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Evangelicals Defend 'Christ at the Checkpoint' from Israeli Critics

(UPDATED) Leaders reject allegations by Ministry of Foreign Affairs official that Bethlehem conference is anti-Israel or anti-Semitic.
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Update (March 12): Evangelical leaders of this week's Christ at the Checkpoint (CATC) conference defended their four-day event against a chorus of critics who allege the gathering has an anti-Israel political agenda.

About 700 people are in ...

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Displaying 1–34 of 34 comments

Rick Dalbey

March 13, 2014  5:22pm

David, I am Israeli in spirit only. Actually I am just another Christian, living in Oregon. I am not involved with Hagee's CUFI nor a member of any Christian Zionist organizations. However I belong the largest pro-zionist organization on the planet, the body of Christ. And I know what the Bible says. Israel is the pupil of God's very eye, He has the walls of Jerusalem tattooed on His hands, He has promised to restore the Nation (which He has) and one day soon He is coming back to step foot on earth and govern the planet from Jerusalem. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord, Christians, Palestinians, Jews, and world peace will ensue for the first time in recorded history.

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David Stafford

March 13, 2014  3:58pm

Rick Dalbey: I thank and praise God for your powerful and capable advocacy here. Although I live in Gatesville, Texas, I was delighted to here that you are an Israeli. You pray for me and I'll pray for you. God be thanked. Hallelujah!

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Rick Dalbey

March 13, 2014  2:47pm

Christian Zionism is the default position of believing evangelicals. A 2013 survey by the American Culture and Faith Institute found more than 4 out of every 5 conservative Protestant pastors (81%) sympathize more with Israel than with their Palestinian adversaries; just 1% sympathizes more with the Palestinians; and 18% are neutral. Pew Research reported that among white evangelical Protestants, 72% side with Israel and 4% with the Palestinians. When asked in a 2011 Pew survey if God’s covenant with the Jewish people continues today, 73 percent of world evangelical leaders, including 67 percent of all Americans, answered positively. Most rank-and-file evangelicals agree. The ultraliberal World Council of Churches and the theologically liberal mainline denominations do not support Israel. You’re right, sadly there's a slow turning away from Biblical literalism. Jaunita, do you believe the nation of Israel should divide, give up land to form two states or be threatened with boycotts?

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jaunita brock

March 13, 2014  1:49pm

Rick, i must partly disagree. Christian Zionist groups like CUFI do not represent the the 'default' position of the evangelical churches in the west. While i do agree they once did, there has been a slow but steady turning away from the theological teachings of Christian Zionism. Christians in the west have been awakened to the truth of there being two people(s) involved in this conflict, both which God loves very much. We as Christians are 'obligated' to love both and be concerned for both, equally, as well. Not all Christians in the west follow dispensational theology Rick.

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Rick Dalbey

March 13, 2014  12:10pm

Susan, my point is you have no mandate to fly into a foreign country, advocate that they divide up their land, give it away and threaten to boycott them if they refuse to honor your wishes. That is brazen arrogance. And especially to do it in the name of Jesus. And especially if you maintain relations with Pro-Jihadists who are sworn to eliminate the country and the people. Try that in Iran or Turkey or Saudi Arabia or any other Middle Eastern country. Israel shows a HUGE amount of restraint and tolerance. Christians are called to preach the gospel of salvation to every corner of the earth. “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” We pursue and promote peace with God. We are not called to meddle in the politics of foreign countries with demands and threats of boycott. The signs that follow the preaching of the gospel are casting out demons, speaking in tongues and healing the sick.

Rick Dalbey

March 13, 2014  11:47am

Susan, where did you hear me advocate for violence and revenge? I don’t want violence or revenge against anyone. Neither does Israel. They want to live in their own land in peace. I am advocating NOT dividing up their land, NOT boycotting their goods and arguing FOR their right to survive. They treat the Palestinians within their borders with dignity and respect. As Christians, we advocate for peace with God. As Jesus said, there will always be wars and rumors of war. We have a moral obligation to protect the weak and a well established theology of “just war”. We know how God feels about the nation of Israel, He has made it abundantly clear in Old and New Testaments. When Jesus returns, it is not the blood of demons on his robe, Israel's enemies are real. He puts an end to all war by enforcing martial law. When every knee bows and every tongue confesses, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, that Jesus Christ is Lord, a new era of peace dawns. In the meantime we preach the gospel.

