Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Religious Implications of the Deal of the Century on Christians

Jared Kushner’s long awaited “Deal of the Century” aspires to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians through $28 billion of investment in the Palestinian economy. Previous international initiatives have proposed exchanging land for peace. This US initiative, appropriately called “Peace to Prosperity”, unashamedly proposes trading land for money. In this regard, Kushner’s “deal” actually has strong biblical precedent. In Genesis 25 we read of how Jacob tricked Esau out of his birthright for a bowl of stew.

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The advantages of not excusing ourselves

It takes great humility 
to find oneself unjustly condemned
and to be silent,
and to do this is to imitate our Lord.
The truly humble person
will have a genuine desire
to be thought little of, and persecuted,
and condemned unjustly,
even in serious matters.
 
You know that I deprecate
excessive penances;
here, however,
there is no cause for fear
that your health will suffer.
The interior virtues
do not weaken the body,
but strengthen the soul.
 
Remember how the Lord
took the Magdalen’s part
in the Pharisee’s house, 
and when her sister blamed her.
On the cross, He had only a thief 
to defend Him.
Be glad when you are blamed,
and you will see
what profit you experience in your souls.
 
In this way you will begin
to gain freedom.
It is difficult at first,
but with the Lord’s help,
the gradual attainment of this freedom,
and of renunciation and self-detachment,
is quite possible.

The Way of Perfection, chapter 15
Saint Teresa of Avila

Modern English Version translated and abridged by John Venard OCD

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I don’t think I am paranoid but…

We support refugees and asylum seekers in Southampton. One particular asylum seeker was advised by the Home Office that she and her family would be rehoused to another city. We helped clean the rented property after they had gone and returned the key to the landlord via the estate agent.

As the family were to be housed temporarily in a hostel by the Home Office until permanent accommodation was found, we gave our home address to the estate agent in case any mail needed forwarding to the family. Big mistake.

First of all, I received a letter from Southampton City Council stating that I was no longer required to pay Council Tax and that our direct debit had been cancelled. The euphoria was short lived when I received an identical envelope from the Council addressed to the asylum seeker at our address.

It took a month of writing letters and phone calls to Southampton City Council to convince them that we had not moved and that the asylum seeking family did not live at our address, indeed they had never even visited our home. It took another month for the Direct Debit to recommence. I asked who had advised them that we had moved. No answer.

Then guess what? Today, I received a letter addressed the the asylum seeker at our address from Southern Water. Here we go again. Was it the estate agent? If so, were they under some kind of legal obligation to notify the local Council and utility providers of the forwarding address for the asylum seeker?

I am now half expecting to receive letters from our telephone, gas and electricity providers addressed to the asylum seeker as well.

And to make matters a little more confusing still, the letters were addressed to the partner of the asylum seeker whom I’ve never met and who has lived and worked abroad for some while.

Photo taken in the Walled Off Hotel, Bethlehem, Occupied Palestine

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Stillness

by Lou Lam

I once heard someone say, that daily prayer and scripture is as important for a new mother, as milk is to a baby. I knew it would bring much-needed life and nourishment to my tired being. Life with two little ones has been quite a shock to the system, to say the least. No antenatal course quite prepares you for the requirement of such a total sacrifice of your body and self. The vulnerability, pressure to avoid mistakes and harassment of expectations is often overwhelming as I would fret over my attempts to “sort my life out”, portray an appearance of success, pursue professional dreams, grapple endless to-do lists, toddler-going-teen tantrums and navigate commitments to my family. In a season where I didn’t have the time for many words, I longed for a tangible assurance of God’s presence. But carving out time for myself to shower or eat, let alone have quiet times has felt quite impossible. Daily brain fog becomes the norm on better days or sleeps deprived migraines on others. At times I even struggled to string thoughts together talking to friends.

