Preliminary Critique of Christian Zionism

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Armstrong is not alone in tracing in Western Christian Zionism evidence of the legacy of the Crusades. Fundamentalists have, she claims, 'returned to a classical and extreme religious crusading.'300 The Ruether's also see the danger of this kind of Christian Zionism in its, 'dualistic, Manichaean view of global politics. America and Israel together against an evil world.'301

The following quote from Senator Bob Dole is a good example,

American-Israeli friendship is no accident. It is a product of our shared values. We are both democracies. We are both pioneer states. We have both opened our doors to the oppressed. We have both shown a passion for freedom and we have gone to war to protect it. 302

This 'simple dualism' and 'highly dogmatic thinking' is something a number of sociologists have observed as common to much American fundamentalism.303 Bishop Kenneth Cragg writes,

It is so; God chose the Jews; the land is theirs by divine gift. These dicta cannot be questioned or resisted. They are final. Such verdicts come infallibly from Christian biblicists for whom Israel can do no wrong-thus fortified. But can such positivism, this unquestioning finality, be compatible with the integrity of the Prophets themselves? It certainly cannot square with the open peoplehood under God which is the crux of New Testament faith. Nor can it well be reconciled with the ethical demands central to law and election alike. 304

The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), representing the indigenous and ancient Oriental and Eastern Churches, has been highly critical of the activities of Christian Zionists, and the International Christian Embassy, in particular. They assert, for instance, that the International Christian Embassy has aggressively imposed an aberrant expression of the Christian faith and an erroneous interpretation of the Bible which is subservient to the political agenda of the modern State of Israel. Indeed they represent a tendency to,

...force the Zionist model of theocratic and ethnocentric nationalism on the Middle East... (rejecting)... the movement of Christian unity and inter-religious understanding which is promoted by the (indigenous) churches in the region. The Christian Zionist programme, with its elevation of modern political Zionism, provides the Christian with a world view where the gospel is identified with the ideology of success and militarism. It places its emphasis on events leading up to the end of history rather than living Christ's love and justice today.305

In 1988 the MECC went further insisting that Christian Zionism had no place in the Middle East and should be repudiated by the universal Church because it was 'a dangerous distortion' and significant shift away from orthodox Christocentric expressions of the Christian faith.

(This is) ...a fundamental disservice also to Jews who may be inspired to liberate themselves from discriminatory attitudes and thereby rediscover equality with the Palestinians with whom they are expected to live God's justice and peace in the Holy Land.306

Although ICEJ's support for Israel is primarily political, MECC has been concerned more with its theological basis, and ICEJ's attempt to sacralize a political ideology beyond human criticism or ethical standards and to treat the security of a Jewish State within the entire land presently occupied as a fundamental axiom of their supra-historical eschatology. The declarations following the first, second and third Christian Zionist Congresses, organised by ICEJ in 1985, 1988 and 1996, according to MECC, show a significant shift away from orthodox Christocentric expressions of the Christian faith. Based on the writings of ICEJ's spokesman, rev. Jan Willem van der Hoeven, MECC argue that the 'Christian Zionist',

is placed in a reductionist eschatology by engaging in actions designed to bring 'comfort and support'

to modern political Israel. Accordingly, Jesus is de-emphasised, as is His death and resurrection, while salvation and judgment are redefined Christians will be judged solely according to their actions on behalf of the state of Israel. True Christians are those who leave their Gentile background and become 'Israelites of God' 307

It is therefore perhaps not surprising that among the Middle East churches generally, Christian Zionism is regarded as a devious heresy and an unwelcome and alien intrusion into their culture, which advocates an ethnocentric and nationalist political agenda running counter to their work of reconciliation, and patient witness among both Jews and Muslims.308 In the course of interviews conducted in 1993, one leading Anglican cleric said, 'Making God into a real estate agent is heart breaking... They are not preaching Jesus any more.'309 They are, in the words of another Palestinian clergyman, 'instruments of destruction'310 Another senior churchman was equally forthright,

Their presence here is quite offensive... projecting themselves as really the Christians of the land... with total disregard for the indigenous Christian community.311

Similarly outspoken criticisms of the Israel Trust of the Anglican Church (ITAC) were made by another Palestinian Anglican clergyman.

