Hot-button issues

Two articles in February pushed my political “hot buttons”: “In Bethlehem: Hope Behind the Wall” and “Dueling Messiahs.” Each presents only part of a hot political issue. Far worse, each misses an opportunity to share the Gospel.

In discussing the Wall, Rev. Mahsman criticizes Israel without discussing Israel’s viewpoint. Of course, my reply leads us into the trap Mahsman sets: a discussion of politics, and not the Gospel! Especially in the Middle East, should we fuel false hope for a political solution? The only hope for Israelis and Arabs has nothing to do with a wall; it is only the Gospel! By the way, in any article about a conflict, is there ever a reason for not including a prayer for the salvation of everyone involved?

“Dueling Messiahs” discusses a conference with Ahmadinejad as the keynote speaker. Is there a figure alive today who touches more people’s hot buttons? No matter how well intentioned an author like Dr. Furnish is, how can the editors fail to consider how unbelievers will view uncritical press for a figure who denies the holocaust and calls for the destruction of the U.S. and Israel?

Am I advocating The Lutheran Witness should become more political? Just the opposite! My prayer is believers will not finish this edition of the Witness thinking only of political issues. I also pray for unbelievers, like some of my Jewish friends, who read our Web site. They need us to clearly spell out what we believe in articles like these without providing gratuitous reasons to marginalize us. Will my unbelieving Jewish friends conclude that Jesus cares only for Arabs and not for Israelis? Or that one of the most anti-Semitic figures in the history of the world deserves our help to increase his influence? It breaks my heart that this article does not connect the dots for inquiring Muslims and share the truth about the real Messiah, found only in the Scriptures. As Ahmadinejad seeks to influence by intimidation, by not including the Gospel in this article, are we leaving the impression that we are afraid to do so? Finally, I pray my questions lead to some soul-searching and some new editorial policies.

I realize I have seen only what is online, and not the full articles. Even if the issues I raise were addressed in the print edition, the problems are the same for those, like me, who simply see what the Witness makes available online.

Alan Butterworth
The Apple of His Eye Mission Society
St. Louis, Mo


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