11 Jul 2022

Arab Seminaries?

Somehow, in those heady days of the 1970s and 80s, when men like Adrian Rogers were in real leadership roles in evangelical circles, we didn’t do a good job of preparing upcoming generations to truly love Israel and the Jewish people. We are seeing the rotten fruit of those mistakes today.

Over time, Christian institutions, including whole denominations, and—critically—Christian media became infected and infested with liberalism. It then took a sharp turn into full-blown leftist ideology. My own personal research shows that this was the product of Soviet infiltration of our culture, especially religious circles.

It was a long time coming.

Until about the year 2000, there was still plenty of sound teaching in the churches. But Rick Warrenism/Bill Hybelism/Andy Stanleyism had taken root and by 2010 the tide had turned. I really believe sound Bible teaching was lost almost totally then. I’m speaking of the so-called Church Visible, of course. There are plenty of small churches doing good stuff. I think of Randy White Ministries, founded by a former SBC megachurch pastor, now happy shepherding a small flock in New Mexico.

In fact, it was Randy White that alerted me to the infiltration of the Southern Baptists by leftists like Russell Moore. Perusing columns on Moore’s website showed me that he is no friend of Israel. He is a Replacement Theology guy, and he took that attitude to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission before landing at Christianity Today 18 months ago.

I’ve written often about the sad demise of Christianity Today magazine. In the 90s, I could see its leftward drift was fatal. The editorial leadership was proud of its liberalism, all the while intent on fooling readers that it was still evangelical.

Support for evolution, anti-Israel forces, totalitarians and a host of other problems surfaced. As of this moment, CT is no more representative of traditional evangelicalism than the Castro regime in Cuba.

This week I saw an article posted on the CT site touting Arab seminaries in the Middle East, including that mythical place leftists love, “Palestine.” Notice this opening:

“Unlike many American counterparts, evangelical institutions in Egypt, Jordan, and Palestine enjoy an influx of students as they serve beyond their ivory towers.”

If CT thinks seminaries in countries bedeviled by the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas and Islamic Jihad are advancing biblical thought…well, I don’t think they do believe that. Certainly not in “Palestine.”

Spotlighting an Egyptian seminary, CT provides some background:

“Founded in 1863 aboard a felucca, a traditional Egyptian boat, in the Nile River, ETSC’s floating campus served mission stations and fledgling churches associated with the then-American Presbyterian movement. The seminary has steadily supplied synod pulpits ever since.”

And that’s the problem.

Look, even American seminaries has been polluting pulpits for more than a century. The German Higher Critical Movement, which sought to show that the Old Testament was influenced by Sumerian myth, destroyed the faith of many with such outlandish lies. Sadly, too many pastors embraced such blasphemies.

Now, in order to understand why Middle East seminaries are less-than-stellar today, we need to understand history. Michael Oren’s masterful work, Power, Faith & Fantasy, looks at Western influence in the region over time. He spends some time explaining a key concept: “lack of success” (my words) in spreading the actual Gospel left seminaries in Beirut and elsewhere with a dilemma: What are we now doing here? Oren recalls the situation in the 1870s:

“Evangelists had negligible success in their efforts to convert Jews and remained forbidden, at the pain of death, from proselytizing to Muslims. “Mohammedans, Muscovites and Monks furnish their full quota of opposition [to us],” a Presbyterian report of the 1870s complained, but the preachers had little hope of recourse, not even from their own government. Maintaining David Porter’s original policy of avoiding unnecessary friction with the Porte, the State Department reminded missionaries that “no foreigner who objects to Ottoman law need live under it,” and those that do “must also take the peril of their position” into account. The depth of those perils was once again illustrated in 1862, when two American missionaries, one in Adrianople (Edirne) and another in Alexandretta, were murdered.”

Seminary leadership in essence gave up pure evangelism and decided to concentrate on social work in the region. The watered-down efforts as Christian institutions yielded results in terms of education and relief efforts, but they had lost their first love.

Today, they bear no resemblance to the roots of Western Christian education in the Middle East. Oren understands the kind of man sent originally by American churches, particularly a New Englander named Levi Parsons. In Boston’s Old South Church in the fall of 1818, Parsons preached a remarkable sermon:

“His name was Levi Parsons, and the topic of his sermon was not the Gospel, not the Resurrection, but the Jews. ‘They who taught us the way to salvation were Jews,’ Parsons began. They had faithfully preserved the Bible, had worked, suffered, and died defending ‘our’ religion, he attested. ‘Our God was their God. Our heaven is their heaven.’ Most crucially, Parsons recalled, they had provided humanity with its Savior. ‘Yes, brethren, he who now intercedes for you before the throne of God…is a Jew!’ To show their gratitude for the Jews’ munificence, he concluded, Christians must strive to restore that people to sovereignty in its ancestral and biblical home.”

Whoa. That is a long way from where Christian attitudes are today in the Middle East.

In the CT article, they seem to think the following is a good thing:

“Benefiting from generous local and international support, ETSC students pay very little. This has made the growth in enrollment since 2019 ‘an act of faith,’ said Wahba. All students receive an 80 percent scholarship; MDiv students receive 98 percent.

“Similar generosity is received in Palestine, where the $9,000 tuition at Bethlehem Bible College (BBC) is reduced up to 70 percent for the roughly 150 theology and ministry students. An additional 40 students obtain degrees through Nazareth Evangelical College, a sister institution in Israel.”

What even many CT readers are not aware of is, “generous local and international support” is often anti-Israel. They key question is: What is being taught?

My conversation years ago with a key leader at Bethlehem Bible College was disturbing. I asked about support for Jews and Israel, biblically. He answered that, in essence, Palestinians “don’t like” the OT promises to the Jews. So they ignore them or spiritualize them.

In fairness, their pals in American institutions have the same attitude, but it’s still dismaying to hear.

I do not believe there is any redeeming places like Christianity Today, because I believe we are in the era spoken of by the prophets: Apostasy abounds.

In any event, I hope information like this helps you discern when seemingly “evangelical” media like CT offers up their propaganda.