Gaza is the Moral Compass of the World

My open air preach today in Guildhall Square, Southampton at the PSC Southampton vigil for Gaza.

“If Jesus was born today, he would be born under the rubble of Gaza” My colleague, Revd Munther Isaac, is pastor of the Lutheran Church in Bethlehem. His sermon last Christmas “Christ Under the Rubble” went viral as did images of the Nativity scene in his Church – of a crib with baby Jesus placed amid a pile of rubble. Today there are 17,500 pregnant mothers fleeing Rafah alone. Christ is indeed under the rubble of Gaza. In Munther’s sermon, he strongly criticised Western political, but especially religious leaders, for their silence in the face of clear and indisputable evidence of genocide in Gaza. Silence is complicity. 

Munther went on to say “Gaza is the moral compass of the world”. Lets think about that.

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Jesus and the Pharisees: Contrasting Strategies for War and Peace: (Mark 3:1-12)

“Treacherous colleagues, competitive friends, bloody-minded commuters – it’s a war out there. And according to Robert Greene, it’s a conflict we’re ill-equipped to deal with. After analyzing the moves of history’s great military leaders, he’s written a rulebook to achieving victory in life’s daily battles.”[1]

The blurb goes on to say, “Spanning world civilizations, synthesizing dozens of political, philosophical, and religious texts and thousands of years of violent conflict, The 33 Strategies of War is a comprehensive guide to the subtle social game of everyday life informed by the most ingenious and effective military principles in war. Learn the offensive strategies that require you to maintain the initiative and negotiate from a position of strength, or the defensive strategies designed to help you respond to dangerous situations and avoid unwinnable wars.


According to Penguin the publishers, this is “An indispensable book…  The great warriors of battlefields and drawing rooms alike demonstrate prudence, agility, balance, and calm, and a keen understanding that the rational, resourceful, and intuitive always defeat the panicked, the uncreative, and the stupid… The 33 Strategies of War provides all the psychological ammunition you need to overcome patterns of failure and forever gain the upper hand.”[2]

Today we are going to learn about Jesus’ strategy, not for war but for peace. We are going to compare Jesus’ strategy with that of the Pharisees (and by way of application – observe how the same tactics are used by Zionists today). 

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The Church of England’s Complicity in the Gaza Genocide

“Gaza today has become the moral compass of the world”, insisted the Reverend Dr. Munther Isaac in his 2023 Christmas sermon, entitled, “Christ in the Rubble.” After his sermon went viral, his words were subsequently quoted by UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed.

A short video introduction to the article – viewed 18k times in the first week.

Lamentably, many Christian leaders in the USA and Europe have stood by, silent and complicit, unwilling to criticise Israel for what is increasingly recognised as a genocidal campaign against the Palestinian people. 

This article will analyse the Church of England official statements about Gaza since 7th October 2023, together with criticisms, and provide an assessment of the Church’s moral integrity in its stance on Gaza.

Download the complete article – or continue to read the summary conclusions:

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Justice for Everyone, Injustice for No One: A Christian Perspective

In this short presentation, I will be reflecting on the life and teaching of Imam Ali al-Reza,[1] from a Christian perspective. This will not however, be an exhaustive or comprehensive analysis of Islamic and Christian ethical codes, but rather a comparison of some of the examples contained in the Rezavi Codes of Ethics and Selected Sayings of Imam Reza, with similar statements found in the teaching of Jesus. 

Given that you will likely already be familiar with the example and teaching of Imam Reza, I will elaborate more on the teaching of Jesus to illustrate similarities and differences, recognising that Imam Reza, living many centuries after the New Testament was written, may well have been influenced by it, consciously or otherwise. 

However, I am not a specialist in Islamic studies, or indeed of comparative religion. Nevertheless, I have helped organise, or have contributed to, several international conferences on Christian-Muslim dialogue, for example, with the World Islamic Call Society, Libya (2009), Fuller Theological Seminary, USA (2009); the League of Arab States in Qatar (2012) and Iraq (2013), the New Horizons conference, Iran (2014), and the Institute for Advanced Islamic Studies, Malaysia (2023). 

In my own engagement with Muslims, I am deeply indebted to the Syrian Christian scholar, Chawkat Moucarry. In his life and teaching, he promotes Christian-Muslim dialogue, as well as challenges many popular stereotypes held by Christians of Muslims. In a paper entitled, “A Plea for Dialogue Between Muslims and Christians[2], Moucarry defines dialogue in these terms:

“I take dialogue to mean a deliberate effort to engage genuinely and respectfully with each other; willingness to listen and understand; a readiness to learn and be challenged; a desire to relate to, communicate with, and be understood by one another. In Christian-Muslim dialogue, the focus is the Christian and Muslim faiths and their implications for individuals and communities in this life and the next.

For many centuries Western Christians have ignored or confronted the Muslim world. Ignoring Muslims is no longer an option in our “global village” where Muslims and Christians live next to each other. Some Christians seek to reach out to Muslims in confrontation, attacking Islam in a war of words. This approach is counterproductive as it usually inspires Muslims to become more radical in their beliefs, and often provokes an offensive reaction, too—Muslims attacking Christianity even more vehemently. A polemical engagement with Islam is also incompatible with “the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15), which is about love, reconciliation, and forgiveness… Even in a heated debate the Christian apologist must refrain from polemics, personal attacks, and derisive arguments about Muslims and their religion.”

Dialogue should be understood more broadly than verbal engagement. It is a way of life: an open attitude toward others, seeking to reach out and to welcome people, including those who are different or even antagonistic.” [3]

With that objective in mind, let us now compare the example and teachings of Imam Reza and Jesus Christ.

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Prepared for the Fifth Global Congress on Imam Reza, held in Mashhad, Iran, 13-14 May, 2023


[1] Rezavi Codes of Ethics: A Glance at Imam Reza’s Personal and Social Behavior (The Islamic Relations Office and Foreign Pilgrim’s Affairs of the Astan Quds Rezavi); Selected Sayings of Imam Reza by Mohammad Hakimi (Behnashr Co, Astan Quds Rezavi Publications)

[2] Chawkat Moucarry, “A Plea for Dialogue Between Muslims and Christians” (Fuller Theological Seminary)  https://fullerstudio.fuller.edu/a-plea-for-dialogue-between-muslims-and-christians/

[3] Ibid., pp. 2-3.

Red Heifers from Texas: The Destructive Consequences of Christian Zionism and Third-Temple Extremism (Video)

In anticipation of the forthcoming launch of the newly established Institute for the Study of Christian Zionism (ISCZ), you are invited to an important conversation, ‘Red Heifers’ from Texas’ & Misguided Attempts to Build the Temple: Countering the Destructive Consequences of Christian Zionism and Third-Temple Extremism, a conversation taking on a new urgency in light of recent events.

View the whole webinar here

Read the chapter The Coming Last Day’s Temple: Ready to Rebuild? from my book, Zion’s Christian Soldiers on which this PowerPoint presentation given in the webinar is based.

A 4 page summary of the book

Bible Study Guide

Organized by the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre in Jerusalem, Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), and the Israel-Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church USA, this online conversation was birthed in response to an OPEN CALL from Palestinian Christian leaders to the global church as well as all persons of good will. This event is cosponsored by our dear friends with the Disciples Palestine-Israel Network (Disciples PIN), United Church of Christ Palestine Israel Network (UCC PIN), and Unitarian Universalists for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (UUJME).

As detailed in the letter, the extremist Temple Institute, aided by Christian Zionist extremists in the United States, aims to sacrifice a “red heifer,” claiming that such a sacrifice is necessary to purify a priest who would then be designated “clean” to enter the Holy of Holies of a rebuilt Jewish Temple.

The group’s plans would require the relocation or destruction of Masjid al-Aqsa, including the Dome of the Rock, within the Haram al-Sharif. Such a plan is not only a great affront to the hope of multi-religious coexistence in Jerusalem but an invitation to regional, if not global, warfare. In the face of this madness, Palestinian clergy have called upon all persons of goodwill to condemn this plan because actions like this accomplish nothing except for escalating hatred, instability, and violence.

As such, it is imperative that we inaugurate a global intra-Christian dialogue focused on the repudiation of Christian Zionism among other forms of political extremism. No religion has a monopoly on extremism, and it is the responsibility of the faithful first to challenge extremists within their own traditions. Today, the Christian Zionist promotion of violence alongside the genocidal assault on the people of Gaza presents an urgent challenge to Christians around the world.

We have been called to reject in the strongest terms any effort to make Jerusalem into an apocalyptic playground. Furthermore, the anti-Jewish and anti-Islamic apocalyptic fantasies promoted by many Christian Zionists view the Holy City as a place of war when God has called it to be a house of peace. What does this look like, and what can be done to confront the catastrophic consequences of Christian Zionism and Third-Temple extremism?

