Christian Zionism – part 2
The Deceit of Christian Zionism
This content is posted for the purpose of understanding Biblical prophecy and current world events – supposedly aligned with such.
I have no secular political interest or agenda other than that which pertains to my pursuit and understanding of Biblical Truth.
At least one in four American Christians surveyed recently by Christianity Today magazine said that they believe it is their biblical responsibility to support the nation of Israel. This view is known as Christian Zionism. The Pew Research Center put the figure at 63 per cent among white evangelicals. Christian Zionism is pervasive within mainline American evangelical, charismatic and independent denominations including the Assemblies of God, Pentecostals and Southern Baptists, as well as many of the independent mega-churches. It is less prevalent within the historic denominations, which show a greater respect for the work of the United Nations, support for human rights, the rule of international law and empathy with the Palestinians.
The origins of the movement can be traced to the early 19th century when a group of eccentric British Christian leaders began to lobby for Jewish restoration to Palestine as a necessary precondition for the return of Christ. The movement gained traction from the middle of the 19th century when Palestine became strategic to British, French and German colonial interests in the Middle East. Proto-Christian Zionism therefore preceded Jewish Zionism by more than 50 years. Some of Theodore Herzl’s strongest advocates were Christian clergy.
Christian Zionism as a modern theological and political movement embraces the most extreme ideological positions of Zionism. It has become deeply detrimental to a just peace between Palestine and Israel. It propagates a worldview in which the Christian message is reduced to an ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism. In its extreme form, it places an emphasis on apocalyptic events leading to the end of history rather than living Christ’s love and justice today.
Followers of Christian Zionism are convinced that the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 and the capture of Jerusalem in 1967 were the miraculous fulfillment of God’s promises made to Abraham that he would establish Israel as a Jewish nation forever in Palestine.
Tim LaHaye’s infamous Left Behind novels, together with other End Times speculations written by authors such as Hal Lindsey, John Hagee and Pat Robertson, have sold well over 100 million copies. These are supplemented by children’s books, videos and event violent computer games.
Burgeoning Christian Zionist organizations such as the International Christian Embassy (ICEJ), Christian Friends of Israel (CFI) and Christians United for Israel (CUFI) wield considerable influence on Capitol Hill, claiming a support base in excess of 50 million true believers. This means there are now at least ten times as many Christian Zionists as Jewish Zionists. And their European cousins are no less active in the Zionist Hasbarafia, lobbying for Israel, attacking its critics and thwarting the peace process. The United States and Israel are often portrayed as Siamese twins, joined at the heart, sharing common historic, religious and political values.
Pastor John Hagee is one of the leaders of the Christian Zionist movement. He is the Founder and Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Church, a 19,000-member evangelical church in San Antonio, Texas. His weekly programmes are broadcast on 160 TV stations, 50 radio stations and eight networks into an estimated 99 million homes in 200 countries. In 2006 he founded Christians United for Israel admitting,
“For 25 almost 26 years now, I have been pounding the evangelical community over television. The Bible is a very pro-Israel book. If a Christian admits ‘I believe the Bible,’ I can make him a pro-Israel supporter or they will have to denounce their faith. So I have the Christians over a barrel, you might say.”
In March 2007, Hagee spoke at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference. He began by saying:
“The sleeping giant of Christian Zionism has awakened. There are 50 million Christians standing up and applauding the State of Israel…”
As the Jerusalem Post pointed out, his speech did not lack clarity. He went on to warn:
“It is 1938. Iran is Germany, and Ahmadinejad is the new Hitler. We must stop Iran’s nuclear threat and stand boldly with Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East… Think of our potential future together: 50 million evangelicals joining in common cause with 5 million Jewish people in America on behalf of Israel is a match made in heaven.”
Christian Zionists have shown varying degrees of enthusiasm for implementing six basic political convictions that arise from their ultra-literal and fundamentalist theology:
- The belief that the Jews remain God’s chosen people leads Christian Zionists to seek to bless Israel in material ways. However, this also invariably results in the uncritical endorsement of and justification for Israel’s racist and apartheid policies, in the media, among politicians and through solidarity tours to Israel.
- As God’s chosen people, the final restoration of the Jews to Israel is therefore actively encouraged, funded and facilitated through partnerships with the Jewish Agency.
