Native Australian, Professional boxer and social justice Anglican priest, Rev. David B. Smith is currently in the midst of a 17 day USA speaking tour that began in California and concludes in D.C.
While in Florida, Rev. Dave and this reporter got together around my kitchen table and began a two day conversation about God, Israel, Palestine, Zionism, Human Rights, Mordechai Vanunu, etc. and we began with a few of my theological questions:
My first book, KEEP HOPE ALIVE, was written with hope to inform USA Christians of the Palestinian side of the story of the establishment of the state of Israel and also as a direct challenge to the putrid pulp fiction of the “Left Behind Series” which promotes a heretical theology of escapism that leaves behind the message that Jesus commanded his followers must adhere to: forgive, pray for, bless and love your enemy and to respond to evil with nonviolence for it is the Peacemakers who are the daughters and sons of God.
From Smith’s 2006 essay, “The final word on the place of modern Israel in Biblical Prophecy” I excerpt:
“I’ve been hearing it, in one form or another, every since I was converted as a teenager – that God has a plan for political Israel…the spiel is always basically the same – that the triumph of Israel over its Middle-Eastern neighbors has been clearly prophesied in the Biblical texts, and that until this happens, the ‘final battle’ (‘Armageddon’) and the ensuing 1000-year reign of peace can’t happen either.
“Biblical prophecy is never normative. In other words, prophecies in the Bible never function as commandments – telling us directly how to determine our relationships with our neighbors. They function to bring us closer to God.
“Biblical prophecies are not given for the sake of satisfying anybody’s curiosity about the future, any more than they are designed to help shape 21st century foreign policy. Prophecies are given in order to call people to back to God. This is where Christian Zionism just gets it plain wrong.” 
The Christian Zionists political message is “that we should all lend a hand to the state of Israel in her battles with her neighbors” and Dave explains that this miss-interpretation of Scriptures, “tends to flourish best in areas of the church where there is a strong distinction between the sacred and the secular – between religion and politics…[and] they translate into an aggressively pro-Israel foreign policy…in my view, Christian Zionism is both wrong and dangerous!
“It is wrong because it arises out of a misunderstanding of the Bible. It is dangerous because it sanctions actions that contribute to the supremacy of the state of Israel without regards to their broader consequences, and without any serious evaluation of the moral nature of the actions themselves.
“Biblical prophecy has never been normative for people of faith. It is the commandments that are normative. You know the ones – ‘love God and love your neighbor’. These are the Divine commands that inform our actions and tell us how we ought to behave towards our neighbors. And it is only on the basis of these commandments that we can construct a Biblically-based foreign policy – on the basis of love!” [Ibid]
Being the first candidate of the Citizen of Conscience Party to run for US House of Representatives, I am in solidarity with all of that and I also stand on 1 John 4:16,18:
“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out all fear because fear has to do with punishment.”
I also contend that living in the past has got no soul and the future of Christianity will not be found in antiquity, but in our ability to re-IMAGINE those ancient stories, symbols and concepts with modern eyes and open minds and hearts.
Christianity came into existence in a world radically different than ours. The ancients believed the Universe consisted of three tiers; the earth at the center was flat, and the judging, all knowing deity was up in the sky and hell was the place below.
The ancients ascribed to a tribal, male supernatural being who validated warfare as a noble and divine enterprise and his foreign policy was pro-Jewish.
The Christian god “evolved’ from tribal roots and the power of the Church to control knowledge and public opinion in an invasive deity dominated civilization for 1,600 years until a new concept dawned.
Copernicus and his disciple Galileo concluded that the sun did not rotate around the earth but that the earth rotated around the sun. This revolutionary evolution in consciousness began the shift from a god who was not so involved in the daily affairs of humans.
Galileo was condemned a heretic but on 28 December 1991, the Vatican officially admitted that he was right and the Church and Bible had been wrong about the universe and humankind’s place in it.
When Freud exposed the childish neurotic elements in religion he was vilified and demonized by Christian leaders.
Carl Jung offered a bridge of reconciliation when he recognized the historic process necessary in the development of Consciousness; which is the quality or state of being aware of something within oneself.
Albert Einstein introduced relativity as present in all things including “eternal and unchanging truth.”
Astrophysicists raised awareness of the emptiness in the heavens above and that hit at the heart of human loneliness, which is self-absorption meaning a preoccupation with oneself to the exclusion of others or the outside world.
