Archive for August 5th, 2017

A Further Unveiling of Assemblies of God Resolution 3 & the Serious Implications

Also see Part 1: “Commentary: Assembly of God (AOG) General Council to Vote on Resolution Against Israel ” and Part 2: “Dr. George Wood Responds to Lighthouse Trails Article on AoG Resolution 3 and Israel”

By Cedric Fisher
Truth Keepers

When I wrote my commentary on July 28th about the Assemblies of God Resolution 3, which will be voted on during the 57th Assemblies General Council (August 7-11th) in Anaheim, California, I was quite unprepared for the firestorm that ensued.(1) I was especially surprised by George Wood’s response.(2)

Remember that when Ruth Haley Barton (who is a powerful advocate for the New Age practice of contemplative prayer) was invited to speak at the AoG General Council in 2013, Dr. Wood defended the decision.(3) Furthermore, he has never expressed any public reluctance or regret in inviting Rick Warren (who promotes unity with the Catholic Church and contemplative practices) to speak at previous General Councils or this upcoming one. Rick Warren is also a signer of “A Common Word” Christian Response, a document where Christian leaders ask for forgiveness from “the All-Merciful One” (a Muslim term for Allah) and essentially say that the Christian God and Allah are the same God.(4) While Dr. Wood has been blasé and silent about Rick Warren, Mark Batterson (creator of the Circle Maker heresy),(5) and Priscilla Shirer(6) (popular contemplative speaker and author) speaking at the 57th General Council, he lost his composure regarding my commentary about Resolution 3. What was he so frantic about? Why did he expose himself as imperious and acerbic? Dr. Wood’s reaction indicates there might be more to the story. After further research, I believe there is indeed behind-the-scenes information that needs to be brought forth.

 Replacement Theology Activists and Their View of Israel

During this past week, after my commentary was released by Lighthouse Trails, I have spent hours digging through the Internet, reading documents, and talking to people, some of whom have had first-hand experience within AoG regarding the matters at hand. As a result, I have come to the conclusion that the Assemblies of God denomination is dangerously compromised with so-called “justice and peacemakers” that adhere to Replacement Theology (Supersessionism).(7) These “peacemakers” are in virtually every position of influence in the AoG including leadership at the national level, universities, colleges, seminaries, and missions. Their basic belief can be summed up as follows: The Israeli claim to Palestine as a Jewish State by divine right is incorrect, and their continued enforcement of this claim is unjust.

Resolution 3 (R3) is being supported by Replacement Theology activists (as has been documented in my previous commentary, in the pursuing response article by Lighthouse Trails, and will be further documented in this article). In essence, the resolution is anti-Zionist, which in itself stems from the age-old spirit of hatred for the Jews). Whether these activists realize this or not, this is disguised anti-Semitism.

Dr. David Reagan of Lamb and Lion Ministries explains:

Anti-Zionism is just anti-Semitism in new, sophisticated clothes. Whereas anti-Semitism sought to drive out the Jews from the lands where they lived, anti-Zionism refuses to accept their right to live in their own land.(8)

Of course, most Replacement Theology activists will not admit their true views about Israel publicly. Instead, they declare that they love and support Israel and even go there often. However, just as in secular politics, one has to read between the lines and decipher the doublespeak. In reality, they do not love and support the Israel that presently exists. They are, in deeds (and with words in certain venues), adamantly opposed to present-day Israel.

If they loved and supported Israel, they would not be involved in a mission to force her into conformity with something she is not (and something that would eventually destroy her). Furthermore, they would not deny her genetic heritage and legacy and attempt to erase her from eschatology. Last, they would not be teaching anti-Semitism, as some of them are, to unsuspecting generations of younger professing Christians.

What they truly love and support is a futuristic and completely transformed “Israel”—an “Israel” that does not yet exist. It is a model they have concocted to agree with their “peace” plan. They arrogantly believe that Israel does not know what’s best for her and that they must steer the nation into its peaceful destiny.

