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The Church's Cozying to Islam
Israel - Middle East
Friday, December 22, 2017
Alf Cengia

In many cases the Church's cozying to Islam appears to be proportional to its disdain of Israel and Zionism. Of course, not every church falls into this category. But it is becoming fashionable. Some resources now report a decline in evangelical support for Israel in America.

There was an era when theologians weren't afraid to speak up about Islam. Times have changed. It is politically incorrect to criticize it, or the Palestinians. Israel and Zionism are the focal points of criticism.

Dissension from several Christian leaders followed President Trump's official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. No one who's been following the Palestinian - Israeli conflict should be surprised.

Among the many responders (including Pope Francis) was Elizabeth Eaton, who is presiding bishop of the ELCA. There were also comments by theologian Gary Burge. The latter notes:

We have a political application of a biblical idea. If you reach into the Old Testament and say, 'God has given the Holy Land to the descendants of Abraham,' that's fine. The question is whether the modern state of Israel is that nation that was imagined back in the Bible.

The Bible prophecies a final redemption of a recalcitrant Israel (Jer 31:31-37; Ezekiel 20:33-38; Amos 9:14-15; Hosea 5:15 etc). Modern ethnic Israel fits the biblical model in all ways (yes, even in their DNA). The problem isn't with Israel; it lies in disbelieving the Bible.

But Burge doesn't have a problem with the legitimacy of a primarily Islamic Palestinian State. Burge is a Christ at the Checkpoint Conference contributor who has conducted tours in the region. These are designed to shape the thinking of young evangelicals against Zionism.

A telling 2012 CAMERA article demonstrates how Christian CATC participants give Islam a pass while placing blame on Israel, Zionism and even the West. It notes:

...there was a fundamental refusal to seriously address the role Muslim theology and Islamist ideology play in fomenting hostility toward Jews and Israel in the Middle East. This is ironic given the emphasis on problems blamed on Christian Zionism by numerous commentators at the conference.

Eaton's largely apostate ELCA Church has a history of cuddling Islam while castigating Zionism. I first encountered this in Barbara Rossing's misleading book "The Rapture Exposed." Her contempt for Zionism and Christian fundamentalism dripped from its pages.

In contrast, she spoke glowingly of the Dome of the Rock (p 59). Rossing is content with a structure which contains an inscription which denies Christ's divinity. Yet I doubt she'd express similar enthusiasm for a Jewish Temple.

The Journal of Lutheran Ethics quotes Rev. Munib Younan (who is also cited in Bishop Eaton's letter) as warning that "new Christian Zionism" is a dangerous heresy which threatens Middle East Peace. Younan throws premillennialism into the same bucket. The article reads like Rossing's book (which the JLE handily refers to).

Another link to the ELCA is Rev. Mitri Raheb. In April 2017 he interpreted Christ's Atonement through the lens of Liberation Theology and the struggle of the Palestinians. This demonstrates how far he's wandered from Scripture. According to one report he thinks Israel is the problem:

Contextualizing his lecture, Pastor Raheb began by comparing the Jewish government to Saddam Hussein’s authoritarian dictatorship in Iraq.

Raheb boasts of his church's peaceful coexistence with Muslims. It's true that most Muslims are peaceful. It's also a well-attested fact that Christians are mistreated under Islamic regimes. I can't help wonder whether the Palestinian Christian hostility to Israel is a factor in this extraordinary peaceful coexistence.

Furthermore, I suggest that that Raheb's peace can be attributed to Israel's intolerance of terrorism. Remove Israel from "Palestine" and he may need to rethink his usefulness to the Palestinian Authority.

Would the P.A. or Hamas tolerate large conversions of Muslims to the Christian faith? I ask this because I've spent each day this year posting prayer requests for Voice of the Martyrs on Facebook. Proselytizing brings consequences. Islamic intolerance is the most common cause of Christian suffering.

Aside from VOM, one can find many documented articles of Christian suffering at refreshingly politically-incorrect Gatestone Institute. Just do a search on the website.

Today, Islam gets a theological pass of sorts as well. Francis Beckworth backed a controversial former Wheaton College professor (Larycia Hawkins) who favorably cited Pope Francis' declaration that Muslims and Christians worship the same God. Among others at Wheaton, Gary Burge sided with her.

Whatever happened to God's Word?

Beckwith was born Roman Catholic, became an evangelical, and later returned to Catholicism. His defense of the pope and Hawkins doesn't gel with Scripture. The Qur'an's god and soteriology are vastly different. Islam denies Christ's work on the cross. Allah has no Son. Mark Durie and others have responded to the notion that Islam and Christianity worship the same God.

The politically correct dislike Islam-critic Robert Spencer. Many won't check whether he's really a bigot or liar. They assume these things because they want to believe them. Nevertheless Spencer's rebuttals to the belief that Islam is peaceful are well researched and ought to be honestly evaluated. See also Hugh Fitzgerald's FrontPageMag article.

Some rightly note that the influx of Muslim refugees into Europe presents an opportunity for evangelism. God is sovereign and all powerful - He draws the unsaved in all circumstances. However, not only has the church in Europe compromised the gospel, it is in a precarious existential position - especially in the UK.

Considering the church's overtures to Islam and submission to LGBTQ diversity, I can't help thinking of Jesus Christ's warnings in the Letters to the Churches in Revelation. Has the Lord changed? Is He now more tolerant of unfaithfulness?

I've cited the following from Charles Spurgeon before:

We anticipate the day when every knee will bow before Christ; when the gods of the heathen shall be cast to the moles and the bats; when empty religion will be exploded, and the crescent of Mohammed will topple, never again to cast its harmful rays upon the nations; when kings shall worship before the Prince of Peace, and all nations shall call the Redeemer blessed.

I wonder what he'd think of many churches today.

Maranatha!

Further reading:  Churches and Anti-Israel Boycotts

About Alf Cengia

Last week: President Trump Recognizes Israel's Biblical Capital



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