‘New Evangelicals’ Abandoning Israel

The executive director of a pro-Israel group is warning of so-called "new evangelicals" who are at the root of lies about the Jewish nation being spread among the evangelical community. These anti-Israel activists are not to be ignored, says David Brog with Christians United for Israel.

In the past few years, as stalwart defenders of Israel like Jerry Falwell, David Allen Lewis, and Adrian Rogers have passed from the scene, much of that leadership vacuum has been filled by a different breed of Christian — the authors Paul Smith refers to as the "new evangelicals." ( See earlier story) Smith, brother of Calvary Chapel founder Chuck Smith, has written extensively about the roots of this sea change in attitudes about Israel, from the so-called Millennial generation:

"Our current generation has witnessed two eschatological markers with our own eyes. The first one was the Jews returning to their Promised Land and forming the nation of Israel in 1948. The second marker is the Emerging church paradigm that gave birth and will inadvertently host, through accommodation, compromise, and a postmodern mindset, a platform suitable for the coming one-world religion as clearly prophesied in the Bible."

 In his book New Evangelicalism, Smith makes a correlation between progressive attitudes about Scripture and the current attitudes about Israel from new evangelicals like popular author Donald Miller (see more information below). If one does not see in modern Israel a fulfillment of predictive prophecy, then one tends to view the Arab-Israel conflict from a center-left perspective.

Donald Miller is an extremely influential leader among these new evangelicals. Relevant magazine, published by Cameron Strang (whose father, Charismatic publisher Steven Strang, is a long-time supporter of Israel), has identified Miller's 2003 bestseller Blue Like Jazz as a catalyst for today's 20-and-30-somethings.

Indeed, Miller and Cameron Strang visited what they call "Israel/Palestine" in the fall, along with Lynne Hybels. For at least two years, Hybels has been using her influence as co-founder of the Willow Creek Association to advocate for the Palestinians.

This shift in demographic support is not lost on pro-Israel leaders.

David Brog, executive director of Christians United for Israel, is well aware that center-left elements in the church are presenting the so-called Palestinian Narrative to youth:

"Anti-Israel activists are making surprising inroads into the evangelical community, especially among the Millennial generation. They are telling lies about Israel. But their lies are hitting the right moral notes and they are making progress. We ignore them at our peril."

 Donald Miller isn't the only evangelical voice giving a nod to what British scholar Paul Wilkinson has termed "Christian Palestinianism." Catalyst, a leadership conference group based near Atlanta, provided a workshop from Lynne Hybels at "Catalyst East" in Atlanta in October. The title of Hybels' talk was "We Belong to Each Other: Americans, Israelis and Palestinians for Peace."

Another Catalyst speaker, Gabe Lyons, is the founder of "Q Ideas," conversations with leading thinkers and agents of transformation within evangelicalism. Lyons recently interviewed Sami Awad, a Palestinian Christian from Bethlehem who is being mainstreamed by friends like Hybels.

The problem with the presentations by these speakers and spokesmen is that they talk almost exclusively about Israel's "occupation" of the Palestinians (despite Israel's pullout from Gaza and the Palestinian areas now ruled by the Palestinian Authority). Very little discussion is reserved for Palestinian terrorism.

That kind of nuance is somewhat lost on the so-called "Millennial" generation. In a recent newsletter from Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding (EMEU), Wheaton professor Gary Burge is up front about efforts from center-left Christians to cultivate a following among 20-somethings:

"They [Millennials] represent the great groundswell in their generation. The Zionist movement in our country is loud and scrappy. But I'm describing the young people who will be leading our churches when many of us are retired. And the prospects look good."

 Their prospects do indeed look good, advanced as they are by the skewed propaganda put forth by leaders like Donald Miller.

More on Miller

In a November 19, 2012 blog post, popular author Donald Miller lambasted Israel for several alleged crimes against the Palestinians in Gaza. Perhaps most shocking was his claim that Israel controls the calorie intake of Gazans!

Also, within hours of the posting, an edit removed a reference to Benjamin Netanyahu being responsible for more deaths than jihadists.

Efforts to get clarification and documentation from Miller were unsuccessful. Tim Schurrer, director of branding for Miller's Storyline blog, indicated in an email response that documentation for Miller's charges against the Jewish state would not be forthcoming.

Sarah Stern, director of the Washington, D.C.-based think-tank EMET, was dismayed by the unsubstantiated charges that Miller made against Israel:

"This article is nothing short of an Orwellian distortion of reality.

"The moment the last IDF soldier left the Gaza strip and the blue and white Israeli flag was lowered, those synagogues and greenhouses and everything else was destroyed in a frenzied mayhem of hatred. The Palestinians have proceeded to use that land to launch more than 10,000 kassam and grad rockets at Southern Israel. They have committed crimes against humanity, by hiding behind their civilian population in mosques, playgrounds, and schools as they launch their missiles and aim them at Israel's. It is difficult to explain the sheer terror that the Israelis in the South have had to endure for the last seven years. When they hear the siren, 'Code Red', they have only 15 seconds to run for their very lives."

 Indeed, writers Ruthie Blum and Lela Gilbert (the latter an American evangelical whose lived in Israel for six years), also find Miller's thinly-veiled attack on Israel appalling. Blum sees the mendacity of the Palestinian terrorist infrastructure up close:

"Fatah [the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s political arm] has proven itself to be no different from Hamas in its aim to destroy Israel. One need only look at its state-run media and schoolbook content to see this. The heartbreaking stories that Donald Miller refers to in his article could all have been avoided if the Palestinian leadership had agreed to make its peace with the existence of Israel. And the only reason there are always more casualties on the Palestinian side than on the Israeli side is that Israel takes care to warn and protect its own citizens from Palestinian bombs and missiles, while the Palestinian leaders place their population in harm's way."

 Gilbert, whose new book Saturday People, Sunday People provides first-hand accounts of the Palestinian terrorist agenda, also recognizes leftist propaganda when she sees it:

"The moral equivalency Donald Miller tries to establish in the Israeli-Arab conflict is dishonest and his description of the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel is absurd. Since Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Gaza-based terrorists have fired more than 8,000 rockets into Israel. Many more than one million Israeli civilians continually live under threat of rocket attacks, and at times are required to rush repeatedly into shelters-mothers and babies, disabled, elderly, children, everybody-in a single 24-hour period.

"Yet Miller tries to make the case that this is really no big deal; that Hamas rockets hit empty fields and, although maybe some unarmed man, woman or child dies or gets hurt now and then, these unguided missiles do little damage. Miller completely misrepresents the purpose of the rockets, which isterrorismand not simply death or injury. Then he goes on to portray the consequential Israeli surgical aerial attacks on Gaza-which are entirely a defensive response to Hamas' assault on Israeli civilians-as unfair, taking too many civilian lives. His double standard is staggering."


By Jim Fletcher

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