Is The Bible to Blame for Another War in the Middle East?
Yes, But Not in the Way You Think.
When sectarian violence flares up in the Middle East, numerous underlying factors are scrutinised, with religion frequently standing out as a primary suspect. This isn't surprising, as the region's historical and contemporary conflicts often intersect with religious divides, encompassing Jews, Muslims, and Christians. Furthermore, even within these religious umbrellas, there are significant internal rifts that fuel tensions. A prominent example is the struggle for regional influence between the Sunni majority of Saudi Arabia and the Shia leadership in Iran.
Amplifying the blame on religious texts are certain Messianic prophecies found within both the Old and New Testament Bibles, such as the vision of the "Son of Man" coming with the clouds of heaven in Daniel 7:13-14, the detailed signs of the end times including wars, rumours of wars, and earthquakes as mentioned in Matthew 24:4-8, and the entire Book of Revelation which provides a vivid depiction of the end times, including the judgments of God, the rise of the Antichrist, and the climactic final battle at Armageddon (Revelation 16:16). Though I am by no means a Quranic scholar, I do understand that it also includes some of what we would recognise as Apocalyptic Messianic prophecies.
These two factors often combine in leading some people to believe that the Bible and other sacred scriptures themselves are responsible for many wars, both historic and contemporary. To be fair, sacred scriptures do little to assuage such concerns given the many wars, battles and rules for retribution they contain. Are these ancient scripture really at fault? Turning our attention specifically to the Bible, I would argue that it is, but not in the way many people say it is. In fact, the Bible could hold the key to preventing wars.
Human Nature and the Bible
In the mid-1700s, the renowned Swedish inventor and scientist, Emanuel Swedenborg, shifted his focus to spiritual matters. Following a series of profound spiritual encounters, Swedenborg diligently documented his revelations. He posited that the Bible, much like the layers of an onion, isn't merely a historical account of events and individuals. Instead, it mirrors humanity's spiritual evolution and journey. At its essence, the Bible unveils the complexities of human nature—our dreams, vulnerabilities, and crucially, our innate tendencies.
The Biblical narratives, rich with tales of greed, deception, and power ambitions, transcend mere historical recounts of kings and kingdoms. They remain timeless, illuminating the darker corners of the human psyche. Episodes such as Cain's envy of Abel or King Saul's hunger for dominance serve not just as stories but as allegories, highlighting the deep-seated human inclinations towards selfishness and control.
The Middle East Conflict Through a Biblical Lens
Given this interpretation, one could argue that the recurrent conflicts in the Middle East aren't just about territorial disputes, religious differences, or political ambitions. Instead, they are manifestations of the timeless human tendencies the Bible warns about. The desire for dominance, the proclivity for division, and the aspiration for superiority are elements intrinsic to humanity, regardless of epoch or geography.
To say the Bible is to blame is not to suggest it incites violence, but rather that it foresaw and depicted the potential consequences of unchecked human tendencies. The unrest in the Middle East, viewed in this light, becomes a manifestation of the very propensities the Bible has long showcased.
A Call for Self-Reflection
In pointing fingers at the Bible, perhaps what we're really doing is pointing at a reflection of ourselves. The real blame lies not in the scriptures, but in our inability to learn from them and transcend our baser instincts. The challenge, therefore, isn’t to distance ourselves from these texts but to delve deeper into them, understanding their true essence and applying their wisdom.
Swedenborg's teachings encourage such introspection. They invite us to recognise the Bible as a tool for self-awareness, a manual that can guide humanity away from the precipice of its darker inclinations. In doing so, we can foster a world of greater understanding, compassion, and, ultimately, peace.
While it's simplistic to directly blame the Bible for contemporary conflicts, it’s insightful to see it as a guide that sheds light the root causes of these disputes. The Bible doesn’t instigate violence; it warns against the very attitudes that lead to it. And as such, if blame must be placed, let it be on our collective failure to heed its timeless wisdom.
A closing thought. It seems clear to me that a person who kills in the name of God, wasn’t listening to God but to self.