Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call featuring T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us! In today’s program, Tom continues his series of discussions with Paul Wilkinson, conference speaker and author of Understanding Christian Zionism: Israel’s Place in the Purposes of God and The Church at Christ’s Checkpoint.
Now, along with his guest, here’s TBC executive director Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. My guest is Paul Wilkinson, and if you’ve been tracking with us, we have been going through a series of critiquing, evaluating a program by Hank Hanegraaff in which he interviews Dr. Gary Burge, a professor at Wheaton College. And I guess we could say that their perspective, their position, is that they are in support of what’s called Christian Palestinianism, much to, in my view, the denigration – actually, it’s far worse than that – the denigration of Israel and the distortion of the Scriptures. But that’s our perspective. You as listeners, you need to be Bereans. We’re going to play again the dialogue between Hanegraaff and Burge, and you decide. You be a Berean and you check these things out.
So we’re going to pick up where we left off last week, and we’ll turn it over to the “Bible Answer Man,” which he’s known to many as, and so here we go!
Hank: Is it really true that those who bless Israel will be blessed of the Lord, those who curse Israel will be cursed of the Lord? Or maybe put another way, what do we mean biblically when we talk about Israel?
Gary Burge: That’s exactly a great first question. I think with each of us, whenever we have a biblical verse in front of us, the first question we have to ask is, “Who wrote the verse, who were the recipients, and when was it written?” so that we have every verse we interpret in its proper context. The problem with that verse is that people have lifted that verse out of the Book of Genesis, moved it maybe 3,000 years to the future, and then set it on a secular state that is called the State of Israel, and they’ve said, “Well, you know, your relationship to this modern State of Israel is going to determine whether or not you are blessed or cursed by God.”
And you know, there are so many assumptions in that kind of a movement that I think it all should give us pause. That was a blessing that was intended for Abraham, and of course the covenant is going to be for Abraham and his children, and yet faithfulness to the covenant – in other words, your relationship to the blessings which are a part of that promise – is going to be anchored to faith; it isn’t anchored to your bloodline. So therefore, the prophets of the Old Testament who come and say some really hard things to the State of Israel, you’d have to say that Isaiah is cursed by God, because he’s not blessing Israel. No, on the contrary, to bless Israel is to be one who is a truth-teller to Israel, and that’s exactly what the prophets do, and that’s what we are trying to do who are involved in telling the second narrative.
Tom: Okay, so Gary Burge appeals to Scripture. He’s giving an interpretation. He’s exegeting the Scriptures, so now we have a platform to decide whether he’s giving us what the Scriptures indeed say. So what do you think, Paul?
Paul: Well, he talked about blessing Israel, and let’s just say from the off here Hank Hanegraaff, Gary Burge, this whole Christian Palestinianist movement, as I’ve called it, they are not blessing Israel. They can talk as if they love the Jews and they truly care for the Jews, but you take the modern State of Israel as a nation out of the equation, you condemn Israel the way that they are, you are cursing Israel; and you’re not only cursing Israel – and you may be the people of God and you may be the church, you may be evangelical leaders with positions and responsibilities and a following – you are…you’re poking the Lord in the eye. I mean, [in] Zechariah:2:8, the Lord said, “Whoever touches you, Israel, touches the apple of My eye.”
Now, again, it’s God who sets the pattern. It’s God who tells us how we are to respond, how we are to behave.
Now, Hank Hanegraaff and Gary Burge, they’re trying to say, “Well, that was a blessing for then just for Abraham.” The proof of the truth that that promise there laid out in Genesis 12 is for all time as long as this earth endures is history. Look at what has happened to every kingdom, every nation that has attacked Israel or attacked – persecuted systematically – the Jewish people. Where’s the great Babylonian kingdom? Where’s the Medo-Persian Empire? Where’s the great Greek Empire? Where’s the Roman Empire? Yes, we will see it revived in a different form – where’s the mighty Roman Empire? Where’s the Ottoman Empire that ruled for 400 years? Where’s the British Empire?
Tom: I was going to ask you about that, Paul, because certainly they have turned against Israel. You’ve talked about the Balfour Declaration, what they were supposed to enforce, and then they turn on Israel. Can’t we look at history following that? Does Britannia rule the waves?
Paul: No, not anymore. Not anymore, and it was once said of the British Empire, “The sun never sets on the British Empire.” The amount of territory that was under the governorship of this tiny island nation, Britain – it’s no longer Great Britain anymore. There’s no longer a British Empire. There’s a small commonwealth of nations, and even they are trying to break free.
