"I am glad to commend Stephen Sizer's ground-breaking critique of Christian Zionism. His comprehensive overview of its roots, its theological basis and its political consequences is very timely. I myself believe that Zionism, both political and Christian, is incompatible with biblical faith. Stephen's book has helped to reinforce this conviction." Revd Dr John Stott, Rector Emeritus, All Soul's, Langham Place, London, the principal framer of the Lausanne Covenant (1974) and founder of the Langham Partnership International (author of more than 40 books including Basic Christianity, The Cross of Christ, The Contemporary Christian, Evangelical Truth and New Issues Facing Christians Today, and eight New Testament expositions (Acts, Romans etc.) in the 'Bible Speaks Today' series published by IVP).
"Stephen Sizer's Christian Zionism : Road Map to Armageddon? is essential reading for any western evangelical trying to understand the religious dimensions of American support for Israel. Sizer writes as an insider within the church, not as a critic watching from afar. And he shows with exacting clarity how evangelical eschatology has now embedded itself in a modern political ideology. One quick read of this book will change anyone's perspective on the Middle East permanently." Professor Gary M. Burge, Professor of New Testament, Wheaton College & Graduate School, Wheaton (author of Whose Land, Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told About Israel and the Palestinians).
Sizer's work on Christian Zionism is the most important and comprehensive on the
subject to date, and should be read by all students of the Middle East and by
Christians concerned about a just resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Christian Zionism raises vital theological and political challenges that must
be addressed head-on by Christians in the West, particularly evangelicals. The
impact of this terribly misguided movement is increasingly putting Christians
in the Middle East at risk, and it seems a far cry from the witness and message
of Jesus Christ." Professor Don Wagner,
North Park University, Chicago (author of Anxious for
Armageddon & Dying in the Land of Promise).
"There is admirable depth and careful perspective in Stephen Sizer's comprehensive survey of the political, exegetical and moral implications of Christian Zionism. If the apocalyptic ones, darkly suggested by the cover design, remain the hidden future, the logic for them is well clarified Readers who can match the author's capacity for incisive documentation and his rigorous way with complexity are rewarded with a masterly presentation with which to wrestle His commendable labours will well equip his readers to address them. Meanwhile, perhaps we have to say that Armageddon also is sub judice." The Right Revd Kenneth Cragg, retired Assistant Bishop in Jerusalem (author of The Call of the Minaret; The Arab Christian; Mohammed and the Christian; Readings in the Qur'an; The House of Islam; Islam among the Spires; Troubled by Truth; The Dome and the Rock.)
am pleased to commend Stephen Sizers masterly book for exposing the sectarian
roots, dubious theology and destructive consequences of Christian Zionism. It
shifts the focus of Gods redemptive purposes away from the Church, the New
Israel, and onto a contemporary secular State. Gods continuing love for
the Jewish people must not be confused with aspirations for an earthly kingdom
which Jesus has already repudiated. Prebendary
Dick Lucas, Chairman of the Proclamation Trust
and Rector Emeritus of St Helens, Bishopsgate, London (author of Teaching
John Unlocking the Gospel of John for the Expositor, The Unashamed Workman: Tools
for Biblical Preaching; Read Mark Learn Romans; The Message of Colossians &
the Message of 2 Peter & Jude in the Bible Speaks Today series
published by IVP).
"Nearly a thousand years ago, European Crusaders tried to colonise Palestine, fuelling religious hatred and bringing the indigenous Christian community close to extinction. It is tragic, if ironic, that misguided Western Christian Zionists, by their one-sided political support for Israel, are today succeeding where the Crusaders failed. Stephen Sizer's ground-breaking new book on Christian Zionism exposes how this heretical theology is having devastating political consequences in the Middle East. It is heartbreaking to see misguided Christians identifying more with Ahab and Jezebel than with Naboth. On a daily basis we are seeing our land confiscated, our vineyards destroyed, our homes demolished, our children traumatised and our future negated for the sake of an earthly kingdom which the Lord Jesus has plainly repudiated. I commend Stephen's important and prophetic book in calling Evangelical Christians, in particular, to break the spiral of violence and hatred. Instead we must obey the teachings of the Prince of Peace who has called us to a ministry of reconciliation rather than listen to the false prophets of Armageddon whose apocalyptic message is in danger of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy." The Right Revd Riah Abu El Assal, Episcopal Bishop of Jerusalem (author of Caught in Between).
"You are a brave man as ever and I am sure I am not alone in being grateful to you for the stand you have taken which is hugely needed both in the Christian community and the wider world." Right Revd John Gladwin, Bishop of Chelmsford. (author of God's People in God's World).
"Having heard Stephen Sizer at the Sabeel International Conference in Jerusalem a year and a half ago, I can vouch for him as an articulate and vigorous speaker, and an expert on Christian Zionism." Right Revd Allen Bartlett, Assisting Bishop of the Diocese of Washington.
"I hope it will spread widely in evangelical circles and I am particularly glad that IVP have published it, thereby endorsing our judgment. [Christian Zionism] is an ultimately totally unbiblical menace." Right Revd Simon Barrington-Ward, retired Bishop of Coventry and former Principal of Crowther Hall, Selly Oak Colleges and General Secretary of the Church Mission Society. Presently Chaplain to the staff of Ridley Hall, Cambridge. (author of Love Will Out, Why God?, The Jesus Prayer and co-author of Praying the Jesus Prayer)
" the linking of this [Romans 9-11] to the land, to the founding of the state of Israel, regarding the latter as a sign of the ingathering of Jews at the end of human history, has no real basis in a balanced reading of the scriptures The kind of massive theological foundation that Christian Zionists give to the state of Israel is both unfounded and very unhelpful in the present context A thorough analysis of Christian Zionism, together with a critique of it is provided by Stephen Sizer, Christian Zionism, Road Map to Armageddon?" Cited in "Countering Terrorism: Power, Violence and Democracy Post 9/11" A Report by the Working Group of the Church of England's House of Bishops, chaired by the Rt Revd Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford, (September 2005); p.46.
