Mark Braverman, Ph.D.
The conflict in Christian thought between a commitment to universal justice and the granting to Jews a superior right to historic Palestine permeates the current discourse and is evidenced in the work of even the most politically progressive thinkers. The article reviews the work of four contemporary Christian theologians and discusses the implications of this issue for interfaith dialogue, the political process, and the achievement of peace in the Holy Land. More
Gary M. Burge, Ph.D.
If there ever were doubts about the ongoing presence and influence of Christian Zionism in Israel, you only had to visit Jerusalem earlier this month to witness the Christian Embassy's one week Tabernacles Festival. On Tuesday the 14th 15,000 people paraded outside Jerusalem's Old Walled City. More
Gary M. Burge, Ph.D.
The average reader may be excused for not understanding the finer differences between an evangelical preacher who calls for a pre-emptive bombing strike against Iran and one who thinks this view is outrageous and immoral. Particularly when both might be classified as conservative Protestants. How do we clear the fog? For instance, high-profile pastor John Hagee of San Antonio, Texas, is a Christian preacher who enjoys outrageously militant sermons, especially when he is preaching them before his 14,000 member congregation. Others like myself find him not only embarrassing but dangerous. How does the average observer make sense of these two views when both spring from the Protestant church? More
An historical conflation of the United States and the biblical Hebrews is as old as the country itself. Many American feel a sense of purpose that they say comes from God and constitutes a parallel manifest destiny with both the ancient and modern Israelites. this belief can be found in the speeches of Americn political leaders at all levels. It is a deeply held belief that manifests itself in the rationalizations and policies of Congres and American presidents. Today this orientation is backed up by organized religious groups More
The Armageddon Lobby: Dispensationalist Christian Zionism and the Shaping of US Policy Towards Israel-Palestine
Rammy M. Haija
This article investigates the history of contemporary Christian Zionism in the United States and the impact of this movement on US policy issues related to Israel-Palestine. Dispensationalist Christian Zionists, often described the ‘Armageddon lobby’, make up the largest voting bloc in the Republican Party and have become a mainstay in US politics. More recently, the Christian Zionist lobby has had a profoundly damaging impact on the Israeli-Palestinian ‘peace process’ as well as creating a conspiracy of silence regarding Israeli offensives in the occupied Palestinian territories. Though the ‘Armageddon lobby’ has been successful in its efforts as a pro-Israel lobby, its infl uence is in fact counterproductive to Israel because the lobby hinders the prospect of Israel living in peace because of their policy of deterring the progression of negotiations. More
John Hubers, Autumn 2002
America, in part, owes its national identity to the prevalence of powerful myths which arose out of its early history. Many are attached to founding "fathers", others to the experience of nation building. Perhaps the most powerful myth is that which developed out of the frontier experience of an emerging nation. Manifest destiny is how historians label it, the belief that the settlement and taming of this vast largely uninhabited land by European colonialists was a divinely destined event. Here's how the story goes: More
John Hubers, Lent 2004
On October 6, 2002, the popular American investigative TV program, 60 Minutes, introduced its viewers to Christian Zionism in a segment they entitled: "Zion's Christian Soldiers." Outspoken former Moral Majority founder, The Rev. Jerry Falwell, was the primary guest. Correspondent Bob Simon interviewed Falwell, asking his opinion on a variety of subjects related to Middle Eastern affairs. How he replied astonished many, infuriated many more. By week's end his words would be published and republished in every major news venue around the world, most notably in those countries where Islam is the dominant faith: "I think that Muhammad was a terrorist," he said. "I've read enough of the history of his life, written by Muslims and non Muslims, to say that he was a violent man of war." More
Jonathan Kuttab, September 2004
I am writing belatedly in response to the paper you sent as a contribution to the International Sabeel Conference held in Jerusalem last April on Challenging Christian Zionism. I regret to say that Palestinian Christians attending the Sabeel Conference listened with profound disappointment to your keynote address to the Conference.
Palestinian Christians had suffered much at the hand of theologies and interpretations of scripture that provided a mantle of divine legitimisation to the ideology of Zionism and the political movement that worked for their displacement from their homeland, and built a Jewish state on the basis of their exile, and oppression. One of our constant complaints was that Christian Zionism ignores our national rights, and indeed our very existence. The creation of the state of Israel was done on our land and the ingathering of Jews from all the world came at the price of exiling and scattering our people throughout the world. All this was supported by Christian theologies that ignored or delegitimized us as a people, claiming a divine imperative based on scripture for the creation of the state of Israel. More
In recent years, certain religious Jewish and Christian communities have proclaimed that exclusive Jewish sovereignty over the Holy Land is a theological right and necessity, a condition for the unfolding of the messianic era. This view has been exploited by some secular Israelis, who for political reasons—linked to concerns about security or the war on terrorism—seek to maximize territorial control of the land. Although Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert's new convergence plan acknowledges the immorality and implausibility of the exclusivist position, in opting for unilateral action it still ignores the rights of those families whose land was expropriated for reasons having nothing to do with security.
