Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"A Very Worrying Development": The Rebranding Of NGO BibleLands

"A Very Worrying Development": The Rebranding Of NGO BibleLands

Readers who've looked at my previous post will notice that the chief executive of the British NGO BibleLands has taken umbrage at what I've cited regarding the Islamic persecution of Copts and other Christians in the Middle East, and concentrates his fire-power upon Israel.

A Christian reader of mine, Ian G, who has been a teacher of religious studies, has the following to say about BibleLands.  I thank him for sharing his insights with me.  What he writes makes interesting and disturbing reading.

Writes Ian G:

"I see that they also intend to change their name to 'Embrace the Middle East'. The logo is also being changed to two hands where the Cross is suggested, rather than plain and obvious.

See here and here

Whenever a Christian organisation rebrands like this, one needs to look closely for the real reason. They always talk about modernising and relevance, but they often mean abandoning the original vision.

In this case, the name BibleLands clearly accepts that Israel, along with other nations, has an historic connection to a piece of the BibleLands. The Cross is an historic event that took place in Roman occupied, Jewish Jerusalem. Much of the Tenach and the New Testament takes place in Israel.

If, like me, you were brought up to believe in an Israel that occupied, roughly, Galilee, Samaria and Judea, than the return of Jews to the Land is of momentous significance to both Jews and Christians. Most especially to all who actually believe the Bible.

Whilst the debt that Christianity owes to Judaism is implicit in the name BibleLands it is eradicated in 'Embrace the Middle East'. Now the Middle East is just another place that needs help.

It is also worth looking at their interactive map of Israel and Palestine.

It would appear that Bethlehem is 50 per cent Muslim and 50 per cent Christian. My understanding from sources such as the Barnabas Fund  and Israel Today is that this is no longer accurate. For example Israel Today recently published three articles on the exodus of Arab Christians from areas in the control of the Palestinian Authority: or the archived articles of the Barnabas Fund. 

Apparently, 70 per cent of the population of the Gaza strip live below the poverty line. Oh, and Israel does not have a recognised capital in Jerusalem. Funny, but the Bible says...

Now you see why they've changed the name.

The sad and dangerous thing about all this is that generations of churchgoers have grown up singing their Christmas carols from the 'Bethlehem Carol Sheet' produced by BibleLands. But that was in the day when Jesus was a Jew and Bethlehem was the City of David –  in Judea ( Luke ch.2 v.4).

What is missing from their website is a clear 'Statement of Faith'; there are now only 'Core Values' backed up with selected New Testament verses.   (A text out of context is a pretext.)

Compare this with the statement of faith for Barnabas Fund  and any other genuine Christian organisation and it quickly becomes obvious that BibleLands has lost its way.

This is happening to more and more Christian groups and denominations and is a very worrying development."