Author Archives: unconventionalchristians

Thank you for the tweets!

I thought I’d take a moment to acknowledge those of you who have RT’d my articles, either from this blog or from Sojourners. I downloaded the Twitter app about a month ago, and earlier this week I got a status update on my notifications bar (the best feature of the Android!) telling me that I’ve received lots of messages from Twitter. Some of them were RT’s with really nice comments. Others were personal messages to me, which I haven’t responded to…..which is why I’m writing this.

Two things you need to know about me.

1. I’m a technological ignoramus.

2. I’m a technological ignoramus.

3. I can’t count.

That joke was a lot better in my head.

Anyways, if I don’t respond to your tweets, or thank you for your RT’s, know that I really do appreciate it. I JUST DON’T GET TWITTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Face Book is a lot easier for me, so feel free to friend me here!

P.S. I’m officially blogging for the Huffington Post now.

P.P.S. I’ve been asked to edit/run a website called The Middle East Experience, which will feature experts on the Middle East from around the world. I can’t wait to let you know when that’s up!

P.P.P.S.

That last P.P.P.S. was supposed to be a joke, because it sounds like something funny.

Okay, I’ll stop now.

Christian Pacifism, 30th anniversary Kindle edition–Free!

This came to me via e-mail this morning. I’ve been trying to post something every day, but I’m up to my ears this week working on a book proposal, so this was a win/win. I get an easy post, and my readers (and me) get something free!—-Aaron

Free eBook–Wednesday, March 07, 2012 thru Sunday, March 11, 2012

Christian Pacifism: Fruit of the Narrow Way

30th Anniversary Kindle Edition

“Beautifully Written with Truth and Grace”

Amazon allows authors/publishers to give away their Kindle book in a one-time, 5 days only offer

For UK:

While the “Kindle price” shows $0.00, just click the “Buy now” button

If you do not have an Amazon account, you can register with an email address…that is all.

If you do not have a Kindle, Amazon will give you a free reading app for PC to download when you “Buy” or go to this link:

OR for “Read Anywhere” apps [Mac, iPhone, Blackberry, etc.] here:

30th Anniversary Edition of Christian Pacifism

Originally published by Friends United Press, copyright 1981, Christian Pacifism: Fruit of the Narrow Way, by Michael [C] Snow [Earlham School of Religion, ‘81], is now in an “ebook” edition.

In the new Preface, the author writes, “May we all continue to seek first His Kingdom… I pray that this new release…will be a help to pilgrims on that path.”

The original book finally came off the press in January of 1982. It was featured as the selection of the month for the Quaker Book Club in March. The cover art, by graphic artist Susanna Combs, was also featured in a poster and on the cover of Quaker Life for the July-August issue of that year.

In the review in The Friend (UK), Eva Pinthus wrote, “There are few Friends, and even fewer books, that can help evangelical Christians to become convinced of the truth of the Friends’ peace testimony…. Thus we welcome Michael Snow’s rather brief but challenging book.”

Though the original book is currently out-of-print, it has remained readily available through online used book vendors. And a WorldCat library search via the internet shows that it is still available at over 50, mostly university and seminary libraries.

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[Any feedback as to whether there would be an interest in a new print edition would be appreciated. It would probably need to sell about 100 copies to pay for the cost of making it available through POD (print on demand).]

[Also, if there is any interest in this as a Nook Book, send me a vote for it. Kindle requires exclusive rights for this offer for a 90 day period, so I had to remove Christian Pacifism from Barnes and Noble, but there had been no sales there, anyway. Unless there is some interest expressed for the Nook edition, I will leave it exclusively on Amazon so that it remains available in the Kindle library.]