The Israeli left has made its case for sharing the Holy Land largely by appealing to moral conscience, political liberalism, and pluralism. These claims have merit, but they are too easily drowned out by the ferocity of the theologically driven agenda of the religious right, both Jewish and Christian. More
A crisis of major proportions confronts the American people. Our government is either oblivious or complicit to that crisis. Either way, America has chosen sides in the conflict in the Middle East. Millions of professing Christians have engaged in practices that have contributed to the marginalizing and oppression of fellow believers on the West Bank of the Palestine Territory and in East Jerusalem. More
The Word of Faith movement is characterized by revelation knowledge received directly from God. As such, the believer has the power to "name it and claim it," a phrase familiar to most American Christians. According to Posner, it is an "alternative universe" that rejects critical and intellectual thought and scorns the media and science. Out of this "subculture" has emerged evangelist John Hagee, pastor of the hugely successful Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, TX, boasting a congregation of nearly 20,000. Hagee's international platform is a number of best-selling books and his Global Evangelism Television, by which he reaches millions weekly. More
...that Jesus Christ is missing from the most self-conscious wing of the Christian Church in America – the Evangelical Christian Right. He has been replaced by a god who now acts as a whimsical real estate agent. In the words of Christian Zionist, John Hagee, this god, the Grand Surveyor, set "…the original stakes into Judean soil and decreed that no one should ever change those property lines. The real estate contract and land covenants were signed in blood and stand to this very hour." More
A surging crisis on the current global horizon centers on so-called "Christian Zionism." The controversy surrounding Christian Zionism arises from its association with political practices in the unceasingly and increasingly unstable Middle East region involving Israelis and Palestinians. Though an oversimplification, Christian Zionism is generally speaking a theological position with political implications. However, Christian Zionism is exceedingly difficult to address because it exists in variegated forms, ranging from individuals or groups who generally support the right of contemporary Israelis to exist in their ancient homeland to extensively organized political activists with agendas of varying degrees of radicalism. The former usually cite biblical and humanitarian values in vindication of their support for Israel. Some of the latter tend to be completely uncritical of Israeli policies and practices, openly aggressive against their opponents, and either totally unaware of or unconcerned with the plight of Palestinians and religious others. Much of the basis for the latter position appears to be built upon a specific form of dispensationalist ideology.More
Christian Zionism (CZ) is a dilemma because it touches directly and deeply, and some would say, dangerously, on arguably the most difficult and volatile complexity on the globe: Israeli-Palestinian-Arab/Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations. Obviously, this issue is interwoven with interreligious, political, economic, and ethnic concerns on national and international levels. Also, CZ is a dilemma because equally intelligent and ethical people sincerely hold diametrically opposed positions regarding it. The temptation to demonize the "opposition" is strong on both sides but must be steadfastly resisted if progress is to be made. A non-dispensationalist Pentecostal point of view may help because Pentecostalism's background in dispensationalism, and its current transitional distancing from the same, provides a unique perspective on inherent tensional elements. Furthermore, Pentecostal insights regarding resolving conflictive faith confrontations contribute to developing a positive approach to the currently existing impasse. More
Dr. Stephen R. Sizer, March 1997
There are two essential questions I want to try and answer this morning, one political and one theological. They are multi-faceted and interwoven.
The political question is this. How should we as Christians view the situation in Israel/Palestine today, where two peoples claim the same territory? Is Israel a democracy or an apartheid State? Specifically, do we believe the Israeli authorities should continue to resist Palestinian aspirations to autonomy and statehood? Should they continue to occupy, settle and annexe more and more of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, creating small urban Bantustan reservations for Palestinians living under military occupation within a exclusive Jewish state. More
Dr. Stephen R. Sizer
At its simplest, Christian Zionism has been defined as 'Christian support for Zionism. Central to Christian Zionism is the belief in the abiding relevance of the promise God made to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, 'I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.Christian Zionists tend to see themselves as defenders of, and apologists for, the Jewish people, and in particular, the State of Israel. This support involves opposing those deemed to be critical of, or objective towards Israel. It is rare therefore to find Christian Zionists who feel a similar solidarity with the Palestinians. More
Dr. Stephen R. Sizer, May 1999
There are two essential questions which this article will seek to address: one political and one theological. They are multifaceted and interwoven.
