on January 5, 2006
As I am writing this (1-5-06), the Rev. Pat Robertson has linked the grave disease of PM A. Sharon to the fact that Sharon tried to "divide" the Holy Land given, in Robertson's view, to the modern people of Israel exclusively.
Robertson is notorious for his Christian Zionist position that believes that the Old Testament promises of land to Israel still hold today. He is a "restorationist" who believes that the year 1948, when the modern nation of Israel was established in Palestine, is a rather important date in world history. Already when Y. Rabin was assassinated, Robertson saw "God's hand" involved there too.
Sizer, a student of Palestine and minister of the Church of England, does an excellent job in tracing the theological, historical, institutional, and political backgrounds of the likes of Robertson and J. Falwell. He also offers some helpful theological critique of the underlying theological views.
Astonishingly, "Christian Zionists" in Britain and especially America abound, ever since its tenets were popularized by the infamous Scofield Reference Bible. This is true not just for many an Evangelical congregation; various leading 20th-century British and American politicians have been sympathetic to this type of "philo-Judaism". In fact, as Sizer shows, the existence of the state of Israel today would be unthinkable without the inspiration and support of Christian Zionists in Britain and America.
All in all, Sizer's book is an important contribution to understanding the ongoing Near East conflict, as it sheds light on a area that usually does not make headline-news. Five stars are fully warranted.
on March 22, 2008
"I wanted to congratulate you on your book ... Like yourself in one regard, I have a long history of what I call "prediction addiction" -- and its obvious flaws and failures. Your book seems to be a careful and much needed analysis of the destructive wake left by pre-millennial dispensationalism. Thank you! My particular version of dispensationalism was informed by a potent and lethal mixture of sabbatarianism and British Israelism as championed by Herbert W. Armstrong... God rescued me (and many others, thank God) from these heretical notions... What Dr. Sizer addresses is absolutely critical for Christians in North America to understand. Greg Albrecht, President of Plain Truth Ministries, and Editor-in-Chief, The Plain Truth magazine (author of Revelation Revolution & Bad News Religion).
"Nearly a thousand years ago, European Crusaders tried to colonise Palestine, fuelling religious hatred and bringing the indigenous Christian community close to extinction. It is tragic, if ironic, that misguided Western Christian Zionists, by their one-sided political support for Israel, are today succeeding where the Crusaders failed. Stephen Sizer's ground-breaking new book on Christian Zionism exposes how this heretical theology is having devastating political consequences in the Middle East. It is heartbreaking to see misguided Christians identifying more with Ahaband Jezebel than with Naboth. On a daily basis we are seeing our land confiscated, our vineyards destroyed, our homes demolished, our children traumatised and our future negated for the sake of an earthly kingdom which the Lord Jesus has plainly repudiated. I commend Stephen's important and prophetic book in calling Evangelical Christians, in particular, to break the spiral of violence and hatred. Instead we must obey the teachings of the Prince of Peace who has called us to a ministry of reconciliation rather than listen to the false prophets of Armageddon whose apocalyptic message is in danger of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy." The Right Revd Riah Abu El Assal, Retired Episcopal Bishop of Jerusalem (author of Caught in Between).
"I believe Stephen Sizer is one of the most authoritative scholars in the world on the vital issue of Christian Zionism. He is a very important voice speaking out against this destructive movement that is killing us [Palestinians] through its theology." Canon Naim Ateek, Founder & Director of Sabeel, Jerusalem (author of Justice and Only Justice).
"I hope it will spread widely in evangelical circles and I am particularly glad that IVP have published it, thereby endorsing our judgment. [Christian Zionism] is an ultimately totally unbiblical menace." Right Revd Simon Barrington-Ward, retired Bishop of Coventry and former Principal of Crowther Hall, Selly Oak Colleges and General Secretary of the Church Mission Society. Presently Chaplain to the staff of Ridley Hall, Cambridge. (author of Love Will Out, Why God?, The Jesus Prayer and co-author of Praying the Jesus Prayer)
"Having heard Stephen Sizer at the Sabeel International Conference in Jerusalem a year and a half ago, I can vouch for him as an articulate and vigorous speaker, and an expert on Christian Zionism." Right Revd Allen Bartlett, Assisting Bishop of the Diocese of Washington.
