Tag Archives: Christian Zionism

With God on Our Side: Porter Speakman Interview

Porter Speakman Interview from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

Porter Speakman shares about his new film “With God on our Side” For more information see withgodonourside.com

“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.”

The title for our film, “With God on Our Side” was inspired by the verse:

…while Joshua was there near Jericho: He looked up and saw right in front of him a man standing, holding his drawn sword. Joshua stepped up to him and said, “Whose side are you on—ours or our enemies’?” He said, “Neither. I’m commander of God’s army. Joshua 5:13-14a (The Message)

We believe this verse is still true today, that God does not take sides with certain people groups, nations or agendas. Rather He is for all people. Throughout history, those who have claimed God was on their side have used it to justify atrocities done in the name of Jesus. We believe once again certain Christians are approaching the people in the Middle East claiming God is on their side in a way that disregards human rights and gives unilateral support to a secular State, elevates one people group over another while using the Bible as justification. We believe there is a better way, a way of justice, peace and love for Jews and Palestinians. One that is inclusive, not exclusive. That is the heart of God.

See http://www.withgodonourside.com

The issues surrounding the situation with Israel and Palestinians whether they be Historical or Political bring up very passionate displays of support and activism on all sides. However, it has been my experience that when theology, whether it be Islamic, Judaic or Christian is mixed in with these issues, these passions spill into a new level and becomes a “holy war” in itself.

As a Christian, I wanted to look deeper at Christian approaches into some of these issues and at a theology called Christian Zionism. Although many Evangelical Christians in the United States may not know what Christian Zionism is, most would adhere to some of the basic beliefs Christian Zionists have toward Israel, the Jewish people and the End Times. That supporting Israel is a mandate for all Christians and that support also meant political support for the State.

I also saw that once people understood the political and historical consequences Christian Zionism has on people in the Middle East, they began to question some of the things they have always just taken for granted.

There are several purposes for making this film:
To bring a different perspective to some of the historical, political and theological viewpoints we just taCase for granted involving Israel and the Jewish people.

To look at the consequences Christian Zionism has on the local people in the Middle East, especially Palestinian, who are most directly influenced by Christian political support for the State of Israel and it’s policies, which are then defended using the Bible.

To raise awareness that there are Palestinian Christians, and these consequences affect them as well Muslim Palestinians.

We believe there is an alternative approach to Christian Zionism. An approach that sees both Jews and Palestinians as equal in God’s sight and one that promotes reconciliation, justice and peace.

We recognize that most people who adhere to a Christian Zionist theology have the best intentions in mind. They love and support Israel and the Jewish people out of sincere hearts and what they feel is the Biblical approach to this situation.

We also recognize that being “Pro-Israel” in the minds of most Christian Zionists is not synonyms with being “Anti-Arab”. However, this is why it is important to look at what we believe alongside with how it affects people. Good intentions can still have devastating effects. Some of the most tragic events in history have occurred from a bad interpretation of biblical texts and understanding of who God is. Any approach to the Middle East must be one that sees the needs of all people, not just one, because at the heart of who God is the God of love who commands us to love one another, whether that be our neighbor or someone we consider our enemy.

These are not easy issues to look at and we are all continuing to learn. However we feel it is important to ask questions and we believe no topics are off limits, when the goal is truth.

The “Key Issues” section of this site has some general information on Christian Zionism, History, and Current Events. These are just small snippets of information on subjects addressed in our film. For those who want to learn further, we strongly recommend looking at our resource page for further studies. We also strongly recommend that books from people offering differing perspectives be read.

Porter Speakman, Jr.
Director / Executive Producer “With God on Our Side”

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With God on our Side

I am delighted to endorse a new film being launched this autumn produced by Porter Speakman Jr and Rooftop Productions.

“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.”

Launch: Autumn 2009. More news soon.

With God on our Side – Website, FaceBook and YouTube

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SIONISMO CRISTIANO. ¿Hoja de Ruta a Armagedón?

A Spanish edition of my book Christian Zionism: Roadmap to Armageddon? has been published by Bosforo Libros in Madrid, Spain.

Foreword to Spanish Translation

I am delighted that you are reading my book in Spanish – something regrettably I cannot do – at least not yet. I wrote this book for three reasons – truth, justice and reconciliation.

