For the rest of the blog posts in this series, go here.
Israel should of course have all of the land that God gave them from the beginning, and then there is no space left for a Palestinian state.
This comment appeared two days ago on my Swedish blog in a discussion about the conflict in the Middle East. And this guy is not alone, millions of Christians think that it is God’s will for the Jewish people to possess all of the Biblical land of Canaan once more in order for Jesus to come back. While I honour their zeal against anti-semitism and passion to follow God’s will, I have to disagree with them.
In my opinion, Christian Zionism is not only unbiblical but it has had, and continues to have, very serious consequenses in the Middle East. In a blog series of approximately eight parts called “The Promised Land”. I will dig deeper into what Christian Zionism is, what it has led to in the Middle East and what the Bible really says.
In this first part, we will look at the historical origins of Christian Zionism. Benjamin Corey writes:
For those who grow up in churches that preach the Church and Israel distinction, this theology seems as if it is a normal part of orthodox Christianity, and never gets questioned. However, the truth is that this theology is a new theology and is not part of orthodox Christianity.
This theology was popularized by denounced heretic John Nelson Darby in the 1800′s. Darby is considered the father of dispensationalism, which is a dwindling subset of American Fundamentalism. Dispensationalism is a collection of extra-biblical beliefs (such as the “rapture”) which is typically known by a preoccupation on the end of the world, and a pessimistic worldview. Among Darby’s heresies included this new idea that God had two, simultaneous covenants, one for Jews and one for Gentiles.
Darby’s dispensationalism became popular through the Scofield Reference Bible, so that millions of evangelicals became cessationists, zionists and premillenialists. Of course they thought it was biblical, their Bible spoke about it! Yet, no one can name what the seven “biblical” dispensations are with the Bible alone. In fact, I believe it is very hard to either reach cessationism or zionism with the Bible alone. You gotta have a piece of Darby.
However, Darby was not the first Christian who thought that the Jewish people should return to their homeland. As this article by Christian zionist Thomas Ice shows, as well as this article by Stephen Sizer who criticizes Christian Zionism, that thought existed among some Protestant and Puritans already from the 16th century. However, it should be noted that besides being a very marginalised view, it did not include many of the things we connect with modern Christian Zionism. Very few actually believed that Christians could or should do something political to make this happen (if God wants it, it will happen anyway), and more importantly: they rarely had any dual-covenant theology.
Dual-covenent theology was mainly a product of Darby’s dispensationalism, where the theological consensus concerning the relation between the Old and New Covenents were labelled “replacement theology” and used as a swear word. Besides being popular in evangelical Christianity, it was also adopted by Messianic Judaism, and its cousin Christian Judaism. Despite claiming to be some sort of original Christianity because of our Jewish roots, these movements aren’t really much older than dispensationalism, and their view on the land of Israel are impacted by both Christian and Jewish Zionism.
What’s basically clear is that for at least 1500 years Christian Zionism did not exist in any form, and in its current form has only existed for about 150 years. Many Christian Zionists don’t see a problem with that though. They’ll simply say this was because people did not had access to Bibles in their own language before the reformation, and thus could not explore the truth of the Word on their own. Just because a theology has been lost for a long time doesn’t mean it’s not original. There’s another problem with this reasoning though. If Christian Zionism really was a biblical doctrine, wouldn’t the apostles make sure that their successors in the early church believed in it as well? This, my next post will be about.
- The Place of Israel by John Stott (stephensizer.blogspot.com)
- Independence Day = Fighting for Israel? (ajmacdonaldjr.wordpress.com)
- God’s Foreign Policy: Christian Zionism (alternet.org)
- Christian Zionism: The New Heresy that Undermines MIddle East Peace by Reverend Dr. Stephen Sizer (radicalpress.com)