Chrislam? Christian Palestinianism??

Whenever we, as biblical Christians, think that things couldn’t possibly become more preposterous in Christendom, we need to call to mind the Scriptures that tell us that the time will come when Christians will not endure sound doctrine, and many will corrupt the Word of God (2 Timothy:4:3; 2 Corinthian 2:17; 2 Peter:3:16). The Apostle Paul further declares to Timothy that those who bring such doctrines shall turn people away from the truth to fables, that is, myths, of their own invention (2 Timothy:4:4; Titus:1:14). Today, such teachings and practices are increasing at a staggering rate—practices that range from the patently absurd to the insidious, even menacingly dangerous, both spiritually and physically.

Chrislam ? That attempt to combine Christianity and Islam in a common worship service would be a bad joke if it were a joking matter, but it’s far from it. As I understand it, this teaching began as a way to help stop the genocide and bring peace between Muslims and Christians in Africa. Sincere in its concern, no doubt, yet sincerely wrong. Muslims who truly follow the Qur’an, and Christians who believe what the Bible presents, regard Chrislam as a blasphemous contradiction of their beliefs.

Why? The differences, which are very apparent, cannot be reconciled. Allah is a false god of man’s making and is nothing like the God of the Bible, who sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the full penalty for the sins of the world (John:3:16). Allah has no son and condemns all those who believe that he does (Surah 18:4-6; 23:91). Allah is a singular entity (Surah 4:171); the God of the Bible is a Triune God: one God—three Persons. Isa (Jesus) of the Qur’an is not God; he is simply a prophet of Allah (4:171). The biblical Jesus is God who became a Man (John:1:1-4; John:10:33). Allah denigrates Jews (Surah 5:59-60); God refers to the children of Israelas the “apple of his eye” (Deuteronomy:32:9-10). The Hadith (the sayings of Muhammad allegedly received from Allah) declares that the Judgment Day of Allah won’t come until the rocks and trees cry out to Muslims to kill the Jews that are hiding behind them (Sahih Muslim Book 041, Number 6981-4). That is anti-Semitism at its worst.

The fundamental teachings of Islam and Christianity allow no compromise. Anyone can certainly believe or make up whatever he wants to about Islam or Christianity, but no one can make them compatible with each other on the basis of either one’s sacred texts. Nevertheless, that obstacle is not holding back the multitudes who are letting their desires rush ahead of reason. Furthermore, such irrationality is being exploited by those who have as their agenda: “Faith Shared.”

It seems that the apostasy (the undermining of biblical faith to prepare the way for the religion of the Antichrist) is developing at an exponential rate, and contributions are being made through a diversity of unbiblical agendas (see TBC 4/86, 5/90, 8/90, 1/95, 2/00, 2/05, 3/05, 9/08, 4/09, 2/08, 3/10). One that is particularly aggressive as well as vicious in its attack on biblical Christianity is referred to as “Christian Palestinianism” (CP). The term was coined by Paul Wilkinson in his book, For Zion’s Sake , which presents the biblical reasons why Christians need to support the restoration of the modern state of Israel, an endeavor known as “Christian Zionism.” The enemy of that effort is Christian Palestinianism, which includes far more than a concern over the plight of the so-called Palestinian people (see Dave Hunt, Judgment Day , Resource Pages).

Here are quotes from three anti -Christian Zionism sources that characterize the movement:

It is…a total misunderstanding of the story of salvation and a perversion of God’s plan for a Christian to want to re-establish a Jewish nation as a political entity….The Christian conscience should always discern what is the authentic vocation of the Jewish people and what is the other side of the coin, that is, the racist State of Israel. (The Institute for Palestine Studies, 1970)

We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as a false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation….With urgency we warn that Christian Zionism and its alliances are justifying colonization, apartheid and empire-building. (“The Jewish Declaration on Christian Zionism,” 2006)

The Christian Zionist worldview has cataclysmic consequences for a religiously integrated and lasting peace in Palestine/Israel.” (General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, 2007)

“Now, alas, we see apartheid in Israel.” This last quote in support of the Palestinian cause is from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who likens the condition to regimes of “Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin…” (Tutu, Foreword, Speaking the Truth , Michael Prior, ed., 2005).