My first motivation is the need to speak the truth. Jesus said, “...you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32). Sadly the Christian faith has, for many centuries, become equated with colonialism and empire in many parts of the world. In the Middle East, this is largely due to the influence of European Christians who, nearly 200 years ago, believed it was their destiny to assist the Jewish people in colonising Palestine. This movement which became known as Christian Zionism, gave rise not only to Zionism and the founding of the State of Israel, but also to the Palestinian Nakba and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Many Christian Zionists see the coming of Jesus as the postponement rather than the fulfilment of the promises God made to the Hebrew people. Their emphasis on Israel and end-times prophecy, rather than upon Jesus and the gospel, is a distortion of the Bible.

My second motivation is justice. Micah asks, “What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8). It is too easy and convenient for Christians to blame others, especially the Arabs or Islam for the ills of the world. The Middle East conflict is being perpetuated largely by American Christians who have popularised the notion that God blesses nations that support Israel. We must be honest about our historical complicity in the conflict and commit ourselves to working for peace with justice for all, irrespective of their race or religion, and based on the rule of international law.

My third motivation is reconciliation. Jesus is described as “The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). He has commanded his followers to pursue a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5). We are called to be peace-makers not widow-makers. Christian Zionism in its most extreme form is pathologically confrontational and apocalyptic about the future. It is in danger of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. God’s word instead tells us to “Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (1 Peter 3:11). At the end of the Book of Revelation there is a beautiful image of paradise restored in which the Tree of Life bears fruit every month. We are told “And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.”  (Revelation 22:2). If this is God’s view of the future, then we need no greater motivation to work for reconciliation now.

I believe that when we re-examine our history and repudiate the false ways in which some of our leaders have abused the Scriptures for destructive political ends, we will be better able to contribute to justice, peace and reconciliation in the Middle East. By the grace of God, I pray that this book will motivate you to contribute to that process.

If you find it helpful, you can access further resources, text, audio and video at www.stephensizer.com as well as read my latest blog and view my photographic gallery of the Middle East. The sequel to this book is entitled, Zion’s Christian Soldiers, and addresses in more detail, the relationship between Israel and the Church in Scripture. At the moment it is only available in English but I hope a Spanish edition will be published soon.

Sinopsis

Apenas conocido en Europa, el fenómeno del sionismoi cristiano en Estados Unidos vive en los últimos años un auge cuyas reales dimensiones podemos comprender con una sola cifra: los más de 65 millones de libros vendidos por los 16 volúmenes de la serie Left Behind, de Tim LaHaye y Jerry Jenkins, una ficcionalización de las doctrinas del sionismoi cristiano respecto a Israel y el fin de los tiempos.

Surgido como corriente milenarista en la Inglaterra decimonónica, implantado en los Estados Unidos por el pastor John Nelson Darby y crecido al calor del fundamentalismo evangélico norteamericano, el sionismoi cristiano considera que sólo cuando el pueblo elegido de Israel esté en posesión de todo el territorio comprendido entre el río Éufrates y el río Nilo (Eretz Israel, el Gran Israel, tal como lo recoge el Génesis) tendrán lugar los acontecimientos anunciados por las profecías bíblicas: el Armagedón (la batalla final) y la segunda venida de Cristo para instaurar el Reino de Dios.  A falta de datos precisos, los expertos consideran que hay decenas de millones de personas en Estados Unidos que comparten estas creencias.

El sionismoi cristiano ha jugado un papel histórico determinante en la creación y sustento del Estado de Israel. Este rol se ha reforzado en el curso de las últimas décadas, y en la actualidad continúa desempeñándose de las más diversas formas, desde la presión política en Washington y el adoctrinamiento masivo a través de los medios (véanse los casos de Pat Robertson y del finado Jerry Falwell, o la citada saga de los Left Behind) a la financiación directa de la emigración judía a Israel y de los asentamientos de las ocupadas Cisjordania y Jerusalén Este.

