In our age of Postmodernism and social justice, conferences on the touchy subject of the Middle-East abound. Like it or not, Israel is at the center of the world political arena. There is a great divide that exists between those who support Israel and those who don’t, and that divide keeps growing, casting one side against the other in a chronically destructive case of “He said, she said”. That chasm needs to be filled with biblical truth, but that forces many to face a reality that they would rather ignore, and that is the fact that God is a Zionist.
Some of my readers will stop reading this article just about now as they might feel that I am guilty of exactly what I am accusing the other side of, but I have not accused anyone yet. All I am saying is that if one is to follow an agenda, it certainly will never be completely balanced for as long as it is one set by men, simply because man is not just. But God’s agenda is balanced, fair and perfect.
Coming this December in Philadelphia is a conference tilted: IMPACT HOLY LAND 2013. Per their site, the purpose of that conference is as follows: We seek not to solve the Israeli/Palestinian situation at this conference, but we do seek to convene a conversation where diverse brothers and sisters in Christ ~ Palestinian, Israeli, North American ~ can share honestly and lovingly in a space where their perspectives are respected, even as we know we will not agree on everything.
I honestly do not see anything wrong with that statement, and their agenda–as vague as it currently is–appears to be fair and balanced. As such, it will attract many people from both side of the fence and so it should. But I wonder if the panel of speakers that will participate in such a conference will really be balanced and if both sides will truly be respected for their diverging views on the topic.
If we look at previous similar conferences, and while not two are the same, we can probably learn a few things. A great example is the CaTC Conference (Christ at the Checkpoint) that took place in 2012. Here is an biblical analysis of their manifesto. The next CaTC conference will be in 2014 (stay tuned for more on that event!)
On the surface, IHL2013 is a conference that promotes unity and reconciliation through dialogue and even the sharing of the Lord’s Supper or Communion. In essence, this should be very attractive to the parties involved being Palestinian Christians, Messianic Jews and other various evangelicals, yet I am very concerned that a hidden agenda (and often not so hidden) will be driving the conference. The current list of confirmed speakers should suffice to show us that the scale is tipping in favor of the Palestinian cause.
But let me start with a few words about the organization that is behind the whole conference. IHL2013 is organized by Evangelicals for Social Action, an organization started in 1973 in Illinois when at the time, a group of concerned individuals drafted and published the Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern. They introduced the concept of a “social Gospel” to the evangelical community in a declaration that claims that: “By this declaration, we endorse no political ideology or party, but call our nation’s leaders and people to that righteousness which exalts a nation”.
Again, it sounds really good and straight forward in the text, but ESA’s involvement in the last few decades have clearly showed its leaning to the left and obvious penchant for liberal theology, it even prides itself in fighting apartheid (a good thing in and of itself as expressed against true apartheid).
As the times are changing and Israel continues to be painted in a corner of shame and guilt by liberals, anti-semites and an increasing number of evangelicals, ESA found a worthy cause in organizing IHL2013. Additionally, Paul Alexander, ESA’s new president as of June 2013 should be a concern to those who aspire to stand on biblical truth. In an article that he wrote for the July/August issue of ESA’s magazine Prism, Alexander wrote about the three “Ds” that describe Israel and according to him Palestine as well: Demonization, Double-Standards and Deligitimization. In it, Alexander quickly draws conclusion about the Middle East that fly in the face of historical truth like the statement that: Delegitimizing rhetoric includes the claim that there really are no Palestinian people, that they didn’t take care of the land, and that they didn’t really exist until 1969 or 1963 or 1948 or 1931 or some date that seems to be less legitimate than Jewish identity. Those claims are not only false, they are attempts to delegitimize Palestinian aspirations.
Additionally, if one was to look into the credentials of the “confirmed speakers” of IHL2013, one would realize that under the veneer of a conference on unity and communion between brethren in Messiah, we really have a trap set for pro-Israel evangelicals. The platform is far from neutral, neither will be the agenda.
But another real danger of such a conference, is that the pro-Palestinian factions are gaining momentum within evangelical circles, and while not all speakers are polished theologians, they are increasingly becoming better equipped at accusing Israel and are themselves guilty of demonization, double-standards and deligitimization.
The response from pro-Israel Evangelical too often demonstrates that they might just be ill equipped to fight such a pernicious monster. We simply throw a prophecy here and a verse there to defend our position in a political arena. Some of us will even claim that we should stick to the Bible and not get involved politically. This is a difficult decision to make. I believe that Yeshua made some of the most difficult political decisions of His time and that those who followed Him did likewise.
If we get involved in the political arena, we absolutely must do it on a foundation of biblical principles, a position seldom adopted by most, and we must be fair and genuinely interested in the welfare of all, through the eyes of Yeshua but not at anybody’s expense.
The world has been fed a series of lies about the Middle East since the 60s and they have now simply become the accepted truth. Modern Israel–while not perfect–is the result of a move of God to set the stage for the rest of His program for mankind to be laid out. Like it or not, Israel is here to stay because God said so (Jeremiah 31:35-37).
What worries me even more is the list of “also invited” speakers who include several pro-Israel speakers (half of them messianic Jews). It also includes names like John Hagee and Hal Lindsey who are very well known for they support of Israel and teaching on prophecies.
I am afraid that their participation would only vindicate the already biased camp of pro-Palestinian speakers. Many Christians will see names like Hagee or Lindsey or even Messianic leaders such as David Brickner (Jews for Jesus) or Messianic Jewish scholar Michael Brown, and without checking further, give their unreserved seal of approval. That would be a grave mistake!
If any believers are still sitting on the fence on the issue of the Middle East crisis, they will be pulled in by the roaster of “safe names” and swayed to the “pro-Palestinian” side before they can think it through and really check the whole thing against God’s Word. The anti-Israel lobby seems far more equipped to defend and promote their views while the pro-Israel camp usually reacts.
This being said, honest believers cannot escape the fact that the Bible clearly teaches that God is not done with Israel and the Jewish people today and in the future. We stand firm on a biblical foundation that is the only rock upon which we should ever build our social justice. If done ethically and according to Scripture, people on both sides might be surprised in finding out that God loves all people: Jews, Arabs, Christians and all those who don’t even acknowledge Him, and that Yeshua died for ALL.
John 1:12But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.
Arlie Francis says
Great write up. Critical thinking must be applied to this area of concern. Most are not informed enough to even enter the conversation. Keep up the good work of educating those in need.
C. L. Papajohn says
Personally, I think Olivier should speak to the United Nations once a week. It might be the only JESUS or truth spoken there, ever. Truly, Olivier’s Biblical commentary, his “views”- can help others “see” JESUS and how He came to SAVE the world. May God’s word be heard. It’s the heard word that changes everything.
That’s just my tiny opinion. Cindy Papajohn
Sadie Rose says
I really don’t understand why people like David Brickner would get involved in something that is basically pushing pro-palestinianism?