An Open Letter to American Churches for Peace

I’ve been interacting with Norman Horn over the past several weeks. He’s the owner of the site Libertarian Christians. While I don’t consider myself a libertarian, I have great respect for the libertarian perspective (which I encourage you to learn more about at Norman’s site). If there’s one thing I appreciate the most about American libertarians, it’s that they’re by far the most consistently anti-war in their political philosophy. I would argue that American libertarians (a sub-group within the modern conservative movement) are more consistent in their critiques of U.S. foreign policy than their liberal counterparts. As I’ve been working (along with Rick Love at Peace Catalyst) to put together a network called Evangelicals for Peace, it’s been a pleasure engaging with Norman. As you read Norman’s open letter, whether you agree with him or not, think about the counter-cultural nature of the prophetic calling of the Church——Aaron

By Norman Horn

To Churches across America, grace and peace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ:

Without fail, churches all throughout America pray publicly about America’s troops. On any given Sunday, one can hear people pray for men and women in the military, that they receive “special measures of protection” as they fight to “protect our freedoms” and “serve our country.” While we understand the concerns of church members who have friends and family in the armed forces, and while we sincerely hope for their safe return immediately, we find that these kinds of prayers are neglectful of another group – those victims who suffer wrongfully from this war, to whom we are indeed responsible in part for their suffering. Regardless of one’s opinion of these wars, we think that all can agree upon inspection that this practice can and should change to be more inclusive.

For instance, we never hear prayers for our fellow Christians who live in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since the US invasion in 2003, Christians who were tolerated in the past have been repeatedly persecuted and frequently even killed by indiscriminate warfare or surging extremist groups, and nearly half of the Christian population of 800,000 in Iraq has either fled the country or died. In March 2010 alone, over 4,000 Christians were displaced from their homes following unrest in the northern city of Mosul. Many more have confined themselves to their homes for their own safety.

Moreover, we rarely, if ever, hear prayers for the innocent people in Iraq that die on a daily basis, either from indiscriminate killing by our own military or civil unrest that results from a country torn apart by war. The lowest estimates of non-combatant deaths in Iraq number greater than 100,000. Unfortunately, over time our sensibilities and attitudes toward this war – which is now the longest prolonged conflict in American history – have become desensitized and lackadaisical, and thus we often forget these innocent people.

We appeal to churches everywhere, and especially to church leaders, to lead the way toward recognizing this issue with two simple proposals. First, we propose that if a church bulletin includes prayer request for “Family Members in the Military,” that it should also include mention of the innocent and oppressed in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially our Iraqi and Afghan brothers and sisters in Christ, and for an end to war. Second, we propose that the church leaders take the lead in consistently mentioning the same in prayer with the congregation on Sunday mornings. If the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective, then surely instituting this practice will do good both for these victims and for our own spirits.

We support this appeal with Scripture in two ways. First, if you consider these people as we do, that they are innocent victims and have been wronged by their own leaders, by extremists, and by our own military, then may we pray to God as Jesus taught his disciples: to be “delivered from evil.” If we can pray this for ourselves, surely we can do so for others. But second, if you still consider these people our enemies, then may we do as Jesus said in Matthew 5: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” May this be the beginning of understanding what Jesus said moments before, “Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

Changing our practice to include praying for the oppressed is not a political statement. In fact, this is not a political issue in the least; on the contrary it is a moral and theological issue. If we are to pray “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” then we should take seriously that Jesus came and died to proclaim peace on earth and to liberate the oppressed. We may expect that “wars and rumors of wars” will always exist, but this does not require a condoning or defeatist attitude of such events. Rather, this understanding should make us more sensitive and more compassionate toward those who suffer.

To conclude, war is arguably the most destructive human activity ever devised, and it is an intensely serious moral and theological issue because of its finality for those involved either directly as soldiers or indirectly as innocents. It is right to earnestly pray for our family members participating in war, but let us not become callous to the suffering of others, especially those to whom we are indirectly responsible for their suffering. Therefore, we should let our congregational prayers reflect our concern for them. In Christ,

Norman Horn

Source:LibertarianChristians.com

These Are Your Grandbabies!

By Bob Kellemen

Sister Ellen Barney is the First Lady (Sr. Pastor’s wife) of a predominantly African American mega-church church near Baltimore, Maryland. For over a decade she has equipped over 1,000 women in her LEAD (Life Encouragers And Disciplers) Ministry.