Sionismoi cristiano: ¿Hoja de Ruta a Armagedón?, fruto de la investigación doctoral del teólogo británico Stephen Sizer, se ha convertido en el texto de referencia para todo aquel interesado en conocer el origen y desarrollo histórico del sionismoi cristiano, las razones de su identificación total con el proyecto sionistai del Estado de Israel y su decisiva influencia en el devenir cotidiano del conflicto, tanto en las altas esferas de la administración estadounidense como en su contribución sobre el terreno a las políticas de limpieza étnica y expansionismo israelíes. En definitiva, para entender en gran medida por qué la paz y la justicia parecen aún inalcanzables en Oriente Próximo.

Leer un fragmento

Leer capítuloIntroducción

Índice

Prólogo
Prólogo a la edición en español
Prefacio
Agradecimientos
Listado de figuras

Introducción
¿Qué es el sionismoi?
¿Qué es el sionismoi cristiano?
La importancia del movimiento sionistai cristiano
Un análisis crítico del sionismoi cristiano

1. Las raíces históricas del sionismoi cristiano
Los primeros indicios: el sionismoi cristiano primigenio
El nacimiento del sionismoi cristiano y su contexto socio-político
Los orígenes del restauracionismo premilenarista histórico en Gran Bretaña
Los orígenes del sionismoi cristiano dispensacional en Gran Bretaña
Lord Shaftesbury y la influencia del restauracionismo en la política exterior de Gran Bretaña
El cristianismo británico y su apoyo político al movimiento sionistai judío
La Declaración Balfour y la implementación del sueño sionistai
El dispensacionalismo y el nacimiento del sionismoi cristiano en Estados Unidos (1859-1945)
El antisemitismoi y el sionismoi cristiano liberal en Estados Unidos (1918-1967)
El sionismoi cristiano evangélico en los Estados Unidos de hoy (1967-2002)
La proliferación y diversificación de las organizaciones sionistasi cristianas
Las raíces históricas del sionismoi cristiano: conclusiones

2. Los fundamentos teológicos del sionismoi cristiano
La Biblia: una hermenéutica literal y futurista
Los pueblos elegidos: la relación entre Israel y la iglesia
El restauracionismo: regreso de los judíos a Sion
La Tierra de Israel: reclamando Judea, Samaria y más allá
Jerusalén: la capital eterna y exclusiva del pueblo judío
El templo: reconstrucción y profanación
El futuro: la escatología del sionismoi cristiano
La singular teología del sionismoi cristiano: conclusiones

3. Las implicaciones políticas del sionismoi cristiano
El pueblo elegido: apoyar el colonialismo israelí
El restauracionismo: facilitar la emigración de los judíos de Rusia y Europa oriental
La Tierra de Israel: apoyar los asentamientos de Cisjordania
Jerusalén: los grupos de presión y el reconocimiento internacional
El templo: identificarse con el sionismoi religioso
El futuro: rechazar los procesos de paz y precipitar el Armagedón
Las implicaciones políticas del sionismoi cristiano: conclusiones

4. Conclusiones
Observaciones acerca de la evolución del sionismoi cristiano
Variantes del sionismoi cristiano
Aspectos constructivos y destructivos del sionismoi cristiano
Evaluación crítica del sionismoi cristiano
El sionismoi bíblico y su alternativa en la teología de la Alianza

Glosario
Apéndice
Bibliografía
Índice de personas
Índice de temas
Índice de referencias bíblicas

El autor

Stephen Sizer (1953, Lowestoft) es doctor en Teología, miembro y antiguo director de la International Bible Society y miembro fundador del Instituto para el Estudio del Sionismoi Cristiano (www.christianzionism.org). En la actualidad ejerce como vicario en la parroquia de Christ Church, Virginia Water (Surrey, Inglaterra).

Asiduo visitante de Oriente Próximo y máxima autoridad internacional en cuestiones vinculadas al sionismoi cristiano y sus implicaciones teológicas y políticas en el conflicto palestino-israelí, Stephen Sizer ha expuesto sus argumentos en buen número de artículos y conferencias –en Oxford, Cambridge, Glasgow, Chicago, Yakarta, El Cairo o Teherán–, cuya culminación es el presente volumen, que sintetiza para el gran público siete largos años de trabajo doctoral en instituciones académicas.

Stephen Sizer es además autor de otros libros: A Panorama of the Holy Land (Eagle, 1998), A Panorama of the Bible Lands (Eagle, 2002), In the Footsteps of Jesus and the Apostles (Eagle, 2004) y Zion’s Christian Soldiers: The Bible, Israel and the Church (IVP, 2007).

