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Andy Stanley’s Scapegoating of the Jewish Scriptures

It’s about time! Some evangelical superstar had to say something. We can no longer ignore the gorilla of extreme conservative politics running berserk in today’s evangelical Church. In Pastor Andy Stanley’s book, “Not In It To Win It,” the author boldly goes where most evangelical leaders fear to tread.

The pastor of North Point Church in Alpharetta, GA is exasperated over the current trend of evangelicals who align themselves with right-wing conservative elements. He raises eyebrows in his criticism of pastors, Christian podcasters, and leaders who “lined up behind their political party of choice and leveraged our sacred text to validate political talking points.”

Most importantly, Pastor Stanley recognizes this development is detrimental to the cause of bringing the good news of redemption to all people.

In past generations, Christians broke down our culture into those who know Jesus and those who don’t. Instead, a significant segment of evangelicals has divided our society politically into the Left and the Right.

A few months back, I was amazed listening to a message by modern-day “prophet” and evangelist Mario Murillo in which he stated the “enemy of the Christian is the Democrats.” Even Jesus did not designate the Romans or the Sadducees as enemies of His followers. Yeshua viewed His day’s political and religious parties as lost sheep in need of salvation, not ideological adversaries.

Evangelicals have turned a new corner where Jesus’ followers are intent on changing our world through endorsing political efforts, passing laws that reflect conservative principles, and supporting Right-wing candidates regardless of their ties to white Christian nationalism. Stanley points out that Jesus no longer changes lives in this revised evangelical era. Instead, Right-wing political activism is the key to the transformation of our broken society.

The past five years have been extremely challenging since I am not 100% on board with the angry tenor of evangelical conservative politics. I’ve witnessed ridicule and rejection from fellow evangelicals on social media because of my convictions.

Brotherhood in the Lord has been trumped by something or someone else. I sense my spiritual connection to certain Christians is no longer enough.

Nevertheless, I consider myself an independent who embraces the core tenets of conservatism.

We are not here to “win” elections, argues Stanley, but for a greater purpose: to radiate the love and compassion of Yeshua to bring non-believers to His redeeming power.

The key takeaway points I gained from “Not In It To Win It” (NIITWI), in addition to my observations, are as follows:

*Evangelicals have shifted the focus from sharing the good news to supporting political causes

*Evangelicals have opted to cancel fellow Christians who do not align with their conservative political viewpoint

*Evangelicals are placing their trust in political activism to change America’s culture more than the power of the Messiah Jesus

*Evangelicals have little issue aligning themselves with Right-wing politicians and talk show media stars who have the reputation of being white nationalist and even antisemitic

*Evangelicals have revised the Christian message as one bent on saving America rather than Americans.

*Evangelicals have no biblical basis for espousing the idea God made a covenant with America.

In Matthew 3:2 the prophet John the Baptizer in the New Covenant admonished his fellow Jewish seekers, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Today many evangelicals have revised John’s call to prepare oneself for the coming of God’s kingdom on earth. Today Matthew 3:2 has been revised to say, “Vote, for the kingdom of God is at hand.”

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Is Israel the New Evil Empire?

Introduction

When I picture an Evil Empire, Darth Vadar, Star War’s devious leader of the Dark Side, prowls across my mind.  Throw in a squadron of Imperial Stormtroopers clashing with Rebel Alliance combatants, and we have an accurate description of an Evil Empire.  

Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash



But the modern nation of Israel as the “new Evil Empire”?  No way!  Yet some Christian leaders are accusing the Jewish nation of playing the role of ambassadors for the Dark Side in the Middle East.

This article was originally written for The Messianic Times in 2007. Since the accusation of Israel as an apartheid nation continues in some evangelical circles, I thought it would benefit the readers of Scripture Solutions to take a look at the issue once again.

My major concern is not only with the politics involved in the incrimination of Israel but also with the fact this indictment stems from anti-Israel evangelicals.

I presume some evangelicals cited in this article have either changed or eschewed their position or doubled down on their viewpoint. It is not the purpose of this reprint to update the negative views held by these evangelicals towards Israel. This piece is a reflection of what was taking place 14 years ago among Christian leaders in their perspective on the modern state of Israel.

One further observation. Many of the links included in the first article are no longer operable. So I have deleted them from the text and retained the links that are still active.

What Christian leaders would possess the chutzpah to assign this sinister caricature to the Jewish state? 

An evangelical call to unmask the so-called Evil Empire

Rev. Donald Wagner, director for the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Chicago’s North Park University, addressed the National Middle Eastern Presbyterian Caucus (NMEPC) held in Birmingham, Alabama in June 2006.  Though Wagner offered his remarks on Father’s Day (June 18, 2006), his vilification of Israel could hardly have pleased the Heavenly Father, the Holy One of Israel. 

Wagner, the founder of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding, referred to Israel as part of a “globalized empire” that employs such things as “weapons and the international media for its gain.”

Appealing to an evangelical audience, the Chicago professor challenged his listeners, “We have to unmask the face of the evil empire.”

Wagner, who had recently returned from a trip to the Holy Land declared,  “It is time that we start using the word apartheid. In fact, it is worse than apartheid.”

Other Christian leaders have unfortunately provided the fodder for Wagner’s biting words towards the Jewish nation.   

