Plan for 50,000 Nigerian Missionaries to “Overrun Enemy Territory” in North Africa

Nigerian evangelicals have an ambitious plan for North Africa, as reported in the Lausanne World Pulse:

Recently the Nigerian evangelical mission movement announced its plan to mobilize fifty thousand Nigerians over the next fifteen years for its Operation Samaria, which seeks to take the gospel through the North African Islamic nations back to Jerusalem.

Aptly tagged Vision 50:15, the project seeks to include the entire North African, Arabian Peninsula until the gospel gets back to where it came from—Jerusalem.

Although the report is recent, the decision was made back in November, and several high-profile US missionary organisations were involved (links in original):

More than one hundred top missions leaders (representing eighty agencies, churches and organizations) who are actively involved in recruiting, training and sending missionaries from Nigeria affirmed this vision during the 3 November 2005 Nigeria Missions Executive Congress. Also at the congress were: Greg Parsons, general director of the US Center for World Missions; Gary Hipp of Mission Moving Mountains, and a member of Interdenominational Foreign Missions Association (IFMA) board; Dan Rabe, executive vice chair of New Tribe Missions; Bill Sunderland of visionSynergy International; and representatives from seven foreign missions serving in Nigeria.

This “Back to Jerusalem” idea is also very popular among some Chinese evangelicals, who believe that they will spread west on a similar mission. Christianity Today noted last year:

The vision to bring the gospel from China along the Silk Road and “back to Jerusalem” originated before 1949.

“Back to Jerusalem” is now a concept adopted by numerous groups, some of which are in China and some of which are abroad. Author Paul Hattaway and several prominent house-church Christians coauthored a 2003 book outlining their controversial goal of sending 100,000 Chinese missionaries to 51 nations.

The Nigerian version, however, is decidedly militant. Back to the World Pulse:

We cannot get back to Jerusalem without:

  • Facing the enemy eye to eye. This vision calls for holy confrontation. The nations between Nigeria and Jerusalem are known to have overtly set themselves against the Lord and his anointed.
  • Overrunning the enemy territory. We must look into this vision “like a lamb in the midst of wolves.
  • Having a readiness to die. This requires a reappraisal of our theology of suffering. This vision will query and question the laid-back theology of ease that has characterized the Nigerian Church over the last few years.

That was pretty much the line taken by the Pentecostal revivalist Reinhard Bonnke, whose aggressive rhetoric was blamed in part for triggering a riot in northern Nigeria in 1991. Christianity Today again:

Rou Jarvis, a Southern Baptist missionary in Lagos, says Bonnke is controversial among many Nigerians. “He’s very confrontational with Islam, and that’s not good. If I’m going to win someone to Christ, I’m not going to tell them first that their faith is wrong.”

Jarvis says when some of his native friends learned that Bonnke was coming to Lagos, they were concerned. “They were afraid that riots would follow,” he says.

One wonders what the effect of 50,000 Nigerian evangelicals on a similar mission across Muslim lands might be…

From Manic Miners to End Times Video Game Bonanza

Talk to Action has been running a remarkable series of essays by Jonathan Hutson on the new Left Behind: Eternal Forces video game, in which members of the Christian “Tribulation Force” roam a chaotic New York trying to convert non-Christians, or, if that fails, apparently blowing them away. The subject has now had extensive media coverage, including a report in the Los Angeles Times in which a journalist took on the role of Satan in a game against Left Behind Games President Jeffrey Frichner:

The good thing was, however, that as Satan, I of course had the United Nations on my side. As my peacekeeping Hummer and some of my followers rolled down Sixth Avenue, the Christians outflanked me and started firing, immediately taking out several of my nurses.

The apocalypse, I was learning, was a good excuse for Christians to just go nuts and unload a lot of pent-up stuff.

