As pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, Munther Isaac is something of a spokesman for Palestinian Christians. Also director of the “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference (in even-numbered years), Isaac is a sophisticated face of anti-Israel worldview, much easier to serve as a propagandist than the scruffy Yasser Arafat or Mahmoud Abbas.
Of course, those Muslim terrorists did not identify as Christian, something Isaac does. Still, he is just as good at what he does as they were/are at their diabolical skillset. Munther Isaac seeks to pry evangelicals away from supporting Israel.
I think he’s doing a pretty good job.
Sadly, he is aided in his hatred of Israel and Jews (and their Christian supporters!) by an evangelical publishing house, InterVarsity Press. The Chicago-based publisher just released Isaac’s propaganda tool, The Other Side of the Wall. When I worked in Christian publishing, I’d stop by the IVP booth. They had some good books. Over time, though, they went the way of almost all Christian publishing houses: compromise with the Left.
In the early years, IVP published such authors as Francis Schaeffer and J.I. Packer. Eventually they would move on to progressives like Eugene Peterson (The Message). Schaeffer wrote important things, but none of these men were pro-Israel.
Isaac’s new book seeks to fool evangelicals into thinking that the Palestinians are oppressed…in the West. Painting himself as a victim of anti-Palestinian bias, Isaac makes the following claims:
“Being a Palestinian means that I am disqualified from sharing about life in Palestine in many Christian gatherings or even from leading Bible studies in Christian conferences!”
He makes an interesting comment about the sovereignty of God:
“Such beliefs tell me that I do not belong in the land where my forefathers have lived for hundreds, if not thousands, of years because God already decided thousands of years ago who owns this land, and I simply have to accept it!”
Munther Isaac, you see, doesn’t accept it. He detests the Old Testament passages that promise the Jews the land for eternity. Years ago I had a conversation with a faculty member at Bethlehem Bible College, a Palestinian, and he told me that he simply doesn’t accept these land promises!
I could say that I don’t accept this or that directive from the Lord, but that wouldn’t erase the directive. God does what He will.
He gets into the theology of the matter in his book:
“The strong and powerful control the narrative. Language matters here. Consider, for example, the notion that Jews ‘returned’ to ‘their’ land. Does this mean that if someone who is born in any country can prove their Jewish heritage, they have more right to live in this land than a Palestinian refugee who was born here and who can trace their roots in the land back for hundreds, if not thousands, of years? In that narrative, Jews returned to an empty wasteland. Palestine was barren and desolate, only for the new Jewish arrivals to make it fertile and populated. The idea of Palestine being a wasteland is not only factually wrong, it is also insulting to us Palestinians.”
In Isaiah 35, we read just one of many, many passages that discuss the return of the Jews to their ancient homeland:
And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. (Isaiah 35:7)
Munther is factually wrong, but I suspect he knows this. Ancient and more modern accounts of travel to the region paint a vivid and bleak picture of a land destroyed by Roman occupation, roasting under an unforgiving sun…until the moment God decided to redeem it.
As late as the 1940s, the land of Israel was either parched, like a moonscape, or swampland. The influx of Jewish immigrants brought the land back to life. Until they did indeed return, the land lay uncultivated.
Munther wants to present his own narrative, one that sees the Jews as interlopers, even criminals that “stole” Palestinian land. He’s a smart man; he knows history. But he is an effective propagandist for the Palestinian Authority/PLO.
The thing that disgusts me most though is the involvement of InterVarsity Press. I actually can’t name a single Christian publisher today that might publish a pro Israel book. Perhaps Harvest House. It is an astonishing place to find ourselves in, from those years when I was growing up. Then, pro Israel fervor was high in the churches.
What Isaac doesn’t tell his readers is that support for Israel has eroded so badly among Christian Millennials that there won’t be much reason for him soon to diss the Jews.
As we watch the world convulse and our country teeter on the edge, remember that societies that harass the Jews eventually side into ruin. America—specifically churches—is so biblically illiterate they are easy prey for the Isaacs of the world.
Judgment is coming.