- Eretz Israel, as delineated in scripture, from the Nile to the Euphrates, belongs exclusively to the Jewish people, therefore the land must be annexed, Palestinians driven from their homes and the illegal Jewish settlements expanded and consolidated.
- Jerusalem is regarded as the eternal and exclusive capital of the Jews, and cannot be shared with the Palestinians. Therefore, strategically, Christian Zionists have lobbied the US Administration to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem and thereby ensure that Jerusalem is recognised as the capital of Israel.
- Christian Zionists offer varying degrees of support for organisations such as the Jewish Temple Mount Faithful who are committed to destroying the Dome of the Rock and rebuilding the Jewish Temple on the Haram Al-Sharif (Noble sanctuary of Al-Aqsa).
- Christian Zionists invariably have a pessimistic view of the future, convinced that there will be an apocalyptic war of Armageddon in the imminent future. They are deeply sceptical of the possibility of a lasting peace between Jews and Arabs and therefore oppose the peace process. Indeed, to advocate an Israeli compromise of “land for peace” with the Palestinians is seen as a rejection of God’s promises to Israel and therefore to support her enemies.
Within the Christian Zionist worldview, Palestinians are regarded as alien residents in Israel. Many Christian Zionists are reluctant even to acknowledge Palestinians exist as a distinct people, claiming that they emigrated to Israel from surrounding Arab nations for economic reasons after Israel had become prosperous. A fear and deep-seated hatred of Islam also pervades their dualistic Manichean theology. Christian Zionists have little or no interest in the existence of indigenous Arab Christians despite their continuity with the early church.
In 2006, I co-drafted the Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism signed by four of the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem: His Beatitude Patriarch Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch, Jerusalem; Archbishop Swerios Malki Mourad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem; Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East; and Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. In it they insisted:
“We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as a false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation.
We further reject the contemporary alliance of Christian Zionist leaders and organisations with elements in the governments of Israel and the United States that are presently imposing their unilateral pre-emptive borders and domination over Palestine. This inevitably leads to unending cycles of violence that undermine the security of all peoples of the Middle East and the rest of world.
We reject the teachings of Christian Zionism that facilitate and support these policies as they advance racial exclusivity and perpetual war rather than the gospel of universal love, redemption and reconciliation taught by Jesus Christ. Rather than condemn the world to the doom of Armageddon we call upon everyone to liberate themselves from ideologies of militarism and occupation. Instead, let them pursue the healing of the nations!
We call upon Christians in Churches on every continent to pray for the Palestinian and Israeli people, both of whom are suffering as victims of occupation and militarism. These discriminative actions are turning Palestine into impoverished ghettos surrounded by exclusive Israeli settlements. The establishment of the illegal settlements and the construction of the Separation Wall on confiscated Palestinian land undermines the viability of a Palestinian state and peace and security in the entire region.”
The patriarchs concluded, “God demands that justice be done. No enduring peace, security or reconciliation is possible without the foundation of justice. The demands of justice will not disappear. The struggle for justice must be pursued diligently and persistently but non-violently.” The prophet Micah asks, “What does the Lord require of you, to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8).
It is my contention after more than 10 years of postgraduate research that Christian Zionism is the largest, most controversial and most destructive lobby within Christianity. It bears primary responsibility for perpetuating tensions in the Middle East, justifying Israel’s apartheid colonialist agenda and for undermining the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
The closing chapter of the New Testament takes us back to the imagery of the Garden of Eden and the removal of the curse arising from the Fall:
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb… On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:1-2)
Surely this is what Jesus had in mind when he instructed his followers to act as Ambassadors of peace and reconciliation, to work and pray that God’s kingdom would come on earth as it is in heaven.
Reproduced with thanks from Middle East Monitor.
In general terms, Zionism may be defined as ‘the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel’. The term ‘Zionism’ was first coined in 1892 by Nathan Birnbaum, then a student in Vienna. A year later he published a booklet entitled, The National Rebirth of the Jewish People in Its Homeland as a Means of Solving the Jewish Problem, in which he advocated Jewish nationalistic ideas that Theodor Herzl was to later expound in A Jewish State, published in 1896. At the First World Zionist Congress, which Herzl convened in Basle a year later, he and Birnbaum articulated the deep longings of many Jewish people for their own homeland. Various strands of Zionism emerged in the early twentieth century including practical, socialist and communist.
