Reflecting on Jeremiah 23:1-8 in his book ‘The Good Shepherd’, Kenneth E. Bailey writes, ‘Jeremiah emphasizes that failures on the part of the leadeship of the community of faith are very serious and that those failures will not be overlooked’.
Do our Christian leaders believe that, in this age of forgiving grace, their failure of leadership will be ‘overlooked’? Interfaith dialogue and calls to prayer focus on the evils done in the name of Islam. Imams dissociate themselves from the actions of e.g. IS. (Daesh), but when their protestations are heard they are often not believed. Bishops, Imams and Rabbis, together with priests and representatives of other religions stand together and call for freedom of religion, as they should.
Christians have a duty, and Christian leaders a duty to lead, to speak out against injustice, against racism and discrimination, whether the objects of injustice are Christians or not. In the scheme of things Palestine may seem a minor matter to our ‘shepherds’: is it so for God?
How often do we hear our preachers, teachers, leaders speaking out about the causes of extremism? When do we see those leaders speaking truth to power and calling out on the history and policies that lead to hate, fear, and marginalisation? For Zedekiah we have Bush – Blair – Obama – Cameron, and now Trump. Where is our ‘Jeremiah’, a prophetic leading voice inveighing against the imperialist-colonialist sins that have led us to this point?
There is plenty of work, including in the Muslim community, challenging extremist theologies, the practices of IS, al Nusra, etc. Their challenge arises from a conviction that, whatever the sectarian system, it is not and never was truly Islam. They say, “That’s not Islam”, and, when we Christians are faced with the same problem, as with white supremacists who claim to act Biblically, we too say, “That’s not Christianity”.
So, where is the challenge to Zionist Judaism? Where in UK and USA are the Christian leaders, where are the Rabbis and our ‘bishops’? Why are they not showing that Zionism is a recent, secular and extreme invention that has little if anything to to with historic Judaism. And why, when Zionism, in both its forms, provokes or is directly responsible for the persecution of Christians, do our leaders remain silent? Worse, why do they compete to be ‘good christian zionists’? Zedekiah suffered in hope. Our hope is in Christ, but will the ‘Son of Righteousness’ overlook the neglect of those appointed shepherds of his flock?
This is not a plea for them to be punished, but that they repent …