Paul: But you can chart from the time that Ernest Bevin and Clement Attlee, who were in control of the British government following Churchill, Winston Churchill – they sided with the Arabs; they turned against the Jews. They wanted nothing to do with the mandate that had been given to them by the United Nations. They wanted nothing to do with this Jewish problem anymore. Ernest Bevin, who was the foreign secretary - anti-Semitic through and through to the core. He was horrific in some of the statements that he made. He just wanted to give the Jews over to the Arabs, let them fight it out among themselves.
Yeah, where is the British Empire? It’s gone. Where’s the Third Reich, the Nazi Reich that sought to wipe out every Jewish person from the face of the earth? Where’s Hitler? He had tremendous power, tremendous authority, tremendous control for a short period, and then God judged him. Where’s the Reich?
So history proves that those who bless Israel are blessed to this day, even if Israel is in unbelief (which they are as a nation), because God has declared – He’s laid it down: those who bless Israel will be blessed, those who curse Israel will be cursed. And the word that the Lord uses for cursing there is maybe not the way we would understand it today. It’s those who speak derogatorily, those who denounce. You don’t have to be pronouncing a curse, you’re just treading them underfoot, and that’s what Hank Hanegraaff – that’s what Gary Burge are doing.
A Psalm I believe is absolutely critically important is in the very heart of that worship literature, Psalm:105:7. Let me just read this, because – again, you read the books of Gary Burge…he’s one of the main theologians in this whole Christian Palestinianist movement. He’s read the books; he’s the academic. He doesn’t touch scriptures like this. He can’t touch scriptures like this, because if he did and he let the Word of God speak as it plainly reads from the page, he would have to deny what he’s doing. He’d have to repent of what he’s teaching and what he’s saying.
Psalm:105:7: “He is the Lord our God; His judgments are in all the earth. He remembers His covenant forever, the word which he commanded…” So the emphasis – the focus is all on the Lord God, not on Israel, not on the recipients of this covenant. “…the word which he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant which he made with Abraham, and his oath to Isaac, and confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance,’ when they were few in number, indeed very few, and strangers in it.”
How do you get around a passage of scripture like that when the Lord says He remembers this covenant – this land covenant – with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? He remembers it forever. It doesn’t pass. It doesn’t cease, it’s not revoked, it’s not superseded by another covenant in the way that the covenant at Sinai, the covenant with Moses, has been superseded by the new covenant. This is God declaring this covenant with Abraham which includes the promise of blessing and cursing to those who bless and curse Israel - that will endure forever as long as there is this present age. There’s no substance to what they’re saying biblically and historically. Everything that we see that has happened in the nations proves to this very day those who bless will be blessed by God, and those who curse, those who denounce, those who condemn will be dealt with by the Lord. It doesn’t matter if you call yourself a Christian or you belong to the church of Jesus Christ: if you are fighting against God’s chosen people, the apple of His eye, those (Isaiah 49 again) who have been inscribed, as God says, “on the palms of His hands,” you are fighting against God, and the Lord in His way will give His answer and His discipline in due time.
Hank: Talking to Dr. Gary Burge - we’re talking about a very important resource that I want to put into your hands. It’s titled With God On Our Side; it’s a DVD. I, as president of the Christian Research Institute, have believed for years that it is my responsibility to bring the big issues to your attention. This is a big issue, and speaking about this issue is not politically correct. It’s not popular. It suddenly does not bring prosperity to a ministry. It may bring exactly the opposite to a ministry, but it is important. We do what we do because truth matters, and that is why I want to put this resource into your hands. The bottom line is this: far from facilitating race-based discrimination on the basis of our eschatological presuppositions, Christians must be equipped to communicate that Christianity knows nothing of dividing people on the basis of race.
Tom: Paul, once again, Hank is regurgitating some false ideas, some…as you called it, these are terms that have no meaning except they have a content that’s volatile. Race? There’s only one race. He’s applying it to an ethnic people as a race, and then he’s putting it over to racial discrimination. I mean, these are like hot buttons out there that have nothing to do with what the Scripture is saying and talking about.
Paul: No, it’s incendiary, it’s inflammatory; it’s, again, trying to work his listeners up into a revulsion of Christians like ourselves who are just trying to understand the Word of God. Racial discrimination…so in other words, if you believe that Israel as a nation today are still the people of God based on passages like Psalm 105 – God remembering His covenant forever – you are discriminating racially. And then he brought in the whole issue of slavery in Genesis 9.
Let’s go back to what God Himself said. We mentioned already Amos 3, God saying [in] verse 2, “You alone out of all the families of the earth have I chosen.”
Deuteronomy 7, in the very law of God…remember what Jesus said? “Not one jot or tittle shall pass from the law until it is fulfilled. I’ve not come to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill the law and the prophets.”
