Convocation 10/18/2017: Miqedem and Wayne Hildsen, and more politics

Just a heads up: I won’t be writing a post about Monday’s convocation with the tennis players. It was enjoyable, but there is honestly nothing of any importance so say about it, so I have decided to just skip it. Now lets get into Wednesday’s convo.

Today’s convo had an amazing start. MIQEDEM was great. They are probably my favorite music group that we have ever had play in convo. There is just something special about having worship in another language that takes you out of your worship routine and makes you see worship through new eyes. It is far too easy to get into the habit of seeing worship as just that thing we do before convo, but groups like MIQEDEM really knock you out of that mindset.

The state of Israel. It is one of the most controversial and polarizing states in the world today. It is also, unsurprising, a common topic of speakers in convocation. It is rare for a semester to go by without at least one message about the importance of Israel. It was once again the topic of today’s convo speaker, Wayne Hildsen. Hildsen argued that hatred of the Jewish people (and evangelical Christians) was rising in the world (even among Christian groups). He claimed that as Christians, we are called to support the Jewish people, as they are God’s chosen people. Hildsen exhorted us to follow the example of Daniel, and to stand firm in the faith even though we may face peer pressure or persecution.

First, lets talk about Israel. I am not a huge fan of  “we need to support Israel” messages as a whole, as they often lack nuance.  Messages that say ‘You should support and respect the Jewish people’ often lead to ‘you should support the state of Israel unconditionally’. Convo messages on this topic often ignore that there are ideological positions between “the state of Israel is evil” and “Israel is perfect and must be supported in everything it does”, instead describing it in either-or terms. Doing this ignores how complex the Israel situation is and instead takes an over-simplistic (and therefore easy) approach. The government of Israel is not the Jewish people and in all honesty, the Israeli government has done some pretty terrible things (Credit where credit is due, Hildsen did mention this fact). You can support the Jewish people while still not liking what the Israeli government does.

Now lets turn our attention to the subject of hate. One of Hildsen most provocative comments was his statement that hatred of Jews and evangelical Christians is rising in Europe and in America. Hate is a word that is thrown around a lot in our current social climate, often without clarification. What does it mean to hate and how does one measure it? In Christian circles, hate and disagreement are often used synonymously. This is a dangerous precedent. Disagreement starts conversation, hate ends it. Disagreement results in learning; hatred results in anger and more hatred. While I cannot speak to the veracity of Hildsen’s claim as he did not provide actual data, I worry that the increasing labeling of disagreement as hate by the Church is inhibiting the church.

It is also hypocritical to claim that those who disagree with us hate us. Christians protest when they are accused of hating gays or homosexuals for disagreeing with their lifestyle, but Christians often accuse those who disagree with Israel or Christianity of hating them. We cannot measure others with one standard, but demand that we be measured by another. Similarly, we cannot judge an entire group by its most extreme members, but demand that we not be grouped in with the extreme organizations amongst the Christian sphere. To do either of these things is not just intellectually dishonest, it is hypocritical.

How do you take a good convocation and ruin my opinion of it in only 5 minutes? Let a politician campaign for votes. For one thing, we are a captive audience and Liberty gets to pick who they allow to come speak to us. This, combined with their push to get more students registered to vote in Virginia, makes obvious their intentions: to sway state elections how they see fit. Secondly, Liberty literally only lets one side speak in convo. There has not been one non-conservative speaker in convo in years, yet Liberty constantly tries to position themselves as a bastion of free-speech. Liberty cannot criticizes other universities for doing exactly the same thing that it does (at least, not without being hypocritical). You cannot have true education within an echo chamber.

Lightning Round:

  • During his message, Hildsen claimed that the empire that took David into captivity was the Hellenistic (Greek) Seleucid Empire. The Bible states in Daniel 1:1 that the empire that took David was the Neo-Babylonian empire under Nebuchadnezzar. Those who read the book of Daniel as a literal history of a real person typically believe that it was the Babylonian empire that conquered Jerusalem. However, the consensus among those who read the book allegorically is that the book is referencing the reign of a king of the Seleucid Empire.
  • Don’t say you want talk about politics and then immediately turn around and talk about how great a politician you are. I would have a lot more respect for politicians who come here if they were just up front about why they came.
  • Requiring CGL’s to attend the tennis game because Liberty could not sell enough tickets was pretty scummy. Take responsibility for poor planning.

Bible verses quoted: 9. Wow that is a lot.

Total Bible verses quoted all semester: 53

If you like what I do, consider following me on twitter at @skepticalpyrrho to get notified whenever I post. If you don’t have a twitter, you can follow me on the website and receive an email when I post. I would love to hear what you guys thought about this post, so leave a comment below or send a message through the contact page.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Liberty University leadership or administration in any way. The opinions expressed here are solely my own and should be not be taken as the opinion of the University, its staff, or the student body.

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