Nine points Pentecostals and Charismatic families of churches must do to build healthy relationships with the nation of Israel, Jews, and Palestinians.
Pentecostals, traditional Charismatics, and third-wave Charismatics are collectively called Renewalists. They staunchly support the nation of Israel regardless of whatever behaviour this nation exhibits. Is this is a good thing?
No. It is not.
There is a great need within the Renewalist movement to build a fair and balanced relationship with the nation of Israel, Jews, and Palestinians. The current oral tradition is sorely lacking in this regard.
Indeed, the present Renewalist thinking slows or even hurts resolving the Palestinian-Israeli crisis. If Renewalists redirect their energy towards a just and meaningful solution between Israelis and Palestinians, it would make the world a much better place.
The Nine points are directly aimed at members of the Renewalist community and perhaps touches on Fundamentalist groups too. These points do not apply to Catholics, Presbyterians, Methodists, Anglicans, and those belonging to the World Council of Churches. They have different histories and politics on the subject.
Why this question is vitally important
There are a lot of Renewalists out there and it is having an effect on world affairs. In fact, it is the fastest growing Christian movement with projections of 700 million followers by 2020.1 The movement has crossed religious lines and some of its values has spread into Catholicism and mainline Protestant churches. So the 700 million estimate may be too conservative.
Their growth is a global phenomenon.2
The Nine Points
- The events leading to the end of the world are God’s job, not ours. Any Christian who promotes an eschatological view at the expense of a person’s fundamental rights, whetherJew or Palestinian or Arab is wrong.
- The most effective role of the Renewalist is not to fulfill prophecy but to encourage a one or two-state solution.
- Whether the new country was correctly established or not, Israel exists. Renewalist oral tradition rightly condemns any talk or action that calls for the annihilation of Israel.
- Jews, and Israelis in particular, are to define themselves. Christians should not define them in archaic historic terms. One should not assume an ancient Jew as a synonym for the modern Israeli.
- The dynamic between Israel and its Palestinian countrymen, neighbours, and hostiles is a very dysfunctional one. They are both culpable.
- Renewalists must push for a lasting peace between the United States and Iran. Iran has sponsored terrorist cells throughout the world to destabilize American interests. Israel is one of those hot-spots. This plays a significant role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
- Renewalist dialogue on the Palestinian-Israeli crisis must engage Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian, Egyptian, and especially Palestinian Christians on the topic.
- If Israel is serious about peace then they have to either allow previous landholders driven out of their homes during the 1967 war to return to their homes or properly compensate them through a negotiated settlement. Secondly, Israel has to halt all settlement building activities on Palestinian land. Those that already exist, Israel has to negotiate fair lease agreements with the Palestinian authorities for the use of their land. If Israel cannot negotiate a deal, then the illegal settlements should revert to Palestinian ownership.
- If Israel is to offer up those concessions, then their counterparts must do their share. Israel is a small country land-wise and within range of any missile or even small armaments. Any peace given by its neighbours must be tangible and long-lasting. Israel has to be recognized as a country and any foreign opposition calling for their destruction must completely disappear. █
For those who are unfamiliar with Renewalism and curious about the importance of this nine-point thesis, here is some background information.
Who are these people?
Renewalists subscribe to the belief that signs, wonders, and miracles are still active today in the church today. Pentecostals are the earliest model of this framework back in the early 1900s. Charismatics came upon the scene in the 1960s when Pentecostal influences permeated mainline churches. Over time, the Charismatic followers left the mainline churches and formed their own independent gatherings. The Charismatic movement is now slightly overtaking its Pentecostal parent in momentum throughout the world. 3 Third-Wave Christians are Charismatics who adhere to the signs and wonders but have dropped a distinct Pentecostal doctrine called the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Well, maybe it is an exaggeration to lump all the groups together when it comes to their relationship with Judaism and their views of the Middle East. There are slight differences. Pentecostals have a strong presence in Jerusalem, but from my experience with Canadian Pentecostals, their excitement is tamer than Charismatic and Third-Wave Christians. Neither do I hear such strong fervour from local Charismatic and Third-Wave Pastors either, but it is quite prevalent among their followers.
Why are Renewalists so supportive of Israel and the Jewish People?
