Saturday, May 15, 2010
Define: Lutheran Dilemma: When Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the doors of the All Saints' Church (Schlosskirche) in Wittenberg in 1517, he precipitated a theological dilemma of monumental proportions. As an Augustinian monk, Luther exhibited a staunchly individualistic outlook toward matters of Christian theology. The doctrine of justification, which entailed a sinner's conversion to righteousness in the eyes of God, became a central tenet in his theological teachings. More specifically, Luther believed that Faith alone (sola fide) was the final determinant in the process of justifying mankind. Nevertheless, Luther had visions of himself falling on an eternal ladder that stretched between Heaven and Hell. They haunted his conscience to the point when he confessed to a priest who told him to do what lied within himself. That response did not placate Luther's dilemma. He saw the Roman Catholic Church as growing increasingly corrupt. For example, the selling of indulgences - where parishioners could purchase either full or partial remission for their sins - infuriated Luther. After his formal excommunication in 1521, Luther sought to establish a new church that conducted services in the vernacular (German) instead of Latin. This change appealed greatly to a wide degree of commoners, as it increased access to the liturgical processes of Christian worship.
Saturday, May 1, 2010
On Israeli Foreign Policy: When Israel became an official country in May 1948, she confronted five Arab armies on her newly established borders. Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria each invaded Israel in the name of Pan-Arabism, which sought to reassert Arab control over Palestine. But it was the ideology of Religious Zionism that helped the Israeli people remain resolute and fend off their Arab foes. This strain of Zionist thinking has become central in the political processes that define Israeli foreign policy. Ever since the country's early foreign ministers; Moshe Sharett, Golda Meir, and Abba Eban, Israel has demonstrated a strong inclination for self-determination whereby her national interests supersede the collective interests of her Arab neighbors. For example, when Palestinian Arabs fled Israel at the onset of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, they were not allowed to repatriate. At that time, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, who simultaneously headed the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Israeli government, employed a variety of heavy-handed policies toward Palestinian Arabs. His thinking centered on the idea of "peace through strength." Therefore, if Israel pursued aggressive settlement policies through mechanisms like the National Water Carrier project, then Palestinian Arabs would necessarily recognize the permanence of Israeli statehood, and thus, political stability in Israel would subsequently ensue.