Utah Senate candidate and former presidential nominee Mitt Romney recently criticized the choice of Pastor Robert Jeffress to provide the opening remarks and prayer at the new embassy in Jerusalem. According to Romney, comments made in the past by Jeffress should exclude him from the opportunity.
According to Romney, “Robert Jeffress says ‘you can’t be saved by being a Jew,” and ‘Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell.’ He’s said the same about Islam. Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem.”
Jeffress, a pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, responded to Romney's comments without mentioning him by name. Christian Headlines reports that, according to the pastor, the comments criticized by Romney were in accordance with historic Christianity.
“Historic Christianity has taught for 2,000 years that salvation is through faith alone in Christ," said Jeffress in response to Romney's criticism. "The fact that I, along with tens of millions of evangelical Christians around the world, continue to espouse that belief, is neither bigoted nor newsworthy.”
Jeffress is slated to provide the opening prayer at Monday's ceremony. He told reports that he intends to pray for three things. First, he wants to thank God for "his faithfulness to Israel for 4,000 years." Second, he wants to thank God for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Then he wishes to express gratitude for President Trump.
American evangelicals are hailing Trump's announcement that the United States officially recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Other religious leaders, including Pope Francis and many Christians who are living in Israel, are hesitant.
President Trump announced in 2017 that the United States now recognizes Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel. Trump also announced his intention to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
CNN reports that Paula White, a megachurch pastor who is very close to Trump, is hailing the president, claiming that he has fulfilled one of his most important campaign promises.
"Once again, President Trump has shown the world what I have always known — he is a leader who is willing to do what is right however loud the voices are of the skeptics and the critics. Evangelicals are ecstatic, for Israel is to us a sacred place and the Jewish people are our dearest friends," she said.
Rev. Robert Jeffress, who is on Trump's evangelical advisory board, claimed that "Jerusalem has been the object of the affection of both Jews and Christians down through history and the touchstone of prophecy. But most importantly, God gave Jerusalem — and the rest of the Holy Land — to the Jewish people."
During his weekly general audience at the Vatican, Pope Francis claimed that he can "no longer remain silent" about his "deep concern" about Trump's plan.
“I cannot remain silent about my deep concern for the situation that has developed in recent days and, at the same time, I wish to make a heartfelt appeal to ensure that everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations,” Francis said.
“Jerusalem is a unique city, sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, where the Holy Places for the respective religions are venerated, and it has a special vocation to peace,” he added.
Pope Francis then added, “I pray to the Lord that such identity be preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the entire world, and that wisdom and prudence prevail, to avoid adding new elements of tension in a world already shaken and scarred by many cruel conflicts.”
According to CNN, many Christians leaders in the Orthodox Christian communities within Jerusalem have expressed concern, formally asking President Trump to "recognize the present international status of Jerusalem." This approach, they say, would "help us all walk towards more love and definitive peace, which cannot be reached without Jerusalem being for all."
"We are certain that such steps will yield increased hatred, conflict, violence, and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, moving us farther from the goal of unity and deeper toward destructive division," 13 patriarchs and leaders of Christian Orthodox communities wrote.
In recent news, former Senator Harry Reid just underwent surgery for cancer.