Tag Archives: 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”

Share Button

Edward Irving, the Albury Circle and the Origins of the Middle East Conflict

Last night I spoke at the Albury History Society. The subject was “Edward Irving, the Albury Circle and the Origins of the Middle East Conflict”. I explained how the Arab-Israeli conflict could be traced right back to the eccentric views of Edward Irving and his colleagues, who met in the home of Henry Drummond in Albury, Surrey, during Advent 1826. Irving was largely responsible for popularising the notion that God had a separate purpose for the Jewish people apart from the Church and restored to Palestine. John Darby took these ideas further and fashioned them into what became known as Dispensationalism which is now the domnant theological framework of Evangelicals, Fundamentalists and Pentecostals in the USA. It is this constiuency that is underwriting financial and political support for the agenda of the Zionist Lobby, and hence a major obstacle to peace in the Middle East.

The full text is available here. Listen to the presentation here

The feedback was encouraging. I received this letter from the chairman following the presentation:

“I have never experienced such a positive reaction to a guest speaker as came about last night, and has continued to this morning. The audience was both numerous and responsive, and as one member put it to me “it is going to be a hard act to follow”. I think that we shall be talking about Christian Zionism for some time, having long harboured suspicions of chicanery in high political circles, and now being presented with conclusive evidence of it. We could also have brought in the French pope who set off the chain of crusades for his own political preservation.

I express my gratitude to you on behalf of the Albury History Society and thank you for a superb presentation, technically faultless, and intellectually challenging. With kindest regards…”

Share Button

Blessing the Children of Abraham: An Annotated Bibliography

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16)

Various  attempts have been made in recent years to broaden the definition of anti-Semitism to both criticise those engaged in evangelism among Jewish people as well as those who question the continued Israeli occupation of Gaza, the Golan and the West Bank. Neither is necessarily true although it sometimes is.

However, articles such as  “Anti-Zionist Attacks on Church and Messianic Group” (since removed from Moriel’s website but still endorsed by them) appears on a website associated with Christian Friends of Israel. They blame my writings for attacks against Jewish people and Christians here and abroad.

Jacob Prasch states, “We additionally agree that articles citing Sizer’s anti-Zionist and anti-Christian Zionist propaganda republished in radical Islamic publications are contributing to the incitement of Moslem attacks on churches in the UK are excellently written… But now he stands publicly accused by some sources (none published by Moriel) of having his articles against Christian Zionists used to help incite attacks on churches in the UK in the same manner radical Moslems attack churches in Islamic countries.”

Besides being economical with the truth (Moriel did publish the above article – it was accessible on 10th March 2009) these allegations are unproven and defamatory. Nothing could be further from the truth. When ever I am invited to speak, especially at interfaith gatherings, I present a Christian perspective that repudiates the use of violence to resolve injustice, and instead calls for active peacmaking efforts with the purpose of achieving reconciliation.

In Zion’s Christian Soldiers, I stress that it is important to distinguish between Judaism, Israel and Zionism as well as repudiate the use of violence to bring an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

“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…”

In Christian Zionism, I distinguish between three strands of Christian Zionism – Messianic, Apocalyptic and Political. Messianic and Jewish Christian organisations that are primarily evangelistic, such as the Churches Ministry Among Jewish People (CMJ), Christian Witness for Israel (CWI) and Jews for Jesus (JFJ) must be distinguished from those primarily having a social or political ministry, such as Bridges for Peace (BFP), Christian Friends of Israel (CFI), Christian Friends of Israeli Communities (CFOIC) and the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ). I am in the process of revising the book as the emphasis of some of these agencies has evolved over time and new ones have emerged such as John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel (CUFI) and Mike Evans’ Jerusalem Prayer Team.

How big is this movement? The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life estimates there are 20-40 million supporters in America. The Unity Coalition for Israel draws together over 200 different organizations and claims 40 million active members. John Hagee has weekly access through TV and radio to 99 million homes in 200 countries. Hagee is just one of thousands of other pastors, television evangelists, authors and politicians who identify with Christian Zionism.