God said, Deuteronomy:7:6: “You [Israel] are a holy people to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.” That is divine discrimination. That’s biblical discrimination. That’s not racial discrimination, and it’s certainly not favoritism. God is not a God of favorites. He doesn’t choose Israel and hate the other nations; He has, as we’ve already said in this program or in these programs, He has made a sovereign choice according to His perfect will in order to reach all the nations. It’s God who is discriminating. It’s not Christians like ourselves that are trying to say, “Stop attacking Israel. Israel remains the people of God by virtue of God’s covenant and God’s promises.” No, it’s a divine discrimination in setting Israel apart the way that they have been set apart by God.
Hank: Speaking to Dr. Gary Burge, he’s a professor of New Testament at Wheaton College in graduate school. He is a man that I have a great deal of admiration for, because he is taking a very risky position, particularly as a professor in a Christian university. And his book Whose Land? Whose Promise?, if you have not read it, is an important resource. It’s his personal exploration of his feelings about the crisis in the Middle East, and it’s put on paper to communicate with other Christians who share the same opinions he does and seek answers to the same questions he does, questions like, “How do I embrace a commitment to Judaism, a commitment to which I am bound by the Bible, when I sense in my deepest being that there is a profound injustice afoot in Israel? How do I celebrate the birth of a nation, the nation of Israel, when I also mourn the suffering of Arab Christians who are equally my brothers and sisters in Christ? And how do I love those Palestinian Muslims who are deeply misunderstood by all parties in the conflict?”
Again, Dr. Gary Burge is someone that I greatly admire, and I have personally experienced what he’s talking about when he talks about the transformation that takes place when people encounter real human beings who have suffered in the conflict. In fact, I can remember so many times speaking throughout the United States and being surrounded by Palestinians – again, they are the largest displaced people group in the world – but surrounded by Palestinians oftentimes tearfully telling me that they didn’t know of evangelicals who understood their plight.
Dr. Gary Burge understands their plight and has courageously brought the plight to the fore, and when I say courageously, this is what I mean: those who question the notion of a pre-Tribulational Rapture followed by a Holy Land holocaust in which the vast majority of Jews perish are being shouted down as peddlers of godless heresy. The ultimate pejorative phrase has been coined for those who deny the heart of dispensational eschatology. They are dubbed “replacement theologians,” and they are said to be guilty of spreading the message of anti-Semitism. Popular dispensationalists like John Hagee, who is featured in With God On Our Side…in other words, you can watch him and hear what he really has to say – it’s chilling. But they’re very blunt in their denunciations. Replacement theologians, they say, are now carrying Hitler’s anointing in his message, and therefore it takes a great deal of courage to stand in the face of vilification and to do all that is permissible to see that this pseudo-eschatology, like the pseudo-science of eugenics, will fade into the shadowy recesses of history.
And I want to start this segment, Dr. Burge, with that very moniker: replacement theologian.
Gary Burge: Right.
Hank: What is the misnomer in that moniker?
Tom: Paul, before we get to Gary Burge’s response, once again, Hank is using language – he’s throwing out a distortion. I don’t go by what John Hagee says, or anybody else. We’re to go by the Scriptures. What does the Word of God say? Any individual, for all of the good that they say, fine. Wonderful. However, is it true to God’s Word? That’s the bottom line here. “To the law and the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, there is no light in them,” Isaiah writes. But comment on some of Hank’s statements.
Paul: Well, he’s – again, he’s tarring everyone with the same brush, and the way he’s presenting himself, Gary Burge, and their group of so-called evangelical Christians as being the only ones that are truly sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinian people, those who only understand, truly understand, what they are going through… I don’t know anyone – I’m not in relationship with anyone that hates Palestinians, that hates Muslims, that hates the Arab nations. I belong to a small fellowship in the north of England called Hazel Grove Full Gospel Church, and we have been taught by the Lord through our pastor for many, many years (Pastor Andrew Robinson) to love the Jewish people absolutely based on God’s love as He’s revealed it in His Word, and to love all mankind, to have no prejudice, no hatred - to guard the attitudes of our hearts. So as a small fellowship – and the Lord has used us in lots of ways to be His witnesses around the world – we love those who are lost, those for whom Jesus died, those who without salvation in Christ Jesus are facing a lost eternity in hell. That will include Jews, that will include Arabs - Gentiles of all nations.
But we understand that many people are suffering as a result of the decisions that their leaders have taken, and we’ve already covered this. What we’re seeing today is the reaping of what hatred has been sown for decades by so-called Palestinian Arab leaders.
