Friday, March 23, 2012

Defending Jerusalem's Counsel

There is still a lot of controversy and opposition stirred over the Messianic participation at to the Christ at the Checkpoint 2012 conference in Bethlehem. I have had quite a bit of dialogue off the record with several of those Messianics who participated raising the ire of their fellow Messianic Jews and Christian Zionists friends. 

Here's one thing I can say, the leaders who participated are not oblivious to the real problems in play with the CatC. Most of those who are criticizing the Messianic participation do so from a perspective of the participation being an endorsement of the radical views held by CatC speakers.  But instead of endorsing those views, the Messianic and Christian Zionists who participated, some as speakers and some as attendees, went to confront the biblical evidence of Israel's election and endeavor to moderate views through dialogue. 

Not one of those I have had exchanges with have shown the least bit of waffling on Israel's key role in what God's continuously unfolding plan is.  That seems to be the main beef from the rest of our community, wondering how in the world can these men sit down to dialogue with people who have proposed the most radical anti-Israel views for years without it meaning the Messianics had been suckered into a compromised position? 

Look, any time I see some Christian who is posing with some Palestinian terrorist or terrorist endorsing figure, big smiles plastered on their faces, embracing - it does the same thing to me that is does to you: I cringe at yet a another naive 'peacemaker' who has been suckered by taqqiyah. 

This is NOT what is going on with these Israeli Messianic leaders who went to CatC - some of whom are apostolic level leaders, others at the very least are seasoned elders in the Body of Messiah with deep roots living in Israel, fighting the good fight and working in reconciliation AND defense of Israel. They have not gone soft on Israel's role in our days for the sake of a false peace/reconciliation with those who dismiss the election of Israel as valid to our faith today. 

In my years learning the ways of God I have seen one thing often. That God requires that those who are following His Son are the ones who have to step up going the extra mile. Whether the ones we are sent to hear or whether they forbear, our effort to bring some back to the will of God is not exhausted until we go and speak to them, as Moses stood before Pharaoh or Jonah stood before Nineveh. Until we have completed our charge to speak to them eye-to-eye, God does not rise to overturn the ungodly intention. 

Instead of coming against the efforts of these Israeli Messianic and Christian leaders to engage the anti-Israeli opposition in talks, allowing them time to make headway among those that will hear, it would be nice if we would pray for their words to penetrate and that unhealed hearts would be softened. 

When Moses stood before Pharaoh, the scripture says that Pharaoh's heart was hardened. But when Jonah stood before Nineveh - a people who could not tell right from wrong - his words turned them to repent. Until this group of leaders is able to complete their mission we will not know if they have been able to impact Christian Palestinianism. 

One thing is for certain, if we continue to raise opposition to their mission, we face the distinct possibility that we are fighting what God is doing. Some of us need to take that into consideration.

A post script: For many years I have voiced my expectation that it would be from within the Israeli Messianic leadership that many of the most perplexing issues of the Messianic movement would begin to be brought to resolution and leading by example would becomd the model for the entire Messianic movement.  The issue of reconciliation of the Body between Christian Arabs and Messianic Jews is one of those problem areas that I saw godly movement in and frankly, I can see no other location on earth where this reconciliation can spring from.  Like in the first century where the apostolic Jerusalem Council was looked to as a authoritative voice of God's will, my expectation is that that there would rise up from the ranks of the Israeli Body, those with able to lead in some of the most serious issues facing us in the Messianic movement and the Church.  Don't look now, but this may be the beginning of the rise of the Jerusalem Council.  God raises up whom He will from those who are willing to go at His instruction where others fear to tread.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Brief Response to “Christ at the Checkpoint” from Messianic participants

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.

Richard Harvey
Wayne Hilsden
Dan Juster
David Loden
Lisa Loden
Evan Thomas

Monday, 12 March 2012