Zion’s Christian Soldiers: The Bible, Israel and the Church: Back in Print

I am delighted Wipf & Stock have chosen to republish the English edition of my book, Zion’s Christian Soldiers. You can preview come of the content here. Available from Amazon or direct from the publishers.

“Once again Stephen Sizer has produced a seriously worked out biblical theology which challenges some Christians who give uncritical support to the current political stance of Israel. We have here a serious biblical challenge, evangelical in character which, nevertheless, challenges certain kinds of fundamentalism, both theological and political. I commend Stephen’s latest book warmly, not with the conviction that everyone will agree with it, but that all ought to engage in its argument for the very sake of the Peace of Jerusalem itself, now the Holy City of the three great monotheistic faiths, the faiths of the Children of Abraham.” The Right Reverend Christopher Hill, former Bishop of Guildford

‘Stephen Sizer’s new study offers a fresh and insightful approach to reading the Bible. With magisterial skill he challenges Christian Zionists and provides a comprehensive framework for understanding the true meaning of Scripture.’ Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok

“This work deals expertly with a vital theme …. For this Christian zealotry perverts the truth of Christ in three tragic ways. It ignores or repudiates the equal stature under God of all peoples in nature and in grace; it flouts a Christian conscience by discounting injustice and oppression; and it sees no Christian ministry to the hope and pleas of original Zionism itself. Thus it darkly violates both Christian sympathy and Christian faith.” The Right Reverend Kenneth Cragg, retired Assistant Bishop in Jerusalem

Preface

Whether you have been recommended this book or just curious about the title, I’ve probably only got another 30 seconds to convince you to read it. So let me ask you this question: What subject do Christians find most controversial?  Abortion? Evolution? Climate Change?  – The correct answer is probably Israel. No other subject seems to ignite such strong emotions or deep divisions.  

A large proportion of Bible-believing Christians are convinced that God blesses those nations that stand with Israel and curses those that don’t. This movement, known as Christian Zionism, provides a biblical justification for Western intervention in the Middle East.  It is deeply mistrustful of the United Nations and the European Community, actively opposes the implementation of international law and the legitimate right of Palestinians to an independent sovereign state alongside Israel. 

It is my contention that this world-view is not shaped by the Bible. Indeed, I have grown to recognise it, not only as deeply destructive, but worse, as a deviant heresy in which the Church is merely a parenthesis to God’s continuing purposes for his ‘Chosen People’, Israel. I was raised on books like the Scofield Reference Bible[1] and remember devouring Hal Lindsey’s Late Great Planet Earth[2]. It took me some while to detox and realise that the theology these and similar books assume has radical implications for how we view our faith and the world we live in.  Tragically the indigenous church in Palestine and indeed wider Middle East is close to extinction.  Islamic extremism, Jewish Zionism and Christian indifference all exacerbate this, but Christian Zionism has probably had a greater detrimental effect than the other three causes combined.  

Twenty years ago, apart from Colin Chapman’s Whose Promised Land[3], Grace Halsell’s Forcing God’s Hand[4] and Donald Wagner’s Anxious for Armageddon[5], no other evangelicals seemed aware of, or willing to address the subject. This is in part why in the 1990’s I undertook post-graduate research into the historical roots, theological basis and political agenda of Christian Zionism. This led not only to a PhD[6] but also to a book, Christian Zionism: Road-map to Armageddon? [7], the first I believe to have ‘Christian’ and ‘Zionism’ in the title. The book was subsequently translated into Arabic, Farsi and Spanish.[8] My research revealed that proto-Christian Zionism (or more accurately Restorationism), not only preceded Jewish Zionism by at least 50 years, but also that today, at least nine out of ten Zionists in the world are Christians. It is therefore more accurate to say that Zionism is primarily a Christian ideology rather than Jewish one. Indeed, in 2012, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu admitted, “I don’t believe that the Jewish State and Modern Zionism would have been possible without Christian Zionism.”[9]

Writing a sequel, Zion’s Christian Soldiers? has got me into more hot water and sadly made me not a few enemies along the way. It has also been a lonely journey, because there are still too few evangelicals, willing to challenge the assumption that Bible-believing Christians should instinctively side with Israel.  Why is that?  – The fear of being labelled ‘anti-Semitic’ is a powerful disincentive and one that you have to live with if you want to be faithful to the scriptures. The power of the pro-Israeli Christian Right in the USA and Europe is very strong and opposes anyone who criticises Israel or defends the Palestinians. Christian publishers are boycotted, sponsorship of academic institutions is denied and speaking invitations are cancelled. 