"I think your book is fantastic... I'm grateful for your advocacy of the Church as the Bride... This is a large book, as well it should be, since it addresses a large issue. At stake in the argument is the very definition of the identity of the Church. Some theologies, that make Israel central to the purposes of God and to the processes of history, reduce the Church to the status of concubine while Israel becomes the Bride. Sizer's work provides a timely reminder that, according to the New Testament, God's people is to be identified on the basis of grace, not of race." Professor Gilbert Bilezikian, Professor Emeritus, Wheaton College and founding leader of Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, Illinois, (author of The Liberated Gospel, Beyond Sex Roles, Christianity 101 and Community 101)
"Sizer's well-researched study is of considerable value... Christian Zionism unearths the taproot of a belief system that exerts enormous influence in contemporary America. Based on supposedly infallible sacred texts, these beliefs help determine how millions of Americans, and millions more worldwide, view the bloody and seemingly insoluble conflicts that torment the Middle East, bringing such suffering and heartache to its peoples." Professor Paul Boyer, Merle Curti Professor of History Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison (editor-in-chief of the Oxford Companion to American History, author of Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft, Urban Masses and Moral Order in America, 1820-1920, By the Bomb's Early Light: American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age, When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture, Fallout: A Historian Reflects on America's Half-Century Encounter With Nuclear Weapons)
"Stephen Sizer has written a masterly book on a controversial subject. Some of us have soaked up teaching about Christian Zionism from the footnotes of a Schofield Reference Bible or from Hal Lindsey's bestseller The Late Great Planet Earth, or from the leaders of certain Christian tours to Israel. Probably we have read very little that critically examines its basic assumptions. Sizer sets out to evaluate Christian Zionism critically from a biblical and historical perspective... Sizer's clear thinking, scholarly and reverent critique of Christian Zionism certainly needs to be read alongside the Scriptures, with the utmost seriousness." Canon Gordon Bridger, former Principal of Oak Hill College, 1987-96, (author of The Man from Outside, A Day that Changed the World, Bible Study Commentary 1 Corinthians-Galatians).
"Stephen Sizer's Christian Zionism : Road Map to Armageddon? is essential reading for any western evangelical trying to understand the religious dimensions of American support for Israel. Sizer writes as an insider within the church, not as a critic watching from afar. And he shows with exacting clarity how evangelical eschatology has now embedded itself in a modern political ideology. One quick read of this book will change anyone's perspective on the Middle East permanently." Professor Gary M. Burge, Professor of New Testament, Wheaton College & Graduate School, Wheaton (author of Whose Land, Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told About Israel and the Palestinians).
"A comprehensive survey describing how Christians have embraced a theological perspective that has encouraged justice for Jews but has also led to the oppression of Palestinian people and extreme hostility between Christians and Muslims worldwide." Professor Tony Campolo, Professor of Sociology, Eastern University (My Top 5 Books on Social Justice, Christianity Today, January 2008 and author Speaking My Mind, The God of Intimacy and Action, Adventures in Missing the Point, Letters to a Young Evangelical, Twenty Hot Potatoes Christians Are Afraid to Touch, Following Jesus Without Embarrassing God, Let me Tell You a Story, Carpe Diem, How Movies Helped Save My Soul, Its Friday But Sunday's Comin, Fifty Ways You Can Help Save the Planet, The Gospel With Extra Salt)
"It is very timely and ... a serious work on what is such a very troubling and troublesome issue for the Christians of the Holy Land as well as world wide." Right Revd Elias Chacour, Greek Melkite Bishop of Israel and founder of the Mar Elias Educational Institutions, Ibillin, Galilee (author of Blood Brothers & We Belong to the Land).
