"I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill." Psalm 2:6

Christian Zionism 

What they are saying about it?

 

There is increasing hostility towards Christian Zionists, especially in the UK.

David Parsons has produced an excellent report on this controversy http://icej.org/data/images/File/News/swords.pdf

Whether this hostility is based on a misunderstanding of Christian Zionism or a misunderstanding of the Bible is for you to judge.   Below are some opinions gleaned from a Google search on "Christian Zionism".  All the first page appeared to be anti.

What they say about Christian Zionism

A Google search on "Christian Zionist" suggests that the body of opposition to Christian Zionism is led by www.christianzionism.org, which is actually totally devoted to opposing Christian Zionism.    This site is the platform of Dr. Stephen R. Sizer.    The home page contrasts the Christian Zionist position with his position.

They say (Christian Zionists - according to him)

God's mission for Israel to the world as spelled out in the Abrahamic Covenant is inseparably linked with her possession and presence in her own land. (For this reason Satan is actively marshalling his forces to oppose Israel's possession of the Promised Land)."

Darrell G. Young "Focus on Jerusalem Prophesy Ministry"

We say   ( Dr Sizer )

God's mission for Israel to the world is summed up in the person and ministry of Jesus Christ who "fulfilled" God's purposes for Israel by creating out of two peoples - Jews and Gentiles - one people whose Promised Land is no longer a piece of real estate in the Middle East, but a New Heaven and New Earth which will come into existence when He comes again at the end of time.

It also quotes Revd John Stott,

I myself believe that Zionism, both political and Christian, is incompatible with biblical faith."

The Archbishop of Canterbury agrees.

Rowan Williams said that the theology of Christian Zionism has no historical base and is a recent Protestant addition, according to Petra, the Jordanian state media agency.
Williams, who is on a four-day visit to Jordan, Israel and Palestine from Feb. 19-23 2010, was reported by Petra as saying that the belief by some Protestants that the establishment of the Jewish state is a prerequisite for the return of Christ doesn't have a historical basis and only appeared as a result of "some biblical studies in the nineteenth century."

The aim of this page is to discuss the accusations, to be clear of what we believe, to check both sides against what the Bible teaches and be ready to refute wrong teaching when we encounter it.  

You might also like to read this booklet

Setting the Record straight

The anti Christian Zionism case has been put in a video by Porter Speakman Jr, entitled, "With God on Our Side." It contains all the arguments put forward by those opposed to Christians believing God still has a purpose for Israel and appears to make good use of Christian Zionist clips to condemn our beliefs. Eliyahu Ben-Haim, of Intercessors for Israel - Jerusalem, has analysed the video and responded to the distortions and half truths one by one - Historically, legally and scripturally. He remarked that, "Most of you will never see this video and I don't recommend it to anyone. However the questions it raises, the accusations it makes need answers..."

Setting the Record Straight - - from www.ifi.org.il/

The objective of this page

The accusations are headed in quotation marks, with quotes inset in black, while the opinion from wildolive in brown.   The aim is not argument for its own sake but, as Paul put it,  "We demolish arguments and every arrogance that raises itself up against the knowledge of God;"   (" Cor 10 4-5 )    The truth is important.

"Christian Zionists exert an undue influence on government policy"

Another Steven Sizer belief - adopted by the Baptist Times in Britain, ( Mark Woods, Blessed are the Peacemakers", Baptist Time, December 18th 2008.)

Particularly in the U.S., these Christian Zionists organisations, who believe that the return of Jews to the Holy Land is a direct fulfilment of prophecy, have huge influence both theologically and politically.

Oh that we did, instead of being a despised and ignored minority! Reading oneself described thus in the UK suggests that Christian Zionists have been allocated a place in the current incarnation of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

( see www.baptists4israel.co.uk if you are a Baptist and are not happy to be presented thus)

"Christian Zionism supports Israeli occupation and oppression of Palestine"

How should we as Christians view the situation in Israel/Palestine today, where two peoples claim the same territory?   Is Israel a democracy or an apartheid State?    Specifically, do we believe the Israeli authorities should continue to resist Palestinian aspirations to autonomy and statehood?    Should they continue to occupy, settle and annex more and more of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, creating small urban Bantustan reservations for Palestinians living under military occupation within a exclusive Jewish state.