Wesley Woods

March 13, 2014  9:56am

juanita, it is very true that the Christian Zionist groups are a pro-israel propaganda mouthpiece covering up the atrocities done by the jews towards the Palestinians whom by the way many date back all the way back to the days of Christ and the early believers. as for john hagee he is an antichirst as found in first and second john for john hagee decrees that the jews could not be guilty for killing their messiah for Jesus was never their messiah. this is the very heart of the gospel for if Jesus Christ is not the Messiah than the entire Christian faith falls apart and becomes a lie. this conference gives a voice to the world our forgotten Christian brothers and sisters. in fact hitler would love the Christian Zionists groups just many jihadists do today for gathering the jews into their own homeland would make it much easier to wipe out the entire race. the belief that they are doing the will of God by Christians just like them lead to the holocaust in the first place.

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Susan Gillespie

March 13, 2014  8:36am

Rick Dalbey: we must seek peace because there is a NEW Covenant in Christ! He sent us out to do what HE did, not what Joshua dud. We are ambassadors of the kingdom of God in Christ, pleading with people to be reconciled to God in Christ, and with one another. Christ took God's wrath on the cross so that v we could be such peacemakers, whom Jesus says are blessed. When Christ comes again, God will deal with his enemies (which Paul reminds us are not flesh and blood). To advocate for violence and revenge is to deny our mandate from Jesus. Please spend some time in the gospels.

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Wayne Froese

March 12, 2014  7:13pm

RD asks us why must there be (striving for) peace and justice. He provides scripture too. I am not used to being asked that one. Thanks CT for bringing us this topic. You did a good job.

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Terri Knoll

March 12, 2014  4:53pm

The world will be "meddling" in Israel's affairs before too long.

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Rick Dalbey

March 12, 2014  3:20pm

Juanita, the difference is that Christian Zionists and groups like CUFI represent the default position of the evangelical church since Israel’s founding. Being Bible literalists obligates us to support the nation that God clearly loves. No one is manipulating John Hagee, his opinions are long-standing and the traditional position of the church. Pro-Jihadists have hit upon a strategy of developing relationships with a politically liberal minority. This conference is only 3 years old. In order to do so much violence has to be done to scripture, either through promoting “Replacement Theology” as Nazi supporters in Germany did or simply twisting the words of scripture. The goal of these Israel critics is to divide Israel, force them to give up land and boycott Israeli goods. The goal is purely political, pro-Jihadist and not religious. That is what the Foreign Affairs minister is getting at. Someone is trying to hijack Evangelicals and manipulate them into anti-Israel activities. Shameful.

jaunita brock

March 12, 2014  2:17pm

quote: The attempt to use religious motifs in order to mobilize political propaganda and agitate the feelings of the faithful through the manipulation of religion and politics is an unacceptable and shameful act. Using religion for the purpose of incitement in the service of political interests stains the person who does it with a stain of indelible infamy.-end quote This is almost laughable, and would be if it wasn't such blatant hypocrisy. Isn't this exactly what Christian Zionist organizations (for instance, John Hagee's CUFI org.) has done for years? Sure it is! They as well as other Christian Zionist groups in the west have worked together with the Israeli government to insure Christians, like myself, only are aware of what constitutes a "pro-Israel" view of the situation concerning Israel and the Palestinian issue. They are experts at "mobilizing political pro-Israel propaganda"...not only within the church in the west but in Washington DC.

