Monday, March 12, 2012

Brief Response to “Christ at the Checkpoint” from Messianic participants

Brief Response to “Christ at the Checkpoint”
from Messianic participants Richard Harvey, Wayne Hilsden, Dan Juster, David Loden, Lisa Loden and Evan Thomas  Issued Monday, 12 March 2012

As Messianic Jews and supporters of Israel who attended the “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference we were warmly welcomed. We participated in a personal capacity, clearly stating we did not claim to represent any other individuals, groups or organisations.
We gave presentations on God’s continuing purposes for the Jewish people and the land of Israel, assured by His covenant promises to our forefathers; the need for reconciliation to develop a deeper fellowship and partnership in the Gospel with our Arab brothers and sisters; and the building of a Messianic Jewish theology and practice of reconciliation and peace-making.
The aims of the conference organisers were clearly stated on their website, which were to
• Empower and encourage the Palestinian church.
• Expose the realities of the injustices in the Palestinian Territories and create awareness of the obstacles to reconciliation and peace.
• Create a platform for serious engagement with Christian Zionism and an open forum for ongoing dialogue between all positions within the Evangelical theological spectrum.
• Motivate participants to become advocates for the reconciliation work of the church in Palestine/Israel and its ramifications for the Middle East and the world.
Also on the agenda was promotion of non-violent resistance to the administration of Gaza and the West Bank, and the development of Palestinian Evangelical Christian theologies.
However, at no point was it assumed that we were in agreement with these aims, but rather it was expected that we had different views which needed to be heard. We were free to challenge in informal discussion and platform dialogue the differing theological and political understandings of the place of Israel in Scripture, the purposes of God, and present political realities. We reflected the concerns of the Messianic community as expressed in recent statements from the UMJC/IMJA/MJAA and Israeli Messianic groups, highlighting areas of both agreement and disagreement on the ongoing election of Israel (the Jewish people) and the promises of the Land.
We did not feel compromised in any way, but were able to freely express our own points of view, and were treated with respect. The conference organisers have issued a manifesto affirming their aims and positions, which was commended to the conference participants at the end of the conference. Some of us were shown this statement during the editorial process, out of respect and appreciation for our involvement, and out of acknowledgment of the bridges that were built during the conference. While a few of us offered advice on the composition of these documents, we do not in fact endorse all the points that were finally presented. Nor were we asked by the organizers to endorse them.
The impact of the conference has yet to be assessed. But those of us who took part were particularly impressed with the genuine attempts to meet with Messianic Jews and Christian supporters of Israel, and begin a dialogue. Our hopes and prayers are for continuing attempts at peaceful engagement with one another in fellowship, prayer and discussion, and for true reconciliation to be achieved through the atoning love of the Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel and Prince of Peace.
We hope and pray that our willingness to accept the invitation to participate in the conference has opened a door for us to strengthen genuine relationships with our Arab brothers and sisters. We trust that in the context of such relationships we will be able to address in greater depth the serious issues that concern the messianic body, both of a theological nature and existential threats and attacks against the nation of Israel.
Ephesians 4:1-4. I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling.
Romans 12:18-20. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.  Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
This brief response summarises our positive engagement with the conference and its organisers. More detailed personal responses are available from the individuals named below.

Richard Harvey
Wayne Hilsden
Dan Juster
David Loden
Lisa Loden
Evan Thomas

Monday, 12 March 2012


charles soper said...

'We were not asked to endorse it, but did offer advice on its composition.'

Don't the participants recognise that being consulted on and not publicly dissenting from a conference statement implies consenting to it?

Anonymous said...

The participants were invited to present their theological point of view - which they did very well. They don't need to publicly dissent in order to demonstrate that they were not in agreement with other theologies.

stuart Jennings said...

Your presence was a wondrful gift of grace, thank you for being with us in our journey for understanding, peace and justice. As Christians we have to learn to talk with one another and not at each other. I thank you my brothrs and sisters in Christ for the courage and geberosity you showd in facilitating that. God Bless

Donna Diorio, IsraelWatcher said...

Of course the Messianic contingent had a responsibility to disavow the Manifesto that was published by some of the Christ at the Checkpoint conference. This responsibility was to their own communities, a great portion who did not like any participation whatsoever. It is a little crazy to think they should not publicly voice their dissent to the Manifesto which is strident in viewpoint to a great many of us and in no way acceptable to be meek and mild about.

The Israeli Messianic leaders who participated in this conference did so not to lend credence to the extreme views proposed by many of the speakers, but to engage those who are willing in brotherly love to sit at the table together in Messiah to reason together the issues. That has to be respected. These are well respected, godly and discerning leaders in the Israeli Messianic community.

Joseph W said...

How can they disavow a manifesto that they had the opportunity to contribute to and edit?

Donna Diorio, IsraelWatcher said...

