As a young Christian at Sussex University in the early 1970’s, I was enthralled by David Pawson’s biblically-based teaching and coveted his weekly teaching audio cassette tapes, especially on controversial theological and political subjects. He taught me to root my faith in scripture and apply it to every aspect of life. Forty years on, I remember David with respect and admiration. View his website here.Continue reading
“I wanted to congratulate you on your book … Like yourself in one regard, I have a long history of what I call “prediction addiction” — and its obvious flaws and failures. Your book seems to be a careful and much needed analysis of the destructive wake left by pre-millennial dispensationalism. Thank you! My particular version of dispensationalism was informed by a potent and lethal mixture of sabbatarianism and British Israelism as championed by Herbert W. Armstrong… God rescued me (and many others, thank God) from these heretical notions… What Dr. Sizer addresses is absolutely critical for Christians in North America to understand. Greg Albrecht, President of Plain Truth Ministries, and Editor-in-Chief, The Plain Truth magazine (author of Revelation Revolution & Bad News Religion).Continue reading
President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, destroyed in the stroke of the pen any lingering illusions of a shared city, the two state solution or an independent sovereign Palestine. Jewish and Christian Zionists regard Jerusalem as the exclusive, undivided and eternal capital of the Jewish state, justifying the annexation, segregation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
Following the Arab-Israeli war of 1967 and the capture of Jerusalem, in June 1971, a conference took place in Jerusalem of over 1,200 evangelical leaders from 32 different countries. Welcomed by David Ben Gurion, the conference was billed as “the first conference of its kind since A.D. 59”. The capture of Jerusalem was portrayed as “confirmation that Jews and Israel still had a role to play in God’s ordering of history” and that the return of Jesus was imminent.
“Mounting tension: Israel’s Knesset debates proposal to enforce its sovereignty at Al-Aqsa Mosque – a move seen as ‘an extreme provocation to Muslims worldwide’” was the ominous headline in the Independent newspaper, 27th February 2014.
Ben Lynfield writes, “The Arab-Israeli conflict took on an increasingly religious hue when the Jordanian parliament voted unanimously to expel Israel’s ambassador in Amman after Israeli legislators held an unprecedented debate on Tuesday evening over a proposal to enforce Israeli sovereignty at one of Jerusalem’s holiest sites, currently administered by Jordan, and to allow Jewish prayer there. 500 metres by 300 metres, the Temple Mount, or Haram Al Sharif as it is called in Arabic, is probably the most disputed plot of land on earth. Hal Lindsey claims, ‘I believe the fate of the world will be determined by an ancient feud over 35 acres of land.’
Many Christians share the belief that the Islamic shrines must be destroyed and that a Jewish Temple must and will be rebuilt – very soon. But this won’t be a museum replica of the one king Solomon built or be just another attraction for pilgrims to the Holy Land. No, this Temple will be built for one purpose and one purpose only – for bloody animal sacrifices, and lots of them.
What is the case for rebuilding the Jewish Temple? Does the Bible predict such an event? If so, where and how it might be built? What does the New Testament say on the subject? What are the implications for Christians should the Jewish Temple be rebuilt? Continue reading
At least one in four American Christians surveyed recently by Christianity Today magazine said that they believe it is their biblical responsibility to support the nation of Israel. This view is known as Christian Zionism. The Pew Research Center put the figure at 63 per cent among white evangelicals. Christian Zionism is pervasive within mainline American evangelical, charismatic and independent denominations including the Assemblies of God, Pentecostals and Southern Baptists, as well as many of the independent mega-churches. It is less prevalent within the historic denominations, which show a greater respect for the work of the United Nations, support for human rights, the rule of international law and empathy with the Palestinians.
The origins of the movement can be traced to the early 19th century when a group of eccentric British Christian leaders began to lobby for Jewish restoration to Palestine as a necessary precondition for the return of Christ. The movement gained traction from the middle of the 19th century when Palestine became strategic to British, French and German colonial interests in the Middle East. Proto-Christian Zionism therefore preceded Jewish Zionism by more than 50 years. Some of Theodore Herzl’s strongest advocates were Christian clergy.
Christian Zionism as a modern theological and political movement embraces the most extreme ideological positions of Zionism. It has become deeply detrimental to a just peace between Palestine and Israel. It propagates a worldview in which the Christian message is reduced to an ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism. In its extreme form, it places an emphasis on apocalyptic events leading to the end of history rather than living Christ’s love and justice today.
One of my spiritual heroes, Robert Murray McCheyne was the pastor of St Peter’s between 1831-1843. One of his particular passions was ministry to Jewish people. In 1839 along with Andrew Bonar, Alexander Black and Alexander Keith, McCheyne made a six month visit to Palestine to examine the condition of the Jewish people in Europe and Palestine. His only published book was a result of that tour – a joint effort with Andrew Bonar – The Narrative of a Mission of Inquiry to the Jews.
It was doubly significant therefore that Porter Speakman Jr, the producer of the film With God on our Side, showed a preview and spoke about his ministry in Israel/Palestine, and I gave a short paper on the Bible, Israel and the Church.
We had a fruitful and constructive two hour bible-based discussion with about 25 evangelical church leaders from the Presbyterian, Church of Scotland, Baptist and Free Church of Scotland. While many identified with a Christian Zionist perspective, we were nevertheless unanimous in our desire that Jews and Palestinians hear the good news of Jesus Christ and come to live together in peace and reconciliation.
The seminar was also recorded by Thistle Channel TV for a programme on Christian Zionism. Local Christian leaders also hosted the film With God on our Side at the Hilton International Hotel in Dundee last night.
“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.”
This seminar was delivered at the University of Dundee Chaplaincy on Saturday 17th October 2009.
It is not an understatement to say that what is at stake is our understanding of the gospel, the centrality of the cross, the role of the church, and the nature of our missionary mandate, not least, to the beloved Jewish people. If we don’t see Jesus at the heart of the Hebrew scriptures, and the continuity between his Old Testament and New Testament saints in the one inclusive Church, we’re not reading them correctly.
The key question is this “Was the coming of Jesus and the birth of the Church the fulfilment or the postponement of the promises God made to Abraham?”
Christian Zionists see the promises of identity, land and destiny as part of an ongoing covenant God has with the Jewish people. In this book I unpack this question and show that Christian Zionism is a recent manifestation of a heresy refuted by the New Testament.
For an outline of this seminar see http://www.cc-vw.org/articles/zcs2.pdf
A paper delivered at the University of Dundee on Thursday 15th October 2009, entitled ‘A Christian Perspective on the End Times’
Professor Saeed Bahmanpour, Principal of the Islamic College, London, also delivered a paper on the ‘End Times’ from a Muslim perspective. Afterwards we had a lively debate on the similarities and differences between the two perspectives.
The presentation was based on a chapter from my book Zion’s Christian Soldiers stephensizer.com/books/zions-christian-soldiers/
You can view some photos here