Hutson noted particularly the presence of Mark Carver on the advisory board of Left Behind Games; Carver is the international director of Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven” ministry. Several days after Hutson’s first piece appeared, Carver resigned from his position at the company. A number of conservative Christians are among those angry with the game, and Christian attorney Jack Thompson is lobbying Christian Right leaders to repudiate Tyndale House, which publishes the Left Behind novels:

“My words cannot fully describe what a betrayal this has been by Tyndale,” Mr. Thompson wrote in a letter dated June 9, 2006, that he faxed to Mr. [James] Dobson, “not just to me but to all of the Christian families out there who are trying to protect our kids from the corrosive, violent effects of violent media. A Christian organization has now become one of the mental molesters of minors for money.”

“What is more,” Mr. Thompson continued, “we as a nation are involved in a war on terror, and this game gives radical Islamists two arguments: that we indeed do export pop culture sewage to the rest of the world, and we Christians entertain ourselves with the notion of killing infidels, now in a ‘Christian game’.”

One wonders, though, why Thompson is quite so surprised: the final Left Behind novel, Glorious Appearing, ends in a bloodbath, in which even the horses used by the anti-Christ’s armies get massacred by a wrathful Jesus (as I blogged at the time):

Men and women soldiers and horses seemed to explode where they stood…It was as if the very words of the Lord had superheated their blood, causing it to burst through their veins and skin…Even as they struggled, their own flesh dissolved, their eyes melted and their tongues disintegrated.

Left Behind Games was founded in 2001 “for the purpose of developing games based upon the popular Left Behind Series”. Earlier this year it was acquired by Bonanza Gold, Inc., which has now changed its name to that of its subsidiary. Talk to Action links to a SEC document with further details:

On February 7, 2006, Bonanza Gold, Inc. (sometimes the “Registrant” or “Bonanza”), acquired Left Behind Games Inc. as a subsidiary pursuant to a Share Exchange Agreement dated as of January 26, 2005. Left Behind Games Inc. now accounts for all of our operations. Also, pursuant to the Share Exchange Agreement, Troy A. Lyndon, Jeffrey S. Frichner, Thomas H. Axelson, respectively the chief executive officer, president & secretary and chief financial officer of our new subsidiary Left Behind Games Inc., were appointed to our board of directors and named as our chief executive officer, president & secretary and chief financial officer, respectively. Concurrently with Messrs. Lyndon’s, Frichner’s, and Axelson’s appointment as all of our officers, Mr. Robert E. Kistler resigned as our president and treasurer, and Hobart Teneff resigned as our vice president. In addition, Messrs. Kistler, Teneff and Terrence Dunne resigned as our directors.

The new board is profiled on the Left Behind Games website, while a list of shareholders as of Feb 2006 can be seen here. The North County Times dug into Bonanza a bit more back in January:

Founded as a mining company, Bonanza exists on paper but has been inactive since 1996, according to SEC filings. It’s registered at the home of its chief executive, Robert Kistler, who couldn’t be reached for comment this week…Since the merger was announced, shares of Bonanza Gold have quadrupled in over-the-counter trading, rising to $1.10 from 28 cents on Thursday. That price values the company at about $8.1 million.

Further background was provided by Business Wire:

Bonanza Gold, Inc. incorporated under the laws of the State of Washington on April 3, 1961 as Vermillion Gold, Inc. Bonanza was organized primarily for the purpose of exploring for, acquiring and developing mineral properties with a potential for production. Bonanza had been involved in the acquisition and exploration of various mining properties, located in the states of Alaska, Montana and Idaho. Exploration efforts were unsuccessful and none of these mining properties produced any commercial ore. Bonanza abandoned its remaining mining claims and the related development costs in 1996. Consequently, since 1996, Bonanza has been inactive.