And let me just throw this in as well: what they don’t tell you is that the Arab world as a whole has never cared one jot or tittle about the so-called Palestinians. They have always been a pawn in their political game that they’ve been playing, trying to bring sympathy from the other nations of the world, but trying to create – as happened for decades after Israel’s reestablishment – trying to create this united Arab empire. The leader of that was Gamal Nasser, dictator, president of Egypt – became the president of the short-lived United Arab Republic. He had nothing but disdain for the Palestinians, nothing but disdain for Yasser Arafat. Yasser Arafat was on the fringes of the Arab world. You listen to Nasser, you listen to King Hussein of Jordan, you listen to the previous president Assad of Syria, how they refer to the Palestinian people, and they say, “They’re Syrians,” or, “They’re Jordanians.” They’re not interested – they were never interested in a so-called Palestinian people, Palestinian nation, because it never existed.
Now, those who are walking with the Lord Jesus, those who are walking by God’s Word, we understand. We understand that people are suffering, but when you listen to Hank Hanegraaff there and you listen to Gary Burge, their theology and the theology of many Christians that are locking into their ministries, the theology of many of Gary Burge’s students at Wheaton College, Illinois – who I met over 30 of them at the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference that he was part of in Bethlehem denouncing Israel again, March 2012 – that these students are having their theology created by emotion, established by what they read in the media. That is not how our minds are to be formed. Our minds are to be formed and transformed by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God as we walk with the Lord Jesus.
And so it’s a complete misrepresentation of the so-called Christian Zionist community. Again, you know, there are names being thrown out all the time, and everyone is thrown into the same pot. And listeners to the Bible Answer Man broadcast, readers of Gary Burge’s books, they need to know they’re actually hiding from their listeners their own theology that is feeding into all of this. They are not biblical theologians, not at all, especially not where Israel is concerned. They are replacement theologians; they are locked into nearly 2,000 years of church teaching that has declared through the lips of men like Augustine, John Calvin, and the reformers that have declared that Israel has been replaced by the church. The church is the new Israel, or the true Israel, or the spiritual Israel. And what you’ll hear in Gary Burge’s response now is him wriggling out of the accusation, because replacement theology, it is anti-Semitic. It is demonic. It is a doctrine of demons, and an evangelical Christian is not going to want to be labeled with that, so he will say, “No, I don’t believe in replacement theology, I believe in fulfillment theology, or Messianic fulfillment. The church is the fulfillment of Israel. Jesus is the fulfillment of all the promises that were given through the prophets to the nation of Israel.”
And so this is deceitful what they’re doing now in this part of the broadcast; they are deceiving their listeners, and there’s a whole package – baggage, theological baggage – that Hank Hanegraaff [and] Gary Burge are bringing into their conversation.
Tom: You know, one of the things that we should also bring into this - Paul, as you know, 30 years a Roman Catholic for me, and you want to talk about anti-Semitism? You mentioned Augustine, the father of major dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church; John Calvin, certainly he left the Catholic Church, but he brought a lot of baggage, and a lot of this baggage had to do with the Roman Catholic Church, its replacement theology…I mean, you talk about terms like “ghetto” and “anti-Semitism,” it runs through the history of the Catholic Church.
So it’s there, but I want to go back to something else: when they talk about the Palestinian – you know, the Palestinians and their story - well, we’re only getting one story. You have friends who are Palestinians and so on.
Tom: Do they have a different story than what we’re hearing from these guys?
Paul: A completely different story, but they don’t have a voice, and that’s typical. When the enemy is seeking to deceive and distort, he’ll raise up those who’ve got a very loud voice, very influential voice, and the Lord in return – He’ll raise up a response from those who are faithful to His Word.
Yeah, I stayed… Back in 2008, I was invited to give a seminar at Yad Vashem, which is the Holocaust memorial and martyr’s museum just outside Jerusalem, which remembers – tells the story of at least 6 million victims of the Holocaust – Jewish victims. Really grieved me earlier on hearing Hank Hanegraaff refer to – I think he used the phrase “Semitic Holocaust.” No, let’s be very clear: this was a Holocaust against the Jewish people. What the world wants to do today is bring in all kinds of other genocides, and say, “Well, they’re all the same. They’re all on a par.” No, they’re not all on a par. They’re all horrific. They’re all catastrophic, but the Holocaust is absolutely unique. That a people that were systematically persecuted for centuries, for millennia, found themselves the target of one nation and one leader’s agenda, which was to completely wipe them off the face of the earth. This wasn’t ethnic group against ethnic group with historical rivalries and disputes and all the rest of it, this was the enemy – this was Satan himself using a nation and other complicit nations to wipe the Jewish people off the map.
Tom: My guest has been Paul Wilkinson, and we have been, if you’ve just joined us, we’ve been evaluating a series - interview between Hank Hanegraaff, the Bible Answer Man, and Dr. Gary Burge of Wheaton College, and we’ll continue with this, the Lord willing, next week.
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 thebereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in, and we hope you can be here again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.