They do it up big! Their graduation ceremonies are better than many colleges. I remember the first time Sister Ellen invited me to be their commencement speaker. As she introduced me, she looked over the crowd of over 50 graduates, looked at me, and said, “These are your grandbabies Dr. Kellemen! You trained me and I trained them!” Now, years later, as Sister Ellen has trained trainers who train others, she tells me, “Dr. Kellemen, these are your great-great-grandbabies!”

The Ministry Mindset Shift That Changes Everything: Every Member a Disciple-Maker

Do you want to be a spiritual grandparent—discipling disciple-makers? It requires a ministry mindset shift implanted by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:11-16.

“It was he who gave some to be … pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service…” (Ephesians 4:11-12a).

Christ’s grand plan for His Church is for pastors/teachers to focus on equipping every member to do the work of the ministry. In the context of Ephesians 4:11-16, that work is nothing less than making disciple-makers through the personal ministry of the Word.

When leaders and members fulfill their purposes together the Body of Christ builds itself up in two specific, cohesive ways: doctrinal unity and spiritual maturity (Ephesians 4:12-13). When a congregation knows the truth not just academically, but personally, their love abounds in knowledge and depth of insight (Philippians 1:9-11).

The Résumé of the People of God

We often miss the vital real-life, how-to application of every-member disciple-making that Paul embeds in Ephesians 4. How does the church come to unity and maturity? Exactly what are pastors equipping people to do? Specifically how do members do the work of the ministry?

Paul answers: By “speaking the truth in love” we grow up in Christ (Ephesians 4:15). Every word in this passage funnels toward this remarkable phrase “speaking the truth in love.”

Christ’s grand plan for His Church is for every member to be a disciple-maker by speaking and living Gospel truth to one another in love.

Paul selects an unusual Greek word which we often translate as “speaking the truth.” Actually, we should translate it both as speaking and living the truth. We might even coin the phrase “truthing.” Paul likely had in mind Psalm 15 where the Psalmist asks, “Who may dwell in your sanctuary?” He answers: “He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart” (Psalm 15:2). Who can serve in God’s sanctuary, the church—the one who embodies the truth in relationships.

The word for “truthing” that Paul uses means transparent, truthfulness, genuine, authentic, reliable, sincere. It describes the person who ministers from a heart of integrity and Christ-like, grace-oriented love. It pictures the person whose relational style is transparent and trustworthy.

The tense and context indicates that the Body of Christ should continually, actively, and collectively be embodying truth in love as it walks together in intimate, vulnerable connection. In one word, Paul combines content, character, and competence shared in community (compare Romans 15:14).

While the word means more than speaking, it does not mean less than speaking. While it means more than sheer factual content, it does not mean less than the Gospel fully applied. Paul uses the identical word in Galatians 4:16. There he is clearly speaking of preaching, teaching, and communicating the truth of the Gospel of Christ’s grace (salvation) applied to daily growth in Christ (progressive sanctification).

The Gospel-Centered Personal Ministry of the Word<p>

Combine Galatians 4:16 with Ephesians 4:16, both in context, and we find an amazing description of Gospel-centered biblical counseling—of the personal ministry of the Word. Speaking the truth in love involves:

Communicating Gospel truth about grace-focused sanctification in word, thought, and action through one-another relationships that have integrity, genuineness, authenticity, transparency, and reliability, done in love to promote the unity and maturity of the Body of Christ for the ultimate purpose of displaying the glory of Christ’s grace.

The normal agenda and priority of every Christian is to make disciple-makers. Christ’s training strategy for disciple-making involves pastors and teachers equipping every member to embody the truth in love through the personal ministry of the Word—biblical counseling.

What happens when leaders focus their calling on equipping God’s people to make disciple-makers through the personal ministry of the Word by speaking and living the truth in love? Paul shows us in Ephesians 4:16. The Body in robust health grows and builds itself up in love as each part does its work. In other words, we birth spiritual grandbabies!

Join the Conversation

Who are your “spiritual grandbabies”?

Note: This post was developed from material in Dr. Kellemen’s book, Equipping Counselors for Your Church http://bit.ly/EC4YC4E.

