"Are you in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? Mark 12:24

My Denomination against Israel

O Little town of Bethlehem - an inaccurate, anti-Israel  article published by BUGB

"O Little town of Bethlehem" - an inaccurate, anti-Israel article published by Baptist Union of Great Britain

See also Replacement Theology and Bad Theologies

I have come to realise that the denomination of which I have been a part since my conversion in 1966, has adopted the Anti-Israel viewpoint of the secular world. I have also become aware of other matters of theology that are generally lacking, such as healing and a tendency to a secular worldview; for instance a tendency to try to adapt Genesis to Evolution. I have attempted to tackle this issue in the denominational churches as Unbelief.

I am not saying that the Baptist denomination in the UK is any worse or any better than other denominations, although the Pentecostals may be better. It is just that I am better able to observe the Baptist denomination than other denominations.

The Baptist denomination does not enforce a theological position on its members in any matter apart from Believers Baptism by immersion. However, I have realised that traditional sets of beliefs will be handed down and taught while some matters, such as Healing, can just be left out. The Baptist's legacy from Spurgeon has fallen into disuse while present day popular Baptist speakers may propagate an entirely different story.

I would suggest that you scrutinise the material produced by your denomination.

This page is concerned with the general denominational position on Israel

You may be surprised to find yourself branded within your church and denomination as one of the bad guys for believing in Israel, its right to exist and its place in God's future purposes. How does this come about?

Here are some case studies on the official British Baptist position on Israel as best as it can be determined from the publications coming from the Baptist Union of Great Britain.   I have attempted to analyse their thinking with a view to helping folk understand what is happening in order not to be wrong footed by it.   

One resource on the BUGB web site

The Baptist Union of Great Britain explains that it partners with Christian Aid and the World Council of Churches in formulating its position on Israel.

Please analyse for yourself the assertions of Anti-Israel activists rather than accept their "facts".   Avoid feeling obliged to answer their questions, when in many cases the questions themselves are the vehicle for their campaign.   When they ask the wrong question, counter with the question we should be asking.  See also Christians Against Israel and Christian speakers .

DECADE TO OVERCOME VIOLENCE - 2001

The Baptist Union of Great Britain has bought into the "Decade to Overcome Violence"  initiative.   The campaigning agenda includes "Israel and Palestine", and links from the BUGB web site lead to one pushing the condemnation of Israel for the "Illegal Occupation of Palestine."   

2002: Palestine / Israel: End the Illegal Occupation of Palestine

In 2002, the ecumenical campaign  "End the Illegal occupation of Palestine : Support a Just Peace in the Middle East" aimed to mobilize WCC member churches and ecumenical partners and coordinate efforts to address the root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The campaign raised awareness in the churches of the history of the conflict and issues at stake, facilitated delegation visits, distributed prayers from church leaders in Jerusalem, and sought coordinated international advocacy alongside the local churches and peace and human-rights organizations.

I  E-mailed a letter of complaint, pointing out the error of such a stance, to  Baptist Union people.  

Perhaps some of the ideas may be helpful if you want to air your concerns within your denomination.   

Notice above,  "Palestine/Israel";  not even, "Israel/Palestine".   Israel is being pushed further and further down in the terminology.

Baptist Times January 2009

The Baptist Times carried an article entitled, " Zion’s Christian Soldiers?" subtitled, " Ali Hull talks to Rev Steven Sizer about Christians and Israel"

This article recycled many untrue assertions about Israel and Christian Zionist belief, and is at odds with Baptist principles of tolerance. Read the article with comments .

The same issue carried another one sided article about peace in Gaza.

Baptist Times December 18th 2008

Page 10 and 11 carried an article entitled, "Blessed are the Peacemakers" looking at the campaigns by some Palestinian Christians to make peace.

The thread of the article is not easy to follow, starting with criticisms of Israel, then criticism of Christion Zionists (see also above) moving into accounts of various Palestinian grievances.

The peacemakers referred to are said to be seeking peace through justice but it appears to be their one sided idea of justice, and by achieving the goals of the Palestinians. That is, there will be peace once Israel is defeated and Palestine gets its demands met. Since those demands, in the minds of many, include the eradication of Israel, that cannot fairly be called peacemaking.

