Friday, May 30, 2003

Evangelical dissent on the Holy Land

James Kennedy's Knox Theological Seminary recently released an open letter Evangelicals and others on "The People of God, the Land of Israel, and the Impartiality of the Gospel," signed by a large number of Evangelical leaders and scholars. The opening paragraph explains the reason for the letter:
    Recently a number of leaders in the Protestant community of the United States have urged the endorsement of far-reaching and unilateral political commitments to the people and land of Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, citing Holy Scripture as the basis for those commitments. To strengthen their endorsement, several of these leaders have also insisted that they speak on behalf of the seventy million people who constitute the American evangelical community.
The signatories of this, letter, however, do not agree with this prior statement, and they are compelled to write this open letter:
    At the heart of the political commitments in question are two fatally flawed propositions. First, some are teaching that God's alleged favor toward Israel today is based upon ethnic descent rather than upon the grace of Christ alone, as proclaimed in the Gospel. Second, others are teaching that the Bible's promises concerning the land are fulfilled in a special political region or "Holy Land," perpetually set apart by God for one ethnic group alone. As a result of these false claims, large segments of the evangelical community, our fellow citizens, and our government are being misled with regard to the Bible's teachings regarding the people of God, the land of Israel, and the impartiality of the Gospel.
The letter makes for interesting reading. I, for one, erroneously believed that most Evangelicals were of the same mind on the political question of Israel, but this letter demonstrates my error.

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