The political question is this: How should Christians view the situation in Israel/Palestine today, where two peoples claim the same territory? How should they regard the State of Israel? As a democracy or apartheid state? Should the Israeli authorities and Christian Zionists continue to resist Palestinian aspirations to autonomy and statehood? Should they continue to occupy, settle and annexe more and more of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, creating small urban Bantustan reservations for Palestinians living under military occupation within a exclusive Jewish state? Or, do Palestinians have fundamental human rights and freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? For example, to live in the land of their birth, to freedom of movement, to work, education and religious practice, and collectively to the right of self determination, political expression, autonomy and nationhood? That is the essential political question. More
Dr. Stephen R. Sizer, May 2000
Lecture given at the National Conference on Justice for Al Quds Saturday 6th May, 2000. Wyggeston Queen Elizabeth 1 College, Leicester.
This will form but a brief introduction to Christian Zionism. I propose to introduce you to some leading Christian Zionist agencies and leaders under three headings, history, theology and politics. In my conclusions I will attempt a preliminary critique and alternative. May I reassure you at the outset that the majority of Christians do not endorse or support Zionism. If you are interested in reading further material on Christian Zionism I will direct you to some useful sources. Lets begin with a definition.
1. A Definition: What is Christian Zionism?
Dr. Stephen R. Sizer, Revised August 1998
At its simplest, Christian Zionism has been defined as 'Christian support for Zionism.'1 In Der Judenstaat, published in 1896, Theodor Herzl forcefully articulated the aspirations of Jewish Zionists for their own homeland, although the Zionist dream was largely nurtured and shaped by Christian Zionists long before it was able to inspire widespread Jewish support in the 1940's. More
Dr. Stephen R. Sizer, Revised August 1998
An analysis of the history of Western Christian attitudes toward the Jews and the Holy Land lies beyond the scope of this study. Others however have done so comprehensively.1 Furthermore the development of non-Jewish Zionism, and especially its early origins in Puritanism and Millenarianism has also already been ably researched.2 This chapter will focus on those specific historical events and theological developments that appear to have been determinative in the rise of contemporary Western Christian Zionism. More
Dr. Stephen R. Sizer
The literal interpretation of Scripture, as opposed to the allegoricalism found in Roman Catholicism, was generally normative among Protestant denominations from the Reformation until the rise of liberalism in the 19th Century. From the early 19th century literalism increasingly became associated with evangelicalism and fundamentalism to the point where today they are now virtually synonymous. Within this broad movement, which was predominantly postmillennial in outlook, the development of a distinctive Christian Zionist hermeneutic can be dated to the early 19th Century and the influence of a group of British and Irish evangelical leaders who began meeting together to study what they perceived to be as yet 'unfulfilled' prophecies concerning the Jews. The Albury conferences brought together Edward Irving's innovative and pessimistic form of premillennialism, Lewis Way's preoccupation with the literal and futurist fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies and Joseph Wolff's quest for the 'lost tribes' of Israel. These meetings and those held subsequently at Powerscourt in Ireland and the journals and books published by the Albury Circle, such as in the Morning Watch, provided the catalyst for what became the increasingly popular conviction that God had a continuing and separate purpose for the Jewish people, apart from the Church. The Albury Circle popularised the belief in the imminent rediscovery of the ten lost tribes, their mass conversion and return to Palestine just prior to the return of the Messiah. While the conviction that such events would occur in their own life time proved unfounded, the belief that such events were nevertheless predicted in the Bible became the theological foundation for 20th Century Christian Zionism. More
Dr. Stephen R. Sizer, November 2001
Only one nation, Israel, stands between ... terrorist aggression and the complete decline of the United States as a democratic world power... If Israel falls, the United States can no longer remain a democracy. ...Arab money is being used to control and influence major U.S. Corporations, making it economically more and more difficult for the United States to stand against world terrorism.
