Palestinian ‘light’ shines from British cathedral!

By Chris Moxon

Britain’s Lichfield Cathedral has hosted a conference with the intention of ‘Holding Palestine in the Light’. But instead, an avalanche of familiar bias aimed at undermining and delegitimizing Israel was presented by a panel of intellectuals, including the Dean of St George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem, Hosam Nahoum, who suggested that the Palestinians were converted to Christianity at Pentecost 2,000 years ago. This of course flies in the face of the biblical record which makes it clear that the early Christians were entirely Jewish, though this included a small number of converts (to Judaism). He later admitted that, in services, he and other Palestinians try to avoid the Old Testament (what Jews call the Tenach) and does not use the Psalms as they are “Israel-friendly”. His interviewer, Jane Clements1, even confessed that she finds it very hard to say “This is the word of the Lord” (in formal Anglican tradition) after reading some passages of the Bible which, she said, “patently isn’t the word of God”. And yet the Old Testament is the scripture Jesus knew and loved – he even said he had come, not to abolish the Law (of Moses), but to fulfill it, as in ‘live it out’. (Matthew 5.17) He denies, however, that his view amounts to Replacement Theology, the belief in some Christian circles that the Church has replaced Israel in God’s purposes and affections. Yet so-called ‘Christian Zionism’ was described by the host – the Very Rev Adrian Dorber (dean of the cathedral) – as a “pernicious doctrine” when the panel was discussing the impact of evangelical Christianity on Israeli politicians. Some of the greatest Christians of the past few centuries – men like John Wesley, Charles Spurgeon, William Wilberforce, Lord Shaftesbury and Rees Howells – have indeed encouraged and supported Jewish aspirations to resettle their ancient homeland. And they were right to do so because the Bible prophets clearly speak of such an outcome. And, yes, these wonderful Christian leaders influenced the government of the day to help bring this about. Hence the Balfour Declaration of 1917 that paved the way for Jewish repatriation. (Lord Balfour, the Foreign Secretary, effectively gave a promise that the British Government would do all in its power to facilitate a re-born state of Israel). Professor Ilan Pappe, a secular Jew, then made the astonishing claim that Zionist leaders plotted the pogroms and expulsions of Jews from Arab countries following Israel’s re-birth in order to increase the new state’s population because “not many Jews from Europe wanted to go there”. He also said that Jewish students in the UK identifying with Israel can expect pressure, and noted that every synagogue holds weekly prayers for Israel, which renders them “vulnerable”. Actually, praying for Israel is a biblical command, even for Christians (e.g. Psalm 122.6 & Isaiah 62.6). In short, much of the discussion bordered on the absurd, such as Professor Yossi Meckleberg’s2 statement that “there can be no thriving Israeli economy without peace, no democracy without peace, no security without peace…” The situation, however, seems to be that Israel does indeed have democracy and a thriving economy despite a lack of peace. In conclusion, the Lichfield dean felt obliged to defend discussing the “grubby world” of politics in a church setting as “sanctified disputation” which “redounds to the glory of God and is deep within the tradition of being an English cathedral”. It is difficult to see how some of the secular, non-believing, obviously biased participants were engaging in ‘sanctified disputation’. More like anti-Semitism dressed up in Christian piety.

Notes

1Jane Clements is director of CCJ, the Council of Christians and Jews 2A professor at Regent’s College, London

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