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Christ at the Checkpoint Position Paper by Israeli Messianic Jews

 

 A Position Paper of the Messianic Jewish Community regarding the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference (CatC) 

 1. The Word of God: the Tanakh and the New Covenant Scriptures together, are the one true, infallible, and unalterable standard of truth and life for all believers. As Yeshua our Messiah declared, “Your Word is truth” (John 17:17) and “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Therefore we affirm that “all the promises of God are ‘Yes’” and ‘Amen’ (not abrogated) in Yeshua (II Cor. 1:20), and that “the gifts and calling of God” for His chosen people, Israel, “are irrevocable” (Romans 11:28b-29 in context). “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew!” (Romans 11:2). Rather, “to them belong [present tense!] the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple worship, and the promises” (Romans 9:4).

2. The Messiah Yeshua’s calling for His Body — in the Land of Israel and throughout the world — is to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19) by proclaiming “repentance for the forgiveness of sins…in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:47). Every movement or activity which does not promote or which, on the contrary, distracts us from that central purpose and calling is not of God, no matter what biblical or spiritual language may be used to describe it. Yeshua never commanded, or even suggested, that His followers were to “bring in” the Kingdom of God on earth. Yeshua Himself promised to establish His Kingdom upon His return (Matthew 25:31, 34), and we, who are heirs of His Kingdom and proclaimers of it in the present age (James 2:5; Acts 28:23, 31), are instructed to pray for that day to quickly come (Matthew 6:10; cf. Philippians 3:20-21).

3. Christ at the Checkpoint is, therefore, a false messianic movement, arrogating to itself the role of Messiah in establishing the Kingdom while promoting a humanistic, political “liberation theology.” [All the “evangelical” CatC speakers reflect the same approach and goals, as is evident from the Kairos Document which Yohanna Katanacho, CatC Committee member, helped compose and Bethlehem Bible College endorsed]. Although cloaking its “mandate” in biblical language (“the teaching of Jesus on the Kingdom of God”) and using seductively positive terms (“Peace, justice, and reconciliation”), this movement has one overriding purpose: to sway Evangelical believers worldwide away from belief in the eternal promises of God to Israel by slandering the Jewish people and delegitimizing the Jewish state; painting Israel as a wicked, oppressive, apartheid “entity”—especially in contrast to the supposedly ‘democratic, tolerant and peace-seeking’ Palestinian Authority and people. There is no Gospel here! (more…)

The True Seed of Abraham: Jesus or Israel?

I was enjoying a friendly discussion with a Christian at a local coffee hangout.  This well-learned and articulate believer quickly let me know that she holds ot the Reformed position – another way of telling me she believes the Church has replaced Israel. We engaged in a friendly conversation for a brief period. One statement she shared has stuck with me when I asked, “What do you do with all the prophecies made concerning Israel in the millennial kingdom after the Second Coming?” and she replied, “All those prophecies are fulfilled in Christ.”

Galatians 3:16-17 is one of the major passages that is used by replacement theologians to support the idea Jesus has become the “greater Israel” and all those who follow Jesus are now the true Israel.  Some Christians might call themselves “spiritual Jews.” I usually cringe when I hear my fellow Gentile believers make this statement and beg them not to tell any Jewish people.

Imagine if God chose to work with Africa as His chosen nation and in the New Testament age, Africa was replaced by the Church.  Then we would experience Christians telling others, “We are the new Africa.  We are ‘spiritual blacks.'” That is how ridiculous it sounds when Christians make statements that have no roots in the Word of God but are based on misguided theology or by people who have not dealt in depth with the passages they use to broadcast their beliefs.

Galatians 3:16-17  says:

The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.

From  Galatians 3:16-17 we are to conclude, according to replacement theologians, that the Abrahamic promises were not spoken to the nation of Israel, but God’s commitment to Israel find their fulfillment in the one true seed of Abraham – the Messiah Jesus – rather than the nation.

Seed of Abraham

Since believers belong to Jesus, then Christians are the true seed of Abraham through the one true seed-Jesus of Nazareth.  If one reads this passage without asking questions or checking out the surrounding context of Galatians 3, I can understand this conclusion.  However, upon deeper investigation, the student of the Bible discovers Paul’s intention was not to teach that the Church has replaced Israel or that Jesus is the true Israel. (more…)

The Seed of Abraham and the Middle East Part 3

Christians are confused about the place of Israel in the New Testament.  Some believers are not sure if  God has a plan for Israel as He did in the Jewish Scriptures. Others think the only plan God has for Jewish people is their salvation and nothing further.  Still some Christians do not think Israel is a legitimate entity, having been replaced by the Church aka replacement theology.

Fact it, Christians are confused because their pastors are confused and pastors are confused about Israel because their seminary professors are confused.

God’s Promises to Israel Are Not Cast Aside in the Face of Israel’s Unfaithfulness

The assumption of many anti-Christian Zionist advocates is that Christians who believe God has promised the Jewish people the land of Israel as their homeland also maintain the government of Israel can do no wrong. As one anti-Zionist advocate told me,  Israel seems to think since God gave them the Ten Commandments they can now make up any law they want  . . . . Most of this comes from fear which they need not have since American is their number one protector and God is also on their side, according to Christian Zionism (paraphrased).