Whether they welcome it is another matter, but I endorse those ministries committed to presenting the good news of Jesus Christ to Jewish people, defending the existence of a safe homeland for the Jewish people, combating anti-Semitism and enhancing the understanding of the Gentile church as to our Jewish origins.

“I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew.” (Romans 11:1-2)

That is why I have willingly contributed to Messianic conferences in South Africa and Israel, debated with Jewish rabbis and academics, dialogued with Zionists on radio and theological colleges as well as have met with representatives of agencies such as CMJ and CWI, for example, on a regular basis.

My books have been endorsed by Jewish academics such as Dr Jeff Halper, Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok and Professor Norton Mezvinsky

Jeff Halper writes,”Everyone loves peace, but not everyone loves peace-makers. The work of people like Stephen Sizer is crucial to peace-making. “Peace” is not merely a goody-goody term that we use on Christmas or Passover. It has to do with hard realities like conflict, injustice and suffering, all of which require not only good will, but an analysis which identifies the causes of the conflict and offers a way out. Hardest of all, peace-making requires self-reflection, self-criticism and the ability to see the viewpoint of the Other, the “enemy,” especially when “your side” is involved. And one more thing is essential to peace-making: an ability to reach out, even to your detractors, so that a common ground of action can be established.

In all these things my fellow peace-maker Stephen excels. Over the years he has shown both courage and good-will, but most important, in my mind, he has provided us with tough analysis, primarily around issues dealing with Christian Zionism, a fundamental obstacle to a just peace in Israel and Palestine, that helps us get to the foundations of the conflict in order to resolve it. One would think Stephen’s work would be appreciated by everyone – Christian Zionists excepted, (although a sizeable number of critical Evangelicals do support his analysis). His seminal book, Christian Zionism, accompanied by films and presentations, provides an authoritative de-bunking of the spurious theology underlying that school’s seemingly “pro-Israeli” positions which make genuine peace-making so difficult.

Why Stephen is attacked and demonized by the organized Jewish community is an absolute mystery to me. After all, Christian Zionism is supremely anti-Semitic: at the End of Days those Jews who do not accept Jesus die. Indeed, the Jews are sacrificed in the battle of Armageddon; witness Pat Robertson’s outrage at Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert when he ended the attack on Lebanon in 2006, an attack that, in the eyes of Robertson and other Christian Zionists, was supposed to trigger Armageddon – no matter what befalls the Jews/Israelis. Jewish demonization of Stephen, rather than of the Christian Zionists, who Jewish and Israeli leaders cynically consider our allies,” demonstrates nothing more than bad faith. It is perfectly acceptable, apparently, to be anti-Semitic if, like Robertson, you are “pro-Israel.” Simply professing a doctrine in which the Jewish people is exterminated and disappears is no crime, in their view, as long as it somehow serves short-term Israeli interests (and Stephen shows that Christian Zionism does not serve Israeli or Jewish interests in any way).

Ironically, then, it is the peace-makers – anti-anti-Semites like Stephen and even critical Israeli Jews like me – who are the enemy. If that is the case, then all the protestations of the Jewish community against anti-Semitism are hollow. What they really mean is, be anti-Semitic by all means if you combine that with a pro-Israeli position, but woe be unto those who fight such an anti-Semitic creed as Christian Zionism because by opposing Christian Zionism you are somehow opposing Israel. In attacking Stephen in his criticism of Christian Zionism, Jewish leaders have gone so far as to define “pro-Israeliness” in anti-Semitic terms.

But peace-makers are themselves tough people, willing and able to face down bigotry and bad faith. Indeed, this willingness and ability are what makes us peace-makers. To the organized Jewish community I would only say, as an Israeli Jew: remove your moral and intellectual blinders so as to be able to differentiate your true (if critical) friends from your true enemies.” Jeff Halper, Jerusalem, April 8, 2009.

My books have also received critical but constructive reviews from David Pawson and Tony Higton.

