Monday, April 07, 2014

For the U.S., Jerusalem Has No Connection with Israel


For the U.S., Jerusalem Has No Connection with Israel

By Julio Severo
A recent Jerusalem Post article notes, “Since the founding of Israel, U.S. presidents have declined to state a position on the status of Jerusalem.” For the U.S. government and its leftist Christian presidents, Jerusalem has no country. Yet, why are even U.S. conservative presidents included in this negative picture?            
For God’s Word, those born in Jerusalem are always born in Israel. But why does the United States, a nation founded on Christian principles and capable of providing great leadership to the world, choose to ignore Israel’s special place in God’s eye?
As a Brazilian, I would expect the U.S. to set a good example, because many of the U.S. presidents have been Christians and some of them have stated they are friends of Israel.
If God used powerful rulers in the ancient world who did not know Him, what about powerful U.S. Christian presidents who claim to know God? God said about Persian emperor Cyrus (c. 585 B.C. — c. 529 B.C.) in the past:
“Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him and to loose the belts of kings, to open doors before him that gates may not be closed: ‘I will go before you and level the exalted places, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me.’” (Isaiah 45:1-4 ESV)
Why are U.S. Christian presidents doing less than Cyrus? What hinders them from doing as much or more than a pagan Persian emperor?
American culture has been massively imitated around the world.  If America led the way in serving Israel, other nations would certainly follow suit. In fact, if God’s Word is correct, it is strongly in America’s interest to set an example of service to Israel:
“For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste.” (Isaiah 60:12 ESV)
Ancient empires served Israel.  Why should it be different with America, whose Pilgrim Founders wanted Hebrew to be the official language of the new American nation? America, which is a modern empire, and Brazil, which is a nation, exist not to be served by Israel, but to serve Israel.
America is a strange ally of Israel.  She is a nation that does not want to serve Israel. She is a nation that does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. She gives Israel limited military assistance, and at the same time she heavily arms and supports Saudi Arabia and other Islamic dictatorships that would not hesitate to destroy the Jews and their Promised Land.
How can America be an ally of Israel and its enemies? How can an ally work against the security interests of its friend? Last year, the world was shocked to learn that NSA spies on people in every nation, even Israel. No American has been imprisoned for such massive, unnecessary spying, allegedly to monitor Muslim terrorists — when current CIA director John Brennan is, according to WND.com, an American converted to Islam in Saudi Arabia.
While NSA goes unpunished for spying for suspicious political and financial interests, Jonathan Pollard has spent 27 years of an unprecedented life sentence in a U.S. federal prison for passing classified information to Israel, an ally of the United States. The typical sentence for this offense is 2 to 4 years. No one else in the history of the United States has ever received a life sentence for this offense.
Can you imagine a Saudi spy receiving a life sentence in the U.S.? But Pollard, who passed security information about Muslim nations to Israel, was just fulfilling a role that America herself was called to do: serve Israel and its security interests.
Increasingly, America has served the interests of Muslim dictatorships, especially Saudi Arabia. In fact, America now has a Marxist, pro-abortion, pro-sodomy president with a Muslim name.  Barack Hussein Obama is a mere reflection of America’s tilt toward Saudi Arabia and the other Muslim dictatorships.
How has America been rewarded for her service to the Muslim world?  September 11, 2001.  Even though most of the Muslim terrorists were Saudis, America did not invade Saudi Arabia.
Of course, the U.S. has an early Christian tradition and a significant evangelical population that would not hesitate to lead America to serve Israel. But they are in conflict with a modern haughty America that serves her own political and financial ambitions, which prefers just to use Israel for her interests.
Even good conservative U.S. presidents, as George W. Bush, had a foreign policy that, although not so radical as Clinton and other leftist American presidents, still refused to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and even pushed Israel to recognize Palestinian occupation of the Promised Land.
Bush’s State Secretary, Condoleezza Rice, was the main responsible for the Bush policies toward Israel. Considering that she was a daughter and granddaughter of Presbyterian ministers, could replacement theology have influenced her policies? Replacement theology, accepted by many Presbyterians, teaches that God is finished with the Jews and their Promised Land. Also, as a “conservative” and evangelical, Rice sees herself as reluctantly or mildly pro-abortion and pro-gay “marriage,” and in a 2008 visit to Brazil, she was supportive of African witchcraft. With such “conservatives,” who need liberals? With such “conservatives,” how can America serve Israel?
If she had the political will, America could easily recognize all of the Promised Land as a Jewish state.  She has the political and military power to enforce such will, and no nation can resist her power and decisions.
Also, it is a very small thing for a powerful nation like the U.S., now the only superpower in the world, to consider people who are born in Jerusalem as having been born in Israel.
But the small thing is a very thorny issue for the superpower and its Christian presidents. By U.S. law, people who were born in Jerusalem cannot list Israel as their birthplace. That is, they have a birth city, but not birth country.
As a Brazilian, I would expect such behavior from many nations, including Brazil, which now has a socialist president who has no real respect for Israel. Sadly, even before socialism took control of the Brazilian government, Brazilian presidents had never officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
A superficial Christianity makes an individual and a nation fail to take seriously what God says in His Word about Israel and Jerusalem.
Still, I would expect much more from the U.S., especially its more conservative Christian presidents throughout its history. I would expect from them respect for the real Ruler in the world and His eternal will for Jerusalem and Israel.
In fact, His Word promises blessings to nations that bless Israel. Brazil has no interest in such blessings. But why has America, with her many Christian presidents, never had courage to tackle this small thing and receive a huge blessing?
Why do U.S. Christian presidents refuse to recognize what God recognizes?
It’s one thing for less Christian nations or Muslim countries to say that Jerusalem has no connection with Israel. It is normal, for example, for Saudi Arabia and other pagan nations to reject the legitimate Jewish connections of Jerusalem.  It’s a completely different thing for America, with her strong Christian tradition and Protestant presidents, to say the same thing as their pagan counterparts do.
Where are the real American Christians who will do what God wants for Jerusalem and Israel? At least, where is a pagan Cyrus to do what “Christian” rulers in America are not doing?
May God raise someone reading these words to be president, whether of Brazil or the U.S., and return Jerusalem to its rightful owner: Israel.
If Brazil does it under a Christian president, powerful blessings certainly will follow, even a position of superpower, because God, who overthrows big nations refusing His will, also is powerful to raise other nations to do His will, especially to help Israel.
May Jerusalem, which God established as the eternal capital of Israel, be recognized for what it is.
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you!” (Psalms 122:6 ESV)
“The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel.” (Psalms 147:2 ESV)
What hinders America and her conservative Christian presidents from recognizing Jerusalem, serve Israel and be blessed?
I wonder if the issue were recognizing Mecca as capital of Saudi Arabia, would it have been left unsolved as Jerusalem has been? No, it would have been solved many decades ago, even if its Jewish neighbor had opposed it.
I bet that Saudi Arabia, the big Muslim ally of the U.S., does not want Jerusalem recognized as the capital of Israel.
Why does America find easier to serve Saudi Arabia than Israel?
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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Why Does The Christian Post Espouse Leftism in Brazil?