Whether you agree with, or question such assertions made by Mike Evans in his book, 'Israel - America's Key to Survival', the theological perspective which he and others such as Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye and Dave Hunt espouse, is very popular. Their combined book sales exceed 100 million copies. More
Dr. Stephen R. Sizer
This paper will assess the hermeneutical presuppositions of dispensationalism, and Christian Zionism, in particular, which is probably the most pervasive and destructive theological system in Protestant circles today. Christian Zionism is founded first of all upon a literal and futurist interpretation of the Bible which leads proponents to distinguish between references to Israel and the Church. Injunctions and promises concerning the ancient Jews are applied to the contemporary State of Israel rather than to the Church. From this hermeneutic flows the conviction that the Jews remain God's "chosen people," distinct from the Church, whether until the end of the millennium as held by covenant premillennialists, or into eternity as affirmed by most dispensationalists. God's end-time purpose for the Jews is expressed in Restorationism. The destiny of the Jewish people is to return to the land of Israel and reclaim their inheritance promised to Abraham and his descendants for ever. This inheritance extends from the River of Egypt to the Euphrates. Within their land, Jerusalem is recognised to be their exclusive, undivided and eternal capital, and therefore it cannot be shared or divided. At the heart of Jerusalem will be the rebuilt Jewish Temple to which all the nations will come to worship God. Just prior to the return of Jesus, there will be seven years of calamities and war known as the Tribulation which will culminate in a great battle called Armageddon during which the godless forces opposed to both God and Israel will be defeated. Jesus will then return as the Jewish Messiah and king to reign in Jerusalem for a thousand years and the Jewish people will enjoy a privileged status and role in the world. Each of these seven doctrines will be considered in turn. More
Dr. Stephen R. Sizer, April 1999
Hal Lindsey is undoubtedly the most influential of all Christian Zionists of the 20th century. Although rarely quoted by others, he has nevertheless been described by Time as 'The Jeremiah for this Generation, and by the New York Times as 'the best selling author of the decade. His newest publisher describes him as 'The Father of the Modern-Day Bible Prophecy Movement, and, 'the best known prophecy teacher in the world. He is apparently one of very few authors to have had three books on the New York Times best seller list at the same time.
This chapter will explore the significance of Hal Lindsey within Christian Zionism, his dispensational hermeneutic, uncoventional view of prophecy and eschatology, his distinctive apocalyptic Zionism and his stand against anti-Semitism.
Lindsey acknowledges that 'The future is big business, and has proved the axiom true. He is a prolific writer, the author of at least twenty books spanning 27 years, most of which deal explicitly or implicitly with a dispensational interpretation of the future, biblical prophecy and Christian Zionism. He hosts his own radio and television programmes, leads regular pro-Israeli Holy Land tours, and by subscription makes available a monthly Christian Intelligence Journal called Countdown as well as the International Intelligence Briefing. Lindsey, along with fellow Zionist, Grant Jeffries, hosts a weekly news programme, International Intelligence Briefing on the fundamentalist Trinity Broadcasting Network television station. More
Rev. Robert O. Smith
With its introduction of the "Roadmap" for peace in the Middle East in April 2003, the administration of President George W. Bush took what was widely perceived as a bold but naïve step toward resolving what many believe to be the most intractable problem of modern history. Official responses to the peace plan were supportive, and the governments of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority assented to its terms.
This paper… explore[s] the theological perspectives that inform the special relationship between the US and Israel and theological interest in the relationship's conservation or modification. Attention will be given Christian Zionism and its relation to perspectives expressed by the American Jewish community, neoconservative policymakers and commentators, American evangelicals and mainline Christian groups. Since Christian Zionism is not merely a political perspective but is, instead, theopolitical, an effort will be made to explore its engagement with other theological perspectives on Israel/Palestine and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The paper closes with an evaluation and theopolitical critique of Christian Zionism and reflections on the relation of religion to state power. More
Rev. Robert O. Smith
In our post-Holocaust era, many Jews have identified with the State of Israel as their last line of defense should the community again come under the threat of eradication. Most Christians, especially in North America, are unable to begin fathoming this possibility. Their communities simply have not been under such a threat. The typical American lack of historical literacy makes it difficult for many of us to comprehend the Jewish community's active memory of the Holocaust-even among Jews who did not have family members directly affected by those horrible events. Given the active nature of Holocaust memory and what for many Jews is therefore a deeply existential attachment to the State of Israel (even if they have no intention of becoming Israeli citizens), mainline Christians working to responsibly critique Israeli policies affecting Palestinians are often surprised at Jewish suspicion or immediate rejection of their efforts. More
Father Daniel Swires, June 2004
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
A Word of Truth on Behalf of the Palestinian Marginalized and Dispossessed: Root Causes of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
