What is Christian Zionism?
All Palestinians regardless of their faith face similar challenges. However, Palestinian Christians face a specific kind of challenge from Christian Zionists who manipulate scripture to support the oppression of Palestinians. Peacemaker Trust works to end the causes of conflicts, including the role of Christian Zionism in the conflict. Here’s what you need to know about Christian Zionism and what you can do so that together we can rise up.
Join us for a Kumi Now online session with the Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer, founder of Peacemakers Trust, and other special guests on Tuesday, June 9, at 6:00 PM East Jerusalem, Palestine time (UTC+3). You can register to be part of the Zoom conference call on the Kumi Now Online page. You can also watch from our Facebook page, and a replay will be available in the coming days here, on the Kumi Now Online page, and on our YouTube account.
Many charities do superb work ameliorating the consequences of war and conflict: for example, caring for refugees, the wounded, the bereaved, and orphaned. Peacemaker Trust seeks to address the causes.
We aspire to be catalysts for peacemaking, especially where minorities are persecuted, where justice is denied, human rights are suppressed, or reconciliation is needed. Our vision is of a world reconciled to God and where people are at peace with one another. The Reverend Doctor Stephen Sizer is the founder and director. His PhD thesis examined the historical roots, theological basis, and political consequences of Christian Zionism.
Peacemaker Trust encourages you to host a screening at your church, school, or youth group of the film “With God on our Side” – available as a DVD or downloadable at: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/490. You can also obtain a series of free Bible studies to be used alongside or independently of the film: http://www.stephensizer.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/WGOOS-Study-Guide.pdf
At its simplest, Christian Zionism is Christian support for Zionism. Christian Zionists uphold the secular ideology of Zionism that is a national movement for the return of the Jewish people to Palestine and the sovereignty of the Jews over the whole land. They see themselves as defenders of the Jewish people and the state of Israel. Christian Zionists are organized into a broad coalition of agencies around the world. There are an estimated 250 Christian Zionist organizations operating in America alone.
Christian Zionists claim that the promise of the land made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph was unconditional and eternal. God who scattered Israel will gather Israel back1. Christian Zionists believe that Jewish people are the chosen race and have a unique relationship to God. According to their biblical literalism, they believe the Church’s responsibility is to provide comfort and blessing to Israel in order to keep God’s blessing.Those deemed to be critical of Israel are viewed as thwarting God’s will.
Fundamental to Christian Zionist theology is the concept of dispensationalism, which speculates that God planned the world from beginning to end according to a timetable. Israel plays the main role throughout the last period, when it is to be restored as a nation, rebuild the Temple, and reinstate the priesthood and sacrificial system. Christian Zionists believe this will trigger the stage where Christ will return in the air to “rapture” the Church before the tribulation begins on earth2.
For Christian Zionists, the true borders of Israel are defined according to the biblical promise to Abraham3. Therefore, they believe the Jewish people have the absolute right to possess and dwell in Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and the Golan. Christian Zionists believe that Jerusalem must remain under Israeli control and that international embassies should be located there. They have ignored international law4 and voiced their opposition to peace negotiations seeking an end to the occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state.
Christian Zionists view Palestinians as alien residents in Israel. Many are reluctant even to acknowledge Palestinians as a distinct people, claiming that they emigrated to Israel from surrounding Arab countries in recent centuries. Christian Zionists have no interest in the existence of Arab Christians despite the fact that they are heirs to the early church.
In responding to Christian Zionism, our reading of the Bible emphasizes and reiterates the values of human rights and international law. God, creator and redeemer, loves all people equally and demands that justice be done. The Church of Scotland writes, “Christians should not be supporting any claims by any people to an exclusive or even privileged divine right to possess particular territory. We believe that is a misuse of the Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament) and the New Testament to use it as a topographic guide to settle contemporary conflicts over land. In the Bible, God’s promises extend in hope to all land and people.”5
1 Deuteronomy 30:13, Jeremiah 31:10 and Isaiah 11:11-12
2 Predictions based on Revelation 20
3 Genesis 17: 1-8
4 See United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Hague regulations
5 The Church of Scotland, “The Inheritance of Abraham? A Report on the ‘Promised Land’” (May 2013)
Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer on Challenging Christian Zionism
Nine out of every ten Zionists are so-called Christians. The Israel lobby is therefore ultra-sensitive when Christian Zionism is challenged. The standard tactic used against anyone defending Palestinian rights or challenging Zionism is to intimidate you with emails, letters, and phone calls. If that doesn’t work they will try and isolate you by defaming you and intimidating others. If that fails, they will try and incriminate you through guilt by association, or with spurious accusations of antisemitism or holocaust denial.
In my case, it began with attempts to have my PhD from Middlesex University revoked and by challenging my examiners. When my thesis was published, they tried to pressure the publisher to withdraw my books. They repeatedly used anonymity to attack me online. They telephoned and wrote to members of my church staff to persuade them to leave or disassociate from me. They brought a formal complaint, which was eventually withdrawn, against me to my bishop. They repeatedly intimidated the staff and trustees of various charities I was associated with. Invitations to speak at conferences were occasionally withdrawn due to pressure. When I have spoken at conferences they have tried to disrupt the meetings. So, if you are motivated to advocate for justice, peace and reconciliation in Palestine, be prepared to be targeted, vilified, and ostracised. Then remember you are in good company.
Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.” (Luke 6:22-23)
Speak with a representative of your school library or community library, encouraging them to stock more digital and physical resources and books that counteract the harmful politics and theology of Christian Zionism. Ask them to stock the books mentioned in the ‘Additional Resources’ section of this entry or buy one of these books yourself and donate it to a library or pass it on to a friend!
Take pictures of the books you requested or donated and share them on social media. Include a link to this page of the Kumi Now website along with the hashtags #KumiNow and #Kumi34.
“Ten Measures of Beauty”
Ten measures of beauty God gave to the world
Nine to Jerusalem, one to the rest
Ten measures of sorrow God gave to the world
Nine to Jerusalem, one to the rest
So pray for the peace, pray for the peace
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem
From “Ten Measures of Beauty” by Garth Hewitt, a singer-songwriter from England. Explore other works by this artist at http://www.garthhewitt.org/. Full lyrics can be found at http://www.garthhewitt.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Songs-from-the-Fifth-Gospel-lyrics.compressed.pdf.
You can download a useful outline to refute Christian Zionism called “Seven Biblical Answers to Popular Zionist Assumptions”: http://www.stephensizer.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/7answers.pdf
“The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism” from Peacemaker Trust: https://peacemakers.ngo/2018/07/29/the-jerusalem-declaration-on-christian-zionism/
“Christian Jihad: A Biblical Basis for Proactive Peacemaking” by Stephen Sizer: http://www.stephensizer.com/2017/10/christian-jihad-a-biblical-basis-for-proactive-peacemaking/
“The inheritance of Abraham? A report on the ‘promised land’” from the Church of Scotland: http://whtt.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/The-Inheritance-of-Abraham-Church-of-Scotland-20130501.pdf
- Naim Ateek, Cedar Duaybis, and Mauine Tobin (eds) Challenging Christian Zionism (Melisende, 2005)
- Gary Burge, Whose Land, Whose Promise? (Authentic, 2003)
- Colin Chapman, Whose Promised Land? (Lion publishing, 2002)
- Stephen Sizer, Christian Zionism: Roadmap to Armageddon? (IVP, 2004)
- Stephen Sizer, Zion’s Christian Soldiers?: The Bible, Israel and the Church (IVP, 2007)
- Porter Speakman, With God on our Side (DVD)
For more pictures see https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephensizer/collections/72157604062917806/
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