Mennonites and Christ at the Checkpoint

“Christ at the Checkpoint is primarily a public relations scheme to dissuade American evangelicals from pro-Israel views. To succeed, they will have to mount blinders on cooperatively gullible evangelicals, guiding their eyes towards disruptive Israeli checkpoints, while hiding the rest of the surrounding reality.”

-Mark Tooley of Front Page Magazine
Christ at an Israeli Checkpoint
http://frontpagemag.com/2012/02/20/christ-at-an-israeli-checkpoint-2/

This blog recently checked into Christ at the Checkpoint to see if any Mennonites or their associates supported or attended this event. The results were not surprising.

Christ at the Checkpoint was a peace making conference that was held a few months ago at Bethlehem Bible College, which is a Mennonite Central Committee partner. After the event, Ryan Rodrick Beiler, a program administrator for Mennonite Central Committee, promoted it by compiling some favourable quotes from the conference on the blog of MCC Palestine (see 19 Key Quotes from Christ at the Checkpoint). Other participating Mennonites included Palmer Becker (former Mennonite pastor and professor), Linford Stutzman (Eastern Mennonite University professor), three MCC Palestine workers and various student groups. Not surprisingly, an article in the Mennonite World Review also revealed  Mennonite support for the Christ at the Checkpoint event, and more…

“The program involved Israeli, Messianic Jewish and Christian Zionist voices. The dozens of diverse speakers included Ron Sider, a Mennonite theologian and peace activist, and Shane Claiborne, an author and activist who regularly speaks to Anabaptists.”

Source: Event in Holy Land faces Israeli-Palestinian conflict
http://www.mennoworld.org/2012/4/16/event-holy-land-addresses-israeli-palestinian-conf/

The very controversial Shane Claiborne, who also spoke at last year’s Mennonite youth conference despite major objections (see Nine Churches say “No” to Shane Claiborne at US Mennonite Youth Conference), has voiced his supportive views on Christ at the Checkpoint, below:

An unholy wall in the Holy Land
By Shane Claiborne
http://www.mennoworld.org/blog/2012/3/19/unholy-wall-holy-land/

Shane Claiborne’s 5 Great Gatherings in 2012
http://www.christatthecheckpoint.com/index.php/blog/89-shane-claibornes-5-great-gatherings-in-2012

Brad Jersak, another speaker who has been making inroads into Mennonite circles recently (see Disappointment in the MB Herald and B.C. Mennonite Church Allowing Contemplative Spirituality to be Taught), also attended  the conference. His report of his experience at Christ at the Checkpoint can be heard on the following podcast. In the interivew he mentions that he not only “married into the Mennonites” but once believed in the rapture of the church until an MCC worker blew his eschatology grid…

Christ at the Checkpoint with Brad Jersak
http://www.beyondtheboxpodcast.com/2012/05/christ-at-the-checkpoint-with-brad-jersak/

Incidentally, Jersak’s personal views on his time at Christ at the Checkpoint can also be read here:

Dateline Bethlehem: 
Christ at the Checkpoint
http://www.ptm.org/uni/resources/ptmUpdate/032612/bethlehem02.html

Dateline Bethlehem: Christ at the Checkpoint Pt 3 — by Brad Jersak
http://www.clarion-journal.com/clarion_journal_of_spirit/2012/04/dateline-bethlehem-christ-at-the-checkpoint-pt-3-by-brad-jersak.html

Are these accurate reports? Are we to believe what these Mennonites and their friends are saying?

While these speakers and supporters echo what today’s emerging voices are saying, it seems that some VERY important truths are being over looked and ignored. Anyone more interested in fact than fiction may want to educate themselves at the following informative links in order to formulate a more balanced opinion.

Forgotten Facts at Christ at the Checkpoint
http://www.israeltoday.co.il/News/tabid/178/nid/23147/language/en-US/Default.aspx

The Church at Christ’s Checkpoint
A response to the 2012 ‘Christ at the Checkpoint Conference’ can be viewed here by Dr Paul Wilkinson.
http://www.moriel.org/Other/Documents/The_Church_at_Christs_%20Checkpoint.pdf

Christ at the Check Post? US Ambassador’s Report on West Bank Christians
What Stephen Sizer, Gary Burge, Colin Chapman, Lyn Hybels, Naim Ateek, Sammy & Alex Awad, Salim Munyaner and Tony Campolo Don’t Want You to Know
http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/discernment/israel/christ-at-the-check-post-us-ambassadors-report-on-west-bank-christians

Messianic Jews Respond after Christ at the Checkpoint Ends
http://roshpinaproject.com/2012/03/10/messianic-jews-respond-after-christ-at-the-checkpoint-ends/

Joint statement on “Christ at the Checkpoint”
http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/discernment/israel/joint-statement-on-christ-at-the-checkpoint

Confusion at the Checkpoint?
http://www.calvinlsmith.com/2012/03/confusion-at-checkpoint.html

“Christ at the Checkpoint”
Analysis extracted from articles by Shira Sorko-Ram, Avner Boskey and Malcolm Hedding plus booklet by Paul Wilkinson
http://www.wildolive.co.uk/CATC.htm