That information appears to have come from this somewhat dull 2004 SEC document. One of the directors who resigned from Bonanza, VP Hobart Teneff, is a controversial figure, for reasons explained in an undated story from the Pacific Northwest Inlander:

The president and CEO for Sterling [Mining] is Frank Duval, and Hobart Teneff is a director. They co-founded Pegasus Gold Corp. in 1974, the company that owned and operated the Zortman-Landusky Gold Mines in north-central Montana until its bankruptcy in 1998, a move that left state taxpayers with millions of dollars in cleanup and reclamation costs.

In 1988, the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged Duval and Teneff with violations of SEC laws during their tenure with Pegasus. The two men consented to an U.S. Court injunction permanently enjoining them from future violations. The Zortman-Landusky mines are the poster children, says [activist Cesar] Hernandez, for failed federal and state regulatory and enforcement efforts to protect both the environment and local communities from irresponsible mining.

But this is a digression…Yet another SEC document explains the current structure of what is now Left Behind Games:

Our ability to develop and market our video game products depends entirely upon our license from the publisher of the Left Behind series. On October 11, 2002, White Beacon secured the license from the publisher of the Left Behind series to use the copyrights and trademarks relating to the Left Behind series to develop video game products. This license has been sublicensed to Left Behind Games in entirety. The license requires Left Behind Games to pay royalties and other fees on an ongoing basis to the publisher of the Left Behind series and to meet certain product development, manufacturing and distribution milestones.

This paragraph is part of a whole list of “Risks Relating to the Video Game Industry”, which include possible future government regulations and an economic slump should there be terrorist attacks in the USA. For some reason, however, “Loss of personnel and market due to Rapture” is not listed as one of the possible business risks.

As for White Beacon:

White Beacon is owned by Troy A. Lyndon, our chief executive officer and Jeffrey S. Frichner, our president.

Also:

Operations expanded beyond our facilities in Ukraine to include three additional offices, in the short term, in Romania.

Romania! Home to Nicolae Carpathia, the anti-Christ of the Left Behind series! Seriously, though, this is a reference to LB Games Ukraine, LLC, a management company in which Lyndon is a majority shareholder (Lyndon also outsources to various other countries)

However, Left Behind Games are now rejecting claims of gratuitous violence and bad taste. Back to the NC Times:

“There’s lots of killing in the Bible,” President Jeffrey Frichner said. “The differentiator between our game and some of the games that focus on killing in the (mainstream gaming) market is that our game doesn’t focus on gratuitous killing.”

Left Behind Games’ spokesperson is Derek Asato, who offered a similar defence to the Washington Times:

“The Bible says you do not have to stand there and let someone kill you,”

This foray into Biblical hermeneutics is a new departure for Asato, who undertakes PR work for a number of software firms (as well as NASA) at the Bohle Company. Lyndon himself ventures that

“Jesus did not say you have to let yourself be a punching bag or murder victim”

Neo-Pentecostal Church in Palestinian Refugee Camp Attacked

ASSIST takes us to Jericho:

A building housing an Evangelical Christian ministry in Jericho was recently torched by Arab neighbors, apparently Muslims angered over the group’s religious activities in the ancient biblical city.

The Living Bread Church, located in a Palestinian refugee camp on the edge of town, was deliberately set on fire in early June by neighbors opposed to the ministry…The fire marked the third time the building has been set ablaze in the past three years. Dunham arrived in Jericho three years ago to start a local church and has seen dozens of Muslims convert to Christianity despite the threats.

Converts to Christianity tend to have a bit of a rough time of it on both sides of the Green Line in Israel/Palestine: I’ve previously noted the persecution of Messianic (i.e. Christian) Jews in various towns within Israel proper. However, the ascendancy of Hamas within the Palestinian Authority has proven particularly alarming for certain Christian groups working in the West Bank and Gaza: the YMCA, which strongly supports Palestinian rights, was recently forced to withdraw from the town of Qalqiliya following Islamist threats and a bookshop belonging to the Palestinian Bible Society was forced to close for several weeks.