Bio:

Bob Kellemen, Th.M., Ph.D., is the Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition, the Executive Director of the Center for Church Equipping, the Founder and CEO of RPM Ministries, and the Chairman of the MA in Christian Counseling and Discipleship department at Capital Bible Seminary. Bob has pastored three churches and is the author of six books, including Equipping Counselors for Your Church.

God is pro-peace

By Aaron D. Taylor

On January 31st 2004, the late Jerry Falwell wrote an article for the World Net Daily called God is pro-war. While the article was intended to rally support for President Bush and the invasion of Iraq, for many it left the indelible impression that evangelicals are uber-nationalistic war- mongers, willing to plunge the world into endless conflict in order to fulfill their apocalyptic fantasies. As a person who (loosely) identifies with the evangelical tradition, allow me to make a clear, unambiguous, declaration:

God is pro-peace!

You may be thinking, “Just how exactly does a guy who claims to believe in the inspiration of Scripture arrive at the conclusion that God is pro-peace? Has this guy even read the Bible? Or maybe he’s one of those amnesia-type Christians, the ones that read through the Bible every year as part of their daily devotions, and every time they get to the slavery and genocide passages, their mind goes______________.

Maybe it wasn’t those exact words, but believe me, I get it!

What about the Canaanites? The Jebusites? The Amalekites? That verse in the Psalms about babies that nobody wants to talk about? And the one about women being forced to marry their—oh my! Did Moses really command the Israelites to march into towns and kill everything that breathes? What about hell? The infinite inferno that evangelicals believe awaits everybody (except for them) after they die? The god that evangelicals worship, the one that allegedly hates gays, Muslims ,socialists, and feminists—is pro-peace?

I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t agonized over some of the awful things that are in the Bible, as well as the picture of God that many associate with the evangelical tradition, but at the end of the day my faith isn’t about who gets into heaven and who doesn’t, it’s not about whether hell is literal, metaphorical, or temporal; it’s not about which political system God likes more than others, and most importantly, it’s not even about which system of Biblical interpretation is the right one, whether the Bible is factually inerrant in every detail or whether vast sections of the Bible can be understood as allegorical, these are all important questions, but they all miss the point. At the heart of the evangelical tradition (and indeed, the Christian faith), is the conviction that God’s character is fully and finally revealed in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

This is why I can say that God is pro-peace….Because Jesus is pro-peace.

Jesus said, “Love your enemies” and “Blessed are the peacemakers.” He refused to participate in violent insurrection against the Romans even though, by all standards, throwing off the Roman occupiers would have been a “just war.” As the Roman soldiers were piercing his flesh and crowning him with thorns, his response was “Father forgive them.”

The New Testament boldly declares that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God”, “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.” (Colossians 1:15 and Hebrews 1:3) Notice the word exact. Exact is a strong word that leaves no wiggle room for deviation. God is exactly like Jesus. This means that whatever image of God I might have, whether it comes from my circumstances or life experiences, whether it comes from my imagination or even my own religious tradition, if the image of God in my head can’t be reconciled with the man who loved, blessed, and prayed for his enemies even while they were crucifying him—then that image is wrong!

Today the drumbeats of war are sounding again, and this time the anti-Christ du jour is Iran, the country (ironically) strengthened by our last invasion. If you’re wondering if evangelicals can summon the resources within their faith to encourage proactive peace making, the answer is a clear and unambiguous yes. If God is like Jesus, then God is pro-peace.

I pray the message is clearer this time around.

