What Christian Anti-Zionists Teach
Christian anti-Zionism is gaining strength both in America and abroad. Its teaching turns the world against Israel as God’s Chosen People, casts Israel as the aggressor rather than the victim, and denies God’s promise to give the Jewish people the land of Israel as an “everlasting possession” (Gen. 17:8; 48:4). Here are some of Christian anti-Zionism’s most outspoken, influential proponents and what they say:
- Stephen Sizer—vicar of Christ Church, Surrey, United Kingdom: “There is no evidence that…the Jewish people had a divine right to the Land in Perpetuity, or that Jewish possession of the Land would be an important, let alone central, aspect of God’s purposes for the world.”1
- Gary Burge—professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois: “Ownership of the land is not a Christian question.”2 Burge has written extensively on what he calls the obsolescence of “territorial theologies.”
- Tony Campolo—speaker, author, sociologist, and professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University in Pennsylvania: “The most serious threats to the well-being of the Palestinians in general, and to the Christian Palestinians in particular, come not from the Jews, but from Christian Zionists here in the United States.”3
- Lynne Hybels—author; activist; and wife of Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, Illinois: “I have become convinced that if Jesus were here today he would stand with those who non-violently protest the occupation of the Palestinian Territories, the extreme military violence used against the Palestinians, and the economic decline and psychological pain caused by the occupation.”4
- John Piper—former pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and founder of desiringGod.org: “The secular state of Israel today may not claim a present divine right to the Land.”5
Some well-known, vocal, Christian anti-Zionist institutions include Knox Theological Seminary in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, founded in 1989 by D. James Kennedy; General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; Bethlehem Bible College in Bethlehem, Israel, founded in 1979, which in 2007 opened a campus in northern Israel called Galilee Bible College and now plans to expand into Gaza; and Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, Israel, founded in 1989 by Palestinian Anglican priest Naim Ateek.
Here are three more statements:
- Knox Theological Seminary: “The entitlement of any one ethnic or religious group to territory in the Middle East called the ‘Holy Land’ cannot be supported by Scripture.”6 This statement was contained in an open letter posted on the Knox Theological Seminary website in 2002 and signed by more than 150 educators, pastors, church leaders, and public figures, including R. C. Sproul.
- Bethlehem Bible College: “Any exclusive claim to land of the Bible in the name of God is not in line with the teaching of Scripture.”7
- Palestinian Christians: “We Palestinian Christians declare that the military occupation [by Israel] of our land is a sin against God and humanity and that any theology that legitimizes the occupation is far from Christian teachings.”8 The statement was contained in the 2009 Kairos Palestine document, written by Palestinian Christians.
Contrary to what these men and institutions teach, more than 130 verses in the Bible reiterate the truth that the land of Israel has been divinely given to the Jewish people. Not a single verse in all of Scripture declares that God has revoked the promise He gave to Abraham in Genesis 17:8. (As a sampling, see Deuteronomy 4:40; Psalm 105:8–11; Jeremiah 23:7–8; Ezekiel 28:25–26; 34:13; 36:24; 37:1–14, 21; 39:28; 47:21; Amos 9:15; Acts 7:5.)
- Stephen Sizer, Zion’s Christian Soldiers? (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2008), 20.
- Gary M. Burge, Jesus and the Land (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010), 127.
- Tony Campolo, “Christian Zionism: Theology that Legitimates Oppression,” Sojourners, May 19, 2010 <tinyurl.com/CampoloCaZ>.
- Lynne Hybels,“It’s All About Jesus: A Personal Journey,” speech given May 16, 2010 at “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference, Bethlehem Bible College, Bethlehem, Israel <tinyurl.com/LHybelsCaZ>.
- John Piper, “Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East,” DesiringGod. org, sermon March 7, 2004 <tinyurl.com/PiperIsrael>.
- “An Open Letter to Evangelicals and Other Interested Parties: The People of God, the Land of Israel, and the Impartiality of the Gospel,” 2002, Article 9. The Open Letter is no longer available on the Knox Seminary website. It can be read at bible-researcher. com/openletter. html, which lists only 26 of the signatories. A response by Dr. Mike Stallard can be read on the Pre-Trib Research Center website at <tinyurl.com/KnoxResponse>.
- “The Christ at the Checkpoint Manifesto,” 2012 <tinyurl. com/CheckpointManifesto>.
- “A moment of truth: A word of faith, hope, and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering,” Kairos Palestine, December 15, 2009 <www.kairospalestine.ps/sites/default/Documents/English.pdf>.