OST is closed for business but its spirit survives on my blog.
Gotcha. First of all, this could quickly become a major analysis of ME geo-politics and theory etc. Obviosuly we cannot do that. But as for your specific point:
Yours is less of an analysis of this particular verse and more of an articulation of the left-wing critique of right-wing eschatology and its negative effects of geo-politics particularly in the ME. Gershom Gorenborg’s End of Days is an excellent critique in this regard. Personally, I agree with you to a degree. But I don’t believe that futurism - or more accurately the concept of Israel as the people that God will eventually deliver (after 2/3 of them are slaughtered) and Islam as the antagonistic ideology need to be changed simply because it can most certainly be offensive. Whenever a teaching is carried to extremes by the students of that perspective, there will always be those who reflect poorly on the teaching itself. Though not the best example here probably, beause I tend to strongly disagree with these guys overall anyway, but the faith teachers for example so infamous, rarely teach things quite as dastardly as thier students carry out, though a few do. In other words, among the students of any particular theology there willalways be the simple who will carry it to extremes. The Bible says that we were born into a family of fools and as such many of us will continue to act foolish.
So are there those who will hear, for instance the concept of Islam as the final Beast empire, and respond in fear toward Muslims? Yes. What is my responsability in this? Other than fully qualifying my book with comments such as yours above regarding the fact that Islam is not monolithic, and that not all Muslims believe all of the same things, and that we need to pray to not fall into fear etc when reading my stuff. You can read my introduction to see where I’ve done this here. Read in particular the last paragraph.
Likewise there will be those from among the Emergent movement who will act self-superior or become hateful toward right-wingers, or who may scoff condescendingly and possibly act hateful toward some Catholics who pray silently outside an abortuary. Yes. Would Brian Mclaren encourage this overtly? No, but when he regularly use words like judgemental, insecure, petty, and so forth, to describe traditionalists, or right-wingers, some of his students will take that to an extreme.
So all teachings can be abused by its adherants. And some biblical teachings will simply be offensive. (Do you think Arabs like the verse that says of them “He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”) Should we then find a way to reinterpret this passage to avoid the offense?
This is my concern. Our job is to interpret the passage based on what the Bible is trying to say. Then we must take that information (some of which will be infamatory and offensive, etc.) and use it in as much of a Christ-like way as possible.
Let me give you an example Peter. Lets imagine that you were alive during Century one. You and all of your fellow Christian brothers and sisters interpret Rome was Babylon. Do you then do away with this idea so as to not inflame Christian/Roman relations? Of course not. Likewise, I have to maintain my firm belief that Jesus will literally return to Israel to deliver the Jewsish people from the surrounding nations that are bent on destroying the remaining 1/3 in the land. But I have to do so without being crass or detached from this fearful reality. Basically, I have to believe what i believe the Bible teaches and I have to do so responsibly. Beyond this, I can make no apologies.
I was accused once by a liberal professor of looking forward to the destruction of Israel and the slaughter of Jews. I was shocked. I asked him to explain. He said, well, do you look forward to Jesus’ return? I said of course. He then asked me if I believe that before Jesus returns many Jews will die on the final attack against Israel. To which I responded very soberly, “I do”. “Well then, you are looking forward to their demise”. To which I immediately responded that he likes it when his wife suffers. He looked at me. “Your wife is pregnant is she not?” “Yes she is”. He said.
“And she will certainly suffer greatly during childbirth will she not?, and Yet certainly you are looking ofrward to the birth of your child. Yet I would never be so ignorant or insensitive to state that you take pleasure in the suffering of your wife, yet you look forward to the day that she will suffer.” He looked at me and with the typical professor smile, nodded his head and pointed at me.
These are complex issues Peter. I understand your concern for sure. But My first responsaiblity is the the text and then eqaully to the people that it affects. On this aspect of things, our hearts are in agreement I believe.