A version of this article is on God’s Politics

What Ireland can teach the U.S. about the separation of church and state

I read this the other day on my Android via The Week app. Thought my readers might enjoy it too. It’s a sobering reminder that even if the U.S. were to suddenly outlaw abortion and teach Christianity in the schools, like many religious conservatives want (or at least something close to that), that’s not going to magically solve our nation’s problems. History shows that when religion is mandated by the State, people become less religious, not more religious. —–Aaron

By Tish Durkin

I never thought I’d find myself living Rick Santorum’s dream, but here I am. After all, I live in Ireland, where there has never been any of the “absolute separation of church and state” that Santorum and a politically significant, passionately committed bloc of like-minded religious conservatives abhor. Far from limiting state involvement in religion, the Irish constitution enshrines it. There isn’t just prayer in most public schools; there is full-on Christian — almost always Catholic — education. (Just last week, on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, my 6-year-old skipped in from her government-funded school with a cross of soot on her forehead.) Government agencies sometimes give cash to poor families to help cover the costs of First Holy Communion and Confirmation finery; recently, when the continuation of this practice in fiscally strangled times caused a public outcry, the objection was that such grants were unaffordable, not that they were religious.

To continue reading this entry, click here!

The search for full moon eyes

By Dan Sidey

I came upon this poem recently:

With That Moon Language

Admit something:

Everyone you see, you say to them,

“Love me.”

Of course you do not do this out loud; Otherwise,

Someone would call the cops.

Still though, think about this,

This great pull in us to connect.

Why not become the one

Who lives with a full moon in each eye

That is always saying

With that sweet moon

Language

What every other eye in this world

Is dying to

Hear.

-Hafez

I resonate so deeply with this poem. I am one of those who is walking around everywhere looking for Full Moon Eyes. Before I was a Christian it seemed the only ones who noticed were the cops! But thank God that changed. My journey into finding Full Moon Eyes began early in life when I was in college in Portland, Oregon. It was a very tumultuous time for me. I was navigating the labyrinth of dating, longing to experience new life and throw off my noose of self-addiction. This is when Herb Heofer became a professor at Concordia, where I was attending. Herb was very different then the others. There seemed to be an insatiable desire for adventure and excellence about him. He and his wife, Carol, were leading a trip to China. Atarah and I thought it would be a great way to get our feet wet in missions. It was on that trip we began to learn that Herb and Carol’s greatest quality is their love.

After going to China, Herb and Carol began to invite us to their house for meals. They would listen deeply to us, laugh with us, grieve with us and offer little bits of advice at just the right moments. They bestowed love on us in a way we had never experienced before. After each meal with them, Atarah and I would say our goodbyes then sit in the car outside their house and have a conversation that went something like this:

“Wow…did that really just happen?”

“I think so.”

“Did you enjoy that as much as I did?” “I did.”

“Do you think it will happen again?”

We’ve had this conversation innumerable times over the years while in the Hoefer’s driveway, always ending in “Do you think it will happen again?” At some point we realized that this question wasn’t really about the Hoefers. It became for us a question about divine acceptance and the enfolding arms of God’s Family. We were becoming insiders into a Kingdom we didn’t even know existed.

When you look out the windows of our house, you see the bleak wall of a youth center. When we first moved here there was a little ivy on it. Last year we had to tear the ivy down, because it was tearing the gutter off the center, growing into their ceiling and popping up in the middle of the kids play area inside. None of us noticed the ivy until it was demanding a response. There came a day God’s love through the Hoefers demanded a response of us. “Will you let my arms reach out through you also?”

Today my family lives in Mills. It’s the section of Klamath Falls that people typically avoid, because of the run down houses, rough looking individuals walking to and fro, and the typically darker skin of folks in a very white town.

One of the first children we got to know in Mills is Mary. After spending less than a few hours with us she joyously exclaimed “I think I want to come here every day!” We couldn’t help thinking “What have we gotten ourselves into?!” But Mary has grown to be one of the children so special and beautiful to us that she can come even on the days that are reserved just for our family. Last week for Valentines day we decided to celebrate the true spirit of St. Valentine and threw a feast inviting a few children. Mary was one of these and when it was over she jubilantly expressed “I wish we could freeze this moment!” Mary is searching for Full Moon Eyes and I’m deeply humbled that our searching has brought us together to be God’s Family.

