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Where is the Love in the Kairos Palestine Document?

In my previous blog I introduced the Kairos Palestine Document (KPD).  KPD,written by an ecumenical group of Palestinian Christians, was released publicly on December 11, 2009.  This manifesto was released by the PCUSA to let the world know what is taking place in Palestine, according to Palestinian Christians.

The KPD was previously mentioned on a CBS 60 Minutes segment called “Christians in the Holy Land” aired in March 2012. In the segment’s attempt to demonstrate that the Christian population in the Holy Land is shrinking due to Israeli policies, the KPD was mentioned as a “good faith” example of how Arab Christians are attempting to practice non-violence in the face of IDF pressure and duress.

As mentioned in a previous blog about the KPD, the document portrays Palestinian Christians as peaceful and steering away from any form of revenge of terrorism in dealing with Israel. Once again, here are the words introducing the KPD from the 60 Minutes transcript:

In 2009, this group of Christian activists did something unprecedented. They published a document called Kairos, criticizing Islamic extremism and advocating non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation which they called a sin against God. It was endorsed by the leaders of 13 Christian denominations including Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican.  (more…)

The Truth about the Kairos Palestine Document

In the 60 Minutes report “Christians in the Holy Land” in March 2012, CBS correspondent Bob Simon attempted painted Palestinian Christian leaders with as non-violent brush towards Israel especially the Israel Defense Force (IDF).  Simon’s goal was to pin a “I support Martin Luther King” button on Palestinian Christians and  portray Israelis as evil ” segregationists” standing in the way of Palestinian civil rights. Nothing could be further from the truth once we delve outside the small box of  the 60 Minutes report.

Here are the words from the 60 Minutes transcript:

In 2009, this group of Christian activists did something unprecedented. They published a document called Kairos, criticizing Islamic extremism and advocating non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation which they called a sin against God. It was endorsed by the leaders of 13 Christian denominations including Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican.

The CBS correspondent continued to explore the Kairos Palestine Document by interviewing Mitri Raheb, a Palestinian Christian, the pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem:

Mitri Raheb: They [the Israelis] are fearful of this document because they are afraid this might influence the Christian world

Reverend Raheb, who helped write the document, says it’s anything but anti-Semitic.

Mitri Raheb: This document is– doesn’t ask for violent. It doesn’t ask for revenge. The most powerful thing in this document actually is that asking for hope and love and faith.

But is this document merely asking for “hope and love and faith”? How much do we as Christians in the Western World know about the Kairos Palestine Document? (more…)

Arab Christians Rewrite the New Testament on 60 Minutes

From the 60 Minutes report “Christians of the Holy Land”  last Sunday night [April 22, 2012) moderated by CBS reporter Bob Simon, the viewer was fed the idea that Palestinians started Christianity and gave faith in Christ to the world.

Mitri Raheb, a Palestinian Christian and a Lutheran minister from Bethlehem accurately claimed, “Christianity started here.”  Then Raheb adds, “The only thing that Palestine was able to export so successfully was Christianity.”  Yet no where in the New Testament is name “Palestine” is ever used. The closest we come is in Matthew 15:22 where a Canaanite woman came to Jesus seeking healing for her daughter, “A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

According to Wikipedia, “The first clear use of the term Palestine to refer to the entire area between Phoenicia and Egypt was in 5th century BC Ancient Greece.  Herodotus wrote of a ‘district of Syria, called Palaistinê” in The Histories, the first historical work clearly defining the region, which included the Judean mountains and the Jordan Rift Valley.”

In the Bible Palestine is never mentioned as another name for Israel or the original name of Israel prior to the Jewish exiles from Egypt entering the land under Joshua around 1400 B.C.  We read, “The Hebrew name Peleshet (פלשת Pəlésheth)- usually translated as Philistia in English, is used in the Bible more than 250 times. The Greek word Palaistinē  is generally accepted to be a translation of the Semitic name for Philistia; however another term – Land of Philistieim  was used in the Septuagint, the second century BCE Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, to refer to Philistia.  In the Torah / Pentateuch the term Philistia is used 10 times and its boundaries are undefined. The later Historical books include most of the biblical references, almost 200 of which are in the Book of Judges and the Books of Samuel, where the term is used to denote the southern coastal region to the west of the ancient Kingdom of Judah.”

Getting back to Mitri Raheb, he has the nerve to say, “Christianity has actually on the back a stamp saying, “Made in Palestine.”  Raheb could not be more mistaken.

Given the tenor of the entire article, it appears that Arab Christians are the original followers of Jesus in the Holy Land. I find it odd that Bob Simon did not interview the other Christians living in the Holy Land – Jewish people who have embraced Jesus as the Messiah aka messianic Jews. (more…)

60 Minutes’ Discrepancies about Christians of the Holy Land

Sunday night April 22, 2012 CBS aired a 60 Minutes report entitled “Christians of the Holy Land.” The report was piecemeal and failed to include anything but what CBS correspondent Bob Simon wanted to accomplish – to make Israel the perpetrator of all that ails Arab Christians in the Holy Land.

Simon started off his report admitting Christians in the Middle East today are not have an easy time.  Yet when the seasoned CBS correspondent lists examples of mistreatment of Christians in the Middle East, he fails to mention which group or groups are giving Arab Christians a hard time:

Christianity may have been born in the Middle East, but Arab Christians have never had it easy there, especially not today. In Iraq and Egypt, scores of churches have been attacked, hundreds murdered. In Syria, revolution seriously threatens Christian communities. The one place where Christians are not suffering from violence is the Holy Land: but Palestinian Christians have been leaving in large numbers for years.

Does anyone notice some missing words in this paragraph?  Who is persecuting Christians in Iraq and Egypt?  Dare I mention the word “Muslims”? Bob Simon refused to utter radical Muslims as the culprits attacking Arab Christians.

At the close of the 60 Minutes report Simon added an appendage to the original footage by including a brief discussion he had with Michael Oren, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States. Prior to the airing of the show, Oren called head of CBS News, Jeff Fager, Simon’s boss, about his concerns regarding the story.  Simon claims Oren had information that “our story was quote ‘a hatchet job.'” (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…)

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