Christians angry over ‘anti-Semitic’ parley

Christ at the Checkpoint conference has been taking place in Bethlehem.

DR. BISHAWA AWAD 390 (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
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 anti-Semitism.
Bethlehem Bible College, an institute associated with the Evangelical Christian movement, organized the five-day conference.
Dr. 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 past.”
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 anti-Arab.”
Several Catholic leaders in Ireland also denounced the conference, claiming that it seeks to advance Replacement Theology.
Paddy 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 centuries.”
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 perspective.”
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 enemies.”
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.