Why Does The Christian Post Espouse Leftism in Brazil?

By Julio Severo
The U.S. version of The Christian Post rightly addressed the recent World Vision flap on gay “marriage” by quoting prominent evangelical leaders. Their responses were mostly conservative. The first World Vision (WV) stance favoring this faux marriage was universally disapproved among conservative Christians. Its repentance was welcome.
In no way, the Christian Post condemned these conservative leaders and their views.
In a strange twist, the Brazilian version of The Christian Post decided not only to publish nothing from its U.S. version on the WV flap, but it also addressed it from a liberal viewpoint. The only article by the Brazilian Christian Post on this issue was “Obsessão evangélica sobre homossexualidade está fora de controle, relata autora” (Evangelical Obsession about Homosexuality Is Out of Control, Says Author), by Luciano Portela.
The author is Rachel Held Evans, who in a recent CNN article said, “I then felt betrayed when World Vision backtracked” on gay “marriage.”
In this article, she condemned conservative evangelicals as Albert Mohler and the Assemblies of God denomination for their opposition to the initial WV pro-gay “marriage” decision.
Evans’ liberalism is obvious. In her personal blog, she said, “As I advocated for the election (and re-election) of President Obama, I confess I grew somewhat embarrassed by the pro-life cause.” Of course, Obama is an avid advocate of gay “marriage” and abortion.
Evans is a columnist in the leftist The Huffington Post. She is scheduled to be a speaker at the Festival of Faith & Writing, April 10-12, 2014. The event, which purposes to train a new generation of Christian writers, will be held by the Calvin College, which is connected with the Christian Reformed Church.
Portela, the journalist of the Brazilian Christian Post, kept quiet about the endemic liberalism among many American Calvinists in his “Evangelical Obsession about Homosexuality Is Out of Control, Says Author.”
He also kept quiet about the church affiliation of Richard Stearns, the president of World Vision. Stearns attends the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A (PCUSA).
Most Brazilian evangelicals, even Presbyterians, do not know that PCUSA is pro-sodomy, liberal, anti-Israel, pro-abortion, etc.
A time ago, a Presbyterian minister in Brazil told me that he did not know that PCUSA was so liberal.
If Portela did not quote prominent U.S. evangelical leaders and their views on the WV gay “marriage” flap because Brazilian readers are not familiar with them, so why did he choose an American liberal author who is less known?
Brazil has its own liberal problems among evangelicals, including the Brazilian branch of World Vision, whose director, Ariovaldo Ramos, said,
“Everybody who, in everyplace, fights against poverty, for the human liberation, for justice and rights available to everybody had, in Hugo Chávez, a reference of commitment to the poor and the oppressed.”
He also said,
“The best we could say of someone is that, because he lived here, the world became better! We can say this of Hugo Chávez!”
Apparently, some form of liberalism has hit the Brazilian Christian Post, which has published articles by Rev. Johnny Bernardo, who has a long history of affiliation with the Communist Party of Brazil and recently supported the decriminalization of marijuana in Brazil.
Portela’s article “Evangelical Obsession about Homosexuality Is Out of Control” is not a condemnation of a liberal American author and her radical agenda, but of conservative evangelicals who are fighting to preserve their churches of the deluge of progressive obsessions.
Cristianismo Hoje, the Brazilian version of Christianity Today, retweeted the article, increasing still more the doubts of readers who see its difficulty of clearly condemning the apostasy of those who call themselves Christian and support the so called gay “marriage.”
“This whole situation has left me feeling frustrated, heartbroken and lost. I don’t think I’ve ever been more angry at the Church, particularly the Evangelical culture in which I was raised and with which I for so long identified,” wrote Evans about evangelical leaders who opposed to the WV’s initial pro-gay “marriage” stance.
“I confess I had not realized the true extent of the disdain and stigmatization many Evangelicals have toward LGBT people, nor had I expected World Vision to yield to that disdain and stigmatization by reversing its decision under financial pressure. Honestly, it feels like a betrayal from every side.”
