“The Anglo-American Protestant tradition of Judeo-centric prophecy interpretation was from its inception a political theology.
These constructions are manifested in contemporary discourses surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which cast Jews within eschatological dramas while demonizing Muslims and casting aspersions on Christians who are Palestinian or sympathetic to the Palestinian national cause.
The tradition’s most visible and direct impulses are manifested in Anglo-American Christian Zionism, which I define as political action, informed by specifically Christian commitments, to promote or preserve Jewish control over the geographic area now containing Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories.”
Robert O. Smith, Interpreting the Bible, Interpreting the World: Anglo-American Christian Zionism and Palestinian Christian Concerns, in The Biblical Text in the Context of Occupation – Towards a New Hermeneutic of Liberation,(Ed. Mitri Raheb), p.156
So writes Robert Smith, pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, in his brilliant chapter of the book. Constructions are just what they are, politcal, religious and ideological constructions of the latest (19th century) theological system that has basically become the Western paradigm. How can this be?
The late John Stott, Prince of Evangelicals, spotted the Zionist “construction” and saw it for what it was, saying, “I myself believe that Zionism, both political and Christian, is incompatible with biblical faith.”
That’s mild compared to Rowan Williams, who would say towards the end of his time as Archbishop of Canterbury in 2010, on a visit to the Middle East that “…the theology of Christian Zionism has no historical base and is a recent Protestant addition,” adding that “…the belief by some Protestants that the establishment of the Jewish state is a prerequisite for the return of Christ doesn’t have a historical basis and only appeared as a result of some biblical studies in the nineteenth century.”
That was a little hotter than Stott, but let’s turn up the heat.
In another very good essay by Robert O. Smith named above, available online here, entitled Towards a Lutheran Response to Christian Zionism (2008), he quotes various responses to the Christian Zionist doctrine; responses that come from the Middle East heartlands, and not pre-programmed, Western paradigmed “Constructionalists” (my term).
Among them he quotes Munib A. Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Clearly a man rightly placed geographically and theologically that the Western Christian Zionists would do well to listen to. In a staggeringly bold assertion, he said, “I hereby declare that Christian Zionism is not only a sick theology but it is a heresy, right along with Arianism and Nestorianism and others. I believe it is time we named this misinterpretation of Christ and the gospel for what it is.”
Oh boy does he. He names three points of objection to Christian Zionism.
1. Its promotion of Jesus not as the Saviour but as a military General.
2. Its treatment of Jewish people simply as characters . . . . in the so-called final battle.
3. As anti-justice, anti-peace, anti-reconciliation.
Those who espouse Christian Zionism as legitimate/biblical, must contend with these serious objections. These are not points of perspective or favouring one secondary view over another. Not at all. We’ve heard the word “heresy” and “Arianism” and “incompatible” and these words have not been uttered in a vacuum by biblical idiots or hermenuetical magicians, but scholars and leaders.
I do believe that Christian Zionism is a theological/eschatological heresy, an almost perfect bastardisation of history, culture, prophesy, biblical theology, politics and ideology. I do not accept the charge of reductionism, replacement theology, or any other derogatory term designed to minimise or simplify the argument.
The fruits of Zionism can be seen in all its horror since 1948. The Christians that have bought into this bankrupt ideology must soon realise that the bread they have asked for has in fact turned out to be nothing but a stone!
“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” Matthew 21:43-44