In a booklet we offer titled Prophets Who Prophesy Lies in My Name—Christian Palestinianism and the Anti-Israel Crusade, Paul Wilkinson begins by quoting what the Lord spoke to Jeremiah regarding those who prophesied that which was contrary to His Word: “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD….I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied….Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies” (Jeremiah:23:16-32).

 The most shocking aspect of what Wilkinson writes is not just the fact that these modern-day “prophets” are teaching “that God has rejected Israel and replaced her with the Church” or that they are attempting to marshal forces through the church against Israel politically, economically, and theologically; it is that many are highly esteemed Christian leaders who profess to be evangelicals, i.e., Bible-believing Christians!

For the most part, these false “prophets” present a veneer of biblical teachings but are rarely challenged when they go off track because today’s evangelical Christianity has been nearly stripped of biblical discernment, thanks (or rather, no thanks) to decades of conditioning through seeker-sensitive, church-growth marketing tactics. That approach to drawing the “unchurched” and the unsaved into the church moved Bible teaching to the back burner, if it was implemented at all. Conviction of sin and other biblical teachings that might put off the new attendees was replaced with “positive messages” and entertainment for young and old alike. The pervasive dumbing down of biblical discernment was the result, and the body of Christ is reaping the tragic consequences today.

 For example, Wilkinson presents a litany of biblical errors taught by those promoting Christian Palestinianism that should be recognized easily and rejected by all believers: “All the basic elements of a Christian Zionist eschatology are reversed, so that the Bible is seen to be Christian, not Jewish, the land of the Bible is Palestine not Israel, the Son of God is a Palestinian not a Jew, the Holocaust is resented not remembered, 1948 is a catastrophe not a miracle, the Jewish people are illegal occupiers not rightful owners, and Biblical prophecy is a moral manifesto and not a signpost to the Second Coming” (Wilkinson, Prophets , p. 51).

Not every one of the Christian leaders who supports Christian Palestinianism would hold to all the beliefs mentioned above, but they all promote it in general and in opposition to what the Bible declares prophetically. The unofficial ringleader in this movement is an Anglican priest named Stephen Sizer, whose church is a member of the Evangelical Alliance and the Willow Creek Association of Churches (Lynne Hybels, the wife of Willow Creek Community Church’s pastor, is a supporter of Sizer. She rejects the modern state of Israelas a fulfillment of prophecy). Sizer’s first book, Christian Zionism: Road-map to Armageddon? , received numerous endorsements from evangelical leaders. Wilkinson notes that reviewers praised it as the “most important and most comprehensive on the subject to date,” and the “scholarly treatment to counteract the rabid prophecy pack” (italics added), condemning Christian Zionism as “pernicious,” a “totally unbiblical menace,” “a powerful force that encourages the destruction of millions of people,” and “one of the most dangerous and heretical movements in the world which fuels the Arab-Israeli conflict” ( Prophets, p. 10).

Sizer summarizes his beliefs presented in Christian Zionism : “There has only ever been one people of God through history—‘the Church’; All biblical covenants are subsumed under one covenant of grace; The Jewish people, as an ethnic nation, have fulfilled their role in history, which was to prepare the way for the Church/Christianity; The Church is the new Israel, enlarged through Christ to embrace all peoples.” Sizer’s second book, Zion’s Christian Soldiers?, contains a sermon by evangelical scholar John Stott, who characterizes Christian Zionism as “biblically anathema to the Christian faith.”

Although Sizer’s books are just a few among the proliferating titles that are in opposition to Israel, Zionism, and Christian Zionism, they are a signpost revealing the beliefs of those highly influential evangelicals who have endorsed his position and his writings. Who might they be? Hank Hanegraaff is known to thousands of evangelicals as the head of the biblical apologetics ministry Christian Research Institute and host of the national radio program, the Bible Answer Man .He writes, “Sizer’s Christian Zionism dramatically demonstrates how a politicized religious movement with a dubious pedigree is a prescription for disaster. From caricaturing Arabs to catalyzing Armageddon, Christian Zionist beliefs and behaviors are the antithesis of biblical Christianity” ( Prophets, p. 11).

