CHRISTIAN ZIONISM

Doctrinal

Stephen Sizer is a minister in the UK and chairman of the International Bible Society(UK).  He is a frequent visitor to the Middle East.  His book is essential reading for any Western evangelical seeking to understand the religious dimensions of the conflict in the Middle East.  He shows how the doctrine of the last things( eschatology) as taught in many Western evangelical churches has become embedded in American support for Israel.  Christian Zionism is a theology that manipulates its hearers into attitudes which are anti-Palestinian and pro-Israeli and shows no dignity or justice to either of those peoples. “Zionism” is a term, first coined in the late nineteenth century, referring to a movement formed to promote the return of the Jewish people to a secure homeland in Palestine.  This doctrine initially found little support among the Jews but its vision was nourished and shaped by Christians.  Those Christians were the British Premillenial teachers often from a Brethren background as well as those prominent in prophetic conferences held in both Dublin and England in the earlier part of the nineteenth century. These teachings emerged  into the mainstream of evangelical belief, especially in the USA. In particular they were popularized by the use of the Schofield reference bible and the preaching of prominent evangelical figures.  The contemporary Christian Zionist movement developed after the 1967 ‘six days war’ and has continuing impact both in and out of the churches of the western world as regards attitudes to the Jew and the Palestinian.  There are evangelical Christians who have no idea of historical development, variant forms, theological emphases and political implications of what is taught concerning the ‘end times’ both in many popular books and in their churches.  Writers such as Hal Lindsey and the series of books based around “Left Behind” are expressions of a Premillenial viewpoint which necessarily embraces support for the Jew as against the Palestinian.  Stephen Sizers’ book is a helpful survey of the roots of Christian Zionism and contains critical assessment that repudiates both nationalistic Zionism and anti-semitism.  Many Christians support the state of Israel for theological reasons, this book challenges the assumptions of that theology.  This book helps to dispel ignorance on this most important topic. Increasingly Middle Eastern Christians are being put at risk because of the actual and perceived bias in favor of the Jew against the Palestinian.  It behoves us to examine openly whether such bias is at all justified and if it is not, to radically change our attitudes and behaviour.  This book helps to clarify the issues and encourages us to decision.

Last modified: June 29, 2021

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