Can religion solve conflicts in the Middle East?
Is religion the problem in the Middle East conflict? Or can religion be the solution?
Many people have opted for the former, observing that so often the negative side of religion is what is being covered in the news. Those who attract the cameras are people we call hardliners–like Pastor Jones in Florida earlier this month–those who appear inflexible, and leave no room for compromise. They are the ones stoking the flames of the conflict and creating an image that religion is at the heart of the ongoing struggle.
Is the problem religion or extremism in religion?
The answer can be found in an early Christian text: “Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen” (I John 4:20).
At the heart of Christianity are two principles: love of God and love of neighbor, as Jesus himself taught (Matthew 22:37-40). Yet this was not original with Jesus. It came right out of the Jewish Torah. Islam teaches the same.
*Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan leads the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, which Global Ministries supports.