21 January 2014

London Eschatology Conference

King's Evangelical Divinity School and Chosen People Ministries UK are jointly organising a conference to be held in London in October.

Entitled Thy Kingdom Come: A Conference on the Bible, Theology and the Future, the event includes well-known theological speakers, including Derek Tidball, Craig Blaising and Darrell Bock. Full details are available at the even website - www.thykingdomcome.org.uk. There is also a Facebook page which you are invited to Like to help get the word around. 

The organisers have also issues a call for papers. More details here.

10 October 2013

Excellent Video Resources on Israel and the Middle East

Last week a major conference entitled The People, the Land and the Future of Israel was held in New York. The event, organised by Chosen People Ministries, headed by Dr Mitch Glaser, brought together various well-known and respected Evangelical scholars with hundreds of publications between them to explore the issue of Israel and the Middle East conflict from an Evangelical perspective. 

The conference explored these issues from various angles and theological subdisciplines, including biblical theology, church history, systematics, practical theology, political theology and ministry. Importantly, this excellent collection of valuable resources by these distinguished speakers was filmed and is now available online for viewing here

I would strongly encourage all Evangelicals, regardless of their position on Israel, to view these videos and engage with the arguments and positions presented. For too long (with important exceptions), there have been too few scholarly resources available to respond to a new and somewhat aggressive expression of supersessionism doing the rounds within Evangelical circles during the past two or so decades. But in recent years this has begun to change, and these videos represent another valuable resource for Christians of all persuasions seeking to eschew the polemics of the current debate and instead explore the issues objectively and open-mindedly. These videos provide such people with an alternative, non-pejorative viewpoint by scholars who are experts in their field, and as such they merit attention.

16 August 2013

Mitch Glaser on the Release of Palestinian Prisoners

President of Chosen People Ministries and Messianic leader Dr Mitch Glaser reflects on this week's release of Palestinian prisoners to further peace talks in the region. After highlighting the crimes committed by the released prisoners and the impact of their release upon the victims' families, he writes:
Israel is often characterized by world opinion – and by some evangelical Christians – as a nation that acts unjustly and lacks compassion. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth, and the release of the prisoners is clear evidence of the extent to which Israeli leaders are willing to go to achieve peace. 
I am not going to try and paint Israel or the Jewish people as perfect or without moral blemish. We are all sinners – both individuals and nations. However, since there has been so much criticism of Israel in recent days, I think it is important to show that Israel and its leaders have gone far beyond what even most citizens of Israel would believe to be just and fair. 
What other nation in recent days has released its convicted prisoners or offered them early “parole,” as the Israeli government is describing the nature of their actions? 
These controversial decisions on the part of the Israeli leadership will be debated for years and perhaps centuries. I do not believe that the Israeli leadership views the release of the prisoners as forgiveness, nor necessarily an act of compassion, even though in some cases this might be the case – especially for the more elderly prisoners.
I assume the release of the prisoners was enacted for the sake of political expediency in hopes that the release will lead towards peace. We might not know the answer to this for a number of years, and even if some type of peace comes about as a result of this effort – many will still feel that the price for peace was too high.
I am writing these reflections to demonstrate to Evangelical Christians who have been so very critical of Israel lately that Israeli leaders are willing to do what might be viewed as reprehensible and politically inexpedient, simply in order move the peace process forward. 
Really, this is all about the character of Israeli leadership and of the people of Israel. Look at the great lengths to which they have gone to show good faith in the peace process. There will be continued controversy over the next few days regarding Israel’s moving forward with housing settlements in Gilo and regarding the recent air strike, destroying the Hamas rocket launcher that was aiming missiles into Israel from Gaza. The antagonists of Israel will focus on these things and miss the fact that the leadership of Israel has risked the soul of the nation for the sake of peace. 
I believe that evangelical Christians, especially those that have been so opposed to Israel in recent days and have accused Israel of being unjust, need to pause and reconsider their position in light of the renewed tears shed by the families of those who were murdered – and the cheers and celebrations by the communities of those who were released.  
Read Mitch Glaser's comment in full on his blog.

