Christ at the Checkpoint 4 speaker: Evangelicals can learn from Boko Haram about “de-secularisation”

The topic of Christ at the Checkpoint 4 is “religious extremism”, and one of their main speakers is John Azumah.

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Azumah has a few things to say about this topic.

In an article about Boko Haram for Lausanne, theologian John Azumah tried to contextualise the group’s massacres against Christians, claimed Boko Haram’s beliefs had been distorted by the media, and suggested that Nigeria’s Christians were the radicalised ones who now needed counselling.

Azumah’s piece concluded in positive terms, suggesting Boko Haram are in fact an anti-secular group could be an example for evangelicals:

“Lastly, ‘de-secularisation’ groups like Boko Haram may be calling the evangelical communion to a long overdue conversation about the effects of the secularisation of society and culture on religious commitment.”

The structure of this sentence expresses approaching admiration Islamist terrorists who murder Christians, because they are an “anti-secular force”.

But really, is any of this surprising? Christ at the Checkpoint is organised by the Bethlehem Bible College. One of their board members thinks suicide bombers make a “supreme sacrifice“, and another thinks they are “martyrs“.

There are clear connections between Bethlehem Bible College staffers and PFLP networks. Moreover, Bethlehem Bible College produced a pro-Hamas video last summer, whilst its teacher Salim Munayer claims Hamas used its terror tunnels for food and drink, and defending Gaza .

Christ at the Checkpoint is not against religious extremism; it is facilitating it.

RPP would encourage Israeli Messianic Jews to speak at the next CATC conference in order to point out the charade of CATC itself, and publicly challenge the ideological justifications and equivalences towards terrorism which emanate from the Bethlehem Bible College.

We encourage prayer for any Israeli believer whose conscience does allow them to speak at CATC, and we urge them to simply highlight the religious extremism of Christ at the Checkpoint.

Last time round, CATC’s guest of honour (who didn’t show up in the end) was a man who oversaw a re-enactment of the Sbarro restaurant suicide bombing, which killed 15 people, including 7 children and a pregnant woman.

Messianic leaders from Israel neglected to mention the depravity of this terror re-enactment by the CATC’s intended guest of honour, when they spoke at CATC last year.

Without this challenge, there is little purpose of Israeli Messianics participating in Christ at the Checkpoint.

John Azumah’s attitude to Boko Haram is of a piece with Bethlehem Bible College’s attitudes towards Hamas and the PFLP, and it merits a robust challenge.

Eli Yishai’s “Yahad” rally descends into chaos

Read about Eli Yishai’s Yahad rally on Ynet.

This seems to spell the end of Eli Yishai’s political career, at least for now. His “Yahad” party with Baruch Marzel was an electoral disaster – religious voters opted for Shas and United Torah Judaism, whereas nationalist voters went with Jewish Home and Likud.

Under Yishai’s watch as Interior Minister, officials with sympathies towards Yad L’Achim have had someone free rein to persecute Israeli Jewish citizens who chose out of their own free will to worship Yeshua as Moshiach. This prompted a Mabat Sheni documentaryin 2011. (Two years prior, RPP had called for an investigation into the relationship between Yishai and Yad L’Achim).

Baruch Marzel was the self-proclaimed right-hand man to Kahane, who champions freeing the Rabin murderer Yigal Amir. Marzel is a former Kach spokesman who has dozens of convictions for nationalist-based criminal activities.

Let us hope that this spells the end of neo-Kahanist influence on the Knesset.

Bethlehem Bible College board member: Suicide bombers are martyrs

A few months ago, we broke the story that the Chair of the Board of Bethlehem Bible College thinks suicide bombers make a “supreme sacrifice.”

Meet Hind Khoury, who is also on the Board of Bethlehem Bible College, speaking at 1:04:

“I’m of the persons, who believe that our martyrs, even if they were suicide bombers, I believe they are martyrs. We can’t just think of them as criminals. They can’t be. I refuse that.”

Bethlehem Bible College will soon host the 4th Christ at the Checkpoint conference on religious extremism – but you can bet that they will consider Hamas suicide bombers to be martyrs making a sacrifice, rather than religious extremists.

Rabbi Telushkin: If Jews believed Messiah has come, they wouldn’t keep Torah

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Here at RPP, we very much believe that Messianic Jews are free to observe the Torah, or not to, according to their consciences. There is certainly no obligation to keep Torah.

Some Messianic Jews still keep Torah as a “witness” to other Jews. If we keep Torah, the logic goes, Orthodox Jews will realise that it’s okay to be Jewish and believe in Jesus.  When it comes to “witness”, however, we think that continued Messianic Jewish Torah observance has the opposite effect.

It sends a mixed message to the Jewish community. According to Judaism, when Messiah comes the Torah is abolished. Messiah’s followers now keep to a new law, not Torah.

So when Jews see us claiming the Messiah has come, but we should still keep the Torah, we are sending a mixed message. We are saying Messiah has come already, but we’ll act as if nothing has changed by continuing to keep Torah.

According to Judaism, when Messiah comes, there is no more Torah.

In order for Messianic Judaism to act consistently with the values of Judaism, Messianic Jews would have to abandon Torah.

