There are many reasons why the upcoming Friends of Sabeel conference in Canada requires a word of caution. Originally scheduled for this October, it has been postponed till next spring. This gives those who are considering registering more time to think about the following questions.
1) What is Sabeel?
“Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, headquartered in Jerusalem, has been a persistent source of anti-Zionist agitation in mainline Protestant churches in the United States since its founding in 1994. The organization subjects Israel, Jews, and Judaism to intense scrutiny while remaining nearly silent about Arab and Muslim extremism in the Middle East. In addition to publicizing the writings of its founder, Anglican priest Naim Ateek, Sabeel broadcasts its message via regional conferences in the United States and regular study missions to Israel. Far-Left American and Israeli Jews are given prominent display at Sabeel conferences, where Israel is held up to a strict biblical standard of conduct while its adversaries are held to no standard at all. By giving its followers the sense that they are engaging in a showdown with the forces of evil embodied by Israel and its U.S supporters, Sabeel reenacts the church-synagogue rivalry documented in early Christian writings.”
- jcpa.org 
Paul Wilkinson, who attended the Sabeel conference in 2004, said:
“…the Lord prompted me so clearly to go out to Israel for the very first time and witness this movement called Sabeel, and see all these evangelical leaders assembling in Jerusalem, basically, to condemn Israel, to condemn the United States for supporting Israel, and to condemn all Christians for supporting Israel based on a literal interpretation of the Word of God, and that’s where I met men like Stephen Sizer, Gary Burge, Donald Wagner—leading evangelicals within the Anglican and Presbyterian churches who, as I mentioned in a previous program, lined up with Yasser Arafat and gave him their support and their endorsement, and that shows you the power of this movement I’ve termed, “Christian Palestinianism,” that Yasser Arafat would want to meet with this group involved with the Sabeel conference.”
Friends of Sabeel are those who partner and work with Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center and what is described by many as an anti-Israel agenda. They have chapters in the US, Canada, the UK and Australia.
2) Who are the speakers?
Well known speakers at the upcoming Friends of Sabeel Conference in Canada include Dr. Naim Ateek, Gary Burge, Donald Wagner (all mentioned above). Another less well known speaker is Ron Dart, a professor at the university where the conference is to be held. Dart, who is a board member of the Thomas Merton Society of Canada, appears to be on the same page as emerging church leaders Brian McLaren and Phylis Tickle. A colleague of screen writer Kevin Miller, Dart has also appeared on his film ‘Hellbound', the controversial documentary that questioned the traditional view of a literal hell. Dart is a main voice opposing the Conservative Party of Steven Harper, the pro-Israel prime minister of Canada. Also listed for the Canadian Friends of Sabeel conference is a potential workshop led by musician Steve Bell, associate of Brian McLaren. Not only have these two partnered in a contemplative music project, in 2011 Brian McLaren and Steve Bell were special guests at the ‘Refreshing Winds’ conference at Canadian Mennonite University. McLaren recently spoke at The Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) regional conference that took place this April in Portland, Oregon, where he reframed and mocked important scripture passages to fit his interpretations. There will be many other speakers at this conference, but attendees might want to research them before subjecting themselves to their teachings (info below). For example, another speaker listed is director for the United Church of Canada’s Naramata Centre. Not only is this centre completely immersed in contemplative and New Age spirituality, the United Church of Canada has recently adopted an anti-Israel bias. Two years ago they voted to boycott Israeli products.
3) What are the issues that will be discussed at this conference?
Some of the main issues that will be discussed from a non-literal view of Bible interpretation will be Christian Zionism, Replacement Theology and the Israeli “occupation of Palestine”. Those attending may not be hearing the biblical view of these topics.
4) What about the advertisement for this conference that says: “We are called to challenge the false teaching that undermines the biblical message”?
