Public Eye Publishes "The New Christian Zionism and the Jews"
Rachel Tabachnick printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 12:22:17 AM EST
This week Public Eye published my article The New Christian Zionism and The Jews: A Love/Hate Relationship.  The focus of the article is the urgent need to understand the impact of the underlying anti-Semitism of end times narratives and of the current international shift to more aggressive activism.  Israeli and American Jewish leaders who partner with Christian Zionists are endangering a generation of interfaith relationships and years of Holocaust education with their inability to distinguish friend from foe.  Recent examples that defy belief include Elie Wiesel speaking at an event for John Hagee's Christian's United for Israel at Hagee's Cornerstone Church.  Another example, is the Israeli government's participation in an event honoring Christian Zionist Jack Hayford, an international leader in training Messianic Jews to proselytize and convert other Jews, including in Israel.  In both cases the open assault on Judaism and religious pluralism has been ignored due to the "pro-Israel" support of these leaders.
The attacks on Judaism by those who most loudly pronounce their love for Israel are bound to increase in intensity as theological changes are unleashing a more aggressive Christian Right. The results of this shift are beginning to be visible in many facets of Religious Right activism, but it is already apparent in the remarkable and rapid changes in the prophecy literature of Christian Zionism.  The traditional fundamentalist (dispensational) narrative, with its underlying anti-Semitism, has been giving way to a more aggressive charismatic story line in which there is a mandate for humans to move the hands of the prophetic clock themselves.  The conversion of Jews is the new trigger to bringing about the millennial "kingdom on earth," and "Rabbinic Judaism" is being openly denigrated as the obstacle to this earthly utopia. These attacks on Judaism, as well as on several Protestant denominations, Roman Catholicism, and Islam, are taking place under the auspices of Christian Zionism, and are part of a larger attempt to undermine separation of church and state in order to bring about the "kingdom" on earth.

The recent organization of independent charismatics into well-coordinated networks has dramatically increased their religious and political clout.  This growing influence has been partially at the expense of fundamentalists and their dispensational end times narrative which was the source of American Christian Zionism.  The primary organizational vehicle for the current wave of charismatics is the New Apostolic Reformation (or Apostolic and Prophetic movement) which has provided a structure and unified ideology for their international networks. Their impact on Christian Zionism parallels their impact on the larger Religious Right with the apostles now showing up as leaders on issues like demonizing health care reform in the U.S., and promoting draconian anti-gay legislation in Uganda and other African nations.  

For example, Lou Engle, a member of the movement's inner circle (Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders), co-hosted the Prayercast event last week opposing health care reform.  The event was broadcast on God TV and participation included Senators Sam Brownback and Jim DeMint and several members of Congress including  Michelle Bachmann. Another God TV event Rediscovering God in America was led by Lou Engle and included Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee.  Engle led "TheCall" San Diego stadium event on November 1, 2008 in support of Prop Eight which ended with calls for martyrs, and has led TheCall events in other locations around the nation. Engle has also taken "TheCall" to Jerusalem, where he and other New Apostolics promoted the "one new man in Yeshua" ideology that is dramatically altering Christian Zionism.

Despite his reputation for dispensational sermons, John Hagee's Christians United for Israel (CUFI) has New Apostolics serving as CUFI directors and as hosts of many of CUFI events. This includes Stephen Strang, a CUFI director and head of Strang Communications charismatic publishing empire, which publishes books by Hagee and other CUFI leaders. Other evidence of the Apostolic and Prophetic influence is the 2009 Promise Keepers event which featured Messianic Dan Juster, who has his own charismatic Messianic network and participates in training Messianics in Israel and internationally.  Strang and Juster are both listed as apostles under the International Coalition of Apostles led by C. Peter Wagner. The largest single international Christian Zionist event, the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem, was co-founded by Robert Stearns and Jack Hayford, who have both played significant roles in the launching and promoting of the New Apostolic Reformation.