“my fellow Zionists… will be disturbed by my agreement with much of Sizer’s criticism of this position.” (p. 19). “I am grateful to Stephen Sizer for drawing attention to the legitimate criticisms of dispensational Zionism. He has rendered a service to the cause of Zionism which was needed.” (David Pawson, Defending Christian Zionism, p. 39)

“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.” (Tony Higton, A Critique of Christian Zionism, p. 18)

Over the years we have also hosted events in our church for CMJ and Jews for Jesus and regularly invite a local Jewish Christian pastor to speak at our monthly men’s breakfasts. Our church family include several who are Jewish or identify with Messianic Judaism. They seem comfortable with my own views, despite attempts by at least one anonymous blogger to change their mind having gained access to our church Facebook account. Offers to meet face to face and resolve his or her concerns proved fruitless.

“Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:2)

An Annotated Bibliography

The following list is partial and subjective but these books have been helpful, at least to me, in understanding and distinguishing between Judaism, Israel and Zionism and the necessity of Christian witness among Jewish people.

Light Force Brother Andrew
Wrongly accused of being anti-Israel, Brother Andrew replies, “The best way I can help Israel is by leading her enemies to Jesus Christ.” He shows that genuine dialogue is possible based on our common humanity. Should we really be surprised, he asks, to discover that so called terrorists are human beings like you and me created in the image of God? Dr. Carl Moeller, president of Open Doors USA, summarises the importance of this unique book. “Light Force is a riveting and often provocative book. The book details Brother Andrew’s passion and compassion for the Church and bringing the Light of Jesus to one of the world’s on-going hot spots. Like God’s Smuggler, it is compelling reading. By reading the daily headlines from the Middle East, we know Light Force will be both timely and relevant.”

Israel: Land of God’s Promise: Murray Dixon
Israel is the most misunderstood nation on the planet. The Jewish people are the most consistently persecuted in all of history – ancient and modern – why? Can the Church afford to pursue its historically notorious treatment of the Jew and the nation of Israel? This book offers clarity where confusion abounds. The author compels us to examine Church history and Jewish history in the light of God’s word. Jesus is Jewish and so are the roots of the Christian faith – why is that significant? No nation, ever, has been regathered from worldwide dispersion to its ancient homeland, and speaking its ancient language – except Israel. And that, only, after man’s most hideous crime, to attempt to exterminate them – why?

Atlas of the Holocaust: Martin Gilbert
The atlas traces each phase of the Holocaust, beginning with the anti-Semitic violence of prewar Germany and leading to the German conquest of countries in which the Jews had lived for centuries. Presented in chronological order, the maps document in compelling detail, month by month and week by week, the story of the Holocaust, from the spread of the early random killings of Jews and their systematic mass expulsion from thousands of towns and villages to the establishment of ghettos and the setting up of the death camps. The atlas ends with the death marches and executions in the final days of the Allied liberation. Also shown on the maps are more than two hundred acts of resistance and revolt, as well as areas of Jewish partisan activity and other avenues of escape and rescue. Many maps tell the stories of hundreds of children deported to their deaths. Others bear witness to individuals active in revolt and tell moving sagas of their courage and defiance.

No Strange God: Gordon Jessup
An outline of Jewish life and faith. Revised edition of this classic work which helps Christians understand their Jewish neighbours.

Christian Witness to the Jewish People: Lausanne Occasional Papers
This report, is one of a series of Lausanne Occasional Papers (LOPs) emerging from the historic Consultation on World Evangelization (COWE) held in Pattaya, Thailand, in June 1980.

Judaism is Not Jewish: Baruch Maoz
People from a Jewish background face difficult choices when they trust in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. Baruch Maoz, the leader of a Christian Church in Israel, believes that to be Jewish is a blessing from God. The strong Jewish cultural identity impacts on worship and life so how does a Jewish Christian worship with his Gentile brothers and sisters? If they join churches will they be assimilated? If they establish synagogues will their fellow Christians feel excluded? The response that some Jewish Christians have decided upon is to establish a fourth branch of Judaism called Messianic Judaism (the others are Orthodox, Conservative and Reform). Baruch accepts there are fine Christians within the movement but shows how Jewish life is not the same as synagogue life. He enables Jewish Christians to retain a cultural identity without losing fellowship with other Christians.


