Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz
A conference is set to be held in Jerusalem in two weeks which will for the first time, educate Christians on the importance of the Temple Mount. The conference will bring the archaeological proof, refuting the theory that the Jewish Temples were not located where Jewish tradition holds.
The Temple Mount Jerusalem Convention 18 (TMCJ), organized by Cry for Zion, an Israel-based organization that advocates for Jewish sovereignty over the Temple Mount, will take place on Dec. 5 at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. Doron Keidar, one of the organizers and the executive director of Cry for Zion, explained the motivation for the conference.
“The conference is our attempt to kick-start the conversation among Christians about the Temple Mount,” Keidar told Breaking Israel News. Indeed, among all the remarkable events bringing Jews and Christians together, this is the first that focuses on Judaism’s holiest site. “Our hope is to have a conference every few years. There will be Christian speakers but the emphasis will be on the Jewish perspective since many Christians have never heard this before.”
John Enarson, the Christian Relations Director of Cry for Zion and co-organizer of the conference, explained the focus of the event.
“The theme of the conference this year is going to be archaeology and the Biblical evidence for the true location of the Temple being on the Temple Mount,” Enarson told Breaking Israel News. They will present evidence debunk the reoccurring theory among Christians that the Jewish Temples were not located on the Temple Mount.
Most recently, this theory was put forward in Robert Cornuke’s best-selling book titled Temple: Amazing New Discoveries that Change Everything About the Location of Solomon’s Temple, published in 2014. According to Cornuke’s theory, both Jewish Temples stood further south in an area now known as Ir David (the City of David). Cornuke further hypothesizes that the Western Wall and all of the artifacts on the Temple Mount are remains from a massive Roman fort.
Cornuke’s theory was criticized for having no archaeological basis and for contradicting Temple- era historical accounts, such as that of Josephus Flavius, a first-century Romano-Jewish scholar who cited the Mount as the location of the Second Temple.
“Unless you are very well-educated about archaeology and the Temples, it is very difficult not to be convinced,” Enarson said. “This book took the pro-Israel evangelical world by storm. This tragically diverts evangelical support. It is like the Christians who supported the reestablishment of the State of Israel getting behind putting it in Uganda.”
Despite being definitively debunked by archaeologists and Biblical scholars, the alternate Temple location theory continues to have a strong following within some segments of the Christian community.
Rejecting Cornuke’s theory has implications far beyond historical accuracy. Enarson maintains that the motives behind the inaccuracy are based in aspects of Christian theology that need to be addressed.
“It is important for Christians to discuss their theology as it relates to the Temple Mount,” Enarson said. “Rejecting the Temple Mount is the last stand of Replacement Theology.”
Replacement Theology, a belief that Christianity replaced Judaism in the covenant between Abraham and God, was a core tenet of Christianity. To address this, part of the conference will be dedicated to discussing theological concepts of the Temple Mount from a Christian point of view.
“The Temple was very important to Jesus so it makes sense that his followers should give it some serious thought,” Enarson explained, noting that this is a timely topic. “There has been a Temple Mount awakening among Christians. More Christians are ascending the Temple Mount but more significantly, Christians are starting to respect it as a holy site that still has theological relevance for them.”
Though it is not the primary motive behind the event, TMCJ will be a meeting of Jews and Christians. This will be done with mutual respect, acknowledging differences and finding common ground on important issues without signing up for any political or religious position.
“Jews and Christians approach the Temple Mount from vastly different traditions but we can come together on a House of Prayer for All Nations,” Enarson said, citing the Prophet Isaiah.
Enarson argues that focus on the Temple Mount is a theological imperative for Christians.
“Christians believe in the Hebrew Bible and to the extent they take the Biblical accounts of the Temple seriously, they should take the Temple Mount seriously,” he said. “I believe that it is time for Christians who understand this theologically to bring it into action.”
Tickets for the conference are on sale and the conference will be live-streamed for free and then available to be viewed.