Letters November/December 2016

Readers respond with opinions and counsel

Credit: DesignPics Credit: DesignPics

God Himself Corrects Israel

I agree with Don Plett (An Ill-Advised Resolution Against Israel, October 2016) that Scripture tells us that Israel is a nation chosen and loved by God. I disagree with Don Plett about how to bless Israel. God has spent all of history loving and drawing unfaithful Israel back to Himself through correction and discipline, often getting very angry! I do not feel that blessing the nation of Israel means turning a blind eye to the atrocities taking place in Palestine.

Scripture is clear about how Israel is expected to behave toward the alien and stranger. Leviticus 19:34: “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” Exodus 22:21: “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him….” Deut. 10:19: “So show your love for the alien….”

I don’t know if sanctions on Israel are the appropriate Mennonite response to the oppression being wrought on Palestine. But I certainly feel that Mennonites can despise the ungodly actions of the Israeli Defense Force and ought to support some form of non-violent response to illegal settlements and brutality.

– Jen Kornelsen, Winnipeg, Man.


Conflict and Friends

I appreciate the balanced approach featuring a column by Senator Don Plett and a response from Dan Dyck, representing Mennonite Church Canada.

I agree with brother Plett that as Christians we have a connection with the Jews and are called to seek the blessing of Israel and pray for her peace.  I certainly affirm her right to exist as a sovereign people in the land.  With brother Dyck, I deplore the violence that has been perpetrated against Israel by groups such as Hamas.

While brother Plett warns that the resolution affirmed by Mennonite Church Canada delegates is “an extreme position against Israel,” he offers no alternative solution to address the ongoing conflict. Granted, no simple solution exists.  But I believe that as Christians seeking to be peacemakers, we have an opportunity and an obligation to start somewhere.

The resolution in question may in the long run achieve very limited results. But it is a way of responding to the pleas of our Christian Palestinian brothers and sisters, and can raise awareness of the issues.  To do this does not mean that you are anti-Semitic or against Israel.

I would hope that to be a friend of Israel includes being willing to challenge her on current destructive policies, and encourage her to take steps that make for peace and dignity for all within her borders.  True friends tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear.

The biblical record shows that Israel’s occupation of the land was always conditional on her faithfulness to God, including the treatment of the alien and stranger in her midst.

– Ward Parkinson, Morris, Man.


Restoration

The October 2016 issue hit on some important issues hopefully precipitating further discussion: forgiveness of sins (Harvey Plett), The Gospel defined (Darryl Klassen), and policing (Layton Friesen). Two of the articles touch on an issue needing further clarification—reconciliation.

Dr. Plett states at the end of his article that after forgiveness, “reconciliation and renewed relationship should happen” (my emphasis). Layton Friesen similarly states “we have to find more peaceful, humane and effective ways of resolving conflict. For example ‘restorative justice’….” Dr. Klassen also hints at “reconciliation” in his last paragraph.

These statements tantalizingly imply processes that are involved and far from automatic. My concern is that where there is offence, for example, in domestic abuse that there is also a justifiable loss of trust that is not easily repaired (Do we put a thief back in charge of accounts receivable?). The loss of trust often makes it pragmatically impossible for a relationship to be restored to where it once was.

The church has sometimes forced (coerced?) an abused and vulnerable spouse back to a partner who cannot be trusted, and it is predictable that the offence will recur. This puts a double onus on the person wronged—to forgive the abuser again and then to refrain from lawsuit against the church for foreseeable harm done. It is not enough merely to put the couple back together assuming that this is the biblical answer!

Some of us have also experienced cases where the church has intervened to protect the wronged spouse. These actions have at times lead to a healthy and happy remarriage or contented “singleness” opted for while the abuser usually finds little in the way of healing.

We are left with the question, then, “What is the church’s responsibility in bringing about reconciliation and healing?”

– Ray Hill, MacGregor, Man.

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