Christian Palestinianism; a response
Many heavyweight evangelical leaders from churches in America and the West are being drawn into an age-old heresy which has its roots in the time of the apostle Paul, and which is erupting in our age.
"Have you not observed what this people have spoken, saying, 'The two families which the Lord chose, He has rejected them'? Thus they despise My people, no longer are they as a nation in their sight."
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It may be the case that the matter of sexuality is splitting the churches and denominations around the world. Predictably, the battle-lines run between those who take the Bible seriously (evangelicals) and those who take a somewhat lower (liberal) view of God’s book and what it contains.
However there is a quite separate controversy within evangelical circles which is increasing moving onto centre-stage. The matter concerns bi-polar views on whether or not the Jewish people and the land of Israel still occupy a special place in the latter-day prophetic purposes of God.
(Liberals are also highly-involved in the issue, but tend to be driven more by humanitarian than theological concerns. Not that the former are irrelevant, but God's grand purposes – in the 'big picture – should be the ultimate determinant governing our thinking and responses.)
Amongst Bible-believers there is some area of agreement – in some cases ‘reluctant’ – regarding the forecast of an end-time ingathering of Jews to the Kingdom of God in and through Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach). This is outlined by Paul in the eleventh chapter of his epistle to the Romans (Rom 11:11-12; 15). Indeed to believe otherwise brings a very stiff warning from the apostle in that letter (Rom 11:18-22).
But the issue that raises the most heat is whether or not the covenant made with Abraham which, amongst other things, promises the land to the Jewish people is still valid. Those who deny its validity argue that as the Jews rejected their Messiah so they also deny themselves the promises made to them.
Additionally, and as a parallel claim, they say that Christian believers are the true ‘children of Abraham’ and therefore the inheritors of any unrealised benefits of the Abrahamic Covenant.
However, as Psalm 105 so succinctly states, the commitment by God to the Jews and the land is unconditional, everlasting and irrevocable.
“He remembers his covenant for ever, the word he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: "To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit." (Psalm 105:8-11).
Even while the nation was in rebellion, and in exile because of it, God said:
” Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the LORD their God. But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the LORD.'" (Lev. 26:44-45).
(That last sentence is one of the most concise definitions – using four words only – of the Sovereignty of God. God does what He likes, how He likes, with whom He likes and when He likes; and He outworks His will without asking us for our opinion.)
Whose checkpoint; and who stands at it?
Most recently (March 2012) an international conference of evangelicals was convened in Bethlehem by the Bethlehem Bible College. The conference title was ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ – an allusion to the barriers which Israel have erected in order to protect its citizens from Arab/Islamic suicide attacks.
The representation at the conference was drawn from around the world and comprised a wide range of evangelical leaders. The views being propagated were, and are, mainly based on the suffering that the Palestinian people are enduring (if fact, mainly because of the actions of the Arab/Islamic nations) and the ‘Replacement Theology’ view that God has withdrawn his favour from, and modified his end-time plans for the Jews in favour of the (mainly-Gentile) church.
At a theological level big hitters in the evangelical world deny what the major and minor prophets clearly state in order to defend the former's political and theological views.
One ‘observer’ at the conference was Dr. Paul Wilkinson whose doctoral thesis revolved around the place of Isreal. Subsequent to the conference he produced a report entitled ‘The Church at Christ’s Checkpoint’. His play on words is much more than that. In fact from Genesis through to the writings of Paul, those who believe – or say they believe – the Bible are given very clear warnings.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (Gen 12:3).
Do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this:
You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in."
Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.
The video in this article outlines the background from recent events leading up to the conference, a report from the conference by Dr. Wilkinson and a statement concerning the conference from international Messianic leaders. Some of the footage was shot in Dundee, in an hotel and the following day in the church of Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne, the Scottish minister who led the pioneering 19th-century 'Mission of Enquiry" to the Jews.
Paul Wilkinson’s two essays entitled 'Prophets who Prophesy Lies in My Name' and ‘The Church at Christ’s Checkpoint' (2011 and 2012 respectively) are available by clicking on the titles, the images below; or from the side bar of this page.
The sidebar also contains links to other articles on the subject of the (Gentile) church and Israel.
Click on images below to access these documents
From a Scottish perspective, the Church of Scotland spent the best part of an afternoon at its General Assembly in May 2011 discussing how it could best campaign to boycott Israeli products while staying (just) within the law. At the General Assembly of 2007 such was the anti-Israel bias that a senior (retired) Church of Scotland wrote a letter in response to the Assembly of that year.
The document 'A Covenant-keeping God' outlines the biblical covenants with a focus on the Abramic Covenant and the conflicting theological perspectives of Covenant Theology (so-called) and Dispensationalism.
The theological arguments used to support infant baptism – based on a refusal to differentiate between Abraham's 'special natural' children (the Jews) and his 'spiritual children' (all believers) – run right through mainstream Presbyterian doctrine. As a natural outworking these lead directly into a 'Replacement Theology' position.