As you can see, the voices representing Christianity at these Friends of Sabeel conferences appear to be on the same page and claim to have the ‘true’ teaching. However, they are not on the ‘literal’ Bible page. Many of them seem to be opposed to the truth taught in scripture about Israel and may be presenting their own interpretations. These are views held by emerging church leaders, as well as by those who are part of the anti-Israel campaign. Also interesting is how the element of contemplative spirituality is going to be strongly represented at this conference. Fortunately, because it has been postponed, those who wish to be a brave representative of truth for Israel now have more time to research and study before attending this conference.
I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence Isaiah 62:6
Updating the Ancient Infrastructure of Christian Contempt: Sabeel http://jcpa.org/article/updating-the-ancient-infrastructure-of-christian-contempt-sabeel/
 Source: Paul Wilkinson, T. A. McMahon & Paul Wilkinson (Part 4) https://www.thebereancall.org/content/t-mcmahon-paul-wilkinson-part-4
 See: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/frankschaeffer/2014/04/brian-d-mclaren-phyllis-tickle-ron-dart-on-frank-schaeffers-why-i-am-an-atheist-who-believes-in-god/
 See: Film Review: HELLBOUND? http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=6943
Dart has said that “we need to transcend a literal way of understanding the Bible because literal interpretation leads to ridiculous consequences” and that “to rescue the church from literalism is to track back to the ancient wisdom of the church mothers and fathers.” See above link for sources.
 Lyrics adapted from Teresa of Avila’s prayer/poem Christ Has No Body. Music by Brian McLaren. Recording and lead vocal by Steve Bell. -‘Kindness’ – Teresa of Avila/Steve Bell http://globalworship.tumblr.com/post/66922973770/kindness-teresa-of-avila-steve-bell
 See: https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2011/03/17/cmu-student-found-refreshing-winds-very-cool/
 Seeds for Justice and Hope for Palestinians and Israelis – What is required of US?
See: McLaren’s Palestinian Justice Speech, Part 1 https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/mclarens-palestinian-justice-speech-part-1/
McLaren’s Palestinian Justice Speech, Part 2 https://mennolite.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/mclarens-palestinian-justice-speech-part-2/
 STANDWITHUS CONDEMNS UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA ANTI-ISRAEL PREJUDICE AND EXTREMISM UCC https://www.standwithus.com/news/article.asp?id=2402
 Understanding Christian Zionism http://www.thebereancall.org/content/september-2013-extra-understanding-christian-zionism
 What is replacement theology/supersessionism? http://www.gotquestions.org/replacement-theology.html
 MYTH 1: ISRAEL OCCUPIES ARAB PALESTINE http://www.wall-of-truth.org/myths/
 HERE IS THE CONFERENCE INFORMATION FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY:
Upcoming conference on Christian Zionism:
Facing the New Jerusalem:
Face-to-Face with Christian Zionism and with Palestinian Christians
October 23 – 25, 2014 NEW DATE – SPRING 2015! (details t.b.a.)
University of the Fraser Valley
Facing the New Jerusalem: Face to Face with Christian Zionism
Why This Conference
Because even as he turned his face to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51), the followers of Jesus today must confront the hard realities of pain and suffering in the land of promise. Because many Christians and churches, with many Muslims and Jews, are committed to peace, justice and reconciliation with alternatives to Christian Zionism and Replacement Theology. Because our Palestinian Christian sisters and brothers have called us to hear their cry for reconciliation by better understanding our own faith. Because we are called to challenge the false teaching that undermines the biblical message of love, mercy, and justice present in the insidious form of Christian Zionism pervasive in our own traditions that remains silent in the face of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Conference Mission Statement
We aim to empower the many Christians and their churches, with many Muslims and Jews, who are committed to peace, justice and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel, with alternatives to Christian Zionism and Replacement Theology. We are called to challenge the false teaching that undermines the biblical message of love, mercy, and justice, present in the insidious form of Christian Zionism, often pervasive in our own traditions, and that remains silent in the face of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Who Should Attend?
• Christians, Muslims and Jews who want to learn from and engage with Palestinian Christianity.
