Christian Zionism

November 22, 2016

New Book Re-Examines Christian Zionism

The “standard narrative about Christian Zionism,” is a “result of bad exegesis and zany theology,” writes Anglican theologian Gerald R. McDermott in The New Christian Zionism: Fresh Perspectives on Israel & the Land. Developed from a 2015 conference hosted by the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), this recent book belies such stereotypes with solid Christian Zionism apologetics appealing to both layman and expert alike.

McDermott in his contributions to the book’s chapter essays debunks the common assumption that “all Christian Zionism is an outgrowth of premillennial dispensationalist theology.” In reality the “vast majority of Christian Zionists came long before the rise of dispensationalism in the nineteenth century.”  Additionally, “many of the most prominent Christian Zionists of the last two centuries had nothing to do with dispensationalism.”

“Much if not most of modern Christian Zionism in the United States originated primarily in mainline Protestantism,” IRD President Mark Tooley historically documents in particular, a surprise for many modern readers. “Christian Zionism in the United States has long since migrated from mainline Protestantism to evangelicalism” as the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) illustrates. Now a “leading proponent of anti-Israel divestment,” MFSA’s founders included liberal Methodist bishop Francis J. McConnell, a strong Christian Zionist in the 1930s. “By the start of the twenty-first century, liberal Protestantism had not only abandoned Christian Zionism; it was denouncing it as a heresy,” Tooley notes.

Religion professor Robert Benne focuses on the Christian Zionism of Reinhold Niebuhr, the Christian realism luminary who “wrote copiously in many journals about Israel.”  The winner of a 1969 honorary degree from Hebrew University, he had an “extraordinary sensitivity to and compassion for the suffering of Jews across the world.”  Even by World War I, the “young Niebuhr already supported the ‘Zionist approach to Palestine’s ultimate settlement.’”

Scriptural scholars like Craig Blaising examine how the New Testament actually affirms God’s covenant in the Old Testament or Hebrew Tanak to give the Jews a homeland in Israel.  “It is best to see the New Testament in continuity with the Tanak in presenting a narrative of the divine plan that includes an ethnic, national, territorial Israel, positioned within an expected worldwide kingdom of nations,” he writes.  The “crucifixion and resurrection of the Christ did not stand contrary to the previously revealed consummate plan and purpose of God for Israel and the nations.”

Blaising’s colleague Joel Willets examines specifically the “intensely Jewish” gospel of Matthew.  “A proposal suggesting that Matthew not only preserved, but also promulgated, the traditional Jewish hope for territorial restoration will probably strike many as verging on the preposterous,” Willets writes.  Yet the “turf orientation of Matthew’s narrative theology” demonstrates an “abiding land consciousness in line with the traditional Jewish territorial hope.”

Examining Luke’s writing in his gospel and the Book of Acts, Mark S. Kinzer in turn notes that Luke’s “story continually reverts back to Jerusalem” while Acts 1:8 “characterizes Rome as being located at ‘the ends of the earth.’”  “For Luke, Rome may be the capital of a Gentile empire that rules much of the earth, but it was neither the center nor the true capital of the world.  That honor belonged to Jerusalem alone,” Kinzer notes.  “Since the hope for Jerusalem’s redemption resounds at the beginning of the Gospel, but is not in fact attained in the course of the events recounted in Luke’s two volumes, attentive readers recognize that Luke’s story is incomplete.”

New Testament Professor Darrell Bock and Philos Project Executive Director Robert Nicholson morally qualify the Tanak’s land covenant to Israel for the Jews. “To endorse Israel and a national place for the nation is not to give her carte blanche for everything she does,” Bock writes; “She is still called to live responsibly as a nation like other nations.” “Some Christian Zionists find unthinkable the idea that Israel could be wrong in some of its policies,” notes Nicholson’s chapter on Israel’s “Call to Justice in the Covenant,” but God “subjected the land promise to a series of conditions.”

These conditions reflect the Jewish “concept of a righteous Creator who executes justice among his creatures—and demands justice in their relations with each other,” Nicholson notes. His deft rebuttal of criticisms of Israel centered on its control over territories won in the 1967 war and their Palestinian populations demonstrates that Israel indeed respects this “elemental principle that animates biblical history.” For example,

while many people today believe that Israel conquered Palestinian land in 1967, the reality is that Israel pushed Jordan and Egypt out of the original Mandate for Palestine, dislodging them from their own illegal occupation of Palestinian Arabs.