This charismatic movement  has been successful in popularizing an end time narrative that is described with the lingo "one new man in Yeshua."  This is significantly different than the rapture-based scenario of dispensational fundamentalism. The result is a story line in which born again and "Spirit-filled" Christians are not raptured, but remain to fight evil and cleanse the earth themselves. In this scenario Jesus is bound by prophecy to remain in heaven until a Christian Israel calls out for his return.  "One new man in Yeshua" refers to the partnership of charismatic Christians with Messianic Jews in bringing about the millennial kingdom on earth.  See the video clip of TheCall Jerusalem in which Lou Engle and Messianic Asher Intrater simulate breaking down the walls between Christians and Messianics in "reconciliation." This event was held simultaneously with Graham Power's Global Day of Prayer.

This partnership is being marketed as "reconciliation" between Christians and Jews, although it is a partnership which only includes Messianic (or converted) Jews. The "reconciliation" methodology has been developed and widely marketed as an evangelizing technique, and is now also being used with other populations.  The "reconciliation" concept is behind the work of German Apostle Jobst Bittner of Tubingen, who hosts Holocaust memorial marches, Chanukah, and other events which join charismatic Christians with Messianics.  However, these events are portrayed as the process through which his congregation, which he describes as being 70% children and grandchildren of Nazis, are repenting of the Holocaust and bringing "Jewish" life back into Tubingen.  This year he brought his Messianic Holocaust memorial marches to the U.S.

Jewish leadership has been resistant to looking closely at the end times narratives of Christian Zionism for a variety of reasons, but this lack of knowledge is now exposing the Jewish community to dangerous missteps that threaten to undo a generation of interfaith Christian and Jewish healing, as well as decades of training about the Holocaust.  This week I received a solicitation letter from a very worthy cause - my local Holocaust Center and its extensive Christian/Jewish interfaith activities.  But the letter was sent and signed in the name of Elie Wiesel.  In October Wiesel, Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace laureate, lent his lifelong reputation as a fighter for human rights to the causes of John Hagee and CUFI.

Hagee's hate mongering is directed at numerous groups of people and faiths including Roman Catholics and other Protestants, but he also disseminates the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that we now see emerging in the political arena.  For instance, the November Superbowl of Freedom anti-health care event/Tea Party event on the Washington Mall included Michelle Bachman, John Boehner and Eric Cantor. The event also prominently featured the curious combination of signs claiming that President Obama is controlled by the Rothschilds, along with other posters with large graphics of the concentration camp at Dachau comparing health care reform to Nazism.   In one of the more perverse twists of this saga the posters were criticized by Elie Wiesel as indecent and disgusting although apparently he saw no irony in the fact that only a few days prior to this event he had shared a stage and given validation to John Hagee, one of the most widely broadcast proponents of this particular ideology.   Regardless of who is responsible for the specific posters in question, a close look at the media of John Hagee can illuminate how and why the ideas demonstrated by those posters are emerging, and will likely get worse.

Hagee and other Christian Zionists have created an atmosphere in which many in the Religious Right see themselves as the "new Jews," under intense persecution and life-threatening attack by a "liberal fascist" movement, or as Hagee has described it, an emerging Fourth Reich.  Hagee's end times movie, Vanished,  dramatizes the actions of this future "Fourth Reich."  In Hagee's movie, Jews, Roman Catholics, and other non-evangelicals are "left behind" after the rapture to partner with the anti-Christ, in this case a leader of the European Union.  There are scenes in the movie that clearly are meant to evoke Kristallnacht, but it is churches that are being burned by the partners of the anti-Christ, including one labeled Berlin, and new born-again Christians are beaten in the streets by these Nazi-like non-believers.  Hagee also describes the anti-Christ as being gay and partially Jewish. The claim that the Nazis were gay, liberal, and atheists, permeates the Religious Right media and has played a role in the recent proposal of draconian anti-gay laws in Uganda.

