If evangelical Christians are hesitant to support Ron Paul's candidacy for the Republican nomination for President, two reasons are usually proffered: he does not support Israel, and he wants to bring the troops home from Iraq.
Unfortunately, many (if not most) of today's evangelical Christians have bought into the whole neocon warmongering mentality. Somewhere along the way, evangelicals have forgotten the historic Christian understanding of "just war," not to mention our Savior's promise of divine blessing upon peacemakers. They have allowed President George W. Bush and his fellow warmongers to hijack the legitimate use of defensive war and turn it into a commitment to aggressive and preemptive war.
If the United States continues on its current path of aggressive, preemptive war, incessant nation-building, empire-building, and globalism, our country will collapse. If history teaches us anything, it teaches us that no super-power can long survive global warfare. The economic, moral, and spiritual strain on the nation would be more than it could long endure. In other words, Bush's war doctrine has put America on a crash course with disaster, and evangelicals are downright foolish to go along with it.
Ron Paul is anything but a pacifist. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran, for goodness' sake. He believes in Ronald Reagan's "Peace Through Strength" philosophy. He believes in a strong military. He believes in defending the United States. That is not in question.
Obviously, however, Ron Paul rejects nation-building, empire-building, preemptive war, and globalism. By the way, this is something the Republican Party also used to reject before George W. Bush came along. And please understand, this is something that the vast majority--and I mean vast majority--of the American people also reject. If the GOP nominates a pro-Iraq war, pro-attack Iran, pro-preemptive invasion, pro-aggressive war candidate, they can kiss the November elections goodbye. The American people (except for the most fanatically loyal Bush supporters) are sick to death of American soldiers and Marines dying for Mideast oil, million-dollar Halliburton contracts, and "surrender-your-liberties-because-we-are-at-war" dribble. However, it is evangelical Christians' misunderstanding of Ron Paul's position on Israel that seems to be the most problematic.
To be sure, not all believers agree on the subject of Israel. Christians are divided between pre-millennialism, post-millennialism, and even amillennialism. For the most part, pre-millennialists (such as me) believe that God will yet fulfill the Davidic Covenant with the nation of Israel. Post-millennialists, on the other hand, believe that the Church, which is the Body of Christ, is the complete fulfillment of God's promises to Abraham and David.
Regardless of one's particular view of Eschatology, believers should be united in their support for protecting the sovereignty and independence of these United States. If this were really true, the vast majority of believers would enthusiastically support the candidacy of Ron Paul, as there is no one in Washington, D.C., who more faithfully defends the integrity of America's sovereignty and independence. The problem is, some Christians seem to give more loyalty and support to the government of Israel than they do their own country's independence and freedom.
In this regard, it is incredible to me how evangelical pastors and leaders can continue to associate with--and support--radical Israel apologists such as John Hagee. His ranting about Jewish people having a special covenant with God and needing not to come to the Father through Christ--and even that Jesus never claimed to be Christ--is nothing short of blatant apostasy.
Whether one believes in a future Davidic Kingdom or not is immaterial to the preservation of America's freedom and independence. If God intends a future place and purpose for Israel, He is certainly capable of fulfilling that place and purpose. He will not need your help, my help, or Ron Paul's help. I know that is shocking to the pride and arrogance of many evangelicals, but it is true nonetheless.
Does that mean that an American President should deliberately inflict harm upon the State of Israel? As long as they do not inflict harm upon us, no. No more than he should deliberately inflict harm upon any nation that does not inflict harm upon us. A free and independent nation--not to mention a nation whose roots are grounded in Christian philosophy--should seek only that which promotes peace and prosperity. Of all people, Christians should understand this. Ron Paul does understand this.
Accordingly, Ron Paul rightly wants to return America's foreign policy to the established and historic principles of its founding documents and sentiments. That means free and fair trade with all and entangling alliances with none. Not even Israel.
My dear Christian brethren, let's get real: America's policies toward Israel have not been a blessing to her. They have been a curse. George W. Bush and most other Presidents during the last 40 years have treated Israel like the proverbial red-headed step-child.
For example, America continues to furnish Israel's enemies with three times more aid and assistance than it does Israel. Three times. Is that being a blessing to Israel? America gives unflinching and magnanimous support to militant Muslim governments such as Saudi Arabia. There is no nation in the Middle East that has harbored, trained, supplied, and supported more terrorists than Saudi Arabia. Is that being a blessing to Israel? In addition, every time an American President wants to meddle in Middle Eastern affairs, he insists that Israel give up land for peace. President Bush is doing that very thing anew and afresh at this very moment. Is that being a blessing to Israel?
Let me assure the reader (if he or she needs assurance) that Israel knows how to defend itself. In fact, Israel has over 300 nuclear weapons. Israel has enough weaponry and nuclear capability to take out any threat to its sovereignty that any Arab nation--or group of Arab nations--could mount against it.
Herein lies another problem: it is a heavy-handed, dictatorial, do-as-I-say foreign policy from Washington, D.C., that prevents Israel from defending itself. Before Tel Aviv can do anything, it must come hat-in-hand to Washington for permission.
If Iraq was a legitimate threat, Israel could have taken out Baghdad, Saddam Hussein, and his entire army with little difficulty. The same is true right now with Iran. If Iran is a legitimate threat, Israel could launch whatever attack is necessary to defend itself. It should not need Washington's permission. Israel is a sovereign nation. It should have the right to defend itself as it deems necessary. Frankly, it is none of Washington's business. The truth is, Israel's perennial precariousness is a direct result of Washington's constant interference.
Ron Paul would put an end to Washington's deleterious and insatiable appetite for nation-building and entangling alliances. The result would be a stronger Israel and a more stable Middle East. Not to mention the lack of resentment and hatred that results from the worldwide perception that America is an arrogant and bullying country.
Furthermore, Christians need to understand that Jewish interests are not always harmonious with the interests of Christianity or the interests of the United States. Israel certainly did not act in a friendly fashion when it attacked the Navy intelligence ship, the USS Liberty, in 1967. That attack was the second deadliest against a U.S. vessel since the end of World War II. The attack also marked the single greatest loss of life by the U.S. intelligence community. 34 U.S. servicemen were killed and 173 were wounded in that attack. In addition, Israel is often found to be engaged in espionage within the United States. Should America turn a blind eye to such activities? Of course not.
Beyond that, Hebrew Christians are still pretty much regarded as second-class citizens in Israel. There is no freedom of religion for Christians in Israel. I have spoken at the only two Baptist churches in Israel (at that time): the First Bible Baptist Church in Jerusalem and the Bible Baptist Church in Bethlehem. The vast majority of the churches' members were Palestinian or Arab; they were not Jewish. Most of the opposition to Christianity in Israel comes from Jews not Arabs.
Evangelical Christians in the United States also need to seriously consider the impact of America's actions upon the Christian missionaries throughout the world, but especially in the Middle Eastern world. There are numerous Christian missionaries throughout the Muslim states. Ask any of them and they will tell you that America's meddlesome foreign policy makes their job harder--not easier.
What I am saying is that Ron Paul's position on Israel is not problematic for Israel's future security or prosperity. And neither is it problematic for America's future security and prosperity. In fact, Ron Paul's foreign policy is compatible with both historic American principles--not to mention constitutional government--and with deeply regarded Christian principles. The real problem is that many evangelical Christians have themselves lost their appreciation and understanding of these principles.
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