Category Archives: Israel

Chosen? Reading the Bible amid the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict by Walter Brueggemann: A Review

066426154X-2In his short but passionate little book, Chosen? Walter Brueggemann addresses some of the important questions regarding God’s purposes for Israel and the Church. For example, are contemporary Israeli citizens the descendants of the Israelites in the Bible whom God called chosen? Was the promise of land to Abraham permanent and irrevocable? What about others living in the promised land? Who are the Zionists, and what do they believe? The subtitle of the book tells us where he intends to look for answers, “Reading the Bible amid the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” His publisher, Westminster John Knox, promises,

“The reader will get answers to their key questions about how to understand God’s promises to the biblical people often called Israel and the conflict between Israel and Palestine today.”

Chosen? comprises 59 pages of scripture commentary in four short chapters, a Q&A with the author, a glossary and 20-page study guide to facilitate group discussion around each of the chapters. The four chapters are:

  1. Reading the Bible amid the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
  2. God’s Chosen People, Claim and Problem
  3. Holy Land?
  4. Zionism and Israel

The book also contains very helpful guidelines for respectful dialogue first published by the Presbyterian General Assembly in 1992.  Significantly, the title includes a question mark.  I added a question mark to the titles of two of my own books: Christian Zionism: Roadmap to Armageddon? and Zion’s Christian Soldiers? The Bible, Israel and the Church.[i]  Walter is recognising, as I did, that views differ on whether the Jews are God’s chosen people, even though, unlike me, he personally concludes that they are.

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The Balfour Declaration: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Jonathan Schneer

8253107A Summary by Colin Chapman

The late Tony Judt described this book as ‘the best modern history of the Balfour Declaration,’ and Eugene Rogan of Oxford sees it as ‘the most original exposition of the Balfour Declaration to date.’ It deserves a wide circulation as we live through the centenary of the Balfour Declaration on 2 November, 2017. The author, Jonathan Schneer, is an American historian who specialises in modern British history and teaches at Georgia Tech’s School of History, Technology, and Society.

This is an attempt simply to summarise the contents of the book with a number of quotations. If it were a review, my only criticism of the book would be that, in concentrating so much on the politics behind the Declaration, there is no discussion of the religious beliefs of key players like Lord Balfour and David Lloyd George which made them so open to supporting Zionism.

The Balfour Declaration (BD) needs to be understood in the context of World War I

 By the time the BD was issued on 2 November 1917, Britain and Germany had been at war for over three years. Millions had been slaughtered in the trenches and neither side seemed to be winning. The Battle of the Somme had been fought between 1 July and 1 November, 1916, and Passchendale between July and November, 1917. The British government was seeking for ways to turn the tide in the war. Some in the cabinet believed that all their energies should be concentrated on the western front on the continent (‘the westerners’), while others believed that new initiatives in the Middle East could break the deadlock and give Britain the advantage (‘the easterners’). After the fall of the Asquith government in December 1916, Lloyd George, an easterner, became Prime Minister.

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A Line in the Sand: A Summary by Colin Chapman

a-line-in-the-sand-9781849839037_hrThis book seeks to explain how many of the problems of the Middle East in the last century can be traced back to the colonial ambitions of Britain and France and in particular to the ‘venomous rivalry’ between them in their struggle for mastery of the region. It was this rivalry which lay behind the Sykes-Picot agreement, the Balfour Declaration, the creation by Britain of the kingdoms in Iraq and Transjordan, Britain’s support for the independence of Syria and Lebanon, and French support for the Jewish underground which was working against the British in Palestine in 1948.

What follows is a summary of the main themes of the book, combined with quotations from key passages.

The Sykes-Picot agreement (May 1916) was an attempt by Britain and France to deal with their rival ambitions in the Middle East and to define spheres of influence in the region after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The ‘line in the sand’, which was literally drawn on the map by Mark Sykes (for Britain) and Francois Georges-Picot (for France), ran (in Sykes’ words) ‘from the “e” in Acre to the last “k” in Kirkuk’. Lebanon, Syria and northern Iraq (including Mosul) were allocated to France, while Transjordan and southern Iraq were allocated to Britain. Because Britain and France both wanted control of Palestine, it was finally agreed that it should come under international control.

‘The compromise, which neither power liked, was that the Holy Land should have an international administration.’  (2)

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Zion’s Christian Soldiers

Limited edition, signed and at the special price of £15 in the UK including postage, and £20 worldwide. Worth it just for the sermon by John Stott. Also available in Arabic and Korean.Zions-christian-soldiers-2 976480_367113153390423_1636882878_o-710x1024-2 zcsarabiccover-728x1024

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Professor John Lennox on Daniel in Babylon

A presentation by Professor John Lennox on Daniel in Babylon delivered at Rothschild Bank in London.

John Lennox is Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University and Fellow in Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College

See John Lennox’s book, Against the Flow: The Inspiration of Daniel in an Age of Relativism

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Ambassadors Needed

Heartened by the recent historic meeting between Prime Minister David Cameron and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, at the United Nations, signaling a long-overdue thawing of Anglo-Iranian relations, I was delighted to attend the New Horizons interfaith conference in Tehran last week, as a member of a UK delegation.

The conference addressed issues where faith and politics intersect in the Middle East such as Israel’s war on Gaza, Islamophobia in the West as well as the rise of ISIS and those sponsoring extremism.

“There is no teleology in western society, no guiding morality, only an obsession with materialism,” argued organizer Arash Darya-Bandari. “We believe it is necessary to control the negative tendencies in culture, such as pornography, alcohol, drugs, prostitution, to strive towards a more moral and justice society.”