For a “Christian” author who is not frustrated and heartbroken over Obama and his pro-abortion and pro-sodomy agenda, it is natural for her to want World Vision to remain faithful to progressive principles, including gay “marriage.”
This is a betrayal of the true Gospel. But who said that progressives have this Gospel? Gay “marriage” will never be a betrayal of the progressive gospel.
Why is the Brazilian Christian Post siding with it?
Christian Post should do a necessary work of exposing U.S. Protestant liberalism among Brazilian audiences, and vice-versa.
Brazil needs less, not more, liberal evangelical examples.
Portuguese version of this article: Por que o Christian Post adota o esquerdismo no Brasil?
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

After Pressure, World Vision Reverses Policy on Hiring Gays


After Pressure, World Vision Reverses Policy on Hiring Gays

By Julio Severo
After a backlash from Evangelicals, World Vision, an international nonprofit ministry, has reversed its decision to allow those in same-sex marriages to be employed.
Organization board leaders said in a letter to supporters Wednesday that they had made a “mistake” by changing its policy.
“We are brokenhearted over the pain and confusion we have caused many of our friends, who saw this decision as a reversal of our strong commitment to Biblical authority,” the board said in the letter.
The quick reversal was result of a firestorm of heavy criticism from Christian leaders.
These leaders denounced the charity’s decision to hire applicants in same-sex marriages. World Vision’s president, Richard Stearns, had said the move was not “symbolic not of compromise but of [Christian] unity.”
But Evangelical leaders like Franklin Graham, president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, dismissed Stearn’s reasoning.
“World Vision maintains their decision is based on unifying the church — which I find offensive — as if supporting sin and sinful behavior can unite the Church,” Franklin wrote on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website.
In addition, the head of Assemblies of God in the U.S., George Wood, had called for its members to shift their support to other charities. He said, “Far from promoting Christian unity, the policy change enlists World Vision on the liberal Protestant side of the same-sex marriage debate as opposed to that of Pentecostal and Evangelical churches in the U.S., not to mention Pentecostal and Evangelical churches worldwide.”
Stearns said the board of World Vision had been praying about the decision for years, and the result was to allow “married” gay Christians. But in the letter to supporters Wednesday leaders admitted they had not sought enough counsel from their Christian partners.
“As a result, we made a change to our conduct policy that was not consistent with our Statement of Faith and our commitment to the sanctity of marriage,” they said.
“While World Vision U.S. stands firmly on the biblical view of marriage, we strongly affirm that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are created by God and are to be loved and treated with dignity and respect,” they said.
A fifth of the World Vision funding comes from the U.S. government. But most of its funding comes from Evangelicals and while they are a majority of donors, World Vision will have a hard time accepting items from the gay agenda.
Yet, what will happen if the U.S. government, which has been an avid advocate of the homosexual imperialism, increases substantially its funding?
Then, as now, we should increase our pressure. It is exactly this pressure that made World Vision reverse its foolish decision allowing “married” gay Christians.
A little pressure could also help World Vision in Brazil, whose director, Ariovaldo Ramos, said,
“Everybody who, in everyplace, fights against poverty, for the human liberation, for justice and rights available to everybody had, in Hugo Chávez, a reference of commitment to the poor and the oppressed.”
He also said,
“The best we could say of someone is that, because he lived here, the world became better! We can say this of Hugo Chávez!”
Now the director of World Vision Brazil would be wise to imitate its U.S. sister organization and reverse his stupid praise for a Marxist strongman and his stupid support of Marxist causes.
With information from CBN.News, ChristianPost and Ariovaldo Ramos’ public statements.
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Monday, March 24, 2014