The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy: John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt
How a powerful American interest group has created havoc in the Middle East, damaged Israel itself and now threatens an even more perilous future. The Israel Lobby by John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen M. Walt of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, was one of the most controversial articles in recent memory. Originally published in the London Review of Books in March 2006, it provoked both howls of outrage and cheers of gratitude for challenging what had been a taboo issue in America: the impact of the Israel lobby on U.S. foreign policy. Now in a work of major importance, Mearsheimer and Walt deepen and expand their argument and confront recent developments in Lebanon and Iran. They describe the remarkable level of material and diplomatic support that the United States provides to Israel and argues that this support cannot be fully explained on either strategic or moral grounds. This exceptional relationship is due largely to the political influence of a loose coalition of individuals and organizations that actively work to shape U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction. Mearsheimer and Walt provocatively contend that the lobby has a far-reaching impact on America’s posture throughout the Middle East—in Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, and toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—and the policies it has encouraged are in neither America’s national interest nor Israel’s long-term interest. The lobby’s influence also affects America’s relationship with important allies and increases dangers that all states face from global jihadist terror. You can read the London Review of Books article that inspired the book here.

Rabbis Meet Jesus the Messiah: Messianic Good News
This book contains the moving and exciting testimonies of twenty four Rabbis, each of whom were brought to the wonderful, but startling revelation that Jesus is the Messiah through a careful and diligent study of the Scriptures. Part of the purpose of this book is to refute the view expressed by various Jewish leaders throughout the ages that only worthless, ignorant and mentally feeble Jews are likely to be believers in Christ and to accept his teachings as recorded in the New Testament. Contrary to this, the Rabbis mentioned in the book, had all received rabbinical ordination, having been thoroughly schooled in the traditions of their fathers and the teachings of Judaism. This book also corrects the misconception that when a Jew becomes a believer in Yeshua – Jesus, he becomes a traitor (meshumid) to the Jewish people and ceases to be Jewish. It must be emphasised that the turning away from sin to God, is the fulfillment of what it really means to be a Jew. These testimonies are presented as a source of inspiration and encouragement to readers and to those who are faced with the same challenge today.

Abandoned: Stan Telchin
What’s the problem with Messianic Judaism? Stan Telchin, a Messianic Jew and former pastor, explores in depth the heart and soul of Messianic Judaism. He exposes the motive behind its creation, its controversial doctrines and its ineffectiveness in Jewish evangelism. Messianic Judaism has grown significantly in fewer than four decades. While intended originally to appeal to Jewish people, unexpectedly it appeals primarily to Gentiles. Telchin, in following the teaching of the apostle Paul, sees Messianic Judaism as divisive. With a firm and loving approach, he addresses the dangers of this movement, reiterates God’s intention for His Church to serve as “one new man” and, most importantly, advocates unity among the body of believers.

Anti-Semitism: Dan Cohn-Sherbok
Dan Cohn-Sherbok traces the origins of anti-Semitism and its manifestations, from political opposition, to racial persecution and religious and philosophical justifications for some of history’s most outrageous acts. Against this background of intolerance and persecution, Cohn-Sherbok describes Jewish emancipation from the late 18th century and its gradual transformation into the parallel political and nationalistic ideal of Zionism. He explores how, in the post-war period, anti-Semitism, already triggered by 19th-century Zionism and the formation of a Jewish settlement in Palestine at the end of the 19th century, has become rampant in the Arab world. Finally, he discusses how specific strands of anti-Semitism have arisen in the United States largely as a result of conflict between African-Americans and Jews, and how in Russia and Poland anti-Semitism is as strong as ever. The book covers all historical periods up to the present day and is written for the general reader.

The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World: Avi Shlaim
In the 1920s, hard-line Zionists developed the doctrine of the Iron Wall: negotiations with the Arabs must always be from a position of military strength. This doctrine, argues Avi Shlaim, became central to Israeli policy; dissenters were marginalized and many opportunities lost. Drawing on a great deal of new material and interviews with many key participants, Shlaim places Israel’s political and military actions under an uncompromising lens. The result is a fresh and informed account of one of the world’s most intractable conflicts of modern times.

