29th July, 2007Vote your opinion now
The following material was received from 'Jerusalemprayerteam.org'. This ministry includes in its 'team' individuals or ministries who we could not recommend, e.g. Rev. Tommy Tenney, but there are occasions when bringing the outrageous activities of other dangerous and mis-guided 'evangelicals' (e.g. Tony and Bart Campolo!) to the attention of the world is more important!
'This is outrageous. Thirty professing evangelicals have written a Letter to the President of the United States, and are disseminating it to Arab countries worldwide. The letter states that they represent you. The purpose of the letter is to correct a serious misperception that "all American evangelicals are opposed to a two-state solution and creation of a new Palestinian state that includes the vast majority of the West Bank."
The letter states in part:
We write as evangelical Christian leaders in the United States to thank you for your efforts (including the major address on July 16) to reinvigorate the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to achieve a lasting peace in the region. We affirm your clear call for a two-state solution. We urge that your administration not grow weary in the time it has left in office to utilize the vast influence of America to demonstrate creative, consistent and determined U.S. leadership to create a new future for Israelis and Palestinians. We pray to that end, Mr. President.
We also write to correct a serious misperception among some people including some U.S. policymakers that all American evangelicals are opposed to a two-state solution and creation of a new Palestinian state that includes the vast majority of the West Bank. Nothing could be further from the truth. We, who sign this letter, represent large numbers of evangelicals throughout the U.S. who support justice for both Israelis and Palestinians. We hope this support will embolden you and your administration to proceed confidently and forthrightly in negotiations with both sides in the region.
As evangelical Christians, we embrace the biblical promise to Abraham: "I will bless those who bless you." (Genesis 12:3). And precisely as evangelical Christians committed to the full teaching of the Scriptures, we know that blessing and loving people (including Jews and the present State of Israel) does not mean withholding criticism when it is warranted. Genuine love and genuine blessing means acting in ways that promote the genuine and long-term well being of our neighbors. Perhaps the best way we can bless Israel is to encourage her to remember, as she deals with her neighbor Palestinians, the profound teaching on justice that the Hebrew prophets proclaimed so forcefully as an inestimably precious gift to the whole world.
Historical honesty compels us to recognize that both Israelis and Palestinians have legitimate rights stretching back for millennia to the lands of Israel/Palestine. Both Israelis and Palestinians have committed violence and injustice against each other. The only way to bring the tragic cycle of violence to an end is for Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate a just, lasting agreement that guarantees both sides viable, independent, secure states. To achieve that goal, both sides must give up some of their competing, incompatible claims. Israelis and Palestinians must both accept each other's right to exist. And to achieve that goal, the U.S. must provide robust leadership within the Quartet to reconstitute the Middle East roadmap, whose full implementation would guarantee the security of the State of Israel and the viability of a Palestinian State. We affirm the new role of former Prime Minister Tony Blair and pray that the conference you plan for this fall will be a success.
Mr. President, we renew our prayers and support for your leadership to help bring peace to Jerusalem, and justice and peace for all the people in the Holy Land.
Finally, we would request to meet with you to personally convey our support and discuss other ways in which we may help your administration on this crucial issue.
Click here to read the entire letter.
Dr. Mike Evans' response to the letter to President Bush (reproduced below)
By: Michael D. Evans
The New York Times published a letter on July 29 under the title of "Letter to President Bush from Evangelical Leaders." Thirty-four so-called evangelical leaders thanked President Bush, but for what, and on behalf of whom? Is he being thanked on behalf of another group of evangelical leaders that met with an Arab contingent on Monday, July 2? Is he being thanked for reversing the statements made on June 21, 2002: "The United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure"? Less than a year later, the State Department reversed course, eliminating the cessation of terror as a pre-condition for engagement. Palestinian terrorism grew.
Is President Bush being thanked for a presidential promise in July that would send ½-billion dollars in aid to President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah terrorist movement? Fatah is the organization that, one year ago, threatened to strike at the economic and business interests of the United States, both here and abroad.
The letter is absurd in several respects: First, evangelicals believe the Bible. The majority of the men who signed the letter to President Bush are "replacement theology" adherents and should not even be labeled "evangelical." In fact, evangelicals would never call a Presbyterian an evangelical. Most are members of the World Council of Churches, a decidedly "un-evangelical" organization.
The great news is that not one person who signed the letter would be known by most evangelicals. If a poll were taken of 1000 evangelicals, not one of that number would be able to recognize the names of the signers. The President of the Southern Baptist Convention, the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, the head of the National Association of Evangelicals, and the head of the National Religious Broadcasters did not sign the letter.