“In the West there is loneliness, which I call the leprosy of the West. In many ways it is worse than our poor in Calcutta.”-Mother Teresa, Commonweal, Dec 19, 1997.
The theistic concepts of a supernatural big daddy in the sky, an errand boy just waiting to fill our desires, and a deity that will punish us and thus motivates behavior is a god that must at least be fired, if not killed; for the Ultimate Mystery of the Universe we call God, for lack of a better name is beyond all concepts and “Any god who can be killed ought to be killed.”- Clifford Stanley, Episcopal Priest and Professor of Theology
Among the forward thinking founding father’s of America was Thomas Jefferson, who weeded out the miracle stories from the gospels and clarified the teachings and ethics of Christ in:
THE LIFE AND MORALS of JESUS of NAZARETH:
1. Be just: justice comes from virtue, which comes from the heart.
2. Treat people the way we want to be treated.
3. Always work for PEACEFUL resolutions, even to the point of returning violence with COMPASSION.
4. Consider valuable the things that have no material value.
5. Do not judge others.
6. Do not bear grudges.
7. Be modest and unpretentious.
8. Give out of true generosity, not because we expect to be repaid.
9. Being true to one’s self in more important than being loyal to one’s family and those who think they know the most are the most ignorant.
The most ignored of our founding fathers was Thomas Paine, who penned:
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.”
“Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be true.”
“Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.”
“Every religion is good that teaches man to be good; and I know of none that instructs him to be bad.”
“Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.”
“Soon after I had published the pamphlet ‘Common Sense’ [on Feb. 14, 1776] in America, I saw the exceeding probability that a revolution in the system of government would be followed by a revolution in the system of religion… The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.
“Reputation is what men and women think of us; character is what God and angels know of us.”
I contend that compassion is evidence of The Divine and as Smith concludes:
“When you confuse prophecy and commandment, you run the risk of breaking the commandments for the sake of seeing your prophecy fulfilled. Let’s get specific here:
“The oppression of the Palestinian people by the state of Israel in recent years has been horrendous. Between the massacres and assassinations and the daily grind of an apartheid system that treats Israeli Arabs as second-class citizens, all the commandments have been broken.
“If we look at the situation through the eyes of Jesus – with eyes of compassion and mercy – we cannot but be moved to both pity and anger. Pity for the many who have been victimized – both Palestinians and Jews who have tried to resist the occupation. And anger towards the foreign countries who make the oppression possible – countries that include Australia as well as the US.
“And the saddest part, from my point of view, is that much of this oppression takes place in the name of religion, and with the blessing of the many parts of Christ’s church, because it is all seen as being a necessary part of the great end-time drama, as depicted in the Biblical prophecies.
“The fact that something has been prophesied does not mean that such an outcome is a good thing. The predicted events may be things that we should oppose. We need to be guided here by the commandments. The commandments inform our actions, not the prophecies themselves…the Christian Zionist position is not logical, it’s not moral, and it’s certainly not Biblical, even if its adherents to add ‘because the Bible says’ every time they state their case.’” [Ibid]
God gave us a conscience that we should use it and I contend that a prophet is anyone who points out danger ahead and provokes those so inclined to think about God-to THINK!
I pray that God will continue to raise up prophets to admonish ALL “stiff necked people” [Exodus 34:9, Proverbs 29:1] because “people are fools, they do not know me! They are skilled in doing evil, they know not how to do good.”-Jeremiah 4:22
“From Moses to Jeremiah and Isaiah, the Prophets taught…that the Jewish claim on the land of Israel was totally contingent on the moral and spiritual life of the Jews who lived there, and that the land would, as the Torah tells us, ‘vomit you out’ if people did not live according to the highest moral vision of Torah. Over and over again, the Torah repeated its most frequently stated mitzvah [command]:
“When you enter your land, do not oppress the stranger; the other, the one who is an outsider of your society, the powerless one and then not only ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself’ but also ‘you shall love the other.'” 
“If I can’t dance, it’s NOT my REVOLUTION” [Emma Goldman] and as a fiscal conservative with libertarian leanings I am also in solidarity with U2’s God Part II
“I believe in love.”
- Israel in Prophecy
- Rabbi Lerner, TIKKUN Magazine, page 35, Sept./Oct. 2007
Posted by Eileen Fleming on July 22, 2011, With Reads Filed under Life, World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.