Hanegraaff’s perspective is hardly recent. He formerly was associated with D. James Kennedy at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. Its seminary’s eschatology was clearly showing in 2002 when the faculty, along with its founder, chancellor, president, and Professor of Evangelism (Kennedy), issued “An Open Letter to Evangelicals and Other Interested Parties: The People of God, the Landof Israel, and the Impartiality of the Gospel.” This statement denied that the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (i.e., the Jews) have any special blessings or place in prophecy, much less any claim upon the landof Israel. It was initially signed by 71 evangelical leaders, among them R. C. Sproul and Michael S. Horton. This document declares:

Section VI: The inheritance promises that God gave Abraham…do not apply to any particular ethnic group, but to the church of Jesus Christ, the true Israel.... Section IX : The entitlement of any one ethnic or religious group to territory in the Middle East called the “Holy Land” cannot be supported by Scripture. In fact, the land promises specific to Israel[meaning the Church] in the Old Testament were fulfilled under Joshua.

Gilbert Bilezikian was one of the founders (with Bill Hybels) of WillowCreekCommunityChurch. This is his endorsement of Sizer’s book: “Some theologies, that make Israelcentral to the purposes of God and to the processes of history, reduce the Church to the status of concubine while Israelbecomes the Bride. Sizer’s work provides a timely reminder that, according to the New Testament, God’s people is to be identified on the basis of grace, not of race” ( Prophets , p.11).

Tony Campolo is a well-known Baptist pastor, evangelical youth conference speaker, and sociology professor at EasternUniversityin Pennsylvania. He lauds Sizer’s book as “A comprehensive survey describing how Christians have embraced a theological perspective that has encouraged justice for Jews but has also led to the oppression of Palestinian people and extreme hostility between Christians and Muslims worldwide” ( Prophets , p. 11). In another place, he writes, “The most serious threats to the well-being of the Palestinians in general, and to the Christian Palestinians in particular, come not from the Jews, but from Christian Zionists here in the United States. With this theology, called ‘Dispensationalism,’ they argue that according to their interpretation of Genesis:15:18-21, the Holy Landshould belong exclusively to the Jews. They contend that all of this land is what was promised to the seed of Abraham….”

Brian McLaren, the most influential writer of the Emerging Church Movement, whose background is Plymouth Brethren, has obviously abandoned the faith of his early days, as he declares “the need to confront the terrible, deadly, distorted, yet popular theologies associated with Christian Zionism and deterministic dispensationalism,” which “use a bogus end-of-the-world scenario to create a kind of death-wish for World War III, which—unless it is confronted more robustly by the rest of us—could too easily create a self-fulfilling prophecy” ( Prophets , p. 42).

Former president Jimmy Carter may seem out of place among the evangelical theologians presented here who support Christian Palestinianism, but that’s not the case. His book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid , embodies all that the others mentioned above stand for in their opposition to Israeland the Word of God—and then some. Furthermore, he will have the opportunity to spread his spurious beliefs among even more evangelicals, since he recently signed a three-book deal with the evangelical publisher Zondervan.

These false teachings are neither obscure nor new. Men such as Augustine (AD 354-430), Martin Luther (1483-1546), and John Calvin (1509-1564) have made substantial contributions to such unbiblical beliefs. What is new is the incredible rate at which they are being received. When Jesus was asked by His disciples about the days prior to His return, He characterized it as a time of great deception (Matthew 24). We are seeing just that in our day, and we therefore need to heed His words. Paul’s warning to the Ephesian elders (Acts:20:28-31) also applies: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” The chief preventive measure against being caught up in the increasing deception of our day is a disciplined life of studying and living out the Word of God. Lord, help us to that end.       TBC

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