Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Christian Zionism?

A while ago I started a series on this matter. I was rather perturbed by the heat it generated and decided to do some more thinking before I continued. I have hardly made it a matter of obsessive research, but I am a little more informed now, thanks to input from a Messianic Jewish friend. He pointed me to this book that I commend to readers looking for a different perspective than that offered here: Future Israel: Why Christian Anti-judaism Must Be Challenged (New American Commentary Studies in Bible & Theology) by Barry E. Horner.

While my basic position still remains unchanged (though I think it has changed with regard to Rom 9-11 – before I was very Wrightian, though probably less so today), I would no longer focus on the hermeneutical practice of the early church as the decisive critique of Christian Zionism – at least as developed in my previous posts. The early church was flexible in its hermeneutical procedure, sometimes christocentric, other times employing slightly different accents. I suspect that some of Sizer's and Motyer's claims need to be re-formulated in light of Horner's critique – though certainly not abandoned. The 'christological hermeneutic' card should still play a part in constructive critique of Christian Zionism, but I would focus more now on the narrative trajectory of scripture, and how the prophetic promises were understood by Christ as fulfilled in his ministry and hence laid the groundwork for NT theology generally, as developed especially by Paul. This wider scope of analysis includes the specific hermeneutical practices of the early church within it, as a moment within this, applied to various concrete situations. But more decisive is the significance of the relation between Christ and the prophetic traditions. Horner claims that Motyer et.al do not take the OT scripture seriously. However, I suspect it is Horner who does not take the scriptural narrative seriously enough in making sense of Christ, his mission and his aims – and how these were understood by the early church.

Of course, all of these comments are mere assertions without justification. I will perhaps return to this subject when I return from SBL and detail my developing thoughts in a podcast. As ever, if you feel strongly critical of my views then do let me know. I will keep an open mind on these matters for a while to come yet!


At 11/13/2007 5:28 AM, Anonymous kwilson said...


You are certainly welcome at the SBL gather. Whosoever will may come!

See you there.

At 11/13/2007 7:44 AM, Anonymous Esteban Vázquez said...

I do hope you return to this after SBL! I've been thinking about this quite a bit lately, and would greatly appreciate to hear your thoughts on the matter. In the meantime, thanks for the link to your previous series, which I shall endeavor to read between now and the end of SBL.


At 11/13/2007 10:35 PM, Anonymous Phil Sumpter said...

This wider scope of analysis includes the specific hermeneutical practices of the early church within it, as a moment within this, applied to various concrete situations.

I dig that. You've preempted a possible critique I might have brought up. Having read up on the previous series, I look forward to hearing more.

At 11/14/2007 12:10 AM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

Thanks, chaps. I am encouraged to continue this when I return. Feedback will be appreciated.

At 11/14/2007 10:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Chris

A friend of mine finished a thesis on Christian Zionism in Germany a couple of months ago. It is available at this website http://christianzionism.de/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1 if you are interested.

I don't know if it will interest you, but he has done quite a lot of reading on it and I think he has some pretty good conclusions.

Enjoy the trip.


At 11/19/2007 9:47 AM, Anonymous Brian Krumnow said...


Check out the writings of Michael Wyschogrod on the subject of the relationship between the church and Israel. He is a Jewish theologian with a deep appreciation for and understanding of Christian ideas. He is also a big fan of Barth. W. is of the opinion that God's faithfulness to Israel can be a source of hope to everyone. Christianity is a door through which Gentiles may enter into a relationship with the God of Israel (this is, needless to say, the extremely short version of his ideas). I read a couple of his books over the summer when I had access to a good seminary library. I can find some specific titles for you if you like. Have fun in San Diego.

At 11/23/2007 11:47 AM, Anonymous Neil Godfrey said...

Do people here know of "Sabeel" -- "an ecumenical grassroots liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians"?

Christian Zionism is one of my favourite topics and one book well worth the read is a set of conference papers published on this very theme.

The conference organizer and publisher is SABEEL,
and the book is Challenging Christian Zionism : theology, politics and the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The title covers it.

A Rev. Steven Sizer has also published Christian Zionism: Dispensationalism And The Roots Of Sectarian Theology.

And if the host of this blog will indulge one more link, I have written up some notes, with a humanist perspective critique, from the SABEEL conference papers: -- a paper by Gary Burge titled “Theological and Biblical Assumptions of Christian Zionism”.

At 11/27/2007 8:14 PM, Anonymous James Mendelsohn said...

I know of Sabeel and Stephen Sizer very well. Sizer has a notorious record of slandering and misrepresenting those he disagrees with: her4e

His writings are replete with massive historical inaccuracies, misrepresentations, citations from fraudulent academics and known antisemites, libels and blatant antisemitism (e.g. subtly insinuating Israeli complicity in 9/11): here

Sizer has criticised evangelical missions organisations Jews for Jesus and Church's Ministry among Jewish People in MUSLIM e-journals, arguably making Christian workers targets for Jihad: here

Sabeel, meanwhile, embraces anyone and everyone with a shared antipathy to the state of Israel, including those who deny fundamental Biblical doctrines: here

Feel free to visit my blog for a Messianic Jewish, non-dispensationalist, moderate pro-Israel viewpoint: large blue footballs

At 12/02/2007 10:53 PM, Anonymous Chris Tilling said...

The last link doesn't work, James.
It is:


for reader's reference


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