Is there a Christian view of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict?
The New Testament Case against Christian Zionism: a Christian View of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict uses the analogy of a trial in an American courtroom. As the book title indicates, Christian Zionism and its dispensational theology are in the dock and are indicted and proven to be guilty of perverting the gospel. Most books written to critique Christian Zionism take an historical or theological approach. Although this book gives necessary historical and theological analyses of Christian Zionism in “Pre-trial,” its main feature is the presentation of New Testament evidence from the ministry of Jesus, Luke’s Gospel-Acts of the Apostles, Paul’s Romans-Galatians letters, the Hebrews Exhortation and John’s Gospel in the “trial proper,” to show Christian Zionism guilty as charged. In the light of this overwhelming New Testament evidence, the existence of Christian Zionism and its new unorthodox dispensational theology today in the evangelical community is extremely ironic.
The Judaism-gospel conflict in the NT is the biblical model used in this study. In the context of the biblical story of the conflict of the gospel with Judaism, Jesus’ theology of the “good news of the kingdom of God” in the Gospels, and apostolic testimony from the NT show that Christian Zionism perverts the gospel today. It perverts the gospel in the same way that Judaizers perverted the gospel in the first century. Christian Zionism’s excessive emphasis on the nation of Israel in its theology is not supported by the New Testament; it is repudiated by Jesus’ and the apostle’s theology of the gospel of the kingdom of God. Our biblical model from the NT provides a firm evangelical basis for evaluating Christian Zionism’s retro-theology, a theology that returns to the pre-Christian religion of Judaism, a corruption of the ancient faith of Israel.
However, the Judaism-gospel conflict in the NT is like an “elephant in the room” of evangelicals due to an excessive Israel-influence in American and evangelical culture. The resurrection of the NT Judaism-gospel conflict in evangelical theology and Jesus’ condemnation of the proto-Judaizers of the NT, the Pharisees, expose the Christian Zionist movement for what it is—a renewal of Judaism in the evangelical community.
The book features an analysis of the “perfect storm” of Israel-influence in American culture and also in the evangelical community. This influence is excessive and is not in accord with Jesus’ gospel of the kingdom of God or with the witness of the apostles about the role of the nation of Israel in the New Testament. In addition, the book gives the history of the emergence, ironic existence, and influence of pseudo-Christian Zionism and the dispensational theology in evangelical culture. The analysis of American and evangelical cultures show the impact Christian Zionism and its theology on the gospel message, and this analysis is part of the book’s “missionary viewpoint and strategy.”
The same strategy that missionaries use in foreign cultures, analyzing a local culture to enable the effective communication of the gospel and to prevent the local culture from having undue influence on the gospel message, is also used in this book. Therefore, the book’s message is essential for evangelicals to overcome the “perfect storm” of Israel-influence in American and evangelical culture, in order to see Christian Zionism’s perversion of the gospel and to find their way toward a “Christian view” of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
The “New Testament case” against Christian Zionism provides a solid evangelical base to think “Christianly” about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and leads the reader toward a Christian view of the conflict. Just as the world-mission of the Church in the Roman world of the first century was jeopardized by a context of hatred between Jew and Gentile and a narrow Jewish-oriented gospel, so pseudo-Christian Zionism’s “Israel-centered narrow gospel” today puts the mission of the Church in jeopardy again in a new context of hatred, especially in the Middle East and the world of Islam. It is important today that evangelicals overcome this “contemporary context of hatred” between the West and Islam, so that they may engage freely and without prejudice in a robust mission to 2.5 billion Muslims. Just as it was important for first century Gentiles to hear Jesus’ universal gospel of the kingdom of God without an excessive influence from Judaism, so today it is important for the Middle East and the world of Islam to hear Jesus’ universal gospel as a true option for belief.
To leave your comments and to see more information about the above book see: http://christianityinculture.net
Paul A. Pomerville
Paul Hughes [12/07/2014 12:26 AM]
Support of Israel by Christians is the only Christian choice, but with qualifications. There are things Israeli leaders do which must also be criticized at times. Yet the reconstitution of Israel is obviously a fulfillment of prophecy, and legitimate in that sense and for that reason, and its right to exist not to be questioned, “let we fight against God.” The Muslims, in contrast, are the “heathen” who “rage” against “God’s anointed” — and Biblically, Israel remains God’s anointed, even in the midst of disobedience, for “the gifts and calling are without repentance” (Rom. 11:29, with reference to Israel).
Paul Hughes [12/07/2014 12:28 AM]
Romans 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. 28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. 29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. 30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: 31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
Richard Lindsey [12/07/2014 1:12 AM]
Paul Pomerville: Paul Hughes has touched on one of the biblical issues regarding Israel. I want to address something that is extra-biblical on the issue. That has to do with the nature of the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Without any reference to biblical prophecy or taking a position on the issues Paul H developed, let me say there is significant justification for the defense of Israel based solely on the terroristic nature of the Palestinian opposition. Israel has a right – a right to the same intensity and the same severity as any other nation to defend itself. That has nothing to do with prophetic issues. It is purely a matter of survival. If you look at the geo-political landscape, it is miraculous that Israel even exists. She has a tiny spot of land, while the Arabs have thousands of times the land that Israel has. In addition to that, the Palestinians send suicide bombers and shoot rockets by the thousands into Israel. If Israel is to survive as a nation, she MUST FIGHT to SURVIVE. I believe Benjamin Netanyahu got it right: “If the Palestinians laid down their weapons, there would be peace. If Israel laid down her weapons, she would cease to exist.”
