In the aftermath of the "Christ at the Checkpoint" conference, it is well that we should step back and evaluate its true content and outcome.
Many in the Messianic Jewish community were thrilled to watch the excellent presentation that Wayne Hilsden made at the conference. From our perspective, Wayne's lecture was biblical, clear, and irrefutable; hence our enthusiasm and near expectation that those attending would certainly "see the light" at last. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Wayne presented these truths powerfully and yet irenically in near impossible circumstances:
Throughout the conference effusive affection and honor was repeatedly expressed to the minutely represented Messianic community, both publicly and privately. One attender with whom I spoke reported watching a Palestinian participant smothering one of the Messianic believers with cries of "we love you!" and "we have so much to learn from you!" drawing his head to his chest while he wept. [For the practice of "love-bombing" to recruit converts and overcome psychological resistance, see http://www.rationalrevelation.com/tr/lovebomb.html] . As noted in the link, having been smothered with inordinate affection and expressions of respect bordering on adoration, it will be very difficult for the "Zionist" recipients to come away from the conference with criticism of the motives and tactics of their hosts. Instead they will tend to defend and justify -- or at least make excuses for -- the organizers and other anti-Israel participants, because after all, "how could such warm and loving people be anything but sincere." That is, in fact, the intent: "you get more flies with honey than with vinegar!"
The repeated statements from the stage and on the CatC website extolling the Messianic speakers and participants clearly indicates how important it was for the CatC organizers that this token group was present. As Sizer publicly put it, "Thank God, finally, many [?!!] local Messianic leaders have overcome their tantrums [!!] and enjoy the friendship with their Palestinian brothers and sisters here at the conference.” http://roshpinaproject.com/2012/03/11/stephen-sizer-messianic-jews-have-overcome-their-tantrums-at-catc2012/. The organizers worked hard to get their "trophy" and they will wave it every chance they get.
Now that the conference "Manifesto" has been posted (see CatC website), the world can see that all the conciliatory talk, the "love for the Jews," and the "love bombing" of Messianic attenders was just a means to the Organizing Committee's end: to reaffirm Replacement Theology, Anti-Israelism, and radical Liberation Theology. As the introductory remarks make clear: "Conference organizers challenged the evangelical community to cease looking at the Middle East through the lens of “end times” prophecy and instead rallied them to join in following Jesus in the prophetic pursuance of justice, peace and reconciliation." [More on what those three loaded terms actually mean to the organizers in a later post].
The fact that the "Manifesto" was presented to the conference only on the last day and without opportunity for any discussion, debate, or dissociation from its statements shows clearly that the Organizing Committee used this conference to promote their own anti-Israel platform--a platform which was already settled two years ago at CatC 2010. The perfunctory disclaimer: "The Statement and Manifesto were presented to the conference participants on the last day but were only agreed on and endorsed by the Conference Organizers" only shows the hypocrisy of the entire exercise. In fact, this statement, introduced and prominently published on the CatC Website Homepage, is the public face of CatC2012 and all the participants--including Messianic Jews and Christians--are necessarily and intentionally associated with its conclusions.
The Messianic participants are prominently linked with the statement in the introductory remark: "A unique aspect of the conference was the presence and presentations by members of the Messianic community including Richard Harvey, Evan Thomas and Wayne Hilsden, who provided an integral contribution to the dialogue [my italics]." Any disagreement with the tenor and conclusions of the conference--which apparently only Wayne attempted to express--have been effectively neutralized as far as the world community is concerned. Even Wayne's excellent teaching was an "integral contribution" to the final summation.
Will the attending "members of the Messianic community" even attempt to distance themselves from this conference and its "challenge" to the evangelical community worldwide?
One can only hope so. Better late than never.