At its simplest, Christian Zionism has been defined as 'Christian support for Zionism.    In 1975, the United Nations General Assembly passed resolution 3379 defining Zionism as, 'a form of racism and racial discrimination.í    Contemporary Christian Zionism is in part a reaction to increasing world-wide criticism of Israel's form of apartheid.                        Dr. Stephen R. Sizer

From the above it is very clear where Dr Sizerís theology is rooted.    It is not based on an open view of the Bible or upon history but on the arguments proposed by the Palestinian, Muslim groups which are working towards the destruction of Israel.   This appears to be the so called, "Liberation Theology" which sides with the perceived victim or weaker party.    See also Sabeel on the "Christians against Israel" page.

Central to Christian Zionism is the belief in the abiding relevance of the promise God made to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, 'I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.    Christian Zionists tend to see themselves as defenders of, and apologists for, the Jewish people, and in particular, the State of Israel.   This support involves opposing those deemed to be critical of, or objective towards Israel.    It is rare therefore to find Christian Zionists who feel a similar solidarity with the Palestinians.

It is entirely reasonable for Christians to care that the Jewish people in their land of Israel are targeted for destruction by Islam, working through the Palestinian fighters.   It would be incompatible with this to feel" solidarity" with a campaign of terror against Israel.   However, Christian Zionists who have a Christ centred outlook care deeply about the Arab people generally known as Palestinians.   These people too are suffering, both Muslim and Christian, but the fault lies not with Israel, but with militant Islam.   Many Christian Zionists are praying hard for the salvation of the Palestinians, but are not siding with their erroneous aims.

"Christian Zionism misreads the Bible literally"

Christian Zionism is founded upon a literal and futurist interpretation of the Bible which leads proponents to distinguish between references to Israel and the Church.   Injunctions and promises concerning the ancient Jews are applied to the contemporary State of Israel rather than to the Church.

From this hermeneutic flows the conviction that the Jews remain God's 'chosen people', distinct from the Church, whether until the end of the millennium as held by covenant premillennialists, or into eternity as affirmed by most dispensationalists.   God's end-time purpose for the Jews is expressed in Restorationism.   The destiny of the Jewish people is to return to the land of Israel and reclaim their inheritance promised to Abraham and his descendants forever.   This inheritance extends from the River of Egypt to the Euphrates.   Within their land, Jerusalem is recognized to be their exclusive, undivided and eternal capital, and therefore it cannot be shared or divided.   At the heart of Jerusalem will be the rebuilt Jewish Temple to which all the nations will come to worship God.   Just prior to the return of Jesus, there will be seven years of calamities and war known as the Tribulation, which will culminate in a great battle called Armageddon during which the godless forces opposed to both God and Israel will be defeated.   Jesus will then return as the Jewish Messiah and king to reign in Jerusalem for a thousand years and the Jewish people will enjoy a privileged status and role in the world.

It is true that Christian Zionists take literally, what the Bible says literally, (and allegorically what is written allegorically) which many opponents are unwilling to do. However, claiming promises made to the ancient Jews for the State of Israel would be more problematical.   Promises made to Jews apply only to Jews; and to gentiles who are grafted in to Godís Israel. Check out David Pawsonís teaching on Romans for who is Godís Israel and on "Israel in Revelation" concerning how Israel figures in the events described in Revelation.    Christian Zionists are Christians who believe what the Bible says about Israel coming back to the Land, but they do not all hold the same view about the timing of events, particularly "the Rapture".    Most Christian Zionists known to the Author reached their views from reading the Bible rather than as part of a denomination, or from packages like Dispensationalism, Covenant Premilleniumism or Restorationism.

"Christian Zionists ignore New Testament teaching"

David Pawson has warned Christian Zionists about this danger and we should indeed be careful not to fall into this trap. Since 2000, at every ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles, David Pawson has been taking us through "Israel in the New Testament."

