Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me (Matthew 25:37-40).
Social justice warriors of the Christian variety often quote this New Testament passage as rationale for their humanitarian work. The idea is that feeding the hungry, giving a drink to the thirsty, housing the stranger, clothing the naked, and visiting the imprisoned is tantamount to doing it for Jesus Himself.
And they are right.
Christians are exhorted to do everything they do as if they are doing it for Jesus. I suppose that is what some of my fellow evangelicals think they are doing as they gather in Oklahoma City this week for the annual Christ at the Checkpoint Conference. But they would do well to consider whether or not the cause they are advocating is consistent with the teachings of the Bible. Is Christ really at the Checkpoint?
The Christ at the Checkpoint Conferences are made up evangelicals who “feel compelled to address the injustices that have taken place in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine, particularly the Palestinian lands under occupation”.
Of course, to conference organizers and attendees, blame for these alleged injustices lies squarely on the side of Israel. Their website includes no mention of Hamas. No mention of armed protestors and flaming kites at the Gaza border. No reference to the use of children as human shields or the mentally handicapped as fodder for the fight against the Jews. None of that.
Instead, the conference’s manifesto asserts that we Christians must be more open-minded toward terror, taking time to “understand the global context for the rise of extremist Islam”. That same document reminds Christians that we ought not to take seriously those archaic promises God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob about their right to the land, because “[a]ny exclusive claim to land of the Bible in the name of God is not in line with the teaching of scripture”.
If you are alarmed at their vehement rhetoric tilted against Israel and the Jewish people, don’t be–their manifesto also includes a line to assuage such concerns: “Criticism of Israel and the occupation cannot be confused with anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of the State of Israel”.
No, we must never confuse the conference’s double standards, denial of Israel’s right to self-determination, or their turning of a blind eye to the poverty and human rights violations of the Palestinians’ own terrorist-led government with anti-Semitism. They don’t hate Jews, they just despise their existence in their historic, biblical homeland. So, we’re all good.
In truth, we should all–Jew and Christian, alike–be concerned.
Among the speakers at this year’s U.S. conference is Dr. Steven Sizer, a former Anglican vicar, whose anti-Israel sentiments are well known. In 2010, he posted a collection of photographs of Israeli Defense Forces on flickr.com, with the heading “Herod’s soldiers operating in Bethlehem today”, a reference to King Herod, who ordered the slaughter of all baby boys living in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth in an attempt to kill the child. The comparison is clear: the IDF is a genocidal regime intent on destroying its neighbors.
In 2011, Sizer posted a link to an anti-Semitic website on his blog, drawing criticism from many, including The Board of Deputies of British Jews; and in 2012, he spoke at the Second New Horizon Conference in Iran, an event that attracts anti-Zionists, anti-Semites, and Holocaust deniers.
Sizer has posted numerous links to articles about Israel conspiracy theories. In 2015, Sizer posted on Facebook a link to a Wikispooks article entitled, “9/11 Israel did it”, along with his own statement, “Is this antisemitic? If so no doubt I’ll be asked to remove it. It raises so many questions.” And in August 2018, Sizer shared an article that asked whether Israel was “behind the attacks” on noted anti-Semitic Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn. Sizer answered the article’s headlining question in his post: “You would have to be blind as a bat not to see their hands”.
Is inviting such an anti-Semite to speak really going to help reconcile Israelis and Palestinians, “recogniz[ing] God’s image in one another”, as their manifesto states? Is singling out Israel for alleged human rights abuses, excluding the heinous treatment of the Palestinians at the hand of their own leadership, being “done in Christian love”? Hardly.
The fact is, conference organizers can package their animosity toward Israel and the Jewish people any way they want. They can say it’s about justice, the kingdom of God, understanding, and other social justice jargon; but the long and short of it is that they exist to bash Zionist Jews and Israel, the only Jewish state on earth.
At the end of the day, the anti-Semitism of the Christians who support the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference is no different from that of their Crusader predecessors. Sure, they may not be burning Jews alive in synagogues, but their aim is the same–taking the land from the Jewish people “in Jesus’ name”.
So, is Christ really at the Checkpoint conference? I don’t believe so. It invites anti-Semites to speak. It denies the teachings of God’s word, as it concerns the land of Israel. It promotes anger and hostility toward Israel and the Jewish people. It advocates the division of God’s land.
If the folks at Christ at the Checkpoint really want Christ’s blessing, perhaps they should seek a reconciliation and peace that does not violate God’s word or vilify His chosen people. As long as they persist with the status quo, they are in danger of hearing Christ’s words to those who refused to help His Jewish brethren: “Inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me” (Matthew 25:45).