Simultaneous with spreading this illogical persecution complex, Hagee, Pat Robertson, and numerous others have mass disseminated "New World Order" conspiracy theory in which the Rothschilds, Illuminati, and "European bankers" are intentionally collapsing the U.S. economy as part of this impending "Fourth Reich."  An imminent reign of a one-world government of the anti-Christ has been prophesied for many generations by Christian Zionists, but these believers are increasingly convinced - due to the shift in end times narrative - that they will remain on earth to be subjected to the horrors of the Tribulation and the coming apocalyptic wars. Since they will still be on earth, they are preparing to fight back.  Hagee's close friend and Col.Jim Ammerman leads an endorsing agency for military chaplains and has recently been made an "Honorary Apostle for Life" in the International Coalition of Apostles.  He  has played a significant role in claiming that the U.S. will soon be under attack by a New World Order conspiracy which he portrays as financed by Jewish banking families in his video "Imminent Military Takeover of the U.S." Apostle Lou Engle, mentioned previously, represents emerging leaders in this movement who are  teaching that the coming conflagration will take place in the earthy realm, and must be fought by humans instead of heavenly armies.

Hagee's years of attack on Judaism, camouflaged as "love" for Israel, reached a new low on October 25 in the heartbreaking spectacle of Elie Wiesel speaking at an event double-billed both as a CUFI Night to Honor Israel and the "Feast of Tabernacles."  Despite the fact that this is normally held at the same time as the Jewish celebration of Sukkot, Hagee's Feast of Tabernacles was held later in October and simultaneous with the opening of the first national conference of J Street, the new "pro-Israel, pro-peace" lobby.  Hagee's Feast of Tabernacles event is a co-opting of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot with a millennial and Christian supremacist twist.

Hagee devoted an entire chapter of one his many prophecy books to presenting a Christian millennial interpretation to each of the biblically based Jewish holidays.  In Final Dawn over Jerusalem  Hagee defines these Jewish holy days and festivals as representing steps in the prophecy of the return of Jesus, culminating in the Feast of Tabernacles as a dress rehearsal for the coming Christian millennial kingdom or 1000-year reign of Jesus on earth.  (In the same book Hagee describes Hillel as an extremist and his Pharisee followers as "sword carrying legalist" who plotted to kill Jesus.)

Hagee is not the first to rewrite this list of Jewish holidays as milestones in Jesus' life and the Christian millennial utopia.  The classic text for the late1940s faith-healing and fasting movement was "The Feast of Tabernacles" written by George Warnock.  The book defines "Latter Rain" theology and gives very similar Christian supremacist and millennial interpretations to Jewish holidays as those seen in Hagee's Final Dawn over Jerusalem.  Like many Religious Right leaders of the past two decades, Hagee's theology is an illogical and contradictory blend of dispensationalism and "dominionism."  In its classical form dispensational eschatology is separatist and nonpolitical, while "dominionism" provides theological support for taking control of government and society, including the unique dominion theology of the Latter Rain movement. (See more notes on this theology confusion following the article.)

The Feast of Tabernacles has been celebrated since 1981 in Jerusalem and now draws thousands of charismatics who participate in "Messianic" or "Davidic" celebrations of rehearsing for the Millennium.  The Jerusalem event was originally initiated by the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem (ICEJ) and founder Jan Willem van der Hoeven.  Van der Hoeven, who later left ICEJ to start a Christian Zionist entity based in the West Bank, describes the feast as a "latter rain" millennial celebration and even quotes George Warnock in his explanation of the event. (See more notes on Van der Hoeven following the article.)

As seen in a previous article, Hagee and several CUFI directors, along with Pat Robertson and Jack Hayford have publicly endorsed Maoz Israel,an aggressive Messianic ministry in Tel Aviv which uses the distribution of charitable goods to advance their proselytizing activities.  Ari and Shari Sorko-Ram, who lead Maoz Israel, were trained at the Dallas-based Christ for the Nations Institute, founded by the Latter Rain leader, Gordon Lindsay.  Shari, formerly known as Carole Lindsay is the daughter of the late Gordon Lindsay and sister to the current leader of this institute which has trained numerous leaders of interconnected charismatic Messianic ministries in Israel, including Avi Mizrachi who spoke in the video clip of TheCall Jerusalem.