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Richard Bewes: With a Bible in his Pocket and Jesus in his Heart

We thank God for Richard Bewes, for his biblical teaching, his inspirational books and his pastoral heart. We were honoured to have Richard and Pam as members of Christ Church, Virginia Water since 2013. It was a privilege to have Richard join our preaching team and mentor several of our staff team. Richard also helped launch Peacemaker Trust in May 2017. He was a valued and respected member of the Peacemaker’s International Board of Reference. Continue reading →

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Christian Zionism: Roadmap to Armageddon?

Middlesex University has recently made available my PhD thesis online. The thesis was later adapted for a book published by Intervarsity Press in English, Arabic, Spanish and Farsi. Although originally submitted in 2002, the thesis is as relevant today as it was then, covering the historical roots, theological basis and political consequences of Christian Zionism since 1800.

The Promised Land: A Critical Investigation of Evangelical Christian Zionism in Britain and the United States of America since 1800


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Zion’s Christian Soldiers? Kindle Edition

Zion’s Christian Soldiers is now available on Kindle

“Few themes in biblical studies could be as important.  Christian Zionism has brought to the church an interpretation of Israel and the Bible that future generations will criticize harshly.  It is every Christian’s obligation to understand what they are saying and how it should be evaluated.  Writing in a style that is accessible to everyone — and a passion that is sure to ignite strong responses — Sizer outlines the landscape of the problem and its solution.” Professor Gary M. BurgeProfessor of New Testament, Department of Biblical & Theological Studies, Wheaton College & Graduate School (author of Whose Land, Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told About Israel and the Palestinians)

Read more reviews here

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In the Footsteps of Jesus and the Apostles

footsteps

Introduction

Israel, Palestine, the Promised Land, the Holy Land, the very name we use says as much about us and our presuppositions and aspirations as about this inscrutable, hypnotic, exotic location. Historically the birthplace of the Judeo-Christian heritage, it is today claimed by two peoples, the Jews and Palestinians, its holy sites shared, at times uneasily, by three religions, Jewish, Christian and Moslem, often in close proximity as at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem or the tomb of Rachel in Bethlehem. Baraba Tuchman summarises some of the reasons why this place holds such fascination to so many,

More blood has been shed for Palestine than for any other spot on earth. To Protestant England it was not only, as Lord Curzon said, “the holiest space of ground on the face of the globe,” the land of the Scriptures, the land of the Crusades, the land “to which all our faces are turned when we are finally laid in our graves in the churchyard.” It was also the geographical junction between East and West, the bridge-head between three continents, the focal point in the strategy of empire…

Few countries attract so much media coverage, or arouse such intense religious feeling and political controversy. Yet it has been the same for countless generations. Why have people for millennia, longed to live here, or make a pilgrimage to this land? What is the fascination this land has over so many people around the world?

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The Blood of Jesus

crucifixionWhat will bring on the feeling of nausea most quickly for you? Is it the debris left on pavements by people who have drunk excessive amounts of alcohol the night before? Or maybe it’s those little presents left for you to step in by anti-social dog walkers who don’t clean up afterwards? Displays of wobbling body tissue resulting from a diet rich in carbohydrates is high on my list.  But what is most likely to cause you to faint? For me it is the sight of blood in the wrong place, especially my own. What is it about blood that makes us queasy, nauseous or likely to faint?  Perhaps it is because deep down in our subconscious we equate blood with life.  There are seven essential biological functions of blood that keep us alive.

  1. Red blood cells transport oxygen from the lungs to every cell in our body.
  2. White blood cells defend the body against invading microorganisms.
  3. Blood transports nutrients from the digestive system and when needed, from our storage reserves to every cell of the body. So fat is beautiful. Well some…
  4. Blood transports hormones from our endocrine glands to target tissues in need.
  5. Blood removes metabolic wastes from every cell to organs that excrete them.
  6. Blood helps maintain fluid balance in the whole body.
  7. Blood helps distribute metabolic heat within the body to maintain a healthy body temperature.

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Michael Bentley Refutes Allegations of Antisemitism

 

Dear Bishop Christopher,

Stephen Sizer has been a friend of mine for very many years and I have valued him and all the work he has done for very many years to enrich the lives of many people.

