Sunday, June 22, 2014

Bad Theology

Jun 23, 2014 Bad Theology Some longtime members of the Presbyterian USA are waking up to a new reality, only days after the conclusion of the denomination’s General Assembly. There, a slight majority voted in favor of divesting from three companies—Hewlett-Packard, Caterpillar, and Motorola—that do business with Israel. The divestment strategy, part of a broader “BDS” agenda (Boycott/Divestment/Sanctions), has been coordinated by a relentless wing of the PC-USA, the left wing. The victory is a real one for opponents of Israel and Christian Zionists. Make no mistake: Christian supporters of Israel are in the crosshairs of the haters of Zion. In fact, one can track the parallels as Israel is (astonishingly) castigated internationally…in the wake of the Hamas kidnapping of three Israeli youth. Just as the Jewish state is villainized while being a victim of Middle Ages-level anti-Semitic incitement, so too are Christian Zionists vilified at every turn. My friend Brian Schrauger was hauled into Palestinian Authority headquarters last week and questioned. Brian, a freelance journalist who has provided some of the only reporting of anti-Israel activity (including the infamous “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference in Bethlehem), was warned that he wasn’t safe living in Beit Jala, a village outside the famous biblical town. PA/PLO officials told him that “locals” and “internationals” had complained about his reporting. What this means is that they put his life in danger. Internationals. Is anyone else outraged about this? The Jew Haters in the Church are feeling giddy now, what with divestment now enshrined in the PC-USA. All these other wins for the other side have emboldened folks like British activist Stephen Sizer and American filmmaker Porter Speakman, Jr., who both lobbed hateful jabs at Brian, via Twitter. Sizer asked if he had enjoyed the PA “hospitality.” Is anyone else outraged about this? These events are happening at the same time Israeli forces search for the three youth (Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrah, and Gilad Shaar). On Thursday of last week, U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon said there was no “concrete evidence” the three boys had “actually” been kidnapped! What kind of world are we living in? The effrontery of Ki-Moon, evidently just another garden-variety diplomatic hack, is still shocking. One would expect such a punkish response from a terror entity, but for the head of the global body to show such indifference to Jewish life and suffering is astonishing. When Israel is perceived to be on the ropes, her enemies rub their hands together and laugh. A Religion News Service article about the divestment victory in Detroit (ironic location) hit on a key point, one I’d like to develop: “But the vote also bodes ill for Presbyterian-Jewish relations, which are particularly fragile since the publication in January of ‘Zionism Unsettled,’ a booklet produced by the church-chartered IPMN and sold on the PCUSA website, which argues the right of a Jewish nation to exist in the Holy Land is based on bad theology.” A host of anti-Christian Zionist/Israel activists promote this idea that we have “bad theology.” Stephen Sizer, Gary DeMar, Colin Chapman, Gary Burge, Brian McLaren, Lynne Hybels. The list goes on. But I want to make a point here that I hope you will take to heart: a person who appears to speak with authority is not the same as a person who speaks with authority. Brian McLaren is feted by much of the religious world. Gary Burge has an advantageous perch at Wheaton. Sizer, somehow, finds the money and time to globe trot to bash Israel. Hybels uses the powerful bully pulpit of the Willow Creek Association to spread her activism. Yet critical thinking is required here. I point you to a short essay that Hybels wrote for a Catalyst-distributed booklet, “Known.” The booklet was printed specially for the Catalyst Dallas event in May, 2014. Listen to her faith journey, which took her from the “old-time religion” to…something else. “In my early forties I experienced a crisis of faith. The Christianity I’d grown up with was about being good and working hard and following the rules in order to placate an angry God. It was about being an athlete winning the prize and a soldier advancing the work of the Kingdom, thereby avoiding hellfire and damnation. A sensitive little girl, I took it all to heart and did my best. But after nearly four decades of striving to earn God’s love, I was exhausted. God had become a burden I no longer had the energy to carry. “So I quietly turned by back on God.” Bill Hybels is now 62, so his wife is, I believe, in her late 50s. One of the interesting elements of her story is