Why I’m Not a Christian Zionist

I have had the dubious privilege of standing in the crosshairs of one of the most divisive issues of our day: Israel and Zionism. Thanks to my many trips to the Middle East and my friendships in the Palestinian church, I have been drawn into conversations that are not casually shared, but vehemently debated. You can lose friends over this one.

Christian Zionism is a political theology with 19th-century roots. It took on its full form following the birth of modern Israel in 1948. It is a political theology because modern Israel, in this view, is not like other countries: it is the outworking of God’s plan foretold in the Scriptures, and therefore modern Israel’s political fortunes have profound theological and spiritual consequences.

The church in America today is awash with this sort of thinking. Books and sermons spin a dramatic picture of how the world is coming to an end, how God has a plan centered on modern Israel, and how God’s promises cannot be stopped despite what the nations think. Some Christians today feel obligated to apply literally to modern Israel God’s words in Genesis 12:3—“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse”—even though God was talking to Abraham 4,000 years ago about his own life. This interpretation means Christians have a spiritual obligation to pray for modern Israel and petition their governments to protect Israel; failure to support Israel’s political survival will incur divine judgment.

Around the Globe

I have encountered some blend of these themes in Christianity all over the world—in Europe, Africa, Asia, and beyond. Israel has taken on a mythological status. In the U.S., it is often linked with American prosperity, exceptionalism, and patriotism. Students have described to me their home churches where the American flag stands beside the Israeli flag in the sanctuary. Sometimes Christian Zionism can be militant. A high-profile pastor in Texas has even called for violent military action against Israel’s foes as God’s will.

The spiritual root of Christian Zionism is dispensationalism, whose themes have fully permeated many American churches. Dispensationalism was born in the 1800s as an attempt to divide human history into a series of seven biblical categories (or dispensations) of time: the eras of Adam, of Noah, and others. We live in the era of the church, followed by the end of time. Dispensationalism embraced a pessimistic view of history, thinking the world was coming to its end and judgment day was near. As a result, it became sectarian, separating itself from mainstream society, calling sinners to repent and be saved from the impending catastrophe.

As a Reformed theologian, I am at odds with this sort of thinking. Reformed theology has generally understood humanity’s calling to be one of transforming the world, not separating from it, and bringing God’s good things to bear on the things of this world.

In the mid-20th century, countless Christians believed the birth of the State of Israel in 1948 marked the beginning of the end of history. If prophecies are being fulfilled, if history is near its terminus, then Christians are obligated to join in what God is doing. This expression of faith is nowhere clearer than in one’s interpretation of God’s plans for Israel. Pro-Israel zealots today are known as Christian Zionists.

Let’s be clear: This is not a referendum on Israel’s right as a nation to have a place in history and enjoy international legitimacy. Israel has a right to exist in safety. But Christian Zionism is a theological question. Christian Zionism implies that being Christian has a necessary political entailment and that supporting Israel’s nationhood is a spiritual obligation.

Reformed Theology and Christian Zionism

The Reformed tradition has always resisted the call of Christian Zionism, and with today’s pressure to wed your spirituality to your politics, it is increasingly important to know what to believe. Let me outline a few differences between Reformed theology and Christian Zionism.

God’s Promises to Abraham

Christian Zionism takes the land promises of God in Genesis 12, 15, and 17 and applies them to the modern state of Israel. To Christian Zionists, this promise of land inheritance is permanent and unconditional. Therefore, despite Israel’s own declared intention of being a secular state (and despite Israelis’ low religious participation), modern Israel still benefits from a 4,000-year-old promise. For Zionists, the Abrahamic covenant is still active regardless of whether Israelis believe in God or not. In the Christian Zionist view—and this is key—the covenant of Christ does not replace or supplant the Jewish covenants.

Reformed theologians believe something decisive happened in Christ. His covenant affected not simply the covenant of Moses, making a new and timeless form of salvation, but also every other Jewish covenant, including Abraham’s covenant. Christ fulfills the expectations of Jewish covenant life and renews the people of God rooted in the Old Testament and Judaism. Thus, Jesus is the new temple, the new Israel.