I was very surprised and saddened to learn that he is being charged with antisemitism, merely because he cited a particular website.

I do pray that soon he will be vindicated and it be acknowledged by his accusers that he is a godly man who values all peoples, regardless of race, religion or creed.

I pray for you in your vital work for the kingdom and God and the spiritual well-being of the clergy and people of your diocese.

May you be guided by the Lord in any decision you may have to make in regard to Stephen and his work.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Bentley
(retired Baptist Minister, and now Anglican layperson)

Antisemitic? We don’t think so

“Stephen has devoted a great deal of his intellectual and theological gifts to resisting every endeavour to provide a religious and specifically Biblical justification for Zionism.  Holding such a view is not and should not be treated as anti-Semitic.  His target includes those Christians who believe the Bible supports the Zionist vision.  Stephen has sought to de-construct any religious/theological wall preventing us facing the difficult questions of justice for Palestinian people in the Holy Land.  This important, if controversial work,  has the support of some key Jewish thinkers and activists.

These strongly held views have not prevented Stephen from a clear commitment to the peace and well-being of all the people in the Holy Land and of all whatever their ethnic and political identity. He may be a controversial figure but he is a courageous and godly man.” + John Gladwin, retired Bishop of Guildford.

“I have known Stephen for over thirty years. I know him as a man of integrity and forthright views with the courage to express those views. He has always been measured , and his message is, and has been, one of Christian faith and the love of truth. His books and his articles are suffused  with objective discipline. There is nothing in them, or him, that could be remotely construed as anti-Jewish, anti-Jew, anti-Semite or even anti Israel as a state.” + Riah Abu El Assal, retired Bishop of Jerusalem.


“No doubt Stephen Sizer’s detractors are acting in good faith, and I agree with them that antisemitism must be confronted. But they are regrettably misguided in their allegations about Stephen Sizer. He is in no sense antisemitic, and instead is fully in sympathy with those who seek to eradicate all forms of Jew-hatred in the modern world…”

“Having worked with the Counter Terrorist Agency of the Crown Prosecution Service, I am fully in agreement with such sentiments. We in the Jewish community must be vigilant to insure that our community does not suffer from attack. But it would be a travesty of justice to construe Stephen Sizer’s mistake in linking an offensive website to his Facebook and not removing it immediately as a deliberate attempt to encourage racial hatred.” Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Professor Emeritus of Judaism, University of Wales.

“I await your vindication. You are a messenger just like Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela. Unlike them you may find that in this life you will not be accepted except by a few but in years to come the world will realize you were a champion of justice and human rights. Do what is right in God’s eyes. May the Holy Spirit give you strength. Keep your roots and values in God’s word in a loving relationship with Jesus. You are always in my thoughts and prayers.” Len Rodgers, Director Emeritus of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding, Founder/President-Emeritus Venture International, Founder of World Vision Middle East


“I am astonished at the fact that this charge has been made when it has been so clear from former investigations that he has done nothing to warrant it. I suppose that the disturbing thing is the way that the moment a person questions the policies or actions of Zionists, they are accused of being anti-semitic. My grandfather experienced that as Bishop of Jerusalem in the post first world war period when he supported some of the Rabbis who were questioning the philosophy of Zionism. He was immediately branded as anti-semitic. It has been my own experience, on the occasions when I have challenged the biblical interpretation of the Christian Zionists, that there has been an unreasoning and often almost violent reaction, so I have sympathy with the situation in which Stephen finds himself.” Revd Canon David MacInnes, former Rector, St Aldates, Oxford

