'Dealing With Christian
Zionists In Our Own Churches'
A long time friend named John wrote in frustration about a reply he received from his pastor in response to his letter about the church's lack of concern for the ongoing slaughter in Iraq. John sought an answer to two scriptural references, and to his frustration the pastor's reply was entirely secular. This big church pastor ignored the questions involving Jesus and the Apostle Paul's words. Instead, John was told how evil Saddam Hussein was; that Islam must be stopped, and that the State of Israel is an example of why all wars are not evil. (1)
Secular and even bloodthirsty replies from religious leaders are not the exception. They usually ignore scripture, especially the New Testament. As an extreme example, John Hagee has held 'Night To Honor Israel' programs where Jesus' name has never been mentioned. War-favoring, war-excusing, and war-enabling church leaders avoid New Testament scripture because in it there is no justification for killing anyone. Your friends and family who are under Judeo-Christian influence do not realize this until they are shown, which is our self-appointed job.
We are often asked how one can pick a church to attend that is not Judeo-Christian. To this we offer our own experiences. Our Christian Zionism Blog is our next step in lending a hand to those who want to listen and participate. We hope readers will post letters, questions and experiences of their own, and the names of churches they like. We will post letters we receive, and if we do not have the writer's permission we will keep them anonymous, as we have done with John's letter.
We Hold These Truths and Project Strait Gate can share what we have learned from uncounted conversations at vigils in front of about 50 of the biggest Judeo-Christian churches in America. We have come to view those who have strong feelings about their faith and who profess to be Christians in two general camps, Judeo-Christians and Christ followers, the first being a large camp and the latter a very small one, which we call the Strait Gate.(2)*
It should be obvious that many do not fit in either of the above camps, are either ambivalent or confused, but for reasons of their own they go to church. Some who read this will say they have, at times, been in all three camps.
Christ followers, by our label, generally believe that Jesus is the fulfillment of biblical prophesies, mostly fulfilled in the first century AD when Jesus came, taught, set up his earthy discipleship, was crucified under the will of the Pharisees, and arose from the dead. They think Jesus told His followers about His heavenly kingdom so they would seek it, a state of spiritual reward; but not without a judgment that would be visited upon each when we exit physical life.
By contrast, Judeo-Christians may believe all or part of what Christ followers believe, but they have an added layer superimposed over the top, like frosting on a cake, that holds to the notion that the physical, political State of Israel is the fulfillment of God's Old Testament prophesies. In order to make room for Israel as sort of an extra deity, most Judeo-Christians accept the explanation that Jesus left unfinished worldly business behind that will require His return to manage an earthly kingdom for 1000 years.
It is not your writer's place to decide if Jesus will return to earth again, as there is some Biblical evidence both ways and Jesus did not firmly say. I do not see how this question mattered to Paul or the Apostles because they all died 1,950 years ago without seeing this rapture and millennium kingdom, yet surely they have met Christ and been judged. The same is true of about 100 generations of good and bad people that have come and gone since Paul and the disciples were on earth. It did not matter to them that they died without seeing Armageddon and 'the rapture,' so why should it matter to me? I would like to think He never left.
Certainly the odds are also against this writer witnessing the "rapture." However as a consolation, D. James Kennedy and Jerry Falwell both missed it too. But Jesus promised that either we are faithful and will receive Christ's promise, or we are faithless and will be shunned by Jesus in His Kingdom. Either way, rapture or a millennial reign is not likely to be important to me, and I find no reason I have to know or debate the issue. This is the position WHTT Christian Zionism Blog will take until someone convinces us otherwise.
Unfortunately most pastors, even those in traditional churches, have been influenced by the opulent worldly success of the Judeo-Christian churches. Many cannot identify with a poor and humble Jesus and penniless apostles, and have compromised. I visited a church on Sunday that may be a case in point, a part of the Evangelical Covenant church where I once was a member.
Covenant churches are rightly considered "mainline Protestant," with a home in Chicago, IL, the Evangelical Covenant Church tends to be traditional, and describes itself as such. But this one taught, at least on this day, a mixture of Judeo-Christianity veneered onto following Christ.
Fred, as I will call the lead pastor, is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary, and calls himself a 'Christ Follower.' I like that term, it's what we call ourselves, and Pastor Fred began with a moving account of Isaiah 9 which I also liked. The story is poetic and it furnishes an important chorus to George Frideric Handel's Messiah: 'And His name shall be called Wonderful, Marvelous, the mighty God, the everlasti ng father, the prince of peace.'
This is the prophesy of Jesus' first coming to earth as the Messiah to the Gentiles (that's us). Pastor Fred stressed that Jesus was the peacemaker in a time of terrible war and evil conflict, and he went on to suggest to the audience that most of us have had enough wars. The audience responded positively, Pastor Fred is clearly not promoting more war from the pulpit. So far so good, right out of scripture... the traditional view of Jesus, who could be more traditional than George Frideric Handel?
Pastor Fred almost had me won over, starting off on the right foot as he did, but then came a disappointment. He made a simple statement, given as fact, that Jesus was indeed coming again to set up the system of Justice and Peace promised in Isaiah 9, 'and the government shall be upon his shoulders,' meaning he said, Jesus will be very much in charge! The pastor did not say when he expects Jesus to come again, nor did he explain why He did not set up his kingdom when he came the first time.
Until Judeo-Christianity came along in the 19th Century, Isaiah 9 was accepted by almost everyone as a prophesy of Jesus' first coming two thousand years ago. It is a stretch to consider it is talking about a future coming, ignoring that all who call themselves Christians believe this is history. But Pastor Fred confused this in all our minds. He superimposed a thin, but a very hard veneer of Judeo-Christianity over following Christ.
