From the Author
Whether you have been recommended this book or have just picked it up out of curiosity, I've probably got only another thirty seconds to convince you to read it. So let me ask you this question: What subject do Christians find most controversial? Abortion? Sex? Climate change? The correct answer is probably Israel. No other subject ignites such strong emotions.
A large proportion of Bible-believing Christians are convinced that God blesses those nations that stand with Israel and curses those that don't. This movement, known as Christian Zionism, provides a biblical justification for US intervention in the Middle East. It is deeply mistrustful of the United Nations and the European Community and actively opposes the implementation of international law and the right of Palestinians to a sovereign state alongside Israel.
It is my contention that this world-view is not shaped by the Bible. As a young Christian, I was raised on books like the Scofield Reference Bible and Hal Lindsey's 'The Late Great Planet Earth'. It took me a while to appreciate that the theology these books assume has radical implications for how we view our faith and the world we live in. The church in Palestine is close to extinction. Jewish Zionism, militant Islam and Christian indifference exacerbate it, but Christian Zionism probably has a greater detrimental effect than the other three causes combined.
Ten years ago, apart from Colin Chapman's 'Whose Promised Land?', Gary Burge's 'Who Are God's People in the Middle East?', Grace Halsell's 'Forcing God's Hand' and Donald Wagner's 'Anxious for Armageddon', no other evangelicals seemed bold enough to tackle the subject. It is still largely uncharted territory, and that is why I published 'Christian Zionism: Road-map to Armageddon?' When IVP invited me to write a second book for a wider readership, I needed no convincing.
Writing this book has got me into a lot of hot water and made me a few enemies along the way. Type my name into Google and you will soon discover who they are. It has also been a lonely journey; there are few evangelicals, it seems, who are willing to challenge the assumption that Bible-believing Christians will automatically support Israel. Why is that? The fear of being labelled 'anti-Semitic' is a powerful disincentive. The power of the pro-Israeli, Christian Right in the USA is very strong and opposes anyone who criticizes Israel or defends the Palestinians. Christian publishers are boycotted, sponsorship for academic institutions is denied and subscriptions to Christian journals are cancelled.
The battle over intellectual freedom is waged in universities on both sides of the Atlantic. Organizations such as Campus Watch and the Union of Jewish Students monitor staff and students and put pressure on the authorities to censure them. Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) has sought to counter this pressure through their own website. Called rather appropriately, Muzzlewatch, JVP exposes efforts (written and verbal) to prevent open debate about US-Israeli foreign policy. Not surprisingly, they have come under severe attack in the US for doing this.
There are plenty of books that examine 'Zionism' and 'Bible prophecy'. There are few, however, that explain the relationship between the two from a biblical perspective. This one does. My hope is that it will also encourage dialogue on the relationship between Israel and the church, and offer a more constructive view of the future and our role in it. ...
I owe a deep debt of gratitude to a handful of writers who have had the courage to address aspects of this subject and from whom I have learnt so much. They include Don Wagner, Gary Burge, Colin Chapman, Peter Walker, Gilbert Bilezikian, Naim Ateek, Timothy Weber, John Stott, Gary DeMar, Hank Hanegraaff and Garth Hewitt.
Finally, I want to thank John Stott for his inspiration and leadership, and for an unpublished sermon included here, entitled 'The Place of Israel', which he preached in London many years ago. We have indeed saved the best till last.
All the best material has been borrowed from these people. I gladly accept responsibility for the rest.
Ash Wednesday 2007
From the Back Cover
''Zion's Christian Soldiers' ought to be on the required reading list for all students of the Bible. Here is basic and fundamental methodology which challenges many evangelical assumptions about "end times prophecy." Here is a sound-minded, Christ-centered critique of a popularly accepted but nonetheless fatally flawed perspective that leads to many spiritual dysfunctions. If you find yourself troubled by sabre-rattling political rhetoric coming from many pulpits, "Zion's Christian Soldiers" will reacquaint you with the Prince of peace.'
Greg Albrecht, President of Plain Truth Ministries.
'This is a clarion call to Evangelical Christians to study the Bible more carefully because of the political implications of their beliefs. Stephen Sizer shows that many Christians are espousing views, that they claim come from the Bible, that are in fact leading to bloodshed, dispossession and division in the Middle East. Stephen calls for a more careful look at the Bible that reflects the call of Jesus to be peacemakers.'
Garth Hewitt, Founder and International Director of the Amos Trust.
'A workmanlike study that confronts many treasured and traditional opinions with frankness and sensitivity. An added bonus is the Stott sermon, hitherto unpublished, a masterpiece of clarity in an area marked too often by confusion and unjustified assertions.'
Prebendary Dick Lucas, Chairman of the Proclamation Trust and Rector Emeritus of St Helen's, Bishopsgate, London.
'A timely and important book. Controversial but persuasive, it deserves to be read by everyone who is prepared to think afresh about God's purposes for the church, Israel and the politics of the Middle East.'
Dr Stephen Travis, former Vice-Principal, St John's College, Nottingham.