Randal Deese [12/07/2014 11:46 AM]
I support Israel for political reasons, not Biblical. I am not Anti Israel, but I no longer hold any special Eschatological view of for them.
Paul Hughes [12/07/2014 4:45 PM]
Paul Pomerville [12/08/2014 6:53 PM]
With regard to Paul Hughes’ and Richard Lindsey’s response to my post: I’m confused by your map and mention of the whole Middle East in giving your political perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. That conflict is about Israelis occupying Arab Palestinian land in Palestine, during the 66 years of Israel’s living in the land.
Paul Pomerville [12/08/2014 7:19 PM]
At the beginning of the Modern Nation of Israel in 1948, native Palestinian Arabs lived on overf 90 % of Palestine. Today, they live on less than 3%, while Israelis continue to build new Israeli settlements on their 3%. The question is, “What is the answer to this great change in ownershp of the land of Palestine?” Do you think that the 1.7 million Palestinians in the nations surrounding Israel and the 1.7 million living in refugee camps “voluntarily” left their homes? One of the many new “Israeli” historians, Ilan Pappe,likens what happened in the “land issue” to “the ethnic cleansing of Palestine the title of his book), because he documents the Israeli Defense Forces expelling the Palestinians from their homes by military force. You response that the “only Christian choice” is to support Israel would not be the choice of Arab Palestinians who are Christian (20% of the Palestinians). I suspect that many evangelicals, when faced with the true history and actions of the Israelis, would not think that it was the only “Christian” choice either. It seems that a major issue in understanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the lack of information about the modern history is Israel from the new Israeli historians: it has been available since the mid 80s when the Israeli government archives were opened to the public. With that information in hand, I feel that many evangelicals would undertake the Palestinians’ cause on the basis of NT teachings, morality, justice and Christian love and compassion.
Paul Pomerville [12/08/2014 7:20 PM]
A final note on the language, describing the 2.5 billion Muslims in the world as, “the ‘heathen’ who
Paul Pomerville [12/08/2014 7:31 PM]
A final note on the language describing the 2.5 billion Muslims in the world as, “the heathen who rage against ‘God’s anointed.” As a former missionary to a Muslim nation, Indonesia, stereotyping the majority of moderate Muslims perhaps as “terrorists” and speak of modern unrepentant Israel as “God’s anointed” are both absurd. The major error behind this rhetoric and application of biblical prophecy concerning the restoration of Israel is applying it to Israel today, when the fulfillment in those prophecies are the future. The use of Romans 11:29 for such future prophecies on the restoration of Israel to unrepentant Israel today is proof texting. In fact, the promises of God to Israel in the OT were repeatedly cancelled by God to that generation of people that disobeyed God and went into idolatry. Of course, God will restore the people of Israel, but on the basis of their faith response to Christ when “the fullness of the Gentiles comes in;” that is not today.
Paul Pomerville [12/08/2014 7:45 PM]
To Richard Lindsey’s response, I see your careful response by speaking of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an “extra biblical” matter. I agree and I disagree. For instance, the “issue of the promise of the Land” of Palestine, is not mentioned in the New Testament. It is more than interesting that Jesus and his apostles do not address the question; in that NT sense (which should concern evangelicals) it is extra-NT. Gary M. Burge in “Jesus and the Land,” gives an excellent theological discussion on why this is so. Nevertheless, the conflict is a “Christian” issue as I mentioned above. Any reference to the “violence” in Palestine by either side, must be understood in the 66 year history of the Israeli occupation. The question, “Who is a terrorist,” must be answered in that historical context. During the British occupation of Palestine, a renown president of the modern nation of Israel blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Patriot or terrorist?
Paul Pomerville [12/08/2014 10:40 PM]
As Howard Gardner notes, the prophecies concerning the restoration of Israel in the OT have double, and sometimes triple fulfillment: a fulfillment in the prophet’s own time or immediate future, a fulfillment at the First Advent of Christ, and a fulfillment in the future. It is one thing to say in the “providence of God,” He is working behind the scenes of history, preparing for the restoration of Israel. It is another thing to directly apply those prophesies to modern-day unrepentant Israelis. In the “perfect storm” of Israel influence in America, somehow crucial accounts of the 66 year history of the State of Israel, written by the new Israeli historians, do not seem to make their way into the American consciousness. They tell a very different story about the founding and on-going history of the State than the government narrative.
Paul Hughes [12/10/2014 1:23 AM]
The Canaanites, if we could find any, would have a better claim to the land than the Palestinians. The Arabs are more like the Philistines, though — “squatters” who moved in and took over. From the time of the Babylonian Exile, followed by the Diaspora, then the Dark Ages and finally the Crusades, all kinds of people groups have moved here and there, mixed together or committed genocidal purges, such that no one other than Jews can establish any claim for the land except for long-term habitation. But those people groups are kind of like the wind: other than known groups such as Kurds, Druze, and Turks, who have no historic claim to the land, we do not know whither those other people are from.
Saladin was a Kurd.
Paul Hughes [12/10/2014 1:31 AM]
No, one cannot be Biblically accurate without acknowledging Israel as God’s anointed, by definition. As Paul said, “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Rom 11:29) means that God’s Covenant purpose for Israel.will not be withdrawn, period. Dt. 30 and other passages clearly demonstrate God’s plan to always preserve a remnant of Israel in order to fulfill his promise to Abraham, in a literal sense. Paul points out the irrelevancy that Jacob was not more worthy than Esau of the birthright, yet Jacob remained God’s elect, and the instrument by which the Covenant would be continued towards ultimate fulfillment.