The August '06 Israeli-Lebanon crisis illustrates once again that most U.S. persons including the President, the Congress, the media and the people are overwhelmingly sympathetic to Israel. Most U. S. citizens live in a pro-Israel bubble that is oblivious to facts relating to the origins of the nation of Israel and the profound effect that that history has upon contemporary Middle East events. Through the recent news coverage of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, Palestine and Arab spokespersons repeatedly stated that the primary cause of the conflict was the "occupation." It is imperative that we become aware of what is meant by the "occupation" or the usurpation of the Palestinian homeland. Otherwise we cannot understand Palestinian and Arab anger. More
Let me share with you the story of how I first embodied and then repudiated the beliefs, values, and practices of Christian Zionism. Of course, when I developed my view of eschatology, neither I nor others with whom I was familiar used the terminology of Christian Zionism. Instead my view was best described as premillennial and pretribulational eschatology, including belief in a secret rapture of Christians that would imminently occur. But my largely subconscious view of Israel and the United States' involvement in Mideast politics was essentially that of Christian Zionism. I gave unconditional preference to biblical prophecies thought to be predictive of Israel's nationalistic resurgence, and the coming of Armageddon and the cataclysmic end of the world as we know it. More
Yielding to increasing pressure to show the Arab and Islamic worlds (and much of Europe) that he is sensitive to the plight of the Palestinian people, President George W. Bush recently declared his commitment to implement a "road map" to an Israeli-Palestinian peace. Meanwhile, a powerful domestic countermovement capable of undermining the U.S. initiative is well under way. Rising opposition from the conservative Ariel Sharon -- led Israeli government and its powerful U.S. lobby, the America-Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC), was to be expected. But the most numerically significant opposition is coming from the Christian right, an important constituency for the president if he is to be reelected in 2004. More
The term Christian Zionism is a relatively recent category, rarely utilized prior to the early 1990s. Self -proclaimed Christian Zionist organizations such as the International Christian Embassy-Jerusalem and the U.S. based Bridges for Peace, both with offices in Jerusalem, have been operating for twenty years but have been under the radar of most Middle East experts and the mainstream media until the post-September 11, 2001 era. More
Donald Wagner, June 2004
On a moonlit December evening in Bethlehem's Manger Square, seventeen year-old Johnny Thaljiya was outside his cousin's souvenir shop. He had just finished the evening mass at the historic Greek Orthodox Church of the Nativity where he served as an altar boy. Suddenly, Johnny let out a scream and grabbed his throat as he fell to his knees and collapsed. Family and friends rushed to his side and realized that Johnny had been shot through the throat by an Israeli sniper, not an unusual fate for young Palestinian men these days. Rushed to the hospital, it was too late to save him. Johnny died within an hour as the number of Palestinian deaths crept toward 800 over the previous 16 months of the al-Aqsa intifada. More
Donald Wagner, May 2004
"You know, I turn back to your ancient prophets in the Old Testament and signs foretelling Armageddon, and I find myself wondering if we're the generation that's going to see that come about. I don't know if you've noted any of those prophecies lately, but believe me, they certainly describe the times we're going through."
One expects such a statement from the Rev. Pat Robertson on his "700 Club" television program or in one of the Rev. Jerry Falwell's frequent funding appeals. The speaker, however, was the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, in an intimate phone conversation with Tom Dine, Executive Director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Israel's powerful U.S. lobby. More
Donald Wagner, May 2004
Two incidents in the Fall of 1996 underscore the priority the Netanyahu Government will give to the evangelical Christians. The first occurred on October 4, 1996, when Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu chose the convention of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) as his venue for a hard-line defense of Israel's right to open the controversial tunnel in Jerusalem's Old City. Netanyahu's remarks were broadcast on CNN and many international media outlets with the Christian Embassy's name on the rostrum, implying that despite an outpouring of international criticism, his policies had the support of this so called "Christian" organization. More
Donald Wagner, October 2003
The British have had a long-term fascination with the idea of Israel and its central role in biblical prophecy that dates back to their earliest recorded literature. The Epistle of Gildas (circa. 6th century AD) and the Venerable Bede's Ecclesiastical History (735 AD) both saw the British as "the new Israel," God's chosen people, who were destined to play a strategic role despite repeated invasions by their Nordic neighbors. In the British perception of being an elect, these battles were understood in the context of Israel's battles against the Philistines, Babylonians and others.
A clear resurgence of such themes was evident in the 16th century, perhaps influenced by the Protestant Reformation and its emphasis on the Bible and varied interpretations of its texts, now that Rome had lost its control over the new clergy and theologians. One of the early expressions of fascination with the idea of Israel was the monograph Apocalypsis Apocalypseos, written by Anglican clergyman Thomas Brightman in 1585. Brightman urged the British people to support the return of the Jews to Palestine in order to hasten a series of prophetic events that would culminate in the return of Jesus.More