When Good People Do Nothing
I’ve been advocating for Israel in some way or another for 21 years. Support for Israel has been a privilege and a joy. When I was growing up in conservative evangelical circles, Bible prophecy teaching and support for Israel were dominant. Preachers talked of the Blessed Hope, and strongly supported the Jewish state and the Jews’ historical claim to the Promised Land.
As I’ve written many times, that began to change about 15 years ago. As I’ve now discovered, the seeds of that erosion of support for Israel and prophecy teaching began much earlier.
Beginning in the 19th century (taking their cue from seminaries in Europe, particularly Germany, where Enlightenment thinking began to destroy the Church), seminaries in America became populated with faculty committed to stealth and the destruction of belief in the Bible. Church leaders like Henry Ward Beecher also began to openly advocate for anti-biblical themes like Darwinian philosophy.
Things became so bad that in 1929, conservative Bible scholars at Princeton left to open Westminster Theological Seminary. The move was necessary, but it also abandoned the traditional places of learning to leftist groups. The Scopes Trial of 1925 also inflicted great damage on the conservative churches.
Since about 2005, I have observed a very noticeable erosion of support for Israel among pastors, large ministries, and para-church organizations. Some of these leaders do not overtly dis Israel or prophecy, but, like the disgraced-but-still-arrogant Mark Driscoll, they make their displeasure with Dispensationalism and Israel apparent from time to time. Further, those Millennials that they mentor certainly do oppose Israel and Bible prophecy teaching.
Now, I am noticing something perhaps even more troubling: a tendency for even stalwart pro Israel folks to attempt a sort of détente with the radicals. This methodology runs parallel to the destructive model used by RHINOS in Congress, when dealing with the Harry Reids of the world. In other words, softening your tone in the hopes your opponents will come your way.
That is folly.
When leftists smell blood in the water, the weakness of their opponents, they move in and open wide their jaws. It is why we are in the shape we’re in as a country. Focusing-in even more specifically, it is why I am of the opinion that the Church Visible in this country is already destroyed.
I will write more about this in the coming months, and speak about it as well, but I know for a fact that at the very highest levels of Christian leadership that advocates for Israel, there is distaste for “naming names” and really identifying the problems.
In 2015, I attended a large conference aimed at evangelical Millennials, and this conference was organized and sponsored by leftists, including “Black Lives Matters” radicals and the like. Anti-semitic leaders were invited to speak. It didn’t bother any national evangelical leaders.
Since 2010, I have researched and written about the inroads made into the American Church by Liberation Theology types and those who promote the Palestinian Narrative. In my view, the work in exposing these groups (work done by a handful of people) produced real fruit. For about a year, I noticed the “Christian Palestinianists” went back under their rocks and were not as visible in their loathing of Israel.
That began to change in 2015. At the aforementioned conference, I noticed that one person very high up in pro Israel circles was posing for pictures with the most anti-Israel “evangelical” leaders in the country. I found this dismaying, frankly. Much of the work that had been done to walk-back the Palestinian Narrative in churches was being unraveled by these “pro Israel” leaders.
I know for a fact they very much dislike my approach, which is to name names and expose what I believe to be intentional lying about Israel. From Bill and Lynne Hybels, to left-wing activists like Shane Claiborne, much harm is being done to Israel’s image. Those in pro Israel circles who disagree with my approach feel that reaching-out to such is the way to go.
I believe it is a recipe for disaster.
The hesitation to openly confront anti-Israel forces in the Church—by top leadership that is ostensibly pro Israel—is a serious problem.
The problem is so deep that I am not aware of a pro Israel Christian group of significant size that will truly confront the Christian Palestinianists. Some of them do good advocacy work in the sense they present facts and figures that place Israel in a positive light. They hold rallies that raise the emotions of participants.
But what I am specifically talking about is their abandonment of the sometimes-necessary strategy of fighting the enemy. The very concept is so distasteful in evangelical circles today (as many are too concerned about their tax-exempt status to take a stand), I wonder if any top leadership is left that will do it.
Boy, I could tell you stories!
Let me give you an example.
If Rick Warren is doing harm to the Church, you won’t find one famous evangelical who will call him on it. From their perspective, too much is at stake. Let me tell you what I think is at stake for them:
•Cross-promotion of books, ministries, and conferences. Leader X cannot criticize Pastor Rick because to do so would cause dis-invites from conferences. Book endorsements would dry up. Phone calls would have to be fielded from hirelings blasting Pastor X for daring to take on Pastor Rick.
•Inter-denominational fights would erupt while folks like Pastor Rick look on. For example, isn’t it telling that few celebrity Southern Baptist pastors will tell the people what Warren and Andy Stanley and Steven Furtick are up to? Try attending the SBC convention if you’ve decided to shine a spotlight on such. The air would be so cold you’d need a parka in Orlando.
•Bookstores would pull books of whistle-blowers. Mega-churches would no longer invite whistle-blowers to speak for a fat fee. And, perhaps worst of all, those who control Christian Media would work behind the scenes to ensure whistle-blowers get bad press. In fact, those who control Christian Media are of the same ilk as William Randolph Hearst.
If Gabe Lyons, founder of Q Ideas hosts an imam and Palestinian apologists like Sami Awad at his own conferences, do any national evangelical leaders take issue with that? No, Lyons’ influence is widened, such as the invitation for him to speak at the 2016 national convention of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
If World Vision’s anti-Israel stances include a Gaza manager funneling millions to Hamas, does that warrant even a criticism from the legions of evangelical leaders who work with World Vision? Hardly. World Vision remains a popular group for national evangelical leaders to partner with and endorse.
If Hobby Lobby heir Mart Green produces an anti-Israel film, will any national evangelical leader condemn it? Doubtful. The Green family donates so much money to ministries and evangelical causes, no national leader will utter a peep. Cash talks in evangelical circles.
Too, the Trojan Horse model used by Christian Palestinianists, and Palestinian leaders themselves, is seeping heavily into mainstream evangelical circles. The popular writer Ann Voskamp has taken trips to “Palestine” and there she soaks up the perspectives of Arabs who hate Israel and hate Jews. Russell Moore, head of the ERLC, last year visited Bethlehem Bible College, a hotbed of anti-Israel activities; he was taken on a tour by a group identifying as pro Israel. Why in the world would a pro Israel group get anywhere near BBC? A few years ago, Empowered21, a Who’s Who from the Pentecostal and Charismatic world, hosted Sami Awad at an American meeting.
Pro Israel advocacy among Christians is in transition. I predict that the larger pro Israel groups will continue down the path of non-confrontation, relying on more and more facts and figures to try and influence the masses. They will not confront the anti-Israel, anti-Jew evangelical leaders who in some cases actively lie about Israel.
To do so would be too costly.