CHRISTIAN EMBASSY REBUTS ANGLICAN RESOLUTION ON JERUSLEM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE     Monday, 10 August 1998

Responding to last week's call by the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops for international acceptance of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) today said this resolution is "a misguided impulse which is alarmingly at odds with core, immutable truths of Scripture once widely-recognized within the Anglican Church." The ICEJ urged that it be reconsidered at once and called on Anglicans worldwide to protest its adoption with their church leadership.
"This decision, which addresses complex, political issues, has serious biblical implications and appears to be a hasty attempt to placate a single, easily-offended and historically pro-PLO Arab Bishop," said the Christian Embassy. "It was reached after little consideration, without reference to any biblical foundation, and is a woefully inappropriate remedy for the problems of those Palestinian Arab Christians they seek to help."
"The fact that only one or two out of nearly 740 Bishops registered even slight reservations is disappointing, especially when considering common beliefs once held within the Anglican Church," said the ICEJ. Some 100 years ago, the ascendant view among prominent Anglican leaders (including such notables as Lord Palmerston and Lord Shaftesbury, among others) held that the Scriptures clearly promised an ingathering to Jerusalem and the Land of Israel of Jewish peoples scattered throughout the earth as a key step in the fulfillment of God's redemptive plan for the entire world. Anglicans supported the restoration of Jewish sovereignty and possession in their ancient homeland, based on biblical and historic rights and the belief that it was an essential prerequisite for the return of the Lord.

The Christian Embassy termed it "a classic case of the tail wagging the dog," as Arab Bishop-elect of Jerusalem Riah Hanna Abu El-Assal swayed the Anglican hierarchy to abandon sound church doctrine of the past and the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, who confirmed these prophetic promises made to Israel. (See Romans 15:8, which states that Jesus "became a servant to the circumcision (his own Jewish people) for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers.")

The ICEJ expressed the view that the Anglican Church's position now stands in opposition to God's clearly revealed purposes for our day by supporting the establishment of a rival, Islamic state on portions of land restored to Israel. It noted that the Bishops' Conference could not ignore the very hard reality that such a Palestinian state, despite its small Christian minority and calls that it be secular and democratic in nature, already in fact is a Muslim authority committed to shar'ia law and prolonging the conflict with Israel until all the Land of Israel is brought back into the "House of Islam." Thus Palestinian statehood would enhance their abilities to confront Israel and destabilize the region. Further, it would do little to help Palestinian Christians, who are needed for the moment by the Muslim majority to secure support from a naive Western audience. "Many such Christians already have expressed privately their fears that they will be expendable once the goal of statehood is achieved," noted the ICEJ.

The Christian Embassy also expressed dismay with the handling of Bishop Riah's anger over the use of the biblical term "Judea" (instead of "West Bank") in a conference presentation on Ezekiel 37, and with Riah's misappropriation of Jesus' parable of the "Good Samaritan," intentionally misrepresenting the Samaritan (meaning "Palestinians") as the one who was beaten and robbed in the story. "Sadly, many prominent Palestinian Christians in recent years have promoted similar distortions of biblical truths and passages in disturbing sympathetic appeals for political support from the greater Christian world," said the Embassy. Examples include: The claim Jesus was born in "Palestine," (even though the Gospels say he was born in "Bethlehem of Judea." and despite the fact Judea was renamed Palestine by the Romans decades after Jesus' death); The claim Jesus was the "first Palestinian revolutionary," (even though the Bible is clear he was a Jewish rabbi who was "the son of David, the son of Abraham."); And repeated references to Palestinian suffering as "a crucifixion," "a constant Calvary" or "a long Via Delorosa", all images calculated to stir up Christian anti-Semitism aimed at Israel.

"We urge all Christians to reject such irresponsible distortions of the Holy Scriptures," stated the ICEJ, pointing out that many Palestinian Christians also are intellectually dishonest in wrongly identifying themselves to Churches worldwide as the descendants of the first Christians. If such were the case, they would have Jewish blood, since the earliest believers in the Holy Land were Jews. Likewise, the traditional Palestinian view is that one is born a Christian, which logically would mean they again have Jewish blood unless someone in their ancestry broke that tradition when converting to the faith.

The ICEJ noted that many Palestinian Arab Christians indeed belong to ancient churches and regrettably often cling to ancient local prejudices against Jews and Muslims. Yet for the sake of unity within the Palestinian nationalist movement and for their own survival, they tend to be less than candid about the tensions and oppression they face from their Muslim neighbors. The ICEJ also noted that, in contrast to most Palestinian Christians, other minority Christian communities in the Middle East (including Lebanese Christians, Assyrian Christians in Iraq, Coptic Christians in Egypt and Sudanese Christians) generally have more favorable views toward Israel, looking to the Jewish state as the only example of freedom and democracy in the entire region and as a model for their own aspirations of independence from Muslim rule.

The ICEJ is an international, pro-Israel Christian organization which, as a core part of its ministry in the Land of Israel, also reaches out to all Palestinian Arabs, Christians and Muslims, providing material assistance to meet social, medical and other needs in a sincere expression of compassion and concern for them. For a variety of reasons (primarily biblical, but also historic, geo-political and otherwise), the Christian Embassy does not support Palestinian claims to statehood, particularly when proffered as a cure to the problems facing Palestinian Christians or as a step towards just and lasting peace in the region. The ICEJ concluded that the Anglican Church "must set forth in detail how it can reconcile this decision of the Bishops' Conference with biblical principles and the prophetic significance of Israel's rebirth, as well as with present Middle East realities."

For more information, please contact Stan Goodenough or David Parsons at the ICEJ: Tel: (02) 5669823; Fax: (02) 5669970; Email: meid@icej.org.il

Stan Goodenough
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem
PO Box 1192
Jerusalem 91010
ISRAEL

Tel: ..972.2.5631418
Fax: ...972.2.5669970 email: meid@icej.org.il


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