fascinating and beautiful interchange
Wednesday July 26th 2006, 12:46 pm
Filed under: faith, church, thinking...

you may have seen dr. martin accad’s wonderfully raw and pleading essay on christianity today’s website last week, called Another Point of View: Evangelical Blindness on Lebanon. it’s absolute must-read stuff for any christian, and anyone interested in the world beyond their own front door or steeple.

but here’s the kicker: accad built much of his essay around comments made by a dr. david gushee. and, in a truly beautiful open letter, gushee responded this week to accad. an excerpt:

I hear the desperation and misery in your voice. I sense your fear for the well-being of your loved ones and your grief over those already torn to pieces by Israeli bombs. I hear your rage at the nation that is inflicting this suffering on your people, and at Hezbollah for starting this latest round of fighting, and at the feckless international community, and at global evangelicals, especially in the United States, and at the U.S. government itself.

I, personally, am struggling deeply right now to have any hope about many of the same things that you are struggling with. I think the United States government has been pursuing a disastrous foreign policy since September 11 and that now we are reaping some of the consequences of that mixture of unilateralism, militarism, Wilsonian idealism, and negligent incompetence. My sympathy for Israel—which is indeed deep, a mix of all kinds of factors, some rational, some emotional—does not extend to support for what has clearly become a massive and disproportionate military offensive. And when I read about Hezbollah, and Hamas, and Syria, and Iran, and the growing sophistication of the weapons being fired at Israel, and the emergent pro-Iran Iraq, and the tangled web of ties and dark plans that connect Israel’s enemies, I sense a coming conflagration.

then, accad responded in an open letter back to gushee. an excerpt:

David Gushee’s gracious response also, in his “Open Letter to Dr. Martin Accad” that Christianity Today published, gives me the desire to be picked up from the roadside despite my wounds. At the end of this weekend I have more hope, because I have discovered life in a part of the church’s heart that I had thought dead. Thanks, David, and thank you to the new friends I have made.

If so many in the church in the U.S. actually care enough to listen and respond to a Middle Eastern Arab Christian cry, then perhaps there is enough hope, will and faith in this church to lean over the wounded “enemy” in the Middle East so that the universal church can address injustice and somehow bring to a halt this deliberate targeting of faith communities.

these three open letters have become larger than their content. don’t get me wrong: they’re all worth reading purely for their content, to more clearly understand the current violence between israel and hezbollah and its impact on the lives of real people. but beyond that, accad and gushee provide us a model for dialogue in a public space. there’s almost none of this in the christian world, from people with widely disperate viewpoints. put jerry falwell and jim wallace on nightline together, and they’ll rip each other and both make ridiculous overstatements and repeat the same lines (created by some soundbite specialist) over and over and over until i want to take a sledgehammer to my tv and the whole notion of christian debate. hrmph.

but these two guys i’d never heard of — gah! that’s the kind of interchange i want with the people i disagree with (especially my brothers and sisters in the church with whom i disagree). makes me hopeful and frustrated at the same time.

(ht to dave palmer for pointing out the last two open letters)

6 Comments so far
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Comment by Chris 07.26.06 @ 10:15 pm

Hey bro, thanks for posting those pieces. I have been waking up at conference every morning and looking at the news on the web. I’ve been trying to sort through some of this on my own and this nailed it tonight. I hope vacation is going well in MI! I will have a good deal of things soon for us to chew on for Believe. I am looking forward to it so much.

Comment by johnny 07.26.06 @ 10:16 pm

I have the privilege of knowing Dr. Gushee personally as a graduate of Union University in Jackson, TN, where he is faculty, and i can say from personal experience that he is a first-rate dude and somebody every Christian should look up to (along with the rest of the faculty at Union.) Check out his stuff at amazon. He’s pretty much amazing.

Comment by Sam Bullington 07.29.06 @ 12:34 am

Amen, and amen!

Comment by chris 07.29.06 @ 4:22 am

Just a point to add to the dialogue. I don’t know Dr. Gushee or Dr. Accad, but I agree with you that they offer a good model for dialogue and debate. My concern with Dr. Accad is that he supports those with a replacement theology viewpoint, namely Colin Chapman. Replacement theology can easily lead to anti-Israel positions that can lead to a skewing of the facts. He is alligning himself with those that blame Israel for virtually the totality of the current conflict. I am not sayiing that he is guilty by association, but I do think a word of caution is appropriate.

I should add that I am a missionary who has worked with and loved Muslims and I am now in the U.S. on furlough, so my perspective in giving this warning is not anti-Arab or anti-Muslim peoples in general, quite to the contrary.

Comment by Anonymous 07.30.06 @ 5:27 pm

I was a student of Gushee at Union Univ., you need to get your hands on any if not all of his writings.

Being able to sit with this man and listening to his heart has changed my life in way yet to be seen. Gushee has the ablity to find hope in some of histories darkest moments and never lessens it importance in relivance to Christ or mankind… read him you won’t be disapointed.

Comment by Broc 10.16.06 @ 9:33 am

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