About Christian Palestinianism
http://blog.followingtheancientpaths.org/2012/02/about-christian-palestinianism/

So Jesus Lived in Occupied Territory?
http://www.thejerusalemconnection.us/blog/2012/02/16/so-jesus-lived-in-occupied-territory.html

Israeli Jews: The Impossible People at Christ at the Checkpoint
http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=118&x_article=2221

NEW:
Why Would “Christ at the Checkpoint” Compare Israel to ISIS?
Oliver Melnick
http://www.newantisemitism.com/antisemitism/why-would-christ-at-the-checkpoint-compare-israel-to-isis

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5 thoughts on “Mennonites and Christ at the Checkpoint

  1. Okay. This is one of many things that I’ve never heard of. Let’s look at the official manifesto:

    The Christ at the Checkpoint Manifesto

    1. The Kingdom of God has come. Evangelicals must reclaim the prophetic role in bringing peace, justice and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel.

    2. Reconciliation recognizes God’s image in one another.

    3. Racial ethnicity alone does not guarantee the benefits of the Abrahamic Covenant.

    4. The Church in the land of the Holy One, has born witness to Christ since the days of Pentecost. It must be empowered to continue to be light and salt in the region, if there is to be hope in the midst of conflict.

    5. Any exclusive claim to land of the Bible in the name of God is not in line with the teaching of Scripture.

    6. All forms of violence must be refuted unequivocally.

    7. Palestinian Christians must not lose the capacity to self-criticism if they wish to remain prophetic.

    8. There are real injustices taking place in the Palestinian territories and the suffering of the Palestinian people can no longer be ignored. Any solution must respect the equity and rights of Israel and Palestinian communities.

    9. For Palestinian Christians, the occupation is the core issue of the conflict.

    10. Any challenge of the injustices taking place in the Holy Land must be done in Christian love. Criticism of Israel and the occupation cannot be confused with anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of the State of Israel.

    11. Respectful dialogue between Palestinian and Messianic believers must continue. Though we may disagree on secondary matters of theology, the Gospel of Jesus and his ethical teaching take precedence.

    12. Christians must understand the global context for the rise of extremist Islam. We challenge stereotyping of all faith forms that betray God’s commandment to love our neighbors and enemies.

    *******************************

    Point 1 is incorrect. The kingdom is a future reality. Even if one recognizes that it already has a manifestation non earth now, the full realization of the kingdom is in the future, and we’re not bringing it any closer with conferences.

    Point 2 is ambiguous. Reconciliation? What does that mean? Ignoring sin?

    Point 3 is demonstrably incorrect.

    Point 4 is something I might agree with, depending on definitions.

    Point 5 is demonstrably incorrect and even exegetically idiotic.

    Point 6 is typical hippie/Mennonite naiveté about the biblical teaching on violence.

    Point 7 uses the word “prophetic” in a way that is completely foreign to the semantic range of “prophet” in scripture.

    Point 8 is something I can agree with.

    Point 9 is nonsense. When 1 country militarily conquers another, it’s not an “occupation”. It’s a “defeat”. Anyone who tries this line of reasoning better be making a REAL stink about the 400+ year “occupation” of North and South America by those filthy stinking Europeans.

    Point 10 is also realistically a way of saying “if we’re being anti-semiotic, don’t confuse that with anti-Semitism”. Rhetoric is rhetoric.

    Point 11 is something I kind of agree with, except that I REALLY disagree with these folks on the gospel of, and ethical teaching of, Jesus.

    Point 12 is a fairly typical manifestation of the almost total ignorance in the west about Islam. Understanding Islam in it’s “global context”, where are the conservative Islamic voices in the Middle East? In Pakistan? In Indonesia? Why are we supposed to consider the western Muslims, the ones who are educated at Harvard and considered apostate in the east, as the REAL representatives of Islam? Why do we pay attention to those guys and ignore the Muslims, on television in Muslim countries, who are constantly calling for open warfare with the Christians (i.e. EVERYONE in Europe and North/South America)?

  2. In a related note, I listened to the Brad Jersak interview you linked too. It was really interesting hearing him and the interviewer getting down to hammering out what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, and it was interesting that they treated “Christian” and “disciple of Jesus” as two different ideas.

    Basically, talk is cheap and a person is saved by their works, as long as their works don’t involve violence (of any sort, even if they’re in the military) or preaching but do involve Anabaptist buzzwords like “peacemaking” and “justice”. Both Jersak and the interviewer are clear that a person can be faithless with regards to Christ’s claims about himself (i.e. directly reject what Jesus explicitly said about himself, God, sin, judgment, the gospel, etc.) and still be a “faithful” follower of Jesus, as long as they’re “doing what he did”…

    …but the “Jesus” that they’re talking about is not the guy I find when I study the New Testament.

  3. Pingback: Mennonite Palestinianism | Menno-lite

  4. Pingback: The Anti-Israel Movement and the Mennonites: Part 3 – Pawns at the Checkpoint | Menno-lite

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