My son, Chris, is in first grade. When we first met Anna, one of Chris’ classmates, she was very quiet and her hair was in her face veiling her search for Full Moon Eyes. I learned her name and soon she wanted a hug every morning before school. She began talking about wanting to come to our house like other children have. The chance came before school and she came over just for a moment. It was a cold snowy day so we ate cookies and drank hot chocolate. Later in the classroom she proclaimed, as heartily as one of those at God’s banqueting table, “Chris, I came to your house today!!”

I’ve learned about the value of God’s acceptance from my neighbors, the Markfords, also. In their house of three bed rooms, lived thirteen people. A friend was having problems with domestic violence so the Markfords opened their home to this family of four. Atarah and I couldn’t help but ask “What does this mean for us who have far more room then they do?”

I’m seeing the signs of something I’ve never thought imaginable. God’s Family is forming in our midst. Like our ivy its tearing and scraping at the walls of this place, popping up in our dining area, spreading into our neighbors’ yards. How could we have missed it? Jesus is in our midst… and he has Full Moon Eyes.

On Jihad and the burning of holy books

By Carl Medearis

You could only imagine how many times in a week (or day) I get asked questions like “Do you think we should bomb Iran?” Or… “Do you think Iran is going to get nuclear weapons and then will bomb Israel?” Or… “Why do the Muslims get so angry when we accidentally burn their Qur’an and yet they seem to feel free to burn our Bible?”

I remember being in southern Iraq a few years ago and the bus boy at the hotel where we were staying looked at me with large brown innocent eyes and asked “Sir, why do the Americans hate us?”

Actually in 30 years I can’t count the times when an Arab Muslim has asked similar questions. “Why do you want to take over the world?” They ask. Or… “I don’t understand why America doesn’t care about Palestinians who are being killed?” And… “Do all Americans love their family the way you do? Because I have never heard of such nice Americans before.”

Funny how this works. Lack of understanding usually goes both ways. And misunderstanding between potential enemies is dangerous. When we don’t personally know someone we can easily fall into fear. And fear leads to all things bad.

I remember early on during our Lebanon years a family saying to Chris and I that they could never become Christians because they LOVED their family. That meant, that what they thought of Americans/Christians (which they see as the same thing) are only people who don’t love each other. Who get divorced. Who send their kids off to colleges far away when they turn 18 (like we’ve done). And they – being good God fearing family oriented Muslims – could never do that.

So back to the questions. Why do they seem to hate us? Want to kill us? Bomb Israel?

To continue reading this entry, click here!

A father’s blessing

I thought I’d share with you a blessing I pray over my children every night before they go to bed. It’s a combination of four passages of Scripture (Numbers 6:24-26, 3rd John 2, Psalms 91:10,16, II Thessalonians 3:3)

May the Lord bless you. May the Lord keep you. May the Lord cause his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up his countenance towards you and give you peace. May you prosper in all things and be in good health, even as your soul prospers. No evil shall befall you. Neither shall any plague come near your dwelling. With long life he shall satisfy you and show you his salvation. The Lord shall establish your hearts and guard you from the evil one.

An Israeli response to the Arab Peace Initiative

When it comes to proposals to end the Israel/Palestine conflict, the Arab Peace Initiative is most comprehensive one that comes to mind, yet a lot of American Christians believe that any peace initiative proposed by Arabs is simply a trick to weaken Israel’s defenses, so that they can slaughter them later! Well, it turns out there’s a group of highly influential Israelis starting to take the API seriously, and they’ve responded with a peace plan of their own. I have my friend Carl Medearis to thank for bringing this to my attention.

I’m sharing this for two reasons:

1. It’s a very good summary of the most problematic issues of the conflict, and proposes reasonable solutions.

2. It shows that the extremely hawkish position of Netanyahu and the Likkud party (which many mistakenly presume is the Israeli perspective) is not the only Israeli perspective out there.—–Aaron

In light of the continuing political stalemate over the past years, and especially in view of the current dramatic events that are taking place in the area, and their effect on the State of Israel, its security and its international status, we call upon the government of Israel to make a courageous decision and take the initiative, the purpose of which is to advance a regional peace agreement in the Middle East, to strengthen the security of Israel in the tumultuous region and its problematic international standing.