Perhaps it is the influence of televangelists such as Pat Robertson, or Jack Van Impe. Or maybe the values reinforced by Renewalist organizations such as Bridges for Peace, the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem, along with many more similar organizations. Their mandate is to foster better relationships with the Jewish people, educate Christians on their Judaic roots, and demonstrate visible support for Israel. They have succeeded and these values have become part of the Renewalist oral traditions.
Better yet, it is the Renewalist penchant for personal Bible devotions. Anyone who is a literalist and reads the Bible from the Book of Genesis to Revelation will find the Jewish narrative a core theme. Without it, the Bible would become very obscure, boring, and unimportant. Therefore, it is a natural fit for Renewalists to link their faith with the Jewish antecedent. They apply their personal Bible readings to interpret modern Judaism, the nation of Israel, and contemporary politics from this perspective.
Renewalist contemporary thoughts on Israel, Jews and Palestinians
The formation of Israel was one of Britain’s last vestiges of colonial rule. It is also a result of Protestant sensitivities to the Bible and their perceptions of the restoration of Israel.
Renewalists are highly apocalyptic and see the formation of Israel as one of the prerequisites for the end of the world.
They also revere the Jewish race because of their special religious status outlined in the Bible.
There is an undercurrent within that seeks to evoke the same faith structure outlined in the first-century. They perceive the loss of the Jewish identity and the rise of Greco-Roman Christianity as a corrupt or watered down version of faith. A condition that has plagued the church until the Pentecostal explosion in the early 1900s. The early 1900s brought a revitalization that insiders in the movement believe parallels the first-century experience and naturally the Jewish dominant themes.
There are other factors at work here, such as the Renewalist lack of liturgy and structure in their mystical existential environment. Judaism is one of the options looked at to fill this void.
There is a small but influential body within various Renewalist communities that seek to imitate Jewish customs or directly integrate them into their faith system. This is more so found in Charismatic and Third-Wave Christians.4
For the Renewalist, Palestinians are classified with the greater Arab population. The Arabs are considered antagonists in their prophetic narrative. For this reason, Palestinians, and Palestinian Christians in particular, are largely ignored in any of their dialogue.
This attitude has to change.
The Renewalist movement and the Israeli Government
The Israeli Government is aware of the Renewalist unwavering theology about the Jews and Israel. They see both a financially and politically rewarding relationship with little strings attached. The Government of Israel has diligently built positive relations with them to ensure continued support. Their relationship with Renewalists does not always sit well within Jewish circles and is viewed often with deep suspicion.
- The above conclusions are built on two previous articles already published by me: Pentecostals and Israel, and The Alliance between Israel and Evangelicals. Portions may be outdated, but the framework still holds true for today.
- For more information on contemporary Christian Zionism read: This is why evangelicals love Trump’s Israel policy by Sean Illing.
- On the formation of development of Christian Zionism and its impact on modern Israel, see Stephen Sizer’s book, Christian Zionism: Road-map to Armageddon?
- On the war with Iran, read David Crist’s The Twilight War: The Secret History of America’s Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran.
- My personal story as a Christian Zionist while living in Israel and why my position changed: The Journey out of Christian Zionism.
- On the view of Christian Zionists, and Christians in general from an Israeli perspective, see Zev Chafetz’s book, A Match Made in Heaven, or a JPost opinion piece Christian Zionism and a positive relationship with Jews and Judaism.
- For a background history of Palestinian-Israeli relations from an Israeli perspective, read My Promised Land by Ari Shavit.
- A listing of a few Renewalist Christian Zionist organizations:
- Critical analysis of Christian Zionist organizations: Unholy Alliance: Christian Zionists and the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict by Michael Welton
and Christian Zionism, by Dr. Ninan Koshy.
- Christ at the Checkpoint Conferences sponsored bi-annually by Bethlehem College, looks for an equitable relationship. Christian Zionists argue that it has a Palestinian bias.
Image with Balfour statement is used with permission from dreamstime.com. “The Balfour Declaration was a public statement issued by the British government during World War I announcing support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. . .”5
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- http://www.gordonconwell.edu/ockenga/research/documents/2ChristianityinitsGlobalContext.pdf Pg. 7
- See the article by Emma Green in the Atlantic White Evangelicals Used to Dominate Christian Zionism, but Not Anymore
- This is through my own local experience dealing especially with two ardent Christian Zionists, and a number of other acquaintances who are oriented this way, but not so passionately. See also the New York Times Article Oy Vey, Christian Soldiers by Maude Newton