He came in for this criticism again after publishing "Israel in the New Testament" and "Defending Christian Zionism." He has responded to the specific criticism that he ignores texts that the Replacement Theologians use; namely the Letter of Paul to the Galatians. At the ICEJ conferences in UK and in Jerusalem in 2010, he tackled this letter head on. See below.

 

"The term Christian Zionism is a relatively recent category, rarely utilized prior to the early 1990s."

Self -proclaimed Christian Zionist organizations such as the International Christian Embassy-Jerusalem and the U.S. based Bridges for Peace, both with offices in Jerusalem, have been operating for twenty years but have been under the radar of most Middle East experts and the mainstream media until the post-September 11, 2001 era. Donald Wagner

Christian Zionism is not new. " A Nation Called by God " (see and Britain) reviews the writings of great evangelical churchmen who cared about Israel in God's plan and in His word.  These men included ...  William Cowper, John Owen, John Wesley, Robert Murray McCheyn, William Wilberforce, Charles Haddon Spurgeon and Bishop J C Ryle.

The first evangelical action was by means of "the London Society for promoting Christianity among the Jews", which is still active as "CMJ".   This is recognized as being the start of Christian Zionism.   This movement of evangelical Christianity started affecting the national policy through godly men in government. 

It appears that Anti-Israel, pro Palestinian thinking is the newer "ism" in the, so called, evangelical church; not Christian Zionism! The giants of the Evangelical movement were Christian Zionists in all but name.

The antipathy to Christian Zionism appears to have more to do with a widespread unwillingness among Christians to shake off the legacy of Replacement Theology, to question the output of the secular media and to read the Bible with an open mind.

If you want to know what the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem believes,  check out their own statement on www.icej.org/about/about_doctrines.html .

"Hal Lindsey is the leader of the Christian Zionism movement"

Hal Lindsey is undoubtedly the most influential of all Christian Zionists of the 20th century. Although rarely quoted by others, he has nevertheless been described by Time as 'The Jeremiah for this Generation, and by the New York Times as 'the best selling author of the decade. His newest publisher describes him as 'The Father of the Modern-Day Bible Prophecy Movement, and, 'the best known prophecy teacher in the world. This chapter will explore the significance of Hal Lindsey within Christian Zionism, his dispensational hermeneutic, unconventional view of prophecy and eschatology, his distinctive apocalyptic Zionism and his stand against anti-Semitism.               Dr. Stephen R. Sizer

Christian Zionists do not come from any one denomination but are willing to consider the teachings of those who are open to application of Bible prophecy.   This they weigh against their own reading of the Bible.   Hal Lindsey is one who is worth listening to, although many Christian Zionists do not share all his views.

What is a "conventional view of prophecy and eschatology"?   While so much of the Church is asleep, the conventional view is probably one of complete ignorance and indifference.

Is a stand against Anti-Semitism a bad thing?

"Christian Zionism is focussed on the Millennium"

There is an ancient belief known as "millenarianism" This is the belief that Christ will set up an earthly kingdom and will rule it for a thousand years, usually referred to as the "Millennium."   This belief actually has its origin in post-exilic Judaism.   An anticipation that survived the Babylonian exile was that one day God would restore the kingdom of David under a model anointed king, the Messiah.   Even though idealized, this would be an earthly, historical kingdom, and most often its relation to the end-time was not specified.        Father Daniel Swires

Surely, belief in the restoration of Davidís kingdom and the "Millennium" comes from the Bible, especially the book of Revelation. Perhaps those who have problems accepting Revelation should just admit it.

 

"Christian Zionism believes in unconditional support of Israelís government"

According to author Grace Halsell, Christian Zionists believe that "Every act taken by Israel is orchestrated by God, and should be condoned, supported, and even praised by the rest of us.    www.religioustolerance.org

Hopefully, Christian Zionists have not succumbed to such a simplistic view.   In fact many Christian Zionists may have gone too far in opposing the government of Israel over the Disengagement.   See Malcolm Heddingís teaching on Biblical Christian Zionism.

