Some 150 evangelical Christians and Jews gathered in Jerusalem on Wednesday in a extremely uncommon interfaith convention on right-wing Temple Mount activism that aimed to dispel what its organizers described as an insidious, viral “hoax” taking maintain within the Christian world — that the 2 historic Jewish temples had by no means been situated on the long-lasting, holy, politically explosive compound.
The situation and timing of Wednesday’s Temple Mount Jerusalem Conference have been symbolic. Beneath tight safety, individuals gathered on the Menachem Start Middle within the capital, the place 4 years in the past Temple Mount activist Yehudah Glick (now a Knesset member) was shot a number of occasions by a Palestinian terrorist in an assassination try over his advocacy for Jewish prayer on the holy website.
And its internet hosting on the Temple-centric Jewish vacation of Hanukkah — commemorating the Jewish revolt towards the Seleucid empire by the Maccabees and restoration of the ransacked Temple and miracle of its oil-burning for eight days — was not misplaced on the audio system.
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Nor did the conference’s organizers try and disguise its main and controversial political goals: to drum up worldwide Christian help for Jewish management of the flashpoint holy website, which stays beneath Jordanian custodianship because the 1967 Six Day Conflict, and the place Jews might go to, however not pray. Although most of the lecturers referred to as for the rebuilding of a third temple, the group insisted it had no such aspirations.
“Listen, it was evangelicals who helped usher in the move of the embassy to Jerusalem with President Donald Trump. Imagine if Christian evangelicals understood the importance of the Temple Mount and pushed for Jewish sovereignty of the Temple Mount,” stated Doron Keider, the chief director of the Cry for Zion group behind the convention.
The Temple Mount — website of the Biblical Jewish temples, and which homes the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock shrine — has typically been the epicenter of tensions between Israel and the Palestinians because the holiest website in Judaism and third-holiest website in Islam. A number of flare-ups in car-rammings, stabbings and shootings in recent times have been attributed by the Palestinian terrorists and attackers to a perceived try by Israel to vary the established order on the website. The Israeli authorities has firmly and repeatedly denied it’s going to change the 50-year-old preparations.
“There are many Christians who believe the Bible, that there will be a future temple. How that comes about is all in God’s hands. We are not some sort of extremist organization wanting to destroy any buildings or anything like that,” stated John Enarson, the group’s Christian relations director and scholar on the Scandinavian Faculty of Theology.
“I know there’s a certain group among the media that are going to be watching, and they’re bound to call us racist, sexist, bigoted, homophones, bible-thumpers, irresponsible troublemakers, zealots and extremists, but the seal of God is truth, and the era of empty name-calling to shout down the opposition, opinions you don’t like, that era is over,” Enarson stated earlier, in his opening remarks. “The Temple Mount is now a mainstream concern, in Israel and around the world.”
In recent times, there was an uptick in visits by Jewish worshipers to the holy website, and, in accordance with the convention organizers, a flurry of curiosity by Christians, primarily evangelicals, since 2013, although they might not supply exact figures on visits to the location by Christian supporters.
However for a lot of, the draw isn’t any kind of political activism, however somewhat numerous “conspiracy theories,” Keidar admitted.
‘The Temple Mount is now a mainstream concern, in Israel and around the world’
“There’s an awakening of interest in the Christian world, but unfortunately it’s more in the direction of conspiracy theory, you know, the Indiana Jones ‘I’m going to find the treasure and I’m going to be the one who does it,’” Keidar informed reporters on Wednesday.
“Our main focus is educating about the Temple Mount, but unfortunately we learned that since we’re engaging with a Christian audience that’s their main thing in the back of their minds, the first thing when you talk about it, [so] we have to address it.”
A 3rd temple in… Silwan?
The crux of a “hoax” addressed in the course of the convention is a lengthy discredited concept by Ernest L Martin — just lately revived in books, articles and viral YouTube movies with hundreds of thousands of mixed views — that claims the Jewish temples by no means stood on the Temple Mount, however fairly within the close by Metropolis of David within the East Jerusalem Silwan neighborhood, regardless of an abundance of archaeological and textual proof on the contrary.
For proponents of the idea, it supplies a “solution” to the apparently irreconcilable claims to the compound by Muslims and Jews.
“I think for Bible-believing Christians, it’s interesting to them that maybe it would not conflict with Muslim holy sites, but I think that’s obviously immature,” stated Enarson, a Sweden-born evangelical Christian.
He additionally advised the attract of the idea might stem from deep-rooted Christian supersessionist views of Judaism.
“There’s been thousands of years, almost 2,000 years, of Christian anti-Semitism, of replacement theology that subconsciously, I think, with many Christians it lends it easier to have this idea of ‘oh, the Jewish people missed it. They’re wrong again. And now we found something out that they don’t know.’ So you have articles appear, like ‘Wailing at the wrong wall’ and things like that,” he stated.
“I don’t think a lot of Christian people consciously think that, but that’s something in the back of the history of the relationship between Christians and Jews. And we really want to change that.”
‘Jesus loved the Temple Mount’
Will pro-Israel evangelical Christians supply a tailwind to right-wing activism over the holy website? Although Wednesday’s occasion appeared unprecedented when it comes to evangelical curiosity within the concern, the Cry for Zion group has restricted attain on social media (with solely a number of thousand likes), and the Israeli authorities has firmly rejected any notion of adjusting the established order.
And regardless of what convention organizers describe as an “awakening” that has seen extra Christians go to the compound since 2013 (Why is that? “I really don’t know,” stated Enarson), there’s nonetheless a theological “schism” over the difficulty.
“A lot of Christians, who love Israel, are rejecting replacement theology and that includes the Temple Mount being passé and old, and being relevant and holy and sacred today,” insisted Enarson.
A packet distributed on the convention tried to clean over the theological rifts and questions raised by help for a Jewish Temple Mount motion, with articles akin to “What about the temple of antichrist?” and “The apostles loved the Temple Mount.”
Backing animal sacrifices that have been historically the centerpiece of Jewish ritual on the holy website, an article by Enarson acknowledges, is “touchy.”
“We are all often blind to our own worldview and Christians may be just as disturbed by the Hebrew Bible’s view of sacrificing sheep, as Jews may be disturbed by the Christian thought of the ‘human sacrifice’ of Jesus. It’s high time to take a fresh look at this topic!”
In one other article, titled “Jesus loved the Temple Mount,” he writes: “Whatever Christian tradition of interpretation one subscribes to, one thing is clear: Jesus loved the Temple Mount — Mt. Zion — where the holy House of God stood. His disciples even said that zeal for God’s temple consumed him, and, like the weeping prophet Jeremiah, Jesus wept when he foresaw its destruction.”
Outdoors the convention corridor, the place books and t-shirts have been on sale, and a mannequin temple was arrange, a desk with a poster citing Psalms 69:eight pandered to Jewish and Christian consumers equally: “For the zeal for your house consumes me.”
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