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Did Those Six Million Jews Die for You?

Auschwitz entrance

The Entrance to Auschwitz

By now the controversy surrounding the Jews for Jesus video “That Jew Died for You” has simmered down. Still the strong negative reaction by the Jewish community to the JFJ evangelistic effort remains a stain on Jewish-Christian relations.

At the release of the video prior to Holocaust Remembrance Day, a Jews for Jesus press release, explained the video seeks “to help redefine the conversation and reshape views of Jesus and His relationship to the Holocaust.”

The intentions of JFJ in the production of this video were honorable and aimed to initiate conversation among Jewish people regarding Christianity’s relationship to the murder of six million Jews under the evil Nazi regime.

David Brickner, Executive Director of  JFJ offered his public commentary on the video, “The horrors of the Holocaust and the 6 million who died has gnawed at the consciousness of Jews for over 60 years. We want Jewish people to understand that the sufferings inflicted at the hands of the Nazi’s were in no way based on the teachings of Jesus (underlining mine). In fact, he suffered and died on our behalf to show us the love of God.”

Oddly, the majority of Jewish people do not think the teachings of Jesus are responsible for the horrors of the Holocaust. Rather, the Jewish community is  more concerned with the antisemitic attitudes of  Eastern European Christians prior to and during World War II that helped fuel the racist ideology behind the  Holocaust. (more…)




Not All Israel Is Israel Part 3

The controversy over God’s continuation of Israel as a viable nation despite their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah looms large in the Christian church.

Most followers of Jesus are not even aware of the various Christian theologies regarding the Jewish nation.  Yet when uninformed evangelicals are exposed to such anti-Israel beliefs such as Replacement Theology (the view that Israel is no longer God’s elect people but replaced by the Church), these Christians are conflicted over what they are  hearing and what the Bible teaches.

As a representative of Replacement Theology (though he prefers the term “Fulfillment Theology”) Gary Burge, New Testament professor at Wheaton College, in his book Whose Land? Whose Promises?  the author states, “Abraham can become the father of many nations because when Gentiles share in Abraham’s faith, he becomes their father too (Romans 4:16).  Physical lineage, therefore, has been spiritualized into a lineage based on faith (emphasis mine). The ‘land of Israel’ is likewise spirtualized now to include the entire world” (pg. 182).

geneology

The key concept to focus on from Burge’s theology is, “physical lineage  . . . has been spiritualized into a lineage based on faith.”  Israel  is no longer a physical nation, according to the Wheaton professor, but has become a spiritual entity that one enters into by faith  in Christ not by physical heritage through Abraham. If the physical seed has been “spiritualized” then the “physical” is no longer relevant, hence the physical nation of Israel is moot to God’s spiritual program.

The glaring mistake Burge makes is twofold:  first, the physical lineage of a member of the nation of Israel never implied the individual within the nation  has a relationship with God, and second, within the physical nation of Israel there has always existed a spiritual remnant of Israelites who remained faithful to God.  These two truths do not redefined the nation of Israel, but describe the reality of a spiritual remnant within the physical Jewish nation.

In contrast to Gary Burge’s fulfillment theology which pushes aside God’s plan for the physical nation  the Apostle Paul  teaches that Israel still exists as a nation even after the first coming of the Messiah. In Romans 9:3-4a Paul pleads, “For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel.” To Paul, “those of his own race” are “the people of Israel” quite alive and not replaced by or fulfilled in the New Testament church.  (more…)




Not All Israel is Israel Part 2

To many students of the Bible Paul’s comment in Romans 9:6 that “not all who are descended from Israel are Israel” (NIV) sounds very strange.  Is Paul saying the part of Israel that is “descended from Israel” is no longer part of the nation known as Israel?  Then that would mean the only people who are actually Israelites are Jewish people who believe in Yeshua as Messiah  and the “not all who are descended from Israel ” group are no longer members of the Jewish nation.  Yet if you follow that logic, any examples of the NT apostles addressing the segment of the Jewish nation who have not accepted Yeshua as Messiah as  still “Israel” makes no sense.

Check out these examples from the New Testament:

Acts 2:22: “Fellow Israelites, listen to this:

Acts 2:29:  “Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day.”

Acts 2: 36: “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

Acts 3:12: “When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you?”

Acts 3:17: “Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.”

Acts 4:10:  “then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.”

No wonder Christians are befuddled by Paul’s reference to two Israel’s in Romans 9:6.

Twelve Tribes of Israel

Twelve Tribes of Israel

 

In light of Paul’s head-scratching use of the phrase, “”not all who are descended from Israel are Israel”, Christian theologians come up with explanations that confuse the issue even more.

My favorite explanation is the one that states unbelieving Israel has been replaced by the Church.  This is called “replacement theology.”   In this theological system,  “Israel” that accepted Yeshua is none other than the Church.  Rather than create clarity, Replacement Theology (aka disguised as Fulfillment Theology or Transformation Theology or Promise Theology) contributes more fuzzy thinking since the reader of the New Testament is forced to think “Church” when he reads the term “Israel”. Try to think “Church” in reading Romans 11:26,  “and in this way all Israel will be saved.”  Thanks, but no thanks.  (more…)




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