Not Ashamed: The Story of Jews for Jesus: Ruth Tucker
Not Ashamed tells the remarkable story of how a small band of young Jewish believers became the world’s best-known Christian ministry to the Jewish people. Historian Ruth A. Tucker affectionately describes them as a “mission with an attitude.” She pulls no punches in presenting their triumphs and flops, and their often-controversial methods for winning souls and facing down hostile opposition. You’ll find more than fascinating history in Not Ashamed. You’ll discover the underlying connections between Christianity and Judaism and the reasons for centuries of conflict between Christians and Jews. Most important of all, you’ll come to understand the passion behind Jews for Jesus as they bring the message of the Messiah to their own people.

An annotated bibliography of books on Islam will follow.

Share Button

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.

Share Button

Statement by the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem on the current devastating situation in Gaza

Photograph: Adel Hana/AP

We, the Patriarchs, Bishops and the Heads of Christian Churches in Jerusalem, follow with deep concern, regret, and shock the war currently raging in the Gaza Strip and the subsequent destruction, murder and bloodshed, especially at a time when we celebrate Christmas, the birth of the King of love and peace. As we express our deep sorrow at the renewed cycle of violence between Israelis and Palestinians and the continued absence of peace in our Holy Land, we denounce the ongoing hostilities in the Gaza Strip and all forms of violence and killings from all parties. We believe that the continuation of this bloodshed and violence will not lead to peace and justice but breed more hatred and hostility – and thus continued confrontation between the two peoples.

Accordingly, we call upon all officials of both parties to the conflict to return to their senses and refrain from all violent acts, which only bring destruction and tragedy, and urge them instead to work to resolve their differences through peaceful and non-violent means.

We also call upon the international community to fulfill its responsibilities and intervene immediately and actively stop the bloodshed and end all forms of confrontation; to work hard and strong to put an end to the current confrontation and remove the causes of conflict between the two peoples; and to finally resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a just and comprehensive solution based on international resolutions.

To the various Palestinian factions we say: It is time to end your division and settle your differences. We call on all factions at this particular time to put the interests of the Palestinian people above personal and factional interests and to move immediately toward national comprehensive reconciliation and use all non-violent means to achieve a just and comprehensive peace in the region.

Finally, we raise our prayers to the Child in the manger to inspire the authorities and decision makers on both sides, the Israelis and Palestinians, for immediate action to end the current tragic situation in the Gaza Strip. We pray for the victims, the wounded and the broken-hearted. May the Lord God Almighty grant all those who have lost loved ones consolation and patience. We pray for all those living in panic and fear, that God may bless them with calm, tranquility and true peace.

We call on all to observe next Sunday, January 4, as a day for justice and peace in the land of peace.

+ Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
+ Patriarch Fuad Twal, Latin Patriarchate.
+ Patriarch Torkom II, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate.
Fr. Pier Battista Pizzaballa, ofm, Custody of the Holy Land
+ Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate.
+ Archbishop Swerios Malki Mourad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate.
+ Abune Matthias, Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate
+ Archbishop Paul Nabil Sayyah, Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate.
+ Bishop Suheil Dawani, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem & the Middle East.
+ Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan & the Holy Land.
+ Bishop Pierre Malki, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate
+ Bishop Youssef Zre’i, Greek Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate.
Fr. Raphael Minassian, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate

Read John McArthy If it were your home, what hope restraint? and Ilan Pappe Israel’s Righteous Fury and its Victims in Gaza

The Narrow Gate of Justice: Sabeel Statement
Pirates of the Mediterranean: Gaza Update
Photos of Gaza

Share Button

New IVP Global Dictionary of Theology tackles Christian Zionism

Theological dictionaries are foundational to any theological library. But until now there has been no Global Dictionary of Theology, a theological dictionary that presumes the contribution of the Western tradition but moves beyond it to embrace and explore a full range of global expressions of theology.

