Israel is the key to all end-time prophecy.

Keep your eye on Jerusalem  


Oct 1, 2012

The Marketing of Evil

A few years ago, David Kupelian wrote a terrific book that connected a lot of dots. The Marketing of Evil shined a light on the ways skilled marketing folks have re-packaged evil and leveraged Americans’ basic fairness and tolerance in order to get us to accept things that in bygone days would have been rejected.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the Arab-Israel conflict and, by extension, in the way Jewish and Christian Zionists are seen and treated. Case in point is that Pied Piper of Pietism, Brian McLaren. The radical left former pastor is now raking in the dough by writing books and traveling the speaking circuit.

I don’t know if I’d call McLaren a marketing genius—although I wouldn’t dismiss the idea at all—but he is most certainly aggressively committed to promoting…Brian McLaren.

(A quick aside: this is a topic for another time, but have you noticed how mega-church “leaders” are now blatantly using the churches they pastor to promote their own product? Check out if you don’t believe me. Wowza. There are a whole host of these sites; at least McLaren had the intellectual honesty to leave the pastorate in order to enrich himself.)

I was speaking with a major conservative leader this week and he told me that he didn’t consider McLaren to be “well-known” in evangelical circles. I would both agree and disagree with that. McLaren is not a traditional “evangelical” in any way, though he cleverly uses the label in order to burrow-into evangelical circles. So while he is on the outside to some extent, his growing influence among young evangelicals is a serious danger to the Church.

I call him dangerous in part because he first used that tag for people like us, supporters of Israel. You see, the all-out war on Jewish and Christian Zionists—from within evangelicalism—has been launched with a viciousness none of us could have anticipated. From scholars like Gary Burge, to media figures like Hank Hanegraaff, to venues like Catalyst…we are seeing a trend toward folks who label Christian Zionism a “sin,” “dangerous,” and “war-like.”

These labels aren’t used without careful consideration. It’s all marketing.

The other day, McLaren posted what appears to be a quote from Pierre R. Berastain, on Facebook. In part, the quote reads like this:

“In the last few years, I have become a more faithful, though disappointed, Christian. I have faith in the power of love and unity that our Lord taught us, but I am scared of Christian dogmatism eroding the message of Jesus Christ. Where is the compassion? What of the love for those who differ from us? I am hopeful that the Bible may serve as guidance for peace, but I am also afraid of its being used as a tool to promote odium.”

You need to know that in the context of how McLaren views “the message of Jesus Christ,” it is entirely different from traditional evangelicalism. He also champions tolerance, love, and unity…except for those dirt-bag Christian Zionists (that last part is my characterization of his animus towards me and my friends, who try to do our tiny part in protecting Israel and the Jews from the malevolent forces converging on them now).

I quote again the feelings that the peacenik, Brian McLaren, has for those he is knowingly marginalizing as “Other.” This from a letter penned by Zionist-hater Naim Ateek:

With candor the last two groups of extremists, i.e. Jewish and Western Christian Zionists are a greater threat to us than the extremist Islamists. In fact, these extremists have more military power and clout to uproot all Palestinian presence both Christian and Muslim from our homeland.

That quote is reproduced exactly as it appeared in McLaren’s blog from last year; in fact, he bolded this part, to emphasize his solidarity with the Jew-haters and haters of Christian Zionism.

In 2011’s “An Open Letter to America’s Christian Zionists,” David P. Gushee and Glen H. Stassen, made no bones of the fact that they are targeting Zionists for marginalization. One can get a feel for their worldview with gems like this:

As you know, this belief is one form of what goes by the name ‘Zionism.’ When it is religiously motivated, it is an especially powerful belief, because Israel’s ‘title’ to every square inch of the land is believed to be granted by God in the Bible.”

Note the phrase “is believed to…” This is a common propaganda tactic, in order to reduce our reading of Scripture to opinion and interpretation.

Here is another passage from the letter:

“American Christian Zionism as it currently stands is sinful and produces sin. We write as evangelical Christians committed lifelong to Israel's security, and we are seriously worried about your support for policies that violate biblical warnings about injustice and may lead to the outcome you most fear—serious harm to or even destruction of Israel.