 

"Christian Zionism is the new State religion of USA"

Christian Zionism is one of America's most widely held religions. It is also as close as Constitutional decorum will permit, to becoming an official state religion.            www.911-strike.com/christian-zionists

This view appears to confuse Evangelical Christianity with Christian Zionism.   Even then, it sounds like the paranoid fringe, since even Evangelical Christianity is fighting a rearguard action against the forces of liberalism, which are seeking the removal of Christian values and practices from American life.

"Christian Zionism comes out of Dispensationalism"

An ever growing number of evangelical Christians who take the authority of scripture seriously are noting that dispensationalists like Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye misread the scriptures and are leading faithful believers astray.

See below

"Christian Zionism is the prodigy of Dispensationalism"

Dispensationalism is one of the most influential theological systems within the universal church today. Largely unrecognised and subliminal, it has increasingly shaped the presuppositions of fundamentalist, evangelical, Pentecostal and charismatic thinking concerning Israel and Palestine over the past one hundred and fifty years.

John Nelson Darby is regarded as the father of dispensationalism and its prodigy, Christian Zionism.   It was Cyrus. I. Scofield and D. L. Moody, however, who brought Darby's sectarian theology into mainstream evangelical circles.   R. C. Sproul concedes that dispensationalism is now '...a theological system that in all probability is the majority report among current American evangelicals.'      Today, virtually all the 'televangelists' such as Jerry Falwell, Jim Bakker, Paul Crouch, Pat Robertson, Jimmy Swaggart and Billy Graham are also dispensationalists.

Probably the most significant Christian organisations to espouse dispensationalism have been the Moody Bible Institute, Dallas Theological Seminary and the International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem.            www.informationclearinghouse.info

See below

The accusation that all the "televangelists" named above are dispensationalists sounds quite bizarre.  Check out how the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem defines Christian Zionism and you will not find any Dispensationalism.         www.icej.org

Dispensationalism

Dispensationalism is based is the Authorised Version translation of 2 Timothy 2:15, where the Apostle Paul calls upon Timothy to '... rightly divide the word of truth.'   Scofield took this verse as justification for his way of 'dividing' Scripture into discrete dispensations.

Following Darby and Scofield, dispensationalists claim to find in Scripture evidence of seven distinct dispensations during which humanity has been tested in respect of specific revelation as to the will of God.

Outline of dispensationalism by Charles Ryrie.

Name

Scripture

Responsibilities

Judgments

Innocency

Genesis 1:3-3:6

Keep Garden

Curses

Conscience

Genesis 3:7-8:14

Do Good

Flood

Civil Government

Genesis 8:15-11:9

Fill earth

Forced scattering

Patriarchal Rule

Genesis 11:10-Exodus 18:27

Stay in Promised Land

Egyptian bondage

Mosaic Law Exodus 19:1 - John 14:30 Keep the Law Captivities
Grace Acts 2:1- Revelation 19:21 Believe in Christ Death

Millennium

Revelation 20:1-15

Believe & Obey

Death

 

These dispensations are seen by proponents as literally 'providing us with a chronological map to guide us toward the seventh and final dispensation which will be inaugurated by the imminent return of Jesus Christ and the climax to world history.

While the above appear to be a brief way of categorizing Bible periods (the bible in a seven line table) their theology is, of necessity, very crude.   The author has not come across any preaching from Christian Zionists which attempted to use the above "dispensations" to frame teaching.   Respected Christian Zionist teacher, David Pawson taught specifically against Dispensationalism in his teaching on Romans, given at the ICEJ Feast in Jerusalem.   See also Bad Theologies

A Distinction Between Israel and the Church in Dispensationalism

Dispensationalists believe that God has two separate but parallel means of working - one through the Church, the other through Israel.   Thus there is, and always will remain, a distinction, 'between Israel, the Gentiles and the Church.

Christian Zionist teaching, in my experience, springs from the "wild olive branch" viewpoint advocated by Paul, which emphasizes the gentile believer being grafted into Godís olive tree of Israel. (Israel here being the ongoing people of faith within Godís chosen people; not just those who are genetically Israel, but who may still be in rebellion against God)    Within this olive tree, for now, the Jew and Gentile retain a separate identity but are one in Godís love and purposes.

