I believe that my Christian faith and the set of ideas that naturally flow from it are vital to how I approach foreign policy questions. Are humans fundamentally flawed with hope towards redemption in a well-ordered civil society or are we basically good with flaws stemming from corrupt societal structures? Our answers to questions like this color how we view every fundamental policy question.
My faith also teaches me that all people are image-bearers with equal value and equal capacity for good or evil. Therefore, when I view a hostile regime like Iran, I do so with a sober mind, aware of the real potential for evil in the human heart, and not a naive Eurocentric view that bad actors on the world stage are merely the result of Western Imperialism. There is no “noble savage” existing in a state of grace prior to contact with civilization. This means we must give evil its due and not underestimate the power of its influence in foreign affairs.
Isaac, I really like the question you posed. I have been wrestling with that idea of whether we are flawd with hope towards redemption or are we mostly good with flaws that have stemmed from societal structures. It gets to the heart of original sin, the fall, resurrection, etc.
To your second point, I like how you noted that we are image bearers with the same capacity to do both good and evil. I attended a Faith and Law event recently on the Hill where John Stonestreet, the President of the Colson Center gave a talk on the Imago Dei. He reminded us that our identity is first rooted in Creation, then Christ. I think that was important for me to be reminded of so I can use my faith to engage with foreign policy more accurately and with the correct foundation of people in mind.
Isaac, what an eloquent way to pose this dilemma human have grappled with for ages. As you said, when someone answers which viewpoint they see the human race as, it drastically impacts how they would view foreign policy. I can find myself swayed by my emotions when looking at another country like Iran and have a knee-jerk reaction that doesn’t reflect that all people are image-bearers of God. This is also what is missing from American policy leaders today, especially from those who claim to be followers of Christ. If we want America to be impactful in foreign policy and establishing peace across the world, we have to get back to that mindset and to the fundamental values of our country.
I firmly believe in getting back into the mindset and fundamental values of our country are so important for foreign policy. I may not be in a war where there are guns and bombs, but I have the most powerful weapon; the rosary. Because of the prayer of the rosary, specifically as a Roman Catholic, I have seen and will continue to see God’s powerful work in us and our nation. Then, stepping outside of my Catholicism, it is so good to learn about all the different denominations of Christians as they too pray in similar ways. When I pray the psalms daily with what is called the Liturgy of the Hours, I can say with the psalmist, “O praise the Lord, Jerusalem! Zion, praise your God! (Psalm 147:12)”
I agree we can’t separate the bad or good that the bible exposes us to from the foreign policies in corrupt governmental structures. We have to hold ourselves or others accountable to what is wrong in the world. Even though people may feel like they have no voice in foreign policy, Jesus makes it known that every voice matters such as the woman who gave her last coin to the temple. Every little choice and decision to speak against war, corruption, and abuse is us answering God’s call to us as Christians.
I use my faith every day when discussing or thinking about foreign policy towards all area, not just Israel. This past month I was apart of Passages’ Faith and Foreign Policy Fellowship and it really helped me to utilize my faith in responding to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, specifically. Because I am a Christian, I believe that God loves all people, even those that are calling for the downfall of not only the state of Israel, but the United States as well. I believe that we have a duty to act in a way that shows our understanding of our faith and our love of others because God loves them, and we are supposed to love the people of the world as well. I am still evaluating and deciding some things that I believe but I do know that I was called to love my neighbor as myself, and it is my duty to do that, regardless of anything else.
Going a step further, I believe that we as the United States do have a responsibility to help any and all people that we can, because that is what we have made ourselves known for, and people depend on us. While we aren’t a Christian country, we do say that we were founded on “Judeo-Christian values” and we must uphold those values: liberty and prosperity for all, and we have a duty to protect and defend those values internationally.
I think that using my background and values as a Christian to respond to foreign policy is helpful. It helps me to remember that everybody is human, and everybody is deserving of basic human rights, and “no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional, or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs,” as per the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
Denise, thank you for sharing your experience and insight with Passages. It sounds like a very informative and moving program, I feel that I am receiving a similar experience taking the Pathfinder courses. Like you, I believe that as Christians we have a duty to live our lives of faith by not reflecting the world, but reflecting Christ – and Christ shows compassion, grace, and love to all of the precious people of the world. I also agree with you that if the United States want to make impactful changes of peace and prosperity in the world, and continue to preserve our own, we must uphold our founding Judeo-Christian values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s seems clear to me that country and public policy leaders have strayed from these core values that shocked the world and established the freest nation on earth, and it is why I believe we are witnessing our country at a very serious crossroads both internally and globally.