Judge for yourself - here Baptist Times on "Peacemakers".

BUGB Magazine March - April 2008

The magazine carried a major feature inside entitled, “Israel/Palestine” covering three of its eight pages. The Article features the following text below a montage of emotive photographs of the Israeli Security Barrier.

"O little town of Bethlehem How still we see thee lie"

The little town of Bethlehem is a place that is neither still nor peaceful. It is caught up in the continuing cycle of violence and poverty that afflicts so much of the Middle East.

The article focuses on the grievances of Christians in Bethlehem against Israel, but it is neither balanced nor accurate.

Read the article with comments.

 

Baptist Union (BUGB) Assembly 2014

10 - 11 May at the Bethel Convention Centre, West Bromwich

Assembly theme:  Higher Deeper Wider

Speakers included Jack Sara - President of Bethlehem Bible College (BBC).

Jack is an ordained minister with Evangelical Alliance Church in the Holy Land where he still maintains an overseeing role with the leadership of the churches, as well as working extensively in the areas of peace and reconciliation.

However, Bethlehem Bible College organises the Christ at the Checkpoint conferences.

 

Pastor Jack is a leader among the Palestinian Christians against Israel

His associates preach Replacement Theology, Liberation Theology and Christian Palestinianism, as well a strongly opposing Christian Zionism.

I am deeply concerned about the growing influence of Christian Palestinianists in the Baptist Union.   There is no legitimacy to their pushing the anti-Israel theology - the people driving it are not elected representatives and the Baptist Union is not mandated to dictate theology on anything, other than believers' immersion.

What has happened to our Baptist heritage of the great preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon? We seem to have the same problem that CHS himself had when he came up against the BU. (The Downgrade Controversy)

See footnote

 

Looking on the bright side

Britain's Baptists are actually a collection of independent churches, not under the control of BUGB. While the BUGB may seek to influence policy and belief it does not exert control.

Upon receiving the extensive Jews for Jesus 2008 programme of Passover presentations (also the 2009 programme) to Christian churches it was amazing to note how many Baptist churches appear eager to learn about the Jewish Passover. So perhaps there is a dawning revelation among Britain's Baptists and the BUGB is just an out of touch and unrepresentative body. Perhaps, one day, the Baptist Times will get revelation!

Perhaps we will be pleasantly surprised to find out how many Baptists make up their own minds by reading the Bible and are not against Israel. With this in mind, a new web site has been launched to encourage Baptists who love Israel to make themselves known.

 

 

See also observations on the wider church becoming political

Whither the Church? - Poverty and the Church? - Social Gospel? - Bad Theologies (Dominion Theology)

 

Updated 24/01/14

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Our Legacy as Baptists

Many today believe that the State of Israel is nothing more than a political mistake, and is irrelevant to the purposes of God. These folks say that Christians who believe Israel to be the fulfilment of prophecy are a modern aberration. Some even go so far as to side with the forces that are fighting to destroy Israel, claiming that Israel is an imperialist state oppressing its poorer neighbours.

There is much that can be said to refute these political arguments, but the essential truth is that Christians who believe in God's purposes for Israel are not a recent aberration.

Hatred of Israel is not our inheritance. Our true Baptist heritage is the legacy of Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

As well as his preaching, he is remembered for founding, just over 150 years ago, the highly respected college that still bears his name; Spurgeon's College.

Consider the following extracts from the Sermons of CHS.

"The Church of Christ" delivered on June 3, 1855 at New Park Street Chapel, Southward:

The hour is approaching, when the tribes shall go up to their own country; when Judea, so long a bawling wilderness, shall once more blossom like the rose; when, if the temple itself be not restored, yet on Zion's hill shall be raised some Christian building, where the chants of solemn praise shall be heard as erst of the old Psalms of David were sung in the Tabernacle. ..I think we do not attach sufficient importance to the restoration of the Jews. We do not think enough about it. But certainly, if there is anything promised in the Bible it is this. I imagine that you cannot read the Bible without seeing clearly that there is to be an actual restora­tion of the Children of Israel ... For when the Jews are restored, the fullness of the Gentiles shall be gathered in; and as soon as they return, then Jesus will come upon Mount Zion with his ancients gloriously, and the halcyon days of the millennium shall then dawn; we shall then know every man to be a In-other and a friend; Christ shall rule with universal sway.