In Galatians 3:16, the apostle Paul writes, “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring; it does not say ‘And to offsprings,’ as of many; but it says, ‘And to your offspring,’ that is, to one person, who is Christ” (NRSV). Paul argues from the singular noun in Genesis to show that the promises to Abraham point to Christ. Christ is the locus of the promise of land! The promises to Abraham have been realized in Christ. He holds everything Judaism desired, and knowing him gains access to such promises.

Jesus’ homily in John 15 says the same. The Old Testament image of Israel is that of a vineyard filled with vines rooted in the soil of the Holy Land. You can see this outlined beautifully in Isaiah 5. But Jesus upends this. We see a vineyard again, but now we learn that there is one vine—Christ—and the only concern is not on gaining access to the land but being attached to him.

To think Christianly about land and promise is to think differently than Judaism. The New Testament changes the spiritual geography of God’s people. The kingdom of God is tied to neither an ethnicity nor a place. Because the early Christians understood this, they carried their missionary efforts to the entire world. God loves Ephesus just as much as he loves Jerusalem. Indeed, God loves the entire world and all its people equally.

Reformed theologians are not convinced the promises to Abraham can be used politically today. The work of Christ is definitive. There is one covenant, and it is with Christ. In the zeal to promote and protect modern Israel, has Jesus been demoted?

Still, some might ask if emphasizing the centrality of Christ’s covenant leads to the dismissal of Judaism and its covenants. Would this lead to anti-Judaism in the church?

No. Christ and his church are deeply rooted in Judaism. As Gentiles, we are grafted into the Jewish tree of Abraham (Rom. 11:13-24). Jesus was Jewish, and it is through the Hebrew covenants that we understand our own covenant.

Christ does not replace these covenants; rather, he fulfills them and enables the birth of God’s kingdom, which includes both Jews and Gentiles. Reformed theology does not split Israel and the church; it finds rich continuity between them. Paul did not “become” a Christian; he realized the deepest meaning of his Jewishness when he chose to follow Jesus. This new, category-changing event at the heart of Christ’s work cannot be diminished. It is central to New Testament faith. Some have misused this teaching and promoted a dreadful anti-Semitism. But this misuse does not mean we dismiss what the Scriptures teach. Judaism deserves our respect, and anti-Semitism should be rejected outright as an utter corruption of the gospel.

Israel, Prophecy, and Nationhood

In Christian Zionism, 1948 is not simply a political marker in history. It is a theological marker. Israel has been restored to the land in fulfillment of prophecy, Zionists say. Therefore, the establishment of modern Israel is a theologically ordained event deserving of profound Christian respect and awe.

Reformed theologians also affirm Israel’s right to exist, but they are skeptical about Israel’s theological claim to own the Holy Land. They point to countless times when Christians used ancient prophetic texts to interpret contemporary times with bad results. They also note that any biblical claim to nationhood must also incorporate biblical expectations of nation-building—expectations that aren’t now being met.

The promise of land always comes with covenant expectations for religious life and for justice, themes echoed regularly by the prophets. Modern Israel began as a secular state. It does not reflect ancient Israel’s religious or moral national aspirations as described in Scripture, and it has made choices regarding the Palestinians living within its borders that would inspire harsh criticism from Old Testament prophets such as Amos or Isaiah.

For all these reasons, Reformed theologians do not see commitment to Israel as a spiritual imperative. They are moved more by ethics than eschatology when considering any country, because no one country now enjoys a preferential place in God’s economy.

History Is Coming to Its Close

Christian Zionists think Israel’s national birth is the key prophetic fulfillment in counting down the end of history. They believe Israel’s return fits with what else is happening in the world: moral values are in decline, an ecological crisis is looming with our oil-based economy in peril, and most importantly, there is war in the Middle East, all leading to widespread agreement among Zionists that history is reaching its end. All of this, they claim, was prophesied in Scripture.

