Program Description: Tom discusses the dangers of Christian Palestinianism with Dr. Paul Wilkinson of Hazel Grove Full Gospel Church as they critique Hank Hanegraaff's interview with Dr. Gary Burge.
A number of Paul Wilkinson's resources are available to view or download HERE
Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call featuring T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. We’re glad you could join us. In today’s program, Tom begins a multi-part series with Paul Wilkinson, conference speaker and author of [Understanding Christian Zionism, Prophets Who Prophesy Lies in My Name, and The Church at Christ's Checkpoint]. Now, along with his guest, here’s TBC executive director Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. My guest for today’s program and for next week is Paul Wilkinson, who we would normally be talking to at his home just outside Manchester, England. And this time, however, he is in studio with me here in Bend, Oregon.
Paul is one of the speakers at our Berean Call conference this year, and so I can look him straight in the eye as I grill him with my mind-numbing questions, or something like that. Does that sound…Paul, does that sound too intimidating for you?
Paul: It would be if I didn’t know you, Tom.
Tom: Okay. Paul is a long-time friend and a wonderful brother who addresses some very critical issues regarding what some professing Christians are saying about Israel. He’s the author of For Zion’s Sake [current title is Understanding Christian Zionism] and some booklets – Prophets Who Prophesy Lies in My Name, and another titled [The Church at Christ's Checkpoint]. He’s currently working on a book with his pastor Andrew Robinson titled Israel Betrayed.
Paul, thanks for joining me on Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Paul: Thank you, Tom. It’s great to be here in person.
Tom: Yeah. Now, Paul, you sent me a recording of an interview in which Hank Hanegraaff, known to many as the Bible Answer Man - which you could seriously question as he eisegetes the Scriptures (meaning that he imposes, in my view, and we’ll let our listeners decide) - imposes his own view on the Bible throughout the program. And the interview is with Gary Burge, who’s a professor at Wheaton College, but he also teaches at Bill Hybels’ Willow Creek Church right in the Chicago area.
Now, Burge wrote Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told About Israel and the Palestinians. Now, Paul, what I’d like to do is to use the program to evaluate biblically what Hanegraaff and Burge have to say, especially since they are appealing to the Scriptures to promote their views.
Well, you know, we’re to be Bereans. I don’t care if it’s Hanegraaff or whoever it is: if somebody’s going to appeal to the Bible, we need to be Bereans, as you know – I’m not telling you anything you don’t know; we need to search the Scriptures to see if these things are so. And one of the reasons I think it’s important to go through Hank’s program in which he’s interviewing Burge is he has great influence – CRI, Christian Research Institute, Christian Research Journal. This is not fringe kinds of stuff; he appeals to and teaches evangelicals throughout the country. So it’s not a matter of taking him to task, but we need to judge and evaluate what he’s saying, and that’s what I hope to do.
So we’re going to…the idea here is we’ll play through his program – I don’t know if we’ll do it entirely – but certainly some key issues in which he’s appealing to Scripture. And, Paul, this is an area of your expertise – he didn’t invite you to be on his program, but I have! I think it’s important to address this. So we’re going to start with the opening in which he sets, basically, his view, and we’ll comment on it. So we’ll listen to what he has to say…
Tom: …stop the tape, and then I’ll ask you to comment.
ANNOUNCER: And now here’s CRI president Hank Hanegraaff.
Hank: Thank you very much, Randy. We begin the broadcast today with my conversation in just a few moments with Dr. Gary Burge. He’s a professor of New Testament at Wheaton. He’s an author of a very important book: Whose Land? Whose Promise? Of course he’s written many other books, as well. You can find those books on the World Wide Web at equip.org. The reason I want to talk to Dr. Gary Burge is we are attempting all this month to bring a big issue to the fore. It is encapsulated in a DVD With God On Our Side. And I want to set up this interview by simply pointing out that biblical theology knows nothing whatsoever of racism, nor does biblical theology justify ethnic cleansing based on the pretext of a promise made to Abraham.
Tom: Paul, Hank said that he wanted to set it up, but he used terms – “ethnic cleansing…” what kind of setup is this?
Paul: Hmm. And before he used the word “ethnic cleansing,” he said, “…biblical theology knows nothing of racism.”
Paul: That is a loaded statement right there, because what he is saying effectively is if you believe that God has brought the Jewish people back to the land, that the Zionist movement of the 19th century has found fulfillment in the modern state of Israel, you are subscribing to racism, a racist entity. And that’s what the United Nations did in 1975: they issued a resolution declaring Zionism to be racism. They revoked it in 1991, but people like Hank Hanegraaff and those that he’s in association with, they often use that phrase: “Zionism is racism.”