One of the contributors, Eric Walberg wrote, “Contrary to the shrill cries in the western media that the conference was anti-Semitic, it was unique in my experience in addressing Zionism and US imperialism forthrightly and intelligently, without a hint of racism. The issue of anti-Semitism was addressed and dismissed, as “There is no issue with Jewish people or the Jewish religion,” explained Darya-Bandari, “but rather with Zionism, that secular distortion of Judaism that itself is racist, and has been used as a pretext to dispossess and kill Palestinians.”

He went on to report, “The conference issued a resolution condemning ISIS, Zionism, US unconditional support of Israel, Islamophobia, and calling for activism locally to boycott Israeli goods and to promote understanding between the West and the Muslim world, and to fight sectarianism. “This was a great opportunity to meet anti-imperialist activists from around the world, to bring Russians, Poles, western Europeans, North Americans together with Iranians and other Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, in a forum without sectarianism, truly supporting peace and understanding,” said delegate Mateusz Piskorski, director of the European Centre of Geopolitical Analysis in Warsaw and former MP in the Polish Sejm.”

I was invited to contribute to the opening ceremony and present a biblical perspective on Jihad and in particular, a Christian refutation of the Islamic State (IS). Later in the conference I was asked to present a paper on the impact of the Israel Lobby in the UK, especially in parliament and in the media, ahead of the publication of my new book on the subject.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20)

Ambassadors, of necessity serve in foreign countries, where perspectives may be different and at times even hostile to one’s own. But given the dire consequences of any breakdown in relations between countries, dialogue and diplomacy are always to be preferred over war and strife.

In the journal Diplomat, Michael Binyon asks,

“Are Christian church leaders becoming the world’s most active peacemakers? Only a week after President Peres of Israel and the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accepted the Pope’s invitation to pray together with him in Rome, the Archbishop of Canterbury made a dramatic flight to Nigeria to pray with President Goodluck Jonathan and encourage him to make every effort to find the schoolgirls kidnapped by the terrorist organisation Boko Haram.

The Archbishop’s impromptu trip came hard on the heels of a visit to Pakistan, where he visited a small embattled Christian community and praised their efforts to forge closer links with the wider Muslim community, despite regular attacks by militants, the threats of mob violence and the increasing use of the notorious blasphemy laws to force Christians from their land and property…

Peacemaking and reconciliation – within the Anglican Church and between the world’s main faith groups – were the declared priority for Justin Welby from the moment he became Archbishop. He is well qualified for the role. As an oil executive who visited Nigeria often before his ordination, he has seen at first-hand the conflict raging between Christians and Muslims in Central Nigeria that is now taking a deadly toll. As a former head of Coventry Cathedral’s Centre for Reconciliation, he has himself conducted delicate negotiations between militant groups in an effort to free hostages, often risking his own life.”

A walk through the deserted US embassy in Tehran last week was a poignant reminder of how a failure to pursue diplomacy has fueled not only decades of missed opportunities but also perpetuated misunderstanding and animosity between our countries.

Ironically, the leaders in Jesus day, tried to dictate whom he could and could not meet with, criticizing him for eating with “tax collectors and sinners”.  Clearly they considered his actions “conduct unbecoming” a rabbi. Thankfully for us he did not listen to them.

Critics of conferences such as New Horizons should think more carefully about how their inflammatory words will negatively impact on their own communities in Iran.

They would be better served following the examples set by our Prime Minister, the Pope and the Archbishop who, as true ambassadors, are working for peace and reconciliation.

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Gaza Benefit Concert with Garth Hewitt and Friends

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Zion’s Christian Soldiers in Arabic

zcsarabiccover zcsarabicinfo zcsarabicindex zcsarabicback-2  Zion’s Christian Soldiers is now available in Arabic and costs £8.95 plus £2.75 postage in the UK and £4.75 internationally. Order via PayPal

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Der Christliche Jihadist

christian-poker-crusade-v-jihad-2

Der Christliche Jihadist. Im Zeichen des Kreuzes im evangelikalen Christentum: Die Perspektive eines christlichen Jihadisten

A German translation of my presentation, The Christian Jihadist

Download a pdf version Der christliche Jihadist

See also Sieben biblische Antworten auf populäre zionistische Thesen

Die theologischen und ideologischen Wurzeln der Balfour-Deklaration

Sieben biblische Antworten auf populäre zionistische Thesen

 

 

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Christians Zionists at War with Syria

syria1Why has Israel been the subject of more UN Resolutions than any other country in the world? And why has the USA vetoed virtually every single one of them? Why is Israel allowed to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons while other Middle East countries denied access to peaceful nuclear technology? Why such a close relationship between Israel and the United States of America? What is the fascination with Israel among Evangelical Christians in America?

There is a simple explanation. At least one in four American Christians surveyed recently by Christianity Today magazine said that they believe it is their biblical responsibility to support the nation of Israel. This view is known as Christian Zionism.

The Pew Research Center put the figure at 63 per cent among white evangelicals. Christian Zionism is therefore pervasive within American evangelical, charismatic and independent denominations including the Assemblies of God, Pentecostals and Southern Baptists, as well as many of the independent mega-churches and among television evangelists.

Christian Zionism is much less prevalent within the historic denominations (Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, Presbyterian), which show a greater respect for the work of the United Nations, support human rights, the rule of international law, empathize with the Palestinians and cooperate with the indigenous Middle East churches.

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