Listening to the messages spoken at the Christ at the Checkpoint March 2012 Conference one is quickly confronted with the contradictory agenda of this event. In the CATC manifesto we read, “Respectful dialogue between Palestinian and Messianic believers must continue. Though we may disagree on secondary matters of theology, the Gospel of Jesus and his ethical teaching take precedence.” In contrast, when one hears the messages posted on the CATC website, theology is anything but “secondary.”
Though three messianic Jews -Richard Harvey, Evan Thomas, and Wayne Hilsden -were invited speakers, the platform was heavily weighed in the direction of anti-Christian Zionist speakers. Therefore, it is hard to swallow the CATC’s manifesto’s claim that matters of theology are of “secondary nature.”
After listening to the message of Wheaton College’s New Testament professor Gary Burge, it is safe to say the anti-Christian Zionism message, more commonly known as “replacement theology,” was the theology featured at the Bethlehem get-together.
Furthermore, one of the conference’s goals as stated on the CATC website is to , “Create a platform for serious engagement with Christian Zionism and an open forum for ongoing dialogue between all positions within the Evangelical theological spectrum.” Once again, despite this stated goal, the speakers were focused on espousing replacement theology as the only theology rather than engaging in a two sided dialogue with Christian Zionism.
The Overarching Anti-Christian Zionism Theology at CATC
I find it curious that despite the claim of “serious engagement with Christian Zionism,” the CATC manifesto declares that regardless of any “engagement” or discussion, CATC is committed to an anti-Christian Zionism message:
- Racial ethnicity alone does not guarantee the benefits of the Abrahamic Covenant.
- Any exclusive claim to land of the Bible in the name of God is not in line with the teaching of Scripture.
The first statement denies that the Jewish people are beneficiaries of the blessings of the Abraham Covenant as found in Genesis 22:16-18:
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
The second statement strikes at the heart of Old Testament biblical theology in which the Hebrew prophets served as the voice of the Lord promising the people of Israel, the land of Israel. Despite the fact God removed the Jewish people from the land in Babylonian Captivity, the Lord brought them back to the Promised Land. The prophets were very clear on the fact Israel’s removal from the land did not mean they lost the title deed to the land but were disciplined via a temporary exile from the Promised Land.
The Jewish people were in the Diaspora since the Roman destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. Once again, God has brought the Jewish people back to the land in order to bless them with a homeland and to deal with nation to bring them in humility to faith in the Jewish Messiah Jesus.
Therefore, In the heart of the CATC manifesto, the framers of this document make it clear the CATC is anti-Christian Zionism in its theology. What other conclusion can one draw? Regardless of the presence of three messianic Jews on the platform, the CATC manifesto reveals the true theological hand of its organizers. It’s too bad the CATC could not solely focus on the poor state of Palestinian Christians without also advocating a biblical rejectionist theology towards the State of Israel.
The Major Part Jewish Rejection of Jesus Plays in the CATC Theology
According to conference attendee and writer for CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) Dexter Van Zile in his article “Israeli Jews: The Impossible People at Christ at the Checkpoint, wisely points out the true goal of the conference:
The underlying discussion at this conference was not about Christian Zionism per se, but about how Christians should relate to a state founded and inhabited by Jews who reject Jesus Christ as their Lord and savior. Attendees were also challenged to consider how Evangelical support for Israel serves as an obstacle to the spread of Christianity in the Muslim-dominated Middle East.Take c
Take note of the second statement: Jewish rejection of Jesus as Messiah is an obstacles to Christian efforts to spread the gospel among Muslims. Due to the American government’s support of Israel and the support of American evangelicals, a stumbling block has been placed in the path of Muslims who may be considering accepting Jesus as their Lord. Now the Jewish people and their supporters are being charged with keeping Muslims from accepting Jesus.
The Conditional Nature of the Enjoyment Israel’s Blessings
At CATC we witness evangelicals advocating a theology that only sees Israel as the object of God’s covenant promises upon their acceptance of Jesus.
According to Gary Burge, those who call themselves physical descendants of Abraham or “the seed of Abraham” are not really Abraham’s seed but those who accept Jesus are the true seed of Abraham. Though this concept initially refers to a first century Jewish audience listening to Jesus, Burge pounds the gavel of his “seed of Abraham” theology the hardest when it comes to making Gentile Christians the “true seed of Abraham.” Over and over Burge states that “Gentiles who accept Jesus are the true seed of Abraham.”
In fact, in an article written by two Simon Wiesenthal rabbis, Gary Burge is viewed as having an anti-Jewish bias. Having listened to Burge’s message four or five times, I am in full agreement with Rabbis Abraham Cooper and Yitzchock Adlerstein in their assessment of my Christian brother Gary Burge. His negative attitude and scoffing at Judaism betrays his latent hostility towards Jewish people.
Burge teaches, like many CATC speakers, that due to the Jewish rejection of Jesus, the people of Israel have forfeited their standing as the seed of Abraham and have been replaced by Christians.
At one point in his speech the Wheaton NT professor admits:
As Christians we are part of a different conversation. We need to begin thinking like Christians about matters of faith and privilege and we need to ask tough questions when Western Christians come to Israel-Palestine and make bold pronouncements about who owns Jerusalem and who inherits the promise of Abraham.
During the speech Burge gave at CATC 2012, entitled “The Theology of the Land n the New Testament” he makes it clear the seed of Abraham, according to the New Testament are Christians not the physical descendants of Abraham. He quickly plows through some New Testament passages ti support his position. Some of these passages I covered in previous blogs, but there is more ground we must drill into. Therefore, rather than quickly jump from one verse to another in order to snowball the unwitting Christian like Burge, I want to look at these verses in greater detail. Please see my previous blogs, “Who is the seed of Abraham Part One” and “Who is the Seed of Abraham Part Two.”
I cannot impress upon my readers how important these issues are. Otherwise, I would not devote so much attention ot this issue in my blog.
Unless the student of the Bible is clear on the identity of the “seed of Abraham,” one’s view of the Bible’s story will be confusing as seen in the theology of Burge. His theology only fits within the confines of a few verses he quotes as prooftexts, but his faith system falls apart when seen in the context of the entire Bible. Burge’s quasi-replacement theology does not reflect the “full counsel of God”, but a very narrow age old covenant theology. Burge’s theology which is based on Israel’s rejection of Jesus, opens the door to the Church as God’s eternal pinch hitter in Israel’s place. In Burge’s belief system, Israel has been ejected from God’s stadium and can only re-enter the venue when they accept Jesus.
In upcoming blogs I will continue to examine the passages used to validate the “seed of Abraham” theology used to replace Israel as God’s chosen people and disqualify the Jewish people from enjoying the national blessings of the covenant.
I encourage my readers to share this series of blogs and post them wherever you can. I am writing against a theology that has been planted deep within historic Christianity. The time is now in these last days to uproot this erroneous theology that keeps the Church from holding to a balanced view of Israel’s place in God’s economy.
Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions on the ScriptureSolutions website.