The Misguided Teachings of the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference
As many of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the globe listen to the arguments and teachings of Palestinian Liberation Theology, we should consider last month’s Christ at the Checkpoint Conference (CATC), which was sponsored by Bethlehem Bible College. Its goal was to encourage evangelical Christians to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But did its organizers actually speak on behalf of Palestinian evangelicals?
As a Palestinian evangelical myself, I disagree with this conference, and I do not believe that I am alone in my convictions. But many of my Palestinian brothers wish to maintain good relations with other Palestinian evangelicals and are wary of being labeled as “Zionists.” It is not my goal to cause divisions, and I love and respect those who disagree with me, but I must point out why many Palestinian believers do not follow Christian Palestinianism.
When we read the Bible, do we come empty to God and pray that he will answer our questions through his word? Do we check our ideas against Scripture to ensure that they are Biblical? These are questions that we should all ask ourselves. From my understanding of the theological arguments of CATC, it is clear that its participants approach Scripture in their own way, in order to make the Bible conform to their preconceived ideas.
According to Palestinian Liberation Theology, Jesus was a leader who was never silent in the face of injustice perpetrated by authorities. In so doing, he changed the way we should interact with government, challenging us to speak against its injustices. But did Jesus really teach that believers have a responsibility to correct the government?
When the Jews asked Jesus if they should pay taxes to Rome – which itself established an occupation in Judaea – did Jesus respond by calling the Roman governance unjust and asking the Jews to use nonviolent resistance? Jesus did not show any interest in the political, but rather showed the clear difference between living for God and obeying government, telling the Jews to “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s.” As we read the New Testament, we can better understand the role of God and the role of the kingdom of this Earth.
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Matt Hanna is a Palestinian who was born in the Gaza Strip in an Orthodox Christian family. He moved to the West Bank where he came to know Jesus, who changed his life. He is now a student of Biblical studies and he serves in different christian ministries that all focus on sharing the gospel with Muslims. He is also a peacemaker between Palestinians and Israelis and achieves this by promoting a positive conversation and image about the Jews in his Palestinian society. He also fights the antisemitic mindset that is prevalent throughout Palestine.