The letter also says that the best way to bless Israel is to support a two-state solution. This is a myth that calls for the support of a Palestinian culture, language, and history. The letter calls for a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem, the home of Christianity, to be placed under the authority of terrorists. The debacle of Bethlehem and Jericho should be enough to convince these men that this would be a horrendous mistake. Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, and Jericho are now terrorist towns. It is no longer safe for Christians to visit the birthplace of their faith because of the emphasis on suicide martyrs and terrorist activities.
Israelis have never had a problem with the existence of the Palestinians. Rather, they have strived, year after year, to reach some agreement that would allow them to live at peace with their neighbors. One land-for-peace deal after another has been signed by Israel only to be spattered with the blood of the victims of suicide bombers roused by calls for intifada and jihad. Yes, the Israelis have protected themselves as much as possible from the onslaught of terrorists hell-bent, not on a two-state solution, but on driving the Jews into the Mediterranean or annihilating them completely.
It should be that one extends a hand to a rabid dog only once; the Jewish people have reached out again and again, and have been murdered for their attempts to reach some agreement with the Palestinians.
It is heartbreaking that these men, professors, presidents of organizations, ministers, and etc., are willing to offer Israel up as a sacrificial lamb, yet again. Compromise is deadly. The Church in Europe compromised during World War II. Many turned a blind eye as Jews by the millions were dragged away to the concentration camps and deadly ovens that awaited them. The Jewish people know that compromise cost them dearly; we dare not ask them to compromise what little security they now enjoy.
The writers of the letter speak of "historical honesty." If these learned men are going to be truly historically honest, surely they must admit that the Jews have every right to inhabit the land of their fathers, the covenant land given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by none other than God. How dare it be said by anyone that God's chosen people have no right to their inheritance.
Now, we have only to wait and see if the conference planned for the fall will parallel the Madrid Peace Conference of 1991. Will the Palestinians again be handed peace on a plate only to reject it by issuing yet another intifada, a la Arafat? A reconstituted Middle East roadmap would strip Israel of its right to defend itself, would give control of East Jerusalem to a terrorist organization, and would certainly move the terrorists bent on the destruction of Israel nearer their target.
The Old Testament prophet Zechariah wrote: "'If someone asks him, 'What are these wounds on your body?' he will answer, 'The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.'" If the signers of this letter to President Bush are friends of Israel, she has no need for enemies.
We concur with the sentiments expressed by Mike Evans & Jacob Prasch
US Lutherans consider Israel boycott
THE JERUSALEM POST By Haviv Rettig August 16, 2007
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), which has almost five million members in the US, took a step toward a partial boycott of Israeli goods at its 2007 Churchwide Assembly in Chicago last week.
On Saturday, the assembly, the church's top legislative authority, passed a resolution calling to work toward a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and urging investment in the Palestinian Authority.
The assembly then urged "consideration of refusing to buy goods or invest in activities taking place in Israeli settlements, and a review of other economic options," according to Bishop Christopher Epting, the presiding bishop's deputy for ecumenical and interfaith relations, quoted on the Episcopal Life Online Web site.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's own news service did not provide information on the content of that motion.
According to the Pondering Pastor blog, Saturday's debate on the resolution picked "up with an amendment to call upon the ELCA to underscore the call for economic initiatives by this church and its members in the ['Peace not Walls'] campaign. Such initiatives, in consultation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land could include purchasing of products [from] Palestinian providers and exploration of the feasibility of refusing to buy products produced in Israeli settlements. Also to be explored is the entire investment activity by this church."
The amendment passed by a vote of 385 to 368.
The assembly rejected a call for divestiture from Israel.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center blasted what it called the "mixed message" of the assembly - rejecting divestiture but "studying" a boycott.
"This marks the first time a mainline American Protestant church has moved toward a possible boycott of Israel," said the center's Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper. "While we note that the ELCA delegates have now joined the Presbyterian Church (USA) in explicitly rejecting divesting from companies doing business with Israel, they have decided to embrace one of the anti-Israel tactics adopted by United Kingdom trade unions and others in Europe. ELCA delegates would have made a stronger contribution to the quest for peace and justice in the Holy Land had they also raised the ransacking of Christian places of worship and [the] recent forced conversion of a Christian professor in Gaza, as well as the unrelenting targeting of Israeli civilian communities by Palestinian Kassam rockets."