The Living Bread International Church appears to be neo-Pentecostal, and claims to be converting Palestinian Muslims to Christianity through supernatural demonstrations. The church’s website annotates some photos thus:

The boy in green had his eyes healed by the Lord in prayer. The father of ten had his incurable eye disease healed immediately by the Lord, after he personally questioned the power of Jesus Christ.

The church is run by Karen Dunham, formerly of Florida. She is described on one religious website as

…a single mum doing a work in the Palestine refugee camps in Jericho and she is the only work there feeding the poor and clothing them, she has gain such respect that she has full support of the Israeli army whom give her aid to pass to the people. She has full access to the senior military personnel and can phone them by cell phone anytime she needs assistance and has any problems at check points.

…She also has a powerful gift to preach. Karen was called up by the Israeli army and has been offered the opportunity to take some believers to the point of the crossing of the Jordan; the actual place where Jesus was baptized and the prophet parted the waters, this is in a military controlled zone and is not open to tourists…

One would think that such apparent closeness with an occupying army might annoy the Palestinian locals; however, another site claims that

Her training and ministry has been so successful that she is loved by both the Israeli army and Arabs [many US evangelical sites cannot bring themselves to use the word “Palestinians” – RB]. She has been asked to work in all 25 camps because of her great success, and she has already made a great impact in the area of people resisting terrorism where she works.

Dunham is not the only neo-Pentecostal missionary working in Jericho. The Jesus Vision, a site that claims that Muslims are converting to Christianity following visions of Jesus (make of it what you will), has the

One of the significant works of God in the Middle East is that of Pastor Terry MacIntosh and his volunteers at the Jesus House of Prayer in Jericho. The spiritual events that continually occur through this bold prayer center resemble another chapter from the Book of Acts.

…Even though Hamas terrorists opposed us over loudspeakers, the Palestinian police restrained them and protected our team with their armed presence. One hundred and forty-four seekers received copies of the “Jesus” film after the event.

The Jesus House of Prayer also helped us to conduct one of our evangelistic outreaches in a large Bedouin tent in the Jericho City of Palms. Pastor Terry also organized a March for Jesus in Jericho—truly a “first”!– with a Jesus parade and Biblical banners.

Philippines Health Committee Chair Backs Korean Faith Healer

(correction added, thanks)

ASSIST Ministries reports:

More than 500 physicians from 26 countries gathered June 1-2 for a conference at the Grand Convention Center, Cebu City, the Philippines, in which medical doctors from around the world presented scientific evidence of divine healing.

…Delegates were delighted hear of a congratulatory message for the conference sent by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, President of the Philippines and also from Francisco T. Duque III, M.D., Msc., the country’s Secretary of Health.

Keynote addresses were delivered by the Hon. Antonio Yapha, Jr., M.D., Chairman of the Committee on Health and a member of the Philippines’ House of Representatives, and the Rev. Bishop Romeo Corpuz Sr., President of All Creation Global Network Ministries, Inc.

The conference was organised by the World Christian Doctors Network, which, despite its grandiose title, exists exclusively to promote the ministry of the Korean faith healer Lee Jae-Rock. I’ve discussed Jae-Rock’s dubious claims to supernatural power – as well as his somewhat eccentric theological beliefs, which have led to his expulsion from the Korean Christian Association – several times before on this blog: see here and here.

Jae-Rock has been associated with the Philippines for several years. In 2001 he led a leadership conference, where he received gushing praise from Arroyo:

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo sent her special advisor, Secretary Agelito M. Sarimento with her welcoming address at the opening  ceremony. In a written statement, Arroyo said, “Let me commend your  organization, under the spiritual guidance of Rev. Dr. Lee Jae-Rock, for its continuing commitment in preaching the five-fold gospel to both believers and unbelievers all over the world. In this ever-modernizing environment, we Christians should help share to all peoples of the world our Lord Jesus Christ’s good news.”

However, according to a religious website called The Bereans, some Christians came to believe that they had been “deceived”, and Jae-Rock did not enjoy the endorsement of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches.

