[saymaListserv] Articles on Islam, Christianity, Israel and Current Events in Middle East - Martin Accad

Nancy Whitt nmwhitt at samford.edu
Mon Jul 31 13:28:36 JEST 2006

>>> Carol Ann Vaughn (Carol Vaughn) 7/31/2006 12:19:00 PM >>>
As we prepare to address current events and our students' perceptions
and beliefs about them, some might find helpful the following
perspective on American Christian Zionism, which more than a few of our
students bring with them to the classroom.  Dr. Martin Accad, who has
hosted several Samford faculty and administrators in Beirut, is
publishing columns in _Christianity Today_  while he is stranded here in
the U. S.  His area of scholarship is Islam in the Middle Ages.  - CAV  
Lebanese Scholar Says Errant Bible Reading Causes American Christian
Bias for Israel
Robert Parham

Errant Bible interpretation causes many American Christians to side
with Israel against Lebanon, an Arab Baptist scholar said amid reports
this weekend that Israeli air strikes killed dozens of children in the
southern Lebanese village of Qana.
Martin Accad, academic dean at Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in
Beirut, charged "unquestioning identification of the modern state of
Israel with biblical Israel" leads some Christians to misread the Bible.
  "Christians are not able to differentiate between 'biblical Israel'
and today's political State of Israel," Accad told EthicsDaily.com. "As
soon as you are able to make the difference between these two entities,
your readings of history and of the Bible begin to be straightened up."
Accad said the "new Israel" prophesied in the New Testament does not
refer to modern Israel but rather to the worldwide community of Christ's
followers. "The church is Israel renewed and restored," he said, quoting
1 Peter 2:9-10. "All of God's eternal promises, beginning with his
promises to Abraham, are fulfilled in Christ." Stranded in the United
States due to fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon,
Accad said conservative evangelical Christians in the U.S. are often
equated with Zionist Christians, but he thinks there is a difference
between the two.  "I am myself a 'conservative evangelical Christian'
believer in the Bible's absolute authority in all matters of life," he
said. Zionism, on the other hand, he said, "is a secularist, largely
atheistic ideology" that emerged in the late 19th century. Accad termed
Christian Zionism, a belief by some Christians that the establishment of
the State of Israel in 1948 was prophesied in Scripture and is a
precursor for Christ's return, a "contradiction in terms." Rather, he
said, "There are only certain Christians that have adopted a Zionist
ideology." Those people, he said, "would do well to read some historical
accounts of the rise of Zionism in the late 19th century and to read
about this ideology's early promoters." Accad said America has "blurred
the lines between its own political and economic interests, on the one
hand, and divine justice, on the other." "I have heard numerous American
Christians speak of American foreign policy as just, fair and as the
hand of God doing God's will on earth," he said. "This always leaves me
in stupefied disbelief."  Part of the problem, he said, is that American
political leadership has expressed itself in such terms, using
expressions such as "crusade," "divine justice," "judgment," conflict
between "good and evil" and the "axis of evil" to describe enemies of
the United States. With such talk, Accad asked, "How can Muslims and
even Arab Christians view these foreign interventions as other than just
another crusade?" The Lebanese Baptist leader said American Christians
today "have a unique chance to make a difference by not falling for
deceptive and manipulative political rhetoric. They can actually receive
an open ear when they are willing to question the use of force and
demonstrate that they really seek after justice, mercy and humility."
Born in Lebanon and holding dual citizenship in Lebanon and Switzerland,
Accad earned a Ph.D. degree from Oxford University. Ironically, he
defended his Ph.D. dissertation on Sept. 11, 2001, the day terrorists
attacked targets in the New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. A few
days later, Accad returned to Lebanon and took up his job at the Arab
Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also founded and directs the ABTS
Institute of Middle East Studies. Accad wrote his doctoral dissertation
on the history of interaction between Christianity and Islam and is
writing a book on Christian-Muslim dialogue, hoping to find constructive
ways to crack the ancient deadlock between these faith traditions. He
wrote two columns that appeared on the Christianity Today Web site to
offer perspective on the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah,
challenging both American Christian prejudice against Arabs and Muslims
and Israel's current attacks in Lebanon. While expecting 90 percent
criticism, he said, response has been overwhelmingly positive. "I got
not more than five negative e-mails out of over 100 e-mails," he said.
But critics didn't mince words. "Shame on you, foolish little man," said
one negative e-mail. "You are one of Satan's moronic helpers and don't
even know it." A similar response came from a blogger who
self-identified as a conservative Christian fundamentalist.  "Mr. Martin
Accad, dean of Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut, blames
Israel for just about everything that is happening in Lebanon--and
blames the Americans, too," the blogger wrote. "Heeeeeee-hawwwwwww!
Didn't he read Genesis 16 and sundry other passages that speak of
Ishmael and his descendants as being like wild donkeys? He is certainly
braying like one."  Accad said he was shocked at such insulting words. 
"The fact that Islam is prone to using violence is no secret to anyone,
and so are Western nations," he said. "But that these nations consider
they are using violence in the name of Christ or Christianity is quite
shocking to me, and that people who claim to be followers of Christ
would be willing to use such aggressive talk is also shocking to me." "I
can find no justification whatsoever for the use of violence in Christ's
name. If Muslims want to do it in God's name, we need to deal with it
and address this with Muslim leadership," he wrote. "It is, however,
deeply distressing that so many in the church around the world are just
as willing to carry arms and insult in Jesus' name." Accad told
EthicsDaily.com that his wife, a filmmaker, had been evacuated to
Cyprus, but that his parents, two siblings and eight nephews and nieces
were still in Lebanon. He said he has given consideration on being
smuggled back into Lebanon through Syria.  "But the routes into Lebanon
are all being bombed by Israeli jet planes on a regular basis. My
friends and family, who have been using the roads between Beirut and the
Bekaa Valley close to the eastern border with Syria, have described to
me the scenes of horror. Multitudes of cars and trucks and human bodies
burnt up on the roadsides. They have had to use a 4x4 [vehicles] in
order to go and check on friends that are living in bombed up areas.
Roads that used to be highways are now dirt tracks and practically
inaccessible with normal cars," he said.
Carol Ann Vaughn, Ph.D.,
Christian Women's Leadership Center
Samford University
800 Lakeshore Drive
Birmingham, Alabama 35229
cwlc at samford.edu 
"We are not what we know; we are what we're willing to learn."
 --- Mary Catherine Bateson

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