"Once a Curse But Now a Blessing" delivered on December 6, 1863 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington:

But the day is coming, yea it dawns already, when the whole world shall discern the true dignity of the chosen seed, and shall seek their company, because the Lord hath blessed them. In that day when Israel shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and shall mourn for their sins, the Jew shall take his true rank among the nations as an elder brother and a prince. The covenant made with Abraham, to bless all nations by his seed, is not revoked; heaven and earth shall pass away, but the chosen nation shall not be blotted out from the book of remembrance. The Lord hath not cast away his people; he has never given their mother a bill of divorcement; he has never put them away; in a little wrath he hath hidden his face from them, but with great mercies will he gather them. The natural branches shall again be engrafted into the olive together with the wild olive graftings from among the Gentiles. In the Yew, first and chiefly, shall grace triumph through the King of the Jews. 0 time, fly thou with rapid wing, and bring the auspicious day.

"The Restoration and Conversion of the Jews" delivered on June 16, 1864 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington:

There will be a native government again; there will again be the forma of a body politic; a state shall be incorporated, and a king shall reign. Israel has now become alienated from her own land. Her sons, though they can never forget the sacred dust of Palestine, yet die at a hopeless distance from her consecrated shores. But it shall not be so for ever, for her sons shall again rejoice in her: her land shall be called Beulah, for as a young man marrieth a virgin so shall her sons marry her. "I will place you in your own land, " is God's promise to them ... They are to have a national prosperity which shall make them famous; nay, so glorious shall they be that Egypt, and Tyre, and Greece, and Rome, shall all forget their glory in the greater splendour of the throne of David ...1 there be anything clear and plain, the literal sense and meaning. If this passage (Ezekiel 37:1-IO) has a meaning not to be spirited or spiritualized away, it must be evident that both the two and the ten tribes of Israel are to be restored to their own land, and that a king is to rule over them.

"The Leafless Tree" delivered on March 8, 1857 at New Park Street Chapel, Southwark:

If we read the Scripture's aright the Jews have a great deal to do with this world's history. They shall be gathered in; Messiah shall come, the Messiah they are looking for-the same Messiah who came once shall come again shall come as they expected him to come the first time. They then thought he would come a prince to reign over them, and so he will when he comes again. He will come to be king of the Jews, and to reign over his people most gloriously; for when he comes Jew and Gentile shall have equal privileges, though there shall yet be some distinction afforded to that royal family from whose loins Jesus came; for be shall sit upon the throne of his father David, and unto him shall be gathered all nations.

Spurgeon interpreted the text quite literally, he took its promises at face value. He refused to retreat to a "spiritualized" interpretation which either negated or obfuscated what he viewed as a clear teaching of the text.

Spurgeon repeated the theme of the restoration of Israel to the land on many other occasions. He clearly linked that restoration together with the Jews national acceptance of Christ as their Messiah.

"It is certain that the Jews, as a people, will yet own Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of David as their King, and that they will return to their own land, and they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the old cities, the desolations of many generations."

Regarding the restoration of national Israel to its land Spurgeon consistently and clearly taught to the following key points:

 

See specialist web sites

spurgeon.org/misc/eschat2.htm

spurgeon.org/

wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Spurgeon

biblebb.com/spurgeon

wholesomewords.org/biography/biorpspurgeon

spurgeongems.org

fundamentalbaptistlinks.com

 

The end of the story

There is a sting in the tail about Spurgeon the Prince of Preachers and Baptist hero.

Spurgeon spent the last few years of his life in disagreement with the Baptist Union and was eventually censured by them for rocking the boat.

This story has both negative and positive implications for us.

See Downgrade Controversy and Censure.