Interestingly, this latest conference was also addressed by David Prentice of the Family Research Council, and it was puffed beforehand by the American Family Association’s Agape Press (which has formerly denounced the US neo-Pentecostal grouping known as Every Nation as a “cult”). It is most curious to see such organisations work with a man who – among much else – claims that his spiritual power can be proven by photographs in which he appears with a UFO, and that he has “sinless blood” thanks to a blood transfusion.

Satires Annoy Iranian and Lebanese Muslim Leaders

Interfax-Religion reports that cartoons poking fun at the late Khomeini and other Iranian leaders and published in Azerbaijan has provoked a strong response from the Iranian embassy in that country

“On the eve of the anniversary of Imam Khomeini’s death, which is grieved by millions of people across the world, U.S. and Israeli proxies in neighboring Moslem Azerbaijan committed an act of disrespect for Imam Khomeini, the Islamic Revolution leader Ayatollah Khamenei, and former and current Iranian state figures. The Iranian embassy absolutely condemns such actions,” the embassy said in a statement circulated on Monday.

A poor translation of other parts of the statement can be seen here. Apparently the cartoons were produced in retaliation against an Iranian cartoon that compared ethnic Azeris in Iran to cockroaches – that incident led to rioting, and to the newspaper concerned being banned (the situation of Iranian Azeris can be read about in this interesting article). The report ends on a sinister note:

The embassy thanked the Azeri authorities for acting promptly to prevent a repetition of similar occurrences and said that most Iranians expected the culprits to be punished.

This, of course, is also just months after an Iranian newspaper announced a competition to find the best cartoons that mocked the Holocaust. Last December, MERIA published an academic article on Islam in Azerbaijan, and noted some of the differences with Iran:

One startling point about the shallowness of the Islamic revival in Azerbaijan is that it is probably the only country in the Muslim world where the quota allocated by the government of the Saudi Arabia for a Hajj pilgrimage remains unclaimed. Vacant places are resold to pilgrims from the Chechen Republic and Dagestan. In 1998, the king of Saudi Arabia offered to cover the expenses of 200 Azerbaijani pilgrims. However, there were some ardent atheists among those who accepted and went, and these individuals continued to spread anti-Islamic views after their return…

Another indicator of the unique Azerbaijani view of Islam concerns women’s rights. Nayereh Tohidi, a researcher from California State University, describes the attitude of the average Azeri woman towards veiling. “In June 1992, when a delegation of 22 Islamist women headed by Zehra Mostafavi, daughter of Khomeini, visited Baku, Azerbaijan, wrapped in heavy chadors in the heat of summer, they were met with stares and disdainful reactions everywhere they went. On one occasion, a middle-aged Azeri woman asked, ‘Do not you feel hot under this heavy black garment in this hot summer?’ ‘But the fire in hell is much hotter if one fails to follow Allah’s orders,'” one of the Iranians replied. Baffled by her response the Azeri woman mumbled, “What a cruel God you have! The Allah that I know is much kinder to women.”

Meanwhile, Lebanese supporters of Hizbullah are enraged at a comedian getting a few laughs out of their leader Sayed Hassan Nasrallah. Arab American News.com reports:

Thousands of Shi’a Muslims enraged by a TV comedy that mocked the leader of Hizbullah took to the streets of southern Beirut on Thursday night, burning car tires and blocking roads, police and witnesses said…A Hizbullah broadcast said the TV show had “insulted the symbol of the resistance and its leader.”… “This program is part of a campaign aimed at liquidating the resistance,” Hizbullah MP Ali Ammar told reporters during the overnight protests.

Nothing worse than a public figure who can’t take a joke…

Hal Lindsey Discovers Al-Qaeda Leader Living in France!

