Several Christian groups have expressed opposition to the Christ at the
Checkpoint conference that has been taking place in Bethlehem during the past
week, accusing it of promoting doctrines that have inspired
Bethlehem Bible College, an institute associated with the
Evangelical Christian movement, organized the five-day conference.
Jürgen Bühler, executive director of the International Christian Embassy
Jerusalem (ICEJ), said in a statement ahead of the event that the conference’s
theological stance “can easily lend itself to anti-Semitism and anti-Israel
propaganda, as some of the Checkpoint speakers have proven in the
The ICEJ, which is also an Evangelical organization, accused the
conference of promoting a “cloaked” version of Replacement Theology, which says
the Christian Church became the “new Israel” and all of God’s promises to the
people of Israel were transferred to Christianity.
Bühler also criticized
the neglect of “Christian friends of Israel... [for] our Arab brothers in the
Holy Land and beyond,” arguing that being pro-Israel “does not mean being
Several Catholic leaders in Ireland also denounced the
conference, claiming that it seeks to advance Replacement Theology.
Monaghan, a Catholic lay leader, said that leaders of Bethlehem Bible College
have promoted Replacement Theology, and said that he and other Catholic leaders
in Ireland “strongly oppose that doctrine.”
Additionally, a group of four
Messianic Jewish groups issued a statement before the conference began,
protesting the “supersessionist theology that underlies their conference agenda,
and which has been a source of anti-Semitism and even anti-Jewish violence for
Dr. Bishawa Awad, founder and president of Bethlehem Bible
College, denied that the conference espouses Replacement Theology or that there
was any political agenda.
“This is a Biblical conference, to study what
the bible says about the land,” Awad told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
“Nothing at all has been mentioned about Replacement Theology or the destruction
of Israel. These are unfounded claims.”
The aim of the conference is “to
show Christians how they can bring peace to this part of the world and how
Christians around the world can promote ways through which the two peoples can
live together in peace and tranquillity,” Awad said.
According to a
conference program, the assembly seeks to “expose the injustices of occupation
and create awareness of the obstacles to reconciliation and peace,” and “present
a coherent Biblical challenge to Christian Zionism and offer an alternative
Awad said: “Many Christians support Israel whether it is
right or wrong, but don’t look into the issues of peace and justice. If that’s
being political then fine, but unfortunately, some people, instead of coming and
listening and participating, just attack us. We want to have serious
engagement with Zionist groups, and have open forum for ongoing dialogue. We may
disagree but that doesn’t mean we are enemies and hate each other. As
Christians, we love and we are called by Jesus to love even
Among the speakers is British Pastor Rev. Stephen Sizer, who
has spoken out harshly against Israel and met with Hezbollah military commander
Sheikh Nabil, and Ben White, an anti-Zionist political commentator.