Reformed theologians are not so catastrophic, not so sure these pronouncements are true, and they have always called for sober judgment. They worry Christian Zionists have let their zeal for prophecy and history’s end drown out other, more primary Christian values.

Our chief complaint is how a desire for the end times has shaped the ethics of Christian Zionists. Building the kingdom of God has become secondary to building the kingdom of Israel. Passion for seeing Christ’s second coming now comes before a passion for justice and fairness. When presented with the remarkable suffering of 4 million Palestinians living under harsh military occupation, Zionists typically stand unmoved. Negotiations that might return land to Palestinian owners are deemed to be against God’s will. Some Zionist pastors have even written that natural disasters hitting the United States and killing thousands are God’s punishment for political pressure put on Israel. It is this sort of theological confusion that stuns Reformed theologians.

Fidelity to Israel

For Christian Zionists, the first obligation of Christians is to study end-times prophecies and to monitor each nation’s political decisions. One conviction is always held aloft: God blesses those who bless Israel and curses those who curse Israel. Nations will stand or fall based on this one creed.

Reformed theologians hear this and wonder if the message of the gospel has been lost. My first call is fidelity to Christ and his kingdom. And yet this commitment should inspire in me a deep love for Israel and a desire for its people to become what their Scriptures call them to become: a nation of priests, a light to the nations, a people in whom there is such goodness that the nations will see the glory of God and rejoice.

Jesus’ Second Coming

This is the crown jewel of Christian Zionism. The birth of Israel has set the stage for the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ. Therefore, Zionists claim, any national agenda that would impede God’s plan, any peace plan that weakens Israel’s hold on the land, or any decision that stands in the way of this dramatic stage-setting is not a plan blessed by God.

Reformed theologians believe in the second coming too. But the chief difference is that Reformed theologians make profound investments in the world. We are not sectarian. We devote ourselves to promoting Christ’s commitments here and now. We do not despair about the course of the world, and we refuse to abandon it. We still build schools and hospitals and speak to injustice and poverty.

Dwight Moody, the founder of the dispensational Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, once asked why you’d want to polish the brass on a sinking ship. Reformed theologians are not convinced the ship is sinking, and we continue to polish the brass, navigate a course, and make passengers comfortable until we are surprised by Christ’s return—just as the Bible tells us we should be.

This is my ultimate concern: Christian Zionists believe in Jesus, but I wonder if they have lost the gospel. They have uncritically wed our faith to the politics of one nation, and this, as the church has learned so many times, is a prescription for disaster.

 

Discussion Questions

  1. Have you heard of Christian Zionism previously? What did you think it meant?
  2. Have you observed an unconditional support of the modern state of Israel among some Christians? What is your feeling and/or opinion about that?
  3. On the other hand, have you observed of anti-semitic or anti-Judaism sentiments among some Christians? How can we better prevent such sentiments?
  4. Do you view the world as a sinking ship? Why or why not?

About the Author

Gary M. Burge joined the faculty of Calvin Theological Seminary in 2017 after teaching at Wheaton College for 25 years. He worships at Church of the Servant in Grand Rapids, Mich.

See comments (14)

Comments

I am not a Zionist either.  Many of the people who are also cherry pick Scripture texts to support their position, but a former pastor now retired used to say that a text without a context is a pretext. He was Presbyterian.  Personally, I don't see how Christians can support a state that is as blatantly unjust and brutally oppressive as Israel is with its Palestinian neighbor.  They don't even allow the poor Palestinians to farm their land and earn a decent living this way.  

Because Israel's Jews claim a monopoly on suffering they refuse to admit that others can suffer at their hands as if what they did could not cause pain or anguish.  When I was studying the book of Isaiah I was struck by how pertinent his prophecies were to what the Jews were doing in the eighth century BC that led to the exile to Babylon.  

Two great verses for showing Christian Zionism in the New Testament!

Romans 15:8 and Acts 3:21; God’s promises to the Patriarchs and God’s promises through the prophets!

