What to Expect at CaTC 2014?

Yasmine_PerniWhat can you expect at CaTC 2014? Well the organisers are certainly being a little more coy and careful in the lead up to the conference, perhaps learning the lessons of the controversies of the last CatCs.

However have a read of Mike’s Musings to see the reactions caused by Yasmine Perni one of the speakers of CaTC 2014 here.

Her film The Stones Cry Out claim that the Palestinians today are the descendants of the early followers of Jesus, despite the fact the New Testament tells us they were Jews! Is the film claiming the Palestinians are really Jewish? No, it is another political re-writing of New Testament history, and this is exactly what you can expect from Christ at the Checkpoint 2014.

Anti-Israel church?

EN_logoHere is a welcome piece from the UK based Evangelicals Now

Anti-Israel church?

In these early months of the 2013/14 Premier League season, anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head.

The Football Association has warned fans that anyone caught chanting the word ‘Yid’ could face criminal charges. This anti-Semitic term has been aimed at the fans of Tottenham Hotspurs due to Tottenham’s large Jewish population and Spurs fans in reaction have begun to sing ‘Yid Army’ as a form of identity. In recent weeks a video was posted on YouTube showing West Ham supporters singing anti-Semitic chants at their October match against Spurs.

Close to the wind

Racism has no place in any civilised society and certainly has no place in God’s church, which calls people from every nation, tribe and tongue to know the love of God in Christ.

However, it seems that some Christian groups which take an anti-state of Israel stance either sail very close to the wind or may at times tumble over into what amounts to be anti-Semitism. This year’s Greenbelt festival saw the launch of ‘Kairos Britain: Time for Action’. This is a new, avowedly pro-Palestianian, Christian organisation. Their website says that they seek a just and lasting peace in the region based on the realisation of full human and political rights for all and calls for an end to oppression and injustice. So far, so good. But when you read their understanding of the situation in Palestine you find a pretty one-sided view of what has gone on. There is no mention of rocket attacks on Israel from Hamas. There is no mention of Palestinian suicide bombings on buses with Israel. I am certainly not someone who thinks that the state of Israel is above criticism, but this is unbalanced.

It would clearly be unfair to equate criticism of the state of Israel with anti-Semitism. However, in supporting various Muslim groups in the Middle East, such a Christian organisation may well be giving support, perhaps inadvertently, to those who hate Jews per se. One only has to think of some of the extreme statements of ex-President Ahmedinajad of Iran to realise that such people do exist.

Nick Gray, director of Christian Middle East Watch, which takes a different view from that of Kairos Britain, warns of a disturbing imbalance. He says: ‘In November 2012, Christian Aid held a conference in Gateshead on “Peace and Justice in the Holy Land”. A non-Christian commentator, Denis McEoin, who is an expert on Middle East affairs, wrote a detailed account of the proceedings1. He says: “The conference was, from beginning to end, a total travesty of those ideals (of peace and justice); it was in all respects one-sided, often dangerously so. One after another, the speakers all presented the pro-Palestinian narrative and arguments derived from Palestinian political theory. Not once was an Israeli or Jewish narrative even mentioned… yet Israel was on several occasions ridiculed and condemned”’.

Jerusalem above

With anti-Semitism finding public expression in the Premier League, Christians need to be very careful not to be understood to be aligned with it. In our politically correct environment, in which those who can paint themselves as the most victimised are always assumed to be in the right, God’s word calls us to be more discerning (Exodus 23.2,3). May God grant true peace in the Middle East. Meanwhile the Jerusalem that is above is free and those in Christ belong to that heavenly city.

1. http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3529/christian-aid- conference-holy-land
John Benton

Baruch Moaz calls Christian Zionism, adoration of Israel and of all things Jewish, sub-Christian

Baruch Maoz

Baruch Maoz

Following on from our post on the Brown/Sizer debate -Is Christian Zionism Christian, we have Baruch Maoz,  a veteran Jewish Christian church-planter in Israel, who has some good points to make in his article about Christian Zionism, but they are often overshadowed when he makes stunningly broad, unverified and polemical claims, such as:

“Christian Zionism is wrong, on every point.”

Every point? What, even their faith that Jesus is the Messiah! Here and here

Maoz also opines:

Christian Zionism is sub-Christian because ignores moral considerations, and because it identifies a political platform with the Gospel, enlisting God in support this form of national selfishness.”