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Rick Dalbey

March 12, 2014  12:43pm

And Stefan, why MUST we have a peaceful and just settlement? Was it peaceful or just when Joshua and 1million Jews invaded Canaan at God’s explicit direction and killed every man and woman, occupying their farms and cities? That was the foundation of Israel 3300 years ago. Today we would declare it grossly unjust and even genocide, and yet Jesus commanded it. You say God is not a respector of persons, but he favors one nation over another without a doubt. When Jesus returns it will not be peacefully, He will be wielding a sword, wearing a garment stained with blood and He will put down any attacks upon Israel, the nation He indisputably favors. He will make Jerusalem the center of the governance of the earth. Any belief other than that is not the Bible, not Judeo/Christianity, and is a man-made religion. God loves all men and desires that none should perish, that all should have eternal life, but He has a clearly communicated plan for the nations. We ignore it at our peril.

Rick Dalbey

March 12, 2014  12:21pm

Stefan, I don't know what state of the union you live in. But let's say it is Ohio. How would you feel about people from Venzuela, Cuba, Iran and Viet Nam flying into Ohio to conduct a week long conference. The subject of the conference is how you treat the Nez Pierce Indians. They believe you should divide up Ohio and give 1/3 of your state back to the Nez Pierce tribe. And if you don't they are going to urge the world to boycott products from Ohio. Plus they have affiliations with violent activists who want to see the entire state given back to the Indians and the current residents destroyed. That would be pouring gasoline on the fire. Jesus (trinity) was the one who commanded the Jews to conquer the Caananites and take their farms and cities and declare it the nation of Israel in the first place. Jesus is the one whose hands are tattooed with the architecture of jerusalem. Its His intention to live in Israel. Jesus has promised that Israel will never again be divided or removed.

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Stefan Stackhouse

March 12, 2014  11:47am

I'm not going to comment or pass judgment on this particular group. I am going to remind everyone, however, that Jesus made it quite clear that we are to love ALL our neighbors without exception. That includes all Israeli Jews and all Palestinian Arabs, without exception, and without being "respecters of persons" favoring one over the other. We are, at the very least, to wish them all well and to pray for a peaceful and just settlement between them. It is ultimately up to them to forge that peace, but we need to make sure that to the extent that we involve ourselves at all it is as helpful peacemakers rather than pouring gasoline on the flames.

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Rick Dalbey

March 11, 2014  6:04pm

This was reported by Middle East Monitor, Israel Today; "Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has issued a last-minute statement suggesting Christians steer clear of the “Christ at the Checkpoint” (CatC) conference that opens tomorrow in Palestinian-held Bethlehem. The statement, which came in response to an investigative inquiry by Israel Today, regards the CatC conference as a serious long-term threat to Israel’s security." Perhaps the Ministry of Foreign Affairs back tracked their statement, but it stands nonetheless and is certainly true. This is widely reported in Israel. Israel Today says, "The government has indicated that it considers certain people involved in CatC to have a reputation for being involved in malicious acts against the state. For example, it was recently revealed that some of the leading figures at CatC have very close ties to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that aims to delegitimize and ultimately to undermine State"

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Mark Hunt

March 11, 2014  5:05pm

I just received an email from one of the speakers at the conference stating that the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs has denied making the statements in the article. We probably are still lacking the full story.

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Mark Hunt

March 11, 2014  5:05pm

I just received an email from one of the speakers at the conference stating that the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs has denied making the statements in the article. We probably are still lacking the full story.

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Rick Dalbey

March 11, 2014  3:34pm

Yes Howard, those Bible prophecies get in the way of peace don’t they. Pesky promises by kooks like Isaiah prophesying in the last days the land of Israel would be born in a day, fulfilled in 1948. Promises like “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own Land." what Israelis call the “Aliyah”. Prophecies about Jerusalem being restored, about becoming the center of the world’s attention. Even Jesus got in on the end times prophecy “Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” Gentile domination of Jerusalem began in 70 A.D., with the Romans and ended with Jordan on June 7, 1967 when Israeli troops took control of the Old City of Jerusalem, fulfilling Luke 21:24 to the letter. There will be no peace until Messiah returns. Israel will never give up or divide its land and any attempt to do so is demonically inspired.