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Book Embraced by Mainline Marred With Errors
CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) By Dexter Van Zile; August 23, 2007
In 2003, Pilgrim Press, a publishing house owned by the United Church of Christ, a mainline Protestant denomination, published Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told about Israel and the Palestinians. The book was written by Rev. Dr. Gary Burge, an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and New Testament Scholar at Billy Graham's alma mater - Wheaton College and Graduate School located in Wheaton, Illinois. This book, a reworking of Burge's first book Who Are God's People in the Middle East? What Christians are not being told about Israel and the Palestinians, published by Zondervan in 1993, received a sympathetic review from Christian Century, the house organ for mainline Protestantism in the U.S. Christianity Today, which caters to evangelical Christians in the U.S., gave the book an "award of merit" in its 2004 Book Awards.
Rev. Dr. Burge himself enjoys a large measure of credibility and visibility as a commentator about the Arab-Israeli conflict, in part because of the publication of Whose Land? Whose Promise? Burge serves as a member of the advisory board to the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation and as president of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding. He has addressed numerous mainline and progressive audiences including the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the Presbyterian Church (USA). (When the PC (USA) held a conference in February 2005 to explain and defend the actions of the denomination's 2004 General Assembly, which passed a divestment resolution targeting Israel, Burge was one of the speakers at the event.) He also spoke at "Challenging Christian Zionism: Theology, Politics, and the Palestine-Israel Conflict," sponsored by Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem.
In the years after its publication, peace and justice activists in mainline churches have invoked Whose Land? Whose Promise? as a reliable source of information about the Arab-Israeli conflict. The book itself is on Methodist and Lutheran booklists intended to inform mainline Protestants about the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Reform Church in America invokes Burge's research in its criticism of Christian Zionism.
Pauline Coffman, chair of the board for the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at North Park University in Chicago, described the book's interest to mainliners at a conference on Christian Zionism at the school in 2005:
If you are like me from the mainline church [ELCA] and didn't know much about Christian Zionism and this Armageddon talk, it's a good book to hand to one of your relatives and say "You ought to read this book." It's a wonderfully and popularly written introduction to the issues written from a personal point of view.
David Neff, editor of Christianity Today is another booster of the text, having written a laudatory blurb that appears on the book's back cover.
Christians must love modern Israel the way Isaiah and Amos loved their people and their land, passionately arguing for national righteousness and weeping over injustice and moral decay. Whose Land? Whose Promise? is an excellent introduction to the complications of geography, and geopolitics that have wounded and weakened both Israelis and Palestinians. But above all this book challenges us to love - and to love concretely.
In May 2007, Hank Hanegraaff, host of Bible Answer Man, a talk show broadcast on religious and conservative radio stations promoted and sold Burge's book over his website (equip.org) telling his listeners that it was "an incredible book that you need."
In reality, the book is a compendium of factual errors, misstatements, omissions and distortions that portray the modern state of Israel in an inaccurate manner.
The errors are egregious and numerous. For example:
Rev. Dr. Burge portrayed an essay by well-known commentator Daniel Pipes as offering a message exactly the opposite of what Daniel Pipes actually wrote.
Rev. Dr. Burge attributed a quote to David Ben-Gurion that had been exposed as false and fabricated several years before publication of Whose Land? Whose Promise? (The book the author cites as the source for the quote in question - a work book intended for high school-age students - does not include the quote in question.)
Rev. Dr. Burge falsely stated that Israeli-Arabs are denied membership in Israel's labor movement, when in fact, one of the books he cites reports that Israeli-Arabs had been allowed full membership in Israel's largest union - the Histadrut - since 1959.
Rev. Dr. Burge falsely reported that Israeli-Arabs are barred from the service in Israel's military.
Rev. Dr. Burge falsely reported that Israeli-Arabs are prohibited from joining Israel's major political parties.
Rev. Dr. Burge mis-characterized UN Resolution 242 as requiring Israeli withdrawal to its "pre-1967 borders" when in fact it does not.
Rev. Dr. Burge portrays Hezbollah as a "resistance organization" when in fact its political agenda and leaders clearly state the organization is dedicated to the destruction of Israel - a fact he omits in his description.
Rev. Dr. Burge portrays the founding of the PLO as an attempt to resolve the problem of Palestinian refugees created by the 1948 war when in fact its founding was motivated by a desire for the destruction of Israel.
In short, Burge's book is not an honest assessment of Israeli policies, but an inaccurate indictment. The fact that this book was brought to market by a publishing house that bills itself as an "ecumenical endeavor" of the United Church of Christ, a mainline denomination putatively committed to interfaith dialogue, calls into question the judgment of the people responsible for its publication. That the book was accepted and recommended as a primer on the Arab-Israeli conflict despite its egregious errors raises similar questions about church leaders, activists and intellectuals who embraced the book after its publication.