“We write as evangelicals to you, our fellow evangelicals. On the shared basis of biblical authority, we ask you to reconsider your interpretation of Scripture, for the sake of God, humanity, the United States, and, yes, Israel itself, the Land and People we both love.”

First of all, it should be clear to most above the age of preschool that one does not “love” another by bearing false witness against him. This is an important distinction between Christian Zionists and their detractors. “Evangelicals” like Gushee and Stassen— now sprouting like weeds in the American Church, emboldened both by the indifference or the aggression of certain leaders, depending on their level of involvement in Israel-bashing—are more willing to single us out as kooks who need to be silenced.

I have been in an email dialogue with a fellow who self-identifies as a Christian. He fairly aggressively presented his view that Israel’s “occupation” of “Palestine” is the real problem in the Middle East. We were continuing the conversation until he reproduced a Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood Grimm’s Fairy Tale about the Israelis tampering with the Gazan food supply, to keep Palestinians malnourished. Something about the rice being altered.

Okay, I have a rule that I don’t talk to Jew-haters, so I cut off that communication. But do you see the sick lengths some will go to demonize Israel? And this view, I’m convinced, is gaining traction in the American Church. It is evil being marketed on a grand scale.

Here was a guy repeating a blood-libel about Jews that sounds like it came from Middle Ages Europe. Yet here it is, alive and unfortunately well in 2012.

And the food-tampering tale takes its place among the other grotesque exhibits, like the Gushee/Stassen letter, and the McLaren head-scratcher about Zionists being more dangerous than Hamas. On it goes.

This week, Benjamin Netanyahu made Israel’s case before the UN, regarding the Iranian threat. I am reminded, though, when I see the growing and malevolent efforts to undermine pro Israel support in the evangelical community, that the battle against Israel rages on many fronts.

Next week, I’ll be at a gathering stocked with young, progressive, self-described evangelicals who, if you could get the truth out of them, would think the Israelis are Nazis. I’ll be reporting on what I find in the coming weeks, and would appreciate your prayers.

In the meantime, I would ask you to consider standing your ground when you hear lies about Christian and Jewish Zionists. The other side has opened up this war, and it is vicious and unrelenting. It is the marketing of evil.

Doesn’t mean we have to take it.



Sept 24, 2012

When Discernment is Gone

In 2010 and again in 2011, the German newspaper Die Welt alleged that Venezuela and Iran had entered into an agreement for the joint operation of a missile base in Venezuela. Almost as a punch line, the U.S. State Department said that it had no evidence of such a claim. Of course, that doesn’t mean the CIA doesn’t.

Since the beginning of 2011, a total of 1,383 rockets have been fired into Israel, from Gaza. U.S. officials are largely silent about this, and the American Religious Left pretends that the “occupation” is to blame for the lack of peace in the Middle East.

And according to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center this past week:

“A press release issued by Egypt’s interior minister said that Egyptian security apparatuses operating in the Sinai Peninsula were able to ascertain the identity of seven mostly Palestinian individuals suspected of carrying out the terrorist attack at Kerem Shalom on August 5, 2012, in which 16 Egyptian soldiers had been killed. Also seized were numerous weapons, including hundreds of anti-aircraft missiles, ground-to-ground missiles, and RPG rockets.” Additionally, we learn that:

“A large stockpile of weapons was seized in the south of Mount Hebron during a round of terrorist operatives’ arrests conducted by IDF forces. The arrests took place in several Palestinian villages near Hebron after intelligence information was received suggesting that a there was a large stockpile of weapons inside a residential building. The weapons seized by the IDF soldiers included two Uzi submachine guns, a pistol, a Kalashnikov, and numerous rounds of ammunition. The operatives were detained and handed over to security forces for questioning.”

These large and “small” developments are deeply troubling, and reflect the mendacious nature of the Arab/Muslim world, directed at both Israel and America. That Hugo Chavez has struck a missile deal with the Iranians should be a matter of critical national concern. It should keep Americans up at night.

This also coming on the heels of the ghastly murder of four American embassy staffers in Libya last week.