"This is a masterly and highly readable analysis of the history, the world-view and the political implications of Christian Zionism. Sizer has thrown down the gauntlet in a way that demands a response from those who support the state of Israel for theological reasons." Colin Chapman, Lecturer in Islamic Studies at the Near East School of Theology, Lebanon. (author of Whose Promised Land?, Whose Promised City? & Cross and Crescent).
"The invaluable contribution of Stephen Sizer's book, Christian Zionism, is that he discusses in detail a lesser-acknowledged kind of Zionism, one that, he claims, predated political Zionism by 60 years (p. 254). Sizer, chairman of the International Bible Society in England, reveals a Christian Zionism that, for its own distinctly theological reasons, supports Israel's occupation of Palestinian land. Mark Chmiel, Adjunct professor of Theological Studies at St. Louis University and of Religious Studies at Webster University. (author of Elie Wiesel and the Politics of Moral Leadership)
"I recommend the book wholeheartedly. It is timely, and really vital, in view of the present attitude of both U.S. and British governments to the Israel-Palestine conflict. It demonstrates how a firm principle of Christian hope has been distorted and misapplied in a cruel and destructive manner. Until the Christian attitude to Zionism is changed, I fear that the situation will continue to deteriorate and that those evangelicals who have embraced Zionism will continue to do immense damage to the Christian Church. I think it is a "must read" book for every serious evangelical today." Professor Ron Clements, Emeritus Professor of Old Testament Studies, King's College, London, (author of Wisdom for a Changing World: Wisdom in Old Testament Theology: Berkeley Tanner Lectures; Old Testament Theology: A Fresh Approach, Isaiah 1-13: The New Century Bible Commentary, Wisdom in Theology, Ezekiel: Westminster Bible Companion, Prophecy and Tradition, One Hundred Years of Old Testament Interpretation).
"This study of Christian Zionism, based on Stephen Sizer's doctoral thesis, is of seminal significance. It provides a fascinating survey of the history of Christian Zionism and an indepth analysis of the theology of this highly important and influential movement." Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Professor of Judaism and Director of the Centre for the Study of the World's Religions, University of Wales, Lampeter. (author of Israel: The History of an Idea, Messianic Judaism & Antisemitism).
on August 16, 2009
Dr. Stephen Sizer has clearly revealed the truth on this volatile issue. Realizing "truth" is often "subjective," (according to some) but his reasoning is precise and needs to be considered. In addition, with Dr. John Stott's endorsement and approval, should cause one to take notice.
Even though I read this book a couple of years ago, I felt compelled to write a review after re-examining it recently. The book is simply outstanding! All I can say is, "It's about time!" The table of contents are as follows: Introduction, The historical roots of Christian Zionism, The theological emphases of Christian Zionism, The political implications of Christian Zionism, and Conclusions.
Dr. Sizer is not shy and takes on some of the biggest names in modern times, viz., Lindsey, LaHaye, Falwell, Hagee, Adrian Rogers, and numerous others. It has been their insistence that the "land promise" has not been fulfilled and/or modern-day Israel is "so special in God's eyes" that the United States (and other countries) would do well to "support Israel" in every way possible. But is this true? Joshua 21:43-45 and Joshua 23:14 specifically states in no uncertain terms that the "land promise" was indeed fulfilled. How could Joshua have made it more clear?
Nevertheless, many living today still believe that the State of Israel is owed something, e.g., the land promise, financial support, even military support, etc. But is this true? Is it biblical? And perhaps the worst is the political and military support. Why? (This will be revealed a bit later.) But Dr. Sizer states, "Christian Zionism has profound political consequences." (see p. 206). The entire chapter (pp. 206-253) is brilliant and concludes with a summary of six basic theological convictions that arise from their literal and futurist reading of the Bible, (p. 252). And as if to say, "Just in case you believe that I am painting everyone with the same brush" he states, "Clearly, not all Christian Zionists embrace each of these six tenents" (p. 253). And concludes the chapter with this wise observation:
"Nevertheless, as has been argued, the overall consequences of such uncritical support for the State of Israel, especially among American evangelicals who identify with Christian Zionism in larger numbers than in Britain, are inherently and pathologically destructive." (p. 253).