"Stephen's careful study of this movement demonstrates that theology really matters and, if the theology is wrong, the consequences are disastrous. I hope that Christian Zionists who read this book will recognize that it is written by someone who believes in the inspiration and authority of Scripture as they do, and will consider carefully the challenge he brings to their particular line of interpretation." Dr David Peterson, Principal of Oak Hill College, London (author of Engaging with God, Hebrews and Perfection & Possessed by God).
on Christian Zionism. The index alone makes my mouth water, since this is the
scholarly treatment to counteract the rabid prophecy pack for which I had been
searching. I couldn't be happier that this is published. You and I see eye to
eye on this issue... Yours is a true prophetic voice so badly needed in the current
prophecy frenzy. And when this mania also affects national and international policy,
the danger takes on larger proportions." Professor
Paul Maier, Russell
H. Seibert Professor of Ancient History in the Department of History, College
of Arts and Sciences, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo. (author Josephus
- The Essential Works; Eusebius - The Church History; A Skeleton in God's Closet;
More Than a Skeleton; (with H. Hanegraaff), The Da Vinci Code - Fact or
"No Christian leader or layperson who is interested in biblical, theological or political matters related to the Middle East or to Israel's part in its future can afford not to read this volume." Professor Ronald Youngblood, retired professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Bethel Theological Seminary, San Diego, California, translator of Today's New International Version and Chairman of the Board of Directors of International Bible Society, (author of Nelsons New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, the Zondervan NASB Study Bible, The Heart of the Old Testament, and The Challenge of Bible Translation).
"I recommend the book wholeheartedly. It is timely, and really vital, in view of the present attitude of both U.S. and British governments to the Israel-Palestine conflict. It demonstrates how a firm principle of Christian hope has been distorted and misapplied in a cruel and destructive manner. Until the Christian attitude to Zionism is changed, I fear that the situation will continue to deteriorate and that those evangelicals who have embraced Zionism will continue to do immense damage to the Christian Church. I think it is a "must read" book for every serious evangelical today." Professor Ron Clements, Emeritus Professor of Old Testament Studies, King's College, London, (author of Wisdom for a Changing World: Wisdom in Old Testament Theology: Berkeley Tanner Lectures; Old Testament Theology: A Fresh Approach, Isaiah 1-13: The New Century Bible Commentary, Wisdom in Theology, Ezekiel: Westminster Bible Companion, Prophecy and Tradition, One Hundred Years of Old Testament Interpretation).
"In the past quarter century, evangelical fundamentalist Christian Zionism has developed into a major theological movement and has made a significant political impact in the United States. Its effect upon the Arab-Israeli conflict continues to increase yearly. Unfortunately, many Christians and non-Christians possess little knowledge of this phenomenon. Stephen Sizer's book is without doubt the best and most comprehensive analysis to date about Christian Zionism; it deserves to be read seriously." Professor Norton Mezvinsky, University Professor of History, Central Connecticut State University, (author of Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel, Jewish History, Jewish Religion & Open Secrets: Israeli Nuclear and Foreign Policies).
"This study of Christian Zionism, based on Stephen Sizer's doctoral thesis, is of seminal significance. It provides a fascinating survey of the history of Christian Zionism and an indepth analysis of the theology of this highly important and influential movement." Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Professor of Jewish Theology and Director of the Centre for the Study of the World's Religions at the University of Wales at Lampeter. (author of Israel: The History of an Idea, & Antisemitism).
"Stephen is the foremost authority on the phenomenon of Christian Zionism in Britain today. He communicates with conviction and insight his critique of this profound misreading of the Bible. He challenged me to consider how I read Scripture; what I believe about the relationship of Jewish people to God and how the Christian churches in this country should be supporting the people of Israeli and Palestinian people." Revd John Rackley, President of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Minister of Manvers Street Baptist Church, Bath and a Chaplain to the University of Bath.
"Stephen Sizer has written a masterly book on a controversial subject. Some of us have soaked up teaching about Christian Zionism from the footnotes of a Schofield Reference Bible or from Hal Lindsey's bestseller The Late Great Planet Earth, or from the leaders of certain Christian tours to Israel. Probably we have read very little that critically examines its basic assumptions. Sizer sets out to evaluate Christian Zionism critically from a biblical and historical perspective Sizer's clear thinking, scholarly and reverent critique of Christian Zionism certainly needs to be read alongside the Scriptures, with the utmost seriousness." Canon Gordon Bridger, former Principal of Oak Hill College, 1987-96, (author of The Man from Outside, A Day that Changed the World, Bible Study Commentary 1 Corinthians-Galatians).
"I believe Stephen Sizer is one of the most authoritative scholars in the world on the vital issue of Christian Zionism. He is a very important voice speaking out against this destructive movement that is killing us [Palestinians] through its theology." Canon Naim Ateek, Founder & Director of Sabeel, Jerusalem (author of Justice and Only Justice).
"The Christian world has needed an alternative theology towards Israel for over 50 years, as a polemic to the messianic Zionism which continues to fan the flames of conflict in the Middle East. Evangelical Christians have contributed over $65 billion in the last 5 decades to help Jews immigrate to Israel on the basis of an eschatological vision which extends the wait for a solution to the problems in Israel. With Dr. Sizer's examination of a covenant based theology towards Israel offers a basis for liberation from its role in this conflict." Douglas Heming, King's College Institute for Faith and Foreign Policy, University of London.
