On Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and October 7

The horrific terrorist attack that Hamas committed in Israel on October 7, 2023, resulted in the death of over 1,200 people and the taking of 240+ hostages, including children and the elderly. This terrorist attack triggered untold human suffering and misery in Israel and in the Gaza Strip, and has resulted in a sharp increase of antisemitic and islamophobic activity in our city and around the world.

To think and respond Biblically about this, we suggest four frameworks:


Imago Dei

First, we must understand that the Bible sees every human being as a bearer of the image of God. God made us in his image (see Genesis 1:27), and this image is precious. The Bible says that sin has shattered the image in us, but it is there, nevertheless. We are God’s image bearers, and that means we are moral beings able to love, able to know right from wrong, able to have a relationship with God. We carry God’s image in us regardless of our ethnicity, our gender, the nation we come from, or whether we are religious or not. When you see another human being, you are looking at a being that carries the Image of God in them, and they are utterly priceless and precious.

Therefore, we at Redeemer East Side, lament deeply the loss of life and intense human suffering that the terrorist attack on October 7, 2023 has caused.

Love Your Neighbor

The next framework for us to use is God’s command to love our neighbor as ourselves (see Leviticus 19:17-18, Mark 12:31). The God who made us in his image calls us to love him above all things and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

So, who is our neighbor? Jesus’ answer in Luke 10 is that our neighbor is anybody that we come into contact with — even if they are of a different faith or ethnicity. That is the point that Jesus was making with the parable of the Good Samaritan.

We are called to love our neighbor, no matter who they are, where they come from, where they live, or whether they believe as we do.

Antisemitism is the exact opposite of this. It is hostility to, prejudice towards, or discrimination against Jews. It is a form of racism, which is a heinous evil. Antisemitism is contrary to our first two frameworks, and therefore, contrary to the Scriptures and to Christian ethics. It does not honor the Imago Dei in our Jewish neighbors, and it is not loving to them.

By the same token, Islamophobia is the fear of, hatred of, or prejudice against people of Islamic faith. This is also incompatible with the biblical frameworks noted above. Adhering to a different faith, or to no faith at all, does not negate the image of God in a person or their due for love of neighbor.

Therefore, we are all called to love our neighbor regardless of their faith, whether they are Jewish, Muslim, or even if they have no faith at all. We are also called to love our neighbor, be they Israeli, Palestinian, or any other people group, here in NYC or anywhere in the world.

Therefore, we, at Redeemer East Side, reject categorically and wholeheartedly any and all forms of racism, including antisemitism and islamophobia.


Our next framework is Scripture’s doctrine of sin. Scripture tells us that humanity fell into sin when our first parents disobeyed God, and sin caused death and misery to enter into the world (see Genesis 3).

The Bible’s doctrine of sin is robust, and it gives a realistic and sober assessment of the human condition. It says that sin is serious. It separates us from God; therefore, God sent his Son to redeem us. Nothing else could reconcile us to God. Jesus had to die on the cross in our place because our sin is that serious. Therefore, we take sin - our sin and other people’s sin - very seriously.

The Bible’s doctrine of sin also states that sin is insidious, meaning, it has affected every part of our beings (our minds, our bodies, our feelings, etc), and everything we touch (the work of our hands, our relationships) and the institutions we create (governments, schools, religious institutions, etc). That is why we experience relational brokenness, personal battles with addictions, frustration at work, and the frustrating fight against corruption in government and other kinds of institutions.

Sin is serious and insidious. Therefore, the Bible’s doctrine of sin leads us to not be naive or simplistic about the need for accountability and justice in this fallen world.

The raping of women, beheading of children, kidnapping of people, and murdering of innocents is a manifestation of human depravity and evil. It is right, therefore, for justice and accountability to be sought.

Yet, care must be taken to seek appropriate justice and accountability, and not revenge. In the seeking of justice and accountability, all and every possible way to secure the safety,

preservation, protection, and dignity of innocent human life needs to be taken, honoring the Imago Dei in people and what love of neighbor demands. “Love does their neighbor no wrong.”

Therefore, we, at Redeemer East Side condemn the terrorist actions of Oct 7, 2023. We call for all measures to be taken for the preservation, protection, safety, and dignity of innocent people.


We are not blind to the difficult history between the Israeli and Palestinian people. Even so, as we acknowledge the difficult history, there is one more framework for us to use: the framework of hope.

Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave, nothing is impossible for God. Absolutely nothing. The resurrection of Jesus is the basis for the framework of biblical hope.

Admittedly, as we look at this conflict in the Middle East, it is easy to lose hope. It’s easy to say: “It’s impossible, there is no fixing it. There is too much blood that has been spilled, too much hatred, too much history to overcome.” Yet, the framework of hope doesn’t allow us to sit in that hopelessness. God could have said those exact words when he looked at us, the human race, in our sin, yet he did not. He looked at our hopeless situation with hope, and he sent Jesus to rescue us.

Therefore, with the hope of the Risen Christ, we Christians ought to engage in the messy process of being peacemakers. With Biblical hope, we can look at these two peoples — the Israelis and Palestinians — and their situation, with hope that there can be deep, deep reconciliation, justice, and peace. Shalom at last.

Therefore, it is in this spirit of hope that we, at Redeemer East Side, pray for and seek peace and justice in the Middle East, trusting in the Prince of Peace — Jesus — to bring it about.

May it be so.

“Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”