And while I’m on the subject of Christian Zionism, “prophecy expert” Hal Lindsey drops a bombshell at WorldNetDaily:

A 40-minute videotape released last week by an al-Qaida leader living in France exhorted French Muslims to rise up and punish France for what Anas al Liby calls France’s disrespect for Islam.

That would be Sheikh Abu Yahia al-Libi, also known as Mohammed Hassan. Various other news outlets covered the story, but only Hal includes the vital bit of “intelligence” that al-Libi was living in France. As far as the rest of the world was concerned, al-Libi’s whereabouts have in fact been unknown since he escaped from US custody in Afghanistan last year. The video appeared on the internet, and was produced by al-Sahab, al-Qaeda’s propaganda arm. This shadowy organisation was discussed in the Guardian last September, after a video made by one of the July 7 London bombers came to light:

Video editing and copying facilities have been discovered in raids on militant hide-outs in Pakistan, Iraq and several other Middle Eastern countries. Digital technology means an expert can receive images by email that can be used to compile a tape on a laptop computer of broadcast quality. Nobody actually knows where the tape was filmed or made. In its amorphous structure, as much idea as organisation, al-Sahab resembles al-Qaeda itself.

Well, obviously it was made in Paris. Just ask Hal. But other wingers have taken up the baton: at Atlas Shrugs, an outraged Pamela demands:

Why don’t they throw him out?

(She means al-Libi, not Lindsey) But here’s another question: why doesn’t the USA ask for al-Libi to be extradited from France? Could it be…that he doesn’t in fact live there, and Hal jumped to conclusions based on his xenophobia and shoddy journalistic standards? However, one of Pamela’s commentators is a true believer:

You know, these days Hal Lindsey does a lot of good reporting. Like, how is it that a guy with a weekly column broke this story? One would think this would have come out of Al Jazeera and then filtered through the blogs, but no, Hal Lindsey broke it.

But, whenever I link to Hal Lindsey, I never mention him by name, because he is so tainted by all his past predictions and positions.

Hal Lindsey’s “taints” are indeed of scarlet. Everyone knows about his famously duff predictions (The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon etc), but let’s not forget the other sins, such as:

a) His continued support of the bogus “Satanic survivor”, Lauren Stratford, after she had been exposed as a liar and her book withdrawn. Lindsey arranged for Stratford to have an alternative publisher, and launched attacks on the Christian journalists who had exposed her (Stratford eventually decided to reinvent herself as a Jewish Holocaust survivor instead) – see my blog entry here for further details.

b) His attempts to get his readers to invest in firm called Zion Oil & Gas. Lindsey neglected to mention a fact that was exclusively revealed by me – that his cousin was a major shareholder with the company.

And while I’m not the censorious sort, some might wonder how a fundamentalist Christian evangelist justifies no fewer than four marriages.

(Hat tip: LGF Watch)

Jewish Author Celebrates Christian Zionism

A new book by a former chief of staff to Arlen Specter makes bold claims about the influence of Christian Zionism over the current US administration:

Evangelical Christians have become a powerful pro-Israel force in America. In fact, when Republicans hold the balance of power in Washington, evangelical Christians become the most powerful pro-Israel force in America. Evangelical leaders speak to the White House and Congress as the representatives of the largest single voting block within the Republican Party.

The author is David Brog, and his book – Standing with Israel: Why Christians Support the Jewish State – is a call for his fellow American Jews to stop worrying and to learn to love evangelical Christians:

Something truly extraordinary is taking place here and now. American Christianity is being taken over by righteous Gentiles. Unlike during the Holocaust, the Jews aren’t being abandoned to their fate. Across America, church by church, one by one, Christians are putting on the yellow star. They are standing with the Jews. This time, they are determined not to leave the Jews or their nation, Israel, to fight alone.