"It is very timely and ... a serious work on what is such a very troubling and troublesome issue for the Christians of the Holy Land as well as world wide." Abuna Elias Chacour, Founder of the Mar Elias Educational Institutions, Ibillin, Galilee (author of Blood Brothers & We Belong to the Land).
"This is a masterly and highly readable analysis of the history, the world-view and the political implications of Christian Zionism. Sizer has thrown down the gauntlet in a way that demands a response from those who support the state of Israel for theological reasons." Colin Chapman, Lecturer in Islamic Studies at the Near East School of Theology, Lebanon. (author of Whose Promised Land? & Whose Promised City?).
"Sizer's book is a strong and powerful corrective to many popular books that too easily catch the Christian imagination (for example Tim LaHaye's Left Behind series and Hal Lindsey's Late Great Planet Earth). He shows convincingly how these dispensational speculations may well be untrue to the Bible as a whole and certainly undermine genuine peace efforts in the Middle East. It is time for Christians in the West to grow up in their thinking and to wake up to their responsibilities in the land where Jesus once walked with his message of Good News for all." Revd Dr Peter Walker, Lecturer in New Testament Studies, Biblical Theology and Preaching, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. (author of Jesus and the Holy City).
"I can't thank you enough for helping me dig to the essence of Christian Zionism as a theology. It's a satirist's dream. I feel like I'm having all the fun while you do the heavy lifting. I write comedy and spike it with embed links to your on-line scholarship." Irving Wesley Hall (author of We're not in Kansas Anymore and co-author of In Search of Truth) www.notinkansas.us
any book deserves the accolade of being the definitive critique of 'Christian
Zionism', it is this. Popular, lucid and readable, this is a dispassionate and
scholarly yet critical evaluation of the phenomenon. His theological critique
of Dispensationalist Zionism, is masterly - notably of the way modern advocates
such as Hal Lindsey manage to find America in the Bible!" Dr
"Stephen Sizer's, Christian Zionism: Road-map to Armageddon? is a book every Christian should read. Christian Zionism is one of the most serious issues of our time. Despite being seriously flawed, it has significantly shaped the beliefs of many sincere Christian people as well as foreign policy of governments concerning the Middle East. Sizer, with exacting and extensive research, has exposed Christian Zionism as not only erroneous, but dangerous. This is without doubt the most thorough critique I have read and I urge Christians everywhere to read it also." Alistair Donaldson, Ministry Internship and Field Education Coordinator, Bible College of New Zealand, Christchurch, New Zealand.
been fantastically helpful, and enabled me to get my Hal Lindsay influenced teenage
years into complete rather than approximate context." Dr
John Wilks, Director
of Open Learning, The London School of Theology.
"Once again a Semitic group of people are suffering, particularly through the racism of Christians - this time it¹s the Palestinians. Stephen Sizer's masterly overview on Christian Zionism shows us how this appalling fact becomes a reality. Hopefully it will help Christians to expunge all racism and anti-Semitism (whether against Palestinian or Jew) from our theology and become the peacemakers Jesus called us to be. As Stephen traces the history of Christian Zionism, our eyes are opened to a theology that manipulates and oppresses and shows no dignity or justice to Jew or Palestinian. It is time for a theology that values all equally instead of a theology that sees God as biased." Revd Garth Hewitt, Founder and International Director of the Amos Trust. (author of Pilgrims and Peacemakers, Journey to Jerusalem & Towards the Dawn).
I knew something about Balfour's 'declaration' but nothing of the Christian Zionism that was behind his support of a homeland for the Jews. Stephen Sizer's excellent book shows the role of Christian fundamentalist thinking in moulding the politics of the UK in the 1800's and which provided the political groundwork that enabled Zionism to flourish. He goes on to show how this same fundamentalism plays a major role in shaping US policy today. In attempting to understand and counter the terrorist attacks that we are seeing today, we need to look not just at Muslim fundamentalism. We must also look at Christian Zionism that had such part in the carve up of the Middle East after the Ottoman Empire, that underpins US support for Israel today and plays a major part in stimulating that Muslim fundamentalism. Misinterpretation of the bible gave rise to Apartheid and was rightly exposed as a heresy. Christian Zionism needs similar treatment. Sizer provides a very well written and researched book giving not only the problems but also ideas for a solution. Dr Roger Spooner, former Honorary Professor, Edinburgh University.
"Well, that was absolutely fantastic! A thousand thanks for two of the best hours that I have had at Oak Hill and that the students will have throughout CD 6.12. These have not only given us a much clearer grasp of the various dimensions of dispensationalism but have also provoked further thought about the implications for our own personal commitments and teaching ministry." Revd Dr David Field, Lecturer in Christian Doctrine and Ethics, Oak Hill Theological College, London. (author of Taking Sides).
'This is one of the best-researched pieces of work I have read. The author takes immense trouble to substantiate his ideas with evidence, and makes his case convincingly and in a scholarly yet accessible fashion. It makes thought-provoking reading and challenges many too-often unthinkingly held opinions'. Enid Mellor, Retired Lecturer in Religious Education, King's College, London (author of The Making of the Old Testament).
"Stephen Sizer exposes the inconsistencies of much alleged 'literal interpretation' of much Christian Zionism and demonstrates its pernicious and widespread political consequences." Canon Dr Michael Butterworth, Principal of the St Albans and Oxford Ministry Course, Oxford.
"A well written book on a vital subject. All Christians should read this book which documents one of the most important subjects to face us in the 21st century." Father Michael Harper, Dean of the British Antiochian Orthodox Deanery and a director of The Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies, Wesley House, Cambridge. (author of A Faith Fulfilled & Let My People Grow).