And yet…

We have long known that a high number of American officials in Washington are deluded when it comes to threats from our enemies. Liberals believe in appeasement and the fundamental goodness of man, which is an obvious myth.

But it is the growing delusion of the American Religious Left that I think is the biggest under-reported story going on in geo-politics. Researcher and writer Dexter Van Zile produced a brilliant analysis this week of one such religious leader, evangelical pastor Bob Roberts, Jr., pastor of NorthWood Church in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Roberts advocates building bridges of cooperation with Muslims. I strongly urge you to read Dexter’s report:

Earlier in the week, Roberts went on a disturbing rant on Twitter, demanding that evangelicals “denounce” the film, “The Innocents of Muslims,” which has been used as a pretext for murdering Americans. The murders are the story, not the film trailer (which I’ve watched). Yet Roberts and his fellow dupes fall in line with Barack Obama’s grotesque round of apologies. Can you imagine FDR apologizing to the Japanese on December 7, 1941? We’re all still here because America did the opposite after that day of infamy.

Roberts’ stunning appeasement of our enemies emboldens them. The real danger here is that this pacifism doesn’t stop with Roberts. As I’ve documented numerous times, plenty of leaders from the Religious Left advocate for our enemies. Specifically, those who have hijacked the term “evangelical,” in order to fool real evangelicals, help to spread both Palestinian propaganda and the lies of the wider Arab/Muslim world.

As an aside, one can begin to get a sense of where Roberts is coming from by looking at his background. Like Rick Warren and other key leaders on the Religious Left, Roberts earned his doctorate from Fuller Theological Seminary. The lefties at Fuller and Wheaton have made sure for a long time that liberalism slithers into the Evangelical Community.

With stories circulating that a massive naval confrontation is looming in the Persian Gulf, and reports that Israel is on a war footing, it behooves all of us to pay attention to what is going on. In particular, I urge readers to follow, analyze, and disseminate the allegations of leaders like Bob Roberts, Jr. He has many friends in leadership positions around the country and around the world, including his friends at the infamous “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference.

Many thanks to Dexter Van Zile for spotlighting the problem.

Sept 17, 2012

The Turning Point

A few years ago, while walking down Nablus Road in Jerusalem, I saw two Israeli police officers holding six Palestinian men for questioning. The six were standing against a wall. I’m pretty sure the police would have rather been doing anything else, yet the six were obviously suspected of something not good.

Hamas “martyr” (shaheed) posters were all over the eastern part of the city.

The issue then, as now, involves the Islamist agenda of jihad. Terrorist attacks, “small” or large, have been foisted upon peaceful people for decades by people who hate because their religion tells them to hate. And conquer. And destroy.

The events this week, beginning with the brutal torture and murder of our diplomats in Libya, are now burning across the Middle East. Egypt. Yemen. Tunisia. The psychopaths involved are waging a campaign of murder, disinformation, propaganda, destabilization, and economic misery.

A friend of mine who lives in Israel told me this week that there is an unusually large number of Israeli troops stopping to pray at the Western Wall. Everywhere, there are signs that the country is on a war footing.

What many in American fail to grasp is that Western civilization is on a war footing. For many years we have been fed the lie that Islam is a peaceful religion. We’ve been told that only a tiny percentage of Muslims advocate violence. We’ve been told that grievances over alleged American sins have contributed to a climate of mistrust that inevitably spills over into violence.

All of that is a lie.

The Israelis have known this for a very long time. What’s disturbing is that so few American leaders understand it or are willing to face up to the threat. It is a complete outrage that our diplomats and our embassies are under attack. And the American president is standing down. I wonder…why?

There are myriad elements to this story, but perhaps the most disturbing to me, an evangelical/Bible-believing Christian, is why our religious leaders are such dupes for the jihadists. This period of time we’re living in requires all of us to examine who we are and what we believe.

I am greatly concerned that evangelical leadership and the Religious Left—increasingly seen as the same entity—are either silent or complicit in the propaganda war waged so skillfully by the jihadists.

