Category Archives: Zion’s Christian Soldiers

Will the Jewish Temple be Rebuilt?

“Mounting tension: Israel’s Knesset debates proposal to enforce its sovereignty at Al-Aqsa Mosque – a move seen as ‘an extreme provocation to Muslims worldwide’” was the ominous headline in the Independent newspaper, 27th February 2014.

Ben Lynfield writes, “The Arab-Israeli conflict took on an increasingly religious hue when the Jordanian parliament voted unanimously to expel Israel’s ambassador in Amman after Israeli legislators held an unprecedented debate on Tuesday evening over a proposal to enforce Israeli sovereignty at one of Jerusalem’s holiest sites, currently administered by Jordan, and to allow Jewish prayer there. 500 metres by 300 metres, the Temple Mount, or Haram Al Sharif as it is called in Arabic, is probably the most disputed plot of land on earth. Hal Lindsey claims, ‘I believe the fate of the world will be determined by an ancient feud over 35 acres of land.’[1]

Many Christians share the belief that the Islamic shrines must be destroyed and that a Jewish Temple must and will be rebuilt – very soon. But this won’t be a museum replica of the one king Solomon built or be just another attraction for pilgrims to the Holy Land. No, this Temple will be built for one purpose and one purpose only – for bloody animal sacrifices, and lots of them.

What is the case for rebuilding the Jewish Temple? Does the Bible predict such an event? If so, where and how it might be built? What does the New Testament  say on the subject? What are the implications for Christians should the Jewish Temple be rebuilt?  Continue reading

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Christian Zionism: The New Heresy that Undermines Middle East Peace

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.

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Robert Murray McCheyne’s Church Hosts Seminar on Christian Zionism

Porter Speakman Jr and I gave presentations today at a seminar on Christian Zionism hosted by Solas: The Centre for Public Christianity based at St Peter’s Free Church of Scotland in Dundee.

One of my spiritual heroes, Robert Murray McCheyne was the pastor of St Peter’s between 1831-1843. One of his particular passions was ministry to Jewish people. In 1839 along with Andrew Bonar, Alexander Black and Alexander Keith, McCheyne made a six month visit to Palestine to examine the condition of the Jewish people in Europe and Palestine. His only published book was a result of that tour – a joint effort with Andrew Bonar – The Narrative of a Mission of Inquiry to the Jews.

It was doubly significant therefore that Porter Speakman Jr, the producer of the film With God on our Side, showed a preview and spoke about his ministry in Israel/Palestine, and I gave a short paper on the Bible, Israel and the Church.

We had a fruitful and constructive two hour bible-based discussion with about 25 evangelical church leaders from the Presbyterian, Church of Scotland, Baptist and Free Church of Scotland. While many identified with a Christian Zionist perspective, we were nevertheless unanimous in our desire that Jews and Palestinians hear the good news of Jesus Christ and come to live together in peace and reconciliation.

The seminar was also recorded by Thistle Channel TV for a programme on Christian Zionism. Local Christian leaders also hosted the film With God on our Side at the Hilton International Hotel in Dundee last night.

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With God on our Side: US Tour Photos

View the highlights of the With God on our Side US tour here or on Flickr. See also photos taken on the first WGOOS US tour here

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With God on our Side: iPhone App

“With God On Our Side” takes a look at the theology of Christian Zionism, which teaches that because the Jews are God’s chosen people, they have a divine right to the land of Israel. Aspects of this belief system lead some Christians in the West to give uncritical support to Israeli government policies, even those that privilege Jews at the expense of Palestinians, leading to great suffering among Muslim and Christian Palestinians alike and threatening Israel’s security as a whole.

This film demonstrates that there is a biblical alternative for Christians who want to love and support the people of Israel, a theology that doesn’t favor one people group over another but instead promotes peace and reconciliation for both Jews and Palestinians.”

iPhone Apps Store

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Who are God’s Chosen People?

Who are God’s Chosen People? The Bible, Israel and the Church from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

This seminar was delivered at the University of Dundee Chaplaincy on Saturday 17th October 2009.

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 this book I unpack this question and show that Christian Zionism is a recent manifestation of a heresy refuted by the New Testament.