In the New Testament, Paul states that; “Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs.” (Romans 15:8), while in Acts, Peter says of Jesus “He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.” (Acts 3:21) 

Looking at the first of these,

  1. “Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs.”

Paul has already mentioned both of these in Romans 9:3-5; "those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen."

So, what are some of these promises to the patriarchs that Jesus came specifically to confirm? A good place to start is Psalm 105:8-11; He remembers his covenant forever, the word he commanded, for a thousand generations, 9 the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. 10 He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: 11 "’To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit’."

According to Paul, onr of the reasons Jesus came was to confirm this promise!

Turning to the second verse, 

“He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.” (Acts 3:21)

Jesus returning to ‘restore all things promised by the holy Prophets’? – What did these promises include? Well, look at  

Ezekiel 20:41-43 I will accept you as fragrant incense when I bring you out from the nations and gather you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will show myself holy among you in the sight of the nations. 42 Then you will know that I am the LORD, when I bring you into the land of Israel, the land I had sworn with uplifted hand to give to your fathers. 43 There you will remember your conduct and all the actions by which you have defiled yourselves, and you will loathe yourselves for all the evil you have done.

Ezekiel 11:17-20 "Therefore say: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will gather you from the nations and bring you back from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you back the land of Israel again.' "They will return to it and remove all its vile images and detestable idols. 19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. 20 Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.

Jeremiah 31:35-37 This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar-- the LORD Almighty is his name: 36 "Only if these decrees vanish from my sight," declares the LORD, "will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me." 37 This is what the LORD says: "Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done," declares the LORD.  

Jeremiah 33:25-26 This is what the LORD says: 'If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed laws of heaven and earth, 26 then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his sons to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and have compassion on them.' "

Ezekiel 37:12-14, 21-28 “Therefore prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.' " … 21 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. 22 I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. 23 They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God. 24 " 'My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. 25 They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children's children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever.” I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. 27 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.' "

Discussion

So, God’s promises to the Patriarchs and through the prophets show his continuing faithfulness and love for Israel, and that he will restore them. Look again at the second of those two verses; “He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.” This links to Acts 1:6-8 So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" 7 He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Both use variations of the same basic word, restore.

Acts 3:21; ἀποκαταστάσεως  noun, gen. fem. sing

Acts 1:6; ἀποκαθιστάνεις verb, ind. Act pres, 3rd p sing.

Calvin’s false comment; “there are as many errors as words in their question” is answered by the context.

Acts 1:3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

Acts 2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit

So, in Acts 3, Peter has;

  1. been taught by the risen Lord about the kingdom for 40 days,
  2. has been filled with the Spirit, and,
  3. having been present in Acts 1 when the question about restoring the kingdom to Israel was asked, and having heard the reply from Jesus, here he is,
  4. and now, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he is speaking words that that same Spirit has seen fit to include as part of the inspired word of Scripture!

So, he now repeats the word from the earlier question, confirming that everything promised by the holy prophets will be restored when Jesus returns! And as just seen, those promises major on the restoration of Israel! The change from “Israel” to “all things” probably shows already a processing of Jesus reply to the earlier question, his command to preach the Gospel to the ends of the world – “all things” now includes both the promises to Israel and those to the whole world. Note that in the same speech, Peter likewise references God’s promise to Abraham; 'Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.'

Speaking of God’s promises;

Three great verses on God’s promises!

Psalm 89:34 I will not violate my covenant or alter (אֲשַׁנֶּֽה  repeat, 1 Samuel 26:8) what my lips have uttered. 

Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?

2 Corinthians 1:20 “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ.”

Jesus did not come to re-negotiate or to change god's earlier promises!! Galatians 3:17 - something which comes later cannot change what came earlier! 

So, did God promise to restore the people of Israel to their own land? Yes, and because of Jesus we know this will happen. What we see now are the first blossoming’s of redemption! He will gather and restore his people, and through him that “All Israel will be saved, as it is written: The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.” (Romans 11:26.)