22 July 2013

Wayne Hilsden endorses JMINS

Wayne Hilsden, Lead Pastor of the King of Kings Community Jerusalem, has endorsed the new revised and expanded edition of The Jews, Modern Israel and the New Supersessionism. He writes:
I am deeply grateful to Dr. Calvin Smith and the fine collection of scholars who have presented their case. The Jews, Modern Israel and the New Supersessionism will be one of my reference works for years to come. Where one lands in relation to the theory of supersessionism can impact not only the fate of Jewish people still in unbelief, but also those who profess to follow Jesus the Messiah. So I exhort the reader to be concerned not only about the theological debate, but also how supersessionism has the potential to profoundly affect eternal consequences.
The endorsement (together with others and details of where to buy) can be found on the book pageMore on Wayne Hilsden's further involvement in this book project shortly!

18 July 2013

The EU's "useful idiots"

Earlier this week the European Union, in a breathtaking display of complete misunderstanding of the complex nature of the Middle East conflict, singled out and targeted Israel in the EU's ongoing efforts to make itself politically relevant. In doing so it has threatened any last vestiges of influence it has upon the Jewish state.

But irony of ironies, a film has just surfaced of an imam preaching from a Temple Mount pulpit a few days ago in which he calls for Europe's destruction and the re-establishment of a new Caliphate (you know, that Muslim political entity which tore Europe in two for centuries quite a long time ago). I'm reminded of those Western Soviet propagandists during the Cold War often referred to as "useful idiots".

For its part, I think Israel is becoming a bit too soft, allowing this kind of thing. Perhaps it's time to act as they are frequently accused and viewed. They could start by ending all EU projects in the West Bank, then move on to take back the Temple Mount. After all, no one preaching such rubbish deserves any land. As I keep saying, the Palestinians have had a raw deal, owed in substantial part to a long history of dismal leaders who refuse to make peace with Israel. Very soon there'll be nothing left for them to negotiate for.

5 July 2013

Arrested for Offending. It's All Becoming Quite Sinister

Archbishop Cranmer has posted a video of a US street preacher arrested this week in London because someone listening to him was offended by what he had to say (while talking about sin he dwelt upon all forms of sexual immorality and had the audacity to label homosexuality a "sin"). The video details the exchange with the police (from about 24:30 onwards). Cranmer has also posted a transcript of the interview held later at the police station, which the police have apparently released. The story has also been covered in the Christian press and elsewhere, including the Daily Telegraph.

Whatever your view of street preaching, or the style or approach of this particular preacher (though uncompromising in his beliefs he seemed far more respectful and controlled than some I've heard, possibly because he is a former US police office), we have indeed reached a sinister stage in our country where a single individual who is "offended" can result in the arrest, fingerprinting, DNA sampling and interrogation of another individual. And it won't stop there. I wouldn't be surprised if the preacher isn't allowed back in the country. 

This situation is wrong on so many levels. That a single complainant can have a person arrested merely because she felt offended. That even though she swore at him in a public place (she told him to F off) he is the one arrested. That really it's not about "offence" in general (after all, when was the last time someone was arrested for offending Christians?) but rather that someone challenged and offended the new orthodoxy. That to express a view which a segment of society disagrees with can now result in this kind of police action. That people frequently say offensive things on our streets, behave obnoxiously, even demonstrate aggressively, yet without fear of arrest. That while some gay people are as appalled by this lack of freedom as anyone else, yet others are delighting in hounding Christians (conveniently forgetting that publicising the hounding of homosexuals has been the linchpin of the gay liberation movement). That the police now police people's sexual viewpoints and how they express them. That we now have the ludicrous situation where policemen question and probe someone's theology in a recorded interview. That deep down we think we know that if the preacher's colleagues hadn't recorded the event for this very reason, quite a different story, demonising the preacher, would have emerged. That it all contributes to making a great country in so many ways look rather petty, silly and a bit over-sensitive. That this has been a complete waste of time and money. That before hitting the "Publish" button I'm having to read through this carefully just to make sure I haven't said anything that may result in my arrest.