“Jesus Was a Palestinian”?
Melanie Phillips has penned an article entitled ‘Jesus Was a Palestinian’: The Return of Christian Anti-Semitism in which she has chronicled the recent rise of militant anti-Israel activism within evangelicalism. It is that disturbing phenomenon that prompted the creation of this website.
An excerpt from Phillips’ article:
Now there is an even more alarming development. The latest Christians to succumb to this delegitimization of Israel and the return of replacement theology are among the evangelicals, the very bedrock of Christian Zionism. This is all the more devastating precisely because these Christians take scripture very seriously. Whereas the progressive churches have absorbed the Palestinian theological calumny against the Jews almost as an afterthought, some evangelicals are rewriting the theology that inspires their every action. They are not just anti-Zionists. They are religiously inspired, anti-Jewish supersessionists.
An early harbinger of this change was a meeting in London in 1986 hosted by John Stott. The Lausanne Congress of World Evangelization set up a group called Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding to oppose the view that Israel was the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Such people subscribe to a movement that the Christian analyst Paul R. Wilkinson has termed “Christian Palestinianism.”
In his book Who are God’s People in the Middle East?, Gary Burge recounted how he converted from Christian Zionism after being told by Father George Makhlour of St. George’s Greek Orthodox Church in Ramallah: “The Church has inherited the promises of Israel. The Church is actually the new Israel.” Burge came to believe that “followers of Jesus were the new people of God. And they would inherit the history and the promises known throughout the Old Testament…Whatever the ‘land’ meant in the Old Testament, whatever the promise contained, this now belonged to Christians.”
In March this year, some 600 or so evangelical Christians attended a four-day event in Bethlehem called Christ at the Checkpoint. The subtext of this conference was a fusion of theologically based Christian Jew-hatred, Palestinian victimology, and a wholesale rewriting of history. One witness, Brian Schrauger, wrote: “Except for explicit calls to violence, every part, every aspect of rhetoric by Islamic Fatah and Hamas was brilliantly, horrifically ‘Christianized.’ In the aftermath of attendance, I find myself nauseous, shocked, and soiled in my soul.”
This was the third high-profile conference under the title of Christ at the Checkpoint (or CatC, as the organizers call it). These gatherings bring together evangelical Christians from around the world, according to its manifesto, to “reclaim the prophetic role in bringing peace, justice, and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel.”
What this actually means is that participants tell each other about the “brutal Israeli occupation” and “oppression” of the Palestinians, which they cast as a living reenactment of the suffering of Jesus at the hands of none other than the forerunners of those very same Israeli oppressors, the Jews. They then return home and spread the word among evangelical churches. Some dismayed observers have dubbed this the “evangelical intifada.”
The full text of this article by Melanie Phillips can be read here.
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