We don’t think so either either

Tanas Alqassis, Chairman, Arab Vision International
Revd Andrew Ashdown, Enham Team Rector and Trustee of Embrace the Middle East
Right Revd Riah Abo El Assal, 13th Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem
Fr Robert Assaly, Priest in the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa
Dr Bishara Awad, Founder and President Emeritus, Bethlehem Bible College
Rev Michael Bentley, retired Baptist minister
Dr Mark Braverman,
Author of the Fatal Embrace
Canon Dr Mike Butterworth, former Academic Registrar, Oak Hill College
David Carter
, Director, Middle East Evangelical Concern
Anne Clayton, Coordinator, Friends of Sabeel UK
Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Professor Emeritus of Judaism, University of Wales
Michael Connarty MP, Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Islington North
Katherine Cunningham, Moderator, IPMN, Presbyterian Church USA
Dr Martin Davie, Theological Advisor to the House of Bishops
Professor Philip Davies, Department of Biblical Studies, University of Sheffield
Professor Scott Elias, Royal Holloway, University of London
Adam Estle, Executive Director of Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding
Right Revd John Gladwin, former Bishop of Guildford and Chairman of Citizens Advice
Anthony Gratrex, member of Christ Church, Virginia Water
Tony Greenstein, Founding Member, Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Professor Mary Grey, Emeritus Professor of Theology, University of Wales
Dr Jeff Halper, Co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
Hank Hanegraaff, President, Christian Research Institute
Revd Phil Hill, Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary
Canon Garth Hewitt, Founder, Amos Trust
Revd Dr Stuart Jennings, Free Church Chaplain, University of Warwick
Lawrence Jones, former member of Christ Church, Virginia Water
Dr Ghada Karmi, Fellow of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Exeter University
Manfred W. Kohl, Ambassador, Overseas Council
Dr Attorney Jonathan Kuttab, Chairman of the Board, Bethlehem Bible College
Venerable Michael Lawson, Chairman, Church of England Evangelical Council
Anne Martin, member of Christ Church, Virginia Water
Jeremy Moodey, Chief Executive, Embrace the Middle East
Craig Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan
Diana Neslen, Ex-officio, Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Professor Ilan Pappe, Director, European Centre for Palestine Studies, Exeter University
Revd Chris Rose, Director of the Amos Trust
Canon John Salter, Vice Chair, Garden Tomb Association
Revd Jack Sara, President, Bethlehem Bible College
Rabbi Dr Stanley Howard Schwartz, Hospice Chaplain and retired Army Chaplain
David Toorawa, Chair, Friends of Sabeel UK
Revd Dr Donald Wagner, National Director, Friends of Sabeel North America
Revd John Woodger, Retired vicar, St Mary’s Watford

News Sources:

Church of England Newspaper: Sizer complaint
Church Times: Vicar is not Anti-Semitic
Church Times: Rabbi Clears Vicar of Anti-Semitism
Jewish Chronicle: Bishop: anti-Zionist vicar ‘no antisemite
Jewish Chronicle: Sizer: I am ready to meet the Board of Deputies any time
Jews for Justice for Palestinians Digging for dirt: the campaign against Stephen Sizer
Phil Groom (member of CCJ): Jeremiah’s Underpants
Phil Groom (member of CCJ): Dr Sizer is cleared

Commendations

“He has recently explained, however, that he ‘categorically reject[s] any position that threatens the territorial integrity of Israel as a sovereign nation…. Stephen Sizer’s work has the merit of clearly setting out the issues that divide the two sides, and furthermore doing so without the rancour or sheer nastiness of tone typical of the polemics in the conflict.” (p.571). Anthony Julius, Chairman of the London Consortium and a Visiting Professor at Birbeck College, University of London. His book Trials of the Diaspora, is a magisterial 800 page examination of the history of Anti-Semitism in England.

“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.” John Stott, (deceased) former Rector Emeritus, All Soul’s, Langham Place, London, the principal framer of the Lausanne Covenant (1974) and founder of the Langham Partnership International.

“This is a very fine and important book.  All Christians who believe that Jesus favoured peacemakers, should read it and realise what terrible harm is being done in the name of Christianity.  And all who are concerned about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict should read it to understand how Christian Zionism disables the US as fair minded mediator.  European foreign policy thinkers should read it,because this distortion of US political space, puts a greater responsibility on European governments to stand up for justice and international law” Clare Short, former British Secretary of State for International Development

More than sixty bishops, clergy, politicians and academics have endorsed my books Christian Zionism and Zion’s Christian Soldiers

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