 

"Christian Zionists believe there are two covenants"

Christian Zionism should not be confused with Dual Covenant Theology, which maintains that Jews are saved by the Abrahamic Covenant while Christians are saved through faith in Jesus (Yeshua the Jewish Messiah).   There is no scriptural basis for this theology and it is not Christian Zionist doctrine.   Hard though it may be to accept, Jews have always been saved by trusting in the mercy of the God of the Covenants and the Torah , not by legalistic adherence to the Torah.   The Jews of today need to be trusting in God (who has revealed himself in Yeshua)

Darby was not the first to insist on a radical distinction between Israel and the Church.   Marcion stressed the radical nature of Christianity vis-a-vis Judaism.   In his theology there existed a total discontinuity between the OT and the NT, between Israel and the church, and even between the god of the OT and the Father of Jesus. Christian Zionist teaching refutes Marcionism and emphasizes the unchanging nature of God through Old and New Testament.

"Christian Zionists believe they are the 'ten lost tribes'"

Opponents of Christian Zionism might well level this accusation, because there are some who do believe that. It is not the mainstream position, however. See Ephraimites.

"Christians have underhand motives for their interest in Israel."

While recently interviewing former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, American talk show host Bill Maher put this question to him:

Does it not make you a bit uncomfortable that the Christian Right here in America, which backs Israel fervently, really does so because they think Jesus is going to return …to whence He came. And what He’s going to do when He gets there basically is convert all the Jews or kill them?”

Christian Zionists come with purer motives.   God's purposes in History before Jesus returns ( the Messiah comes ) must be fulfilled, regardless of Christian interest in Israel, but....  

Christian Zionists are concerned at the vulnerability of the Jewish people and their isolation from Christian love and care.   Christian Zionists attempt to rectify the damage of the centuries which has distanced Jewish people from their own Messiah, by building bridges of repentance and love. We see ourselves as unconditionally committed to our God given calling to love Israel - through whatever comes.

As to whether Christians expect to see a large proportion of the Jews killed in fulfilment of End-times prophecy, depends on the validity of their eschatology. The seriously worrying prediction is in Zecharaiah, and may well refer to the losses the Jews have already suffered, including the Holocaust. The losses detailed in Revelation could be those to be suffered by the rebel Gentile world

"Christian Zionists are Missionaries"

Some Jews are concerned that Christian Zionists are Missionaries who come to take them away from their God to a new religion.

Christian Zionists do not seek to convert Jews into Christians.   We recognize the validity of the Jewish faith of the Tanakh.   However, the Tanakh points to the coming(s) of the Messiah, who is the fulfilment of everything.   We long to see Jewish people coming to completion of their faith by accepting their Messiah.  

What we want to do is break down the barriers which Christianity and Judaism erected against each other. We do stand with Messianic Jews.

"Christian Zionists are selective with the Bible"

Since David Pawson published "Defending Christian Zionism" he has been attacked with the charge that he and Christian Zionists in general are selective with the texts they use and ignore books such as Galatians, that the Replacement Theologians use to make their case.

Personally, I feel the Replacement Theologians are misreading Galatians but David Pawson took up the challenge head on by studying, "Jerusalem and Israel in Galatians" at the 2010 ICEJ UK conference. The CD of this study and other CDs are available from ICEJ UK at www.icejuk.org/article/conference_cds. and at www.icej.org/resources.

Galatians and Israel

Galatians is Paul's earliest letter and also his most forceful. Paul was really angry about the circumcision party that was following him around and seeking to draw his converts back to legalism. That is what the letter is about, but the Replacement Theologians are picking out verses to claim points about the validity of Israel.

Galatians 3 v16 - they claim Paul is saying that promises to Abraham's seed were not to his descendents but only to Christ. This revolves on whether seed is singular or plural. See Abraham's Seed

Galatians 4 - is a hard passage for Christian Zionists, but one we must come to terms with.

25Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. …

Wildolive tackled Two Jerusalems i

There are other passages in Galatians that need examination.

 

David Pawson has produced a booklet on "Israel in Galatians" to supplement "Israel in the New Testament" until the book goes for a reprint. In this he tackles all the problems, some of which he did not have sufficient time to cover in his addresses.

