CUFI’s Robert Stearns warns of Evangelical shift to the Left

In response to Rev. Robert Stearns’ scheduled appearance as a panelist at the 7th Annual Jerusalem Conference, Jewish Israel recently released a report on some of Stearns’ missionary activities and connections in Israel. We were in contact with a main organizer of the event and expressed our reservations regarding a missionary presence in a conference which “ is dedicated to the promotion of Jewish heritage and values and to Israel’s future as a viable, modern, democratic and Jewish state.

Stearns, a regional director of CUFI and founder of Eagles’Wings Ministries, did appear at last week’s conference. Jewish Israel offers the following synopsis and commentary on some of the major points covered in his remarks as a panelist in the forum, “The Future of U.S. –Israel Relations”:

Stearns, a passionate speaker, received very healthy applause as a welcome and applause periodically erupted throughout his address.

He began by making mention of the “hundreds of millions” of evangelicals supporting a democratic, Jewish Israel and an undivided Jerusalem.

[JI comments: Those figures are of interest, as Pastor Hagee of CUFI claims 50 million evangelicals. Meanwhile the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) claims to represent 420 million and that organization has issued a statement on behalf of their constituency calling for ongoing efforts to evangelize the Jews. Stephen Strang, another CUFI regional director, has endorsed that statement].

Stearns spoke briefly of “Rosh Chodesh Adar”, Purim, “Hamans in every generation” and “Hashem’s” presence.

He then went on to say that with all due respect to the great efforts of the Jewish community in America, he would argue that it is the evangelicals and the evangelical culture which is to be credited for America’s staunch support of Israel (for emphasis, Stearns repeats this comment later in his address - perhaps to stress how terribly dependent Israel is on evangelical support.) He illustrated how engrained evangelical religious culture is in America’s heart and background by speaking about Bill Clinton and the directives he received from his dying Southern Baptist pastor - never to abandon Israel.

[JI comments: 1)While a spirit of evangelism and a fascination with the biblical land of Israel can certainly be credited - to a significant degree - with the staunch support Israel has received from certain sectors in America, it is simply wrong for evangelicals to diminish or to try and supersede the great efforts and role played by the American Jewish community. 2) Stearns’ use of Clinton’s pastor as an example of the depth of evangelical influence tends to backfire when one considers the devastating foreign policy initiatives and consequences that Presidents Clinton and Carter (“America’s first evangelical president”) brought upon Israel.]

Stearns went on to say that evangelical Christianity is the only growing brand of Christianity in the world and that it is spreading exponentially in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

And then he dropped the bomb…

He cautioned that at this point in time “the evangelical movement is in a place of shifting”. He spoke about “the emergence of a new evangelical left”, “the new progressive evangelicals”, and that they have “a very different view of Israel. He said it was vital to be aware of these forces which are ostensibly operating under “an evangelical umbrella”.

[JI Comments: This writer addressed this exact issue in an article called “Theo-political Climate Change” written in September 2007. Rabbi Riskin’s wishful thinking of a new era in Jewish –Christian relations may be premature, as even his good friend Robert Stearns is feeling the potential chill.]

To combat the leftward trend and to ensure ongoing evangelical support Stearns suggested the following formula:

1) Seek out young emerging evangelical leaders and bring them to Israel at an early age (he mentioned how seeing Israel and praying at the Kotel had changed him).

2) Build bridges for travel and bring pastors to Israel (he mentioned how he had just sent a group of 130 pastors, whom he had traveled with, home. But before leaving they had signed a 3 foot high “covenant” of support for Israel).

[JI comments: With regards to point 1), The combination of dangling the threat of the new evangelical left over Israel’s head with the remedy of Israel’s needing to involve even more pastors and church leadership in the Jewish State sounds like it could have been a calculated move to advance Daniel Ayalon’s proposal of special status for the evangelical church (a main component of which involves longer stays and easier and additional visas for church clergy).

With regards to point 2), one would hope that the Jewish people value the quality of their covenants, not the size. It may be time to do away with mega mock-ups of cardboard checks and other such grandiose displays. By toning down the pretentiousness, we may be better able to judge the sincerity and intentions of the alliance]

Stearns concluded with the standard but rousing pledges of “unconditional support” and a promise that the church will no longer be a part of the “sin of silence” which was characteristic of the 1930’s. “For Zion’s sake…”

He received loud and extended applause. Immediately afterward, Daniel Ayalon made his way over to Stearns and embraced him.

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Comment by Mordechai Yaakov Allen on May 12, 2010 at 11:18pm
Wow! There is so much Mr. Stearns and his ilk do not understand about the dynamics of Israel...I don't know where to start. I guess his statement about "the 'hundreds of millions' of evangelicals supporting a democratic, Jewish Israel" could be a good place. First of all, Israel was not established as, nor will it ultimately be a democracy. The term "King Moshiach" would imply a kingdom. Secondly, and with complete understanding as to why this site is so named, "Jewish Israel" is a self-condemning redundancy when mouthed by a Christian/Messianic. Israel=Jews and Jews=Israel, there is no place in this short equation for the uncircumcised or the apostate. As King Solomon prayed (1 Kings 8:41-43) “Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your name's sake (for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name.”
Comment by Jewish Israel on February 22, 2010 at 12:26am
The A7 interview was very upsetting, but Rav Gold did a great job.
Ari invited Rav Gold’s halachic directives on the air and then proceeded to challenge, and dismiss those directives. Meanwhile Jeremy is in the States lecturing in front of church groups and messianic congregations. JI may blog about this.
Comment by Sharbano on February 21, 2010 at 8:11pm
"evangelicals supporting a democratic, Jewish Israel"

What does This tell me. It says to me that America wants its form of democracy to be that which the entire world accepts, and especially Israel. In so doing it is then possible to change Israel into another "Xtian country" through a democratic process. Edom is knocking at the door. Will Israel let him in. When there are frum Jews in Israel giving credence to the "Ephraimite movement" then it appears the door is already open. I did appreciate Rabbi Shalom Gold's appearance on A7 and what he had to say. There needs to be many more outspoken Rabbis as this.

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