Anyone reading the articles posted on this blog will be able to see for themselves the reasons why I am not a believer in the very popular heresy known as Christian Zionism, but for the sake of those who don’t have the time to look through all the articles on this site, I thought I would briefly lay out my basic complaints with this so called Biblical doctine.
My first issue is with the Christian Zionist claim that (according to the Bible) God has unconditionally given the land of Israel-Palestine (call it IP in the rest of this post) to the Jewish people such that they own the land and therefore have the right to take it and do anything they wish with it. Christian Zionists claim that God has given the Jewish people “the title deed” to the land and hence since they own the land, they have the right to dispossess any non-Jews from the land regardless of how long or how many of them have lived there in the past or present.
This claim is so patently wrong that it amazes me that any serious reader of the Bible could hold to it. For the last two thousand years, no Orthodox Jew has ever believed that Jews have an unconditional right to IP. The Orthodox Jewish understanding of thier relationship to IP is grounded in their concept of exile and redemption. According to this view, based on what Christians call the Old Testament of the Bible, Jewish enterance and habitation of the land is absolutely conditional upon their adherance to the teachings of the Torah. Teachings that (apart from many other requirements) demand that non-Jews living in IP must be treated as equals with Jews living with them. Orthodox Jews all over the world still beleive that the Jewish exile is not over. Orthodox prayers seeking the end of exile are still regulalry prayed by Orthodox Jews all over the world. Exile is a spiritual problem and can only be solved by spiritual means. Military or political power are impotent to end Israel’s exile.
The understanding of the Christian Church is much the same as the above as it is based in the Old Testament, just as the Orhtodox Jewish view is. It seems that only Christian Zionsits ignore this point. How a secular Zionist state like modern Israel lives up to the covenental conditions of possession of IP is beyond the understanding of any serious student of scripture. This is no side issue. Anyone reading the curses given by God to a disobedient Jewish people inhabititng or, even trying to take IP, by force or diplomacy (actions forbidden to Jews according to the famous Three Oaths of the Talmud) realise that it is the Israeli nation that is in a precarious position and rather than encourage them in their Zionist colonialist project (illegal as it is under International Law) we should be crying out to them to reform themselves and bring peace and justice to the land.
Secondly, Christian Zionists believe that the existence of the current Zionist state of Israel is an unambiguous portent of the imminent return of Christ. The most obvious problem I have (amongst others) is that scripture nowhere teaches that any such sign even exists. The Church has long believed that Christ can return at any time and hence the faithful should always be ready for His return in that they should be “about the Father’s business”, that is, living a life that exemplifies the Gospel of Reconcilliation that Jesus preaches in the New Testament. A life of righteousness, a life that seeks peace and justice for all God’s people and a special desire to standup for the poor and marginalised in our world.
Put another way, my problem is that if the Chrisitan Zionist understanding is correct, then believers in Christ, before May 1948, could have rightfully said to themselves that, ” He is not going to return today!” A proclamation quite logical according to the Christian Zionist view, but at odds with the plain teachings of the New Testament.
The prophets of scripture speak more like social critics, than Judaised pre-cursors to Nostradamus! The fatalism and indifference to the troubles of our world that is inevitable from the Christian Zionist viewpoint is nowhere to be found in the writings of either Testaments, or of Orthodox Jewish Rabbis for that matter.
Lastly, for this post, is the Christian Zionist view that unless we unconditionally support the Zionist state of Israel, God will bring punishment on us at both a national and personal level. According to this doctrine, since the Jewish people are a special chosen people of God, they have a sort of “get out of Jail free card” in that they must be supported in a manner that no loving parent would support even their own children. Unconditional love and unconditional support are two very different things as the scriptures so clearly teach. A more Biblcial approach would be that God does not unconditionally support the nation of Israel because He unconditionally loves them.The prophet Amos clearly reveals that at times God’s wrath is upon Israel because of their priveliged status, not despite it. God has always lent his ear to the real complaints against the nation of Israel regardless of where those complaints come from and warned israel about not listening to the cry of the non-Jew and the vulnerable living with them in IP. To criticise the secular Zionist state of Israel is not remotely at odds with God’s attidue to the ancient nation of Israel. If Israel deseves criticism, then God is ready to hear it. In fact, as is plainly seen from scripture, it is God who ends up having to send prophets, critical of Israel, because noone is Israel is listening to the cries of the poor and the alien in the land.
Much more could be said than this and I encourage readers of this blog to look deeper into this matterr. Professor Yakov Rabkin’s book, “A Threat from Within – A Century of Jewish Opposition to Zionism” would be a good start.