Palestinianism and the anti-Israel Crusade
"We have been taught for centuries that the Jews are the Chosen People. We do not believe anymore that they are the Chosen People of God, since now we have a new understanding of that Choseness."
This quote was taken from Elias Chacour's article, "Reconciliation and Justice: Living with the Memory" in NaimAteek and Michael Prior's book Holy Land, Hollow Jubilee: God, Justice and the Palestinians (London: Melisende, 1999, p. 112). It sums up how Christian Palesintianists misunderstand and misinterpret what the Bible so clearly teaches about God's prophetic purposes for Israel, and how they, in turn, misrepresent the Holy One of Israel as a covenant-breaking God.
Elias Chacour is the Vatican-approved Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop of Israel and one of the most influential Arabs in Israel. He is greatly esteemed within the Christian Palestinianist camp. His first book, Blood Brothers, was published in 1983 and tells the story of his childhood in Upper Galilee before the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948. The influence of this book on Evangelicals in the West cannot be overstated. According to Donald Wagner, Blood Brothers "touched the hearts and opened the minds of thousands of evangelicals concerning Christians in the Holy Land."
In the same year that Blood Brothers appeared, Colin Chapman, a former lecturer in Islamic Studies at the Near East School of Theology in Beirut, published one of the most influential, and damaging, books on the subject of Israel, entitled Whose Promised Land? (1983). British journalist and author Melanie Philips has aptly described it as "a poisonous travesty that uses theology to delegitimise Israel." By contrast, Hank Hanegraaff is among the many Evangelical leaders indebted to Chapman, whose book he quotes extensively in The Apocalypse Code.
In more recent times, Christian Palestianianists have tried, and failed, to rebrand their "replacement theology" as "fulfillment theology." Their basic assertion is summed up in Colin Chapman's quote: "[The New Testament writers] ceased to look forward to a literal fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies of a return to the land and a restored Jewish state. The one and only fulfillment of all the promises and prophecies was already there before their eyes in the person of Jesus" (Colin Chapman, Whose Promised Land?, p. 189).
[Chapman claims that] Jesus fulfilled all the promises relating to the return of the Jewish people to the Land. By "fulfilled," Chapman means that everything spoken of by the Old Testament prophets in relation to the land and people of Israel was spiritually fulfilled 2,000 years ago in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The nation of Israel thus holds no further prophetic significance, since the Church is "the new Israel."
In Jesus and the Land (2010), Gary Burge gives the following interpretation of Acts:1:6-8 and Galatians:6:16 respectively:
Jesus does not envision a restoration of Israel per se but instead sees himself as embracing the drama of Jerusalem within his own life....In some manner, the initial restoration of Israel has already begun inasmuch as Christ, the new Temple, the New Israel, has been resurrected. (p. 60)
This is perhaps the apostle's most stark example of universalizing the new identity of the people of God. The apostle is redrawing the definitions for self-identity. (pp. 83-84)
Christian Palestinianists like Gary Burge look to the French Protestant Reformer, John Calvin, as one of their theological champions. In his commentary on Acts:1:6-8, Calvin asserted that there were "as many errors...as words" in the question which the Apostles asked the risen Lord concerning the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. This, he believed, proved "how bad scholars they were under so good a Master," and therefore "when he [Jesus] saith, you shall receive power, he admonisheth them of their imbecility." Calvin further claimed that Jesus was attempting to "lift up their minds" from "the common error" of the Jewish nation, which believed that the Messiah would "reign as a king in this world a thousand years." This interpretation, Calvin maintained, was the "folly" which had been adopted by the early Church premillennialists, who were known as "chiliasts."
...As the anti-Israel crusade gathers momentum, let us be in no doubt that the Lord our God will vindicate His Word, and let us pray more earnestly in line with the solemn words of Psalm 83:
Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones. They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance. For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee....Fill their faces with shame; that they may seek thy name, O Lord [author's emphasis]....That men may know that thou, whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth. (Psalm:83:1-5,16,18)