The promise focuses in on Jesus! He is the deliverer, he will banish godlessness from Jacob, because in him all God’s promises find their yes!

They are not the true Israel of God who deny the seed of Abraham who has fulfilled the promises, nor allow the free proclamation of the one way of salvation through the Messiah.

Hi Lawrence, your supposition that if they be enemies of the Gospel, then they cannot also, at the same time, be beloved for the sake of their fathers is contradicted by the clear word of Scripture; Romans 11:28-29 "As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable."

Judah and his brothers did not cease to be the children of Jacob after they sold Joseph into slavery. Genesis 45:4-7 "Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come close to me." When they had done so, he said, "I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance." 

Romans 11:30-31 "Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you."

For a fuller treatment, please see my http://colinbarnesblog.blogspot.com/2018/01/jesus-jewish-messiah-part-3-jesus.html

God bless,

Colin

Christians such as myself support the nation of Israel because of her acts of justice, tolerance, and restraint toward her muslim neighbors, particularly the Palestinians.

Can the author of this article in The Banner name one muslim country that has treated the Palestinian people well? Or another question to consider...if the situation of power were reversed in Israel, with the Palestinian leaders holding the power in Israel, how does this author think the PLO would treat the Jewish people? 

Excellent point! Equally, we do not need to speculate - we know how the Muslim and Christian communities treated the Jewish when they were in power - see http://colinbarnesblog.blogspot.com/2019/12/inter-communal-muslimchristianjewishrel.html 

Did the Balfour Declaration have a pivital role in the formation of the modern State of Israel?
http://www.sweetliberty.org/issues/israel/freedman.htm
   In other words, they made this deal:  “We will get the United States into this war as your ally. The price you must pay us  is Palestine after you have won the war and defeated Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey.”
What about the role of the Scofield-reference-bible?
https://jamesperloff.com/tag/scofield-reference-bible/
Some local churches and organizations have the Star of David among flages on display.
thanks,
Jerry
It is important that Americans not forget the loss of 34 of our sailors on June 8, 1968.
https://nationalvanguard.org/2017/05/uss-liberty-truth-campaign-part-1/
Captain William McGonagle recieved the Congresssion  received the Medal of Honor keeping his ship afloat after it was attacked.  LBJ would not  allow the captain to visit the white house because LBJ thought more of a foreign nation than he did of his own sailors. If that is not called teason on behalf of the Zionist in Israel, I do not know what else it could be called.
The hostile elite who occupies the States united of America seem to be looking for more reliable livestock.
thanks,
Jerry

I appreciate the clarity and depth of this article. Gary Burge has done a masterful job of describing the biblical trajectory of God's promise through Adam, Abraham, Moses and fulfilled Jesus the Christ. His attention to the the dangers of subsuming faith into partisan politics is excellent! We're called to discern as citizens of the Kingdom, a place where God doesn't play favourites.

I am So glad that someone like Dr. Burge is finally giving us in the CRC a reformed theological perspective and that he has experience on the ground in Israel/Palestine! I became involved some 10 years ago when I learned that my friend Raj, who grew up in Jerusalem and attended a Catholic school there could not go back to his home after 1967. I went there in 2014 with a delegation the Christian Peacemakers Teams to witness what goes in places like Hebron, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. I witnessed some of the repressive tactics of the Israeli army and the armed lawless settlers have their way with unarmed Palestinian people that would never happen in any of our western democracies. Over 53 years (1967) or more going back to 1948 of discrimination, stealing homes and land, midnight raids of collective punishment, keeping them poor and in the dark. Not only keeping them in the dark but us in North America as well because of the grossly under reporting of suffering of the Palestinian people both Christian and Moslem.The prophets always taught Israel and us to love justice, righteousness and mercy. The Zionists and their supporting Christian Zionists have a terrible record of discrimination and oppression,just see the total neglect of international law or the UN.I do not deny the Jewish peoples a home in Palestine but the nation of Israel is using this occupation into an economic advantage in cheap Palestinian labour. I believe we need to be Christlike here and now. I challenge everyone to see for yourselves what really is going on.  I have noted that once you have really seen (not the controlled standard Israel Holy land tour) but listen to All the people of the land that we will not disagree that much anymore.