The most recent and probably most destructive form to appear is known as Messianic Zionism. Distinct from much more traditional and less extreme expressions of Zionism, this is associated with individuals like Rabbi Kahne and Gershon Salomon, together with the Gush Emunim movement and the Temple Mount Faithful. Messianic Zionism was spawned from within the ultra-Orthodox subcultures of the ‘Charedi Bible-belt’ around Jerusalem following the 1967 ‘Six Day War’. The Charedim (ultra-Orthodox Jews) were, according to Sachar, ‘the first to embrace the territorialist mysticism inherent in the 1967 triumph’ and came to be a decisive factor in Likud’s electoral victory in 1997. Equating Arabs with the ancient Amalekites, and convinced they have a divinely ordained mandate to carry out ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from Israel, religious Zionists have been in the forefront of the illegal occupation of Palestinian land, attacks on Muslims and mosques and the systematic expansion of the West Bank settlements, especially in places like Arab East Jerusalem and Hebron. Ironically, the Zionist vision which initially called simply for a ‘publicly secured and legally assured homeland for the Jews in Palestine’, was largely nurtured and shaped by Christians long before it was able to inspire wide-spread Jewish support. As will be shown in chapter one (Christian Zionism: Roadmap to Armageddon), proto-Christian Zionism predated and nurtured Jewish Zionism, while the contemporary Christian Zionist movement emerged only after 1967, alongside Messianic Zionism, in part in reaction to the widespread criticism Israel has endured over the last thirty-five years.
Christian Zionism defined
At its simplest, Christian Zionism is a political form of philo-Semitism, and can be defined as ‘Christian support for Zionism’. The term ‘Christian Zionist’ first appears to have been used by Theodor Herzl to describe Henri Dunant, the Swiss philanthropist and founder of the Red Cross. Dunant was one of only a handful of Gentiles to be invited to the First World Zionist Congress. Walter Riggans interprets the term in an overtly political sense as ‘any Christian who supports the Zionist aim of the sovereign State of Israel, its army, government, education etc., but it can describe a Christian who claims to support the State of Israel for any reason’. Evangelicals, in particular, are increasingly polarized as to whether Christian Zionism is biblical and orthodox or heretical and cultic. Two mutually exclusive positions have emerged – that of covenantalism and dispensationalism.
The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Christian Zionism is a modern theological and political movement that embraces the most extreme ideological positions of Zionism, thereby becoming detrimental to a just peace within Palestine and Israel. The Christian Zionist programme provides a worldview where the Gospel is identified with the ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism. In its extreme form, it places an emphasis on apocalyptic events leading to the end of history rather than living Christ’s love and justice today.
We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation.
We further reject the contemporary alliance of Christian Zionist leaders and organizations with elements in the governments of Israel and the United States that are presently imposing their unilateral pre-emptive borders and domination over Palestine. This inevitably leads to unending cycles of violence that undermine the security of all peoples of the Middle East and the rest of the world.
We reject the teachings of Christian Zionism that facilitate and support these policies as they advance racial exclusivity and perpetual war rather than the gospel of universal love, redemption and reconciliation taught by Jesus Christ. Rather than condemn the world to the doom of Armageddon we call upon everyone to liberate themselves from the ideologies of militarism and occupation. Instead, let them pursue the healing of the nations!
We call upon Christians in Churches on every continent to pray for the Palestinian and Israeli people, both of whom are suffering as victims of occupation and militarism. These discriminative actions are turning Palestine into impoverished ghettos surrounded by exclusive Israeli settlements. The establishment of the illegal settlements and the construction of the Separation Wall on confiscated Palestinian land undermines the viability of a Palestinian state as well as peace and security in the entire region.
We call upon all Churches that remain silent, to break their silence and speak for reconciliation with justice in the Holy Land.
Therefore, we commit ourselves to the following principles as an alternative way:
We affirm that all people are created in the image of God. In turn they are called to honor the dignity of every human being and to respect their inalienable rights.
We affirm that Israelis and Palestinians are capable of living together within peace, justice and security.
We affirm that Palestinians are one people, both Muslim and Christian. We reject all attempts to subvert and fragment their unity.