Former Israeli Defense Forces paratroop officer Shadi Khalloul concurs with Nicholson in a chapter analyzing Israel’s non-Jewish minorities. Israeli citizens “from all genders and religions enjoy a higher quality of life than in most developed nations and even in some Western social democracies,” Khalloul writes. He highlights his community in Israel of:

160,000 Arabic-speaking Christians of Aramaic-Syriac roots whose families go back to the land long before Islamic occupation in the seventh century. Their lives in Israel today differ markedly from those of Christians who have lived for centuries in dhimmitude (second-class) status under Arab-Islamic regimes or secular nations with an Arab or Islamic majority. They also differ markedly from the pitiful lives of Christians today in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon.

While “Israel today is a provisional sign of the end time that in its restoration points to the eschatological restoration of creation to come,” McDermott and his colleagues forswear any particular prophetic insight. “That the emergence of modern Israel is a fulfillment of prophecy seems plain…But how all this is working out, and will work out, is a mystery we must not think we can penetrate with any precision.” The book’s intricate, insightful analysis nonetheless convincingly argues that “[r]ather than merely a voice from the past, she [Israel] is a living presence in the church and will be the center of the world to come.”


18 Responses to New Book Re-Examines Christian Zionism

  1. I wonder if this book addresses the fact that today’s Jews admit they are not genetic Israelites. For example:

    “Strictly speaking, it is incorrect to call an ancient Israelite a ‘Jew’ or to call a contemporary Jew an ‘Israelite’ or a ‘Hebrew.’” (Richard Siegel and Carl Rheins, eds., “Identity Crisis,” The Jewish Almanac, (New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1980) p. 3.)

    This sentence is the opening sentence of the First Chapter entitled
    “IDENTITY CRISIS” of the 1980 Jewish Almanac. That today’s Jews are
    not genetic Israelites is also admitted in “The Jewish Encyclopedia,”
    the “Enyclopedia Judaica,” “The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia,”
    “The Standard Jewish Encyclopedia,” and by many of their own anthropologists and historians.

    According to three Jewish encyclopedias and Flavius Josephus, the entire Edomite nation was forced into converting to Judaism and became known as Judahites at the time of the high priest John Hyrcanus (Maccabaeus):

    “…in the days of John Hyrcanus (end of the second century B.C.E.) … the Edomites became a section of the Jewish people.” (“Edom,” Encyclopaedia Judaica (Jerusalem, Israel: Encyclopaedia Judaica Company, 1971) Volume 6, p. 378.)

    “They were then incorporated with the Jewish nation….” (“Edom,
    Idumea,” The Jewish Encyclopedia (New York & London: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1904) Volume V, p. 41.)

    “…from then on they constituted a part of the Jewish people, Herod [King
    of Judea] being one of their descendants.” (Cecil Roth and Geoffrey
    Wigoden, “Edom (Idumea),” The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1977) p. 589.)

    “…they submitted to the use of circumcision, and the rest of the Jewish
    ways of living; at which time … they were hereafter no other than Jews.”
    (Flavius Josephus, “The Antiquities of the Jews,” Josephus, (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1960) Book XIII, Chapter IX, Verse 1, p. 279.)

    We keep hearing that if we don’t bless the modern State of Israel (which
    America has been doing since at least 1948) that we will be cursed. However, it seems it’s been just the opposite, Since 1948, you name it, and there’s not an area in America wherein she hasn’t become worse off.

    For more, see “The Mystery of the Gentiles: Where Are They and Where Are They Now?” at http://www.missiontoisrael.org/mystery-of-gentiles/index.php.

    • Hebrewhelena says:

      So who were the 6 million people Hitler murdered in the gas ovens?? Volunteers??? Fake Jews???? How deceived and ignorant you are!!! You are a disgrace to humanity!

      • Helena, thanks for responding. However, you’re beef’s not with me, but with the Jewish authorities I quoted, and I’d be real careful about calling them ignorant and a disgrace to humanity; you might be identified as antisemitic as a result.

        • Hebrewhelena says:

          Jews can be very misinformed too. Smh.

          • So can Christians who don’t want to face historical facts, such as recorded in Esther 8:17, the Edomite conversion to Judaism in the second century BC, and the Khazarian conversion to Judaism in the 9th-century AD.