However where is the evidence to prove such a bold claim? None is offered, rather what we get is a sermonic denunciation of Christians whom he considers to love Jewish stuff just a little too much.

Where is the evidence that Christian Zionism ignores moral consideration, what exactly does this mean? Is it simply because they claim Bible support for a political agenda? I have never yet heard a Christian Zionist confuse the Gospel with their own version of eschatologically inspired political activism. Eschatology is not the Gospel, therefore the claim Maoz makes is very serious if it is true, however no documentary evidence is provided to demonstrate this to be true of one Christian Zionist leader let alone the whole diverse movement. I am not saying there is not one CZ leader who is theologically confused or off balanced in some way, rather I have not seen any of them identify the Gospel with a political platform, eschatology, evangelism yes, but not the Gospel.

Christian Zionism is not the Gospel, but neither is anti-Christian Zionism. However, how we view God’s ability to keep the covenants he made with Israel does impinge on the character and integrity of God, and whether He keeps His covenants as promised, or not.

Would Maoz also condemn all other theologically driven political activism by Christians in such a way, or is it just political activism with a Christian agenda for Israel that bothers him?

Maoz claims to be a Zionist himself:

“Let me be clear: I’m a Zionist. I am a Christian and I am a Zionist. But I am not a Christian Zionist”

Yet Maoz calls Zionism a form of “national selfishness”! This sounds at odds with another statement he makes in the same article:

“We Jews have an historic, moral right to live in the land of our forefathers and there to freely conduct our national life.”

“I affirm Zionism as a legitimate, morally valid option; the only reasonable option for my people.”

Maoz claims that Christian Zionist support of Israel is based on some future-Holocaust-end-times-death-wish which dehumanises Jewish people and turns them into and end-times marker. This istrue of a small percentage of Christian Zionists, but certainly not all. Studies into the very complex nature of the motivation of Christians who support Israel reveals a wide spectrum of motives, not just this myopic eschatalogical one. One book investigating the history of this complex movement is Philosemitism: Admiration and Support in the English-Speaking World for Jews, 1840-1939: Admiration and Support for Jews in the English-speaking World, 1840-1939 by William D. Rubinstein and Hilary L. Rubinstein.

Much of what Maoz criticizes in terms of the fortune-telling aspect of Christian Zionism I can agree with, but I feel he goes too far, claims too much and does not substantiate any of his wilder accusations.

“Nor is Christian Zionism’s professed love for Israel sincere. It is, rather, a fascination, largely borne on the grounds of eschatological speculations that change every time the events of the world take a new turn.”

Maoz is careful to reduce this vast spectrum of a movement into one easy to manage caricature and judge every one to be insincere in their motive and ‘professed love’.

Another claim that is a wild exaggeration is:

“Christian Zionists refuse to criticize Israel.”

Many Christian Zionists are very careful to acknowledge that Israel is an imperfect State that has, and does make many mistakes and injustices. Mark Dunman’s book, which I will mention shortly, is a recent example of this, proving the fallacious nature of Maoz’ comment.

Maoz does seem more to be attacking Charismatic and Arminian Christianity as it is manifested generally in the Christian Zionist movement than a researched, thoughtful critique of the flaws and pit-falls of Christian Zionism, a diverse movement that, as all movements have, weak points and extreme elements.

Equally, his lambasting of Christian Zionists for ignoring the Palestinians, may also be true of some, but certainly not all. Once again no evidence is offered for yet another bold, polemic claim. A more serious introduction to thinking about some weak areas of Christian Zionism can be read in Mark Dunman’s Has God Really Finished with Israel?

In short Maoz is a Zionist, but decries Christian Zionists for being Zionists for a Christian reason rather than a Jewish one!