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Rick Dalbey

March 11, 2014  2:55pm

Toni, this is the very definition of politics. These are interlopers flying in from foreign countries to meddle in Israel's affairs. This is the CENTER STAGE of world politics. "Anti-Israel politics and political correctness have emerged as focal points of this conference, to which end the state of Israel and the Jewish people have been singled out for constant and severe criticism. The conference sponsors retain CONNECTIONS TO PRO-JIHADIST MOVEMENTS or persons, whose political stances threaten the entire Middle East." Israel tour Guide and Christian Kay Wilson wonders how "any Israeli Messianic believer, could justify participating in a conference that has chosen to associate itself with theologians advocating Replacement Theology and Palestinian officials with clear ties to recognized terrorist organizations. For any self-respecting person, and especially for Israelis such as myself, the endorsement of terror by association, at a Christian conference, is obscene."

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Howard Pepper

March 11, 2014  2:36pm

I don't know enough about it to commend OR criticize the conference itself. But it is at least encouraging to see that more Evangelicals and other Christians are looking more deeply and seriously at the issues in Israel. With that, they are truly seeking justice and peace for all in the region... a very welcome development in relation to the unthinking attempts of still many other Evangelicals to reduce it all down to simplistic interpretations of certain prophetic statements in the Bible.... in effect, threatening to set off a major war by means of "self-fulfilling" prophesy. How sad that has been and how encouraging to see this greater understanding and compassion.

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toni dalrymple

March 11, 2014  1:53pm

This has nothing to do with politics. It has everything to do with the 2 Greatest Commandments in the Law....Jesus reminds us of them: "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” MT 22:36-40 Let's love like Jesus. If that's too hard of a task, can't we at least love others the way we love ourselves? Seems like if we do at a minimum the later, this world would be a better place. Church wake up...If Israel won't stand up for Palestinian Christians, our brothers and sisters in the Lord, we should. "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you...but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God. Michah 6:8

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Rick Dalbey

March 11, 2014  10:11am

John and Susan, so are you obligated to be a gracious host and welcome religious people from all over the world to come to your country and discus how to divide it up and give it away? What craziness. These are left wing political activists of the Sojourner Jim Wallis brand who side with Israel's enemies, those sworn to destroy Israel. Again, I am an average Christian from Oregon and I agree with the Israeli minister, I think it is shameful. I would not welcome delegates from Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and North Korea coming in to meet in my community in Oregon to focus on our perceived injustices towards indians or to foster support for Iran and divide our country. Why should they?

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John MacLean

March 10, 2014  11:44pm

The hypocrisy of this statement from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs is mind-blowing. Didn't Netanyahu speak via satellite to the 2011 annual conference of Christians United for Israel? And couldn't this Christian Zionist organization be fairly described as having an "intent to manipulate religious sentiment for political purposes"? Once again judgement is made based NOT on what you do, BUT whose side you are (perceived to be) on.

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Rick Dalbey

March 10, 2014  11:03pm

Frankie Lee, this "Evangelical event" IS shameful. The Israeli minister is right. And to host it as a guest in this country is indeed shameful! These are just left wing political "evangelicals" critical of Israel. As Israeli Christians have said "Anti-Israel politics and political correctness have emerged as focal points of this conference, to which end the state of Israel and the Jewish people have been singled out for constant and severe criticism. The conference sponsors retain connections to pro-jihadist movements or persons, whose political stances threaten the entire Middle East." Have they not read the Bible?

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Frankie Lee

March 10, 2014  9:54pm

This Israeli Minister must be sleeping on the job.Netanyahu has been appealing Funds and support from Evangelicals and from Chancellor Merkel,another evangelical,and many evangelicals all around the world All of us are blessings to Israel,called her our friend an ally,but why should this silly fellow not to be shamed? With more like this kind,Israel deserved to be doom.