Further, "As a result, the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), representing the indigenous and ancient Oriental and Eastern Churches, regards Christian Zionism as a deviant heresy. It asserts.....that Christian Zionists have aggressively imposed an abberrant expression of the Christian faith and an erroneous interpretation of the Bible which is subservient to the political agenda of the modern State of Israel." (p. 259). And in the words of Dr. John Stott, this is "biblically anathema." Dr. Sizer writes on p. 22, "The Middle East Council of Churches (MECC), drawing together the historic as well as evangelical churches of the Holy Land, rejects Christian Zionism 'as representing a heretical interpretation of Holy Scripture', while John Stott has described it as 'biblically anathema.'" (see also p. 261).
What are the consequences? And this is crucial point mentioned above, Dr. D. S. Russell pointed out years ago (in his 1978 book, Apocalyptic: Ancient and Modern), he writes:
"One rather frightening by-product of this process of interpretation is that it is so easy to 'create' the very situation which is being described so that the interpretation given brings about its own fulfillment. Russia, for example, is to be destroyed by nuclear attack--and scripture must be fulfilled! It needs little imagination to understand the consequences of such a belief, especially if held with deep conviction by politicians and the military who have the power to press the button and to execute the judgment thus prophesied and foreordained." (p. 64).
Now that is indeed frightening! I could write on and on, and I'm confident that there will be others who disagree with me and that's okay, this is America, but one must keep in mind in interpreting the precious Word of God, one must do their best to really "know" what God wants for our world and yes, Israel (and other countries as well). In a nutshell, it's simply this: Jesus died for everyone's sins and therefore, all countries (and people) are precious in God's eyes and not just "Israel." Israel today no more stands in favor with God than people in China, America, England, South America, Africa, Australia, or any other country! The point is simple: God proved His love by the "Cross of Christ!"
If one wishes to read further on this issue, I would recommend: Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church by Dr. Gary DeMar; Doomsday Delusions: What's Wrong with Predictions About the End of the World, by Dr. C. Marvin Pate and Dr. Calvin B. Haines; IRAQ--Babylon of the End-Times? by Dr. C. Marvin Pate and Dr. J. Daniel Hays; and When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture by Dr. Paul Boyer.
on October 29, 2015
Stephen Sizer is perhaps one of the best theologians alive today when it comes to exposing and criticizing Dispensationalism and Christian Zionism, and his book, Christian Zionism: Road Map to Armageddon, is one of the best books on that topic.
Part one, 'The Historical Roots of Christian Zionism since 1800,' covers the history of the Dispensational system, showing its questionable origins in 19th century preachers such as Irving and Darby, and how the system became popular in Britain and the United States during the 20th century, influencing politicians and affecting modern history up the present day.
The theology of Dispensational Zionism is laid bare in part two, 'The Theological Emphases of Christian Zionism,' where Dispensationalism's distinct emphases are examined and critiqued. Here it is shown how it differs from historic Christian doctrine and makes a mess of the unity and clarity of Scriptural principles.
Finally, in part three of the book, 'The Political Implications of Christian Zionism,' the present day ramifications of Dispensational Zionism are shown. Sizer shows how detrimental this theological view is to respect for human rights, particularly those of indigenous Christians living in the Holy Land (as well as their Muslim neighbours).
Sizer concludes by arguing that only a robust Covenantal view of the Bible can do justice to redemptive history and avoid the chaos, confusion and suffering that has been caused by adherence of many people to a Dispensational view of ecclesiology and eschatology. This is great for showing how the debate over Covenantal versus Dispensational theology isn't just a dry academic debate, but has real world implications that affect many lives, often in a negative manner.