It is the belief of anti-Christian Zionists since I believe God promised the Jewish people the land of Israel that no matter what they do, God will always back Israel. Nothing could be further from the truth. The nation is still accountable to God.

When the Bible student reads through the Jewish Scriptures, he discovers the Lord God of Israel never ignored the sins of Israel. Even in the face of the Lord’s  commitment to give the title deed of Israel to the Jewish people, He also removed the people of Israel from the land on many occasions due to their transgressions.  In spite of the Assyrian Captivity in 721 B.C.,  the Babylonian Captivity in 586 B.C. and the conquest of Jerusalem and Israel in 70 A.D. by the Romans, there is no place in the First nor the Second Covenants of the Bible where the God of Israel revokes His promise to the Hebrews to give them the land and to expand the nation as stated in the covenant He made with Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3:

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation,

and I will bless you;

I will make your name great,

and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you,

and whoever curses you I will curse;

and all peoples on earth

will be blessed through you. ” (more…)

The Seed of Abraham and the Middle East Crisis

Why am I writing so much about the seed of Abraham? After all, there are so many other issues that seem to be much more important when it comes to examining the Middle East crisis.  Let me be bold enough to say that how a person understands the biblical teaching on the seed of Abraham, determines how much he will grasp the theological implications of the Middle East crisis.

Does the seed of Abraham only relate to Jewish people?  Does it include Arabs and Christians as well?  Can one support the idea that those who call themselves the seed of Abraham are no longer the “true seed of Abraham” if they refuse to accept Jesus? These are essential questions any student of the Bible must come to grips with.  Too many erroneous sermons have been preached in the church concerning the identity of Israel causing confusion among churchgoers.

Unfortunately, this was one of the main issues espoused by Wheaton College NT professor Gary Burge in his recent lecture at the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference, “The Theology of the Land According to the New Testament.” However, in his lecture Burge hardly referred to the land of Israel but instead set his scope on casting a dubious hue on the identity of  the Jewish people as the true seed of Abraham, and consequently no longer legitimate heirs of the Promised Land.

If a person can demonstrate that Jewish people today are not the true seed of Abraham, this teaching goes hand in hand with the belief God no longer has a present covenant with the Jewish people in which He has promised the Jewish people the Holy Land of Eretz Israel.

Burge, like many replacement theologians (the belief the Church has replaced Israel as God’s people), quotes a string of New Testament passages to support his view that DNA (aka Jewish ancestry) no longer matters, but faith is what matters most to God. Since Christians demonstrate true faith in the God of Israel by accepting the Jewish Messiah, then Christians must be the true seed of Abraham.

The next leap in Burge’s theology is to state even though the Jewish people are entitled to a homeland, there are no biblical covenants today that entitle them to this land.  Because of their failure to accept Christ, they have forfeited the divine land rights to Israel. What we are seeing today is a secular movement of the Jews returning to the land, but without the blessing of God or the fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

The Christian Tradition of Adverus Judeos in Connection with John 8

One of the passages used throughout the history of Christian doctrine to prove Jewish people are not the true seed of Abraham is John 8.  In fact, John 8 has been used by medieval theologians to teach that the Jewish people have been spawned by the devil. In John 8:44 Jesus tells the Jewish leaders He is speaking to that their father is the devil.

The devils display anti-Semitic stereotypes all too common in late medieval and early Renaissance art.

While Burge has not gone so far as to connect Jewish origins with the devil, he does use this passage to teach the Jewish people who do not believe in Jesus have been replaced by Christians.

Burge’s misinterpretation of John 8 puts him in the camp of those guilty of  Adverus Judeos. Adverus Judeos is described in Wikipedia:

“Adversus Judaeos (Greek kata Ioudaious, “against the Jews” or “against the Judeans”) are a series of fourth century homilies by John Chrysostom (deemed a saint by the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches) that have been circulated by many groups to foster antisemitism.  Steven Katz cites Chrysostom’s homilies as “the decisive turn in the history of Christian anti-Judaism, a turn whose ultimate disfiguring consequence was enacted in the political antisemitism of Adolf Hitler”. James Parkes called the writing on Jews “the most horrible and violent denunciations of Judaism to be found in the writings of a Christian theologian”. His sermons against Jews gave further momentum to the idea that Jews are collectively responsible for the death of Jesus.”

While Burge does not harp on the collective responsibility of the death of Jesus by the Jewish people, his denial of their covenant entitlement to the land of Israel and their replacement as the “seed of Abraham” by Christians is all part of the same tradition of Adverus Judeos. (more…)

The True Theology Taught at Christ at the Checkpoint 2012

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.”

It becomes more clear from the messages of the CATC speakers that Jews must accept Jesus as Messiah and Lord to enjoy the privileges of covenant God made with Abraham.

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. (more…)

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