that she turned her back on God relatively recently. Let’s say that was 15 years ago. By that time, Willow Creek, both the local church near Chicago and the gargantuan Willow Creek Association (a coalition of 7,000 churches, from 90 denominations in 90 countries) had become perhaps the leading influential body with the Evangelical community. That means that Lynne Hybels pretended to be what everyone thought she was. For some time, she and her husband had associated with left-leaning thinkers. They have hosted Bill Clinton, Tony Campolo, and T.D. Jakes, among others. A little-known fact is that this dynamic ministry duo has been mentored since the 1970s by anti-Israel propagandists, as well. Further in the “Known” article, Lynne Hybels reveals that in her faith crisis, she began to read the works of folks like Julian of Norwich and Thomas Merton. She began moving more to the left. Eventually, she says, she became “thankful” for turning her back “on my childhood god.” She emphasized that she had come to also turn her back on “words” by which she must mean Scripture alone. Hybels has stated since then that when it comes to the “theology” of the Christian Zionists, well, she simply rejects that particular brand of theology. See how clever this is? For those who don’t dig deeper, Lynne Hybels sounds like a great spiritual leader. In point of fact, she rejects what the Bible says about Israel and the Jews in prophecy because she wants to reject it. Do you see? She decided not to accept the biblical promises to the Jews. That’s why she fits in so well with her friends, the Awad family of Bethlehem. I’ve had conversations with them and with other Palestinian Christians who have told me they simply “don’t like the OT promises to the Jews.” So they ignore and sanitize those ubiquitous passages from sermons, lectures, books, and blogs. They advocate for a worldview that parallels that of the PLO, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction. A quick aside: I’m aware there are different views of the origins accounts in Genesis, among Christians. However, it is incredibly fascinating to learn that Darwin and his friends in England in the mid-19th century did not arrive at their naturalistic conclusions because of “science.” Various modern scientific fields such as geology, astronomy, and biology were in their infancy, research-wise. Rather, Darwin and his “X-Club” associates—men like Thomas Huxley, Herbert Spencer, and Joseph Dalton Hooker, who met regularly for dinner for 30 years in London—came to their personal views because they wanted to disbelieve the Bible. It’s as simple as that. Why do you think evolutionary philosophers like Charles Lyell arrived at an age for the earth of hundreds of thousands of years? Because they were making it up! Why did not Lyell assign an age to the earth that fits current evolutionary thought, 4.5 billion years? He knew that such vast ages would never square with his contemporaries, so he said, in essence, “Look, go ahead and believe in Genesis, the flood, etc. It’s just that the scientific method today shows us clearly that the earth is much older than the biblical chronologies allow.” This was the beginning of widespread disbelief in the Bible, in the Western world. Compromise with Genesis led to compromise elsewhere. Those long ages? Lyell, Huxley, and Darwin knew perfectly well they had cooked and manipulated the data, for philosophical reasons. They then sold it to the masses as fact. The point I’m trying to make is that all anti-Bible philosophers simply decide not to believe some or all of it, and because they sound like authorities, many believe them. Those who created “Zionism Unsettled” and their friends do not reject Christian Zionism because it is “bad theology.” They reject it because they want to. Millions are being deceived by the deep and dark associations that have now infiltrated evangelicalism. (You can read my latest blog at the Jerusalem Post here, for added detail: The hatred of Israel, Jews, and their friends the Christian Zionists is accelerating. It is in large part because advocates of the Palestinian Narrative are demonizing folks like us 24/7. We have different ideological views because we make choices. We decide what to believe. It really is as simple as that. Palestinian propagandists would have you believe they arrived at their worldview because they are just seekers of truth. Those who support divestment, demonization of Israel, and mainstreaming Palestinian propaganda should at least be honest enough to tell their constituencies that they arrived at their worldview because it a philosophical choice. Don’t expect them to do that, however. Such an admission would neutralize their propaganda.

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