CMJ are propagating Zionism rather than Christianity. It is working against the interests of the Anglican Church in Israel. 312

Essentially, Christian Zionism fails to recognise the deep seated problems that exist between Palestinians and Israelis; it distorts the Bible and marginalises the universal imperative of the Christian Gospel; has grave political ramifications and ultimately ignores the sentiments of the overwhelming majority of indigenous Christians.313 It is a situation that many believe Israel exploits to her advantage, cynically welcoming American Christian Zionists as long as they remain docile and compliant with Israeli government policy. Consequently,

Local Christians are caught in a degree of museumization. They are aware of tourists who come in great volume from the West to savour holy places but who are, for the most part, blithely disinterested in the people who indwell them. The pain of the indifference is not eased insofar as the same tourism is subtly manipulated to make the case for the entire legitimacy of the statehood that regulates it.314

Cragg offers this astute critique of Christian Zionism,

The overriding criteria of Christian perception have to be those of equal grace and common justice. From these there can be no proper exemption, however alleged or presumed. Chosenness cannot properly be either an ethnic exclusivism or a political facility.315

Christian Zionism appears, at least in the eyes of its critics, to offer an uncritical endorsement of the Israeli political right and at the same time shows an inexcusable lack of compassion for the Palestinian tragedy. In doing so it has apparently legitimised their oppression in the name of the Gospel.

Is such a condemnation of Western Christian Zionism legitimate? The task of this thesis will be to examine in detail the various forms of Western Fundamentalist Christian Zionism, to note their historical development, to appraise their theological interpretation of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures and to assess their political impact on the Middle East and indigenous Palestinian Church, in particular.

Revised 31 August 1998

1 Kenneth Cragg, The Arab Christian, A History in the Middle East (London, Mowbray, 1992); Thomas A. Idinopulos, Jerusalem Blessed, Jerusalem Cursed, Jews, Christians and Moslems in the Holy City from David's Time to Our Own (Chicago, Ivan R. Dee, 1991); Michael Prior & William Taylor, Eds, Christians in the Holy Land (London, World of Islam Festival Trust, 1994); Barbara W. Tuchman, Bible and Sword, How the British came to Palestine (London, Macmillan, 1982); P.W.L. Walker, Ed, Jerusalem, Past and Present in the Purposes of God, 2nd edn. (Carlisle, Paternoster Press, 1994).

2 Regina Sharif, Non-Jewish Zionism, Its Roots in Western History (London, Zed, 1983); Douglas J. Culver, Albion and Ariel, British Puritanism and the Birth of Political Zionism (New York, Peter Lang, 1995); Ian Murray, The Puritan Hope (Edinburgh, Banner of Truth, 1971); Peter Toon, ed. Puritans, the Millennium and the Future of Israel: Puritan Eschatology 1600-1660 (Cambridge, James Clarke, 1970); Donald E. Wagner, Anxious for Armageddon. (Scottdale, Pennsylvania, Herald Press, 1995); David A. Rausch. Zionism within early American Fundamentalism, 1878-1918; a convergence of two traditions. (New York: Mellen Press, 1979); Grace Halsell, Prophecy and Politics, Militant Evangelists on the Road to Nuclear War (Westport, Connecticut, Lawrence Hill, 1986)

3 International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem. 'International Christian Zionist Congress Proclamation, Affirmation of Christian Zionism', 2529 February 1996; 'Why should Christians be friends of Israel?' Christian Friends of Israel leaflet. n.d.

4 Glen Bowman, 'The politics of tour guiding, Israeli and Palestinian guides in Israel and the Occupied Territories'. In Tourism & the Less Developed Countries. ed. David Harrison (London, Belhaven, 1992), p. 121.

5 Hal Lindsey, The Final Battle (Palos Verdes, California, Western Front, 1995), back cover.

6 Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth (London, Lakeland, 1970), pp. 56-58.

7 Michael Palumbo, Imperial Israel, The History of the Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. rev edn. (London, Bloomsbury, 1992)

8 George Antonius, The Arab Awakening, The Story of the Arab National Movement (New York, Putnam, 1938)

9 Edward W. Said, The Question of Palestine rev edn. (London, Vintage, 1992)

10 Barbara W. Tuchman, Bible and Sword, How the British came to Palestine (London, Macmillan, 1982)

11 Joan Peters, From Time Immemorial, The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine (London, Michael Joseph, 1984)

13 W. H. C. Frend, The Rise of Christianity (Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1984), pp. 121, 124.

14 J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrine, rev. edn. (San Francisco, Harper & Row, [1960] 1978) p. 190.

