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All Christians will be informed by Peace and Faith’s exploration of current engagements with Israel, ranging from so-called “Christian Zionism” to the BDS (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions) movement. All church members will be challenged by its case studies of ecclesial responses to the state of Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel and the Church, Judaism and Christianity, synagogues and churches, Jews and Christians—all reflect a complex relationship with a two thousand-year history. Peace and Faith’s nineteen essays by Christian and Jewish scholars bring historical, theological, ecclesiastical, and political perspectives to bear on this complex relationship. Centuries of anti-Jewish thought and action have led the Church to diminished reception of the gospel, restricted apprehension of God’s faithfulness, and a distorted sense of its own nature and purpose. All readers will benefit from the book’s thoughtful analysis of anti-Semitism’s enduring history and current manifestations. By avoiding slogans, clichés, and exaggerations, Peace and Faith deepens Christian faith and strengthens hope for peace.
—Joseph D. Small, University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, author of Flawed Church, Faithful God: A Reformed Ecclesiology for the Real World and other books; former director of Theology, Worship, and Educational Ministries for the Presbyterian Church(USA)
An essential volume for anyone interested in Christian churches and the Israeli- Arab conflict. Brings together between two covers the essential historical data, theological positions, church pronouncements, and intellectual arguments that define denominational debates, thereby setting the stage for informed dialogue.
—Jonathan D. Sarna, Brandeis University; Director, Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, author of American Judaism: A History and other books
Debates about Israel-Palestine often involve slogans and caricature, and so seldom lead to genuine dialogue or a deeper understanding of the conflict. The essays in Peace and Faith challenge some of the truncated or overly simple views that many Christians have of Judaism, Zionism, and Israel—and so invite readers to a better informed and more humane conversation.
—David Heim, former editor-in-chief, The Christian Century; editor of How My Mind Has Changed
Peace and Faith should be required reading for those concerned about “Christian churches and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” as the subtitle puts it. It brings perspective and understanding to a conversation that has been often been foolish and shortsighted.
—Mark Galli, former editor-in-chief, Christianity Today; author of When Did We Start Forgetting God?: The Root of the Evangelical Crisis and Hope for Our Future and other books
This is a much needed and highly welcome volume. Most literature has been theological or polemical in nature, and has given voice mostly to post-colonial, pro- Palestinian views. While that is, of course, a legitimate point of view, the editors and writers of the proposed volume have wished to add a more even-handed and empirical study of the realities of Christian groups and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The volume includes highly informative essays, some of which are absolute gems.
—Yaakov Ariel, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, author of Evangelizing the Chosen People and other books.
BDS has misled many good-willed people. This volume by scholars and leaders unveils the reality behind the myth.
—Gerald McDermott, Beeson Divinity School, editor of The New Christian Zionism
This book is a long overdue addition to the discussion of Christian engagement with the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Its greatest strength is the clear-eyed, comprehensive treatment, always with a steady aim toward justice and reconciliation. The contributors have long been engaged with the issues at hand. Those in the Presbyterian tradition will especially appreciate the careful historical and theological analysis of the recent struggles and the reasons for them. Nothing is easy about this subject. The book provides a fresh starting point for all future discussions. I highly recommend it.
—Roy W. Howard, Pastor, Saint Mark Presbyterian Church, North Bethesda, Maryland
In recent years, an aggressive anti-Israel agenda has begun to permeate a number of Christian churches in the United States. Despite the disturbing rise of Christian anti- Zionism, we still don’t have a good grasp of how the campaign to delegitimize Israel took root or how it can best be combated. Peace and Faith fills this void. Including perspectives of scholars alongside those who work and worship within the churches, the book provides a set of thoughtful and nuanced assessments of the battles over anti-Israel divestment and the materials that have been produced and disseminated to drive them. Readers will learn about the key theological and political issues that currently inform church debates on Israel and Christian-Jewish interfaith relations. All who seek a just and sustainable resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will benefit from reading Peace and Faith, which concludes with a compelling framework for a Christian-articulated reconciliation between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.