View the whole webinar here

Archbishop Justin Welby Where is Your Moral Compass?

The Lambeth Witness Group of Campain, have produced a leaflet to protest the continued complicity of the Church of England with the pro-Israel lobby regarding the Gaza genocide.

As leader of the Church of England, your job involves standing up for human rights, peace, and justice. 

But, when it comes to Israel, you never go to the heart of the matter. 

We are glad you have called out the killing and starvation of Palestinians in Gaza, but you never denounce the root cause, which is Israel’s long-term ethnic cleansing programme. Nor do you call out our government’s enduring diplomatic and military support for Israel. 

As Israel starves, burns and bombs the civilian population of Gaza and the West Bank, you treat it as if it were acting out self-defence, on a higher moral plane from Hamas. 

We see no rationale for this. Some of Hamas’s actions on October 7 were war crimes, and need to be investigated. However, it is Israel’s ethnic cleansing project that drives the whole cycle of violence. 

As far back as 1937 the father of the Israeli nation David Ben Gurion wrote: “We must expel the Arabs and take their places”. And since 1948, Israel has killed, maimed, dispossessed and exiled Palestinians, occupying their land, destroying their homes and infrastructure, and stealing their natural resources. These are war crimes.

Too often, you have denounced British people who stand up for the Palestinians as anti-Semitic, fanning the flames of culture wars. And you have not backed up your assertions with hard evidence. 

And when Iran attacked Israel, you tweeted a prayer for Israel – but you didn’t denounce Israel’s provocative attack on an Iranian consulate, which is a war crime.

As head of the established Church, and with 26 bishops in the House of Lords, you can and should do better. It is time to hold Government to account. So please show moral leadership and demand that the British government immediately:

• Insist on a permanent ceasefire
• End all diplomatic, military and logistical support for Israel’s war 
• End all arms supply to Israel, a move that polls show would have overwhelming public support, and
• Renew funding for UNRWA, Gaza’s crucial provider of food and humanitarian aid that Israel has dishonestly sought to discredit.

The Coming Last Day’s Temple: Ready to Rebuild?

Just 500 metres by 300 metres, the Temple Mount, or Haram Al Sharif as it is called in Arabic, is probably the most disputed plot of land on earth. Hal Lindsey claims, ‘I believe the fate of the world will be determined by an ancient feud over 35 acres of land.’

Many Christians share the belief that the Islamic shrines must be destroyed and that a Jewish Temple must and will be rebuilt – very soon. But this won’t be a museum replica of the one king Solomon built or be just another attraction for pilgrims to the Holy Land. No, this Temple will be built for one purpose and one purpose only – for bloody animal sacrifices, and lots of them.

In this article we want to explore the case for rebuilding the Jewish Temple; consider whether the Bible predicts such an event; and if so, where and how it might be built. We will then look at what the New Testament has to say on the subject and some of the implications for Christianity should the Jewish Temple be rebuilt. Finally, we will reveal that the Temple is actually under construction (but don’t peep).

However eccentric or strange it may seem, influential Christian leaders are actively promoting and funding Jewish religious groups who want to destroy the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, the third most holy shrine within Islam. They want to replace it with a fully functioning Jewish Temple. They are doing so because they believe the Bible mandates it. Indeed, some Christians like pastor Clyde Lott, a Pentecostal rancher from Mississippi, are even trying to breed the perfect red heifer to assist in future Temple sacrifices. According to the Book of Numbers chapter 19, the ashes of a red heifer are needed to purify the priests and altar before sacrifices can be offered again.

The search for the red heifer has been described as a ‘four legged time bomb’.

Read the rest of the article here which is a summary of one of the chapters from my book, Zion’s Christian Soldiers.

Zion’s Christian Soldiers: Seven Chapters

A 4 page summary of the book

Bible Study Guide

Does God Have One People or Two? (John 15)

A homily given at the weekly Sabeel Jerusalem Service 25th April 2024

 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:1-7)

Who are God’s ‘chosen people’? Does God have one people or two? A simple question. In our gospel reading today, the Lord Jesus is crystal clear as to the answer. I am sure you have heard numerous sermons on John 15. We rightly focus on Jesus profound description of himself, “I am the Vine”. It is the last of the seven great “I am” statements Jesus made recorded uniquely in John’s gospel. What is the context? In Exodus 3, when Moses asks God his name, the Lord says “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:14). The website Got Questions has a helpful explanation.

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