On March 20, 2006, I traveled from the Little Town of Bethlehem: Occupied Territory to the Mount of Beatitudes in Israel. This awe inspiring site sits above the shimmering Sea of Galilee where Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, and I ended up delivering my own Sermon on that Mount!
Four Franciscan Sisters, one each from Syria, Jordan, Malta and Italy care for the shrine and the pilgrim guests at the Hospice Center where I spent two nights and a day of silent reflection after nine days on a Sabeel Reality tour through occupied Palestine.
At dinner a Catholic Pentecostal from Scotland introduced himself and asked me why I was there and what church I was from. I responded that I have Irish Roman Catholic, Polish Jew, Russian Orthodox DNA, but my rock is The Beatitudes.
He looked even more perplexed when I told him I had come to the Mount of Beatitudes to decompress and reflect upon my nine days in Occupied Territory. I asked him if he were aware of the work of Sabeel, the Palestinian Christian liberation theology organization founded by a 1948 refugee, which promotes a theology of liberation, based on justice, peace, non-violence and reconciliation with all people regardless of faith path or nationality.
He sternly admonished me; “God gave this land to the Jews! The Bible never mentions Palestine, and that is that! God gave this land to the Jews and that is that!”
I responded just as fervently that the Palestinian Christians are the descendants of those who first followed Jesus and they have been denied inalienable human rights by the Israeli government. I told him the Christians in the Holy Land have shrunk from 20% of the total population to less than 1.3% since 1948 and if things don’t change soon, there will be no Christians left in the land where Christ promised that it is the peacemakers who are the children of God.
He sputtered, “But the Jews have suffered! God gave this land to the Jews and that is that!”
Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.
I could NOT shut up although I knew that that Scotsman was trying to get away from me, but, I was on a tear and barely took a breath as I told him that instead of staying in Israel for his entire visit, he should go and witness life in the occupied territories; go and see the effects of The Wall on his spirit and see what it has done to the Palestinian economy. I told him he should go and tour some of the Bethlehem refugee camps and see the ruins of all the uncompensated home demolitions. I brought it on home by telling him that I also doubt that God was ever in the real estate business!
His eyes had bugged out and his mouth had dropped open while the torrent of words spewed out of me. After I finally shut up, he stammered, “But there is suffering everywhere!”
“Yes there is and Christ always stood up for the poor and the oppressed. And he told us what ever we do or do not do for the least and the outcast; we do it or not unto God.”
He shook his head and turned and walked quickly away and never again looked my way.
Nobody else spoke to me the rest of the evening or the next day. That was fine with me, for I was listening to the voice within and what I kept hearing was Luke 23:34:
“Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
But when you know and if you are of good will, you must do something and as education is the way to compassion and compassion is the way to change, I persist.
Those needing the most education are those who have been misled into the fastest growing cult in the USA-and also perhaps in Scotland-the cult of Christian Zionism.
What is Christian Zionism?
Christian Zionism is an extremist Christian movement, which supports the claims of those who believe that the State of Israel should take control of all of the land currently disputed between Palestinians and Israelis. It views the creation and expansion of the modern state of Israel as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy toward the second coming of Jesus.
Christian Zionism is a modern theological and political movement that embraces the most extreme ideological positions of Zionism, thereby becoming detrimental to a just peace within Palestine and Israel. The Christian Zionist program provides a worldview where the Gospel is identified with the ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism. In its extreme form, it laces an emphasis on apocalyptic events leading to the end of history rather than living Christ’s love and justice today.
What is the Christian Zionist connection with the Holy Land?
Believing that God fights on the side of Israel, Christian Zionists call for the unqualified support for the most extreme political positions. They do not have eyes to see or ears to hear their sisters and brothers in Christ, or cousins in the family of Father Abraham who are caught in the crossfire of the military minded.
Christian Zionist spokes persons have also attributed Hurricane Katrina to God’s wrath over America's failure to stop Israel from "disengaging" from Gaza in 2005, although Israel has never ceased their total control over air, land and sea borders!
They also consistently oppose any moves towards a solution to the conflict, which would validate the political aspirations of both Palestinians and Israelis.
Who Supports Christian Zionism?
Christian Zionism has significant support within American Protestant fundamentalists, and number between 10 and 20 million. Its reach is broad, by virtue of its favorite themes related to the “End Times” and an Israel-fixated Christian media.