"I've read some remarkable books, but this may top the list - a masterpiece. This book is for honest people. The graphic detail beginning with the 18th century, to the present time, includes incredible detail and many quotes from well known prominent people; it compels the reader to see cause and effect in the way the Zionist movement developed, It then is obvious that the inhuman and un-Christian thrust of Zionism becomes the responsibility of all citizens of democratic governments. The remarkable clarity of detail of this book shows the origins of Christian Zionism and how it developed into a powerful force that encourages the destruction of millions of people and also destruction of most of the world. It shows that much of that interest is at cross-purposes with Christian values. The book is amazingly enlightening. If one is sincerely interested in learning how Christian Zionism originated, grew and developed into one of the world's most powerful forces, this is a book to read. It gives frightening detail about the values that lead directly to some of the most cruel activities of our time. It also suggests solutions to this inhuman movement. This masterful, well researched study of Christian Zionism gives an overview of it that exposes the perpetrators with remarkable clarity. If one wishes to know what this phenomenon is and how it now plays out in unbelievably cruel ways, this book can reveal it A sub-title might well be; But where is Christianity?" Jake Terpstra, Retired elder of the Christian Reformed Church and Specialist in Child Welfare, Foster Care, Residential Care and Licensing for the Children's Bureau, Administration for Children, Youth and Families (ACYP) & member of the Christian Reformed Church of America
"My Serena and I simply adored your CD, which we listened to on a journey to Norfolk and back. The miles flew by! I thought it was superb, crystal clear and challenging and both of us wished it could have been twice as long. Unpacking the mess is going to be incredibly difficult and, sadly, the Church seems to be absolutely divided and rather viciously so on the issues." Charlie Colchester, International Director, CARE.
"Drawing on history, politics and theology, Stephen Sizer raises the level of strategic conversation regarding the Middle East crisis. His book will help leaders in both America and Europe generate "gamechanging" scenarios for faith to diffuse the doomsday plan created by a century of Zionism." Jay Gary, Founder of Christian Futures Network (author of The Star of 2000).
"I am finding 'Christian Zionism' so very, very helpful - giving clarity to years of holding the views you support, but much more so, in the current political climate... For sometime now I've felt that there will need to be an ideological shift in the USA on a par with that which saw apartheid end in RSA - and much of that had to come from the churches." The Venerable Eddie Shirras, retired Vicar of Christ Church, Winchester and Archdeacon of Northolt.
"Stephen Sizer is impressive in his ability to address one of the most complex issues of our day with an air of ease and simplicity... his presentations were seminal and exactly what leaders of international ministries such as ours needed to receive." Timothy R. King, President, Presence Ministries International, Colorado Springs (author of The Spirit of Prophecy).
Sizer exemplifies the researcher and spokesman of truth
His book: Christian
Zionism: Road - Map to Armageddon is a unique and comprehensive work about the
truth of Christian Zionism
I urge every Christian and Muslim to read this
book in order to discover the reality of one of the most dangerous and heretical
movements in the world which fuels the Arab-Israeli conflict and contradicts the
teaching of Jesus by supporting oppression, justifying occupation and perpetuating
unjust solutions for the conflict." Othman Moqbel,
Department of Theology, University of Nottingham, the Former
President of The Federation for Students Islamic Societies (FOSIS) (2001-2004)
& The Treasurer of the Association of Muslim Chaplains (AMC).
Diaspora or Reasserted Zion? A Review of Christian Zionism by Bishop Kenneth Cragg
for Living Stones Journal
There is admirable depth and careful perspective in Stephen Sizer's comprehensive survey of the political, exegetical and moral implications of Christian Zionism. If the apocalyptic ones, darkly suggested by the cover design, remain the hidden future, the logic for them is well clarified.
Basic terms are clearly defined and the 18th-century origins of 'premillennial Restorationism' in Britain, taken as further in the 19th by speculative dispensationlism, caught up as these were in their idiosyncratic perceptions of the nature of mission and the place of Jewry in its sights. This shape of biblical handling coincided with broader evangelical sympathies in the political realm, symbolised by the eminent Lord Shaftsbury. The tangled negotiations behind the issue of the Balfour Declaration, in the form of a letter to Lord Rothschild, a prominent British Jew, late in 1917, are assessed against this background.
The analysis then shifts to the emergence of Christian Zionism in the USA and the confluence of sundry factors as to 'restoration', covenantal faith and-Arno Gaebelein-an inverted suspicion of 'anti-Semitism' in the strictures he had for 'secular Jews' whose reprehensible behaviour queried his predilection for 'worthy Zionist' Jews.
If the British factors, all the way from Irving and Darby to Shaftsbury and Spurgeon, facilitated the Balfour Declaration in its Zionist intent, the American narrative paved the way for still more defining consequence in the Partition Vote of thirty years later (1917-1947). The Biblicists are all diligently reviewed with references textual, and graphs, before Sizer moves to examine the organisational activity by which, in and away from Israel, objectives were pursued.
Those hundred or so pages are followed by another equally meticulous hundred on the theologies at stake, in respect of futurism, covenant, chosen-ness and its bearing on non-Jewish relation, and the concept of 'return'. How these concepts were translated on the ground in Eretz Israel leads to the vexed issues of borders, of the status of Jerusalem, the Temple and anticipations of the future as the bias in eschatology might discern of distort it. It remains for the author to assess the current political situation, the elusiveness of peace and the immediate crisis to which the long narrative has led. Readers who can match the author's capacity for incisive documentation and his rigorous way with complexity are rewarded with a masterly presentation with which to wrestle.
so suggests to any reviewer two responsive reflections which belong together.