At the time of this writing, no real word on the embassy attacks and murders from the likes of Brian McLaren, Jim Wallis, Rick Warren, Lynne Hybels, or Shane Claiborne. Hybels did forward a commentary from a friend of hers, who felt compelled to also mention that film that served as a pretext for the pre-planned attacks.


A recent article in Charisma News featured Muhammad Musri, president of the Islamic Society of Central Florida. Musri said, among other things, that:

“No religion condones terrorism, and that includes Islam. What came out of 9/11 was the worst of a small percentage of Muslims. As a Muslim, I believe that a true Muslim would not fly a plane into a building and kill people. Islam by name is peace. Those people were extremists, and they used our religion to further their own goals and agenda.

“It’s a constant struggle. It’s very discouraging when someone looks at you with fear in their eyes because they think you could be a terrorist. It’s gotten much worse since 9/11. We are trying to educate Christians and others by coming together and showing them that’s not what we’re about. We’re about peace.”

Really? Because it is a matter of historical fact that 19 true Muslims did fly airplanes loaded with innocents into the World Trade Center. I find it very difficult to believe that any Muslim in a significant leadership position actually believes the religion is about peace.

Epic, stunning lies are being forced down onto the American people.

A wave of what I’d call “softening-up” of American attitudes toward Islam is washing over our country, particularly our churches. I’ve discussed quite a bit the warm relations Rick Warren has with Muslims, including his infamous 2006 visit with the Butcher of Damascus, Bashar Assad. To my knowledge, only Joseph Farah at WorldNetDaily had the guts to forcefully call Warren on this outrage.

If one examines the speakers at the Catalyst Conferences (, there is a definite pattern of accommodation with worldviews that are the antithesis of biblical Christianity and Western values. I’m speaking of—as just one example—the inclusion of Dr. Cornel West as a Catalyst speaker. West is a self-described “non-Marxist socialist.”

Can you imagine we’ve come to this? A pro Palestinian, Marxist (I know, I know…he said he isn’t a Marxist) is an invited speaker at an event organized and hosted by the likes of Andy Stanley? Does anybody understand the implications of that? Hello? Anybody home?

Do you understand that our Evangelical community is being fundamentally changed in the same way the president is fundamentally changing America? Remember, in a current television ad, former President/Appeaser-in-Chief, Bill Clinton, said that Obama has a plan to rebuild America from the ground up.

Yes, he does.

Andy Stanley, in 2011, hosted Michelle Obama to speak at his Atlanta church. Obama and her husband are perhaps the most anti-Israel occupants of the White House ever. And that’s saying something, since the White House was stained by Jimmy Carter for four years.

There is a definite Leftist element in such mega-churches as Stanley’s and Craig Groeschel’s LifeChurch. Yet few seem to care. I’ve attempted to interview all these people, to try and understand why they have created these cultures in their churches and, since they are the major movers and shakers in Evangelical leadership today, it seems highly important that they are advancing these agendas.

I’ve been turned down by all of them, despite repeated requests through proper channels to interview them. When leaders don’t want the masses to really know what they’re up to, they stonewall and go silent.

Wake up, Christians.

I spoke to a mega-church Southern Baptist pastor about this two weeks ago and in effect, he gave me the written equivalent of the finger. Told me I was flat wrong about “his friends” and that I was being judgmental.

Whew. We are in deep, dark waters, my friends.

All this to say, Scripture tells us quite clearly that at the time of the end, the Jews/Israel will be protected supernaturally by the Lord Himself. Of this I have no doubt.

It is the rest of us I am deeply saddened about. May God have mercy on believers in our beloved country. We are now sailing in uncharted waters, watching an American president fiddle while the country burns. Our national religious leaders are standing-down and/or are complicit in the implantation of socialist/Marxist values in our nation and in our churches.

They loathe Israel, Jews, and Bible prophecy with a vehemence I find breath-taking.

I care not one whit about the denials of what I’ve just outlined. I have quite a large database of documentation to back up what I’m saying.

And my friends in Israel—God love all of you—are going to glorious victory after victory on the battlefield that is looming, because He is going before you. God bless Bibi Netanyahu and the magnificent fighting men and women of the IDF.

