Why I’m not a Christian Zionist

Israeli flag (photo: Flickr / James Emery)
A theologian and scholar examines Christian Zionism as a theological question.

By Gary M. Burge | Banner  | Dec 16, 2019

They (Reformed theologians) worry Christian Zionists have let their zeal for prophecy and history’s end drown out other, more primary Christian values.

I have had the dubious privilege of standing in the crosshairs of one of the most divisive issues of our day: Israel and Zionism. Thanks to my many trips to the Middle East and my friendships in the Palestinian church, I have been drawn into conversations that are not casually shared, but vehemently debated. You can lose friends over this one.

Christian Zionism is a political theology with 19th-century roots. It took on its full form following the birth of modern Israel in 1948. It is a political theology because modern Israel, in this view, is not like other countries: it is the outworking of God’s plan foretold in the Scriptures, and therefore modern Israel’s political fortunes have profound theological and spiritual consequences.

The church in America today is awash with this sort of thinking. Books and sermons spin a dramatic picture of how the world is coming to an end, how God has a plan centered on modern Israel, and how God’s promises cannot be stopped despite what the nations think. Some Christians today feel obligated to apply literally to modern Israel God’s words in Genesis 12:3—“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse”—even though God was talking to Abraham 4,000 years ago about his own life. This interpretation means Christians have a spiritual obligation to pray for modern Israel and petition their governments to protect Israel; failure to support Israel’s political survival will incur divine judgment.

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