Book Review: Glory to God in the Lowest: journeys to an unholy land
By Ghassan Michel Rubeiz
In his recent book Glory to God in the Lowest, Reverend Donald E. Wagner demonstrates the value of authentic witness of faith. His focus is on Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
The work reads like a diary of an advocate for justice. Wagner watched, documented and reflected on Palestinian suffering.
He was in Lebanon the day after Sabra and Shatila massacre occurred in 1982. Wagner watched closely how Israel had set the stage for the local Lebanese militia to execute the massacre.
He reported that “with their powerful military binoculars, the Israelis could easily observe what was happening in the camps. They watched us walk past them as they continued to monitor a Red Cross and Red Crescent efforts to recover bodies.”
The book is a life review of an ecumenical journey in the Middle East. Wagner explains how he abandoned his extreme rightwing evangelical background when he discovered Christian liberation theology. Wagner argues that Christian Zionism, the political arm of the extreme evangelical church, abuses the teaching of Christ by supporting hegemony.
He explains that the gospel of Jesus commands the support of the meek and oppressed. Wagner observed that “The Christian Zionists were forming partnerships with militant Zionist settlers who viewed Palestinians as Philistines and Canaanites who were to be exterminated or driven out of the country. What we were witnessing was settler colonialism with a false Christian veneer.”
Wagner was inspired by a select group of Charismatic Arab Christians from all denominations. As a solid ecumenist, Wagner worked in the Middle East to witness Christ through service. He preferred listening to lecturing.
He engaged with people of different faiths and promised a local Muslim cleric to inform his people in America about the suffering he observed during his frequent visits to Lebanon and the Occupied Territories.
He built deep personal relations with people of all backgrounds and stature. In a short visit to late King Hussein, Wagner was sobered by the king’s fear of religious fundamentalism across different religions: “We could sense the urgency in the king’’s voice and his concern over the threat posed by Islamists and the Chritian Zionists who were stirring the threat. This final statement from the king was similar to what we had heard in Damascus from Patriarch Ignatius IV.”
The book is a record of a compassionate mission. It is especially useful for policy makers of the Church in America and Europe. It is of interest to faith – based peace activists. It is of relevance to all readers who care to listen to the oppressed.
Lastly, for many Arabs who do not distinguish between mainline Protestant churches and the extreme Evangelicals, this book is recommended reading.
Wagner shows that Christian Zionism is a minority opinion within global Christianity. Mainstream Christianity is sympathetic to the rights of Palestinians and vocal in advocacy for justice.
At heart, Wagner desires the best for both people, the Palestinians and Israelis.
Glory to God in the Lowest: journeys to an unholy land
Olive Branch Press, 2022, available through Amazon and publisher.
Donald E. Wagner
Order the book through Amazon.com by clicking THIS LINK.
Ghassan Michel Rubeiz, Former Secretary of the Middle East, Geneva-based World Council of Churches.
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