The one is the tragic misnomer that talks of 'Christian Zionism'. The other is
the triple irony that hangs over it-over its story and its cast of mind. Doubtless
the term is now so far current that there is no avoiding it. Yet it remains a
contradiction in terms and so obscures how 'a Christian Zionism' could be of a
very different order. Review might well conclude in pondering what it might be-and
Meanwhile, anticipating that, there is the triple irony in the conventional sense of 'Christian Zionism'. It has better be thought 'the Zionism of some Christians', or 'Christians and Zionist-issues between', or, with that ever elusive conjunction: 'Christians and Zionism'.
The three ironies will show why the phrasing matters. They are inter-related as (1) the primacy of 'God in Christ' in Biblical exegesis, (2) the integrity at stake, and (3) neglect of the supreme moralism of the great Hebrew prophets.
The duties of Biblical exegesis are taxing and easy literalism eludes them. It fails to set all under the priority of 'the Word made flesh' and the 'redemptive work of Christ' in its inclusive meaning in 'whosoever will may come', and its 'authority' to make all 'the children of God' on the sole, sufficient ground of faith. This does not cancel the historical precedence of 'the chosen people', or mean 'supersession', inasmuch as their inclusion perpetuates their standing inside the New Testament denominator of 'whosoever will' and the consequent vocation of all human ethnic and cultural identities to learn themselves 'chosen' instruments of the divine employ, of which original Israel had been a 'pilot scheme', a world exemplar in its given destiny-a destiny splendidly realised in the universalling of that 'people-of-God'-calling accessible, by personal faith, to the acceptance of all and sundry. Hence that ringing Ephesians word of ' no more Gentiles', and the insistent tautology of 'all peoples, tongues, kindred and nations' in the mind of John of Patmos.
This New Testament event, the mutual emergence of 'things historical believed' and the Church ensuing from believing them, deserves to control and discipline all Biblical exegesis lest its priority be forfeit. The 'two covenant theory', often adopted by 'Christian Zionists, does violence to the entire New Testament, ignores the initiatives of a wholly Jewish apostolate in opening 'a door of faith to Gentiles', and implies, or insists, that the Christian Church is where Jews are neither expected nor wanted-a most heinous form of anti-Semitism, as if to argue a faith-world without Jews. Inter-testamental relations now plead to be on far more solid theology than this facile one which 'heals all hurts slightly' and does justice to neither faith.
There was a healthy reproof in the teaching of Jesus himself for over-much subtlety about 'times and seasons'. It is well to have them stay in the keeping of the Lord we can trust on the 'event-told' trustworthiness of 'God in Christ'. 'Why stand ye gazing?' is a call we need to heed when trapped in over-much 'intuiting'.
Meanwhile vast moral issues wait for us here and now. One is our own integrity. There has often been a wry humour for the Menahem Begins of the Golda Meirs who have welcomed American 'Christian Zionists' to the Holy Land, accepted their ample dollars and taken them to visit the shrine of Yad-va-Shem. The wry-ness belongs with the vision, via help to Zion, of a duly mass entry of Jews into Christian faith. The one 'ingathering' will be prelude to the other. Was it well-the mixed motive apart-to read Paul's yearning for his people in quite those literal terms, terms that override his own constant insistence that the faith 'saved' was the faith of the private heart? Was it not truly 'evangelical' both to love and give disinterestedly and to have 'the kingdom of heaven' increase by gentle persuasion of its invitation, all other motives out?
But that integrity issue deepens far in the third irony we noted, namely the way in which 'Christian Zionism' ignores the ethicism of an Amos, a Hosea, an Isaiah or a Micah. It has been well said that these are the surest, deepest mentors of Eretz Israel today, its most rigorous monitors of its destiny. What of steady settlement creation, at great Palestinian cost, in the light of Isaiah's cry: 'Woe to them that join house to house and field to field, until there is no room, that they may dwell alone in the midst of the earth' (5.8)? How would Micah's 'do justly ' square with bulldozed dwellings and uprooted olive groves and demolished houses under the exigencies of military sequestration or illegal confiscation?
how might Jeremiah's famous sermon at the Temple gate (7.1-7) rings in the ears
of would-be invasive Israeli elements bent on enflaming highly inflammable emotions
of religious enmity (here grimly analysed by Stephen Sizer, pp. 234-39)? Or could
these bitter 'lamentations' attributed to Jeremiah not somehow echo in the souls
of Palestinians, grieving at the forfeiture of their patrimony in the slow, sometimes
cunning, always sinister, process of Israeli self-creation? To be sure, there
was the compassionate reminder (Exodus 23.9) about 'loving the stranger' in recollection
of the like Jewish experience in the land of Egypt. But what when 'the stranger'
had been made such, where they believed that they authentically belonged, where
they had never been fugitive guests as Israel had been, thanks to the Pharaonic
reception of a Jewish Joseph?
One nationalism, the Zionist, had contrived to threaten another, the Palestinian, and could even hint that the other had only discovered itself thanks to the Israeli presence, as though it were a pseudo thing. That implied negation of another's legitimacy came to be symbolised in the construction of 'the wall', ironically truncating a single land allegedly loved above all by those who built it. Could it be that Zionism could assert itself and make itself good territorially only at the price if the effective de-legitimising of another people no less married to the same territory and with no less lengthy emotional tenancy and a more continuous practical one?
It is not difficult on moral ground to realise how a Hosea or an Isaiah would now passionately interrogate and accuse the patterns of Israeli story since Balfour. 'On moral grounds' we must say. For the contexts do not correspond. Those great accusatory figures addressed the courts of political power but never occupied the thrones. They were within the Judaic power equation (hence their moral relevance now) but that power focus was itself under Assyrian or Chaldean threat-the threat from which some Amos drew his judgement as to guilt. How would he or his kindred spirit address the ruling, power-girt Jewish reality now?
