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CHRISTIAN ZIONISM

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					                              CHRISTIAN ZIONISM
                             Overview                                        O Prophecy. The     prophetic books of the Bible specifically
                            N Christian Zionism is a                           refer to events today, though some may also refer to
                          predominantly American                               events in biblical times. Therefore when we look at, say,
                        movement that believes that the                        Daniel 7, if we possess the right interpretative skills, we
                    modern state of Israel is the catalyst for                 can see current events foreshadowed in it. This quest
             the end of times, the fulfillment of biblical                     for prophecy has spawned countless books of end-time
   prophecy, and the return of Jesus with final judgment.                      speculation involving the state of Israel based on
 N This dispensationalist view of the Bible looks forward to                   biblical prophecy.
   Jesus’ second coming, an event only possible, it is                       O Modern Israel and Eschatology. The modern state
   believed, when the state of Israel reclaims its ancient                     of Israel is a catalyst for the prophetic end-time
   borders with an undivided Jerusalem as its capital.                         countdown. If these are the last days, then we should
 N Christian Zionists tend to support any action toward this                   expect an unraveling of civilization, the rise of evil, the
   end, neglecting the cries for justice from those who                        loss of international peace and equilibrium, a coming
   would be affected.                                                          antichrist, and tests of faithfulness to Israel. Above all,
 N Christian Zionism, however, does not refer in a generic                     political alignments today will determine our position
   way to “Christians who support the state of Israel.”                        on the fateful day of Armageddon. Since the crisis of
                                                                               9/11 and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it has been
Core Beliefs of Christian Zionism                                              easy to persuade the public that history is unraveling
 N Christian    Zionism is a particular political philosophy and               precisely as Dispensationalism predicted.
   strategy that “weds religion with politics and interprets            (Gary M. Burge, “Christian Zionism, Evangelicals and
   biblical faithfulness in terms of fidelity to Israel’s future”       Israel,” www.hcef.org/hcef/index.cfm/ID/159.)
   (Gary M. Burge, “Christian Zionism, Evangelicals and
   Israel,” www.hcef.org/hcef/index.cfm/ID/159).                        What Is Dispensationalism?
 N Christian Zionist leaders share five core beliefs:                     N Historic  premillennialism holds that Christ will return to
   O The Covenant. God’s covenant with Israel is eternal                    the earth prior to the last day to exercise rule over the
      and unconditional; the promises of land given to                      nations for a thousand years in the last stage of human
      Abraham will never be overturned. The church has not                  history. It is pessimistic concerning the role and prospects
      replaced Israel; therefore, Israel’s privileges have never            of the church in human history; therefore it posits
      been revoked.                                                         another age, the millennium, between Christ’s return and
   O The Church. God’s plan has always been for the                         the last day, during which Christ rules in person over a
      redemption of Israel. When Israel failed to follow Jesus,             theocratic kingdom to which all the nations of the world
      the church was born as an afterthought or “parenthesis.”              are subject.
      At the rapture the church will be removed and Israel                N Periods of great world upheaval and crisis have seen an
      will once again become God’s primary agent in the                     increase in despair in society and premillennial visions
      world. We now live in ‘the times of the Gentiles,’ which              within Christianity.
      will conclude soon. There are two covenants now at                  N Dispensationalism gives premillennialism a complete
      work, that given through Moses and the covenant of                    system. Human history is regarded as a series of ages
      Christ. The new covenant in no way makes the older                    (dispensations) in which humanity is tested with respect
      covenant obsolete.                                                    to some aspect revealed of God’s will. In each case
   O Blessing Modern Israel. Genesis 12:3 is applied                        humanity fails, is judged by God, and then is set back on
      literally and is applied to modern Israel: “I will bless              the journey of faith under new covenant conditions.
      those who bless you, and the one curses you I will
      curse.” Christians have a spiritual obligation to bless
      Israel and “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” While
      many Christians throughout history have also believed
      it important to observe the injunction of Genesis 12:3
      in regard to the Jews, Christian Zionism links this
      specifically to support of the modern state of Israel. To
      fail to support Israel’s political survival today will incur
      divine judgment.




            Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) • 100 Witherspoon Street • Louisville, KY 40202-1396 • (800) 872-3283
           Resource Sheet 21 of 27: Developed February 2005, updated March 2006 www.pcusa.org/worldwide/israelpalestine/resources.htm
               CHRISTIAN ZIONISM
 N The  General Assembly in 1944 was very careful to                   PC(USA) Resources for Further Study
   distinguish premillennialism in general from its specific             N The   “Resolution on Confronting Christian Zionism” and
   application in Dispensationalism. It was the latter that                the “Comment from the General Assembly Council” that
   was singled out for specific criticism: “It is the unanimous            explore the theological context of Dispensationalism and
   opinion . . . that Dispensationalism as defined and set                 Christian Zionism are available at www.pcusa.org/
   forth above is out of accord with the system of the                     worldwide/israelpalestine/christianzionism.htm. It
   doctrine set forth in the Confession of Faith, not                      is vital to read the whole action including its careful
   primarily or simply in the field of eschatology, but                    definitions.
   because it attacks the very heart of the Theology of our              N “Between Millennia: What Presbyterians Believe about
   Church, which is unquestionably a Theology of one                       the Coming of Christ,” by the Office of Theology and
   Covenant of Grace.” (“Dispensationalism,” Minutes of                    Worship, discusses the second coming of Christ, the end
   the General Assembly [Presbyterian Church in the                        times, the rapture, and the millennium. The booklet
   United States, 1944], pp. 123–127.)                                     contains Reformed confessional statements and a
 N Most Christian Zionists are Dispensationalists, but this                bibliography. It is available online at
   does not imply that all Dispensationalists are Christian                www.pcusa.org/theologyandworship/worship/millennia.pdf
   Zionists, especially in respect to political action. Many               or for purchase from Presbyterian Distribution Service.
   Dispensationalists still remain completely apart from the               Call (800) 524-2612 or visit www.pcusa.org/marketplace
   U.S. political system, for instance. Further, we cannot                 to order PDS 70-420-01-007; $3.00.
   assume uniformity on every point.                                     N “Eschatology: The Doctrine of Last Things,” approved by
                                                                           the 118th General Assembly (1978) of the Presbyterian
What Should We Be Careful of?                                              Church in the United States is available at www.pcusa.org/
 N The   theological judgments on Scripture that made this                 theologyandworship/issues/eschatology.pdf.
   action possible come from a generation ago. Many                      N “Dispensationalism,” approved by the 84th General
   Presbyterians would be hard-pressed to offer definitions                Assembly (1944) of the Presbyterian Church in the
   of Dispensationalism or to provide compelling alternative               United States is available at
   translations for the prophetic and apocalyptic Scriptures               www.pcusa.org/today/archive/believe/wpb9901h.htm.
   so vital to it. While we may know what we don’t believe               N Visit www.pcusa.org/theologyandworship for
   about the Book of Revelation, for instance, we may find                 information from the Office of Theology and Worship.
   it difficult to express what we do believe.
 N Presbyterians are called to speak out against the corrosive         Other Resources
   spiritual and political aspects of Christian Zionism.                 N Wes  Granberg-Michaelson, “Christian Zionism Distorts
   Presbyterians are also called to read the Scriptures                    Faith and Imperils Peace,”
   ourselves, including those books we do not know what to                 www.warc.ch/update/up134/01.html
   do with, and to do the hard work of interpretation.                   N Donald E. Wagner, Anxious for Armageddon: A Call to
 N The 216th General Assembly (2004) of the Presbyterian                   Partnership for Middle Eastern and Western Christians.
   Church (U.S.A.) notes that “in a time when the                          Scottsdale, PA: Herald Press, 1995.
   PC(USA) is beset with its own internal disagreements, we              N Stephen Sizer. Christian Zionism: Road Map to
   should resist the temptation to bolster our own self-                   Armageddon? Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 2004.
   confidence by throwing stones at others. Any judgments                N Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center.
   must be made with great care.”                                          “Challenging Christian Zionism: Politics, Theology,
                                                                           and the Israel-Palestine Conflict,”
                                                                           www.sabeel.org/?page=article&id=40
                                                                         N Gary M. Burge. Whose Land? Whose Promise? What
                                                                           Christians Are Not Being Told About Israel and the
                                                                           Palestinians. Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 2003.
                                                                         N Gary M. Burge, “Christian Zionism, Evangelicals and
                                                                           Israel,” www.hcef.org/hcef/index.cfm/ID/159




            Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) • 100 Witherspoon Street • Louisville, KY 40202-1396 • (800) 872-3283
          Resource Sheet 21 of 27: Developed February 2005, updated March 2006 www.pcusa.org/worldwide/israelpalestine/resources.htm

				
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