Challenge to Publicly Debate Stephen Tellestrup, Tear Fund NZ
In the light of the internet video clip of TEAR FUND NZ director Stephen Tellestrup, speaking on behalf of TEAR FUND and of Laidlaw College, being interviewed by anti Israel activist Stephen Sizer of the UK following the promotion of Mr. Sizer in NZ, JJ Prasch of Moriel Ministries extends a public challenge to Tellestrup to a public debate before the NZ Evangelical community. JJ Prasch will be in NZ in late July/early August and a suitable location would be in Christchurch, Auckland, or Wellington to be filmed for DVD and internet webcast. In the UK Stephen Sizer agreed to such a debate on TV but backed down.
We respectfully challenge Tellestrup’s comments on a variety of grounds both factual and exegetical. His demeaning comparison of dispensationalists and fundamentalists in contrast to “thinking people” leaves the public impression that TEAR FUND under his leadership is not representative of all NZ Evangelicals, but only those of his religio-political persuasion. There is a long list of doctrinal demonstrably flawed remarks by Tellestrup including a ridiculing of Christians accepting an apocalyptic eschatology as “wanting a violent eschatology to happen”. Such a stance would mean the predictive statements of Jesus, the Apostles and Hebrew prophets likewise would reflect a desire for destruction, when in fact they are merely prophetic prediction to prepare God’s people, not expressions of desired doom.
Worse still was Tellestrup’s aligning himself with Sizer recently investigated by the British police for charges of hate related crime following complaints by members of the Anglican church and hierarchy within his own Anglican denomination. Sizer’s public cooperation with holocaust deniers, apologists for terror, ‚ and the Iranian government at a time when the Iranian regime was actively engaged in hanging Iranian Christians is frankly an outrage. Tellestrup highlights Arab-Israeli conflict as the primary human rights issue of our time when in fact Israel has the best Christian rights, women’s rights, and overall human rights on record in the Middle East in contrast to what happens to Christians in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Sudan and elsewhere not to mention the 300,000 Christians slaughtered in East Timor right off the northern coast of Australia or the 100,000 plus Christians killed by radical Islam in the southern Philippines much closer to New Zealand than the West Bank. The revisionism engaged in by Mr. Tellestrup can be documented as bogus as can his ignoring the voices of pro Zionist Arab Christians supportive of an Israel that protects their religious freedom denied throughout the surrounding Islamic nations. His avoidance of the increased longevity and employment and decreased infant mortality among West Bank Arabs under Israeli governance and the archaeological, historical, and scriptural fact that the Jews are the indigenous people is absurd. As an indigenous people group Jews can no more occupy the West Bank than a Maori can occupy New Zealand.
Not least of all, his efforts to nullify the prophetic teaching of scripture with teachings on social justice is an exegetical travesty. One truth does not cancel another especially when the persecution of Arab Christians in the surrounding Islamic countries is unknown in Israel. His emphasis on training Arab Christians in social activism instead of evangelism leaves us the further question, Is TEAR FUND any longer evangelistic? If not, how can it claim to be scripturally Evangelical? Not least ludicrous were his comparisons of Israel as apartheid and his denial that anti zionism is anti Semitic. We quote the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King whose life was a crusade against such racial injustice who said: “Anti-zionism is but anti Semitism”. Dr. Martin Luther King was correct. As we look forward to proving in public debate, Tellestrup is wrong. ‚