Brief Response to “Christ at the Checkpoint”
from Messianic participants Richard Harvey, Wayne Hilsden, Dan Juster, David Loden, Lisa Loden and Evan Thomas Issued Monday, 12 March 2012
As Messianic Jews and supporters of Israel who attended the “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference we were warmly welcomed. We participated in a personal capacity, clearly stating we did not claim to represent any other individuals, groups or organisations.
We gave presentations on God’s continuing purposes for the Jewish people and the land of Israel, assured by His covenant promises to our forefathers; the need for reconciliation to develop a deeper fellowship and partnership in the Gospel with our Arab brothers and sisters; and the building of a Messianic Jewish theology and practice of reconciliation and peace-making.
The aims of the conference organisers were clearly stated on their website, which were to
• Empower and encourage the Palestinian church.
• Expose the realities of the injustices in the Palestinian Territories and create awareness of the obstacles to reconciliation and peace.
• Create a platform for serious engagement with Christian Zionism and an open forum for ongoing dialogue between all positions within the Evangelical theological spectrum.
• Motivate participants to become advocates for the reconciliation work of the church in Palestine/Israel and its ramifications for the Middle East and the world.
Also on the agenda was promotion of non-violent resistance to the administration of Gaza and the West Bank, and the development of Palestinian Evangelical Christian theologies.
However, at no point was it assumed that we were in agreement with these aims, but rather it was expected that we had different views which needed to be heard. We were free to challenge in informal discussion and platform dialogue the differing theological and political understandings of the place of Israel in Scripture, the purposes of God, and present political realities. We reflected the concerns of the Messianic community as expressed in recent statements from the UMJC/IMJA/MJAA and Israeli Messianic groups, highlighting areas of both agreement and disagreement on the ongoing election of Israel (the Jewish people) and the promises of the Land.
We did not feel compromised in any way, but were able to freely express our own points of view, and were treated with respect. The conference organisers have issued a manifesto affirming their aims and positions, which was commended to the conference participants at the end of the conference. Some of us were shown this statement during the editorial process, out of respect and appreciation for our involvement, and out of acknowledgment of the bridges that were built during the conference. While a few of us offered advice on the composition of these documents, we do not in fact endorse all the points that were finally presented. Nor were we asked by the organizers to endorse them.
The impact of the conference has yet to be assessed. But those of us who took part were particularly impressed with the genuine attempts to meet with Messianic Jews and Christian supporters of Israel, and begin a dialogue. Our hopes and prayers are for continuing attempts at peaceful engagement with one another in fellowship, prayer and discussion, and for true reconciliation to be achieved through the atoning love of the Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel and Prince of Peace.
We hope and pray that our willingness to accept the invitation to participate in the conference has opened a door for us to strengthen genuine relationships with our Arab brothers and sisters. We trust that in the context of such relationships we will be able to address in greater depth the serious issues that concern the messianic body, both of a theological nature and existential threats and attacks against the nation of Israel.
Ephesians 4:1-4. I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling.
Romans 12:18-20. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
This brief response summarises our positive engagement with the conference and its organisers. More detailed personal responses are available from the individuals named below.
Monday, 12 March 2012