Anglican Samizdat

March 6, 2009

Even Evangelicals can be barmy

Filed under: Anglican Angst — David Jenkins @ 5:21 pm

Particularly when they are Anglican. Stephen Sizer is an evangelical Anglican priest; he is a member of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans, formed at the Global Anglican Futures conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem in June 2008. He has endorsed the Jerusalem Declaration and supports the Third Province Movement.

Unfortunately, like so many Anglican clergy he cannot resist the temptation to tie his faith to politics; the difference with Stephen is that he is an evangelical who is anti-Israel.

Last weekend the Revd Stephen Sizer, vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water appeared at an anti-Israel meeting with an Islamist called Ismail Patel. Patel has not only accused Israel of ‘genocide’ and ‘war crimes’ but considers Disney to be a Jewish plot and supports Hamas, Iran and Syria.

Sizer is a virulent opponent of Christian Zionism and of Israel, which he has said he hopes will disappear just as did the apartheid regime in South Africa. He has also applauded Iranian President Ahmadinejad for having ‘looked forward to the day when Zionism ceased to exist’.

Nevertheless, the appearance of an Anglican churchman on a pro-Islamist platform in Britain is a new and significant development. The Church of England recently banned its clergy from joining the BNP; should it not equally ban them from siding with the forces of Islamofascism?

Anyone is entitled to a political opinion, even an Anglican. The problem is, when a church leader makes political pronouncements, the implication is that his faith is informing his politics: in this case, it isn’t. It is even worse when an evangelical – someone who believes that decisions made in this life determine a person’s destination in the next – subverts an important message by supporting a less important one.

Even more idiotic, Sizer has aligned himself with Islamism, a barbaric, hate filled death cult.

It is bad enough when the blatantly left wing ACoC and TEC spout this sort of nonsense, but when it comes from within FOCA, it shows that the unhinged can be found just about anywhere.


  1. For starters, I have never said that I wish Israel, to use her words, “will disappear just as did the apartheid regime in South Africa.” I have never believed this and categorically reject any position that threatens the integrity of Israel as a sovereign nation.

    On the contrary I have repeatedly stated in writing (for example here, here and here) that I wish to see a safe and secure Israel with internationally recognised borders, alongside a sovereign independent Palestine.

    To clarify my position and to anticipate such criticisms, in my book Zion’s Christian Soldiers?, I wrote the following:

    “It is true that at various times in the past, churches and church leaders have tolerated or incited anti-Semitism and even attacks on Jewish people. Racism is a sin and without excuse. Anti-Semitism must be repudiated unequivocally. However, we must not confuse apples and oranges. Anti-Zionism is not the same thing as anti-Semitism despite attempts to broaden the definition. Criticising a political system as racist is not necessarily racist. Judaism is a religious system. Israel is a sovereign nation. Zionism is a political system. These three are not synonymous. I respect Judaism, repudiate anti-Semitism, encourage interfaith dialogue and defend Israel’s right to exist within borders recognised by the international community and agreed with her neighbours. But like many Jews, I disagree with a political system which gives preference to expatriate Jews born elsewhere in the world, while denying the same rights to the Arab Palestinians born in the country itself.”

    I endorse the position taken by the Heads of Churches in Israel regarding the need for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

    Others such as former US President Jimmy Carter have made comparisons between Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories and South Africa under apartheid.

    I do wish to see the present illegal occupation of Gaza, the Golan and the West Bank disappear, but only as a result of the peaceful implementation of all relevant UN Resolutions, the Roadmap to Peace previously agreed by the US, EU, Russia and UN in April 2003, and Annapolis Agreement of November 2007 and Quartet Statement of December 2008.

    What saddened me most, however, about Melanie Philips’ article were her accusations made against the Archbishops and Bishops of the Church of England. This is what she wrote:

    “Many will be deeply shocked that the Church of England harbours individuals with such attitudes. But the church hierarchy is unlikely to act against them. Extreme hostility towards Israel is the default position among bishops and archbishops; while the establishment line is to reach out towards Islam in an attempt to accommodate and appease it.”

    I have been a Christian minister for just short of 30 years and I have yet to meet a priest, let alone a Bishop or Archbishop who displays, “extreme hostility towards Israel” or who wishes to “accommodate and appease” Islam.

    Comment by Stephen Sizer — March 7, 2009 @ 2:46 am

  2. […] March 7, 2009 · No Comments Over at Anglican Samizdat. […]

    Pingback by Even Evangelicals can be barmy « Seismic Shock — March 7, 2009 @ 6:51 am

  3. I have been a Christian minister for just short of 30 years and I have yet to meet a priest, let alone a Bishop or Archbishop who displays, “extreme hostility towards Israel” or who wishes to “accommodate and appease” Islam.

    You must be blind Rev. Sizer. The campaign in some quarters of the CofE to boycott Israeli goods was just one example of this misplaced and poisonous bias.

    Could you explain why you allow your material to be quoted, distributed and used by anti-semites and the neo-Nazi far right? This has been brought to your attention on a number of occasions. Why do you not chase them down for breach of copyright?

    Comment by old Labour — March 7, 2009 @ 8:21 am

  4. Stephen,

    Thank you for the clarification.

    Let me try to make my objection to your position more clear:

    You are an evangelical Anglican priest who presumably believes that we can be saved through Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice alone: a choice in this life determines an eternity of heaven or hell. If this is true, there can be no message that is more important and you have chosen, as a vocation and profession to proclaim it.

    Your views on Israel are political views; they are not a logical result of your beliefs as an Evangelical Christian: I, and many other Evangelicals disagree with them. Of course, you are entitled to hold any political opinion you wish; the problem is, when you choose to make it public with the vigour that you have done here, it undermines the Gospel. You risk alienating the unevangelised who happen to hold opposite political opinions; you are polluting a vital message with a merely interesting one.

    You are not alone in this, of course: Anglican clergy seem to find the temptation to stray into politics particularly irresistible. I am more familiar with the Canadian clergy’s political obsessions than the CofE, but Tom Wright comes to mind: theologically brilliant, but politically naive.

    To anticipate some objections: I would hold the same standard for the Christian right; I have no objection to Christians being politicians, what I object to are clergy pretending to be politicians.

    Comment by David — March 7, 2009 @ 9:41 am

  5. Stephen Sizer HAS stated his desire for Israel to disappear, on his trip to Iran:

    Asked to comment on the United Nations requirement to repatriate the “Palestinian refugees to their homeland, he said that repatriation of Palestinians to their own territory will be effective in retaking their own country, because, when the Palestinian refugees come to their home, they will form majority of the population and would form a multi-ethnic state including Jews, Muslims and Christians.”

    That is a clear call for an end to Israel as a majority-Jewish state.

    His paragraph from Zion’s Christian Soldiers about opposing antisemitism is meaningless because in that same book he uses various antisemitic sources and turns a blind eye to the murder of Israelis, as this blog post makes clear:

    Comment by Maccabee — March 7, 2009 @ 11:25 am

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