We call upon the government to present a framework for the conclusion of the Israel-Arab conflict, as a comprehensive response to the 2002 Arab peace initiative. Israel must decide on its future from a position of strength and not to be dragged along by events.

We present the public and its elected representatives with our proposal for an Israel Peace Initiative, which has been developed over the past years with the aid of Israeli experts, based on the known solutions to all the basic problems in the area (for example, the Clinton parameters, the proposals put forth Barak at Camp David, the Olmert and Livni understandings in the framework of the Annapolis process, the talks with Syria from the time of Rabin, Netanyahu, Barak till Olmert). We have a strong basis to believe that the initiative will be accepted favorably by the Arab capitals and the Palestinian leadership.

We hope that brave leaders will be found in Israel, in the area and in the international community who will translate the Arab and Israeli vision for peace into reality, instead of waiting for vain magic to take place.

Following are the main principles of our proposal:

Israel will accept the Arab initiative of 2002 as a basis for negotiations for peace agreements in the area, and will present her ideas on the points of dispute.

Israel will announce that her strategic aim is to reach a permanent agreement with the Palestinian Authority, as well as permanent peace agreements with Syria and Lebanon that will put an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict on the basis of the following principles:

1. A solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict through “two states for two peoples”, which shall form two nation states – one for the Jewish people and one for the Palestinian people (including the implementation of the Declaration of Independence from 1948 regarding the equality of Arab citizens in Israel).

2.The establishment of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on the basis of the 1967 lines, and territory swaps on a 1:1basis, in limited scope.

3.The Palestinian state will be demilitarized with control over its internal security, side by side with strict security measures on its borders.

4.Jerusalem will be the capital of both peoples, whereas the Jewish neighborhoods, the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter will be under Israeli sovereignty and the temple mount shall remain under a special no-sovereignty regime (“G-d sovereignty”) with special arrangements. Israeli Jerusalem will be acknowledged as the capital of Israel.

5. An agreed upon solution regarding the problem of the refugees on the basis of financial compensation and their return to Palestinian territory only (with symbolic and agreed upon exceptions).

6. An agreement with Syria that is based on the gradual withdrawal to the 1967 borders (similar to the model in Sinai), a 1:1 exchange of territories and broad security measures on the border.

7. A peace agreement with Lebanon based on the UN decision 1701 and on significant security measures on the border.

8. A commitment by Syria, Lebanon and Palestine to prevent terror and to discontinue cooperation with hostile entities and states.

9. The establishment of regional security arrangements between Israel, Arab states and the international community.

10. The building of regional economic development in order to ensure prosperity and stability among all the people of the area.

11. The advancement of normal relations between Israel and the Arab world and Islamic countries will take place alongside progress in the negotiations, coupled with mutual commitment towards peace education and the prevention of incitement.

The Advantages of the Initiative

1. The uniqueness of the initiative is that it provides an answer to the Arab initiative, with a wide perspective of the future of the area and not only regarding the topics of the conflict but from a strategic political, security and economic perspective.

2.Israel demonstrates that she is ready for far-reaching concessions only if the recompense will be the conclusion of the conflict and the end to all claims alongside significant security measures.

3. The actual announcement of the Israeli initiative will open channels to both new and old Arab leaders, will break the circle of isolation and international de-legitimization and will prevent international pressure and forced solutions.

4.Israel is sending an important message to the Arab public in general and to its youth in particular, that she is a true partner for peace, democracy and economic prosperity in the area.

5.It is possible to translate the initiative to progress in each channel simultaneously and without pre-conditions.

6.It is possible to use the initiative as a framework for a permanent agreement or an agreed-upon political horizon in the context of interim agreements.

Okay, so I lied. There’s a third reason why I wanted to share this with you, so that I can say this:

Don’t buy into the lie that Jews and Arabs are destined to fight each other until Jesus comes back! That is a self-fulfilling, self-defeating gross misreading of the Scriptures…that makes a mockery of the life and teachings of the Prince of Peace!

Glad I got that off my chest.

To read the full text of the Israeli Peace Initiative, click here!

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