In an article on Christianity Today, Russell Moore expresses his perspective on the recent conflict between Hamas and Israel. He begins by condemning the brutal attacks by Hamas on Israel and emphasizes the need for moral clarity in recognizing Israel’s right and duty to defend itself.
Moore acknowledges that some evangelical Protestants may support Israel based on eschatological beliefs, but he makes it clear that not all Christians share those views. He emphasizes that many Christians are willing to criticize Israel when they believe it is acting wrongly and do not consider the Israeli government infallible.
The author then argues that American Christians should unite in support of Israel as it faces this attack, even if they have theological or political disagreements. He references the just war theory and asserts that there are circumstances where military action can be morally justified. Moore also highlights biblical references to the state’s authority to protect itself and its citizens when acting justly.
The author asserts that there is no moral confusion in this situation, as Hamas and its state sponsors attacked innocent people. He underscores the historical context of Israel’s formation and the constant threats it has faced since its establishment, often rooted in antisemitic sentiments.
Moore encourages Americans to stand with Israel because it is a fellow liberal democracy in a region dominated by authoritarian regimes. He also emphasizes the importance of Christians paying attention to violence directed towards Israel, as it is closely tied to their faith and heritage.
Moore writes in Christianity Today:
Americans awoke this morning to reports of war in the Middle East, as the terrorist group Hamas attacked the state of Israel in unspeakably brutal ways. As our screens fill with imagery of fire raining down from the skies, of families grieving the kidnapping and murder of their loved ones, we know that—just as for our own country in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks—this evil day is just the beginning of what is to come. As we pray for peace at the beginning of this war, American Christians should do so with the moral clarity to recognize Israel’s right and duty to defend itself.
Some might assume that evangelical Protestants automatically support Israel based on eschatological views that cast the modern state of Israel in some role in biblical prophecy. For some, this is indeed the case. Many of us, though, don’t share those beliefs. We believe the promises of God are fulfilled in Christ, not in the 1948 Israeli Declaration of Independence. Many of us are quite willing to call out Israel when we believe it is acting wrongly. We don’t believe the Israeli Knesset is somehow inerrant or infallible.
But even with those disagreements, American Christians should be united in support of Israel as it’s under attack.
Some Christians, to be sure, are pacifists who believe any military action to be wrong. Most Christians throughout church history, however, have held to some form of just war theory, which holds that war is always awful, but—under certain, very limited circumstances—can be morally justified.
Jesus interacted with soldiers (Matt. 8:5–13) and called them, as others, to repent of sin. But he never spoke of military service itself as a sin. The apostle Paul wrote of the role of the state to “bear the sword” against “the wrongdoer” (Rom. 13:1–4). This authority is hardly boundless. Every state is accountable to the justice of God and, if it acts unjustly, is subject to the judgment of God. The very Roman government of which Paul wrote was pictured later in Scripture as a “beast” state to be opposed (Rev. 13:1–18).
Read the full article.