Denise, thank you for sharing your experience and insight with Passages. It sounds like a very informative and moving program, I feel that I am receiving a similar experience taking the Pathfinder courses. Like you, I believe that as Christians we have a duty to live our lives of faith by not reflecting the world, but reflecting Christ – and Christ shows compassion, grace, and love to all of the precious people of the world. I also agree with you that if the United States want to make impactful changes of peace and prosperity in the world, and continue to preserve our own, we must uphold our founding Judeo-Christian values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s seems clear to me that our country and public policy leaders have strayed from these core values that shocked the world and established the freest nation on earth, and it is why I believe we are witnessing America at a very serious crossroads both internally and globally.
I enjoyed reading your insight and perspective here. The discussion of human rights, policy, international law, local law, national law, and religious freedom is so intriguing and thought provoking that a short response to your post will not do it justice. In short, I’m an attorney and have much to say about your post but will be brief. I agree that our actions must reflect the actions of a true disciple of Christ. I also agree that we have a duty to act in love toward others to the fullest extent possible. The interesting line here has to do with our stepping outside our rightful stewardship to assist others in love. Many times throughout history, Christians have reached out to do the “right thing” in the name of Christianity while causing more harm than good. I think we have to be overly conscious about the butterfly effect of our actions even when done with the best intentions. I don’t say this to demean anything you said. I’m just highlighting the fact that good intentions often lead to bad results. Philos Project has done a great job at highlighting those issues in previous courses.
Mitchell, I appreciate your perspective. As an attorney as well, I think our perspective on agency forces us to be more careful in how we construe who is responsible for what. Ascribing to ourselves responsibility for our actions is important, but so is realizing the powers that exist outside us, and this balance is necessary when coming up with a strategy that is effective in engaging on international relations and policy. Otherwise, we risk creating more problems instead of solving them.
I a hundred percent agree with you, Denise, that as Christians, our duty is to act in a way that reveals our understanding of faith and love for others because God has provided great examples to love those around us and then some. We are meant to assist, guide, love and care for others as a tangible example of how God designed us to be. Additionally, I am totally on board with your closing statement that “we are all human, and no distinction shall be made based on the political, jurisdictional, or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs,” as per the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
Thank you for sharing Denise! I agree with you, I do believe our faith should be the lens through which we view anything in life, including foreign policy. I love how you emphasized that loving our neighbors should be our priority as Jesus Christ did say that this is the second greatest commandment. Once we understand this, it is then important for us to think about what loving our neighbors looks like when it comes to foreign policy. I am aware that many individuals believe that the US should not interfere with the politics of other nations, however, simply ignoring the plight of the Israelis and Palestinians in a conflict like this is not loving our neighbors. They are suffering and I do believe we do have a duty to help them in order to uphold the values that we stand for as a country, as you mentioned.
I agree the more we humanize each other and stop looking at others as either lesser or underserving we will solve a lot of the worlds problems. Christian need to practice being the leaders of justice, liberty, and equality in every aspect. Even when we may not agree with others beliefs or decisions as long as it is not hurting others or going against our commandments as Christian, we must respect them. Foreign policy in the past and present has been used to manipulate, oppress, and assimilate others. We can not let the agenda of powerful people change the vision of Christ.
It has only been within the past couple of years that I’ve consciously recognized that if I truly want to live out my faith in Christ, it must be reflected in all aspects of where I stand on issues – especially now that I’m working in a position that touches public policy every day. I know that as Christians we are called to be a light in the world, to love all of God’s precious creations that He made in his image, and we are also called to be a mighty force in the world with Christ in us. Putting that mindset into political and foreign policy is jarring to me, and I think it is because the United States government and political sphere has drifted from our founding principles that reflect the views of Christianity. As Professor Mead said in the conclusion of this course, America has become devastatingly divided and views all issues in extremes on both the Left and the Right. God calls us to be contributing members of society and to be in the world living in Christ – and that most certainly pertains to participating in government roles. We are called to be disciples and to spread the Gospel across all nations, therefore Christians need to be involved in foreign policy. The big question is, how? That is what I am growing in and appreciate the courses in Philos providing information and different perspectives on the subject.