Reseñas

Reseñas sobre "Sionismo cristiano" de Stephen Sizer Reseñas sobre el libro (en inglés)

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Seattle Pacific University hosts lecture on Christian Zionism

Stephen Sizer expands on the roots of Christian Zionism and its political implications during his lecture on Wednesday in Demaray Hall.

By BETH DOUGLASS, News Writer

Published: April 29 2009

The United States’ support of Israel is built on faulty principles and is hurting the country’s foreign policy, evangelical Anglican pastor and London author Stephen Sizer said.

Yesterday afternoon, Sizer spoke in Demaray Hall 150 at an event called “Christian Zionism: What is it? Its history, theology and political impact on the world today.”

Throughout the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the United States has offered unwavering support to Israel, Sizer said. Much of this is due to the prevalence of Christian Zionism, or Christians who support the modern political state of Israel, established in 1948, he said.

There is an antipathy toward the Arabs and Palestinians within Christian Zionism, Sizer said. He countered that the Bible calls us to reconciliation and tells us to love our enemies, he said.

“This theology is impacting attitudes and opinions in the Middle East,” he said. There is a view that God is blessing America because the nation is helping Israel, he said, resulting in the demonizing of Islam and the characterization of Arabs as dogs and liars.

Giving Israel a geographic homeland in Palestine may not be the correct fulfillment of God’s Old Testament promise to Israel, he said.

Palestine was turned into a secular state for Israel after World War II, according to the Rooftop Productions film “With God on Our Side.” From then on, Israel continued to take over Palestinian land, leaving many refugees.

Israelis then engaged in what some call an “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians, the film stated.

Growing up in the church and hearing many Old Testament Bible stories, U.S. Christians tend to idealize and romanticize Israel and Israeli culture, the film said.

When Americans hear about a conflict involving Israel, it seems obvious whose side they are on, the film said.

SPU is a very social justice-minded campus, yet there is little conversation about the situation in Palestine, said junior Kristin McCarthy, who helped plan the event.

“I think it is so sad how few people actually know about what is happening in Israel and Palestine,” she said.

Twenty to 40 million Americans support the Christian Zionism movement, according to the Pew Forum on Religion.

“I argue that it is shaping your foreign policy in the Middle East,” Sizer said.

Pro-Israeli groups are probably the most powerful lobbyists on Capitol Hill, Sizer said. Many of these lobbyists are Christian organizations.

Two-thirds of U.S. foreign aid goes to either Egypt or Israel, said John Berg, director of ministry advancement and development for a nonprofit organization called the Middle East Fellowship. The U.S. gives $10 billion per year to Israel, consisting of both official and unofficial foreign aid, he said.

“So much of our taxpayer money does go to the state of Israel,” said Professor of English Doug Thorpe. This makes U.S. Christians deeply invested in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, he said, and people are suffering because of how American foreign policy supports Israel.

No U.S. senator will speak against Israel, Sizer said, because to criticize Israel would be political suicide.

Some people have said Sizer’s viewpoint is anti-Semitic. However, he firmly upholds that this is not the case.

“I repudiate anti-Semitism unequivocally. Anti-Semitism is a form of racism,” Sizer said.

Fear of being anti-Semitic should not keep us from thinking critically about Christian Zionist ideas, Berg said.

There is a difference between Jewish ethnicity, Jewish religion and the modern country of Israel, Berg said. Historic anti-Semitism was against the Jewish ethnicity, he said, and Christian Zionism has redefined anti-Semitism.

The purpose of having Sizer speak on campus was not to advocate one particular viewpoint, but to start a conversation about the issue, McCarthy said.

“I think this is a really important conversation for the Christian community to be having,” she said.

Source: The Falcon Online

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Peacemaking in Washington DC

World Vision’s executive director for international relations until March 1, 2009, Thomas Getman managed World Vision’s liaison activities with the UN and the World Council of Churches and was responsible for diplomatic relations with UN government member missions in Geneva and with countries on sensitive negotiations.

He served until recently on the board of principals for the UN Deputy Secretary General for Emergency Relief and as chair of the premier NGO consortium International Council of Voluntary Agencies.

