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The War on the Cross

(From History/Bridgeman Images).
(From History/Bridgeman Images).

Christians frequently ask me why Jewish people struggle with the image of a cross. My response is always the same, “It’s the history attached to the cross that gives Jewish people a reason to eschew this symbol sacred to Christians.” Who is responsible for this theological war waged on the New Covenant significance of the cross?

In the past 200 years, Christians have shouldered the sign of the cross in their wars on so-called infidels. Even today, followers of Jesus brandish the cross at political events. Onlookers are led to believe the Christian message is in full support of various civic causes-good and bad-when the cross is displayed at these protests.

Hence, there has been a war on the cross in ancient Christian history. This same confusion regarding the biblical significance of the cross is apparent when evangelicals glue the cross symbol to contemporary secular political aspirations.

To elaborate on this pressing question uttered by Jewish people, I authored an article in 2016. I used the subtitle “The Roots of the Problem of the Cross in the Eyes of Jewish People.”

In this short piece, l focused on the torrid history of the medieval Crusades. Recently I revised this composition and added additional insights.

In this revised article, I am mostly concerned with several parallels of the Crusader mentality leaking into modern evangelical Christianity’s political stance. The imagery of the cross as the vehicle of God’s spiritual redemption is distorted by a cadre of Christians. Sadly, these actions confuse many Jewish and non-Jewish people.

The Cross Appears Where It Should Not Be

For the past 5-6 years, the cross symbol has appeared at political rallies as a Christian stamp of approval of an event, a candidate, or a political ideology. Zealous Christians are hijacking the cross imagery for their purposes. In their patriotic fervor, the protestors seem unaware of the military stigmas attached to the cross from the Crusaders.

For example, at the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol Building, both peaceful and militant evangelicals wielded the cross as they protested the national vote that elected Joe Biden as president. From a well-researched article on Christian nationalism from the Joint Baptist Committee, we learn:

One of the most ubiquitous symbols on January 6 was the Christian cross. Latin crosses are “the principal symbol of Christianity around the world,” according to the Supreme Court, and, as used on January 6 by the insurrectionists, one of the clearest displays of Christian nationalism.

Sword & shield with light-painting illumination

They [participants at January 6 event] erected an 8-foot wooden cross in Freedom Plaza (at the White House end of Pennsylvania Avenue) and another 8-foot tall cross at the Capitol that became disturbingly iconic after the crowd prayed around it

The Cross is Used to Send a Message It Should Not Give

I embrace the American freedom to express one’s political views. Nonetheless, I am stunned at how the flagrant use of the biblical symbol of divine pardon is thoughtlessly attached to extreme right-wing politics. For further information on the appearance of Christian symbolism at the January 6 event, click here.

How can the redemptive symbol of Christianity be conjoined with any form of partisan politics? Does any political group possess the authority to utilize the crucifix icon to support their cause?

The way I see it, when a political faction adopts the image of the cross in connection with their viewpoint, this action implies their perspective is THE authoritative Christian way of thinking. The message is clear: Any faithful follower of Yeshua (Jesus) will and should back any ideology that commanders the cross to bolster their outlook.

This misuse of the cross to support a secular political effort is reminiscent of the militant Crusaders who affixed the cross to their shields as they rampaged across Western Europe.

Need I say modern evangelical patriots are NOT determined to harm anyone as the Crusaders did. Nevertheless, when the cross is displayed at an event where government property is destroyed, attacks on law enforcement personnel take place, and anger is unleashed on dissenters, how is the redemption promise of the Messiah communicated?

My title, “The War on the Cross,” describes how the misuse of the cross by followers of the crucified Messiah clouds our salvation declaration. Rather than zero in on those who reject the good news of salvation, believers in Jesus need to discern how we can be the ones making war on the message of the death of the Suffering Servant.

(more…)

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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The Disappearing Palestine Map

Normally, Scripture Solutions focuses on biblically related topics. But since Christian denominations like the Presbyterian Church of the USA has delved into the Israel bashing business, this website must respond to these Christian attacks on Israel’s legitimacy.

Zionism Unsettled

Zionism Unsettled Booklet Cover

In the booklet Zionism Unsettled published formerly available in the store on the PCUSA website, we find a map of Israel/Palestine that has been used by Israel’s critics to demonstrate how Israel has slowly taken over the territories allotted to the Palestinians. Consequently, the resulting map shows a disappearing Palestine from 1946 to the present. But this map is a distorted representation of the history of the land of Israel especially as it relates to Arab inhabitants within the land.

On page eight of Zionism Unsettled, the composers of this booklet, the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the PC, includes the disappearing Israel map with a caption of which I will quote in part,

The inexorable expansion of Israel control over former Mandate Palestine is, by now virtually complete. Fully half the population within this land area is not Jewish. For Israelis committed to the principle of the Jewish state, the ovulation issues poses a demographic threat to the ethno-religious character of the state. Palestinians are faced with the prospect of, at best, second class status in a state that classifies them as outsiders, and, at worst, deprivation in isolated enclaves without autonomy or self-determination.

(more…)




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…)




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