In my case, for nearly 20 years, churches, charities and mission agencies have been bullied to disassociate from me by a small number of misguided Christian Zionists. Despite threats, intimidation and spurious allegations, a growing number of church leaders, academics and politicians as well as Jewish and Muslim leaders have spoken out in solidarity.[10]

Lecture tours and speaking engagements, based on Zion’s Christian Soldiers, have been sponsored by World Vision Australia, Tearfund New Zealand, the Evangelical Theological College Asia, Macau Bible Institute, Presbyterian Theological College Seoul, Justice Asia Conference Hong Kong, Bethlehem Bible College and many theological seminaries in Europe, the Middle East, Iran and USA. The book has also now been published in Arabic, German and Korean, with a Chinese edition available soon, God willing. 

There are plenty of books that examine ‘Zionism’ and ‘Bible prophecy’. There are few, however, that explain the relationship between the two from a biblical perspective. This one does.  My hope is that it will encourage further study on the relationship between Israel and the Church as well as offer a more constructive view of the future and our role as peacemakers[11].  

To that end, you may freely download a four-page summary of this book, Seven Biblical Answers[12] as well as view a video presentation[13]. You can also download Seven Bible Studies[14], based on the chapters of this book to facilitate personal or group study.

As a taster, here are two questions to ponder: Does God have one people or two? Was the coming of Jesus the fulfilment or postponement of the promises God made to Abraham? 

I owe a deep debt of gratitude to a handful of writers who have shown courage in challenging Christian Zionism and from whom I have learnt so much. They include Naim Ateek, Gary Burge, Colin Chapman, Kenneth Cragg, Garth Hewitt, Munther Isaac and Donald Wagner. 

Bethlehem Bible College, through the Christ at the Checkpoint conferences[15], Kairos Palestine[16] and Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center[17] have also played an increasingly significant role in challenging Christian Zionism.

Finally, I am most thankful to the late John Stott for his encouragement and for an unpublished sermon, entitled The Place of Israel, preached at All Souls Church in London many years ago, which he graciously allowed me to include. 

All the best material has been borrowed from these people. I gladly accept responsibility for the rest. 

Stephen Sizer
Easter 2021


[1] Cyrus Scofield, The Scofield Reference Bible (London, Oxford University Press, 1917)

[2] Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth, (London, Lakeland, 1970)

[3] Colin Chapman, Whose Promised Land? (Oxford, Lion, 2002)

[4] Grace Halsell, Prophecy and Politics, Militant Evangelists on the Road to Nuclear War, (Westport, Lawrence Hill, 1986); Forcing God’s Hand, Why Millions Pray for a Quick Rapture – and Destruction of Planet Earth. (Washington, Crossroads International, 1999).

[5] Donald Wagner, Anxious for Armageddon (Scottdale, Herald Press, 2001)

[6] Middlesex University Research Repository, https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/6403/1/Sizer-promised_land.phd.pdf

[7] Stephen Sizer, Christian Zionism: Road-map to Armageddon? (Leicester, IVP, 2004) 

[8] See https://www.stephensizer.com/books/christian-zionism/  

[9] https://www.jpost.com/annual-conference/a-view-from-the-bridge-linking-christian-zionists-and-israel-404119

[10] https://www.stephensizer.com/friends/

[11] https://peacemakers.ngo

[12] http://www.stephensizer.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/7-Biblical-Answers-Israel-and-the-Church-2019.pdf

[13] http://www.stephensizer.com/2020/06/seven-biblical-answers-to-popular-assumptions-about-israel-and-the-church/

[14] http://www.stephensizer.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/7-Biblical-Answers-Bible-Studies.pdf

[15] https://christatthecheckpoint.bethbc.edu

[16] https://www.kairospalestine.ps

[17] https://sabeel.org

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