Yohanna Katanacho – love in the face of injustice
'Love is not a feeling, love is a decision we make in order to honour Jesus Christ.' That was the message Dr Yohana Katanacho brought to Catalyst Live in Manchester and Reading this week. Dr Katanacho is a Palestinian theologian and came to Catalyst Live from Bethlehem Bible College. Much of his lecture was rooted in his experience as a Palestinian follower of Christ and the challenges that discrimination, unrest and oppression pose to those seeking to obey Jesus’ command to love our enemies.
'Love,' Dr Katanacho told audiences at Catalysy Live, 'is not an excuse to abandon justice. It is an opportunity to pursue justice.'
The particular form of justice he encouraged attendees to pursue is inextricably linked to the position of Palestinians in both Israel and the Occupied Territories. 'There is an opportunity to oppose oppression today,' he said. 'Not to be pro Israeli or pro Palestinian, but pro Jesus Christ.'
Dr Katanacho said that Palestinian Christians wanted the Church to speak out against discrimination and that the credibility of Christians in the Middle East was intimately linked to how the Palestinian issue is dealt with by Christians globally.
In a talk as full of wit and warmth as challenging truth, he spoke of how in his past he had assumed the God of the Bible did not love Palestinians, and how, throughout a supernatural conversion process that eventually saw him abandon atheism, the justness of God in his own context remained a challenge for him.
'The problem is not the Jews,' Dr Katanacho said of the Israel-Palestine situation. 'The problem is sin.' He said that the voice of Hagar, a foreigner mistreated by those who ought to have been the light of God, should be the voice of the Baptist Church as it spoke out against injustice.