And if Christian Zionists are “putting on the yellow star”, we must assume that Christian critics of Israel are putting on the swastika. But Brog’s “discovery” is hardly a new theme, of course – Merill Simon’s Jerry Falwell and the Jews made much the same pitch to the same target readership back in 1984, while Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s enthusiasm for Pentecostals was noted on this blog some time ago. Brog’s book also has a foreword by John Hagee, the powerful pro-Israel megachurch pastor who announced his latest lobbying strategy a couple of months ago:

Televangelist John Hagee told Jewish community leaders over the weekend that the 40 million evangelical Christians in the United States support Israel and that he plans to utilize this power to help Israel by launching a Christian pro-Israel lobby.

…Hagee – the founder and senior pastor of the evangelical Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, that claims an active membership of more than 18,000 – said the lobby’s activities would be a “political earthquake.”

Brog’s website carries extracts from his book, as well as some interviews. Here’s his take on Christian Zionist motivations:

Personally, most Christian Zionists opposed the Oslo process on the grounds that they did not trust Arafat as a partner for peace. Their concerns, of course, were eventually validated.

(Brog is Ehud Barak’s cousin, by the way)

They now tend to oppose relinquishing more of the West Bank to a Hamas-run government that would view such concessions as a victory for terror and likely use such land as a base from which to further attack Israel. In addition, a biblical basis for opposing such concessions no doubt bolsters such practical concerns.

Yet despite their opposition and private criticism, most Christian Zionists have also recognized that it is inappropriate to sit here in America and actively oppose decisions made by a democratically-elected Israeli government.

Well, that’s so to some extent – Pat Robertson’s claim that Ariel Sharon had been struck down by God in vengeance over the Gaza withdrawal was repudiated by many of his fellow evangelists, and Herb Zweibon’s claim (see here) that Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank or Gaza would lead to Christian disillusionment and “anti-Semitism in America like you have never seen” has so far failed to come to pass. It’s also true that some evangelical leaders, such as Ted Haggard, support Israel primarily for political reasons rather than because of specific beliefs about the end of the world. But to reduce “prophecy-based” support for Israeli expansionism to being a “bolster” for “practical concerns” downplays a very influential trend in American evangelical Christian thinking. And the extent to which Christian Zionists intend to keep out of Israeli politics is debatable – Pastor James Vineyard of Oklahoma spent more than a million dollars opposing the Gaza withdrawal, while one Christian Zionist group has actually moved into the Jewish settlement of Beit El in the West Bank in solidarity with the Israeli far right.

Brog also discusses Jews and Judaism in evangelical theology:

Yet just because evangelicals believe that Judaism has been “perfected” by the coming of Christ does not mean that they view the Jews as having been superseded or cast aside. Because most evangelicals reject replacement theology, they believe that the Jews are still in covenant in God and still have a central role to play in God’s plan for humanity. The Jews are, in a sense, seen as allies of the Church in bringing about the salvation of humanity, and each has a distinctive role to play.

Thus the significance of the rejection of replacement theology is not that it acknowledges the truth of Judaism so much as it acknowledges an ongoing role for the Jews. The most dangerous aspect of replacement theology has thus been removed. As Christian scholar Franklin Littell has noted, “To teach that a people’s mission in God’s providence is finished, that they have been relegated to the limbo of history, has murderous implications which murderers will in time spell out.”

So-called “replacement theology”, or “supercessionism”, argues that the promises supposedly made by God to the ancient Israelites have now passed on to the church. This belief accords with traditional Christian exclusivity and universalism: Christianity is supposed to be the one true religion for everyone, and so Judaism no longer serves any divine purpose; God works through Christians, rather than through a chosen race. As the well-known British evangelical minister John Stott puts it:

according to the apostles, the Old Testament promises are fulfilled in Christ and in the international community of Christ. A return to Jewish nationalism would seem incompatible with this New Testament perspective of the international community of Jesus. (1)

This doesn’t mean that Christians today have to oppose the modern state of Israel, but it does mean that the state is purely a part of secular history and can therefore be subject to same sort of criticism as any other country without fear of angering God. The likes of Hagee and Haggard, meanwhile, believe that Genesis 9:25 (God’s promise to Abraham that “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you”) means that any opposition to Israel is opposition to God. US congressman Mark Souder explained this to PBS in 2004:

