“Absolutely this conference will not advocate replacement theology,” Awad also promised, referring to the belief by some Christians that the Church has completely replaced the Jews in God’s eyes. He added: “But there may be some people in this conference who present this point of view.” Again, no doubt. Awad declared of his own Bethlehem Bible College, which is hosting the event: “We don’t believe God replaces people.”
Awad further explained that Christ at the Checkpoint is simply inviting the international community to come see “our situation” by looking at the “wall,” the “siege,” and the “settlements.” In other words, to examine Israeli injustices but not examine why Israel is unable fully to withdraw when Palestinians are unwilling to accept Israel. The event will not “impose a solution,” Award promised, but is only hosting theologians to “pray and meditate.” And then the Holy Spirit will lead them into “solutions.” After all, the event has no “agenda.”
Another defender featured on the Christ Checkpoint website promised the event will not offer any “political solutions,” whether “two-state” or “one-state,” i.e. the abolition of Israel as a Jewish democracy. Instead it only urges “equality for all.” Still another defender explained the event was about how to expand the “Kingdom of God among the Palestinians.” But the conference schedule seems heavy on political and social critique and very little on the topics of evangelism and discipleship that typically characterize church conferences focused on expanding the “Kingdom of God.”
A young Palestinian Christian spokesman for Christ at the Checkpoint explained: “We would like to bring Christ to the reality we face.” But that reality focuses exclusively on purported political liberation of Palestinians from Israeli occupation. It is mainly a variant of the liberation theology of the 1970s and 1980s that replaced Christian beliefs about salvation with Marxist demands for political revolution.
“Old Testament prophets such as Isaiah and Jeremiah were quite critical of the behavior of ancient Israel and yet, Biblical scholars do not classify them as demonizers of Israel,” explained Alex Awad in his ongoing defense of Christ at the Checkpoint. So the U.S. evangelicals swarming to Bethlehem largely to criticize Israel and stay mum about Palestinian problems are successors to the prophetic Hebrew tradition of Jeremiah and Isaiah.
American evangelicals are overwhelmingly pro-Israel, not just for idiosyncratic theological reasons. Like most Americans, they notice Israel is democratic and pro-American, offering tolerance to religious minorities, including Christians. Meanwhile, most of Israel’s neighbours are not. Current Palestinian rulers offer little hope that their victory over Israel would advance justice for anyone, much less the tiny and dwindling Palestinian Christian minority.
Christ at the Checkpoint is primarily a public relations scheme to dissuade American evangelicals from pro-Israel views. To succeed, they will have to mount blinders on cooperatively gullible evangelicals, guiding their eyes towards disruptive Israeli checkpoints, while hiding the rest of the surrounding reality.
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