Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Beginning of the End of Christian Zionism

Christ Following: An Ancient Faith, Rediscovered

by Charles E. Carlson

A lady named Sue called saying she is a bible prophesy researcher for a Christian group and discovered Project Strait Gate while researching John Hagee. She was excited to learn we confront him. Why? She said we are in the Bible, prophesied in the book of Revelations, in conflict with John Hagee who is a “False Prophet.” One could get a head rush from finding oneself in the Bible, even if not by name. Sue wanted to talk about all kinds of wonderful and frightening prophesy about the end times. It seems her purpose was not to join us in our work, but to educate us about our importance. After a few minutes of polite listening I excused myself without learning our place in history. There is just too much to do trying to get there. We are busy working and Sue’s group is wrapped up in writing and talking about future events, so I thanked Sue and moved on.

On that very same day a news letter from a friend, analyzing the letter 34 "Evangelical" pastors who recently wrote to President Bush standing up against his blanket support of Israel, right or wrong. Project Strait Gate is all about seeing pastors change, it is the result we work for, the pot at the end of our rainbow. Here in part is what the 34 said:

“As evangelical Christians, we embrace the biblical promise to Abraham: "I will bless those who bless you." (Genesis 12:3). And precisely as evangelical Christians committed to the full teaching of the Scriptures, we know that blessing and loving people (including Jews and the present State of Israel) does not mean withholding criticism when it is warranted. Perhaps the best way we can bless Israel is to encourage her to remember, as she deals with her neighbor Palestinians, the profound teaching on justice that the Hebrew prophets proclaimed so forcefully as an inestimably precious gift to the whole world.”

I, of course, applaud the 34 Pastors trained in the dispensational school to think as John Hagee and thousands like him do. They have reject his conclusions. This is a part of the “great turning” from the age of dispensational heresy. The 34 are truly a revolt from within the roots of Christian Zionism. But in reading the statement the 34 pastors made I have a question for them.

Why are they still “evangelicals?” If one DOES NOT believe he is commanded by God to support the political state of Israel, and DOES NOT believe he will be cursed for failing to do so, as seminary students are taught from Scofield References Bibles, then why be a dispensationalist (“Evangelical”)? After all, dispensationalism is about Israel and has Israel at its root and core belief, which is why its hard-liners like Hagee and hundreds of others now proudly label themselves “Christian Zionists. They are proud to put Israel first, ahead of American and perhaps ahead of Jesus Christ as the “fulfillment of prophesy.” Without Israel dispensationalism is an empty bag.

Conversely, if one believes his obligation is to follow Christ's teachings, as we find them in His words, and if one is willing to be judged accordingly by Christ as he said (be it heaven or hell, whatever hell is), then it also should not matter to that person if there is an "end times" now, in the future or never. What difference if there is a battle of Armageddon, rapture, a rebuilt Jewish Temple, or any of the other dispensational trappings in earthbound prophesies? Jesus says nothing about an allegiance to any political unit then or now, and telling the truth about Israel, and everything else, is part of His rules. Furthermore, if following Christ is the formula to secure heaven for the faithful, as Jesus told His followers, then what difference does it make if there is a rapture, a new Jewish temple, or a red heifer to be sacrificed there? And if it matters not, why would Sue or the 34 Pastors waste a single moment of time in speculation over Armageddon, left behind, or any of the dispensational questions? Why spend time researching prophesies if political Israel is not in it? Could it be that vanity tweaks us to look for our own type in the Bible?

One whose life goal becomes following Christ on the “narrow path”, hopefully toward the “strait gate” would seem to be traditional Christian under the standards set by the original dozen or two who falteringly followed Jesus. They managed without Scofield Reference Bibles, TV evangelists, or even church buildings. Christian Zionism, Mormonism, and all the "ism" cults that claim to be important by supposedly unraveling God’s plan for other people, would be irrelevant if we recognized that none of these prophesies, and fantasies should logically matter to Christ following believers.

The “if it does not matter, don’t bother with it” Christ following seems to negate the need for brainy and intellectual studies of the bible, nor is there much need for good commentaries to counteract the bad commentaries on the end times.

This author had the unique experience of hearing our mission defined in two words, restoring Christianity, by a perceptive Muslim cleric who heard me explain Oxford University Press' contribution to Christian Zionism four year ago. Indeed We Hold These Truths' mission is about restoring Christianity; however it might be better to say we are trying to do our part to rescue Christianity from suicide by explaining where it has been misled to follow Christian Zionism. I now know that this goal is possible; if 34 dispensational scholars can reject Christian Zionism there is no reason the rest cannot do the same.

Letter to President Bush from 34 Evangelical Leaders.

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