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Seeking and Pursuing Peace
THE CHRISTIAN AND MISSIONARY ALLIANCE, Update from Dr. Benedict - By Gary M. Benedict - August 16, 2007
I recently joined other evangelical leaders in signing a letter to President Bush concerning peace in the Middle East. The letter represents my personal conviction and does not represent the official position of The Alliance or the Board of Directors of the C&MA. The Christian and Missionary Alliance has been ministering in the Arab lands since 1890. For more than 110 years, we have been working among Israelis and Palestinians. We are seeking to fulfill Jesus' Commission to take the gospel to people in all nations.
The letter I signed encourages President Bush to continue to pursue a peaceful solution to the conflict in the region. We are instructed in the Bible to "seek peace and pursue it," yet I understand that the only true and lasting peace will come when the Prince of Peace returns. Please join me in praying for the peace of Jerusalem and that many will find the peace that passes all understanding through Jesus.
We share a common concern for peace in the region and the commitment to obey Jesus' command to spread the gospel to all people. May God be pleased to reach many and bring glory to our Lord.
Living the Call together,
Gary M. Benedict
To President Gary Benedict regarding his August 16 letter "Seeking and Pursuing Peace"
Dear President Gary M. Benedict,
I have just read your Neville Chamberlain "Peace in our Time" August 16, 2007 letter you have posted on your CMA National Website.
You have managed to insult and hold in contempt a host of CMA members who hold dearly to the belief in Scripture regarding Israel whose land is "Beulahed" or married to the Jews...it does not belong to ANYONE else....'what God has joined together let no man put asunder'. In your blueprint to defraud the Jews of their land you have poked a stick in the apple of God's eye and defamed the reputation of the CMA. But you will not get very far in your expedition. Your sin has found you out and I will personally see that you are exposed and marked to the pastors and members of the CMA as well as to the number of radio stations and print media discernment journals and newspapers I write for and whose programs I frequent. You have usurped the authority of the Lord God of Hosts Himself, who alone has the right to give and take away the land of Israel...not you sir! Furthermore, in your unholy alliance you have yoked with a number of other apostate and false teachers in that letter such as Dr. Joel Hunter. In signing this letter, Dr. Joel C. Hunter, along with The Christian & Missionary Alliance President Gary M. Benedict blueprint July 29, 2007 letter to President Bush to create a Palestinian State, have brought down God's curse on yourselves and the U.S. President, if the President heeds Mr. Benedict and his collaborator's counsel!
Source: Be Alert Newsletter, August 9, 2007, Moriel Ministries [ see here]
CMA Pastor Mike Phillips says the CMA is more consistent with the New Covenant, Mr. Benedict needs to read Jeremiah Chapter 31, Joel 3:2, Amos 9:15 and Psalm 83:12 which contradicts the Mr. Benedict's version of the New Covenant. CMA President Benedict and his 33 co-signers have also borne false witness against a host of Christians who defend Israel by stating they hold the view "Israel, right or wrong". In contrast it seems that CMA holds the view 'Palestinian state, right or wrong. The dispensational eschatology (that Mr. Benedict and Mike Phillips both mock) does not even remotely represent their views...no Christian defender of Israel I know of holds the view that Israel doing wrong should be condoned, and the particular dispensationalists (along with most dispensationalists) whom they attack in this letter also believe that only a remnant of one third of the Jews will be saved out of the Tribulation. They believe according to Zechariah 13:8-9, that God will destroy two thirds for their rebellion and rejection of Jesus Christ the Messiah. This time, also known as Jacob's Trouble, could hardly be called an "Israel, right or wrong" theology. So Mr. Benedict's published position of bearing false witness against a multitude of brothers in Christ is an abomination to the Lord. Mr. Benedict, in his intent to swindle Israel of out its land, and in capitulating to the terrorist tactics of the Palestinians, could not be better propaganda for both Christian Replacement Theology and Islamic Replacement Theology, joins Ed Smith in swindling the multitudes of saints of their money. Even if you or the President of the CMA does not believe Israel has a place in prophecy in the future, that does not condone rewarding terrorist tactics with granting them the land of another sovereign nation. Israel rightly gained this territory by defending itself when it was attacked FIRST.
These reprobate so-called Christian leaders now join the ranks of another traitor, Jimmy Carter and former Willow Creek pastor John Ortberg, who signed a letter to President Bush in 2002 imploring him to carve up the Land of Israel.
I further note that Dr. Joel Carter is an alliance with John Maxwell. The following document exposes why he is a false teacher.
I pray that you take heed and publicly repent for this action rather than issue an excuse. We