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Rick Dalbey

March 10, 2014  6:50pm

Dave, this is the 3rd year of the event. No one has been murdered. No one has been arrested. No one has had white phosphorus dropped on them and there are no children present, Palestinian or otherwise. Way to propagandize. Nevertheless, this is Israel's land, it will never be given up or divided. It was given to them by God. Do you not recognize that?

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dave thawley

March 10, 2014  6:42pm

For me this is typical Israeli behaviour. Anything at all that draws attention to their barbaric inhumane treatment of mainly innocent people (most of which are kids) is immediately suppressed either by media control. arrests or murder. If all else fails they pull our their trump card and call anyone who disagrees with them (be them atheist, Muslim, Christian or Jew) an anti-Semite instead of anti brutal murderous apartheid. I honestly don't mean to offend but there is no other words that can be used for murdering unarmed protestors by shooting them at point blank range in the back of their heads or dropping white phosphorous onto kids. It is a great article, please keep up the unbiased reporting.

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Rick Dalbey

March 10, 2014  5:07pm

What you folks don’t understand is that the nation of Israel was taken from another people. You may consider it unfair, but the people who originally built the cites and farms, the Canaanites, were killed and driven out. David took Jebus from the Jebusites, the Palestinians of the day, and renamed it the city of David, or Jerusalem. It was won in battle and occupied and ruled by Israel. God is not giving it back. NEVER. Its walls are tattooed on the sensitive palms of His hands, Jesus plans on living there in the future. Nothing could be clearer. You can talk about justice all you want Susan and others, but Israel is not giving up territory. And those that try to divide the land will be judged. "I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land.” Joel 3.

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Rick Dalbey

March 10, 2014  4:48pm

“After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple (pupil) of His eye....Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me. Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst.” Guess where jesus is planning on living? Anybody who comes agaist Israel is like poking a stick in God’s eye. Israel is the sensitive pupil of God’s eye. He is also tattooed with the architecture of Jerusalem. “Behold, I have indelibly imprinted (tattooed a picture of) you on the palm of each of My hands; [O Zion] your walls are continually before Me.” Is 49:16 AMP. Pretty radical statements from the creator of the universe, don’t you think? “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.” Yes, Susan, we BETTER take one side in this conflict. Which side are you on? Conservative Christians are turning out to be the best friend, and in the future, maybe the only friend, Israel has.

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n t

March 10, 2014  1:33pm

More conferences like this are needed! For too long too many evangelicals have uncritically adopted the pro-Israel narrative without bothering to look into the Palestinian side of things.

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Ken Smith

March 10, 2014  1:10pm

I love Israel and I love Israelis; the world would be a vastly diminished place if the modern nation of Israel were not around. I thus support Israel just as much and just as strongly as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and all the other prophets did. This does not mean - indeed, it means quite the opposite - that we must say that everything Israel does is right, any more than we must believe that everything the United States does is right. It does mean treating Israel with the same respect, and holding her to the same standards, that we apply to her Arab neighbors. That is, of course, inherent in the whole notion of justice.

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Susan Gillespie

March 10, 2014  12:31pm

I'm very grateful that Christianity Today published this story as it did. We can't blindly take one side or the other in this conflict, nor can we ignore that people on each side have failed to act in ways that promote peace. And I find it DEEPLY ironic that the charge here is that using religion to manipulate politics is shameful!! Someone is bound to post scriptures here that seem to indicate that one must agree with Israel no matter what (even though it's clear in the prophets that God didn't!). This conference makes me hopeful. Love mercy, do justice, walk humbly with God.

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Stefan Stackhouse

March 10, 2014  11:12am

Jesus said we are to love our neighbors, and that includes both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims, Christians, and even the very descendants of the Samaritan that was featured in one of His parables. We don't get to pick and choose who our neighbors are, as Jesus made clear; we are to love all of them. Loving both Israelis and Palestinians does not come with a political agenda, except maybe to not take sides. A peaceful political resolution there is ultimately up to Israelis and Palestinians themselves to work out. The best we can do is to pray for them and encourage them to seek a settlement that will result in peace and justice for all of the peoples of the region.

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