Israel and the Church: A Common Heritage and an Uncertain Future
(London, 8 – 9 October 2010)
The aim of this two-day conference, held at the London School of Theology, was to raise awareness within the Church of an alternative to the often polarised debate between supporters of Israel and the Arab population in Israel and the disputed territories. Speakers were Drs Darrell Bock (Dallas Theological Seminary), Mitch Glaser (Chosen People Ministries), Jules Gomes (Liverpool Cathedral), Richard Harvey (All Nations Christian College), Barry Horner and Calvin Smith (King’s Evangelical Divinity School). The event culminated with a concert by Nashville Messianic artist Marty Goetz. Jointly organised by Chosen People Ministries and King’s Evangelical Divinity School, the conference eventually involved most of the evangelistic works among the Jewish people in the United Kingdom. The conference hall was packed, and the presentations were at once direct and conciliatory in tone. The final session, modelled on the BBC’s Question Time programme, permitted delegates to raise questions with a panel comprising the various speakers.
During the conference, responses among speakers to the current Middle East conflict (including issues such as the land) were varied and nuanced. Yet all speakers were united in their challenge to supersessionism, affirming instead God’s continued plan and purpose for the Jewish people. The speakers also highlighted and eschewed the highly polarised and divisive nature of the current debate between supporters of both Israel and the Palestinian people, calling for greater objectivity and Christian charity towards fellow brothers and sisters in Christ holding opposing viewpoints. The conference also explored the detrimental impact caused by the unnecessarily pejorative language of the current debate, including how polarisation of opinion is causing Church disunity, how polemical anti-Israel and anti-Christian Zionist rhetoric is impacting Messianic Jewish identity and its relations with the Church, and the effects upon Jewish evangelism. All speakers also affirmed the need to share the gospel with both Jews and Muslims.
A conference volume is planned and additional papers to complement those delivered at the conference have been commissioned. Audio and video recordings and further details of the event are available through the websites of both host organisations (see below). It is our hope that as people become aware of this conference the tone of the debate will change somewhat, while replacement theology will give way to a greater appreciation of God’s continued plan and purpose for the Jewish people.