Write a Critical Review of “with God on Our Side”

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  • Topic: Israel, Christian Zionism, Zionism
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  • Published : January 11, 2013
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Write a critical review of “With God on Our Side”BIB117 The Bible- Fact or FictionEssay 1Dr Katie Edwards120129511| |
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Over the course of this essay I will be critically reviewing the 2010 documentary “With God on Our Side”. To do this I will assess the films political stance by looking at its portrayal of Christian Zionism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general. “With God on Our Side” does have a very clear and open agenda that has both political and religious elements. From a political point of view the film is criticising the unconditional support that many American evangelical Christians have for Israel. From a theological point of view, the film is attempting to present a biblical alternative to Christian Zionism which as the film’s website states “does not favour one people group over another” and that “promotes peace and reconciliation for both Jews and Palestinians”. Indeed, the whole premise of the film was inspired by the verse, Joshua 5:13-14a. In this verse an angel makes it clear to Joshua that he isn’t on the side of either the Israelitites or the Caananites, but is the commander of “God’s army”. The target audience of the documentary is significant. Most films which are critical of Christian Zionism and Israel are created by non-Christians and cater to a mostly secular audience. The 2009 documentary “Waiting for Armaggedon” like “With God on Our Side” also deals critically with the spiritual and political views of Christian Zionists. The film was written and directed by three non-Christians who are critical of the “potentially explosive” alliance between Christians and Jews. The film focuses its attention exclusively on Christian Zionists and doesn’t present alternative Christian stand points. Christianity Today has accused “Waiting…” of assuming that “all evangelicals hold Christian Zionist convictions”. The fact that the only Christian view represented is the one that the program is criticising heavily suggests that this film was intended for a secular audience. “With God on Our Side” on other hand was directed by an evangelical pastor, Speakman Jr. The primary focus of his film is to challenge the many pro-Israeli evangelicals to reconsider their position. Before Speakman Jr. decided to make it into a feature length documentary, “With God…” was originally a 20 minute “orientation for church groups” who were preparing to visit the region. Therefore “With…” was always intended to target Christians. Speakman Jr. draws on a range of experts from various backgrounds to support the films message. A number of these experts have religious backgrounds. Several of them clearly come from the same theological standpoint as the director: evangelical, yet still highly critical of both Christian Zionism and Israel. The program features Stephen Sizer, a Church of England priest who has written several anti-Christian Zionist books most notably “Zion’s Christian Soldiers?”. This book is largely similar to “With…” in content as it both criticises Christian Zionism and presents an alternative biblical view that does not promote one nation other another. Gary Burge is a professor at Wheaton College. In the film Burge states that western Christians like himself are fed “a jaundiced view of Palestinian life” by Israel. In his book “Whose Land, Whose Promise” he writes about the need for Christians to symphasise with the plight of the Palestinian people. He has received a highly negative reaction from many pro-Israeli evangelicals. Malcolm Lowe has accused Burge of subjecting his students to a “one-sided indoctrination in the Palestinian “narrative””. Another key contributor in the program is Salim J. Munayer, a Palestinian Christian. He is founder and director of Musalaha, a ministry aiming to seek reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. Not all the experts in the film have a religious background. One featured expert, political scientist Norman Finkelstein, described himself in his...
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