We call upon all people to reject the narrow world view of Christian Zionism and other ideologies that privilege one people at the expense of others.
We are committed to non-violent resistance as the most effective means to end the illegal occupation in order to attain a just and lasting peace.
With urgency we warn that Christian Zionism and its alliances are justifying colonization, apartheid and empire-building.
God demands that justice be done. No enduring peace, security or reconciliation is possible without the foundation of justice. The demands of justice will not disappear. The struggle for justice must be pursued diligently and persistently but non-violently.
“What does the Lord require of you, to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
This is where we take our stand. We stand for justice. We can do no other. Justice alone guarantees a peace that will lead to reconciliation with a life of security and prosperity for all the peoples of our Land. By standing on the side of justice, we open ourselves to the work of peace – and working for peace makes us children of God.
“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Cor 5:19)
His Beattitude Patriarch Michel Sabbah,
Latin Patriarchate, Jerusalem
Archbishop Swerios Malki Mourad,
Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem
Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal,
Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
Bishop Munib Younan,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
August 22, 2006
Books written by Stephen Sizer
◊ Christian Zionism: Roadmap to Armageddon? ◊
Evangelical Christians are sometimes accused of not being sufficiently interested in politics and not contributing to the great debates about social welfare in our world today. ‘Too heavenly minded to be of any earthly use’, is the charge. While there may often be truth in this accusation, Stephen Sizer’s challenging study of Christian Zionism demonstrates that there is at least one area in contemporary politics where this is decidedly not so. But is the influence of Christian Zionism valid and helpful? Is the theological basis of this political stance misguided and the outcome contrary to God’s will?
Stephen’s careful survey of this movement demonstrates that theology really matters and, if the theology is wrong, the consequences are disastrous. Prior to examining the theological position of the various strands of Christian Zionism, Stephen devotes his first chapter to an historical exploration of the development of this movement. He traces the transition of Christian Zionism from early nineteenth-century rural England to mainstream American evangelicalism in the twentieth century.
He notes the historical and interpretative reasons why Christian Zionism evolved into different schools of thought. Then he launches into a theological analysis and critique of those positions in his second chapter.
Seven basic theological tenets are accepted in varying degrees by evangelical Christian Zionists. The foundation upon which the other tenets are based is a literalist hermeneutic and a consistently futurist reading of prophecy. Quite apart from the political outcome of this way of reading the Bible, there are serious implications for the church and the gospel. At heart of the problem, he claims, there is actually a devaluing of the significance of the Lord Jesus Christ and his atoning work for Israel and the nations.
The third chapter of this book shows how the belief that the Jews remain God’s chosen people (apart from Christ and his church) leads Christian Zionists to endorse and justify many of the current policies of the Israeli government, including the annexation and settlement of Palestinian-owned land. The return of Jews to Israel is actively encouraged and facilitated. Western governments are pressured to relocate their embassies to Jerusalem and to recognize this as the eternal and exclusive capital of the Jews.
Those who believe that Scripture predicts the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem and a reinstitution of the priesthood and sacrificial system offer varying degrees of support to Jewish Temple Mount organizations committed to achieving this end. Moreover, as Stephen concludes, since Christian Zionists are convinced there will be an apocalyptic war between good and evil in the near future, there is no prospect for lasting peace between Jews and Arabs. Indeed, to advocate that Israel compromise with Islam or coexist with Palestinians is to identify with those destined to oppose God and Israel in the imminent battle of Armageddon (p. 252).
Stephen shows that the New Testament must be our guide in understanding how the Old Testament has been fulfilled for us in Christ and in judging what remains to be worked out in history. Every Christian needs to be clear about the way the Bible fits together, observing the way the inspired writers of the New Testament reveal this. But especially those who presume to tell us how the future will unfold need to be sure that they are not misusing the Bible and, in their misguided zeal, dishonouring God. I hope that Christian Zionists who read this book will recognize that it is written by someone who believes in the inspiration and authority of Scripture as they do, and will consider carefully the challenge he brings to their particular line of interpretation.
David Peterson Oak Hill College, London
The following three chapters are a summary of the book:
◊ Zion’s Christian Soldiers ◊
Below is an edited version of each of the seven chapters of Zion’s Christian Soldiers
You can buy the book on Kindle
Zion’s Christian Soldiers: Seven Chapters
Also check out the Bible Study Guide
◊ What is the Relationship between Israel and the Church?