Their commitment is as saying, “I love and support you, but not as you are. You must change.” That is commitment with conditions, which is not love and support at all. It is coercion and extortion. Those conditions include kowtowing to Muslim and especially Palestinian demands. Capitulating to those requirements would indeed change Israel to meet the approval of her “fair-weather friends” in denomination leadership, and tenured at colleges and universities. But there is nothing to gain from such a commitment and much to lose.

While this is not God’s plan according to His Word, these “pacifists” alter, remove, replace, reinterpret, and otherwise manipulate God’s Word to conform with their definition of “justice and peacemaking,” one of their popular buzz phrases.

“But,” they insist, “we must have world peace.” And as Rick Warren has often said, we must do “whatever it takes” to accomplish that peace.(9)

But at what price? Alliance with haters of Israel? The sacrifice of truth? The price of twisting God’s Word to disenfranchise His chosen people? Will the price be a massive assault of many armies on the nation of Israel? If the latter occurs, supporters of false peace will soon realize Who they were offending.

What Are These “Justice and Peacemakers” Really About?

What exactly are these “justice and peacemakers really about? And what are some of their tactics? Let’s take a look at a couple of the individuals involved in this so-called “justice and peacemaking” movement who have influenced the Assemblies of God.

Consider Paul Alexander, author of Peace to War: Shifting Allegiances in the Assemblies of God. Alexander was a Pneuma Book Award finalist chosen by The Society for Pentecostal Studies, a bastion of Replacement Theology. He edits the Pentecostals, Peacemaking, and Social Justice book series. His bio says he is a Pentecostal “peacemaker and justice seeker” originally from Kansas. He was a Missions major at Southwestern Assemblies of God University, has a M.Div. from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, and a doctorate from Baylor University. He is currently professor of Christian ethics and public policy at Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University and the director of public policy for Evangelicals for Social Action.(10)

Alexander founded Pentecostals and Charismatics for Peace and Justice (PCPJ) with the mission “to encourage, enable, and sustain peacemaking and justice–seeking as authentic and integral parts of Pentecostal–Charismatic Christianity.”(11) If you wish to see a glimpse of the next generation of Pentecostals and charismatics that are now rising to leadership, check out PCPJ’s Facebook page.(12)

Alexander also edited the book, Christ at the Checkpoint: Theology in the Service of Justice and Peace, commissioned and written by Palestinian Christians. In the Series Preface, Alexander writes, “We understand that peace and justice are not separate concerns but different ways of talking about and seeking Shalom—God’s salvation, justice and peace.”(13) Alexander and his associates, the Palestinian Christians, believe that Israel does not have biblical heritage or a right to their land. Christ at the Checkpoint conferences, sponsored by Bethlehem Bible College featuring speakers such as emergent progressive leaders Lynne Hybels(14) and Tony Campolo,(15) have a distinct anti-Israel political agenda.

According to various sources, Bethlehem Bible College is steeped in Replacement Theology that encourages sympathy for the Palestinians. For example, a 2014 NGO Monitor article titled “U.S., U.K., Netherlands Fund Anti-Israel ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ Conference,” said of the 2014 conference that Christ at the Checkpoint “seeks to advance the Palestinian nationalist agenda within Evangelical Christian churches, while simultaneously reviving theological anti-Semitic themes such as replacement theology.”(16)

And an article in the Jerusalem Post stated of Bethlehem Bible College:

The school has a deeply entrenched anti-Israel position, demonstrated through statements and publications of leaders associated with the school.(17)

Map of Middle East. Green indicates Muslim countries; Red is Israel

However, Alexander calls his book a “book of love.” He declares, “The Palestinian Christians who organized the conference at which these essays were presented are motivated by their love for God, love for Israelis, and love for their fellow Palestinians.”(18)

Alexander is no longer affiliated with the Assemblies of God. He was dismissed as a licensed AoG minister in 2014 for his changed views on homosexuality and acceptance of gay marriage.(19)But his dismissal had nothing to do with his anti-Israel efforts, which had begun long before 2014. So while the AoG was right in dismissing him for his pro-homosexual views, they apparently saw nothing wrong with his activism against Israel a number of years before that.

