Mar 12, 2017

Jesus Was A…Refugee?

We’ve been discussing Replacement Theology of late, and it comes in many forms. It also almost always comes with a denial by a person who actually holds to Replacement Theology.

As Andy Stanley likes to say often, and I’m paraphrasing, PR is all-important in church life today. One wants to project a positive image, and things like the dislike of Jews is…problematic.

It’s one thing for a stodgy Presbyterian (I’m not picking on Presbyterians; Pentecostals and Baptists can be stodgy, too) to pitch a tent in the Replacement Theology camp. It’s another thing for Progressives to do it. They are connecting with a different audience: Millennials.

This week, writer Jonathan Merritt “liked” a tweet by Evangelical/Leftist/Progressive/Hippie/Radical/Activist Shane Claiborne, in which Claiborne alleges that Jesus Christ was a refugee. Claiborne is a founder of The Simple Way, a community of activists who feed the hungry, renovate houses, and the like. Merritt is a senior columnist for Religion News Service, contributing writer for The Atlantic, and contributing editor for The Week.

Those are high-profile platforms for a boy from Atlanta (now living in New York City), whose father happens to be former Southern Baptist Convention President James Merritt. Merritt the Younger is part of SBC royalty, and that proves useful for a fellow who is leftwing but wants evangelicals to think he’s one of them. He’s a leading change-agent within the American Church.

He and his friend Shane Claiborne teach Millennials that Jesus was a refugee!

In Claiborne’s tweet, which I consider to be fiendish, he posts a cartoon of what appears to be Mary and Joseph in a life raft, approaching a beach patrolled by an Israeli soldier. Just behind the soldier is a barbed wire fence. The sun in the sky appears to be shaped like a Star of David. The IDF soldier stops the little family, stating, “Sorry. There’s no room.”

As in, the inn. You know, the one the parents of Jesus tried to find for his birth. Just as the biblical family was turned away in Bethlehem, so too are oppressed Palestinians turned away from entering “their territory” via checkpoints (which the IDF sets up to prevent terrorism).

As with most progressives, Claiborne’s winsome personality belies a nasty undercurrent of contempt for conservatives and those who identify as Bible-believing Christians. Merritt projects a similar persona, but he also has little patience with his ideological opponents. To like such an anti-Semitic tweet is very telling.

The “Jesus was a refugee” canard is classic PLO propaganda and anti-Semitism. It’s the kind of stuff the late serial killer, Yasser Arafat, used to peddle to willing dupes and useful idiots he cultivated within the Christian mainline in America. These days, that same hateful ideology is pumped into the bloodstream of America’s youth.

Typically, pro Palestinian activists like Claiborne portray Israelis as Nazi-like oppressors of the downtrodden Palestinians. They lift Jewish history from the pages of the Bible and give it a modern, twisted slant.

For example, it is true that Jesus lived for a time in Egypt with his parents. However, they were all Jews living in Judea, then under Roman occupation. Today, Israel-haters flip this and make the Israelis the occupiers and the Palestinians the oppressed “Jews” of today.

It’s all a toxic stew of political and religious claptrap, designed to turn more Millennials against the Jewish state.

It works.

Given the nation’s biblical illiteracy, coupled with Millennials’ general gullibility—we were all once young and naïve—progressives like Claiborne are free to roam around presenting false history and get away with it. In this case of historical revisionism, the victim is the democratic state of Israel, a champion of women’s and minority rights, among other things.

You’d think Claiborne and Merritt would write about that. But then, one can’t raise the ire of one’s Muslim buddies and overlords.

There’s much more to this issue, but just know for now that young activists like Merritt and Claiborne are working overtime to overturn evangelical support for Israel. It’s one of their pet projects.

In early February, Merritt tweeted, “This may be the first ‘good’ surprise from this administration. (If true.)”

He then links to an article by Michael Wilner, the Jerusalem Post’s Washington bureau chief: “Exclusive: Donald Trump supports a two-state solution and is warning #Israel to cease settlement announcements.”

First, the contempt Merritt, Claiborne (and perhaps, Wilner?) & Friends have for the Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu is palpable. They thirst for a Palestinian state, and whether they recognize or realize the Palestinians intend to use it as a terror launching pad against Israel for a final assault is not known. Perhaps they are naïve. It would be preferable to the alternative.

Second, no one knows what Trump is telling the Israelis behind closed doors and certainly no one knows if he is “warning” them (cue the horror movie music). In fact, in a joint press conference recently with Netanyahu, Trump skillfully said that he supports whatever kind of state Netanyahu wants.

Doesn’t really sound like warning and doom and brimstone to me.

But progressives like Claiborne and Merritt need their government to put the screws to Israel. Their ideology demands it.

It’s only slightly ironic that Merritt grew up in the SBC, which used to tend toward support for Israel. The denomination’s leadership now is making troubling noise that this won’t always be the case.

Claiborne graduated from Eastern University and was mentored by the equally winsome Tony Campolo, who uses his engaging personality to mask his own contempt for conservatives. He is a long-time Palestinian activist. Claiborne also studied at Wheaton, home to anti-Israel professor Gary Burge, and he served an internship at Willow Creek Community Church, founded by Palestinian activists Bill and Lynne Hybels.

It’s all a neat, well-funded network of radical progressive change agents who loathe Donald Trump, Netanyahu, and us knuckle-draggers who hold on to our guns and Bibles.

I encourage you especially to read Jonathan Merritt’s blogs online. Notice the phrasing, the manipulation of issues to promote a progressive agenda. The smiling face masks a menacing view of conservatives and, in this case, Israel.

Jesus wasn’t a refugee. He was, is, and will always be a Jew from Judea, the Son of the Living God, who loves His people.

Not everyone loves them.