David Pawson has been used by God to bring teaching to assembled Christian Zionists at the ICEJ Feast of Tabernacles over recent years.

He has been encouraging us to seek out the true interpretation of scripture to inform our faith and our actions. He has also been fearless in bringing checks on excessive enthusiasm among us when there were signs of error creeping in.

These books cover all the issues in David Pawson's usual systematic and clear exposition of what the Bible says concerning Israel and the Christian.

The teachings in Audio format mentioned above are still available from ICEJ and Anchor Recordings.

Christian Palestinianism

Replacement Theology and Liberation Theology provide the basis for a large and influential movement within the Church that has been tagged "Christian Palestinianism." Actually those fitting this description exhibit the errors and sins they attribute to Christian Zionists, but in favour of the Palestinian agenda.

Christian Palestinianists wrongly criticize Christian Zionists as unquestioning supporters of a fascist, racist (Apartheid) Israeli Government, but it is the Palestinianists who are supporting the lies of a racist government that is committed to the destruction of Israel and the Jews and creation of Juderein (Jew free) / Apartheid state of Palestine.

Notable western leaders in this movement are Stephen Sizer, Gary Burge, Donald Wagner, Colin Chapman, Tony Campolo, Hank Hanegraaff, and Brian McLaren. Leaders in the Middle East include Elias Chacour and Naim Ateek (founder of Sabeel )

This thesis (in pdf format) from Paul Wilkinson might be useful in identifying the advocates of Christian Palestinianism and their arguments. Prophets Who Prophesy Lies In My Name

 

See also Biblical Christian Zionism, Bad Theologies and Balaam's Error

Footnote

Steven Sizer is vehement in his criticism of Christian Zionists but is not so happy about being criticised himself; as one blogger discovered.

At 10am on Sunday 29 th November 2009, I received a visit from two policemen regarding my activities in running the Seismic Shock blog. (Does exposing a vicar’s associations with extremists make me a criminal?, I wondered initially). A sergeant from the Horsforth Police related to me that he had received complaints via Surrey Police from Rev Sizer and from Dr Anthony McRoy – a lecturer at the  Wales Evangelical School of Theology – who both objected to being associated with terrorists and Holocaust deniers.

(Context: Sizer has associated with some very nasty terrorists and Holocaust deniers; McRoy has delivered a paper at a Khomeinist theological conference in Iran comparing Hezbollah’s struggle against Israel via suicide bombing with the Christian’s struggle against sin via the atoning death of Jesus, and describes the world’s most prominent Holocaust denier as an “intelligent, humble, charismatic, and charming” man who “gives quick, extensive and intelligent answers to any question, mixed with genial humour”).

The sergeant made clear that this was merely an informal chat, in which I agreed to delete my original blog ( http://seismicshock.blogspot.com) but maintain my current one ( http://seismicshock.wordpress.com). The policeman related to me that his police force had been in contact with the ICT department my previous place of study, and had looked through my files, and that the head of ICT at my university would like to remind me that I should not be using university property in order to associate individuals with terrorists and Holocaust deniers (I am sure other people use university property to make political comments, but never mind).

With my research on Reverend Sizer’s associations with terrorists and Holocaust deniers making its way into a  publication of the  Society of Biblical Literature, I was quite content to hold my peace. However, now that Reverend Sizer is now misrepresenting what has happened in my case in order to intimidate others, now is the time to speak up.

A Christian blogger – “Vee” of  LivingJourney, who is based in Australia – linked to my blog as a resource for Christians to learn about anti-Semitism in the Church, including “lots of info on Stephen Sizer and Sabeel”.

Rev Sizer left her  this comment:

Dear Vee,

You must take a little more care who you brand as anti-semitic otherwise you too will be receiving a caution from the police as the young former student of Leeds did recently. One more reference to me and you will be reported.

Blessings
Stephen

 

More information and context on the page from which this information was obtained.

http://www.hurryupharry.org/2010/01/23/anglican-vicar-uses-police-to-intimidate-blogger/

 

Updated 09/08/11

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