So it’s loaded, it’s barbed, it’s sharp straightaway, and it’s trying to plant something straight off into the minds of the listeners that - “What we’re going to be talking about in terms of the modern state of Israel and Christians who support the modern state of Israel biblically, they are subscribing to a racist policy.”
And then he uses the phrase “ethnic cleansing.” Once again, this is a propaganda tactic used to perfection by the Palestinian-Arab-Muslim world to label Israel, to get people’s thinking along the lines of what happened during the Holocaust, what happened during the Balkan crisis, what happened in Rwanda, where there was genuine ethnic cleansing of people groups. And what he’s setting up here is Israel as a state that from the beginning has pursued a policy of ethnic cleansing. There’s nothing biblical about that statement. It’s political, it’s propaganda, and it’s setting Gary Burge up in this interview to…
Tom: Right, and it’s not true!
Paul: It’s absolutely not true. In fact, you know, “Truth has fallen in the streets,” the prophet Isaiah said at one point. And this is truth falling in the streets, or falling in the halls of the churches, because it’s the Jewish people that have consistently been attacked. It’s the Jewish people who have returned to the land in fulfillment of God’s promise, God’s prophetic Word; who have been systematically targeted by the Arab nations round about that have declared it to this present day their intention to wipe Israel off the map. We’ve got certain political leaders and presidents, you know, most notably Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that declared that in 2005 in Tehran: “Israel must be wiped off the map.” Hamas today, with Israel under attack from Hamas, that is their reason for being; their reason for existence is to destroy this Jewish state. So the policy of ethnic cleansing is being perpetrated against Israel, not by Israel.
Hank: Rather, according to Scripture there is “…neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female.” In other words, there is no distinction between Israel and the church based on race, and the Apostle Paul made that abundantly plain when he said, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” In other words, if you belong to Christ regardless of your gender, regardless of your station in life, regardless of your genealogy, then you are Abraham’s seed; you are an heir according to the promise.
Tom: Paul, here we have Hank again appealing to the Scriptures, but you know, he’s already set it up. Race? What does that have to do with anything? He’s imposing the ideas that he presented at the beginning, and now is trying to exegete the Scriptures accordingly, but this is eisegesis. He’s imposed his own ideas. What do you say to that?
Paul: Yeah, I mean, Hank Hanegraaff has taken that scripture in Galatians:3:28, I think, where Paul is defining the church. He’s defining what it means to be part of the body of Christ: that there’s no exclusion according to gender, according to ethnicity, according to your station in life, be you slave or free. To belong to Christ, to belong to the body of Christ, the church of Jesus Christ, the defining characteristic – the qualification – is grace through faith in Jesus. He is the only Savior; He’s the only way to the Father. Paul is not touching on Israel; he’s not touching on the nation of Israel in that passage. He’s not touching on the promises that were given to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and their descendants. He’s not talking about the nation’s place in the continuing purposes of God, He’s talking about what it means to be the church. He’s talking to the Galatians. He’s talking to non-Jewish - largely non-Jewish believers, non-Jewish Christians in the first century. And it’s an incredible passage that you can be spiritual heirs of…even as Gentiles, we can be spiritual heirs of those promises that God first gave to Abraham. In fact, Paul says in that epistle, referring to Genesis 12 when the Lord is giving those incredible promises through Abraham how he’s going to bless the nations through Abraham, that there was the gospel being preached in advance. And so what Paul is saying to the Galatians in this epistle is now in Jesus Christ, be you Jew, Gentile, male, female, slave nor free, you can all be inheritors by grace, by faith in Jesus of salvation. You can receive God’s – the new heart that God wants for every man to receive. You can be filled with His Spirit. You can belong to God. You can be His children.
But he is not – as I said, he’s not dealing with the land of Israel; he’s not dealing with the city of Jerusalem; he’s not dealing with the temple; he’s not dealing with the ethnic nation of Israel; he’s dealing with the church. And what [Hank’s] setting up here is this erroneous belief that the church and Israel are one – there’s only ever been one people of God throughout the Bible, and that is a total mishandling…a distortion of the Word of God. There are two - two clearly defined peoples of God: Israel, like the earthly people, defined by land, territory, borders, with a city as its capitol – Jerusalem; defined according to race – they had to be the descendants - the physical, natural descendants of Abraham through Isaac, not Ishmael; through Jacob, not Esau.
And then you’ve got the spiritual, if you like, the spiritual people of God: the church. And Paul in Ephesians talks about as believers we are seated with Christ in heavenly places. That’s never said of Israel in the Old Testament, it’s said of the church. And so we’re on church ground here; we’re not on Israel territory, and he is confusing the two. He’s sowing that confusion straightaway in the minds of his listeners, because he’s got a whole theology that he’s overlaying on the Word of God. He’s not – he’s not exegeting the Scriptures, he’s imparting a theology (which I’m sure we’ll talk about) that he’s got from a whole tradition that’s nearly 2,000 years old.