I love my own country and the people in it, and those who have gone before, who never got off the beaches at Normandy, or who likewise perished, from Tripoli to Baghdad.

May God have mercy on us.

Sept 10, 2012

Europe is Finished

Yes, finished.

It never ceases to amaze me how dumb sophisticates can be, particularly when it comes to Israel and the Jews. History is littered with the wreckage of civilizations that thought it was expedient to either oppress the Jews, or be indifferent to their plight.

Now comes word that Greek announces the European Union might ban goods made in the “settlements.” Once again, it’s not hard to hear them hiss when they say “sssssssettlements.”

There are gleaming Jewish communities throughout the land of Israel—although much of Judea/Samaria (international community: the “West Bank”) is still empty. In the modern era’s inversion of the truth, calling good evil and evil good, Israel is “racist” when it comes to dealing with the Palestinians. Even though the ultimate racism is preventing Jews from living wherever they want. No one tells a person from Oman that he can’t live somewhere.

From a Jerusalem Post report:

According to multiple Israeli media reports, the Greek diplomat, speaking to reporters during a Geneva Initiative seminar in the Greek capital, said that EU nations were currently holding discussions on the issue. Among moves being considered were a total import ban on settlement goods or the implementation of special labels for goods made in communities beyond the Green Line, such as South Africa adopted last month.”

Of course, South Africa. Get it? Apartheid state?

The Post report continues:

“The Foreign Ministry issued a harsh statement following South Africa's decison, saying that the measure adopted was unprecedented and constituted ‘blatant discrimination based on national and political distinction. This kind of discrimination has not been imposed – and rightly so – in any other case of national, territorial or ethnic conflict. Israel and South Africa have political differences, and that is legitimate. What is totally unacceptable is the use of tools which, by essence, discriminate and single out, fostering a general boycott.’”

As I keep saying, Israel is in effect now surrounded by enemies, and every time an American Christian leader pushes the Palestinian narrative, Israel suffers. Which is what these leaders like. However, they should read history and realize that, like Haman, Antiochus, Titus, Muhammad, etc., History is watching.

The “apartheid” label is something that “Christians” also like pushing, particularly that rare cat, Jimmy Carter, who is both an international politician and menacing critic of the Jewish state, from within the Christian community. Look, at least he identifies that way.

One would think that the Greeks could find better things to do than join another Jewish witch-hunt.

It is fascinating, in a scary sort of way, to watch the international community coalesce around a vicious anti-Israel campaign. It is outright disconcerting to see the American Christian leadership community follow suit. Truly, the encirclement of Israel is almost complete.

The nations are right where History wants them.

Sept 3, 2012


I have been writing recently about the transformation of the Evangelical community from its 20th century identification, to one that has been hijacked by liberalism and a leftist agenda that has truly, “crept in unawares.”

Phil Johnson has provided a clear definition of this:

“Historic evangelicalism has two clear distinctives. One is a commitment to the inspiration and authority of Scripture. The other is a conviction that the gospel message is clear and non-negotiable.”

What we are now witnessing is the almost-complete takeover of historical evangelicalism by folks like Brian McLaren and his friends. A major plank of their platform is a denial of Bible prophecy and the closely associated support for Israel that has been a hallmark of dispensationalist teachings. The new breed of pastor in America’s pulpits seems to have a particular loathing of the Jewish state. They are also clever enough to stage the takeover in, well, stages. Again, Johnson:

“With the advent of the seeker-sensitive movement, however, evangelicals began to be influenced by a new species of entrepreneurial leaders who marginalized those core doctrines by neglect. Most of them didn’t overtly deny essential biblical truths; but neither did they vigorously stress or defend anything other than their own methodology.

“The results were predictable: Churches are now filled with formerly unchurched people who are still untaught and perhaps even unconverted. Multitudes of children raised on a treacly diet of seeker-sensitive religion have grown up to associate the label evangelical with superficiality. Most of them cannot tell you what the term originally meant, and they reject whatever vestigial evangelical boundaries or doctrinal distinctives their parents may have held onto. But they still call themselves evangelicals when it’s convenient, and many have remained at the fringes of the visible movement, decrying how out of step the church is with their generation. That, after all, is exactly what they learned from their parents.”