“This Land is . . . Your Land?”—The Dilemma of Ross Byars, R3’s Foremost Author

This brings me to J. Ross Byars, the apparent foremost author of Resolution 3. Byars is co-founder of the Jerusalem School of Bethlehem, of which students are predominantly Muslim. While the school focuses on giving Muslim youth a good education, “justice and peacemaking” is a major theme. Byars is known as an advocate of Replacement Theology. His rewrite of Woody Guthrie’s song “This Land is Your Land” leaves no doubt as to his position on Israel. Below are a few stanzas of this rewritten song:

It’s not just our land,
it’s also your land,
from the Rafah crossing
to the Northern Highland.
From the sandy seashore
to the tumbling Jordan,
this land is made for you and me. . . .
from the bubbling springs of Dan,
to Beersheba’s desert sand.
From the walls of the city,
to the snows of Hermon,
this land is made for you and me.(20)

You can watch a video of students at Jerusalem School of Bethlehem singing Byars rendition of the American song here: http://www.cppi.co/proactivities.html. Peter Yarrow (of the 60s singing group Peter, Paul, and Mary) is leading the group (also we have posted all the lyrics below this article).

In one verse, Byars postulates the concept that the Israelis and Palestinians are Arabs and their God is one:

So why these wars and fuss?
We’re you and you are us
We’re all one family,
this land’s one country.
We’re all Abram’s sons
Our God we serve is one,
Who made this land for you and me. (21)

Just hours before Lighthouse Trails released their response to George Wood’s comments about my first commentary,(22) Ross Byars called the office of Lighthouse Trails and spoke to one of its editors. He said that he is not anti-Israel but admitted he is for a two-state solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, saying that even Israel is for it. The LT editor responded by saying that Israel is not for it but is being coerced and forced into it.

The two-state solution. I explained the difference in versions of two-state agreements in the Lighthouse Trails response to George Wood:

Some evangelical leaders insist there is nothing wrong with the Two-State Solution. They claim that Israel advocates a Two-State Solution. If that were true, then it would have already occurred and we would not be having this controversy. There is a vast difference between the versions of Two-State Solutions. Israel’s version could be summed up as, “You leave us alone, and we’ll leave you alone.” Conversely, the Two-State Solution advocated by certain evangelicals is to moderate a resolution between Israel and Palestine that involves Israel giving up the West Bank, its biblical heritage as God’s Chosen People, and other untenable concessions. There is an effort to dismiss Israel from eschatology and brand it as just another sinful nation.(23)

Those who are advocating a two-state solution are overlooking something: they are assuming that once Israel falls into step with what the world is demanding of them, then the Muslims, Palestinians, and everyone else will now love Israel and be kind to her. But why would people think that is going to happen?! Israel and the Jews have been hated throughout history, long before there was the modern-day nation of Israel. Hitler didn’t need that as an excuse. There was no nation of Israel, but still he hated them, he killed them, and leaders and people around the world turned a blind eye while six million Jews were annihilated. Today, there are only fourteen million Jews on the Earth. Those who know (and believe) their Bibles know that God’s adversary, the devil, has a vehement hate for the Jews (and the nation of Israel) and will stop at nothing to destroy them. Those who think that Muslim terrorists and enemies are going to love Israel if they agree to a two-state solution are living in a deadly bubble of delusion.

