An understanding of these particular perspectives will help clarify the division over the current crisis in the Middle East. Christians who oppose Marxist ideology and who agree on the root essentials of the faith should maintain their Christian fellowship even if they have different approaches to this particular question.
On October 7, 2023, terrorists from the Palestinian organization Hamas in Gaza invaded the nation Israel and killed more than thirteen hundred Israelis, mostly civilians. The terrorists also engaged in rapes, mutilations and kidnappings. In response, the nation of Israel declared war against Hamas. In America, the reaction to these events has been quite diverse. On one extreme have been those who openly side with Hamas. On the other extreme have been those who promote unconditional support for the nation Israel as a religious obligation. In the middle are two other views which have had less exposure. I believe that a brief explanation of these four perspectives would bring needed clarity to this issue.
Let’s begin with those who openly side with Hamas. This group would include those who are themselves radical Islamists, but the group is broader than that. The larger group also includes many who are committed to wokeism or cultural Marxism.
Classical Marxism believes in a dialectical struggle between workers and the capitalist owners of the means of production. According to Karl Marx, this struggle between these two antithetical economic classes should naturally develop into the synthesis of a communist society. This prediction failed to materialize because the wealth gap between workers and owners of the means of production decreased over time in capitalist countries rather than increased. Workers who share in a growing material prosperity are not inclined toward Marxist revolution.
Some Marxists reacted to this failure by looking for potential areas of dialectical struggle other than economic class. The result was critical theory, which categorizes people as members of identity groups and labels these groups as either the oppressed or oppressors. Critical theory largely negates the concept of individual responsibility by emphasizing the guilt or innocence of the identity group. If one is a member of an oppressed identity group, then whatever he does is justified as a form of resistance to oppression. If one is a member of an oppressor identity group, then whatever he does is condemned as an effort to maintain the power to oppress. The most that a member of an oppressor identity group can do to redeem himself is to become an ally of the appropriate oppressed identity group. This involves confessing his own guilt due to a group identity that he cannot change, condemning his own identity group and championing the cause of the oppressed identity group. Critical theory has identified as oppressed identity groups people of color, indigenous people, the LGBTQ community, the handicapped, the obese and others. Many advocates of critical theory have decided to categorize Hamas as an oppressed identity group and Jews as an oppressor identity group. This means that even if Hamas engages in murder, mutilations, rape and kidnappings, these are accepted as justified means of resistance to oppression. This means that even if the nation Israel engages in self-defense through a traditional just war, this is condemned as a means to maintain its power to oppress. Hopefully the inclusion of a terrorist group such as Hamas in the big tent of cultural Marxism will accelerate the growing backlash against wokeism and cultural Marxism.
The above perspective is probably the one with the most public exposure through news reporting. A second perspective has received a lot of public exposure through advertising. This second perspective unconditionally supports the nation Israel as a religious obligation. This perspective is a relatively recent variation of the prosperity gospel.
In general, the prosperity gospel teaches that anyone can through faith obtain health and wealth. There is some truth in this message in that God does at times reward obedience in this life, not because God has any obligation to do so but because God freely chooses to do so. God rewards a Christian’s obedience in this life only as far as it serves for God’s glory and the Christian’s good (Westminster Shorter Catechism Q. 66). As demonstrated in the book of Job, God sometimes has reasons for allowing the faithful to suffer. The prosperity gospel contradicts this biblical balance through a one sided emphasis on divine blessings in this life.
In the past, preachers of the prosperity gospel challenged people to exercise faith by sending money in support of their ministry. This was presented as fulfilling a vow or sowing a seed that would ensure divine blessings. In recent years, some prosperity proponents have adjusted their message by presenting faith as sending money in support of their ministry to the nation Israel or needy Jews. One favorite proof text has been God’s promise to Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you…” (Genesis 12:3a). This is presented as a divine promise that any individual or nation that blesses the nation Israel or a needy Jewish individual will receive divine blessings. Another favored proof text has been “‘Comfort, yes, comfort My people!’ says your God” (Isaiah 40:1). This is presented as a command from God for people to help the nation Israel or needy Jewish individuals. There has developed in recent years an international coalition of groups with this perspective. They are now the strongest Christian advocates for unconditional support for the nation Israel and for needy individual Jews. They tend to prioritize support for Israel over evangelistic missions to Israel.