It’s Not Getting Better
“I’m stoutly pro Israel, but at the same time, I had dinner with two very dear Palestinian friends. The man who has headed up my trips is a Palestinian. I don’t want to see either side mistreat the other. I do see the vast majority of blame is placed on Israel, but at the same time Israel’s hands are not completely clean.”
I talk a lot at Israel Watch about the erosion of support for Israel among leaders in the Church. Specifically, the evangelical community.
The problem has multiple layers. In fact, the attack on support for Israel is so skillfully choreographed, I’d say it is supernatural. It’s painful and ironic that the American Church is leading the attack.
The above quote is from Dr. James Merritt, former past president of the Southern Baptist Convention. I’ve also written quite a bit about his son, the writer Jonathan Merritt. Everywhere, we are seeing the sons influencing the fathers, rather than the other way around.
James Merritt’s comment about Israel not being blameless is a very subtle shift among SBC leaders. And don’t expect other leaders like Albert Mohler or Danny Akin or J.D. Greear to seriously challenge the anti-Israel stuff coming out of evangelicalism. At the leadership level, these guys are too chummy and rely on each other to promote their own brands.
The Club won’t allow serious looks into what’s wrong with the Church.
Parachurch organizations like Catalyst Conference, Q, and others are stacked with anti-Israel types, and no one says a thing about it. And it’s not just about political views.
For a long time in our seminaries and ministries, seriously flawed views have been allowed to ferment. An example is the teaching that such events as the Exodus didn’t actually happen. You’d be shocked to know how much historical revisionism goes on in our seminaries. Scores of professors who secretly don’t believe the Bible influence next-generation pastors.
They also influence others, such as the writer Malcolm Gladwell. The Canadian writer (The New Yorker) has written best-selling books like Blink. Gladwell has said that his mother, a psychotherapist, was his inspiration as a writer.
In Gladwell’s 2013 book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, we see troubling things.
In the book, Gladwell claims that the story of David and Goliath is “legend.” This is useful in the effort to pry Scripture from reality. Gladwell’s depiction of God’s Word as “legend” fits in nicely with the gauzy, hyperbolic commentary found in such seminary resources as The Interpreter’s Bible, which formed the basis of teaching within the mainline churches, starting in the 1920s.
Notice this endorsement of David and Goliath:
“Fascinating….Gladwell is a master of synthesis. This perennially bestselling author prides himself on radical re-thinking and urges the rest of us to follow suit.” (Heller McAlpin, Washington Post)
The phrase “radical re-thinker” is one that is popular among those who target Millennials. Change agents like Gladwell know that young people, particularly students, are susceptible to re-thinking things that shouldn’t be re-thought, such as the origin of Scripture.
Notice too the subtitle to Gladwell’s book. “The art of battling giants,” in the context of a biblical account, subtly places the idea in people’s minds that the biblical accounts such as David and Goliath and the 12 spies are in fact fiction, simply literary devices to convey some deeper truth.
When one makes Jewish history Jewish legend, the die is cast to separate the Jews from their history. All of a sudden, their claims to the land, etc., are no more legitimate than anyone else’s.
Sadly, Gladwell has become part of the speaker circuit for conferences like Catalyst, which target young people.
Fully 78 percent of those who attend Catalyst are under 45. Twenty five percent are pastors or youth pastors. In fact, many church send entire staffs to Catalyst.
Gladwell appears with evangelical leaders like Andy Stanley, Rick Warren, Francis Chan, Louie Giglio, Dave Ramsey (his financial planning empire spans whole denominations), and Craig Groeschel.
I often hear from people who realize their church is being hijacked by the Catalyst-like mindset. It goes by other names: Seeker-Driven, Purpose-Driven, Church Growth.
All these models water-down or remove entirely Gospel preaching and expository preaching. When that happens, people no longer understand what the Bible really is, including a history of the Jewish people, past, present and future.
Evangelical bigs like Merritt believe the key to reaching young people and reaching a diverse community is “making it all more relevant.” Most of these leaders of course would dispute what I just stated, but it’s quite true.
We are living in a time of momentous change in the Church. Catholic and Protestant leaders are rolling-back the Reformation, Millennials are being targeted by unbelieving radicals, and in all of it, Israel’s place is eroded.
I have said for a long time that we will not see the real harvest of such bad teaching for another generation or two. I can still live somewhat in a world where true Bible study can take place. But with the subtle emphasis on marginalizing the Bible raging across the country, support for Israel is no longer a sure thing.