15 Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, 5 vols. (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1971-1989), vol. 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600), p. 16. Cited in Gary DeMar & Peter Leithart, The Legacy of Hatred Continues (Tyler, Texas, Institute of Christian Economics, 1989), p. 38.

16 In this aspect I am indebted to the leads offered by Gary DeMar & Peter Leithart, in The Legacy of Hatred Continues: A Response to Hal Lindsey's The Road to Holocaust (Tyler, Texas, Institute of Christian Economics, 1989)

18 Clement, 'First Epistle.' In Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1. pp. 12-13.

20 Epistle of Barnabas IV. In Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1. p. 138.

21 Ibid., XIII. In Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1. p. 145. Cited in DeMar & Leithart, Legacy., p. 39.

22 Justin, Dialogue with Trypho, XI. In Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1. pp. 200-267.

23 Irenaeus, Against Heresies. IV. XXI. 3. In Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1. p. 493.

25 Pelikan, Emergence., p. 26.

27 J.C. Lambert, 'Pilgrimages' In The Protestant Dictionary, eds Charles Sydney Carter & G.E. Alison Weeks (London, The Harrison Trust, 1933), p. 507.

28 Walter Zander, Israel and the Holy Places of Christendom (London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1971), p. 5.

32 Lambert, Pilgrimages, p. 507.

34 J. G. Davies, Pilgrimage, Yesterday and Today, Why, Where and How? (London, SCM, 1988), p. 10.

36 Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades. vol. 1 (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1954); Karen Armstrong, Holy War, The Crusades and Their Impact on Today's World (London, Macmillan, 1988)

37 Davies, Pilgrimage, p. 18.

42 Karen Armstrong, Holy War, The Crusades and Their Impact on Today's World (London, Mcmillan, 1988), p.xii.

44 Nahum Sokolow, History of Zionism (London, Longmans, 1919), p. 60. Cited in Sharif, Non-Jewish., p. 13.

46 John Calvin, Institutes of Christian Religion, IV, XVI, p. 14)

47 Peter Toon, 'The Latter-Day Glory," in Puritans, the Millennium and the Future of Israel: Puritan Eschatology 1600-1660, ed. Peter Toon (Cambridge: James Clarke, 1970), p. 24.

48 Ian Murray, The Puritan Hope: Revival and the Interpretation of Prophecy (London, Banner of Truth, 1971), pp. 59-60.

50 Toon, Latter-Day., p. 26. Cited in Demar & Leithart, Legacy., p. 48

52 Toon, Latter-Day., pp. 30-31. Cited in Demar & Leithart, Legacy., p. 48.

53 Mayir Verete, 'The Restoration of the Jews in English Protestant Thought, 1790-1840', Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 8, No. 1, p. 14. Cited in Sharif, Non-Jewish., p. 18.

54 J. A. DeJong, As the Waters Cover the Sea: Millennial Expectations in the Rise of Anglo-America Missions, 1640-1810 (Kampen, J. H. Kok, 1970), pp. 27-28. Cited in DeMar & Leithart, Legacy, p. 49.

55 DeJong, Waters., p. 38. Cited in DeMar & Leithart, Legacy, p. 50.

56 DeJong, Waters., p. 37-38. Cited in DeMar & Leithart, Legacy, p. 49.

57 See Don Patinkin, 'Mercantilism and the Readmission of the Jews to England.' Jewish Social Studies, Vol. 8. July 1946, pp. 161-78; and Cecil Roth, England in Jewish History (London, Jewish Historical Society of England, 1949), p. 7, cited in Sharif, Non-Jewish., p. 24.

59 Jonathan Edwards, 'History of Redemption.' in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, 2 vols. (Edinburgh, Banner of Truth, [1834] 1974), vol. 1. p. 607.

