Countering the threats to Evangelical support of Israel

Countering the threats to Evangelical support of Israel

Anti-Semitism is rearing its ugly head again and Christians must understand how dangerous this is, not only for the Jews, but for all of Western civilization. We expect anti-Semitism and anti- Zionism from the mainline denominations, but we don’t expect it from Evangelicals because, after all, Evangelicals usually read the Bible and know what it says about Israel and the Jewish people. However, Evangelical support for Israel can no longer be taken for granted.

In 1938, Hitler gave everyone in Germany a radio, and then he began his diatribes. Harry Truman understood the impact of the media and he believed that if he could just broadcast the simple unvarnished truth on Radio Free Europe, he could educate the masses. He was successful.

This is why the work that CAMERA and Proclaiming Justice to the Nations are doing in the media, fighting these issues in the media, is critically important. If we don’t spread this message globally, if we don’t stand up, if Jews and Christians do not unite together this time, we are going to be in trouble once again.

As we look around the globe, we are confounded by events in the Middle East, in Europe, and even now in the United States. We live in a challenging and sober time in human history. Many of us believe we’re coming to the climax of that history.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators rally in front of the Israeli consulate in San Francisco two days after Hamas massacred 1,400 men, women and children in southern Israel, Oct. 9, 2023. Credit: Phil Pasquini/Shutterstock.

If we look closely, we see a biblical warning that in the latter days, even the elect will be deceived. We have been warned that we must keep our doctrine sound and pure. As II Timothy 3:1 says, “In the last days difficult times will come. And many will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.”

Jesus warned his disciples of the deception in the last days, in Matthew 24, when he said, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”

Is this happening today in the Evangelical Church? I would say that it is, and the trend is alarming, to say the least.

In the scriptures, God made an everlasting covenant with the nation of Israel and the Jewish people. That covenant was confirmed in the Torah, in the Prophets, and in the New Testament writings. For Christians, the first five books of the Old Testament – the Torah – are the plumb line for our faith. The Prophets and the New Testament writings attest to what the Countering the Threats to Evangelical Support of Israel Laurie Cardoza-Moore, Th.M. If we don’t stand up, if Jews and Christians do not unite together this time, we are going to be in trouble once again. Dr. Laurie Cardoza-Moore has devoted her life to educating Christians about their Biblical responsibility to stand with their Jewish brethren and the State of Israel. In 2005, she became the founder and president of Proclaiming Justice to The Nations, an organization that utilizes the powerful medium of documentary films to educate Christians and facilitate dialogue between the Christian and Jewish communities. Torah says about the covenant between God and Israel. If our understanding does not line up with what is written, then we are following false doctrines and traditions.

The Bible is a book written to Israel, for Israel and about Israel. And as Paul stated in Ephesians, Chapter 2, Gentiles come into the Commonwealth of Israel through faith in Yeshua. It is extremely important that we understand this, because this will determine how we perceive Israel and the Jewish people.

The purpose of this monograph is to discuss the threats and challenges to Evangelical Christian support for Israel, and the relationship between Evangelicals and the Jewish people. I am going to focus on the history of this support, the threats to Jewish-Christian relations, and how we can counter current threats to both the support and our relationship.

Thousands of Christians march through central Jerusalem to mark the Feast of Tabernacles on Oct. 4, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90. (source: JNS)

History of Jewish-Christian Relations

We are seeing a move of God that is unprecedented in history. Christians and Jews are uniting together in a growing relationship that the prophet Isaiah foretold. But it hasn’t always been this way. To understand the significance of what is happening today, we must look at our anti- Semitic past and come to terms with it.

Christian anti-Semitism can be traced back to the great divide between the two faiths. It became official policy during the reign of the Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great (306-337 CE). Constantine’s sword sliced away all remnants of the Hebrew roots of Christianity and led to the birth of the Catholic Church. Church leaders formulated the false charge of deicide against the Jews, and the libel that Jews are “Christ killers” still haunts our world today. During the Middle Ages in Europe there was widespread, full-scale persecution that included blood libels, expulsions, forced conversions and massacres. Jews were banned from owning land and from pursuing a number of professions. Persecution by the Church in Spain and Portugal led to the infamous and brutal Inquisition.

In 1516, the Republic of Venice decreed that Jews would only be allowed to reside in a walled-in area of town called the ghetto. This requirement soon spread across Europe. Jews became scapegoats, and in Eastern Europe and Russia, they faced constant pogroms and persecution. The tsar’s chief adviser reportedly said that one-third of Russia’s Jews were expected to emigrate, one-third to accept baptism, and one-third to starve.