“Justice and peacemaker” Murray Dempster (one of the supporters/authors of R3) is a professor at Southeastern and an adherent of Replacement Theology as was shown in both my earlier commentary and the Lighthouse Trails response to George Woods. An online article titled “Liberal Theology at Assemblies of God University?” reports on enthusiastic student support for anti-Semitism at Southeastern:

[One] week they invited Sami Awad, a pro-Palestine advocate to guest lecture. The lecture had very anti-Semitic comments and at one point it was mentioned that Israel did not have a right to exist. The discussion became very disturbing.(24)

Awad is a so-called “justice and peacemaker” and executive Director of Holy Land Trust. His father, Bishara Awad, is the founder of the Bethlehem Bible College that sponsors Christ at the Checkpoint conferences. At the 2012 Christ at the Checkpoint conference, Sami Awad, MC for the event, supported Dr. Manfred Kohl who condemned another speaker, Wayne Hilsden, for his “literal reading of scripture” (where Hilsden stated that the “physical return of the Jews to their ancient homeland is biblically mandated”). Kohl said of Hilsden, “the theology of fools who delight in their own idiocy.” Awad suggested that it “was time for Christians who use the Bible to support Israel’s restoration to stand before the security wall in Bethlehem and, similar to John F. Kennedy before the Berlin Wall, declare, ‘I am an idiot.’”(25)

These remarks are far from peaceful. They are arrogant, provocative, and reveal the true nature of these “justice and peacemakers.” For a comprehensive, well-documented, and compelling documentary on “Christian Palestinianism” and its implications on Israel, watch Caryl Productions film Exposing Christian Palestinianism.(26)

Are “Justice and Peacemakers” Being Honest About Their True Purpose?

Throughout Replacement Theology activists’ literature and speeches, one becomes aware of a constant supposed theme of love, justice, peacemaking, etc. Their definition of love is not credible though because they are not being honest. Their explanation of “justice and peacemaking” is based on Replacement Theology. Their two-state solution is based on the claim that Israel does not have a right to her land, that she stole it from the Palestinians who are lovingly practicing justice and peacemaking by allowing Israel to keep a small tract of it.

It is a great shame that professing Christians resort to the same tactics as secular politicians and hide their true intent to reach their goals. God’s Word declares, let your yea be yea and your nay be nay (Matthew 5:37).  It is clearly a godly directive for Christians to be forthright and honest with our words. Instead, Replacement Theology activists use subterfuge and doublespeak to inch their way into leadership and positions of influence. Once in power, they oppress and take advantage of the very ones who trusted them with their offices.

When Assemblies of God pastors and leaders vote this coming week on Resolution 3, I pray they will understand that if they vote for R3, they will be helping to pave the way to legitimize and unleash a hoard of RT activists on Israel. I beseech these leaders not to be deceived by tactics that are not forthright or according to God’s Word. In addition, to vote for R3 is a vote against Israel, and this can only bring judgment upon Assemblies of God and even the church at large because many other evangelical groups will eventually follow suit in the AoG decision.

Jesus Christ warned that end-times deception would be so clever that the very elect could be deceived if that were possible. The apostle Paul wrote that those who do not have a “love of the truth . . . God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11). As committed believers in Jesus Christ, we need to be on guard against deception, which works because it is comfortable, is convincing, and appeals to the carnal mind of nominal Christians. Do not be deceived, beloved!

Endnotes:

1.Commentary: Assembly of God (AOG) General Council to Vote on Resolution Against Israel
2. Dr. George Wood Responds to Lighthouse Trails Article on AoG Resolution 3 and Israel
3. Assemblies of God General Superintendent Letter Responds to Lighthouse Trails Article – Defends Contemplative Spirituality
4. http://faith.yale.edu/common-word/common-word-christian-response
5. http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=13869
6. See Beth Moore & Priscilla Shirer – Their History of Contemplative Prayer and Why War Room Should Not Have Used Them
7.  ISRAEL: REPLACING WHAT GOD HAS NOT
8. Dr. David R. Reagan, “The Evil of Replacement Theology: The Historical Abuse of the Jews by the Church,” Lion and Lamb Ministries, http://christinprophecy.org/articles/the-evil-of-replacement-theology/.
9.Time Magazine on Rick Warren’s New Global Reformation and PEACE Coalition
10. https://sojo.net/biography/paul-alexander
11. https://pcpjtest.wordpress.com/about/
12. https://www.facebook.com/pcpeacejustice/
13. Paul Alexander, Christ at the Checkpoint: Theology in the Service of Justice and Peace (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2012), Series Preface.
14. Jim Fletcher, “Lynne Hybel’s God” (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17590)
15. See “2010 Film ‘With God on Our Side’ – Championed by Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Brian McLaren & Steve Haas (World Vision) – Has Changed the Minds of Evangelicals”
16. Sean Savage, “NGO Monitor: U.S., U.K., Netherlands Fund Anti-Israel ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ Conference” (http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/03/12/ngo-monitor-u-s-u-k-netherlands-fund-anti-israel-%E2%80%98christ-at-the-checkpoint%E2%80%99-conference/)
17. Tricia Miller, “Bethlehem Bible College—Purveyor of Anti-Israel Propaganda” (Jerusalem Post, October 26, 2014, http://www.jpost.com/Christian-News/Bethlehem-Bible-College-purveyor-of-anti-Israel-propaganda-379858)
18. Paul Alexander, Christ at the Checkpoint, op. cit., Preface.
19. https://www.onenewsnow.com/church/2014/02/17/ag-disciplines-pastor-who-departs-from-biblical-truth and http://www.evangelicalsforsocialaction.org/sexual-justice/esa-statement-on-the-dismissal-of-paul-alexander-by-the-assemblies-of-god.
20. http://www.cppi.co/proactivities.html
21. Ibid.
22. Dr. George Wood Responds to Lighthouse Trails Article on AoG Resolution 3 and Israel
23. Ibid.
24. Chelsen Vicari, “Liberal Theology at Assemblies of God University?” (Juicy Ecumenism: The Institute on Religion & Democracy blog, December 18, 2014, https://juicyecumenism.com/2014/12/18/squishy-theology-assembly-gods-southeastern-university).
25. Jan Markell, “‘Checked’ at the Checkpoint” (March 15, 2012, http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs019/1101818841456/archive/1109521345222.html).
26. This incredible film is available through Lighthouse Trails. Every church and church group should watch this film! (http://www.lighthousetrails.com/home/454-exposing-christian-palestinianism-dvd.html)

Appendix:

Transcript of Ross Byars rewrite of Woody Guthrie’s song, “This Land is Your Land.”

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway.
I saw below me that golden valley,
this land is made for your and me.
I roamed and rambled
and I followed my footsteps,
to the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts.
And all around me a voice was sounding,
this land is made for you and me.

Chorus

It’s not just our land,
it’s also your land,
from the Rafah crossing
to the Northern Highland.
From the sandy seashore to the tumbling Jordan,
this land is made for you and me.
As I was walking I saw a wall there.
A great big sign said, “Our people only.”
But on the other side it didn’t say “Nothing.”
Now that side is made for you and me.
In the towns and cities, at church and temple.
By shrine and mosque I saw the people
As they stood hating, and I stood crying,
“This land is made for you and me.”

Chorus

It’s not just our land, it’s also your land,
from the bubbling springs of Dan
To Beersheba’s desert sand.
From the walls of the city
To the snows of Hermon,
this land is made for you and me
Nobody living can ever stop us,
as we go walking our true peace highway
No wall or weapon can make us turn back,
‘cause this land is made for you and me.
So why these wars and fuss?
We’re you and you are us
We’re all one family, this land’s one country.
We’re all Abram’s sons
Our God we serve is one,
Who made this land for you and me

Chorus

It’s not just our land,
it’s also your land,
from the Rafah crossing
to the Northern Highland.
From the sandy seashore
to the tumbling Jordan.
This land is made for you and me.


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