Maoz’ post can been seen in full here

Stephen Sizer Effectively Rescinds His Apology for Calling Zionist Israeli Messianic Jews an Abomination to God

In a recent telephone debate between Messianic Jewish scholar Michael Brown and anti-Zionist crusading vicar Stephen Sizer, hosted by Moody Radio asking if Christian Zionism is Christian, Brown at 50:20 minutes challenges Sizer about claiming Jewish and Arab Israeli followers of Jesus who support their state are an abomination. Initially Sizer flat-out denies he even said it. Brown provides the quote that we broke on RPP in 2011, Sizer accepts he said it, added that he was “comfortable” with it being a true quote. Really, really? Following our coverage of Sizer’s shocking statement that Zionist Israeli Messianic Jews were an abomination to God, Sizer apologized (on the advise of his Messianic Jewish friend), however it was really a non-apology – read here. Now the truth is fully out, Sizer is “comfortable” with his calling those in Israel who follow Jesus and support the State of Israel, an abomination to God. Michael Brown caught him completely off-guard with this as he framed it slightly differently. The facts as they stand are that Sizer called Israeli Messianic Jews and Israeli Arab Christians who support their government and country, an abomination, at a Palestinian Solidarity Campaign meeting, and now additionally charges them with racism, to add to the mix.

It seems as if Sizer’s attempts to schmooze Messianic Jews to try increase Messianic Jewish footfall at the next Christ at the Checkpoint conference, has rather back-fired. If you are a Messianic Jew or Israeli Arab Christian who support the government of Israel, which is inherently Zionist by its very history and nature, Sizer believes:

they’ve repudiated Jesus, they’ve repudiated the Bible, and they are an abomination.

Good luck trying to get a fair hearing anywhere that Sizer has any influence then!

Stephen Sizer Need Three Proofreaders to Guard Against Any Anti-Semitic Faux Pas

Rev Stephen Sizer is unhappy, and once again he has had to resort to an over-the-top lengthy and detailed defense of himself in the face of much concern that he was sailing too close to anti-Semitism. Methinks he protesteth too loudly. Anyway strip down all his bluster and irritation at the temerity of bloggers who report and analyse what he says, writes and does in the public arena, and, what is left is an admission he was wrong and the implementation of three proofreaders who will check that he does not let slip anything that might be anti-Semitic.

Sizer’s own tome reads like some Hamas victory statement written as if they hadn’t really lost at all! We have to wait until point 141 of the 190 point statement till he admits the real outcome of the conciliation talks between him and the British Board of Jewish Deputies, which is the proofreaders.

His final point (190) demonstrates his problem in perceiving why he got in trouble in the first place, because it is not his criticism of Israeli policies or Zionism that is the issue, rather some of the traditional anti-Semitic tropes that he was utilizing.

Our coverage of Stephen Sizer’s public statements, published works and public visits can been viewed here.

Christ at the Checkpoint 2014 Manifestly Biased Manifesto

catc14catc14aThe CaTC Manifesto for its Your Kingdom Come conference has obviously been shaped by the stinging criticisms that the previous two CaTC conferences evoked. However, try as they may, there are still serious concerns that we have about their assumptive starting points. Stephen Sizer, who undoubtedly calls the shots in planning CaTC, spins and ignores the Israeli side of this multi-sided conflict in this way:

  • What would Christ say and do if he were to stand in front of a checkpoint today?

  • What would his message be to the Palestinian crossing the checkpoint? And to the Israeli solder who is stopping him?

  • What is the Christian calling in the midst of this reality?

Sizer doesn’t ask what would Christ say to the institutionalized hatred of Jews in Palestinian culture, what would Christ say to the terrorist intent on murdering Jews because they are Jews, to such a radical extent the only thing that can stop them is a big ugly wall. What would Christ say to Arab Evangelicals who become apologists and explain away terrorism by claiming it is all down to “the occupation”, despite the fact that Israel does not occupy Gaza or the West Bank, there is Palestinian self-rule, so what is being occupied? Israel. The reality, it seems, for CaTC 2014 is that the main problem is the mere existence of Israel itself :

The CaTC14 conference manifesto seeks to achieve a number of things, notably to dismiss any charge of Antisemitism by claiming that no matter the nature of their anti-Israel rhetoric, it cannot be confused with Antisemitism. This is a wrong assumption, for whilst not all criticism of Israel is automatically anti-Semitic, it cannot be claimed, therefore, that no criticism of Israel can ever be anti-Semitic.

14. Any challenge of the injustices taking place in the Holy Land must be done in Christian love. Criticism of Israel and the occupation cannot be confused with anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of the State of Israel.

Other highlights of the Manifesto include statements jam-packed with lofty spiritual catch-phrases that seek to dress the bias against Israel as some form of prophetic Kingdom… crusade!

1. The Kingdom of God has come. Evangelicals must reclaim the prophetic role in bringing peace, justice and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel.

