We are attending Christ at the Checkpoint this week to report first hand in our upcoming magazine regarding this conference that takes aim at Christian Zionism and its theology of the Land.
Having been asked by several readers about the participation in Christ at the Checkpoint by Jerusalem-based pastor Wayne Hilsden of King of Kings Assembly, we want to address Wayne's speech and the reaction to it, as far as we could see.
Wayne delivered a passionate discourse that was both firm and gentle. It was a great example for those wishing to present the case of Israel's restoration to Christians who may still be on the fence regarding the Jewish state.
Most notably, Hilsden stated that a physical return of the Jews to their ancient homeland is biblically mandated, and, according to the prophetic timeline, that physical restoration as a nation-state must precede the spiritual restoration of Israel's collective heart to God.
Hilsden likened the current situation to a painter working on a masterpiece. In its unfinished state, the painting may appear messy, but the artist (God) is saying, 'Hold on...' Perhaps most significantly, given the setting, was that there were no instances in Hilsden's speech of "We support Israel, but..."
Wayne's full speech can be viewed here:
Wayne received applause from the audience following his address, and several of the day's other speakers and presenters expressed satisfaction with what he had said. However, the very next speaker, Dr. Manfred Kohl, laid into Wayne's theology in no uncertain terms.
While he did not address Wayne personally, Kohl labeled the literal reading of scripture Hilsden had just presented as the theology of fools who delight in their own idiocy.
"How can [Christians] be so stupid in their interpretation of the Bible and at the same time be so excited about our interpretation?" asked Kohl. "Apparently the two expressions are not mutually exclusive."
The day's MC, Sami Awad, who had before thanked Wayne for his speech, then backed up Kohl's position by saying it was time for Christians who use the Bible to support Israel's restoration to stand before the security wall in Bethlehem and, similar to John F. Kennedy before the Berlin Wall, declare, "I am an idiot."
At the question and answer session following the morning speeches, it became evident that Hilsden was being used as Messianic "window dressing" for the conference's true agenda of attacking Zionist support for Israel.
After fielding an unrelated question, Kohl turned to Hilsden and requested that he deliver his speech to Western churches that support Israel. In light of Kohl's own stated positions, it was clear he had either ignored or brushed aside the more substantive parts of Hilsden's speech.
Furthermore, while Hilsden presented it in a more diplomatic and gentle manner than some, the core of his message is already known and accepted by Israel-supporting churches. That Kohl and the other speakers believed Hilsden's views would alter Christian support for Israel signaled they had only digested those parts that could be meshed with their own theologies.
Later in the day, Rev. Stephen Sizer, whose disdain for Israel and Christian Zionism is well documented, addressed American Messianic leaders who had expressed concerns over Christ at the Checkpoint by pointing to Hilsden's participation as justifying the conference's program.
"Thankfully numerous local Messianic leaders have ignored your tantrums and are presently enjoying fellowship with their Palestinian brothers and sisters here at the conference," wrote Sizer. (He later changed the word "tantrum" to "warning" after being criticized online)
Wayne Hilsden's participation in Christ at the Checkpoint is still being hotly debated in some Messianic circles in Israel. Nearly all agree that he spoke light in a dark situation, and did so with grace, but many fear he is being made a fig leaf for the anti-Zionist message of the conference organizers and the majority of the speakers.