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1.14.2005    |    Shalom?
A full-page ad appears in today's New York Times, headlined "A Call for Peacemaking." It is sponsored by a left-leaning Jewish group calling itself "The Shalom Center" Shalom, of course, being the Hebrew word for "peace." By which these folks seem to mean intellectual and moral surrender. The ad is typical left-leaning fare: all problems may be placed at America's doorstep, we are evil, and only the "international community" has the moral standing to save the world.

Actually, that's a little harsh. But the ad, and the Shalom Center website, have a mix of new-age Jewish spirituality, liberal politics (very liberal), and a kumbayah-ish approach: one may almost hear the ever-sincere birkenstock-wearing Volvo-driving libs whine, "can't we all just get along?"

The ad, which is particularly offensive in that it carelessly, and with saccharine tugs on the heartstrings, tells us that we all, Jews, Christians, Muslims, "are members of the families of Abraham." The true gist of Shalom Center might be expressed by this bit of wishful thinking in the ad:
Our traditions teach us to have compassion, seek justice, and pursue peace for all peoples.
At the risk of being insensitive, this is just so much intellectual porridge. Mush, in another word. To be certain, all three "traditions" contain these noble thoughts. The three so-called Abrahamic faiths, however, could not be more different in their foundations and in how those foundations have played out in human history.

Firstly, my comment on liberal Jews generally is that they have, indeed, built upon the finest points of compassion and justice that God has given to mankind. That they are mistaken in many of their intepretations is only human. But let's go back to the foundation -- God Almighty, who instructs His people Israel to both mercy, and to justice. Divinely inspired, and, in the Hebrew Scripture, often divinely carried out.

And a harsh justice it may seem to us moderns. And which is virtually ignored by groups such as Shalom Center. God, in keeping Israel on the narrow path, has slaughtered those who stray. By way of example, consider this commandment from God, which is binding on a faithful Jew (Deuteronomy 13):
12 If you hear it said about one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you to live in 13 that wicked men have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, "Let us go and worship other gods" (gods you have not known), 14 then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly. And if it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done among you, 15 you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. Destroy it completely, both its people and its livestock.
I don't sense much compassion here for those pesky idolaters; I'd hate to see what the Big Guy might make of a Super Bowl half-time show. In short, starry-eyed proponents of "peace in our time" through the good offices of the "international community" blithely ignore the judgment of the Lord on sinners. God is both mercy, and justice -- and sorry, that justice isn't just about a living wage.

Just so you know I'm not picking on the Jews qua Jews, I know that Christians may have fine-sounding words of peace from our Savior in the Gospels, but then our "traditions" have often been anything but peaceful and compassionate. As for Muslims, suffice to say that they got their start by perverting the very Scriptures shared by Jews and Christians in the first place. Virtually their entire history has been one of violent conquest and conversion at the point of a sword. Islamic compassion, as was most recently demonstrated in their approach to relief efforts in Indonesia, for the most part appears limited to fellow Muslims. The Koran, and "traditions" both seem to emphasize the conversion, subjugation, or, if these fail, killing of the "infidel" -- mostly Jews and Christians, but including Buddhists and Hindus.

Just in case you've not been keeping up with current events, Shalom Center. The shalom that they pursue would likely result in the peace of the grave for far too many Jews and Christians.

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.