Developing a ‘Biblical’ Foreign Policy - Word&Way

Developing a ‘Biblical’ Foreign Policy

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Speaker Mike Johnson has been clear about why he thinks the U.S.’s foreign policy should remain a position of “unwavering strength and support” for the nation of Israel no matter what.

“We have to make certain that the entire world understands that Israel is not alone and God is going to bless the nation that blesses Israel,” Johnson declared last month as he alluded to Genesis 12:3 when God promised to bless those who bless Abraham’s descendants and curse those who curse them. “We understand that that’s our role. It’s also our biblical admonition. This is something that’s an article of faith for us.”

Johnson, who took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, made his comment about the “biblical admonition” to support Israel with military aid during a meeting of Christians United for Israel, a Christian Zionist group started by controversial pastor John Hagee, who delivered a prayer during the opening ceremony of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem in 2018. Johnson’s made similar arguments throughout his tenure as speaker, which started just weeks after Hamas’s deadly terrorist attack against Israel and the start of Israel’s military response in Gaza.

The speaker isn’t alone in invoking Scripture to guide U.S. foreign policy decisions today. Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who earlier this year went to Israel to sign bombs ready to be sent into Lebanon, spoke last month at a conservative Christian college about why the U.S. should back Israel: “I’m a Bible-believing Christian. And I’ve long believed in those ancient words about the people of Israel, that ‘those who bless her will be blessed, those who curse her will be cursed.’ And the American people have cherished that principle since the founding of our nation.” And as U.S. Rep. Rick Allen of Georgia recently grilled Columbia University’s president about campus protests, he quoted Genesis 12:3 and then asked, “Do you consider that a serious issue? I mean, do you want Columbia University to be cursed by God?”

Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the Christians United For Israel “Night to Honor Israel” on July 17, 2023, in Arlington, Virginia. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

Preachers have also been arguing we should use the Bible as a guide for U.S. foreign policy. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas, last month invoked Genesis 12:3, which for him applies to the modern nation of Israel.

“We have a moral and spiritual responsibility to support Israel,” argued Jeffress, who also prayed during the opening ceremony for the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. “To be on the wrong side of Israel is not only to be on the wrong side of history, it’s more importantly to be on the wrong side of God.”

Jack Graham, a megachurch pastor in Texas who previously served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, similarly argued last month that the U.S. must militarily support Israel since “ultimately, this is spiritual warfare.”

“For Christians, we do have a biblical obligation to love Israel,” Graham added. “God loves Israel. He chose them according to his word as his own particular people. He established them as a nation, gave them a land, a life, and a legacy for generations.”

None of this rhetoric is new since the Israel-Gaza war. For instance, Jentezen Franklin, a televangelist who leads a charismatic megachurch in Georgia, insisted in 2022 that “Christians should always support Israel” because of Genesis 12:3. He added, “I passionately believe this promise from God is as true today as it was centuries ago. And I take his promises seriously. There’s no denying God’s sovereignty and his hand both in history and in each of our lives. I dare not test God of the consequences for denying our friendship and support of Israel.”

Given all of these claims that we should use one Bible verse to make U.S. foreign policy decisions, I started wondering what other verses we should look to beyond Genesis 12:3. Isn’t all Scripture worth following? So this issue of A Public Witness reads through the Bible to determine how President Joe Biden, Speaker Mike Johnson, and other national leaders should treat various nations.

Biblical Admonitions

Let’s check out how the U.S. should act toward various nations by looking for references to them in the Bible:


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