The reformation led by Martin Luther began in earnest in the sixteenth century. Luther at first wrote kindly about the Jews, hoping they would come to faith in Christ as a result. However, when they refused to convert, Luther’s writings became extremely anti-Semitic. These writings were later used by the Nazis to justify their actions against the Jews. Thus, even Hitler’s final solution had some basis in Christian anti-Semitism. Constantine’s sword sliced away all remnants of the Hebrew roots of Christianity.

Lucas Cranach d.Ä. – Martin Luther, 1528 (Veste Coburg) (source: Wikipedia)

The Nobel Prize writer and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, famously said that there were two types of people before the Second World War – those who killed Jews and those who did nothing. We look back and wonder how a highly civilized and educated Christian nation could turn its back on the genocide of the Jews. In fact how could most of the world do likewise? Is it any wonder that many Jewish people are skeptical of Christians who offer them support?

History of Evangelical Support for Israel

In spite of this past, there have been Christians throughout history who stood against the hate and helped protect and save Jews. There was a root of Christian love and acceptance of the Jewish people. From such love grew the seedling of a rebirth of Israel.

We often think that the first Christian to push for the establishment of the Jewish state was Lord Balfour. In 1917, as British Foreign Secretary, Lord Balfour wrote his landmark declaration to establish a homeland for the Jews in Palestine. But even before Balfour, a deep-seated philosophical and religious movement had taken root in British soil. That movement was called Christian Zionism.

Arthur James Balfour 1st Earl of Balfour Photo by George Charles Beresford source Wikipedia

In nineteenth century England, there were many advocates in favor of a Jewish state in their ancient homeland. The most notable of these were: John Nelson Darby, Lord Palmerston, Lord Manchester, Sir George Gawler, Lord Lindsay, and Lord Shaftesbury.

Lord Shaftesbury was the most active restoration lobbyist. He stated that he “never had a shadow of a doubt that the Jews were to return to their own land.” It was his daily prayer, his daily hope. “Oh pray for the peace of Jerusalem!” were the words engraved on the ring he always wore on his right hand.

So clearly, Christian support for Israel is not just a modern-day phenomenon. It is rooted in people who understood that the Bible was about ISRAEL, not the church.

Yes, Christians played a major role in the establishment of Israel. They became instruments in fulfilling the Word spoken through the Prophet Isaiah (Isaish 66:7-9). Before she was in labor, she gave birth; Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, She gave birth to her children. ”Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?” says the LORD. “Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?” says your God.” In nineteenth century England, there were many advocates in favor of a Jewish state in their ancient homeland.

However, even though the relationship between Christians, Jews and Israel has blossomed in recent history, the seed of the oldest hatred never died.

Threats to This Relationship: The New Anti-Semitism

With the birth of Israel we’ve seen the rise of a new anti-Semitism – a hatred of Zionism, Israel and the Jewish people all wrapped together. I suppose this is not a surprise from the secular world, but should we expect it from Christians as well, and for that matter, even from Evangelical Christians who claim to believe the Bible?

Indeed, history and hatred do repeat themselves. Currently, false doctrine is being taught, and large numbers of people are deceived into believing that Israel must give up the right to her God-given land. It is really frightening to see that more and more Christians and denominations are falling headlong into this treacherous heresy.

Proponents of this Christian version of anti-Zionism include respected evangelical leaders such as Bill & Lynne Hybels. The Hybels are the founders of Willow Creek Church, which is one of the most influential evangelical churches in the U.S. This church has almost 25,000 congregants in the Chicago area, and it is the head of an international organization that influences more than 80,000 leaders from over 13,000 congregations worldwide.

Willow Creek Church worship service, 2012
(source: Wikipedia)

Lynne Hybels is one of the biggest proponents of the Christ at the Checkpoint conferences, which propagate dangerous anti-Israel heresy on a very large scale. The host of this anti-Semitic conference, held every two years in Bethlehem, is Bethlehem Bible College, an influential promoter of the same anti-Zionist false narrative Willow Creek Church espouses. Attendees at Christ at the Checkpoint include Christian pastors, Christian students, Christian publishers, Christian authors, Christian Jews, and Christian reporters. In addition to the Christian attendees, an Islamic spokesman for the Palestinian Authority kicks off the conference – right after everyone stands to sing the Palestinian National Anthem. It is noteworthy that, in spite of the claim that the conference is held for the purpose of promoting peace, there are no representatives from Israel among the speakers or attendees.

