Anglican Samizdat

March 27, 2009

Stephen Sizer, the Evangelical left and Israel

Filed under: Anglican,Politics — David Jenkins @ 10:02 pm
Tags: ,

Some reverend gentlemen find politics irresistible:

“Why have Britain and America become the focus of so much hatred from the Islamic world?” Sizer further asked. “Why are our countries the target for Islamist terrorism – despite our commitment to the rule of international law, democracy and human rights?” For Sizer the reasons are clear: “The answers to these questions remain inexplicable unless we factor in what is now probably the most influential and destructive movement amongst Christians today – Christian Zionism.”

There are a number of problems with Stephan Sizer’s position on what he calls Christian Zionism:

This first is in the article above: he wilfully resists common sense explanations. Thus, he sees the cause of the hatred directed against the West by Islamists as explainable only by a conspiracy of Christian Zionism; for some reason he cannot see the obvious – and true, in my opinion – reason that Islamists hates a free society simply because it is not Islamist. Such a concept should be easy to grasp for an evangelical Christian, since it is a straightforward application of Jeremiah 17:9.

The second is less obvious: it is the couching of left wing political tendentiousness in biblical language in order to give it the weight of theological authority. Simply put, Sizer is saying God is on the side of his politics:

That is why I believe passionately that we must find peaceful, democratic, non-violent, constructive ways to express their anger and frustration at the appalling suffering in Gaza during the recent attacks and the ongoing military occupation of Palestine which denies millions of people their basic human rights. We must not to seek revenge or retaliation as this will only play into the hands of extremists on both sides. Violence breeds violence. Jesus said “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”

The above sounds very fine, particularly the last sentence. But the facts are questionable and the implication is that the violence so far has been entirely on the part of Israel, giving Hamas an opportunity to take the high moral ground by not retaliating; once they come out from their hiding places behind babies and civilians.

The alliance between the West and Israel is a political one between democracies that share similar values; it isn’t based on biblical prophesy as Sizer would have us believe:

“Christian Zionism is [essentially] a political movement within Protestant evangelical Christianity that views the modern state of Israel as the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, [mandated by God] thus deserving our unconditional economic, moral, political, and theological support.”

While there is nothing wrong with Christians having political opinions, a minister whose political message overshadows – and is disseminated under the pretence of being inspired by – the gospel damages the gospel, the credibility of the minister and renders the numinous commonplace.


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