by Jim Fletcher
My heart is grieved. Frankly, I would imagine my ideological enemies would smile about that, since I’m talking about the myriad attacks against Israel. I write again this week about American Christians’ efforts to marginalize both the Jewish state, and its supporters in the evangelical world.
This week, I bring you news from three fronts (though each dovetail with each other, since anti-Israel evangelicals are superb networkers): The diabolical “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference in Israel; the Palestinian Authority’s clamping-down on religious freedom—you won’t hear Christian Palestinianists talk about this; and, more from the Leadership Network.
We start with the Checkpoint goings-on. To refresh your memory, this is from a team of anti-Israel Christians (one wonders how much the PA is involved, behind the scenes) who have created a propaganda campaign against the Jewish state and her supporters.
Fortunately for us, researcher extraordinaire Dexter Van Zile attended (check out his work) and gives us first-hand accounts. First, from Christian Newswire (which apparently doesn’t discern the sinister nature of this gathering):
“A major breakthrough in the evangelical world took place in Bethlehem through a gathering of over 600 international and local Christians, including renowned evangelical leaders. Organized by Bethlehem Bible College, the conference, under the banner ‘Christ at the Checkpoint,’ addressed the issue of how to find hope in the midst of conflict. The conference exceeded all expectations.”
Major breakthrough? This kind of activity has been going on for some time, and I wonder if most supporters of Israel get it. Here is another telling paragraph from the Newswire story:
“Conference organizers challenged the evangelical community to cease looking at the Middle East through the lens of ‘end times’ prophecy and instead rallied them to join in following Jesus in the prophetic pursuance of justice, peace and reconciliation.”
Do you see? There is a major movement underfoot to jettison the teaching of Bible prophecy from the American Church; sadly, in my view, it is succeeding at a breathtaking pace. A major component of the Checkpoint crowd’s propaganda:
“The Kingdom of God has Come.” Do you get it? This is a fundamental, ideological straw-breaker between us and them (and yes, it is “us and them”). These people believe at the core that their efforts have already brought the Kingdom of God to Earth. In their world, it isn’t necessary for Jesus to return to rescue a disintegrating planet. People can save themselves.
Now, to Dexter Van Zile’s piece in The Algemeiner. He has reported that the PA’s Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, has shut down Bethlehem pastor Rev. Naim Khoury; Khoury’s son Steven had told Van Zile that the PA is severely restricting the church from operating; the Khourys are courageous Christians who do not tow the company line in that region when it comes to Israel.
According to Van Zile:
“The irony, Steven said, is that the PA’s announcement comes right after the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference. This conference, which took place from March 5 through March 9, 2012 was a gathering of approximately 600 Evangelical Protestants from across the globe (mostly from the United States) to discuss the theology of Christian Zionism, which some Evangelicals believe increases the prospect of violence in the Middle East and gives support to Israeli policies that they do not like.
“During the opening night of the conference, Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad told the assembly that his government respected the rights of Christians. Palestinians celebrate religious holidays together, PA officials attend Christmas celebrations and even attend Midnight Mass for Christmas, Fayyad said.”
Coincidence? Please. As usual, the “voices of tolerance” from the left, which is how I think the Checkpoint crowd would identify themselves if asked, bring out the fangs when it comes to pro Israel support. Their hypocrisy is mind-boggling.
You can read the whole account at: Here
Now, it’s no accident that these efforts parallel those of Catalyst, the conference program spearheaded by the Leadership Network—begun by folks like Peter Drucker and Bob Buford, and advanced by Rick Warren and Bill Hybels.
In a recent Catalyst newsletter, I spotted a talk by Todd Deatherage of the Telos Group; the Telos website describes the group thusly:
“The Telos Group believes in the redemptive power of Jerusalem, despite the modern war being waged there by Israelis and Palestinians today. We believe, however, that the promise of Jerusalem as an exemplar of peaceful coexistence between the three great monotheistic religions will not be realized until the rights and viability of all of Jerusalem’s communities–Israeli and Palestinian, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim–are protected. We believe that the best way to protect the rights of all of Jerusalem’s communities is through a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a solution that is mindful and respectful of the faith communities’ needs and concerns.
“Telos Jerusalem brings the world’s top Jerusalem experts together in an unprecedented initiative to monitor real-time facts on the ground and to analyze how those facts impact the potential political resolution of the Jerusalem question as well as religious interests in and around the Holy City. Telos Jerusalem guides Telos leadership pilgrimages on complete tours of the Holy City, including the Old City, the Holy Basin, and Greater Jerusalem–exploring all of the communities and the full geopolitical impact of the modern Israeli-Palestinian conflict on this ancient city. Telos Jerusalem will begin releasing later this year a monthly newsletter, urgent updates, and occasional case studies with maps, allowing people the world over to explore modern Jerusalem in all of its dimensions.”
Deatherage’s talk at Catalyst revealed the fact that he works with such groups and people as Sami Awad and Lynne Hybels. His PowerPoint highlighted those who worked to produce the “Little Town of Bethlehem” film, now openly being used as a propaganda piece targeting unaware evangelical leaders.
Interestingly, Deatherage began his talk with a photo of the famed garden café at Jerusalem’s American Colony Hotel. I’ve been there, and it is a meeting place between Palestinians and Western media and leftist religious groups. So we know right off the bat where Deatherage is coming from.
Midway through his remarks, Deatherage said the following:
“Eschatology matters, in so many areas of life. What we think about the end helps shape how live and act today. So if we believe that violence and war and bloodshed in the Middle East is predetermined and necessary and maybe even a good thing, then how responsible would we be to Jesus’s call that we be peacemakers? How authentically Christian is any theology that makes us more perpetuators of conflict than agents of reconciliation?”
I think it’s obvious what is going on here. I spoke this week with a researcher who has studied the Leadership Network, and was told that the leaders of the group actively work to train younger leaders to let go of the “old time” teachings (my phrase) regarding eschatology. That means of course that anything relating to the Rapture, pro Israel support, and warnings of the tribulation coming are dismissed as the rantings of fringe thinkers and doom lunatics.
Notice that Deatherage regurgitates the lie that Bible prophecy teachers and students are basically warmongers who hope a soon-coming bloodbath in the Middle East triggers Armageddon.
As I’ve said before, I’ve never talked to or known a prophecy teachers who promotes that kind of agenda. Yet the straw-man has been constructed. And Deatherage’s allegation is still repulsive and false.
Deatherage went on to call the Israeli security fence—THAT HAS SAVED JEWISH LIVES—a “gross injustice.”
I will say here very clearly and directly: that statement is immoral.
Jewish lives are meaningless to most of the world, so the irony is that so-called peace activists and those working for “reconciliation” ignore threats to Jews. It’s not in their vocabulary or, more accurately, their talking points.
The Christ at the Checkpoint crowd is advancing its cause among young evangelicals in America. They are being helped by such as Mart Green’s EGM Films, the Leadership Network, and—drumroll—the PA.
All of them are of like-mind when it comes to Israel and especially Israel’s Christian supporters. The hostility is disturbing.
by Jim Fletcher