,

    His statements will provide a useful standard by which to measure later actions. By the way, wouldn’t you agree there’s a difference between loving Israelis and loving Zionism (in a broad Martin Gilbert sense), which better defines the watershed. After all very few people (many N Koreans included) love North Korean national politics, but who doesn’t care about abused, ordinary North Koreans? Mutated anti-Semitism is not just anti-Israeli, but anti-Zionistic, as indeed are some notable Israelis, not least some MKs.

    I’d also be interested in a critique of the romantic aspects of Christian Zionism – which, having never visited Israel, I too may be guilty of.

    • seismicshock

      Hi Charles, totally agree with you, yeah, it’s never good to put concern for a nation over concern for its individual citizens, particularly the marginalised within that nation.

      That said, the viciousness of anti-Zionism as we see in Sabeel has to be spoken out against too.

      As to your last point, this is a good read:

      • Thanks, I’ve ordered it, and have read Calvin’s critique of Sizer’s actions – though he seemed a little slack handed to me.
        I wasn’t quite saying loving Zionism is less important than loving Israelis, that may or may not be true, more that hating Zionism is better litmus for anti-Semites that loving/hating Israelis (which is a bit like the old ‘some of my best friends..’.)
        I wholly agree the visceral hatred of Israel, and in particular of Zionism, amongst Europeans (my own family included) let alone Arabs, is deeply disturbing – there is a distinctly spiritual quality to its intensity.

        By the way, I’m not Jewish, surname notwithstanding.

  4. seismicshock

    Cool, yeah Calvin’s really good in this – it’s not just him writing in it but some other academic peers. They deal with the meaty issues of theology in a serious way – it’s not pop theology.

    If you fancy writing a review of it for this blog then you’d be more than welcome to – my review’s here:

    • That’s kind, thanks. Your own review is useful intro, though I sense I may not wholly agree. I’ve also found Merkley’s book informative, though too cautious to preserve a vanishingly valid moral equivalence. Good night, God bless.

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