At least Hosea leaves us in doubt. Things ethical are prior to things political, whatever the fashion of the latter. In Hosea 1.9 he is bold to cancel-by direct quotation the first 'God peopling' mandate in Exodus 3.14. 'I am not the "I am" you think I am' and (in those terms) 'you are not my people.' Surely in his anguish of heart he is using the utmost negation only in order to tell the supreme condition of its ever being positive.
'Chosen' status is not a perquisite but a vocation, not a prize but a privilege. It is here surely that any ministry of a truly 'Christian Zionism' to Zion in Israel should find its ministry of heart and hand. Only so would it be in obedience to the perspective of the New Testament and the divine intent of grace that, thanks to the first mentor in the 'the Old', all peoples should have individual access to 'the people of God' and then aspire to read their own nationhood as servant as newly and essentially also 'His people'.
That perception has one final pointer to reflection which readers of Sizer's excellent study may ponder with his help. It has to do with any Christian relation to the current crisis in the meaning of Judaism itself, as between a 'secular' diaspora and a re-asserted Zion. All religion today is caught in something of the same issue-as Islam certainly is. 'How-and who-is the Jew?' Initially Zionism was always a minority answer. During its course it has oddly-at times-used anti-Semitic rhetoric, castigating what it saw as supine, anonymous Jews, languishing among incorrigibly hostile 'Gentiles'. But were not these, or some of them, nobly striving to be 'enlanded' anywhere, finding a morally Jewish destiny in working out in moral contribution their happy compatibility with the tensions and the challenge of a shared, if ever bewildering, modernity? Marc Chagall was glad to salute the generous welcome he had found in the USA and to make his abiding in his beloved Saint-Paul-de-Vence (France) while ever cherishing the memory of his Vitebsk (Russia). Such will to be diligently cosmopolitan in today's exacting world-scene has better Jewish realism than David Ben Gurion's notion that all Jewry should repair to Israel, or that-by the sixties-we should be talking of 'post-Zionism', all things being now de facto done. Both diaspora and Israel have to know that all things are still indeterminate, whether the honest, viable, justly defined size of Israel, or the shape and spirit of a dispersed Jewry among the nations in translation of their 'chosen-ness'. Stephen Sizer's thoughts on these ultimate themes are summarised on pp. 261-64. His commendable labours will well equip his readers to address them. Meanwhile, perhaps we have to say that Armageddon also is sub judice. The Right Revd Kenneth Cragg, retired Assistant Bishop in Jerusalem (author of The Call of the Minaret; The Arab Christian; Mohammed and the Christian; Readings in the Qur'an; The House of Islam; Islam among the Spires; Troubled by Truth; The Dome and the Rock.)
Review by Dr Anthony McRoy for the Church of England Newspaper, September 2005.
If any book deserves the accolade of being the definitive critique of 'Christian Zionism', it is this. Popular, lucid and readable, this is a dispassionate and scholarly yet critical evaluation of the phenomenon. Sizer deconstructs the origins and character of the concept. Sizer notes that opponents of the concept such as the Middle East Council of Churches see the idea as 'heretical and cultic', whilst John Stott describes 'Christian Zionism' as 'biblically anathema', p. 22. The movement has diverse expressions - some are overtly political, such as 'Bridges for Peace' and the so-called 'International Christian Embassy Jerusalem', with more evangelistic organisations such as 'Jews for Jesus' and the 'Church's Ministry among Jewish People', p. 22f. Among its advocates is Pat Robertson, infamous for allegedly suggesting the assassination of the Venezuelan President.
Sizer traces the origins of the concept to Puritan post-millennial ideas of a general conversion of Jews to Christ, to which some added a belief in a Jewish State in Palestine, p. 28ff. It might have been helpful here to add the views of other Puritans such as Richard Baxter who opposed the concept. However, the main source of modern Christian Zionism was John Nelson Darby's Pre-millennial Dispensationalism, p. 50ff. Sizer traces the historical development of the idea, notably in America, p. 66ff, for example in the theology of Moody and Scofield. Interestingly, he shows how it neatly dovetailed with anti-Semitism, especially in the theology of Gaebelein, p. 77ff, which rather undermines smears by Christian Zionists that opponents of the concept are motivated by Judeophobia. His theological critique of Dispensationalist Zionism, p. 106ff, is masterly - notably of the way modern advocates such as Hal Lindsey manage to find America in the Bible!
Sizer is especially good in examining the political implications of Christian Zionism, quoting the US State Department human rights reports that regularly observe that Israeli Arabs are denied equal rights, p. 208, and Sizer goes on to draw parallels with the pillars of South African Apartheid - the Population Registration, Land and Group Areas Acts, and corresponding Israeli legislation. This is where two points could have been made. Why do Christian Zionists, in the face of the evidence, insist that Israeli Arabs do have equal rights? Secondly, Sizer could have examined the phenomenon of Theological Racism in history - the abuse of Matthew 27:25 against Jews, of Genesis 9:27 against Blacks, and corresponding abuse of Scripture against Arabs. The first two forms of Theological Racism only declined when they were no longer socially palatable. Unfortunately, the third form is in good health, and one can only hope that Sizer's book will lead to the redress of the situation. Dr Anthony McRoy, Church of England Newspaper, Friday 30th September 2005, 5788.
by Gordon Bridger for Evangelicals Now, July 2005
"Stephen Sizer has written a masterly book on a controversial subject. Some of us have soaked up teaching about Christian Zionism from the footnotes of a Schofield Reference Bible or from Hal Lindsey's bestseller The Late Great Planet Earth, or from the leaders of certain Christian tours to Israel. Probably we have read very little that critically examines its basic assumptions. Sizer sets out to evaluate Christian Zionism critically from a biblical and historical perspective.