Frankly, evangelicalism’s most prominent voices supportive of Israel have begun to pass from the scene: men such as Jerry Falwell and Adrian Rogers. They have been replaced by the likes of Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, Bill Hybels, and Rick Warren. None of those men are pro Israel, and from all indications, they treat Bible prophecy teachers like lepers.

I spoke to a former member of a church pastored by one of these men, and was told that the pastor treats prophecy like it’s a red-hot poker.

My writing of late has been repetitive on this subject, simply because I believe this is the great, under-reported story of our time, in the Evangelical community. It is leading to an overtly hostile view of Israel and the Jews.

A new example of the close inter-action between evangelicals and Palestinian propagandists is the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation. Palestinians Elias Chacour and Michel Sabbah are involved. They have teamed with evangelicals such as Wheaton’s Gary Burge to disseminate the Palestinian narrative.

On the HCEF’s board of directors is Michael Kruse, another Wheaton grad whose career as a diplomat serves him well in networking internationally.

Let me share with you, my friends, a key strategy of groups that promote the Palestinian propaganda. The HCEF is hosting in November the “14th International Conference 3rd Business, Investment & ICT Conference, at the National 4H Conference Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland. The theme is “Continuing Our Commitment to Peace, Prosperity & Dialogue.”

Also on the agenda is the “2nd-KTH Palestinian Youth Diaspora Conference,” which will be held on Sunday, November 11, 2012. Part of the published agenda is to “build relations with the youth where the Palestinian Youth Diaspora lives to build solidarity and support with the Palestinian People.”

Notice the reference to “diaspora,” meaning dispersion and exile from one’s homeland. This term is most closely associated of course with Jews who were expelled from their ancestral homeland. By co-opting the term, the Palestinians further their goal of moral equivalency.

Interestingly, one of the presenters is Noa Baum, described as “Storyteller, Promoting Peace through the Art of Storytelling.”

According to the conference literature:

“Noa’s one-woman show, A Land Twice Promised, relives her heartfelt dialogue with a Palestinian woman, illuminating the complex and contradictory history and emotions surrounding Jerusalem for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

Because today’s younger generations tend to place more emphasis on subjectivism, and hold at arm’s length a presentation of facts and documentation, “storytelling” becomes preeminent. In other words, a story about Palestinian abuse at the hands of Israelis (often made up out of thin air) trumps facts and history that buttress Israel’s position.

A small-but-interesting detail is that Baum “performs and teaches internationally, highlights include: The World Bank, Mayo Clinic,

US. Defense Department, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Fabula Festival, Sweden, Jewish Theological Seminary, NYC, GWU Law School, DC, Brandies and Stanford Universities, Hebrew University and The Kennedy Center.”

I mention this to highlight again the global cooperation the Palestinians have attained.

I hope you are able to see at least in part how the Palestinians have garnered international support for their goals. The goal, in essence, is the same hatched by Yasser Arafat in the 1950s: liquidate the Jewish state. Whereas in the past, the Arabs wished to do so on the battlefield, they now have shifted their focus to the geo-political realm and the religious community. There’s nothing like a shattering military defeat, repeatedly, to foster a change in one’s tactics.

Because that’s all this is: tactics and strategy. The main goal is always the same: destroy Israel.

A key element in this plan—which, I’d like to emphasize, is working splendidly—is to hijack evangelical support of Israel. That is happening now on a breathtaking scale.

What I’m attempting to communicate is that while certain evangelical leaders like Groeschel and Stanley don’t make comments about Israel (their main focus of course is Church Growth/Seeker Driven strategies), they associate with plenty of people who hate Israel. This view has become mainstream among top evangelical leadership in America.

To bring this back around, modern evangelicalism in America has little to do with advancing a Gospel agenda. It has much to do with social justice and misguided attempts to dialogue with our sworn enemies.

This type of dialogue goes back decades, when mainline representatives became pals with the likes of Arafat. The influence has trickled down to now, when the same type of leftist, social-justice emphasis has supplanted evangelical outreach. Sadly, many seem not to notice.

