We all know that there is a growing campaign to delegitimize Israel. We see it on TV, read about it in the newspapers: Israel rarely gets fair press.
But what many Christians don’t realize is the extent to which evangelical scholars from prominent seminaries are joining in.
Back in September Fuller Theological Seminary’s Just Peacemaking Initiative published ‘An Open Letter to America’s Christian Zionists.’ It was a confused document that claimed, amongst other things, that pro-Israel Christians in the US are not only sinful but responsible for increasing the likelihood of war against Israel – even a nuclear attack by Iran.
The ICEJ recognized that they needed to respond. Here is that response:
Dear Drs. Gushee & Stassen,
It is with appreciation that we read ‘An Open Letter to America’s Christian Zionists’ released on September, 19, 2011, which calls for serious evaluation and response. We herewith include our response as an organization that has been on the forefront of the global Christian Zionist movement for the past 31 years.
In your Open Letter you claimed, amongst other things, that Christian Zionists are not only sinful but produce sin and will be the cause of any upcoming war against Israel including a nuclear attack by Iran. Astonishingly, these harsh and unfounded accusations appear to be based on little more than a brief “peacemaking” tour of the so-called “Occupied Territories” this past summer together with a group of 50 students from Fuller Theological Seminary.
It is our view that your conclusions not only demonstrate a flawed understanding of biblical justice, but a degree of theological inconsistency and historical ignorance that are deeply troubling in professors of your standing in such highly respected institutions such as Fuller and Mercer.
Our response is written from the vantage point of being located “on the ground” in Jerusalem from where we have been engaged in the issues raised in your ‘Open Letter’, as well as with the various people groups involved in those issues for over three decades. Our support for Israel does not mean that we think Israel is perfect, or that we blindly support all of her policies. She has many good policies and some bad – like all states do. We tremble not over God’s promise to judge Israel and correct her when necessary (Jer. 30:11), but His ultimate judgment of the nations for their treatment of Israel and the Jewish people (Isa. 60:12; Joel 3:2; Matt. 25:31-40).
We pray for the peace of Jerusalem knowing that the answer to that prayer will mean great blessing for both Arabs and Jews – in fact, all the world. We encourage Christians to love all the peoples of the Middle East and to pray for them and particularly for our Christian Arab brothers and sisters. But if we want to help bring justice to the Palestinian people then we need to be honest and admit that their problem is not Israel but their own corrupt and cowardly leaders and we need to call for those leaders to lay down their goal of eradicating Israel, recognize her right to exist as a Jewish state and broker an agreement for the sake of the Palestinian people.
We hope that this letter will help you develop a deeper, more theologically grounded and less partisan appreciation of the complexities facing the modern-day State of Israel, her quest for peace and enduring place in the plan of God for the redemption of all mankind.
Susan Michael Dr. Jürgen Bühler Rev. Malcolm Hedding
ICEJ USA Director ICEJ Interim Executive Director ICEJ Vice Chairman
*CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FULL RESPONSE TO THE OPEN LETTER AND ALSO TO SEE THE ENDORSEMENTS FROM KEY EVANGELICAL LEADERS.