First, he describes the historical roots of Christian Zionism. He defines 'Zionism' as 'the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel'. Christian Zionism can be defined simply as 'Christian support for Zionism'. Sizer traces the emergence of Christian Zionism as a movement from early 19th-century rural England to 21st-century America, and its transition from British sectarianism to mainstream American evangelicalism.
In his second chapter he evaluates the theological emphases of Christian Zionism. These include a literal futurist interpretation of the Bible which inevitably becomes arbitrary. So, according to Mel de Haan (1946), the horsemen of Revelation 9 stand for 'a supernatural army of horrible beings, probably demons', while Hal Lindsey (1973) believes the reference is to Chinese soldiers, and their horses symbolic for 'mobilised ballistic-missile launchers'. Both claim they are offering a 'literal' interpretation of the text.
Sizer also challenges the view that 'the Jews remain God's chosen people, enjoying a unique relationship status and eternal purpose within their own land, separate from any promises made to the church.' He points us to Romans 9 as the key passage to study. The return of the Jews to Zion (Restorationism); reclaiming Judaea, Samaria and beyond (Eretz Israel); making Jerusalem exclusively Jewish; rebuilding the Temple; and the detailed road map to Armageddon are all aspects of Christian Zionism which are critically examined.
There follows a further fascinating chapter on the 'Political implications of Christian Zionism'. Sizer describes several ways in which Christian Zionism has been translated into political action such as facilitating Jewish emigration, supporting the settlement programme and funding the proposed rebuilding of the Temple.
A final chapter discusses the constructive and destructive aspects of Christian Zionism. It is good that dialogue between Jews and Christians has been encouraged; that humanitarian work has been carried out among Jewish refugees, and that anti-Semitism has been discouraged. But there are some worrying signs too. Sizer argues that Christian Zionism has tended to justify a kind of apartheid within an exclusive Jewish state; that it has undermined some Christian witness in the Middle East by its partisan support for Israel; and that it has incited some religious fanaticism by supporting the building of the Temple on the Temple Mount and disputed Jewish settlements.
Sizer explains that the purpose of his book has been to 'make a case for a covenantalist approach to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by focussing on and critiquing its antithesis, namely dispensational Christian Zionism. He defines convenantalism as that understanding of the Bible that teaches 'that God has only ever had one people throughout history . . . those who share the faith of Abraham, whether Jews or Gentiles .. . and one means of atonement, the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ in our place. . . '.
Romans 9-11 and the rest of the New Testament surely support this covenantalist interpretation. Sizer's clear thinking, scholarly and reverent critique of Christian Zionism certainly needs to be read alongside the Scriptures, with the utmost seriousness." Canon Gordon Bridger, former Principal of Oak Hill College, 1987-96, (author of The Man from Outside, A Day that Changed the World, Bible Study Commentary 1 Corinthians-Galatians), presently serving at Cromer Parish Church. Reviewed in Evangelicals Now
book is an excellent overview of three aspects of Christian Zionism: its history,
its theology and its politics. The book's material derives from the author's doctoral
thesis on the subject, but unlike many theses which are turned into books, this
one actually reads like a book rather than a lightly edited thesis. In fact it
is written with both clarity and warmth.
Despite its British origins Christian Zionism's power base is now very much in America. However there is still a significant and growing influence in the UK. Books by Hal Lindsey, Tim La Haye (especially the Left Behind series), as well as various magazines and web sites, mean that Christian Zionism is often well represented in the average congregation. More than that there is commonly a simple assumption made by many evangelical Christians that Israel remains 'special' and that political events in the Middle East have at least some relevance to Biblical prophecy. All this means that there is a need for clarity on this vexed issue and Sizer's book is the first place to turn.
The book divides into three sections - historical, theological and political. There is some overlap between these, and consequently by the end there is a slight feeling of repetition, but given the complexity of the area this is probably necessary. The historical roots of Christian Zionism begins with the eschatology of the Reformers and Puritans but fairly quickly moves to the explosion of Zionist thinking in the nineteenth century. The differences between, and the developments of, each stream of thought are helpfully outlined.
We are introduced to the main developers of Christina Zionist thought, its current protagonists and some of the key events in 'Zionist' history. This historical overview is interesting in its own right but especially so in observing the way a novel theological position can come to be so influential. There are some salutary lessons such as the 'canonising' of dispensational premilleniallism by the Scofield Reference Bible. This gives an example of the damaging effects when such a work becomes so dominant. The current situation of Christian Zionism with the proliferation of organisations and publications devoted to Zionism, and sheer quantity of time and money given to it is staggering. In addition, though, the influence on political issues through history such as British foreign policy is clearly demonstrated, as is the influence on American foreign policy in the later half of the twentieth century. This lays the ground work for the second two sections of the book.
The theological examination of Christian Zionism is the heart of the book. The particular approaches and emphases of different Zionist groupings are explored and discussed. This links with the different streams of thought identified in the previous historical section. Sizer identifies three main streams within dispensationalism: "Apocalyptic dispensationalism is preoccupied with the 'signs of the times'; Messianic dispensationalism with evangelising Jews for Jesus; and political dispensationalism with defending and 'blessing' Israel" (p107).
To a greater or lesser extent there are seven common theological emphases standing behind these different positions:
1. A literal and futurist approach to Scripture which reads current events as fulfilment of prophecy.
2. That Israel and the church remain separate groups with distinct covenants, such that many even disavow evangelisation of Jews.
3. That the restoration of Jews to Zion is in fulfilment of Biblical prophecy.
4. That the true land of Israel extends further than the current borders of the State of Israel and must be possessed again.
5. That Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Zion and cannot be shared or divided.
6. That the temple must be rebuilt in Jerusalem.
7. That there will be the future battle of Armageddon and judgement of the world on the basis of how they have treated the Jewish people.