The Religious Left, which includes the “new evangelicals,” is shockingly hostile to Israel, and opposes the Jewish state through subtle means. They are even employing the “non-violent” emphasis, which is pushed by Palestinian Christians like Sami Awad. This approach oddly enough—tongue-in-cheek—has the same goals as the PLO/PA.

A sure sign you’ve stumbled-onto this propaganda is when you hear someone say they are both “pro Israel and pro Palestine.” When someone talks of “Palestine” like it’s a current political reality, you can be sure you are hearing leftist ideology. Simply put, I don’t believe any of the new evangelicals who are proponents of this, when they say they are also pro Israel. If one supports a Palestinian state, in the current climate, then one either has no clue what the Palestinian Authority/Hamas has planned, or they do and don’t care. I’m afraid too many fall into the latter camp, including “evangelicals” supportive of “Palestine.”

The battle rages.

Aug 27, 2012

Holy Land Tours

I attended a seminar at a nearby mega-church yesterday. The seminar itself was based on church growth techniques and was disturbing (although the 1,500 who attended soaked it up like sponges), but that subject is for another day.

The relevance for our purposes today is that one of the presenters at this seminar is pastor of a rabidly anti-Israel church—identified as evangelical!

While strolling through the church’s bookstore during a break, I noticed a flyer on the counter: the host pastor of this seminar is also hosting a “Holy Land Tour” next year in—as I like to call it—Israel.

 A dear Lutheran friend of mine clued me in a few years ago that for decades, there has been a tendency to call organized trips to Israel…”Holy Land tours.” It is a subtle attempt to remove the Jewish nature of the country; many Christian leaders today are loathe to say “Israel.”

I knew when I picked up the flyer that this mega-church pastor is in reality what I’d call quasi-pro Israel. This means that he would be nominally—at best—“pro Israel.” He has from time to time hosted prophecy teachers, and his denomination in the past was traditionally hospitable to dispensationalism.

What we are witnessing in our Church culture in this country is a passing—a transition from a “golden age” of pro Israel support, to a turning away from the Jewish state and embrace of the Palestinian narrative.

This grieves my heart.

In the coming months, I will be exposing a light on these shocking developments, and presenting an action plan for pro Israel folks to counter this rising tide of leftist theology.

(Only this week, I heard the fellow I am now calling “The Koran Answer Man,” Hank Hanegraaff, take a call from a woman who asked if there is a biblical mandate to support Israel. He said of course there isn’t, and went on to say that we are in fact called to support “moral evil.” I’m going to put words in Hanegraaff’s mouth at this juncture and say that he was a step away from alleging that the state of Israel engages in moral evil by occupying the Palestinians.)

At the same time these things are going on in America, word comes (via the Jewish Tribune) that Bedouin in the Negev are claiming 200,000 acres, squatting on Jewish land. This of course is another form of land-grab; a more sophisticated version is the Oslo “peace process,” now 20 years old and more of a disaster than when it began.

I point this out because one can admit to being taken aback by the myriad threats facing Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu must be made of stern stuff, to be able to put his feet on the floor each morning and face his day. And to think, some heads of state play golf regularly, vacation with their family and entourage, and undermine their own country.

In this age of anti-Jewish invective coming from…the Church…and a lack of courage in our pulpits (generally speaking), we see a paradox: as the end of the age draws nigh, it is easy to be anxious and worried. At the same time, if we hold to Scripture alone, we know this is a glorious time to be alive.

Israel will survive and thrive. At the same time, I am grieved by the posture of the Church on this issue. Standing up to these forces from the left requires one to engage in a brutal and dark fight with people who do not hold to Scripture as their authority.

The saints who have gone on before us, I’m convinced, would be shocked at these developments, but they wouldn’t be surprised.

There is a strange wind of ecumenical fervor sweeping through the Evangelical Church in America, and it is making for some strange bedfellows. The pastor I mentioned at the outset of this article is a prime example.

Stay tuned.


Aug 20, 2012

Can Anything Good Come Out of Nazareth?