62 Hal Lindsey, The 1980's, Countdown to Armageddon (New York, Bantam, 1981); The Road to Holocaust (New York, Bantam 1989); The Final Battle (Palos Verdes, California, Western Front, 1995); Dave Hunt, Peace, Prosperity and the Coming Holocaust (Eugene, Oregon, Harvest House, 1983); Billy Graham, Approaching Hoofbeats, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Waco, Word, 1983); Storm Warning (Milton Keynes, Word, 1992); John F. Walvoord, Armageddon, Oil and the Middle East Crisis (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Zondervan, 1990);

Moishe Rosen, Beyond the Gulf War, Overture to Armageddon (San Bernardino, Here's Life Publishers, 1991); Edgar C. James, who is on the faculty of the Moody Bible Institute, wrote two books recently, Arabs, Oil & Armageddon. rev. edn. (Chicago, Moody Press, 1991) and Armageddon and the New World Order. rev. edn. (Chicago, Moody Press, 1991). These authors are representative of apocalyptic dispensationalism or what Don Wagner calls 'Armageddon Theology'.

63 Andrew Walker, cited in an interview with Geoffrey Levy, Daily Mail, 2 September 1994, p. 18.

65 Iain H. Murray, The Puritan Hope: revival and the Interpretation of Prophecy (Edinburgh, Banner of Truth, 1971), p.188.

67 Arnold Dallimore, The Life of Edward Irving, Fore-runner of the Charismatic Movement (Edinburgh, Banner of Truth, 1983), p. 62.

68 Edward Irving, preliminary discourse, 'on Ben Ezra', The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty, by Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra a converted Jew, Translated from the Spanish, with a Preliminary Discourse (London, L.B. Seeley & Sons, 1827), pp. 5-6.

69 Timothy C.F. Stunt 'Catholic Apostolic Church' The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, ed. J. D. Douglas. rev. edn. (Exeter, Paternoster Press, 1978), p. 203.

70 Hugh M'Neile, The Collected Works, Vol. II. The Prophecies Relative to the Jewish Nation (London, The Christian Book Society, 1878), p. 213.

71 M'Neile, Prophecies., preface to new edition 1866, first published 1830; see also George Stanley Faber, A Treatise on the Genius and Object of the Patriachal, the Levitical and the Christian Dispensations. (London, F.C & J. Rivington, 1823). 2 vols.

72 B. W. Newton and Dr S. P. Tregelles, Teachers of the Faith and the Future, ed. George Fromow (London, Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony n.d.)

73 Benjamin Wills Newton, Antichrist, Europe and the East: The Antichrist Future also the 1260 Days of Antichrist's Reign Future (London: Houlston & Sons, 1859); Babylon: Its Revival and Future Desolation being the Second Series of Aids to Prophetic Enquiry London: Houlston & Sons (1859); Map of Ten Kingdoms of Roman Empire (London: Lucus Collins, 1863); Babylon: Its Future History and Doom with remarks on the Future of Egypt and Other Eastern Countries, 3rd edition (London: Houlston & Sons., 1890).

76 B.W. Newton, Map of Ten Kingdoms of Roman Empire (London: Lucus Collins, 1863)

78 B.W. Newton, Babylon: Its Future., preface to 3rd edition (1890).

79 Dave Hunt, Peace, Prosperity and the Coming Holocaust. (Eugene, Oregon, Harvest House, 1983); Global Peace and the Rise of Antichrist (Eugene, Oregon, Harvest House, 1990); A Woman Rides the Beast, The Roman Catholic Church and the Last Days. (Eugene, Oregon, Harvest House, 1994);

80 B.W. Newton, Babylon: Its Future., pp. 145, 150. 'Shinar' being the earliest Hebrew name for Babylon. It is interesting that Charles Dyer a modern Dallas Seminary dispensationalist similarly regards the apocalyptic references to Babylon in the Book of Revelation to refer literally rather than figuratively to modern Iraq. See The Rise of Babylon, Signs of the End Times (Wheaton, Illinois, Tyndale House, 1991).

81 Don Wagner, Anxious for Armageddon (Waterloo, Ontario, Herald press, 1995), p. 89. See also separate chapters on Darby, Irving and Scofield.

82 John Gerstner, Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth (Brentwood, Tennessee, Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991), p. 38.

83 Ernest Reisinger, 'A History of Dispensationalism in America' (

84 Ernest Sandeen, The Roots of Fundamentalism British & American Millenarianism 1800-1930 (Chicago, University Chicago Press, 1970), pp. 74-75.