• Leaders locally and nationally of Christian denominations
• Members of churches’ outreach units and service committees
• Faculty and students from theological colleges and seminaries
• Leaders of ecumenical networks
Objectives of this Conference
1. To educate participants on the history and theology of Christian Zionism in Canada and the U.S. and on how its manifestations represent a barrier to peace in the Middle East.
2. To empower denominational leaders with a deeper understanding of active and passive Christian Zionism so that they can educate their members on this aspect of engaging their faith with integrity.
3. To galvanize church-related organizations, faith-based groups and civil society groups who are working in solidarity with the churches and who affirm the role of the churches in challenging spurious charges of anti-semitism and being anti-Jewish .
4. To equip churches, seminaries and teaching centres with updated scholarship and information on the churches’ stand on Christian Zionism.
5. To support Christians in Canada with the knowledge, resources and confidence to participate more actively and effectively in the wider public discourse regarding Canada’s role in Israel Palestine and foreign policy in the Middle East.
To spread the word through the anticipated 200 participants including students, and by providing online access to proceedings during and after the Conference.
Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek,
Founder Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre, Jerusalem, Palestine
Program Director at the United Church of Canada’s Naramata Centre, B.C.
Dr. Gary Burge
, Professor of New Testament, Wheaton College, Illinois
, Former Program Director of Middle East work for KAIROS Canada, Canadian Friends of Sabeel (CFOS) Executive Member, Toronto
Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb,
Advisory Board Member Jewish Voices for Peace, Co-Founder of Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence, San Francisco
, Lawyer, Co-Founder of Al-Haq Human Rights Centre in Ramallah, Chairman of the Board Bethlehem Bible College, Chairman of the Board Holy Land Trust, Sabeel Board Member, Ramallah, Palestine
, Professor of Political Science and Religious Studies, University of the Fraser Valley, B.C.
Rev. Dr. Donald (Don) Wagner,
Program Director for Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA), Co-Founder of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding, Chicago
Facing the New Jerusalem: Schedule
OVERVIEW SPEAKERS SCHEDULE REGISTRATION
Thursday, October 23rd
3:00 p.m. -5:00 p.m.: Registration
5:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m.: Dinner
6:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m.: Greetings/Overview of the Conference
7:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m.: Palestinian Music
7:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.: Key Note Address: Christian Zionism and the Palestinians – Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek
8:30 p.m.-9:00 p.m.: Audience Q. & A.
Friday October 24
8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m.: Breakfast
9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.: Plenary: Types of Christian Zionism – Don Wagner/Gary Burge
10:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.: Audience Q. & A.
10:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m.: Coffee Break
11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.: Plenary: A Jewish Palestinian and Dialogue – Lynn Gottlieb/Jonathan Kuttab
12:00 p.m.-1:30 p.m.: Lunch
1:30 p.m.-2:15 p.m.: Plenary: Canadian Christian Zionism/Canadian Foreign Policy – Ron Dart
2:15 p.m.-3:00 p.m.: Panel Response/Audience Q. & A.
3:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m.: Coffee
3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.: Workshop I
Evening: Dinner at a Local Restaurant
Saturday October 25
8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m.: Breakfast
9:00 a.m.-9:45 a.m.: Plenary: Action and Application – Natalie Maxson/Dale Hildebrand/Don Wagner
9:45 a.m.-10:30 a.m.: Panel Response/Audience Q. & A.
10:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m.: Coffee
11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.: Workshop II
12:00 p.m.-12:30 p.m.: Final Reflections/Benediction – Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek
16th-17th Century Roots of Philosemitism-Christian Zionism – Gerald Hobbs
Authentic Christian Pilgrimage – Rev. Robert Assaly
Orthodox Christians and the Palestinians – Adam Yaghi
Nakba and Palestinian Memory Mining – Nawal Mutut
Thinking Outside the Oslo Box – Jonathan Kuttab
Jewish Voices for Peace – Rabbi Linda Gottlieb
Dialogue and Zionism – William Roberts
The Future of Jerusalem – Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek
Music and Justice/Peacemaking – Steve Bell
Anti-Zionist Lectures in Canada