"standing in the crosshairs"  The professors's  sense of standing in the cross hairs is  ingenious. I thought a tenured professor was suppose to be exempt from that much pressue.   "Gary Burge has done a masterful job."
Do not be a Jeremiah unless you have to be!
A few years ago I heard a speaker who had got disinvited from a local campus.  Our "friday forum" at the local American Legion was able to cancel its regular program on short notice  and give her a chance to give her views.  Alison Wier seems to have taken up the thankless calling of being a modern day Jerimiah. As far as I know, she is still surviving.

https://israelpalestinenews.org/trump-executive-order-on-antisemitism-combats-criticism-of-israel/
thanks,
Jerry

I am a Jewish follower of Jesus and a member of the CRC since 1993. I do not adhere to Christian Zionist theology. 

Although there are points in Gary Burge’s article with which I resonate, I will mention several which strike me as one-sided and inaccurate, thus only contributing to perpetuate polarization.

I consider Burge’s definition of Christian Zionism sadly simplistic. He describes all the negative aspects of the bandwagon populist political extreme version of American CZ.  He has effectively built a straw-man (which unfortunately appeals to many). A deeper study of the history of this theology is required and gives more perspective. Below is a helpful article.

http://www.lcje-na.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/RoodandRoodCulturalEncountersProof-libre-2.pdf)

Dr. Burge writes of the remarkable suffering of four millions Palestinians living under harsh military occupation, but he makes no mention of the background context of the corruption and human rights abuse by the Palestinian Authority and the likes of Hamas. He implies an unethical Israeli culture, whereas most Israelis are terribly distressed and burdened with the ongoing occupation of the West Bank, perpetuated by a prolonged stalemate in peace talks. Meanwhile, many Israelis and Palestinians are involved in grass roots organizations which promote reconciliation, justice and peace in their land.

Burge’s sweeping designation of Jewish Israelis’ “secularity” fails to grasp that there is a difference between modern Western secularism and the Jewish Israeli version of secularity. It is impossible to divide Israeli Jewish religion and culture, even in a “secular” state.

I also question some of Burge’s scriptural interpretation. He states that God’s words in Genesis 12:3 are only “talking to Abraham 4,000 years ago about his own life”. In the overall context, the Genesis 12:3 call and promise clearly reaches far beyond Abraham himself, to include God’s elect, culminating in Jesus Messiah, as a blessing to the nations.

Burge’s flat denial that God’s promises to Abraham have any connection with modern Israel strikes me as possibly presumptuous. Romans 9-11 do imply a lasting promise to, and a special place for, Israel in God’s plan. How that connects with modern state of Israel is definitely a question worth asking and wrestling with, but to simply deny any possible connection...?!! 

“Lest you be wise in your own conceits....for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.” Romans 11:25, 29.

Since 2013, I have had the tremendous privilege of being blessed by ongoing relationships with Arab Palestinian Christians, Messianic Jewish believers, Jews from across the spectrum, as well as with Muslims - who are involved in reconciliation initiatives in their riven land. I deeply appreciate the wisdom and living example of those who have relinquished their narrative of victimhood or their sense of having “the correct” theology and are able to interact respectfully with the goal being towards reconciliation and shalom/salaam.

May we, as followers of Jesus, come alongside them in support and learn how to contribute towards building bridges, rather than building straw-men!

This year, 2020, I hope to start the first branch of Musalaha in Vancouver, Canada. Please feel free to contact me if you are interested to join. USA already has a branch. musalaha.org

All these comments.  Very interesting.  If one is trying to make their argument from the Bible, it sounds like Colin Barnes came out on top.  But why use ancient sources like the Bible or the Koran to make modern day arguments as to who owns the land or who stole the land?  Such arguments seem to get in the way of good reasoning and ethics.

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