Christian Zionism is both a political movement and a way of mis-interpreting current events. Its focus on Israel and the Middle East is an ideology and a movement. Its promoters share many beliefs but are not organized through any one institution.
Throughout history Christians have at times twisted scripture to justify violence: for the Crusades, for Antisemitism, and for slavery.
Too often the Church has been slow to respond to these biblical distortions and with disastrous results.
Today Christian Zionists - particularly those with dispensationalist leanings - are well organized and although their motives are couched in terms of compassion toward the Jewish people they base their theology on literal readings of scripture.
The political agenda of territorial expansion advocated by Christian Zionists has given rise to the brutal injustices against Palestinians, which fuels the fires of militancy in the Middle East.
While Jewish Zionism began with the hope that all Jewish people would have a safe and peaceful dwelling place, these corruptors of the gospel Christ preached, adhere to a 200 year old convoluted interpretation of disparate scriptures that they have chosen to weave together to support their fear based judgmental narrow minded doctrine.
This heretical theology of Premellenial Dispensation worships a god of Armageddon and not the God of love, forgiveness and compassion that Jesus/The Prince of Peace modeled even while being nailed to a cross.
The Left Behind series of fiction is the epitome of what millennium of theologians have always understood to be what the term anti-Christ is truly about
The term “Antichrist” only appears five times in the Bible, but a cult not based on sound theology has created an urban legend that seeks Armageddon.
The term “Antichrist” never appears in John’s Revelation or Daniel, two disparate works of literature written three centuries apart and under very different circumstances, yet the Left Behinder’s weave them together.
The small texts that mention the “Antichrist” were written to attack the Gnostic understanding of whom Christ was. A Gnostic relies on intuition and not on dogma and doctrine. Gnostic’s were most certainly free spirits and most all of the writings we have about Gnostics, have been the attacks upon them. That all changed when the Nag Hamadi Library was translated and published, for what had been deemed heretical by those in power in the fourth century can now be read in most every language.
Biblical scholars today agree that many books of the Bible were written by others in the name of an apostle, for the quickest way to gain credibility is to trade on another’s reputation. We may never know if the author who coined the term “Antichrist” was actually the apostle John who wrote I John and 2 John-the only sources where the term appears.
John also say’s much more: “Dear Children, as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many have come.”- I John 2:18
“This is how we know who the children of God are not: anyone who does not do right; nor anyone who does not love his brother.”-I John 3:10
“If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Let us love with actions and in truth.”-I John 3:17
“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out all fear because fear has to do with punishment [and God is love].”-1 John 4:18
The theology promoted in the Left Behind fiction is a theology based on fear and punishment.
These misinformed Christians worship a punitive father as God. They do not have eyes to see that nature is God’s primary temple, and war the greatest abomination.
The theology of the fictional Left Behind series is the epitome of the spirit of the anti-Christ: which is the evil within ones own heart that leads one to fear “the other” and compels them to violence.
According to Christ, to be his follower, one must do what the Father requires. The Hebrew prophet Micah summed it up best: “What does the Lord require? He has already told you o’man: Be Just, Be Merciful and walk humbly with your God.” -Micah 6:8:
To be just is to be fair and reasonable. To be merciful means to treat all people the way we want to be treated. To be humble is knowing oneself; the good and the evil, for both cut through every human heart.
Jesus taught that the only way to resist evil is with good and he modeled that one must always work for peaceful resolutions, even to the point of returning violence with compassion and forgiveness.
True Christians have been speaking out against Christian Zionism for years, but the attack on the FREEDOM FLOTILLA has caused many more to rise up.
No religion owns God and no church owns Jesus, who was never a Christian, for that term was not even coined until three decades after he walked the earth.
Jesus was a social justice radical revolutionary nonviolent Palestinian devout Jewish road warrior who rose up and challenged the job security of the temple priests by teaching the people no need to pay the priests for ritual baths or sacrificing livestock to be OK with God; for God already LOVES All just as they are.
Jesus always dealt compassionately with the humble, the poor, diseased, widows, orphans, prisoners, refugees and outcasts, but hypocrites received his wrath!
Compassion, which is sorrow for the suffering of others, is accompanied by the urge to help.
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