The fundamentalist tradition that I am out of says, “Stand with Israel at all costs.” It’s one of the ways you measure, just like abortion: Do I understand that Christians are grafted on? That God gave Israel to the Jews?…So when you come to a question like the [separation] wall, I would prefer, just personally, that Israel handle things a little bit differently from time to time. But the bottom line is, they’re God’s chosen people. He’s going to stand with them…they’re God’s chosen people. And he gave, in the Old Testament, Israel to the Jews, more or less, right or wrong.

“Replacement theology” is also a stick to beat other Christians: if unconditional support for Israel is predicated on a philo-Semitic theology, then Christian criticism of Israel must be due to a theology that is anti-Semitic. The fact that some Palestinian Christians, finding their own Bible being used against them by Christian Zionists, have stressed the position taken by Stott, is used as further evidence of Jew-hatred (see this Melanie Phillips article).

However, the alternative scheme laid out by Brog is surely less than satisfactory: few conservative Christians accept the “dual covenant” view that Judaism and Christianity are equally valid, and Jerry Falwell recently repudiated reports that he subscribed to such a belief (and the more liberal mainline Christian view that has an appreciation for world religions in general would be off the scale). Back in 1962, a Pentecostal minister named William Hull attempted to save the soul of Adolf Eichmann through several prison visits, but his vision of a redeemed Eichmann entering heaven while six million Jews were consigned to hell was not generally well received by the public. I don’t know if Hull was a Christian Zionist, but this remains the standard conservative evangelical view of salvation, even if it appears tasteless to express it in such a way. Christian Zionism indeed gives Jews “a central role to play in God’s plan for humanity”, but they remain lost if they die as non-Christians. Souder maintains that there is no need to convert the Jews, since Jesus will do that when he returns to the earth – but that ignores Jews who pass away in the interim. If Jews are indeed “allies of the Church in bringing about the salvation of humanity”, as Brog describes the Christian Zionist position, they appear to have a very poor end of the deal.

And there’s a flipside to the argument that Brog quotes from Littell: if giving the Jews and Israel a continuing role in the Christian narrative means they are less likely to be murdered, where does that leave Jews who have no wish to have a religious mission imposed on them? I’ve heard Christian Zionists say that anti-Semitism is God’s way of persuading reluctant Jews to return to Israel. Gershom Gorenberg’s analysis of John Hagee’s views on the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin provides disturbing reading:

Hagee…starts by praising Rabin’s brilliance and personal warmth. But then he gives the backdrop to Rabin’s murder. Israel, he says, is divided between religious Jews who think they have a “holy deed to the land” and Jews who “put more faith in man than in the God of their fathers.”…And, he says, Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, belonged to the religious side of Israel. From there, readers are left to draw their own conclusions. (2)

Littell’s perspective is also alarming for the Palestinians, who appear to be an obstacle to the “central role” ordained by God for the Jews. As I’ve noted before, the Christian Zionist author Mike Evans argues that the only reason Arabs exist at all was because Abraham disobeyed God by impregnating Hagar. Does Brog have anything to say about the “murderous implications” of this?

But these are mere theological abstractions, and Brog is concerned with two practical concerns: getting evangelicals and Jews to work closer together, and reinforcing among Christians the idea that a lack of support for Israel is a form of anti-Semitism.

******

(1) John Stott, ‘Foreword,’ in The Land of Promise, edited by Philip Johnston and Peter Walker, (Downers Grove, Illinois, Inter-Varsity, 2000), pp. 10-11. Some sources incorrectly attribute this quote to Stephen Sizer, a British Anglican cleric who supports Palestinian rights.

(2) Gershom Gorenberg, The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount (Oxford University Press, USA, 2002), p. 165.