I have absolutely used my faith to examine foreign policy regarding the Near East, both consciously and subconsciously. I have done this because I know God is not a God of coincidence. He is actively involved in the affairs of this world, especially with regard to His covenant people. As such, putting my faith aside would put blinders on my perspective which I cannot do. However, as of late (within the past 5 years or so), I have increasingly began to view the Middle East through the eyes of the locals and outside of my own biased lens in order to more fully understand the perspective of Palestinians, Jews, and other Near East stakeholders. This perspective has greatly enhanced my empathy for Near East residents. Though my faith influences my foreign policy perspective, the empathetic approach I have implemented also influences my perspective. I believe this to be the best approach.
Thank you for writing and sharing your opinion with us. I totally agree with having an empathetic approach when looking at what influences you regarding foreign policy. That is one of the reasons I am so interested in the Philos Project. For example, the Philos Action League intrigues me because it is about giving white roses in response to anti-semitism. It is a peaceful but powerful way to show our support and love for the Jewish people. It is a wordless empathy, but the white of a rose is truly touching and beautiful.
Taking this class has brought me spiritual enlightenment. While studying foreign policy, and hearing the common word, “Christian,” I began to wonder why we keep saying “Christian,” but absolutely nothing about Christ Himself. Looking at foreign policy with my faith has been very helpful. To elaborate, when Professor Mead, in his final lecture, encouraged us to pray as Christians, it felt like foreign policy was no longer unsolvable or unpeaceful. I think of what I know of Christ who is Love. Yet, I see around me, not simply in the Near East, but most dramatically in the United States that Christianity is pulled apart or watered-down. I actually have an opinion now–I’m not just hesitant and unsure. I believe that if we become involved with foreign policy and “enter” the problems of the Near East, we should first look at our own country. Before helping Lebanon, a very Christina country, what about the Unities States and the fear of praying the pledge of allegiance because it includes, “under God”? And what about the increasing laws against Christianity in the US regarding reproductive rights and the fear–that even I have as a devout Christian–that I will be hated or dismissed for expounding upon my belief in Christ to others. What about my own family? Am I a Christian to them? How, then, can I expect a policy in the Near East to be true, good, and of God? The most simple solution that Professor Mead presented was prayer. That is something Christ taught us because we are surrendering all things to God and are trusting that God will make all things new.
I understand where you are coming from, Jacqueline. Christianity in the United States is water-downed. It may be even to the point that there are misinterpretations with the text itself. Additionally, I understand the point of focusing on our nation before lending a hand to others outside the United States. Although Professor Mead presented prayer as the solution to all issues, I believe we do have to use our faith to the full extent. Not to the extent of casting the first stone, but walking and talking the way Jesus did. Jesus had many issues surrounding him, not only about him being cast astray by the Jewish people but taking in others’ issues – helping a man walk again, giving sight to the blind, etc. Hebrews 13:16 states, “Don’t forget to do good and to share what you have because God is pleased with these kinds of sacrifices.” Despite our internal (and external) struggles, we must lend a hand to our brothers and sisters.
Romans 13:1 states, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
There is a reason why God has placed those in authority around the world. When it comes to foreign policy, I have
As a child, I have been taught to obey those in authority and the rules that are in place. As I got older, I understood more about certain authoritative figures having evil intentions and certain policies that have been in place. That said, I began diving deeper into the Bible to comprehend why history contained bad results. Romans 13:1 assisted me in understanding why history is the way it is and determining my stances on present and futuristic issues. Coming into foreign policy, using my faith, consciously and subconsciously, to examine foreign policy has always been helpful. One will say it is harmful In the sense that it clouds one’s judgment, but it helps set a precedent of how things should flow.
My faith is deeply rooted in how I perceive the world and foreign policy. I believe if it does not promote goodwill and build the kingdom of God then we should reevaluate it. I believe that Christianity teaches people to call out hypocrisy and to love all people. If policies deter from doing these things then they are not founded on my beliefs and I have to advocate for those afflicted by them. If I do not believe my faith impacts all levels of my life I would not be able to fully receive God’s promise. I can not compartmentalize foreign policy away from my religion because Jesus did not separate his beliefs from his everyday life. When I see injustice I am better able to help with the solution by using scriptures from the bible and following the teachings of Jesus. It has helped me understand the Israel-Palestinian conflict, racism in America, and other world isssues such as world hunger or genocide.