Seven Biblical Answers ◊
It is not an understatement to say that what is at stake is our understanding of the gospel, the centrality of the cross, the role of the church, and the nature of our missionary mandate, not least, to the beloved Jewish people. If we don’t see Jesus at the heart of the Hebrew scriptures, and the continuity between his Old Testament and New Testament saints in the one inclusive Church, we’re not reading them correctly. The key question is this “Was the coming of Jesus and the birth of the Church the fulfilment or the postponement of the promises God made to Abraham?” Christian Zionists see the promises of identity, land and destiny as part of an ongoing covenant God has with the Jewish people. In the following resources I answer this question and show that Christian Zionism is a recent manifestation of a heresy refuted by the Old and New Testaments.
Attached is a simple four page introduction to the main biblical passages that answer and refute the most common Zionist assumptions about God’s purposes for Israel and the Church. It is also available as a pdf download
The following videos and literature presented by Rev. Stephen Sizer provide a comprehensive background to the origins and the growth of Christian Zionsism.
Christian Zionism – Road-map to Armageddon?
This presentation is a summary of my book ‘Zion’s Christian Soldiers’ published by IVP. stephensizer.com/books/zions-christian-soldiers/
It was delivered at the Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding Executive Briefing in Fremont, California in November 2011. emeu.net
It was also delivered at the Christ at the Checkpoint conference in Bethlehem in March 2012.
The Historical Roots of Christian Zionism, its Theological Basis and Political Agenda.
In this talk, Reverend Dr. Stephen Sizer discusses how the movement of Christian Zionism preceded Jewish Zionism by at least 50 years and facilitated the establishment of the State of Israel.
Acknowledgements of Stephen Sizer’s works:
“I am glad to commend Stephen Sizer’s ground-breaking critique of Christian Zionism. His comprehensive overview of its roots, its theological basis and its political consequences is very timely. I myself believe that Zionism, both political and Christian, is incompatible with biblical faith. Stephen’s book has helped to reinforce this conviction.” Revd John Stott, Rector Emeritus, All Soul’s, Langham Place, London, the principal framer of the Lausanne Covenant (1974) and founder of the Langham Partnership International.
“This is a very fine and important book. All Christians who believe that Jesus favoured peacemakers, should read it and realise what terrible harm is being done in the name of Christianity. And all who are concerned about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict should read it to understand how Christian Zionism disables the US as fair minded mediator. European foreign policy thinkers should read it,because this distortion of US political space, puts a greater responsibility on European governments to stand up for justice and international law” Right Hon. Clare Short, former British Secretary of State for International Development.
The following 2 part broadcsast are the product of a Catholic Brother André Marie.
There are a few references to Cathoilic doctrine contained in these videos which I clearly reject but the majority of the content is very worthwhile.
I have shared this material for the subject matter of Christian Zionism only.
Christian Zionism part 1:
Tracing the Lines of a Warmongering Heresy
Christian Zionism part 2:
Why Christian Zionism Is a Problem
“It is true that at various times in the past, churches and church leaders have tolerated or incited anti-Semitism and even attacks on Jewish people. Racism is a sin and without excuse. Anti-Semitism must be repudiated unequivocally. However, we must not confuse apples and oranges. Anti-Zionism is not the same thing as anti-Semitism despite attempts to broaden the definition. Criticising a political system as racist is not necessarily racist. Judaism is a religious system. Israel is a sovereign nation. Zionism is a political system. These three are not synonymous. I respect Judaism, repudiate anti-Semitism, encourage interfaith dialogue and defend Israel’s right to exist within borders recognised by the international community and agreed with her neighbours. But like many Jews, I disagree with a political system which gives preference to expatriate Jews born elsewhere in the world, while denying the same rights to the Arab Palestinians born in the country itself.”
The Scofield Bible—The Book That Made Zionists of America’s Evangelical Christians — by Maidhc Ó Cathail at the Washington Report on Middle East Affair
The Origins of the Israel Lobby in the US — by Alison Weir at counterpunch.org
The Lions of Albion and Israel in Palestine: 1945-1948 — by Christopher J. Carter at remnantnewspaper.com