They did not sign the Manifesto. At first the conference organizers did not note who signed the Manifesto. After it became a heated point among some Messianic leaders in Israel, the names of those who signed off on the manifesto were listed.

The Messianic contingent were granted the courtesy of seeing what the conference organizers intended to publish as its manifesto, but were not given input into its composition.

In the words of Evan Thomas, who has partnered with Salim Munayer for 25+ years in a reconciliation effort, "One must remember this was first and foremost a Palestinian event organized by Palestinian Christians. It was natural that this was to be a forum that would express their pain and their theology in the context of their challenging circumstances. Nevertheless, by their initiative and willingness to listen to the other side and dialogue, key speakers on the subject of Christian Zionism and reconciliation from a Messianic Jewish perspective were invited and validated. The conversations then continued around mealtimes and in quiet corners. For their courage and initiative, our Palestinian brothers in Christ must be saluted."

Joseph W said...

Evan edited the grammar of the manifesto, as did the Lodens, but they did not suggest changes to the content.

Is this really ethical, to assist in writing the manifesto, without actually signing it?

Donna Diorio, IsraelWatcher said...

You may or may not know this, Joe, but the Loden's were co-leaders with Evan at Beit Asaph from the beginning. They will be extremely familiar with his work and relationships via the Musalaha connection.

I do not see it as a matter of ethics that Evan lent a trusted hand in grammatical editing of a document that was published in English, the second language of the men who were the organizers of the conference.

I don't think you appreciate the commitment to the desire and work of reconciliation between Jew and Arab that Evan has invested himself in. I met him many years back when Evan, along with Dan Juster, were part of the leadership of Toward Jerusalem Council II which my rabbi Marty Waldman first envisioned to work towards real reconciliation between Messianic Jew and the Gentile Church. After many years, with the time constraints those kinds of commitments take, Evan departed TJC2 in order to focus on his congregation and his efforts inside Israel with Musalaha reconciliation. Dan, Evan, the Lodens are all well-versed in the types of controversy and pressures that come to bear on those apostolic level ministry individuals doing reconciliation work.

There is a deep measure of diplomacy required to do this kind of work - I know I certainly do not have that temperament, anointing or calling. However, I do trust that these men do. Some inside Israel who are raising Cain about this also do not have he temperament, anointing or calling to do this reconciliation work. Just because they do not understand it does not mean they have the right to try to stop those who do.

Like Gamaliel advised,if it is not of God it will come to nothing, but if it is of God then all the hell-raising about it is in essence fighting God.

Personally I believe time should be given to see what will come of it. I have already had conversation with a man in Israel who attended the Sabeel conference in 2004 and the 2010 Checkpoint conference. He said there was a significant tone change in this conference that he said was affected by the presence of the invited Messianic participants and guests.

I trust Dan Juster. He is what I have long called the elder statesman of the Messianic movement. I think those are called apostles in scripture.

Joseph W said...

"all the hell-raising about [Christ at the Checkpoint] is in essence fighting God."

Is that what you think?

Donna Diorio, IsraelWatcher said...

Now Joseph, don't try to put words in my mouth (or bracketed meanings into my sentences that I am not saying. Don't spin me, brother.

What I was saying is that all the hell-raising about the Messianic brothers who participated in the conference this year by invitation may be fighting what GOD IS DOING through them. My personal belief from hearing from many inside Israel - not just the Messianic voices outside Israel who don't have a real grasp of all the background that matters - is that good was accomplished, and good will remain to be accomplished.

For example, many of the Christian Arab leaders that are involved in that conference are also involved in an ongoing leaders retreat that happens twice a year called Sitting At Yeshua's Feet. The Christian Arabs and Messianic Jews spend several days together praying. This is why there are relationships that have been nurtured for many years that are being hurt by the great outrage and churning among some Messianics - mostly those NOT LIVING in Israel.

That is why I saw I trust Dan Juster and some of the other men involved to do the reconciliation work, and also to walk away if it proves unfruitful.

Like I said

Donna Diorio, IsraelWatcher said...

Sorry about all the typos - writing this on the fly!

Joseph W said...

It's just the Gamaliel reference implies that you think - to some extent - the Israeli CATC delegation is behaving like the apostles, and critics of CATC are more like the anti-Yeshua zealots of his day.

But okay.

Why would God want Israeli CATC participants to support a conference, which recommended tactics to Hamas?

How is this reconciliation?

Joseph W said...

"This is why there are relationships that have been nurtured for many years that are being hurt by the great outrage and churning among some Messianics - mostly those NOT LIVING in Israel."

No - but for example the conference programme was organised by a Brit, and his words have very real effects on the Messianic movement in the diaspora. The Israeli Messianic community is not somehow more important than the British or American ones.

In any case, most Israeli Messianic Jews are against CATC 2012, not for it.

And of course you have to wonder why no Sabra Israeli Messianic Jews addressed CATC.

Joseph W said...

Carrying this on on your Facebook wall if okay with you - No point having same discussion in 2 places.