The Global Dictionary of Theology is inspired by the shift of the center of Christianity from the West to the global South. But it also reflects the increase in two-way traffic between these two sectors as well as the global awareness that has permeated popular culture to an unprecedented degree.

The editorial perspective of the Global Dictionary of Theology is an ecumenical evangelicalism that is receptive to discovering new facets of truth through listening and conversation on a global scale. Thus a distinctive feature of the Global Dictionary of Theology is its conversational approach. Contributors have been called on to write in
the spirit of engaging in a larger theological conversation in which alternative views are expected and invited.

William A. Dyrness, Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Juan F. Martinez and Simon Chan edit approximately 250 articles written by over 100 contributors representing the global spectrum of theological perspectives.

Pastors, theological teachers, theological students and lay Christian leaders will all find the Global Dictionary of Theology to be a resource that unfolds new dimensions and reveals new panoramas of theological perspective and inquiry. Here is a new launching point for doing theology in today’s global context.

  • Nearly 250 articles by over 100 international contributors
  • Edited by acknowledged experts in global theology
  • Evangelical and ecumenical in perspective
  • The first major theological dictionary to explore the global range and varieties of theology
  • In an age of unprecedented global awareness, here is a standard launching point of theological research that will enrich every student’s understanding of theology
  • Moving beyond mission theology, it explores the local and global theological fruit of the inculturation of the gospel
  • Consistently anchors its discussions in Scripture and the historical development of doctrine
  • And includes an article of mine on Christian Zionism

Reviews and Endorsements

Share Button

Barak Obama has Christian Zionists running scared

The likely election tomorrow of Barak Obama as the 44th US President has some leading Christian Zionists running for cover. Mike Evans of the Jerusalem Prayer Team wrote to me today to tell me that “Jews in Israel are worried that US may cut off funding Israel after the election”. That is about as close as Evans can come to making a political statement in favour of his preferred candidate (McCain of course) and at the same time ask me for yet more money for his ministry.

In an open letter to both candidates, Evans urges them to disregard international law and the Road-map brokered by George Bush or face divine judgement. To do so Evans has to rip out of context a promise God made to Abraham 4000 years ago and apply it Israel today.

“Please do not open the floodgate by supporting the Road Map to Peace document, the Shelf Agreement. There is much more at stake than just the geo-political situation. God made an eternal promise to Abraham that the Promised Land would belong to his descendants forever…and that He would place a divine blessing on those who help Israel and a divine judgment on those who curse Israel. For the sake of our nation—and my family and yours—we must defend Israel. We must resist the voices who urge forcing her to give up the land of promise for empty assurances of peace. We must recognize and maintain Jerusalem as the eternal and rightful capital of Israel. God will surely judge us if we challenge Him and the holy city of Jerusalem.”

Hopefully the new President, which ever one the Lord chooses, will listen to his conscience instead (Proverbs 21:1).

Share Button

Victoria Clark Reviews Zion’s Christian Soldiers

No one in Christian circles this side of the Atlantic has done more than Stephen Sizer to raise alarm bells about a ‘formidable and dangerous movement’ called Christian Zionism whose geopolitical peril he locates in the core conviction that ‘God blesses those nations that stand with Israel and curses those who don’t.’

What this conviction has meant, especially ominously since 9/11 2001 when the ensuing War (or Crusade) on Terror added copious grist to the Christian Zionist mill, is that the entire Muslim world is ‘cursed’, while Israel and her western allies are blessed. For a Christian Zionist there can never be an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel and nor must Israel ever be forced to abandon her illegal settlements in the West Bank, let alone her claim to Jerusalem as her indivisible capital. Christian Zionists expect no peace in the Middle East until Jesus Second Coming, so all efforts to obtain a peace there are pre-doomed to failure. That some important aspects of thus Christian Zionist worldview have neatly dovetailed with that of the Neo-conservatives in charge of US foreign policy in the Middle East since 2000 is well known, as is the fact that the evangelical Christian vote was vital to Bush’s victory in 2004.

Continue reading

Share Button