Before I go any further into this bringing down the wrath of God only knows what on my head I want to make this absolutely, crystal clear: I am not talking about the State of Israel, it’s right to exist, nor am I in any way supporting or encouraging the hatred of Jews in general or Israelis in particular. So, without further ado
Christian Zionism is False. There, I said it.
With the recently agreed on Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Five Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council, Germany, and the European Union we have seen some very negative reactions to the agreement, primarily from conservatives in the United States and Israeli politicians. This post is not about the JCPOA nor any of it’s details, but it was very striking to see the reaction of persons were against a “bad deal” who actually hadn’t read the 109 page agreement. [Disclosure: Neither have I] What was more shocking was a short video produced by AJ+ showing the reactions of some at a conservative summit in Iowa. The video is just below, is quite short, and I encourage you to watch it:
Well wasn’t that fun. Sigh
Now, let’s be fair to the interviewees that is a short video, and we only get small tidbits of the reaction from the persons being interviewed. However, we do get a sense that some of the interviewees are holding to their position on the JCPOA because they think it is bad for Israel and then suggest their support for the modern nation of Israel is required of Christians. This concept is part of something bigger called Christian Zionism.
Christian Zionism is (I’m doing the horrible thing of quoting Wikipedia) “is a belief among some Christians that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land, and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, is in accordance with Biblical prophecy. The term began to be used in the mid-20th century, superseding Christian Restorationism.” It is massively problematic beyond Christians have nearly blind support for the State of Israel. This modern idea began with English and Scottish clergy but it is much more identifiable with North American Christianity particularly with Evangelical Christians.
In 2006 four prominent Bishops for Christians in the Holy Land signed the Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism and it was responded to by another statement published by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. The response is rather telling as it actually points out some major issues theologically and politically:
- “God, by a sovereign choice, gave the Land of Canaan as an everlasting possession to the Jewish people, for His kingdom purposes. (Genesis 17:7-8)”
- “Our Messiah and King, Jesus Christ, was born of Jewish parents, into a Jewish society, thus making the Jewish people our ‘royal family'”
- “Christian Zionists .. base their theological position .. on the faithful covenant promises of God given to Abraham some four thousand years ago”
- “[T]here are biblical considerations that regulate Israel’s national existence”
Firstly, the modern State of Israel is not spoken of in the Bible any more than the modern Arab Republic of Egypt is spoken of in the Bible. Secondly, we have to remember that the creation of the modern State of Israel rests on the formal end of the British Mandate in Palestine, the Israeli Declaration of Independence on 14 May 1948 and the UN General Assembly Resolution 181 which was suppose to carve up the mandate into three areas: a Jewish area, an Arab one, and the City of Jerusalem to be under a “Special International Regime”. The modern State of Israel should in no way be viewed as a legal continuation of the Roman Province of Iudaea nor any other political division that was jurisdiction for the Jewish people. And while I point out this blog post does not speak to Israel’s right to exist I will point out that the State of Israel’s right of existence does not come from Scripture, more importantly not from the New Testament.
The passage in Genesis that is quoted deals with the offspring of Abraham through his son Isaac and deals with the Old Covenant. However, the Old Covenant has been replaced by the New Covenant revealed to us through the Incarnation, Birth, Baptism, Ministry, Passion, Burial, Resurrection and Ascension of Our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ. In Galatians 3 Saint Paul wrote “those who believe are the descendants of Abraham.” If this is extended to Genesis 17 then this not mean that we Christians have a claim to the land promised to Abraham’s descendants?
When it is said that “Our Messiah and King, Jesus Christ, was born of Jewish parents, into a Jewish society, thus making the Jewish people our ‘royal family'” are we not ignoring what Saint Peter said of us, the Christian people, his First Letter when he said “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” he also points out that Jews (unlike those like Saint Paul and himself) who rejected Christ had rejected the cornerstone (1 Peter 2:7; Psalm 118:22). In fact, if one reads Saints Peter and Paul close enough one has to come to accept that they believed the Jews of their day had lost their status of being God’s chosen people and that status came to lie exclusively with those in the Church.
If there are Christians among us that are wanting to hold to a view that the Covenant given to Abraham was not transformed into the New Covenant of the Gospel then we have to be willing to point out that their Theological position is one of a selective interruption of Scripture that involves ignorance of a large portion of the New Testament because the New Testament is very clear that Christians have become God’s chosen people: the new Israel. The Circumcision of the Old Covenant has been replaced with the Baptism of the New Covenant, the Passover meal has been replaced by the Eucharist, and the Law of Moses has been fulfilled.
Christian Zionism must be rejected as False Doctrine. This goes beyond what anyone thinks about the right of existence of, and the actions of the modern State of Israel. Given the Apostles writings in the New Testament it is scandalous to accept that both Christians and Jews can simultaneously be God’s chosen people. That should in no way be a reflection that Jews should be the target of ridicule, bigotry or hatred for they (like any non-Christians) are still Children of God and made in his Image. Nor does it mean that it is acceptable to target the State of Israel with violence or hatred. But we as Christians must be prepared to point out that Christian Zionism is False Doctrine, Heretical, and a horrible reason for which to base foreign policy and political decisions.