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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Pre-Convention Open Letter To CUFI

For those who do not know, CUFI stands Christians United For Israel and is, according to its website, the largest American group that supports Israel. CUFI was born from  John Hagee's ministry. Hagee is the senior pastor of a megachurch in San Antonio, Texas called Cornerstone Church. His church is a charismatic, fundamentalist church that serves as a base for his TV ministry.

CUFI runs many pro-Israel events and has an annual convention in Washington, D.C. every July. This year's convention is from July 22-24. The convention has speakers who talk about Israel's history, where they are today, negative claims about Israel which CUFI calls 'myths," the threats to Israel, and Iran. Key events include A Night To Honor Israel and a mass lobbying of Congress.

CUFI's commitment to Israel stems from reliance on Dispensationalism in understanding eschatology. Dispensationalism, which compared to the other three schools of eschatology, is a young school that combines premillenialism and viewing Israel as having a central role during the end times as God's chosen people. Premillenialism states that Jesus's return occurs at the beginning of His thousand year reign on earth.

Dear CUFI,

I won't be able to stand outside to handout Christian objections to your views as I have done the last couple of years so I want use this open letter to make a request. Please stop. Please cease and desist from your activities. Why should you discontinue? There are multiple reasons why and each of these reasons has strong biblical support. Because of the kind of support you are giving to Israel, you are doing great harm both to Israel and the Gospel, which you claim to believe in and represent.

I know how you will reply to my request. You will say that you are obeying God and His Word by supporting Israel. But is that really the case?

Consider your literal interpretation of the Bible that drives your view that Israel is to have that piece of land forever. You get that from your literal interpretation of Genesis. And, perhaps you have a fear that if Israel loses the land, then people would find it more difficult to believe that the Bible is true. But consider how your literal interpretation of the Old Testament contradicts the literal interpretation of the New Testament. Take Galations 3:7 for example. There Paul says that the true descendants of Abraham are those who imitate his faith by believing God's Word. So the true connection to Abraham isn't by the flesh and ancestry but by believing God's promise which is a work of God alone. We see that theme in other parts of Galations as well as Romans and John 1. John wrote in John 1:12 that those who believe do so because of God, not because of themselves. This is because our salvation is accomplished solely by the God (Ephesians 2:8-9). In contrast to this, ancestry is viewed as the work of man and the flesh.

No doubt you will eventually bring up Romans 11 where Paul rhetorically asks whether God has left his people. And you will remind me of part of Paul's answer. The part you remember is where Paul emphatically says "NO!" And you are right to quote Paul here. But what you neglect to mention is how Paul shows that God has not rejected his people. God shows his forever bond with Israel through preserving a remnant of believers (Romans 11:4-5). So what proves God's faithfulness to Israel isn't the giving of land but by keeping faith alive in SOME of the physical descendants of Abraham.

But what we have here is not just a Biblical version of the game Battleship where each of us lists the scriptures that support our personal views here. We have something far greater at stake. For I hope to show that your beliefs about both Israel and our duty toward them leads us to gravely sin against God.

The first way in which those who have your views of Israel commit serious sin against God is that your views promote tribalism and tribalism always leads to an array of serious sins. Tribalism occurs when group loyalty trumps commitment to principles and morals. This is evident in how those who uncritically support Israel endorse theft of land along with the abuse and killing of people. Think about this, you are encouraging Israel's stealing of the land and killing its inhabitants because of group loyalty, because of tribalism. In America's cities, we would call this a gang mentality. 

These sinful ways in which Israel treats the Palestinians are obviously worse than tribalism but it tribalism that is the motivation for and enabler of these sins. How Israel treats the Palestinians should give you enough reason to repent, but you support this because you say that the Jews have a higher right to land than those who had been living on the land for centuries. Here, you are encouraging us to show here is preference, preference for Jews over Arabs some of whom are your brothers and sisters in Christ. Showing preference is forbidden in James 2:8-9 and Galations 3:26-29 destroys all reasons for showing favoritism.  

Tribalism also encourages pride in those who belong to the in-group. Pride naturally occurs as those in the in-group compare their position with the less fortunate and they invariably, on a personal level, take some degree of credit for their good fortune. We should note that Romans 3:27 states that faith is pride's kryptonite. We should also note how negatively the Bible speaks of pride. And we should note how Paul voids himself of any pride in his nationality because the significance he found in Christ both is superior to and contradicts it (Philippians 3). 

Some of you will respond by saying that to not support Israel is to repeat the oft-repeated sin of anti-Semitism. Certainly anti-Semitism should never be tolerated--we should note here that Palestinians are Semites too. In fact, we should note that much of the blame for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be laid at the door of the Church in Europe as its anti-Semitism became a driving force for both some of its own most despicable sins and a model for Israel's sins against nonJews in Israel and Palestine. This has created a chain of abuse where how the Jews were treated in Europe became both a driving force and model for how some Israel treats nonJews in Israel and Palestine. And what we should note about Christian Europe's anti-Semitism that it was horrible and without excuse even before the Holocaust, let alone including it.

History shows that this victimizing the other as one has been victimized is an all too human trait. We are all easy prey to this temptation. Israel does not have a monopoly over passing sin on to the next group. See how some Palestinians have treated Israelis, for example. Here we should note that tribalism blinds us to our part in any cycle of abuse. Here, tribalism ensures that we can only see the wrongs done to us. American Christians who feel persecuted by atheists and other sinners provide another example of how tribalism enables us to see ourselves only as victims and never as victimizers.

So are we only left with 2 choices of supporting the Palestinians or of supporting Israel? People of conscience of all faiths can pick a third option by being as willing to speak against Israel's sins against the Palestinians as they are eager to speak against the sins of Palestinians against Israel. To show preference for either group is to sin as we find ourselves driven to embrace moral relativity, a moral relativity that causes some to wink at some horrendous abuses as long as they are practiced by those in our gang. Moral relativity says that right and wrong depends on who does what to whom. But the first loyalty of all people of conscience must be principles and morals and not partisanship regardless of the who does what to whom.

Finally, below is a list of past posts from this blog as well as articles mentioned on this blog that provides Biblical challenges are listed below. Please read at least a few of them.

Past blog posts on Israel includes:
  1. Has Israel Become America's Pope
  2. Another Look At Israel And Palestine
  3. Reviewing Brickner Vs Piper Discussing Israel And Palestine
  4. Conversing With CUFI In D.C.
  5. A Review Of Redeeming The Promised Land
Other articles referred to in this blog:

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