World Vision to Hire Married Gay Christians


World Vision to Hire Married Gay Christians

By Julio Severo
The prominent Christian relief agency World Vision said Monday it will hire Christians who are in homosexual marriages, a dramatic policy change on one of the most divisive moral issues facing Christian churches.
World Vision President Richard Stearns told that his organization will be changing its employment policies with regard to individuals in a homosexual lifestyle.
The organization previously required its some 1,100 employees at the American branch to abide by a policy that required fidelity within marriage and abstinence outside of marriage, and only recognized marriage between a man and a woman. However, now World Vision is allowing gay Christians in legal homosexual “marriages” to be hired.
The agency’s new hiring policy was first reported by Christianity Today magazine.
In short: World Vision hopes to dodge the division currently “tearing churches apart” over homosexual relationships by solidifying its long-held philosophy as a parachurch organization: to defer to churches on theological issues, and focus instead on uniting Christians around serving the poor.
World Vision philosophy: For the sake of the poor, homosexual and non-homosexual Christians should get united.
Based in Washington state and started by evangelicals, World Vision now has an international operating budget of nearly $1 billion and conducts economic development and emergency relief projects around the world. Last year, the charity reported receiving 18 percent of its annual funding from the U.S. government, which requires any group that receives federal funding to end any hiring restrictions on gays and lesbians.
Stearns felt that the new policy of his organization is not an endorsement for homosexual “marriage.” He said, “I want to be clear that we have not endorsed same-sex marriage, but we have chosen to defer to the authority of local churches on this issue.” So if a local liberal church chooses to send a homosexual to work in World Vision, it is ok for them.
World Vision requires employees to affirm, through the agency’s statement of faith or the Apostle’s Creed, that they follow Christ. Stearns said the agency will continue to follow that policy. So it will be enough for gay employees to remain faithful to this statement of faith. World Vision says it hires staff from many Protestant denominations with different views of homosexuality.
The staff of World Vision draws from over 50 Christian denominations, some of which have allowed homosexual “marriage” within the church, included the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church (USA). Stearns cited the multi-denominational nature of World Vision employees as a reason for the switch.
In a new release, Franklin Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, stated:
I was shocked today to hear of World Vision’s decision to hire employees in same-sex marriages. The Bible is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman.
My dear friend, Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse, would be heartbroken. He was an evangelist who believed in the inspired Word of God.
World Vision maintains that their decision is based on unifying the church — which I find offensive — as if supporting sin and sinful behavior can unite the church.
From the Old Testament to the New Testament, the Scriptures consistently teach that marriage is between a man and woman and any other marriage relationship is sin.
Apparently, the U.S. World Vision is not alone in its involvement in controversies. The director of World Vision Brazil, Ariovaldo Ramos, was involved in the controversy of having praised Hugo Chavez and his “service” to the poor. Ramos has also lamented publicly the death of the Marxist strongman.
Everything for the sake of the poor.
With information from The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Christianity Today.
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Friday, March 21, 2014

Putin’s Olympic Controversy


Putin’s Olympic Controversy

Cover story of the March issue of Decision magazine, published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

