Pastor Dan was waiting with a sign adorned with two Israeli flags reading “AMERICA STANDS WITH ISRAEL” when I arrived. Thus my question, “For what noble act would you honor Israel?”
I asked Pastor Dan least a dozen times to give me one good reason why any follower of Christ would honor Israel while we stood holding opposing sign in front of his church. Finally he seemingly could resist no longer, and broke his silence, saying:
“Because they (Israel) gave me my Savior.”
Christian Zionism is beginning to collapse, and disintegrate it must because the words of Jesus are anathema to the acts of political Israel. Pastor Dan did not tell me what scriptural course he sailed to arrive at the link between political Israel and Jesus Christ, but I am going to make a very good guess, and I will invite him to comment.
Pastor Dan would likely say he was “saved” in a single life changing experience that he can date, and he would be skeptical of anyone who claims to have found Christ by any other course. He is directly under the financial wing of Pastor Mac Hammond who effectively owns and controls his mega-church and is host for John Hagee's Night To Honor Israel. I will take the liberty of presume that Pastor Dan believes somewhat as his mentors do (hoping I am wrong).
Pastor Dan will assert that his “salvation” depends exclusively upon his acceptance of Jesus Christ, and it is here his course becomes very confused. For Dan also believes he has an absolute responsibility to love political Israel but with slightly less reverently than Jesus. Dan’s mentors proclaim we are all subject to earthy blessings (including the blessing of wealth) depending upon how we love and nurture political Israel and Jews in general; and they also say we are subject to curses, presumably from God, if we fail to do so.
John Hagee contends America’s “blessings” come from our loving care for Israel. Word of Life Christian Center defended political Israel by holding up some thirty signs and an estimated 90 Israeli flags in front of its church when Project Strait Gate appeared. Some dispensationalists (I do not claim to know about Dan) believe they also have the personal power to bless and curse others. The wife of nationally known Pastor rendered a personal curse upon this writer and on our entire organization for holding a vigil at her husband’s church, and she proudly invoked Jesus’ name in her curse as though she enjoyed authority to do so.
Secular thinkers might view Pastor Dan’s logic to be legally and historically topsy-turvy. For by no stretch of logic can one credit a 60 years old political state that borrowed the name “Israel,” with the advent of Jesus 1900 years earlier. This is reminiscent of the popular and catchy Nashville ditty of slight-of-hand genealogy of the 1950’s, “I Am My Own Grandpa.” Some of our a-religious readers will be tempted to dismiss Pastor Dan as a harmless. But that is sadly wrong on both counts. Some 60 million Americans think much like him, and he is part of a group that is much better organized than their critics are.
It is no exaggeration to say Israeli influence over Christians has been the swing factor in every national election for at least 40 years. It is time to pay attention and to learn what makes him tick. Likud Party leader Gilad Erdan said only today, “An alliance between Jews and Christians was absolutely critical in the war against Islamic extremism.” By “Islamic extremism” Mr. Erdan mean any Palestinian in an Israeli gulag who want his land and property back. John Hagee is doing his part to keep every Palestinian in those gulags.
Millions of professed Christians, including Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians and other reformists know a little about Christian Zionism, and don’t agree with it. The long list of those who reject “Israel first” theology probably includes most of the professors at Bethel Seminary where Pastor Dan graduated in nearby St. Paul, which is associated with the old his present theology is scripturally flawed and that this path he is following is the whim of his youth and someday he will probably see the light of traditional Christianity and return to it. These educators would likely say
It is a fact that Dan’s “dispensational” views are only about as old as the internal combustion engine, and slightly younger than Mormonism. Traditional Christianity holds that the State of Israel as it is politically created today has little if anything to do with Old Testament prophesies, which prophesies foretell the coming of Christ and nothing else for certain.
Traditional scholars are right about what the Bible says, but they are losing. In the past they overlooked and underestimated the charismatic power of the Christian Zionist movement, otherwise their institutions would have exposed it and dealt with its heresy in its infancy in the 1920s when it was called “dispensationalism.”
Traditional Catholics and Reformation Protestants will shrug off Dan's statement, “They (Israel) gave me my savior,” as “bad hermeneutics” or some other intellectual distortion not to be taken seriously. They did not believe it was important enough to fight over; now it is bigger than they are and they fear it.
Christian Zionism is a tool used by others, including the State of Israel, to engulf America in serial wars. It is up to those who understand it to expose it. And at the same time we need to remind the Mainline churches that they have timidly and politely allowed Jesus’ name to be rubbed in the filth of political Israel. Together these old established denominations make up about half of the 250 million Americans who call themselves “Christians.” On most political issues you can expect them to split about 50-50, and the mainline churches politely keeping their hands-off politics even if the church door has burning arrows sticking in it.
Christian Zionists split very little, they vote the straight Israel ticket, which is why they are powerful, and they are political, regardless of what tax laws say about it. Mac Hammond has three complaints pending with the IRS about abuse of his tax-exempt status.