From 1997 to 2001, Getman served as director of World Vision’s programs in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip where he was responsible for $5-8 million a year in relief and development projects in Palestine and Israel and advocacy for peace with justice.

Previously, Getman served for 12 years as director of government relations and special assistant to the president of World Vision United States at which time he founded WV’s office in DC. Getman interpreted U.S. government policy, pressed for needed foreign assistance, and advanced human rights, relief and development concerns.

From 1976 to 1985, as a Congressional staff member, Getman helped negotiate protocols with the presidents of Uganda and Zambia and encouraged warring factions to move forward with peace negotiations. In the mid-1980s, Getman played a central role to persuade the South African Foreign Ministry to cease support for the Mozambican rebel group Resistencia National Mocambicana (Renamo). He also was an adjunct speech writer for other national political figures, including President Gerald R. Ford.

Before joining World Vision, Getman served as legislative director and senior speech collaborator to U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield. In the US Senate, his primary assignments were African foreign policy and social justice, human rights and welfare issues. His most notable legislative contribution was to participate in the drafting team for the Anti-Apartheid Act of 1985. Getman also served as a regional director for Young Life for nine years in New England.

I caught up with Tom at St Mark’s Church on Capitol Hill in Washington and asked him about the role of Christian Zionism, his hopes for the new US administration and the changes needed in US policy in the Middle East.

I also inteviewed Joan Drake of Partners for Peace, Jim Vitarello of Sharing Jerualem

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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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Christian Zionism: Christian Bookshops Directory Book of the Month

A review by Phil Groom

Israel’s crimes against humanity must always be seen against the backdrop of the equally terrible crimes of humanity against Israel. But does this make those crimes — its ongoing abuse of the Palestinians and, as I revisit this review at the beginning of 2009, its current assault on the Gaza Strip — any less offensive? Personally, I think not: I originally wrote this review for Evangelical Quarterly in August 2006, during Israel’s war of vengeance against Hezbollah in Lebanon. More than two years later, have any lessons been learned? Has anything changed? It seems not. Apart from these introductory paragraphs, then, this review also remains unchanged, and Sizer’s book remains as relevant and necessary today as it was when originally published.

James warns us (James 3:1) that those who teach will be judged all the more harshly; and similarly, those who represent God to the world will surely be held to even greater account than those who do not know him. This, if it applies to any nation, must surely apply to Israel if they are indeed God’s chosen people.

Hamas’ and Hezbollah’s crimes not withstanding, the State of Israel’s ongoing abuse of the Palestinian people and its neighbours in Lebanon is without a shadow of doubt both a crime against humanity and an offence against God. And the tendency of many Christians to give uncritical support — or even open endorsement — to Israel’s apartheid and wholly disproportionate policies is an aberration that compounds that offence.

If you’re a Christian Zionist you’ll find those opening paragraphs extremely troubling. Are we not, as Christians, required to support the State of Israel? Are not the Jews God’s chosen people? Surely those who bless Israel will be blessed and those who curse Israel will be cursed (Genesis 12:3) — and aren’t statements like these anti-semitic anyway?

Yet as I read this book and observe the current situation it’s difficult to draw any other conclusion. I was brought up in a Brethren assembly, taught to read the Bible from within a dispensationalist framework, and although (as far as I remember) the term “Christian Zionist” was never used, its essence informed my thinking. It took a trip to Israel and time spent with Palestinian Christians, seeing the oppression first-hand, to bring home to me how distorted my thinking was.

Sizer’s experience, it seems, has been similar, describing himself in his introduction as a young Christian ‘devouring Hal Lindsey’s best-selling book, The Late Great Planet Earth, and hearing in person his lectures on eschatology’, then, after a pilgrimage to the Holy Land — ironically, organised by some ‘Christian Zionist friends’ — experiencing a ‘radical change in perspective.’ (p.9-10).