Joseph Telushkin is a widely respected Jewish scholar, and his writings are admired by Torah-observant Messianic Jews. They will be interested in Telushkin’s new book Rebbe (2014), which discusses Messianist Jewish believers in the Rebbe as a once-dead Messiah figure.

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Telushkin argues that Chabad Jews don’t really believe the Rebbe is Messiah, because they carry on keeping the Torah, therefore they are saying the Rebbe is not the Messiah of Judaism.

You can read this in Telushkin’s conclusion. Here is the relevant passage:

All students of the Talmud are familiar with the rabbinic question, lmai nafka manna? “What are the practical implications of the question you are raising?  In the spirit of lmai nafka manna?, one may ask: Why ultimately does it matter whether or not there are Chasidim who consider the Rebbe to be the Messiah? Will a contemporary Chabad rabbi, Messianist or not, issue different rulings on Jewish law as a result? No.

All the laws of Judaism that a Jew is bound to observe remain binding whether one’s beliefs are about the Rebbe’s Messiahship.

Thus, while there are traditional Jewish sources that speculate that many of Judaism’s ritual commandments will be suspended after the Messiah comes, no one within Chabad with whom I am familiar – even arden Messianists – holds that any Jewish laws or holidays should be observed different because he or she maintains that Menachem Mendel Schneerson is the Messiah. 

This, in itself, suggests, and is argued earlier in this chapter, that in their hearts the Messianists do not see the Rebbe as the actual Messiah – despite the fact that they proclaim in loud voices that he is. There is a long-standing Jewish tradition (see, for example, Zechariah 8:19) that Jewish fast days will be abrogated in the days of the Messiah, a position not instituted by Chabad Messianists.

Buy the book on Amazon.

Jeffrey Goldberg: Europe faulted Jews for both killing Jesus and inventing Christianity

This is very interesting, in Jeffrey Goldberg’s feature on whether Jews should now leave Europe, for The Atlantic, April 2015:

The resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe is not—or should not be—a surprise. One of the least surprising phenomena in the history of civilization, in fact, is the persistence of anti-Semitism in Europe, which has been the wellspring of Judeophobia for 1,000 years. The Church itself functioned as the centrifuge of anti-Semitism from the time it rebelled against its mother religion until the middle of the 20th century. As Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of Great Britain, has observed, Europe has added to the global lexicon of bigotry such terms as Inquisition,blood libel, auto‑da‑fé, ghetto, pogrom, and Holocaust. Europe has blamed the Jews for an encyclopedia of sins. The Church blamed the Jews for killing Jesus; Voltaire blamed the Jews for inventing Christianity. In the febrile minds of anti-Semites, Jews were usurers and well-poisoners and spreaders of disease. Jews were the creators of both communism and capitalism; they were clannish but also cosmopolitan; cowardly and warmongering; self-righteous moralists and defilers of culture. Ideologues and demagogues of many permutations have understood the Jews to be a singularly malevolent force standing between the world and its perfection.

The whole piece is fascinating, and Goldberg captures the climate in Europe extraordinarily clearly – read it all.

Before Israeli elections, Musalaha-endorsed blog claims Messianic Jews are “center-right to far right”

Last week, we posted a claim from Musalaha’s project manager on a Palestinian website, that Israeli Messianic Jews are right-wing, and that Israeli Arab Christians should resist pressure to vote for left-wing parties and instead vote for the Arab list candidates.

This was a call from Musalaha for Arabs in Israel to vote along sectarian lines, and reject the mainstream Israeli Left, Right and centrist parties – amplified in the Palestinian Christian media.

In the Messianic media, meanwhile, the message being pushed by Musalaha’s network is that Arab Christians in Israel are part of the Left.

Now Musalaha are pointing people towards the Another Voice blog, which claims that Messianic Jews have “center-right to far right” political leanings, whereas Arabs in Israel and the Palestinian areas are linked to the political left, because they are in favour of “pluralism and minority rights.”

It is untrue that Messianic Jews lean towards the Far Right, wholesale. Most Messianic Jews speak out against the religious right like Shas, and disagree over whether to vote Zionist Union (centre-left), Likud (centre-right) or Yesh Atid (centrist).

So what is Musalaha’s interest in portraying Messianic Jews as “Far Right”, wholesale?

It appears that Musalaha is trying to do politically the exact opposite of what they claim to do spiritually for Messianic Jews and Arab Christians.

Musalaha are trying to portray Messianic Jews as a voting bloc hostile to Arabs, whilst portraying Arab Christians as a voting bloc concerned for all of society – therefore they are fundamentally different politically, whilst having some spiritual commonalities.

It is disappointing that in spite of the many years Messianic Jews have met with Musalaha leaders, Musalaha are still associating Messianic Jews with the “right-wing”, which they see as a by-word for discrimination-  when Messianic Jews place themselves across the political spectrum, and many right-wing voters see Arab integration and minority rights as a key issue regardless and beyond Left or Right political leanings.

Another Voice are right to listen to Israelis, Arabs and Palestinians and encourage dialogue. But they ought to be grounded in truth, and therefore they should admit that Messianic Jews will vote across the political spectrum, and edit their misleading description accordingly.