A Night To Honor Israel's program includes Jews who were quite naturally interested. They have a way of attending Christian Zionist meetings because they, like all of us, like to be “honored” whether we deserve honor or not. While most Jews may not believe Jesus existed, they appear, lead singing, and extol the wisdom of their benefactors who are raising money and political support for the secular government of Israel. American Jews and Israelis do not look a gift horse in the mouth. To them Pastor Hagee is a great man teaching straight from the Torah. They are happy to accept Jesus as an adopted Jew so long as it brings in aid for Israel. Best of all, Pastor Hagee never tries to convert them to Christianity, he considers them already "saved".
I must stress, at the risk of repeating, that Pastor Dan was not shooting from the hip when he said words that clearly indicate he believes “Israel” gave him his very salvation because “Jesus was a Jew.” Moreover there are some 60-70 million Americans who would agree with him, if not with his exact words. This is the voting power within our country recognized by every politician.
Pastor Dan is darkly handsome, personable, the kind of man you might like to see your daughter bring home for dinner. He is a classic teacher type, an influence molder with commitment, an ideal candidate for Congress. His job, as best I recall, is Youth Pastor at Living Word Christian Center. He probably took it upon himself to stand (along with another unidentified man) directly between the church and me to purposely keep others from me; the tall sign I held above them on a pole depicts Palestine on a bloody cross.
Pastor Dan knew me by name,” You’re Chuck Carlson?” he asked, and told me he had read my letter to Pastor Mac Hammond. He was uneasy and raised eyebrows in shock over the WHTT.Org website, his dark expression suggested he felt tainted by visiting it, and he said he would not look again.
When Dan says the present day state of Israel should be honored he believes that the political Israeli today is viewed in God’s eyes as one and the same as its namesake son of Isaac and the grandson of Abraham (3000 years ago) even though there are no records, nor a scrap of DNA links to support this claim. Christian Zionists teaches that Jesus will come back to rule over political Israel while those living at the time will make bloody sacrifice animals in a new temple built on top of the present Dome of the Rock.
Conversely followers of Christ believe Jesus’ is the son of God himself and fulfilled God’s promise 1950 years ago, and that upstart political Israel is no more a part of Biblical prophesy than is the USA and the USSR.
Several members of Dan’s church carried picket signs, which read:
“I will bless those who bless thee…” Genesis 12:3.”
These signs may not have had room for the end of the verse that Pastor Dan does not explain either:
“…and in thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”
This verse in its context has been interpreted for 2000 years by traditional Christian sects to mean that God Promised Abraham that from his lineage would be born the messiah for all of mankind, beginning with the errant Israelites, and for all men who believe in Jesus and live by his precepts who would become heirs to the promise of Jesus’ eternal kingdom, and spiritual “sons of Abraham.’ This is why as kids in Lutheran church camp we learned songs about “father Abraham.” We were not taught that Jesus is an ethnic Jew with a destiny to return to political Israel, but Pastor Dan believes something quite close to this.
I would wager Pastor Dan believes every word written in the following footnote to Genesis 12:3 of the Scofield Reference Bible on page 19 by Oxford Press in 1967. Not one word of what follows is found in the bible text:
2) “God made an unconditional promise of blessing through Abram’s seed (a) to the Nation of Israel to inherit a specific territory forever”
3) “There was a promise of blessing those individuals and nations who bless Abraham’s descendant, and a curse laid upon those who persecute the Jews.”
3) For a nation to commit the sin of anti-Semitism brings inevitable judgment. The future will still more remarkable prove this principle
Pastor Dan and some 60 million like him accept without serious question that 3000 years ago God gave the Arab’s lands to what is now the 60-year-old State of Israel, so the Arabs who occupy the land today must go or rot in prisons if they cannot go. To resist is "anit-Simitism," a new found "sin" that nations commit.
Project Strait Gate is the only organized effort we know of to confront this apostate movement at the gates of the mega churches. They are so clearly wrong a child can grasp it, and children often do grasp it when they see the simple signs like “IRAQ WWJD?” (What Would Jesus Do).
There is good news; polls now are clearly indicating that silent laymen within the mega churches are beginning a great turning. This is especially reflected in the changing tide within Christian Zionist churches whose attendees are finally beginning to vote their opposition to the war in Iraq. See the results of the Pew Foundation’s polls on how "Christians vote.
Project Strait Gate’s next vigil will be in greater Denver, CO on June 20, 2007, with later vigils being scheduled in Washington DC, San Antonio, Phoenix AZ and the San Francisco Bay Area. Please contact us if you want to learn how to start a vigil in your city or town.
Pastor Dan's photo (in lower center with tie): http://whtt.org/straitgate/index.php?news=2&id=233
*Scofield Reference Bible, Oxford University Press, 1967 Edition, Audio/video commentary by this author: Roots of Christian Zionism http://www.whtt.org/show/
Project Strait Gate Schedule of vigils:
Pew Foundation’s polls: What evangelicals and mainline Protestants and Catholics believe about Israel