86 J. N. Darby, Letters of J. N. Darby (London, Morish Co., n.d.) Vol .2, p. 180.

87 Oswald T. Allis, Prophecy and the Church (Philadelphia, Presbyterian and Reformed, 1945), p. 133.

88 William R. Moody, The Life of Dwight L. Moody (Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Sword for the Lord, 1900), p. 140.

89 Albert Henry Newman, Manual of Church History Volume 2, Modern Church History 1517-1902 (Philadelphia: American Baptist Society, 1904), p. 713.

90 Arno C. Gaebelein, The History of the Scofield Reference Bible (Spokane, WA, Living Words Foundation, 1991), p. 25.

91 Gerstner, Wrongly., p. 51

92 Ian S. Rennie, 'Nineteenth-Century Roots,' in Handbook of Biblical Prophecy, eds. Carl E. Armerding and W. Ward Gasque (Grand Rapids, Baker, 1977) p. 57, cited in Gerstner, Wrongly., p. 45.

94 Ernest R. Sandeen, "Towards a Historical Interpretation of the Origins of Fundamentalism," Church History 36 (1967) p. 76.

95 Berth Lindbert, A God-Filled Life: The Story of W. E. Blackstone (American Missionary Society, n.d.)

96 William E. Blackstone, Jesus is Coming (Chicago, Fleming Revell, 1916)

97 Ian S. Rennie, 'Nineteenth-Century Roots,' p. 48.

98 W. M. Smith, 'Signs of the Times', Moody Monthly, August 1966, p. 5.

99 Reuben Fink, America and Palestine (New York, American Zionist Emergency Council, 1945), pp. 20-21. Cited in Sharif, Non-Jewish., p. 92.

100 Harold R. Cook, 'William Eugene Blackstone' The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church ed. J.D. Douglas (Exeter, Paternoster, 1974), p. 134.

101 David A. Rausch, Fundamentalist Evangelicals and Anti-Semitism (Valley Forge, Trinity Press International, 1993); Zionism within early American Fundamentalism, 1878-1918; a convergence of two traditions (New York: Mellen Press, 1979)

102 Naomi Shepherd, The Zealous Intruders: The Western Rediscovery of Palestine (London, Collins, 1987); Linda Osband, Famous Travellers to the Holy Land (London, Prion, 1989).

103 Arthur Penrhyn Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, In connection with their history (London, Murray, 1871)

104 William M. Thackeray, Notes of a Journey from Cornhill to Grand Cairo, rev. edn. (Heathfield, Cockbird, [1848] 1990)

105 Gertrude Lowthian Bell, The Desert and the Sown (London, Heinemann, 1907)

106 Robert Byron, The Road to Oxiana (London, Macmillan, 1937)

107 Robert Graves, Lawrence and the Arabs (London, Jonathan Cape, 1927)

108 Alexander Kinglake, Eothen, Traces of Travel Brought Home from the East (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1906)

109 Rudyard Kipling, Kim (London, Penguin, [1901] 1987) with an introduction and notes by Edward W. Said.

110 T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, A Triumph (New York, Fleming H. Revell, 1920)

111 Freya Stark, East is West (London, John Murray, 1945)

112 William M. Thomson, The Land and the Book (London, T. Nelson & Sons, 1887)

113 Robert Kaplan, The Arabists, The Romance of an American Elite (New York, The Free Press, 1993), p. 49.

114 Davies, Pilgrimage., p. 140.

118 Davies, Pilgrimage., p. 141.

119 William Stuart McBirnie, The Search for the Authentic Tomb of Jesus (Montrose, Califoirnia, Acclaimed Books, 1975), p. 40.

120 Davies, Pilgrimage., p. 143.

121 Davies, Pilgrimage., p. 148.

122 Naomi Shepherd, The Zealous Intruders, The Western Rediscovery of Palestine (London, Collins, 1987), p. 180.

124 Sharif, Non-Jewish., pp. 34-47. See also Margaret Brearley, 'Jerusalem in Judaism and for Christian Zionists' in Jerusalem, Past and Present in the Purposes of God, ed. P. W. L. Walker (Cambridge, Tyndale House, 1992), p. 110.

126 George Eliot, Daniel Deronda (London, 1899) Works of George Eliot, vol. 8.

128 Cited in Franz Kobler, Napoleon and the Jews (New York, Schocken Books, 1976) pp. 55-57. Cited in Sharif, Non-Jewish., pp.

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