Hank: The bottom line is that Scripture emphasizes faith, not genealogy; and therefore as Christians, we have always believed in one people of God based on relationship, not on race. The problem today is that modern Christian controversialists divide people into categories, and that on the basis of race rather than the basis of relationship. The first class is said to consist of Jews; the second class is said to consist of Gentiles. Now, the good news for the Jews is that on the basis of their race, they have a divine right to the land of Palestine. The bad news is that as a direct result of the crucifixion of Christ, 21st century Jews will soon die in an Armageddon (at least, so it is said) that will make the Nazi Holocaust pale by comparison. Put another way, before all Israel will be saved, a majority of Israelis must be slaughtered. And this has been made popular in a lot of current books.
Tom: Paul, you know, this is really troubling stuff.
Tom: Again, that Hank is identifying with the Scriptures. But we know what the Scriptures say, and he’s using terminology – “slaughter,” all of this. Does God’s Word speak about the time of Jacob’s trouble, the Great Tribulation? Does it have content and information there that – hey, this isn’t some man making it up, this is what God’s Word says. How do we deal with that?
Paul: Well, he used many phrases, many labels. He used the phrase “Christian controversialists.” That’s code for Christian Zionists, those who would stand with Israel today based on the Word of God – not necessarily politically, because we’re not political beings. We’re not called to be political, we’re called to follow the Lord Jesus, and uphold His Word, and stand on the truth, and be witnesses for Him. So we’re labeled as “Christian controversialists.” He started that little extract by talking about, again, this distinction between race and faith.
Now, the Lord many times through Scripture makes the distinction according to race when He elects – He chooses – Abraham.
Amos:3:2 (going right into the prophetic Scriptures), God, who is about to judge the people of Israel, He says – God through the prophet Amos: “You only out of all the families of the earth have I chosen, and therefore I must punish you more severely.” That’s the Word of God; that’s God Himself saying, “I have chosen you out of all the families, all the nations of the earth. I have chosen you.”
Deuteronomy:7:6, God says again how He has chosen the people of Israel to be His treasured possession, not because they’re the more numerous, not because of anything about themselves. God says: “…because of the promises I made to your forefathers.”
Exodus:19:5, God says, “If you will obey me,” having redeemed the people of Israel (an ethnic group, the Hebrews) from slavery in Egypt, God says, “If you will obey me, you will be to me my treasured possession.”
So God has made that choice. Christians haven’t made that choice. Christians haven’t singled out Israel. God has for the purpose – as He declares through Abraham right in the beginning in Genesis 12 – for the purpose of reaching all the nations that are in darkness, that are in idolatry. So He’s chosen, He’s elected, He’s set apart this one people group to reach all people groups. And this was all, of course, pointing ahead to the coming of the Lord Jesus whose genealogy, whose family history, is tied in with the Jewish nation. That’s how the New Testament, the gospels, begin with the Jewish family history of the Lord Jesus. And in those opening birth narratives, those wonderful narratives of our Lord’s incarnation, His first coming, we even read of the Magi coming from the East saying, “Where is he who has been born King of the Jews?” And that’s what’s framed above our Lord’s head on the cross: “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” So that is how He’s identified in His humanity as belonging to a specific people group – not a race; the Jewish people are not a race. There’s one human race.
Tom: That’s a wrong term.
Paul: Yeah, wrong term. They are a people group. They’re an ethnic group that have been descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And the Lord Jesus according to His flesh, His human nature, is part of that Jewish family.
Hank: I think of the end times controversy edited by Tim LaHaye where he points out that when Jacob’s descendants rejected and crucified Christ, they suffered two distinct consequences: the first was that the flock of Israel was dispersed, but the second is the death of two-thirds of the flock, and when will that happen? Well, it supposedly is going to happen during a great tribulation when Israel will suffer tremendous persecution, and then two-thirds of them will die in a bloody holocaust, and that is right around the corner. That is something that Jews can anticipate any moment according to this theory.
Tom: Paul, you know, I don’t want to sound condescending here, but once again, this is the Bible Answer Man. Aren’t the things that he just described – and didn’t describe them correctly – nevertheless, he’s giving the impression that this is something that Tim LaHaye made up. Doesn’t the Bible talk about these things? Isn’t the Tribulation something that’s going to take place at some point in time?
Paul: Absolutely, and there are Christians…there are leading church men, theologians, authors, who for nearly 500 years, going back to the time of English puritans, have been writing about this future period simply because of what they read in the Word of God. So, I mean, Hank Hanegraaff is trying to label this – trying to attach this to a particular individual who’s very well known in the church and his writings.