Franklin Graham
According to a recent article from Politico, Americans hold the lowest view of Russians and their president that they’ve had in more than two decades. Citing a Gallup Poll survey, Politico said that 60 percent of Americans hold an unfavorable view of Russia and 63 percent have a negative opinion of President Vladimir Putin.
American distaste for Putin and his policies, however, hasn’t diminished his global standing. Last October, Forbes magazine declared Putin to be the most powerful man in the world. Anyone who watched the recent Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia, could see why. More than any of the gold medal winners, Putin was the commanding presence.
The Olympics were a $51 billion spectacle, but the days leading up to the Games were overshadowed by a controversial issue—a law Putin signed in 2013 to protect minors (children) in Russia from homosexuals promoting their lifestyle. Specifically, the law bans the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.”
American media and liberal activists were outraged that the Olympics would be allowed in such an “intolerant” culture. Even though Putin said that gays and lesbians would be allowed at the Olympics, the fact that he took a stand—simply to protect children—ignited a worldwide cultural firestorm. He further explained the law by saying, “We have a ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia.”
In some ways, the Winter Olympics has become like the Cold War.
Lest we forget, it has not yet been 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the retreat of godless communism. Just a few generations ago, America held the high moral ground.
How the times have changed!
America’s response to Putin’s law was sadly predictable. President Obama intentionally included homosexuals in his official U.S. delegation to Sochi. Then his attorney general stole headlines from the opening weekend with an announcement to the Human Rights Campaign (a major gay-rights group): As far as the federal government is concerned, there is no longer any difference between traditional and same-sex marriage—even in the 33 states that outlaw those marriages.
It’s obvious that President Obama and his administration are pushing the gay-lesbian agenda in America today and have sold themselves completely to that which is contrary to God’s teaching.
So how are Americans to understand Putin, who has come to dominate the world stage even more than our own president? Is Putin right on this issue?
Putin’s father has been described as a militant atheist, his mother was a devout Orthodox, and his grandfather was a personal cook for the Marxist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin.
Putin himself was an officer in the Soviet Union’s notorious KGB security agency from 1976 to 1991. In fact, he was in charge of monitoring foreigners in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) when my father preached there in 1984. If he was eavesdropping on our meeting, which I hope he was, he heard the Gospel!
When the USSR collapsed in 1991, Putin moved into politics, and in 2000 he replaced Boris Yeltsin as president of Russia. Term limits forced him to step aside in 2008, but he was re-elected in 2012 for a six-year term.
I have never heard Putin quote the Bible, but during his 2012 election campaign, he met with church leaders in Moscow and vowed to protect persecuted Christians around the world. That is one justification for his support of the Assad regime in Syria.
Syria, for all its problems, at least has a constitution that guarantees equal protection of citizens. Around the world, we have seen that this is essential where Christians are a minority and are not protected. The radicals in Syria want an Islamic constitution based on sharia law.
Christians have lived in Syria since the time of Christ. The Apostle Paul was on the road to Damascus when he met Christ. Christians in Syria know that if the radicals overthrow Assad, there will be widespread persecution and wholesale slaughter of Christians.
To be clear, I am not endorsing President Putin. To survive in the KGB and rise to power in Russia, you have to be tough. His enemies say he is ruthless. To some, he is a modern version of a czar. His personal life has its own controversies.
Isn’t it sad, though, that America’s own morality has fallen so far that on this issue—protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda—Russia’s standard is higher than our own?
Vladimir Putin
In my opinion, Putin is right on these issues. Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.
Our president and his attorney general have turned their backs on God and His standards, and many in the Congress are following the administration’s lead. This is shameful.
The world used to look to America for moral leadership. But those days are long gone.
Today, we’ve abdicated our moral leadership. We defeated communism, only to relax and see secularism and progressives take over our country. Secularism is as godless as communism. Secularists and progressives have taken over our schools, media, and local and federal government. And it has all happened in the twinkling of an eye.
But the Bible makes it clear that one day, “all nations will be gathered before [God]” (Matthew 25:34) for judgment, and that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow” (Philippians 2:10). Now is the time to repent of sin and place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  ©2014 BGEA
Source: Billy Graham,
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Deadly, Anti-Israel Theological Error


