By Mark D. Tooley, Frontpagemag.com
“Emergent Church” guru Brian McLaren is a key figure on the Evangelical Left who is trying to shift Evangelicals, who are America’s most pro-Israel demographic, into a more neutralist stance. Currently, he is leading a delegation through Israel and “Palestine” to broadcast the sins of Israeli oppression against Palestinians by “listening, learning, thinking, observing, reflecting.” His blog is providing daily updates of his discoveries, all of which confirm his previously often declared bias against Israel.
“I hope you will start questioning what you think you know about the situation here,” McLaren warned on his blog recently, with the assumption that most readers are deceived by pro-Israel partiality. “I’ve been an avid reader on the subject for quite a while, but being here now, I see how many of my most basic assumptions were skewed from a lifetime of half-truths, unfair and imbalanced news, well-planned propaganda, and misinformation.”
McLaren, of course, used to be a more traditional, conservative Evangelical. So his emergence into the Evangelical Left in recent years, including the requisite negativity towards Israel, is part of an ongoing spiritual rebirth into which he invites his fellow Evangelicals. Of course, McLaren insists that he is not anti-Israel, and certainly not anti-Jewish. He simply wants to liberate both Palestinians and Jews from the enslaving mindset of the “occupation” that holds both peoples captive.
“The struggle here is about people being held in various forms of bondage – both occupiers and the occupied each in their own ways, and everyone needs liberation,” McLaren explained. He is himself apparently one agent of that “liberation.” In his typical post-modern way, he further posits that none of the people in that region are really responsible for the strife and horrors. Rather, it is the “harmful ideologies and world views and narratives that rule and exert power in and through people’s lives” and “cause them to do terrible things they would never do in their right minds.” Indeed, he warned, that “when hateful and dehumanizing ideologies take control, both victimizers and victims are dehumanized.”
Of course, though McLaren wants to liberate everybody from their various spiritual/political blindness, he implies that most or all of the spiritual confusion comes from Jewish Israel and its Christian supporters. He is very concerned about Israeli “razor wire and segregation walls,” as part of the “ugliness of occupation.” But he is not as interested in the Palestinian and Islamist terror that generate Israel’s defenses. He helpfully included photos of graffiti art on the infamous security wall, and other blank slates, by left-wing British graffitist Bansky. One shows the Statue of Liberty pulling out her empty pockets, perhaps illustrating the bankruptcy of American capitalism, or America’s hoped for inability to back Israel. Another graffiti artwork shows a Palestinian girl searching an Israeli soldier, in a hoped for role reversal.
McLaren recited first hand from his West Bank visit “heart-shattering stories of Palestinians being arrested without cause, tortured, humiliated, re-arrested, re-tortured.” Amazingly, he has discovered a “lack of hatred” and a thirst for “non-violent” action among Palestinians, despite all the abuse from their Israeli “victimizers,” and the mischaracterizations from the purportedly pro-Israel U.S. media. Revealingly, McLaren learned that Palestinians do not want a “two-state solution” but instead desire to “live in peace with Israelis” and want “Jews, Muslims, and Christians to learn to live together as neighbors.” In other words, the Palestinians want the eradication of Jewish Israel and the creation of a new Palestinian and Islamic dominated state where, purportedly, Jews and Christians also could live, at least for a time. McLaren finds this discovery to be very “powerful” and encouraging.
“We in the US have been given a terribly false impression – from the media, from political leaders, and from many Christian and Jewish leaders as well,” McLaren incredulously recounted of the “quiet but gracious attitude” he found among Palestinians towards Israel. “All of us who are here in Palestine are now witnesses to realities we can’t be silent about in the future.”
One of McLaren’s fellow pilgrims is former journalist Greg Barrett, author of The Gospel of Father Joe: Revolutions & Revelations in the Slums of Bangkok. Maybe not quite as naïve as the rose-tinted McLaren, Barrett blogged that Palestinians graciously endure American tourists despite all the torments that America purportedly inflicts on them through Israel because “we help buoy a difficult economy.” But deep down, Palestinians are justifiably “tired of us and our elected officials who look the other way while an oppressed people is bullied, robbed and mocked.” Christian tourists have too long visited Bethlehem to see Christ’s birthplace while “we’ve failed to follow His teachings.”
Appropriately, Barrett cited a favorite social activist/philosopher for the Left: “Seeing the infamous Wall built by Israel to imprison the Palestinians, I was reminded of Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals. In it, Alinsky writes about ‘the rules pertaining to the ethics of means and ends.’ First among them is the belief that a person’s concern with the ethics of a social action correspond to one’s distance from the consequences of action or inaction.”
Perhaps Barrett should instead have cited Alinsky’s better known quote about left-wing polemics: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” McLaren’s Holy Land tour, whether deliberately or cluelessly, seems like just another Alinsky-inspired cause from the Religious and Evangelical Left, which are determined to demonize Israel and its U.S. ally, in pursuit of “liberation” for Palestinians. But this brand of “liberation” would result in the eventual eradication of Jewish Israel in favor of an Islamist dominated “Palestine,” where fellow-travelling Christians like Brian McLaren would be tolerated largely for their political utility.
My problem with this article is that Mark Tooley seems to confuse Brian McLaren’s “New Kind of Christianity” with Christianity, largely by terming it “Evangelical”, but also by speaking of “fellow-travelling Christians”. Actually McL’s new Christianity is not Christianity at all, but a vague moralism using selected Christian terminology. In 1923 J. Gresham Machen, in his Christianity and Liberalism, clearly demonstrated that these are two distinct religions. The first thing one needs to understand about McL’s religion is that it is NOT Christian.