Is the ICEJ promoting Christocracy in Israel?

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) regularly disseminates seemingly pro-Israel news bulletins. But anybody who has the good sense to follow the traditional Jewish dictum of “respect and suspect”, will take care to read between the lines.

ICEJ’s director Malcolm Hedding recently wrote a piece called the “Politics of Betrayal” (June 9, 2009) in which he blasts Abbas, Hamas, the concept of a two-state solution, and a divided Jerusalem. And he heaps praise on Israel for being “a shining light” of freedom and tolerance when compared with Arab regimes. So far so good… or is it?

The Gospel as Democracy:
The problem for us begins once Hedding starts espousing a Christianized definition of democracy and freedom of expression. Under the subtitle “The Road to Democracy”, Hedding criticizes countries where “Christians cannot practice their faith openly, build churches or propagate their message!” Amidst his praise for Israel, there’s the clear implication that in order to qualify as a democracy, a country is required to allow the Christian message to be spread without restraint. Where does that leave the Jewish state, and those charged with upholding Torah values? Is ICEJ’s acclaim of Israel’s democracy consistent, or are there problems?

Crying Wolf or Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing?
In reaction to the incineration of missionary materials in Or Yehuda last year, ICEJ spokesman David Parsons, reportedly expected the Israeli authorities to pursue what was the halachically permissible disposal of deceptive material as a criminal case. In addition, he was quoted in a USA Today report entitled, Missionaries under threat in Israel, as saying "We believe there is a link to a series of incidents here in the land that involve harassment, intimidation and physical violence." Without evidence, ICEJ was one of a number of evangelical organizations promoting a conspiracy theory linking the criminal vandalism of a church with the halachic disposal of Christian missionary materials, and a possible Arab terror attack.

And despite a gag order placed on the Ariel explosion case in which Arab terror has not been ruled out, ICEJ jumped to conclusions and ran news headlines stating: Anti-missionaries suspected in bombing of Messianic family. The story concluded with “If the perpetrators were Jewish, it would mark the first time anti-missionary activists have staged such a malicious attack with intent to kill.”

Messianic Connections and Aspirations
As a policy ICEJ claims it “has never conducted any missionary programs in Israel”. Yet, Director Malcolm Hedding and other ICEJ staff are actively involved in the openly missionary King of Kings community in the center of Jerusalem.

“The Lion of Judah” was the 2008 theme of ICEJ’s Feast of the Tabernacles held in the Jerusalem Convention Center. The serving ICEJ Musical Director Chuck King made this declaration in explanation of the theme:

"From the tribe of Judah came King David, and from the House of David the true "Lion King" - Jesus - appeared. Jesus' identity as the triumphal Lion of Judah is revealed in Revelation 5, where He is described as the only one worthy to open Heaven's scroll.

This year's Feast of Tabernacles celebration raises a banner bearing the symbol of the Lion of Judah. By lifting up His tribal ensign, we proclaim in this 60th year anniversary of Israel's national rebirth, that the coming Lion of the Tribe of Judah will soon establish His rightful inheritance and establish His throne to rule over His city and the nations."

The upcoming 2009 Feast has the theme of the Tabernacle of David and we can get a glimpse of the ICEJ spin from their January 2009 ICEJ magazine, ”Word from Jerusalem”:
The Tabernacle of David by Dr. Juergen Buehler (ICEJ’s International Director)

"And now through the blood of Christ, our High Priest who serves at a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, even we Gentiles can all follow Him into the Most Holy Place, having obtained an eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:11-12). Blessed be Jesus, the Son of David, and His Kingdom forever!"

[Note: The Jerusalem Convention Center is regularly used as a venue for evangelical and messianic missionary events]

Grafting – Just another name for Replacement Theology?
Malcolm Hedding preaches against traditional replacement theology, citing “the now famous and very godly Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend J. D. Ryle”, who said,
"I warn you, that unless you interpret the prophetical portion of the Old Testament in a simple literal meaning of its words, you will find it no easy matter to carry on an argument with a Jew. Will you dare tell him that Zion, Jerusalem, Jacob, Judah, Ephraim, Israel, do not mean what they seem to mean, but mean the church of Christ."

It was Ryle who penned the prophetic creed which states,
“I believe that the Jews shall ultimately be gathered again as a separate nation, restored to their own land and turned to the faith of Christ (Messiah) (Jeremiah 30.10-11, 31.10, Zechariah 12.10, Romans 11.25-6).

Hedding vigorously endorses the Christian theological concept that the church has been grafted into the Jewish root and at the end-of-days Gentiles and Israel will no longer be longer distinct, but will be
“ 'one new man' in Christ who is neither Jew nor Greek, neither male nor female. This means that in the Christian life, there are to be no prejudices or hatred, nor any sense of discrimination between people groups or gender groups. We are all equal in the sight of God."

Of course, Hedding’s eschatological views are diametrically opposed to Jewish Redemptive aspirations...

See more on the Jewish position on tolerance, religious freedom and proselytizing (what ICEJ fails to respect, accept or understand)
Rav Adin Steinsaltz: The Irrelevance of “Toleration” in Judaism
Rav Yosef B. Soloveitchik: Confrontation

More on ICEJ
See related Article: The Unkosher Feast
See related Report: Rabbi Riskin: Taken-in of Grafted-in?
See related Video

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