A Deadly, Anti-Israel Theological Error

Michael Brown
The idea that God is finished with the Jewish people as a nation and that the church has replaced Israel in God’s plan is not only a serious theological error. It is a deadly one as well.
It was this false theology that helped fuel the fires of Jew hatred in one of the early church’s most respected leaders, John Chrysostom (347-407), who once said, “God hates the Jews, and on Judgment Day will say to those who sympathize with them: ‘Depart from Me, for you have had intercourse with My murderers!’ Flee, then, from their assemblies, fly from their houses, and hold their synagogue in hatred and aversion.”
Without this erroneous theology, the Crusades would never have taken place 700 years later.
It was this false theology that helped fuel the fires of Jew hatred in the great reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546), who gave this counsel to the German princes of his day: “First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools. ... Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. ... Instead they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. ... Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb.” (For many more examples, see my book Our Hands Are Stained With Blood.)
Luther’s murderous words were put into action by none other than Adolph Hitler, beginning the night of Nov. 9, 1938, which is called Krystallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, when, according to Nazi officer Reinhard Heydrich, “815 [Jewish] shops [were] destroyed, 171 dwelling houses set on fire or destroyed ... 119 synagogues were set on fire, and another 76 completely destroyed ... 20,000 Jews were arrested, 36 deaths were reported and those seriously injured were also numbered at 36.”
This is a direct result of a theology that was dead wrong helping to justify deadly actions. (The Nazis were obviously not true Christians, but it was centuries of “Christian” anti-Semitism in Europe that helped make the Holocaust possible.)
To be sure, there are fine Christians today who embrace this same theological error (called replacement theology or supersessionism, meaning that the church has replaced or superseded Israel), and they are absolutely not anti-Semites and they would never sanction the persecution of the Jewish people in Jesus’ name. And they totally repudiate hateful quotes like these just cited.
But the sad fact of history is that it is this very theology that opened up the door to centuries of “Christian” anti-Semitism in the past, and it is threatening to open up that ugly door once again in the present.
In light of the third “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference that just took place in the ancient city of Bethlehem, where issues like these were anything but theological abstractions, it’s important to remember how wrong theology leads to wrong actions.
According to Acts 1, after the disciples had spent 40 days with Jesus after His resurrection, speaking to them “about the kingdom of God” (v. 3), His devoted followers wanted to ask Him one question before He ascended to heaven.
They inquired, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He replied, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (vv. 6-8).
In other words, that’s a good question, and it certainly makes sense in light of everything we’ve been talking about, but the timing of when that will happen—when God will “restore the kingdom to Israel”—is not of your concern right now. You must concentrate on fulfilling the Great Commission with the help of the Spirit’s power.
But that’s not how John Calvin interpreted Jesus’ reply. As noted by Dr. Paul R. Wilkinson in his book Understanding Christian Zionism, Calvin stated that there “‘were “as many errors ... as words’ in the disciples’ question concerning Israel’s restoration. This, he believed, showed ‘how bad scholars they were under so good a Master,’ and therefore ‘when he [Jesus] saith, you shall receive power, he admonisheth them of their imbecility.’”
Wilkinson also notes, “At the 5th International Sabeel Conference in 2004 [this is an anti-Zionist conference], Mitri Raheb denounced the disciples as ‘very narrow-minded,’ ‘nationalistic,’ and ‘blinded’ for asking such a question.”
To be candid, interpretations like these are nothing more than exegetical nonsense, standing the biblical text on its head.
For example, if the disciples had said to Jesus, “Lord, is this the time for us to take up swords and behead our enemies?” He would not have replied, “It’s not for you to know the time for beheading that the Father has determined. You just concentrate on preaching the gospel.”
Hardly! Instead, He would have rebuked them in no uncertain terms.
But that’s not what He did here, despite the fact that His words are constantly interpreted as if He had said, “You idiots! Don’t you know that I’m through with Israel? Don’t you know that the church has replaced Israel? Have I been with you so long and you still don’t get it?”
Instead, He simply told them it was not for them to know exactly when the Father would restore the kingdom to Israel (something that Jesus and Peter and Paul affirmed; see Matthew 19:28; Acts 3:19-21; Romans 11:28-29; 15:8); their mission was to be His witnesses.
Unfortunately, in our day, as we are seeing an increasing number of Christians turning against the modern state of Israel—and I don’t simply mean that they are criticizing Israel when Israel deserves criticism but that they are rejecting it as a prophetic fulfillment in any sense of the word, also embracing the Palestinian narrative of Israel as an evil occupier and claiming that no prophetic promises remain to the Jewish people as a nation—we are seeing the seeds of Jew hatred being planted again in the hearts of many of these believers. Their hostility to Israel is hardly a secret.
Be careful, people of God!
History could well repeat itself—to the reproach of the name of Jesus, to the disgrace of the church, and to the spiritual and physical harm of the Jewish people—unless we get our theology right.
You have been forewarned.
Source: Charisma,
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