It is basic that we who call ourselves by Jesus' name are supposed to be following the living Christ day-to-day on this earth, our testing ground. Jesus' kingdom is "not of this earth" as he told Pilot, but is a spiritual one. Pastor Fred did not say where or when Jesus' next 'coming' would take place, and he did not mention a 'rapture,' or a millennial kingdom' where Jesus would rule, nor did he project when this event would take place, but he certainly asserted it was coming in our future. Except for this one Judeo-Christian admission Pastor Fred appears to be a traditional Christ follower. It is our job to seek a dialogue with those like him and talk about the layer of Judeo-Christianity that is spoiling the whole cake .
What is the damage in believing Jesus will come back to earth for a 1000 year reign of goodness and justice? First Jesus does not say this; it is implied by some aggressive assumptions. If we expect another coming, it removes from us the need to do our part to maintain His Kingdom on earth. This is exactly what He told us we must do in His book, the New Testament. If indeed Jesus came, finished His work, and left as planned, then we had best be very serious about doing our work and following His commands on earth if we are to have our own personal "second coming.' Jesus told us to love our brother, even love our enemy and hate and revile no one. If this is indeed His last word to us, until we face Him in some distant year at the doorway of His kingdom, we must be diligent, constantly on guard and never slacking from our work. If we are indeed followers and don't want anyone else to do our task or carry our cross for us.
Judeo-Christianity is a great mega-church builder because it relieves us of the burden Christ placed on us of following regardless of the cost of inconvenience. To all the Disciples that meant death. Judeo-Christianity shifts the burden back to God. Judeo-Christians have only to confess that they believe in Judeo-Christianity (not simply Jesus), an apostate concept. Are we to give up the chance to walk in Jesus' footsteps for a lie?
If there are wars and slaughters, even natural disasters, do not be too concerned, these must be God' ordained acts for his ordained reasons, or so goes the Judeo-Christians' logic. They will invariably testify: 'You do not have to do a thing to be saved; Jesus did it all for you. You have but to believe.' These are the implications of Pastor Fred's disappointing words.
The illogical conclusion of Judeo-Christianity is that we must tell lots of people about Jesus and his impending next coming, and to stay out of the thankless grind of trying to make the world we live in a better place to live. It is indeed fortunate that most Judeo-Christians are good people who are not ambivalent, and who do a lot of work in spite of all the coordinated efforts to teach them they need not do it.
Jesus never told us He planned to fail in His first try on earth, and that He would have to try it a second time when conditions were more conducive to His Kingdom. But this is what Judeo-Christians rely upon. The 'government' and all earthy matters are to be settled by Jesus at his return, so following him becomes quite irrelevant. After all, if Jesus is coming again, and 'the Government shall be upon his shoulders' why even vote? We have only to believe, but in what? This is the result of the Judeo-Christian heresy and it is why our country is at war all the time and has many other ills...everyone in politics knows that the Judeo-Christians are the key to his or her political succ ess. We Hold These Truths believes this will soon change.(5)
The great turning in the age of Judeo-Christianity
Leaders of a growing number of seminaries and universities are finally making themselves heard, and are saying we need to be involved because the blood shed is on our hands as we just sit and watch. Those who are demanding fair treatment for Palestinians are, by their acts, telling us Jesus' Kingdom is here and His righteousness is ours to defend. We had best pay attention to the killing being done in our name in Iraq, Palestine and everywhere else. This sense of responsibility defines traditional Christ followers.
Among those college presidents who want to take a stand are Richard Mouw, President, Fuller Theological Seminary, where Pastor Fred learned his theology, Glenn R. Palmberg, President, Evangelical Covenant Church, the home of Pastor Fred's church, and David L. Parkyn, President, North Park University, the Covenant Church's University in Chicago, long a leader in exposing the Israelis' abuse of the Palestinians, plus thanks to its' Dr. Donald Wagner, also a signer. Several professors at other schools signed the letter in the November issue of Christianity Today's Magazine, which states in part: (4)
'Over 80 educators and ministry heads affirm efforts to negotiate lasting peace, and warn of consequences of failure...The Bible clearly teaches that God longs for justice and peace for all people. We believe that the principles about justice taught so powerfully by the Hebrew prophets apply to all nations, including the United States, Israel, and the Palestinians. Therefore we are compelled to work for a fair, negotiated solution for both Israelis and Palestinians."*
These 80 are firmly distancing themselves from the popular Judeo-Christian (evangelical) view that Israel is the fulfillment of Old Testament scripture. This is a sure sign of the coming of great change now in the wind. One of our best allies is Dr. Mark Hanna, an anti-Zionist dispensationalist, who believes Jesus is coming to earth again, but does not believe the State of Israel fulfills Bible prophesies. He is the exception that proves the point.
Whatever one thinks his creed, preoccupation with the State of Israel is Christian-Zionism. A Christ follower is one who does his faltering human best to follow Christ's teachings and examples every day, regardless of what else one believes or reasons.(2)
We began this epistle with John's frustration over his pastor's letter. We have posted both letters to our Christian Zionist Blogs, and we suggest that John again write a simplified letter, too, with only scriptural questions, asking the Pastor to answer his questions... nothing else. He should also insist on an answer to the key litmus test question, does his pastor think "Political Israel is the fulfillment of Bible prophesy?" Then he should consider circulating both letters.
In dealing with pastors and church leaders, it is we, the laymen critics, who must force them to stay scriptural, even when they try to lead us into a secular story. We must not allow them to drag us into secular arguments like those John's pastor raised. Only in this way can we change them, and change our churches, and protect those we love from them.
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