What is this ‘Racial ethnicity’ in point 3 of the Manifesto? How can a person’s ethnicity be anything other than racial, It can only be ethnicity. The addition of the word ‘racial’ highlights CaTC own radical position on Jewish ethnicity, seeming to want to raise the spectre of racism with Jewish ethnicity. It also misunderstanding of the various Covenants of the Tanach.

3. Racial ethnicity alone does not guarantee the benefits of the Abrahamic Covenant.

The conference scope is being limited and the debate rigged in point nine by preempting any discussion by setting the core issue as being the occupation. However Israel has not occupied Gaza or the Palestinian Authority Areas for many years now, so what occupation is being referred to, Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Haifa, Jerusalem?

9. For Palestinian Christians, the occupation is the core issue of the conflict.

Point eleven shows that CaTC leaders see the strategic value in getting Messianic ‘believers’ (rather than Messianic Jews!) involved. They are careful to claim disagreement is only secondary theology and seek to assume occupation of the moral high ground with their talk of the ethical teaching of Jesus ignoring that rationalizing Palestinian terror attacks by claiming it is all due to “the occupation” flies in the face of the ethical teaching of Jesus.

11. 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.

Point twelve is a bit of a mystery, particularly the second sentence which seems odd unless it is missing a comma! Are we not to stereotype faith forms that betray the command to love our enemies? Odd.

Why should the global context of the rise of extremist Islam make a difference to CatC? This is not explained.

12. Christians must understand the global context for the rise of extremist Islam. We challenge stereotyping of all faith forms that betray God’s commandment to love our neighbors and enemies.

It seems that CaTC 2014 will be more of the same we saw in the previous two CaTCs, only in more tempered language.

What would Jesus do, what would he say to a Palestinian Christian at the Checkpoint and the Israeli Soldier there? Well what did Jesus say when His people the Jews were under real Roman military occupation in the land of Israel and areas now Palestinian Authority Areas? In response to Roman legionnaire’s abuse of power Jesus said “Go the extra mile” (Matthew 5:41). Will CaTC be taking this advice of Christ at the Checkpoint or will they get angry at the inconvenience of security checks at the checkpoints established to stop terrorist activity?

Stephen Sizer: Heresy and Hypocrisy

Stephen_Sizer

Sizer on Iran’s propaganda channel – Press TV

Stephen Sizer paints with a very broad brush when it comes to the Arab-Israeli Conflict but when it comes to Christian Zionism, well, forget the brush, he just pours the tin of paint out and you can forget nuance and an accurate portrayal of things.

Sizer’s toxic mix of crusader theology and politics is an unhelpful return to Medieval “theological Jew-baiting”. However it is Jew-baiting-by-proxy now because everything Sizer really wants to say about “the Jews” and can’t, because he will get into more trouble, he can and will say about Christian Zionists, the mythical Zionist Lobby and Zionist Israeli Messianic Jews whom Sizer called abominations to God.

As Israel has become ‘the Jew among the Nations’, so too have Christian Zionists become ‘the Jew’ in the Christian World, in fact Sizer effortlessly labels them heretics in his article in the Hamas-linked website MEMO.

Heresy is the deviation from original orthodox belief. From a more Christian perspective heresy is related to what are considered unorthodox beliefs about the character and ‘constituent components’ of God (for want of a better phrase) rather than who is believed to be the objects of God’s covenant love. The charge of heresy was always a tool to suppress unwanted ideas, which is why it carried the death penalty both in Catholicism and early Protestantism. Sizer raises the spectre of heresy for the same purpose, to stigmatize and demonize all those who support Israel.

Sizer was quite happy to admit he subscribed to the Bible’s presentation of the Jewish people as the Chosen People in his debate with Dr Calvin Smith on Revelation TV yet in this article for MEMO continues with his willful doublespeak as he says one thing to one audience and another thing to another audience.

Sizer recently added RPP to his list of Zionist Lobby bad guys, we are obviously Zionist heretics in his book, and he yearns for the good ‘ol days when clerics like him could give dissident voices like ours the death penalty.

We can expect everything Sizer touches to be stained by his agenda to re-categorize vast swathes of Evangelicalism into heretics and therefore be able to discount them. Watch Christ at the Checkpoint 2014 and you will be sure to see this agenda very obviously at work.