For an outline of this seminar see

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The End Times: A Christian Perspective

The End Times: A Christian Perspective from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

A paper delivered at the University of Dundee on Thursday 15th October 2009, entitled ‘A Christian Perspective on the End Times’

Professor Saeed Bahmanpour, Principal of the Islamic College, London, also delivered a paper on the ‘End Times’ from a Muslim perspective. Afterwards we had a lively debate on the similarities and differences between the two perspectives.

The presentation was based on a chapter from my book Zion’s Christian Soldiers

You can view some photos here

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Where is the Promised Land?

Kristin Davis, star of Sex in the City is, “the new face of Ahava” the Israeli cosmetic company which specialises in natural skin care products made from Dead Sea minerals. “I’m honoured to be a part of a beauty legend that dates back to Cleopatra,” she said. Unfortunately, Ahava cosmetic products are made in Mitzpe Shalem, an illegal Jewish settlement built in the Palestinian West Bank. Ahava’s extraction of Palestinian natural resources from the Dead Sea is, according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, illegal use by an occupying power of stolen resources for its own profit. To add insult to injury, Ahava’s labels claim Israel to be the country of origin, something decried by Oxfam and other human rights groups as blatantly misleading. Ironically, Kristin Davis is a spokeswoman for Oxfam – or rather was until this week when they suspended her (see here for details). Hopefully, Kristin will now sever her relationship with the cosmetics-maker, regain her platform with Oxfam, and campaign for the human rights of all who have been dispossessed.

Not surprisingly the subject of ‘the Land’ is deeply controversial and highly politicised. Even its name – Canaan, Israel, Palestine, the Promised Land – says as much about our presuppositions as our knowledge of Middle East geography: Promised Land? Promised to whom? Under what terms? For what purpose?

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A Critique of Christian Zionism: Tony Higton

Published in Mishkan, A Forum on the Gospel and the Jewish People: Issue 55/2008

The following quotations are taken from an article by Tony Higton published in Mishkan which includes a response to my book, Christian Zionism: Road-map to Armageddon?

Tony Higton is Rector of North and South Wootton near Kings Lynn. The fact that I was married in South Wootton and my mother in law lives in the parish is purely, if delightfully, coincidental. Tony previously served as the General Director of the Church’s Ministry among Jewish People and Rector of Christ Church, Jerusalem. Before publishing my book, he read the draft sections pertaining to CMJ, made comments, and these were all incorporated in the published version.

I warmly commend his article and the case he makes for Moderate Christian Zionism, and invite you to read it and decide whether the selective quotations below, which specifically pertain to my views or book, are in any way taken out of context.

In his introduction, Tony writes:

“After years of sparring, Stephen Sizer and I met up and found we had wide areas of agreement. Having worked in Jewish ministry for seven years, half of them in Jerusalem, I have seen the best and worst of Christian Zionism. Insofar as it combats anti-Semitism, defends the existence of a safe homeland for Jewish people, promotes evangelism among Jewish people, and supports reconciliation in the Holy Land, it is good.
However, Sizer is right to criticize the serious failings of some Christian Zionism. I agree with him in rejecting the following errors which are held by many Christian Zionists:

  • Lack of godly compassion for the Palestinians, and of concern for their human rights and about their legitimate aspirations.
  • A negative attitude toward Palestinians, and Arabs in general, to the point of racism.
  • Uncritical support for Israel (a secular, sinful state like any other), justifying all its actions against the Palestinians.
  • Neglecting or even opposing and forbidding evangelism of Israelis, sometimes believing that Jewish people can experience salvation through Judaism.
  • Being more interested in the fulfilment of prophecy than in application of kingdom principles such as justice and reconciliation.
  • Opposing the peace process.
  • Sometimes advocating the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the Holy Land.
  • Sometimes supporting the rebuilding of the temple regardless of the problematic theological implications and the danger of provoking extreme violence.” (p. 18)

In the second section entitled, “Dangers of Unbiblical Views” Tony writes:

“I am grateful for Sizer’s book because it stimulates thought and, in my case, underlines many of the questions I have been asking about Christian Zionism in recent years. And I speak currently describing myself (provocatively) as a pro-Palestinian Christian Zionist!”
“Having said that, I am unhappy about calling myself a Zionist because of the prevalence of extreme Christian Zionism which Sizer describes. I attended a week-long conference on Christian Zionism held in Jerusalem by the Sabeel Palestinian Liberation Theology Centre. Initially, I was quite irritated by what I felt was their extreme model of Christian Zionism. I thought it was a caricature and the moderate view I held was the majority view. But one of the main things I learned from that conference was that it is American Christian Zionism (which is very influential among Messianic believers in Israel) which is dominant, and it is very extreme. British (and other moderate) Christian Zionists need to understand this.” (pp. 19-20)

In the fourth section entitled, “Putting Principles into Practice”, Tony writes:

“Sizer seems not fully to understand the Israeli need for security. We once stood together in Abu Dis, just outside Jerusalem, at the foot of the security wall – ten meters of concrete towering above us. He asked me: “Well, what do you think of the wall, Tony?” I replied: “I think it is obscene. But terrorism is even more extreme.” (p. 24) – on this I concur.

In the fifth section in which Tony makes the case for “Moderate Biblical Zionism” he writes:

“It seems to me that Sizer, in his convert’s passion for justice for the Palestinians, tends to throw the baby out with the bathwater with respect to Christian Zionism. One result is that he does not treat the biblical material seriously enough… I still believe that a biblical case can be made for (balanced and moderate Christian Zionism).” (p. 25)

“Sizer raises various criticisms of the biblical justification Christian Zionists claim. In particular he claims that Christian Zionism has an “ultra-literal” and futurist hermeneutic. It is, of course, very simple to make out that all the prophecies referred to by Christian Zionists are not to be taken literally as referring to the Jewish people. In one stroke it removes all sorts of questions and difficulties. But, as we shall see, there are difficulties with this view.
I am also aware that the New Testament radically develops the teaching of the Old Testament. The Old is the bud and the New is the flower. In rightly stressing the Jewish roots of the Christian faith, we must never forget this radical development, which Sizer stresses. So there are important developments of land to world, temple to Jesus, etc.” (p. 25-26)

“I is true that some, including some Orthodox Jewish people, think that such a re-establishment of the state is not the real thing prophesied in Scripture, which could only be established by Messiah. Others, including Sizer, think Israel, because of disobedience to God, could lose the land again.” (p. 28)

“Sizer writes: “Belief in the final restoration of the Jews to Zion is also based on a literal and futurist reading of selective Old Testament prophecies. However, the texts themselves indicate that such a return occurred under Ezra and Nehemiah and that no further return is to be anticipated. It may be argued that Jesus repudiated any such expectation. New Testament writers apply such Old Testament promises to both believing Jews and Gentiles.”
However, there are OT prophecies which scholars believe relate to a time much later than the return under Ezra and Nehemiah, and are often in a messianic context. I refer to Isaiah 11:11-12; 60:4, 9, 21-22; 61:4-5; Jeremiah 3:12-18; 23:7-8; Ezekiel 38:8, 16; 39:25-29; Joel 3:1-2, 17, 20; Amos 9:14-15; Zechariah 12:2-3, 10-11; and 14.” (p 29)

“In conclusion, then, I agree with much of the criticism Sizer makes of Christian Zionism and particularly of its lack of commitment to justice and reconciliation. Like him, I too reject the extremes of Christian Zionism, seen particularly in the USA and Israel. However, I believe Sizer throws the baby out with the bathwater, particularly by not dealing seriously enough with the biblical material, which I believe forms a credible foundation for a balanced, moderate Christian Zionism.
Moderate Christian Zionists will:

  • Pray for the Israelis and the Palestinians, showing compassion for their needs, pain, and fears, and an awareness of their faults.
  • Pray for and, where possible, take action to promote reconciliation, peace, security, and justice for both people groups and an end to violence on both sides.
  • Pray for and support evangelism among both people groups.

Having read Sizer’s book carefully, I remain a pro-Palestinian Christian Zionist who is passionate about justice and reconciliation and sensitive to the needs, pain, and fears of both Palestinians and Israelis.” (p. 29)

It was in part to encourage further dialogue on the interpretation of Scripture regarding the relationship between Israel and the Church that I wrote the sequel, Zion’s Christian Soldiers. I look forward to further conversations with Tony Higton on the case for Moderate Christian Zionism.

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Baptist Times on Zion’s Christian Soldiers

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