Many Christians will never have an opportunity to visit Israel in person, but Sizer has done a magnificent job in this book, presenting us with a comprehensive overview of Christian Zionism’s variant streams, historical developments and theologies which allows anyone willing to approach the subject with an open mind to make their own assessment. This is supported by a number of helpful charts comparing, for example, the historical development of Christian Zionism since 1800 (p.105) and the different types of Christian Zionism (p.256-257). His analysis is careful, detailed and meticulous, a distillation of his doctoral thesis, which takes his readers through the movement’s history (chapter 1), examining its theological emphases (chapter 2) and exposing its political implications (chapter 3) to finally emerge (chapter 4) with “Biblical Zionism: a covenantal alternative”, an approach that does justice to both the old covenant under Abraham and the new covenant under Christ and offers hope to Jew and Palestinian alike, eschewing violence and leaving no room for anti-semitism.

Each chapter is broken down into manageable subsections and ends with a concise summary of the arguments presented therein, allowing even an impatient reader to benefit and a more patient reader time to pause and take stock.

Sizer’s final conclusions are — for this reader at least — inescapable:

…the choice is between two theologies: one based primarily on the shadows of the old covenant; the other on the reality of the new covenant. In identifying with the former, Christian Zionism is an exclusive theology that focuses on the Jews in the land rather than an inclusive theology that centres on Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. It consequently provides a theological endorsement for racial segregation, apartheid and war. This is diametrically opposed to the inclusive theology of justice, peace and reconciliation which lie at the heart of the new covenant. (p.260).

A glossary of terms, appendix (‘Challenging Christian Zionism’, a statement from Sabeel, the Palestinian Liberation Theology Centre in Jerusalem), eleven pages of bibliography and three indices (people, subjects and biblical references) round the book off, whilst footnotes throughout, rather than endnotes, help to keep the entire volume as reader-friendly as possible. This is a book that deserves the widest possible readership. No one who has a concern for the Middle East should ignore the issues raised; to do so is — returning to Sizer’s introduction — ‘nothing less than to perpetuate the evil of the Levite in the Parable of the Good Samaritan who walked by on the other side.’ (p.13).

The time for silence is over: those who are Israel’s true friends must speak out against Israel’s behaviour before this nation pushes itself over the brink and into Armageddon.

Phil Groom, January 2009

Phil Groom is this site’s Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He’s a regular contributor to Christian Marketplace magazine and is the manager of London School of Theology Books & Resources. Any opinions expressed here are personal and should not be taken as representing the views of London School of Theology or of any other group or organisation.

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Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok on Christian Zionism

“This study of Christian Zionism, based on Stephen Sizer’s doctoral thesis, is of seminal significance. It provides a fascinating survey of the history of Christian Zionism and an indepth analysis of the theology of this highly important and influential movement.”

Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Professor of Judaism and Director of the Centre for the Study of the World’s Religions, University of Wales, Lampeter. (author of Israel: The History of an Idea, The Politics of Apocalypse, The Crucified Jew, Exodus, On Earth as it is in Heaven, Messianic Judaism & Antisemitism)

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Revd Dr John Stott on Christian Zionism

“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 Dr 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 (author of more than 40 books including Basic Christianity, The Cross of Christ, The Contemporary Christian, Evangelical Truth and New Issues Facing Christians Today, and eight New Testament expositions (Acts, Romans etc.) in the ‘Bible Speaks Today’ series published by IVP).

John Stott also wrote the foreword to In the Footsteps of Jesus and the Apostles and allowed his sermon on ‘the Place of Israel’ to be included in Zion’s Christian Soldiers

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My Top 5 Books on Social Justice: Tony Campolo in Christianity Today


Rich Christians in An Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity Ron Sider

Continues to make the evangelical community aware of what the Bible says about our responsibilities to the poor, and calls Christians to do something about it.

Christian Zionism: Road-map to Armageddon? Stephen Sizer

A comprehensive survey describing how Christians have embraced a theological perspective that has encouraged justice for Jews, but has also led to the oppression of Palestinian people and extreme hostility between Christians and Muslims worldwide

The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical Shane Claiborne

If you want to get a glimpse of what radical obedience looks like when lived out by a Red-Letter Christian, then this book is a must.

God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It Jim Wallis

A New York Times bestselling book offering an alternative to the polarizing politics promoted by many in the religious culture wars. Wallis helps us find unity with a politics that addresses the needs of the poor and oppressed.

The Prophets Abraham J Heschel

Provides rich insights from the Hebrew prophets as they empathized with the pathos that God shows upon seeing the oppression of the poor.

See Christianity Today

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