Within each of these areas the development and variations of thought are discussed. In addition the veracity of each tenant is examined. The critique is along the lines of a promise-fulfilment biblical theology where OT predictions are shadows which are fulfilled in Christ. This critique results in the dismantling of the Christian Zionist position piece by piece.
last section on the political implications of Christian Zionism gives us an amazing
example of why correct hermeneutics and the resulting correct theology matters
so much. Here we have a particular theological position resulting in decisions
made about peoples' financial giving, churches' mission policies and even countries'
Sizer relates the doctrinal emphases previously outlined with their logical resulting practice. This means Christian Zionism sees the church as needing to stand with Israel; facilitate the restoration programme; support the expansionist policies of some Israelite settlers; lobby for international recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital; fund the rebuilding of the temple; and oppose peace deals with Palestinian groups. Again there is divergence between the different streams of Zionism on these topics and the differences are outlined.
The weaknesses of the book are twofold. Firstly the balance between a description of Christian Zionism and a critique of it is heavily weighted to the former. At times it feels as if the critique is rather tacked on the end. For anyone already convinced of a promise-fulfilment biblical theological approach to Scripture this won't matter, but I would have liked a fuller response at times. To my mind the critique remains devastating to the Christian Zionist approach. However for a dispensationalist many potential counter arguments are not discussed nor are some key passages examined (for example I was surprised not to find an extended discussion of Romans 11).
The second weakness is that the different strands of Christian Zionism can become rather entangled at times, and one can wish for a clearer holistic understanding of one of the positions. This is mainly because of the approach taken which cycles through these different strands numerous times from different angles rather than giving them each a separate treatment. It isn't therefore a criticism of the book - more a consequence of its approach.
weaknesses though are minor. This
is an excellent book on an important subject, thoroughly researched and well written.
If you want to read something on Christian Zionism, this is it. Graham
Beynon, reviewed for The
Biblical Theology Briefings.
by Professor L. Michael Spath
Let's be clear about this right from the start: Stephen Sizer's tour-de-force, Christian Zionism - Road-map to Armageddon, requires an historical, theological, and moral honesty rarely required of readers in this present climate where governments and churches play on fears of terror and being "left behind," where both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures and America's founding documents have been hijacked by fundamentalist and sectarian hermeneutics, and where witch hunts - cultural, political, ecclesiastical, and religious - are being renewed.
The historical, theological, and political origins and implications of Christian Zionism are discussed then critiqued in the author's very thorough, comprehensive, and eminently readable style. His summaries at the end of each chapter are particularly helpful. His charts and the glossary prove to be invaluable in deciphering for the non-initiate the various terms and relationships within the evangelical world - pre- and post-millennial, restorationist, and dispensationalist diversity, as well as the two hundred year evolution of their eschatological understanding within the world of the dispensationalists themselves. And his index of Bible references used by proponents as prophecy to support all things Israel might just be the single most useful tool for those who want to further study the issue from a biblical perspective.
While evangelicals will readily understand the arguments and issues as "family matters," this is an especially critical read for those of us not part of the evangelical community. Why? Because it helps to explain how the 19th century sectarian eschatological views of one John Nelson Darby came to be the most religiously, culturally, and politically powerful force in 21st century America. This is one of Sizer's great strengths, his unraveling of the complex strands that characterize the many forms of Christian Zionism within the evangelical community and their historical and theological development. Add to this how Christian Zionism has found its way into post-Holocaust mainline Protestant and Catholic churches (as well as into American civil religion, for that matter), and you begin to see how entrenched theologically and politically this heresy has morphed into contemporary American foreign policy and made manifest in our so-called "culture wars" (if anything, I wish Sizer would have treated this mainline embracing of Christian Zionism even more).
With clear sense of the tragic, Sizer tackles head-on the Christian nature of Christian Zionism's ironies - among others, that it predates Jewish Zionism, that it is predominantly a Christian ideology, that it strikes at the very theological and moral heart of both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, that it is essentially antisemitic even as it embraces Israel, and that it is anti-Christian as it undermines and betrays the indigenous Living Stones Christian community in Palestine and Israel, not to mention the very heart of Jesus' message.
Sizer's book takes its rightful place as the most comprehensive treatment of this very dangerous Christian heresy, destructive at the very heart of the American church and public square. To say this is a "must-read" for politicians and anyone interested in the Middle East, professors and students, pastors and laypeople, is to understate the need for this book to get into as many hands as possible. The tragedy is that without the role of Christian Zionists in the West, particularly in America - in both the religious and political realms - Israel long ago would have had to deal more honestly with their moral culpability and responsibility in their occupation of Palestinian land and, in the present world of Realpolitik, along with their Palestinian partners, move toward a just solution of the present conflict. Professor L. Michael Spath, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne, Director, Middle East Peace Education Project, Founding Member, The Institute for the Study of Christian Zionism www.iscz.org
Audio Book, CDs and DVD on Christian Zionism
Christian Zionists and the Road to Armageddon (Audio CD)
Christian Zionists and the Last Days Jewish Temple (Audio CD)
The Forgotten Faithful : The Uncertain Future of the Palestinian Church (Audio CD)
Zionism and the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Audio CD)
Christian Zionists and the Road to Armageddon (Text CD)
These four CDs are available for £5 or $10 each including postage. His PhD is available in Adobe format on a text CD together with his PowerPoint presentations and all published articles to date.
An introductory booklet containing his three lectures on the history, theology and politics of Christian Zionism is also available for £5 or $10. Stephen's three presentations are also available on a 2 DVD set for £20 or $40 (add 20% for airmail)..
To obtain copies use the order form or email Stephen.
Click here for his other writings on Christian Zionism.