—Miriam F. Elman, Syracuse University; co-editor of Jerusalem: Conflict and Cooperation in a Contested City; Executive Director, Academic Engagement Network
Peace and Faith is a great achievement, a carefully chosen collection of thoughtful essays about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict authored by both Jews and Christians. It will be an essential resource for anyone concerned with these issues, especially North American Protestants and Jews. The voices gathered here are diverse in interest, experience, expertise, and religious identity. What unites them is the willingness, indeed the eagerness, for informed, respectful dialogue, along with a shared dismay about such hostile voices as those of the BDS movement. Peace and Faith thus clearly reflects a point of view. But one need not share it to find the book highly informative and helpful for discussion among a wide range of partners. I thank the editors and contributors. The book will be a critical resource for people with a wide range of views who share a desire for dialogue.
—Dr. Heidi Hadsell, president emerita, Hartford Seminary
This book makes an invaluable contribution to what are often contested conversations about the future of Israel and Palestine. The topic remains a central point of debate both between Christians and Jews and among Christians themselves. While Peace and Faith gives special emphasis to the Presbyterian Church, the issues raised there in various official statements and throughout the book’s other essays concern the Christian churches at large and their Jewish partners in dialogue. Having all this readily available in a single volume provides an essential resource for continuing discussions of these ethical and political challenges.
—Rev. John T. Pawlikowski, Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics and director of the Catholic-Jewish Studies Program, Catholic Theological Union; author of Jesus and the Theology of Israel and other books
Peace and Faith cogently explores how the complicated Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been used to draw apart the parties to the conflict and those who support them. We learn about the political and theological divides that have been deepened by these battles. And—unique to this book alone—we learn how to chart a better course forward. Jews and Christians deserve much better than has been given to them in the past; if we agree that we need to foster reconciliation for the parties and ourselves, this book’s important lessons and strategies make it necessary reading.
—Rabbi Yehiel E. Poupko, Rabbinic Scholar, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago; author of Chana: A Life in Prayer
Peace and Faith lays essential and original groundwork for any further church discussion of boycott, divestment, and sanctions against Israel (BDS). Any such discussion will be self-reflective and self-critical, given the heritage of Christian anti- Judaism that remains unresolved and too often unaddressed in our churches. These essays model the kind of approach we need, while also challenging the record of BDS advocacy to date as one-sided and blinkered. The ecumenical and interreligious set of authors that Nelson and Gizzi have assembled include first-rank scholars and front-line church leaders. Their long experience and intellectual integrity sets their work apart from the more common fare offered by apologists—whether for Israelor for BDS. Lay and clergy readers alike will find effective resources here to move beyond the ignorance, sympathy, and frustrated indignation that leave us vulnerable to manipulation. Peace and Faith is a call for responsible dialogue about the challenge that the church faces in engaging modern-day Israel and the Palestinian community on gospel grounds. No one will be able to claim an informed place in that dialogue who has not wrestled with and learned from the masterful presentation of key issues in this volume.
—Peter A. Pettit, Teaching Pastor, St. Paul Lutheran Church; former director, Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding, Muhlenberg College
Peace and Faith is a brilliant, empowering treasury of information, fair perspectives, essential background revelations, and historic wisdom. It takes up what is perhaps the world’s most misunderstood struggle—typically “explained” with conflicting sets of “facts” and Biblical interpretations—and substitutes thoroughly researched and profound essays that consistently shed light on the topic. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict looks no less tragic as a consequence, but the abundant ideological fog that so often clouds understanding is dissipated by these well-crafted essays. For decades I have participated in political and church discussions on the subject, and this is the best contribution I have seen to this critical sphere for faith, compassion, and public policy engagement.
—Rev. Paul H. de Vries, PhD; President, NY Divinity School; Founder and Evangelical Convener of the NY Jewish- Evangelical RoundTable
There are great riches here, including the introduction, which is quite a resource in itself.
—Adam Gregerman, Saint Joseph’s University; author of “Building on the Ruins of the Temple: Apologetics and Polemics in Early Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism”