Saturday, February 13, 2016

Mike Bickle's Endorsement of Ted Cruz Offends Jewish Groups

Last month, presidential candidate Ted Cruz announced an endorsement from Mike Bickle, founder of the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri. Bickle's homophobic and sexist comments have been well-documented at this blog and others, as have his paranoid End Times speeches. However, it is Bickle's shocking statements about Jews that have landed him and Cruz in hot water.

Bickle has a long history of disturbing statements about Jews. Bruce Wilson, co-founder of Talk to Action, created a montage of such statements, including Bickle's claims that Jews will be thrown into concentration camps in the End Times, that Jews will convert to Christianity en masse, and that God used Adolph Hitler to pressure Jews to convert to Christianity. (Hat tip to Right Wing Watch and Think Progress.)

  • "Israel's condition before Jesus returns -- not every Jew, but many -- is prison camps. There are so many Bible verses on this, it is staggering." (2009)

  • "A lot of Israel's going to get converted, but a lot of Israel's going to worship the Antichrist. A lot of Israel is going to have revival; a lot of Israel's going to fall away. Portions of Israel will be supernaturally protected, and portions of Israel will die and go to prison camps." (2006)

  • "One third of Israel's going to get radically saved and become lovesick worshipers of Jesus. One third of Israel? There's about fifteen million Jews on the earth at this point in time. That's four, five million people ... They end up dying, or if they survive, they get radically converted at the Second Coming. And many are going to get converted between now and then. We're not giving up on Israel until the Second Coming. Matter of fact, it's the efforts of leading people to the Lord right now that is significantly related to the events that are going to happen that are going to lead up to the Second Coming. So there are more Jews getting saved right now in Israel than in any time in history." (2006)

  • "Two-thirds [of Jews] will die in the rage of Satan and in the judgments of God, and the one-third, every one of the one-third will be in the land before it's over and they'll be worshipers of Jesus. Now the Lord's bringing back multitudes now to give them a chance, to give them every opportunity to say yes to salvation and the land ... The Lord says, 'I'm going to offer two strategies to Israel, to these twenty million.' He says, 'First, I am going to offer them grace. I am going to send the fisherman.' ... Do you know how a fisherman does their thing? They have the bait in front, luring the fish. It's a picture of grace. The hunters are opposite. Instead of luring them in front, hunters drive with fear from behind  ... He says, 'And if they don't respond to grace, I'm going to raise up the hunters.' And the most famous hunter in recent history is a man named Adolph Hitler. He drove them from the hiding places. He drove them out of the land." (2004)

Bickle's church has also taken an awkward stance on Jews. The International House of Prayer runs a project called the Israel Mandate, whose mission is to "mobilize intercessors in the Church to pray for Israel, and to stand with and encourage Messianic believers in Israel." The Israel Mandate's resource list is brimming with books that link Israel to a fundamentalist Christian vision of the End Times. The project's "Prayer for Israel" section predicts war and bloodshed in the Holy Land during the End Times, Jesus' military victory, and Jesus ruling over the world from his throne in Jerusalem. In other words, the Israel Mandate seeks to convert Jews to Christianity and promote End Times beliefs about the supremacy of Jesus over Israel.

Several Jewish leaders were disgusted. According to the Times of Israel, the Anti-Defamation League called Bickle's statements "abhorrent, intolerant and unacceptable", urging Cruz to "clearly and forcefully reject Bickle's hateful ideas." In a February 9th press release, the National Jewish Democratic Council demanded that Cruz account for his ties to Bickle.
"It is profoundly troubling that Sen. Ted Cruz proudly trumpeted the endorsement of such a controversial figure who holds such offensive views. In announcing Bickle’s support, Sen. Cruz said, ‘we will fight the good fight, finish the course.’ We call on Sen. Cruz to clarify his position and explain why he chose to highlight someone who is ‘notorious for having said that God sent Hitler to hunt Jews for not accepting Jesus as the messiah.’"
As of February 11th, the National Jewish Democratic Council was unsatisfied with the Cruz campaign's response.
"Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz must clarify if he stands with Pastor Mike Bickle and his belief that G-d sent Hitler to hunt Jews for not accepting Jesus as the messiah. The Cruz campaign’s response from criticism from NJDC and the ADL of one of its featured endorsers falls woefully short. We remain troubled that rather than distance himself and refute Bickle’s offensive rhetoric, the Cruz campaign has doubled down, merely restating the senator's position on Israel and attempting to minimize Pastor Bickle's role as an endorser. We call on Sen. Cruz’s campaign to speak clearly when it comes to such an offensive statement. As the ADL said, ‘We hope that when these comments are called to the Senator’s attention, he will clearly and forcefully reject Bickle’s hateful ideas.’ Unfortunately, we’re still waiting for Sen. Cruz to do so."
Bickle has since gone on the defensive. In a February 12 statement posted at the IHOP website and the Times of Israel website, Bickle insisted that the media distorted his words. "Taking Scripture out of context is routine to the secular media," he wrote. Bickle emphasized that he was appalled by Hitler's actions and that he meant to encourage solidarity with Jews during the End Times.
"I have been alarmed in recent days to hear that comments I made in a sermon several years ago were taken to be anti-Semitic. Today I write to clarify my beliefs.

The false statements circulating in the media distort what I said. I have been and remain committed to the spiritual and material defense of Israel and the Jewish people, as is my ministry. When I paraphrased from the difficult passages of Zechariah 12:1-3, Zechariah 14:1-3, Zechariah 13:8-9, and Jeremiah 16 in the sermon excerpt that has been circulated of late, I did so with one main intent: to stir the American church to stand with Israel in time of a future persecution as foretold by most of the Jewish prophets in the Bible. Various Old Testament prophets prophesy dark days for Israel before the Messiah returns, and I read these prophecies with dread. My message is that the Church must respond like Corrie ten Boom’s family—by standing with Israel instead of drawing back in fear and silence.

The prophecies of Zechariah and Jeremiah are difficult and easily misinterpreted to the biblically illiterate. Taking Scripture out of context is routine to the secular media. But let me be clear: I have made support for Israel and the Jewish people a central part of my ministry. For the last 15 years, our ministry has hosted several two-hour prayer meetings for Israel each week.

Some have misrepresented my remarks on Hitler being among the ‘hunters’ mentioned by the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 16:16), but let me make clear: what Hitler did was evil, an utter atrocity to the Jewish people and to all of mankind. The creation of the modern state of Israel after the Holocaust is a testament to God’s enduring love for His beloved people.
Mike Bickle can backpedal all he wants, but his disturbing statements are still disturbing. End Times preachers such as Bickle see the Jews as potential converts and/or supporting characters in bizarre End Times stories, but rarely as people. Furthermore, anyone who see Adolph Hitler as the tool of a righteous God is morally and spiritually bankrupt. The Cruz campaign should be ashamed of Bickle's endorsement, but as we've seen before, Cruz has a soft spot for offensive preachers.

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