Christian Anti-Zionism

By Glen Iverson | Koinonia Institute | December 1, 2014

Evangelical leaders promote anti-Semitism when they deny the Biblical relevance of the Jewish people, the nation Israel, and support "anti-Zionist" and Palestinian causes such as "Christ at the Checkpoint."

"We learn from history that we learn nothing from history."

George Bernard Shaw

"The king will answer them, 'I tell all of you with certainty, since you did it for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.'"

Matthew 25:40, ISV
While some use the "least of these" to refer to those in need, we look at this as social status. By Jesus adding "My Brethren," it begs the question, who are Jesus' brethren? Many Bible scholars make the connection of "Least of these my brethren" specifically to how the Jews are treated during the great tribulation, but it can also apply to how we treat Jewish people at any time.

As a distinct religious group and culture, the world Jewish population is about 14 million or %0.2 of the world population. In addition, the Jewish population has been under extensive persecution over the last 1700 years. Contrast "least of these" with poverty in general. Over 3 billion people are currently living in poverty.

Supercessionism/Replacement Theology is the concept that the Church replaces Israel and God's promises to Israel therefore removing any further significance to the Jewish people. This started with the early "Church Fathers" such as Origen and Augustine and led to Jewish persecution through both the Roman Catholic Church as well as the Reformers.

As Jewish persecution was ingrained in European thought, Germany being a "Christian" nation embraced Hitler who spoke in "Christian" terms, even quoting Martin Luther.

Since Israel became a nation, many evangelicals embraced "Dispensational" theology popularized by J.N. Darby looking back to the Bible instead of the "Church Fathers," but things have changed with the rise in popularity of the Emergent Church movement.

Dispensationalism is an approach to biblical interpretation which states that God uses different means of working with people (Israel and the Church) during different periods of history.

Much has been said of the Emergent Church's "post-modern" Gospel and contemplative prayer, but little has been said about the movements stance on Israel.

Popular speaker and leader associated with the "Emerging Church," Tony Campolo is highly critical of dispensationalism and further states:

"We cannot buy into that mindset that says that the Holy Land belongs only to the Jews. It belongs to all the people that are living there right now. That's what justice calls for."
Donald Miller, author of "Blue Like Jazz" and associated with the "Emerging Church" is also highly critical of Israel. While calling for "Peace" he is clearly promoting the idea that the Church replaces Israel:
"A small but powerful group of evangelicals still believe when the New Testament refers to Israel it's referring to the new found country rather than a spiritual nation formed in the collective hearts of all believers. This belief, true or not, is encouraging many to side with Israel and buy into the spin."
Relevant Magazine which is read by 1.3 million young adults each year recently published an article titled "Blessed are the Peacemakers" which is also advocating for the Palestinian cause. Cameron Strang the publisher and author places blame on Israel, while advocating for peace.

In his blog, Brian McLaren gives a plug to Gary Burge: "And don't miss this profile of a Wheaton College professor named Gary Burge who has needed perspectives on Israel and Palestine."

Gary Burge, a Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, as well as an author, stated at Christ at the Checkpoint:

"This country may be the only place in the world where millions of people have chosen to justify their claim on land by appealing to a single man who died somewhere around 2000 B.C., and they are dead serious."
Lastly, the conference "Christ at the Checkpoint" which many Evangelical Leaders have supported, including Lynn Hybels, Tony Campollo, Brian McClaren among many others. It is organized biannually by the Bethlehem Bible College.

"We feel that the Palestinian people have been oppressed for so long and their voice needs to be heard," Dr. Jack Sara, president of the Bethlehem Bible College recently told the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency.

The speakers at CATC represent "a who's who of the new, anti-Israel Christian narrative," said David Brog, executive director of Christians United for Israel. Brog stated to JNS.org News Service:

"Most of them claim to be pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian and pro-peace, but almost every speaker will focus on Palestinian suffering and ignore Jewish suffering. And almost every speaker will blame Palestinian suffering on Israel and Israel alone."
In response to a student who had attacked Zionism during a dinner event, Martin Luther King stated:
"When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You're talking anti-Semitism."

Conclusion

As Christians, we first need to understand the issues and the unconditional covenants that God has made to Israel. While replacement theology started with the idea that the Jews killed Jesus, it's become "Israel is a roadblock to Peace" Christians were silent in Germany leading to the acceptance of Jewish persecution. Anti-Semitism is again on the rise in the form of "anti Zionism." The media has been not been favorable towards Israel and now influential evangelicals are taking the side of the Palestinians.

Secondly, we need to speak out. While one voice is small, many voices in the form of social media in addition to our own circle of influence are powerful. God's plan for Israel hasn't changed and as Christians we need to support the Jewish people in order to turn them to Jesus.