Well, the Israel and the Church: A Common Heritage and Uncertain Future conference, jointly organised by King's Evangelical Divinity School and Chosen People Ministry and held at London School of Theology on 8-9 October, was a great success. All places were booked (the chapel was filled to capacity) and speakers were Darrell Bock (Dallas Theological Seminary), Mitch Glaser (Chosen People Ministries, New York), Jules Gomes (formerly LST, now Liverpool Cathedral), Richard Harvey (All Nations Christian College), Barry Horner (author of Future Israel) and myself. The papers covered the issue from a range of angles, and we culminated with a Question Time type debate. We're preparing a press release for later in the week, and eventually a full conference report, and I'll post details here when both are published. A conference volume is also being planned, which will include papers already commissioned in addition to those delivered at the conference. In the meantime, further details and information about obtaining recordings can be found here.
Importantly, the speakers together demonstrates the complexities of this issue and during the course of the event I was approached by a number of people previously undecided on the issue who explained how helpful they had found the conference. Poignantly, one young woman who recently completed a university degree explained how she had attended this year's Greenbelt, which took a particularly biased anti-Israel position. She explained how she came away from the festival eager to promote its core message and lobby against Israel, but having attended this weekend's conference she had come to learn that in fact there was another side to the debate she had never encountered before, not just about the Middle East conflict but also a biblical and theological response to the whole issue of Israel. She expressed indignation Greenbelt had been so one-sided and planned to go away and research the issue further and much more objectively. This was precisely one of the purposes of the conference, to challenge the current narrative, demonstrate another point of view and to encourage a less polarised, more objective biblical and theological examination of the issues, which is right and proper among Christians of all persuasions.
More about Greenbelt and the Middle East here, here and here. (BTW, I believe Peter Tatchell was invited to be a speaker at Greenbelt this year, as discussed by Chris Lazenby and Keith Waters on the King's blog here. If so, it's pretty indicative of the political/theological line the festival takes.)
It was also good to meet several people at the conference who frequently post comments on this blog. My only regret is that I did not have more time to chat with people. Anyway, see about getting hold of those DVDs. More on this conference later this week.
Yes, a wonderful conference, thank you Calvin for your hard work in putting this together.
A diverse group of speakers covering a wide spectrum in a short space of time, truly magnificent.
I was especially impressed by Jules Gomez and his speech on the two aspects of Islam, one to the west of victimhood and human rights and the other to the Ummah (Islamic community) of the need to annihilate Israel! he brought out text after text from the Koran and Hadith of how islamic teachers continue to foister the belief that the Jews are descendants of pigs and apes.
The 'west' needs to hear more about this aspect of the 'peaceful' religion.
Look forward to the book and further updates.
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