A Critique of Stephen Sizer’s: Zion’s Christian Soldiers?: The Bible, Israel and the Church

This is a critique by Ted Loy of Stephen Sizer’s supersessionist theology. The following is an outline of his article. The link below is to his entire article. Worth the time to read it.

Positively, Stephen Sizer is an Evangelical in the UK Anglican community who holds to the authority of Scripture. As a consequence, his support of the Second Coming of Christ is sound. Negatively, however, there are several assertions in his book which fall short.

First, I will show that the main assertion of Zion’s Christian Soldiers? is lacking. That assertion is simply that there is no basis biblically or historically for the State of Israel to occupy the land where it is located – including Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. I will show the book’s interpretation of God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is faulty. The rest of Sizer’s thesis falls if this is the case. Also, I will show that history is on the side of Israel – with 2000 years in the land before Islam and Palestinian nationalism ever existed.

Secondly, I will show that Stephen Sizer’s portrayal of Christian Zionist leaders as “dangerous” is highly exaggerated. What he attributes negatively to Christian Zionism is far beyond its ability to perform in terms of Middle Eastern geopolitics and Israeli politics in particular. Also, his treatment of Christian Zionists, i.e. Christian supporters of the State of Israel, lacks the kind of Christian charity one would expect from an Evangelical brother in Christ.

Thirdly, I will show that the book is faulty in its unbalanced view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Every effort is made to portray the State of Israel as the aggressor and Palestinians as hapless victims. Injustices on the part of Israel are not fairly balanced with equally egregious injustices on the part of Palestinians. There are two sides to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Sizer portrays only one side. This seems to be in vogue these days! He has left out positive aspects of the State of Israel and negative aspects of Palestinian nationalism – which include a violent anti-Semitic past which existed long before 1948.

Fourthly, to go along with my third criticism, Sizer seems unwilling to admit the main threat to any peace between Israelis and Palestinians (and peace between Israel and the entire Arab world) is the nature and teaching of Islam – announced and actuated. This is not so-called Islamophobia but actual teachings and actions by Muslims and Muslim Palestinian nationalists in particular. Palestinian nationalism is fundamentally tied to its Islamic roots. His reluctance to recognize this fact is a major flaw in his book — truly an “elephant in the room.”

Fifthly, it is important to see how recent history since 1948 affects the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Sometimes it seems as though Israel’s detractors blame Israel for being in the land when they know very well it was a decision by the UN! They also blame Israel for displacing Palestinians and causing a refugee problem when it was the UN that declared the State of Israel to be an independent, sovereign nation which would naturally occupy lands claimed by Palestinians. Also, it’s fascinating to note that those who constantly speak of injustices Israelis have perpetrated against Palestinians (of which there are many) never speak of much more massive injustice involved in the three major wars organized against Israel by surrounding Muslim nations (with the support of Muslim Palestinians) which would have annihilated the State of Israel. How just was that? These Muslim attacks caused many Palestinians to be refugees. Why aren’t Palestinians blaming the refugee problem – at least in part – on these Muslim wars which were no fault of Israel’s and which Israel did not initiate? Why? It’s easier to blame Israel!

Palestinians are not the only party with refugees. Israel is basically a land of refugees most of which were not welcome in the lands from which they came. (Gilbert, Lela. “Anne Frank from Bagdad,” Jerusalem Post. September 2, 2009) Sizer believes Israel ought to be open to all people: anyone ought to be able to settle in Israel. This is idealistic to say the least. There isn’t enough room for that! Of all lands on earth, Israel is the only place on earth Jews can claim as a homeland. Sizer complains that Jewish immigrants ought not to have unique privileges. The question is this: where else do they have a Jewish national home? Was it not right and proper for the UN to grant a national Jewish homeland to a people who lost one-third of their total population in the Holocaust? The plight of Palestinians doesn’t even come close to this! Of course 1948 caused Palestinians to be uprooted from their homes. This was inevitable, but the UN had to consider which people were more needy – Jews or Palestinians. They made their choice, and now Israel is blamed for having been given the land by the UN!

Sixthly, Sizer is quick to accuse Dispensationalists of using a grid to interpret Scripture – a frame of reference not found in the Bible itself. Unfortunately, Zion’s Christian Soldiers? also uses a grid to interpret Scripture — Reformed theology. This grid is not found in Scripture either. Both Dispensational and Reformed theologies are manmade. There is a kind of hermeneutical myopia at work here. Both theologies have many debatable points. Sizer is quick to point out the excesses of Dispensationalism (of which there are many), but he is blind to the excesses found in his own Reformed theology. This is another reason why Zion’s Christian Soldiers? is quite unbalanced in its presentation.

Seventhly, it is important to emphasize there is persecution on both sides of the Security Fence (the Separation Wall to Palestinians). Jewish Christians face persecution especially from the Haredim (ultra-orthodox Jews), and Palestinian Christians face persecution both from the State of Israel and Muslim Palestinians. The declining population of Palestinian Christians stems from both. They are “between a rock and a hard place.”

My summary will show that the book unfortunately falls into the trap of many studies. In his great zeal to heavily weight his book on the side of Reformed theology and the Palestinian cause, Sizer fails to recognize anything positive from Dispensationalists – and also fails to recognize anything positive from the Israeli point of view.

I will also show that any neutral observer is bound to see Israel as a bona fide “underdog” in the face of an Islamic juggernaut of 1.5 billion people around the world who do not want Israel to exist – and are willing to use force to make it so if necessary! Anyone with a sense of fairness would support a small country the size of Vermont with a population of only 7.5 million which stands up to Islamic bullying around the world.

The following critique will use the previous order suggested. READ ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE…

h.t.

 

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