          • Hebrewhelena says:

            Well whatever happened in the conversion is a mute point. Why is that a factor??? Before Hitler try to annhilate all of Europes’ Jews ( oh, the “fake” Jews) the SS were ordered to trace Jewish bloodlines to the late 17th century. G-d promised that the Jews would ALWAYS be a Nation before Him.

      • Matt McLaughlin says:

        You’re saying 6 million were all related
        oh Einstein?

  2. Watchful Sentry says:

    . . .the New Testament actually affirms God’s covenant in the Old Testament or Hebrew Tanak to give the Jews a homeland in Israel.

    God never gave the “Jews” any of the land He gave to Israel or Judah. The Sephardic Jews, about 5% of modern Jewry, are descendants of the Sepharvaim of the old testament. They are Edomite/Canaanite, like Herod, and have no Israelite blood.

    The other 95% of the modern “Jews” are Khazars. Khazars also have no Israelite, or even Semitic, blood. They are Japhethites . No ties to the land of Palestine whatsoever.

    As for “Jews”, referring to any practitioners of Talmudic Judaism, their Jesus denying, anti-Christian ideology has no place being propped up or supported by anyone who is a Christian. The “tradition of the elders”, and the Pharisees who practiced it, find their direct ideological descendants in the Babylonian Talmud and Judaism. The term “Christian Zionist” is just as much an oxymoron as the term “Judeo Christian”. Jesus rejected Judaism and their ideology.

    . . . the “intensely Jewish” gospel of Matthew

    The gospels of Jesus are, if anything, intensely anti Jewish. The Talmud is “intensely Jewish”.

    . . . reflect the Jewish “concept of a righteous Creator

    The concept of a righteous Creator is a Hebrew or an Israelite concept not a “Jewish” one. The Judahite southern kingdom, as they were Israelites, also held to this concept.

    • Hebrewhelena says:

      I think your just jealous. Ashkenazi Jews are THE smartest race on earth! Asians are second. Gentiles are just plain green w envy! The biggest contributors to civilization, medicine, science et al have only come from one race: The Jews. Without the Jews you’d be more hell bound then your present condition. Show some respect jerk!

      • Watchful Sentry says:

        Jews aren’t a race. They’re a mamzer people. Canaanite, Edomite, Turkish, Mongolian, and a splash of every other group under the sun most likely. Masterful liars and deceivers far be it from me to waste my time arguing with one or one of their duped defenders. Jealous of true Judah so the lie and claim to be Jews. Jealous of white countries and their wealth so they sneak in and attempt to subvert other race’s countries with their sneaky sins. The only ones more full of Jewish delusion and lies than those they dupe are the fake Jews themselves. History shows how “smart” Jews are and how much they “contribute” to the world.

        You’re free to go live among your own anytime since you think they are so great, and so smart, but we both know you’ll choose to keep living in a “Gentile” nation as long as you’re able. History shows “Jews” are tossed out of every nation they’ve ever weaseled their way into. When that day comes for you, show some respect to your former hosts, and maybe you’ll be ejected gently.

      • Robert says:

        Congratulations! You consider yourselves the master race. I guess the Fuhrer had the right concept but the wrong people.

  3. Joseph O'Neill says:

    Stephen Sizers book is an excellent intorduction to this dangerous heresy.

    • Hebrewhelena says:

      No dangerous heresy! Just absolute truth! Stay in denial. Jews will still win! As history has shown, we will ALWAYS come out on top. It’s in our G-d given DNA. Throughout millennia, gentiles have tried to destroy us but we still forge ahead and prosper! We have more brain power in our 0.02% of world population then all of the gentiles combined. It’s sickening reading your antisemitic posts. If you are anti-Israel, you are anti-Jew. Heaven has NO place for antisemites, says Yeshua, The KING OF THE JEWS.

    • Sizer, himself convicted of Jew hatred by his own diocese, has narrowly focused on Dispensational Zionists, and ignored the deeper and more extensive roots of Christian Zionism.
      Read Lewis for a broader, clearer survey (Donald M. Lewis, “The Origins of Christian Zionism: Lord Shaftesbury and Evangelical Support for a Jewish Homeland,” Cambridge)

  4. Ed says:

    What a weird bunch of commenters. Seems to be equally divided between anti-semitic and semitic-supremicist extremists. No wonder there isn’t any shalom going on in that that little piece of desert.

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