Ariel Sharon told me once that he expected peace with the Arabs “in 500 years.” I thought then that his assessment was pretty accurate. From time immemorial, the Jews’ cousins have fomented violence in the region, and today they have infected seemingly the entire international community with a hatred of Zionism. 

But I am cautiously optimistic.

I spoke this week with two people who personify the hope that can come to this tortured region. They are part of a new generation that from all indications is serious about moving past ancient blood feuds. Perhaps there can even be rapprochement among factions in the Arab League. Wouldn’t that be a miracle and a blessing?

My dear friends at the America-Israel Friendship League (AIFL) have been sponsoring young people on trips to Israel for a quarter-century. Michael Watts, who lives in Washington DC, visited with me this week about his delegation in 1989, as part of the League’s “Youth Ambassador Student Exchange” program. Here’s the really interesting part: at the time, as a teenager, Watts came from a religiously blended family: a Muslim mother and a Christian father (today he is about to become a licensed Christian minister). 

Watts is president of the Michael Watts Project, which specializes in organizational development and executive coaching. He credits his trip to Israel as a catalyst for what he does today. 

“It was part of my classroom,” he remembers. “The experience shaped my career, and my philosophy of working with others.” 

Although Watts took his trip to Israel at the beginning of the First Intifada, he had a delightful experience and maintains to this day a positive impression of the Jewish state. 

Kathleen Kim is a recent graduate of Syracuse University, where she majored in journalism, and was an editor with the school’s newspaper. She is obviously part of the “Generation Y” demographic—college-age citizens who seem especially interested in impacting the world in a positive way. I believe I can say with some knowledge that Kathleen and her fellow travelers appear more engaged with helping others than accumulating “stuff” for themselves—certainly more than my generation. Although multi-culturalism has to have checks and balances like anything else, it is the vehicle by which Generation Y hopes to drive to a better future. 

Kathleen told me that this was her first trip to Israel, and that several things impressed her, especially the devotion to country she saw from young members of the IDF. 

“Their love of country and patriotism was very impressive,” she said. 

I see this as an important perspective that acts as a counter-weight to the propaganda put out by a growing number of American Christian leaders that seem drunk on the false view that Israel is an apartheid state. Folks like Jim Wallis could learn a thing or 80 from the participants in the YASE program (who, by the way, receive a well-rounded trip, which includes plenty of opportunity to have private dialogue with Palestinians).

One can think back to the environments in which, for example, a young Yasser Arafat emerged, and recognize that that cauldron of xenophobia and racism produced nothing but tragedy. The AIFL trips are the antithesis of that dark period, bringing together Muslims, Jews, and Christians who can see each other as human beings.

Kenneth Bialkin, chairman of the AIFL, is frankly a power-broker in New York, Washington, and Jerusalem. He counts heads-of-state among his friends. Yet he is passionately devoted to bringing youth into the future in a positive way. Ken understands that Christians especially are true friends of the Jewish people:

“Working with Christian evangelicals is more than rewarding—it is inspiring. It is inspiring because it is not unusual to find friendly reception from Jewish people, and so when non-Jewish people see the merit and the justice in Israel’s situation, we know it reflects thought and reflects study and understanding. Which is what gives me a great sense of comfort.

“In fact, given the current political environment, it is becoming more likely that Jews we encounter because of their political leaning are somewhat less sympathetic to Israel than Christians who have taken their learning and study of these issues more seriously.”

Bialkin recognizes the genuine value in building bridges of understanding, and in this I am optimistic that extremist views can be blunted.

When I attended last fall the annual meeting of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding (EMEU), I was of course dismayed by the anti-Christian Zionist fervor of the Western speakers. Yet it was the Arab speakers who seemed to understand reality. Several even found one or two positive things to say about Israel, and I found those like Nazareth attorney Botrus Mansour possessing a discerning grasp of human nature.

All this makes me somewhat hopeful that younger generations will not wake up too frequently to terrible news of death in the Middle East. Bible-believing Christians know where Ultimate Peace comes from, but in the meantime, there is nothing wrong at all with extending a hand of kindness to those who come from different experiences.

That is an effort that makes me cautiously optimistic that Sharon’s gloomy view was too pessimistic.