But the prophet Zechariah…God, through the prophet Zechariah, gave this prophecy in 13:7: “‘Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, against the Man who is My Companion,’ says the Lord of hosts. Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; then I will turn My hand against the little ones, and it shall come to pass in all the land,’ says the Lord, ‘that two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is my people’; and each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
This is right in the middle of a specific prophecy that the Lord through Zechariah says shall come about in the last days when God at the beginning of Zechariah 12 says, “He will bring the nations against Jerusalem.” That has never happened throughout the history of Jerusalem until – well, we’re seeing the buildup in our day, 2014.
So clearly God through the prophet Zechariah was marking out this future period when certain events would take place: the nations against Jerusalem… Every nation that tries to lift Jerusalem, move Jerusalem, take control of Jerusalem – Jerusalem will be like a “cup of trembling, a burdensome stone.”
And in that same passage in Zechariah:12:10, you have the incredible promise – this is clearly with the Jewish people back in the land – it says: “And they shall look unto Me, the One they have pierced,” referring to the Lord Jesus, “and they shall mourn for Him as for an only child, as for a firstborn son.”
So there we have, you know, the Lord saying, “In that day…” in that day of catastrophe, in that day of turmoil, day of cataclysm that’s going to come upon the land of Israel and the Jewish people, that will be the time when they cry out to their Messiah, their Lord, their Savior Jesus.
Zechariah 13 begins with this wonderful promise that God will open up this fountain that will cleanse His people from their sin and their idolatry, and then we come to that part of the prophecy that I just read from v. 7, when God says two-thirds shall be cut down in the land. And then we’re straight into chapter 14, which talks of the feet of the Lord standing on the Mount of Olives and terrible things happening to the Jewish people (even the women being raped), and then the Lord fighting for His people, and a unique day dawning upon the land and upon the earth when Jesus will be seen to be King of the earth. So this is God’s prophecy that has never been fulfilled. You can’t find any moment in history where these scriptures have been fulfilled.
And so, Christians like ourselves and those who have been accused on Hank Hanegraaff’s program, they are simply handling the Word of God, taking it literally, and saying, “Well, this must refer to some future period.” This is not something that we want to happen, this is not something that we are excited about the prospect of happening, it is simply the Word of God that we are just trying to understand, and understand humbly, and understand ultimately with that drive in our hearts to tell the Jewish people the good news, the gospel of Jesus, before this horrible time occurs on the earth.
Tom: Mm-hmm. And it’s coming from God’s prophet, a Jewish prophet. This is not something made up by a non-Jew like Tim LaHaye, or whoever else is writing, or Hal Lindsey, whoever else is writing about these things…
Paul: Well, Zechariah in this instance. Yeah.
Tom: Yeah. Exactly. So this is troubling. This is terribly troubling, because, again, we’re talking about Hank Hanegraaff’s interpretation – really his eisegesis – his imposing his own ideas and his agendas upon the Word of God, which is false, absolutely false.
Paul: Yeah. And because he has already settled it in his mind - sadly, wrongly - that Israel as a nation is finished as the people of God…you know, that God has rejected the people of Israel because they rejected the Messiah, the Lord Jesus. And so this is a whole theology that is poisoning his mind, [and] the minds of his listeners that are subscribing to this kind of teaching. It’s not biblical teaching, it’s a theology that’s been overlaid on the Scriptures on a basic theological understanding that the church, Jew and Gentile, has now taken the place that Israel once had. Israel has fulfilled its purpose 2,000 years ago; now it’s all about the spiritual people of God. And he’s creating that confusion so that when Christians then come to scriptures like Zechariah 13, they will say, “Well, this can’t possibly be literal. What happened in the Holocaust? At least 6 million Jews were killed. How could something like that ever happen again?”
It’s not for us to reason it through. It’s not for us to react emotionally or sentimentally, it’s for us to handle the Word of God as best we can and say, “Well, Lord, You’ve said this.”
We don’t see any part of history fulfilling these specific promises that also talk of an earthquake and the Mount of Olives splitting, and the waters coming forth from under the threshold of the temple, and specific geographical and geological detail God has placed in His prophetic Word that’s never been fulfilled, and could never have been fulfilled until the days in which we are living, because Israel as a state only came back into existence just over 60 years ago.
Tom: My guest has been Paul Wilkinson. And, folks, the object of this series is to encourage people to be Bereans, to check out what Paul says, what Hank has said, what Gary Burge has said, what I’ve said. You need to be a Berean, to search the scriptures daily to see if these things are so. And we’re going to continue with this, so my prayer is that you’ll continue to listen and to search the scriptures.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 featuring T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. Paul Wilkinson’s books are available through The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon 97708. Call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our website at the bereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in, and we hope you can join us again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.