Another proponent of Christian anti-Zionism is World Vision, a highly respected and extremely influential organization in the Evangelical Christian world. World Vision’s Middle East program in Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank has a staff of 140 people and a $16 million dollar budget. Tom Getman, a former activist with World Vision, recently acknowledged his close affiliation with leaders of the terrorist organization, Hezbollah. With the birth of Israel we’ve seen the rise of a new anti- Semitism — a hatred of Zionism, Israel and the Jewish people all wrapped together. It is noteworthy that, in spite of the claim the conference is held for the purpose of promoting peace, there are no representatives from Israel among the speakers or attendees.

And finally, a discussion of Christians who help to propagate Christian anti-Zionism would not be complete without mentioning Mart Green, heir to the Hobby Lobby retail chain. In 2010, he financed and produced Little Town of Bethlehem, a documentary that erroneously portrays Palestinians as peace loving people trying to survive a cruel Israeli government that is oppressing Arab Christians and Muslims.

Hobby Lobby in Onalaska, Wisconsin
(source: Wikipedia)

All of these Christian leaders and organizations use spurious narratives in their efforts to discourage Evangelical support for Israel. For example, they claim that because Jesus was oppressed by the Romans, he had more in common with the oppressed Palestinians than current- day Jews. This is because, according to their story, the Jews are occupying Palestinian land and have no right to this land since they forfeited their covenant as a result of their rejection of Jesus.

A relatively new front in the war against Israel, and against those who support Israel, is an insidious new form of anti-Semitism cloaked in a deceptive narrative that claims to be about “human rights” for Palestinians. It promotes the smear that Israel is an apartheid country, an oppressor, an occupier.

This campaign is known as BDS, or the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. BDS groups call on the international community “to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.” Proponents of BDS also call for pressure on governments “to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel.”

This movement is now fueling the violent Israel Apartheid demonstrations we’re seeing on college campuses in the U.S. today. And BDS groups and their supporters are pouring millions of dollars and organizational assets into influencing millennial Christians so that the future of the relationship between Evangelicals and Israel will be changed in favor of the Palestinian cause.

How Can We Counter Threats Such as BDS?

There are two crucial questions that need to be asked. The first one is: how can we counter new and dangerous threats to evangelical support of Israel such as BDS?

One very important way is through information. This is because disinformation is the fuel that drives BDS, and includes lies that are spread through the media, anti-Semitic groups and even school textbooks. Disinformation is the bread and butter of BDS, and it is what BDS promoters rely on to push their agenda of anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and their ultimate goal, which is the elimination of the State of Israel.

Proclaiming Justice to the Nations is on the front lines in the war to destroy the BDS movement, and is combating BDS in a three-prong fashion. We have started a K-12 textbook initiative to correct the lies taught to our children. We are sponsoring legislation that fights BDS on college campuses and halts illegal boycotts and divestments. And we are producing media aimed at the millennial generation.

Pro-Palestinian activists protest against the unloading of an Israeli ship at the Port of Oakland, Calif., on June 4, 2021. Source: Facebook/Arab Resource & Organizing Center.
(Source: JNS)

In May of 2015, we began production of a feature-length documentary that will target millennial Christians and will expose the lies and anti-Semitism of the BDS movement. This film will be made in a style called “docutainment,” and will examine the false and ridiculous claims against Israel using satire and humor. We know that like a great story, satire and humor can work as a Trojan horse and penetrate intellectual walls. Finding ways to work wit into a decidedly unpleasant subject matter can seriously challenge someone’s view and cause them to reexamine what they believed to be the truth. Brad Stine, a popular college comedian and political commentator, is the host in this cinematic quest for truth.

The plan for distribution includes a limited theatrical release that targets a millennial audience with screenings on college campuses and theatrical showings in college towns. This work is critical because if this audience is not reached with the truth about the BDS movement, the future of America’s support for Israel could fade or evaporate completely.

How Do We Preserve the Relationship?

The second question is: what can we do to preserve and nurture the relationship between Christians, Jews and Israel, for the sake of Israel and for the sake of the Jewish people? More specifically, what is our responsibility as Christians to Israel and the Jewish people?

God told the prophet Obadiah that in the last days, he would wipe out the descendants of Edom because they stood by and did nothing while their brother Jacob (Israel) was held in captivity. So, what do we need to do differently this time as we witness the rise of the “new” anti- Semitism?

First, we must read and understand Scripture with an understanding of its Hebraic roots, and not according to false doctrines and traditions of men.

Second, we must make a difference in our community. Making a difference starts with teaching our children the truth, and continues with educating others to enable them to stand against the anti- Semitism and replacement theology that is still pervasive in many segments of the Christian Church.

Third, contact your Congressmen and Senators when Israel’s back is against the wall. And in election years, be sure you are registered to vote, and then vote!

And finally, get involved with Proclaiming Justice to the Nations and CAMERA to help us mobilize the global Christian community on behalf of our Jewish brethren and Israel.

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