Only a week after Wiesel's speech to John Hagee's church, Birthright Israel announced Gordon Robertson, son of Pat Robertson, would speak to an alumni event of Jewish youth who have been recipients of trips to Israel sponsored by the Israeli government and Jewish organizations.  Christian Zionist leader Pat Robertson was formerly a Southern Baptist who was re-ordained by a group of prominent charismatics and Pentecostals  including Jack Hayford.  On Christian Broadcast Network Gordon Robertson has  encouraged Jews to become Messianic believers and celebrated the growth of Messianic ministries in Israel to 120 congregations.  The Birthright event was cancelled, supposedly due to problems with the venue and to be rescheduled with Robertson at a later date.  It is difficult to imagine that if Jewish leadership understood the scale of the charismatic assault that is taking place on Judaism in the name of "pro-Israel" activism, that they would choose to intentionally expose Jewish youth to Gordon Robertson as a "pro-Israel" model partner.

Equally nonsensical was a "Jerusalem Banquet" event this past May honoring Jack Hayford.  Large level donors were enticed with private meetings with the Israeli consul for the Southwestern U.S. despite the fact that Hayford heads a seminary which has added a charismatic Messianic division and coordinates with Messianic training institutes which are aggressively proselytizing Jewish communities in Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, Argentina, and Israel.

This assault goes beyond proselytizing and includes the denigration of Judaism, which goes hand in hand with the literal demonization of Roman Catholicism and mainline Protestant denominations. The New Apostolics teach that all divisions between denominations must be ended and the church unified in preparation for the end times.  While ecumenical unity may appear progressive on the surface, this brand of ecumenicalism is intended to break down the wall of separation of church and state and destroy religious pluralism - the pluralism that allows not only different religions to coexist but also the numerous denominations of Christianity.  Disunity in this context is described by the New Apostolics as a demon sourced in the Pharisees of New Testament times.  

The deception that is taking place in the representation of Christian Zionism to the Jewish community should be of concern, not only to Jewish leaders, but to anyone that cares about religious pluralism and the separation of church and state.

Additional Notes on the Theology of the New Apostolic Reformation

It is difficult to theologically characterize this eschatology since many of these leaders are in process of making the transition from dispensationalism to rejection of the pre-Trib rapture. I have seen numerous preachers who are in the process of gradually introducing their congregations and media audiences to reject the pre-Tribulation rapture. This usually involves portraying the pre-Trib theology as being defeatist and insulting to the church. Most are still premillennial but have adopted a mid- or post-Tribulation stance.  A few are moving to what appears to be a fully postmillennial eschatology.  The terminology and narratives of the movement are very similar to that of Latter Rain.  

In his book The Charismatic Century, Jack Hayford credits Oral Roberts with keeping alive the legacy of William Branham and the 1940s and 50s prayer and faith-healing movements, allowing the "Third Wave" of the Holy Spirit to take place. Hayford discouraged C. Peter Wagner, the Convening Apostle of the New Apostolic Reformation,  from naming the movement "post-denominational," although the movement is built on the concept of eradicating denominations in the end times.  Hayford is head of the International Foursquare Gospel, a Pentecostal denomination.

Jan Willem van der Hoeven

Mistakenly described by some critics as a dispensationalists, Van der Hoeven has been associated with charismatic leaders who were heirs of the "Latter Rain" movement as early as October 1969, when he was featured in the cover story for the New Wine magazine of the "Ft. Lauderdale Five." Also known as the authoritarian "Shepherding" movement it was initiated by Bob Mumford, Charles Simpson, Derek Prince, Don Basham, and Ern Baxter (former secretary of William Branham).  

Many charismatic Christian Zionists describe Derek Prince as their mentor including John Hagee who spoke at Prince's memorial service and dedicated his book Jerusalem Countdown to Prince.  Prince was also the author of prayer proclamations that are currently distributed by over forty Christian Zionist organizations to pray for the conversion of Israel as part of God's end times plan.  This includes the "cleansing of the filthiness" from Israel, as well as prayers against Israel's "forces of humanism" and "Marxist-socialist philosophy."


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