Rev. Stephen Sizer is a great guy.
Certainly he is a great thinker – a reflective evangelical theologian with a special expertise when it comes to refuting the errors of Christian Zionism – but he is also just a genuinely nice human being! 🙂
Our little group of peace pilgrims left Damascus early on April 15. We drove to Beirut and then flew to London via Frankfurt, arriving at around midnight with no idea of exactly where we were staying! Who took it upon himself to borrow the church mini-bus and scoot out to Heathrow in the middle of the night and then go scouring London for the location of the Catholic Worker’s house of hospitality? Stephen Sizer!
Sometimes actions speak far louder than words. In this case though we’ll let Stephen’s words do the talking. He was interviewed by George Galloway on ‘Sputnik’ on the same day John Shipton and I were (see our interview on Syria here). It was a great day. It was our first morning in London, which meant Stephen had had even less sleep than we had (having spent an hour in the car getting home after dropping us)! Even so, it was a memorable day and this was a great interview, particularly for any who might still think that unquestioning support for the State of Israel is somehow obligatory for all Christians.
Read more of Stephen’s insights on Christian Zionism on his website – www.stephensizer.com…
This is an encouraging sign, though the author of this article obviously doesn’t see things that way!
For far too long Evangelicals worldwide have been proclaiming that:
- The formation of the modern State of Israel was a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and that
- Israel’s victory over her enemies is somehow requisite to Christ’s return!
Frankly, these beliefs should be recognised as heresy, as they inevitably lead believers to condone immorality – sanctioning violence on the part of the State of Israel in the mistaken belief that this will somehow serve Christ’s cause!
I’ve written more on the poor theology of Christian Zionism here. It is encouraging that wisdom is finally prevailing.
LOOK WHO’S SWITCHING SIDES IN ISRAELI-ARAB CONFLICT
‘Christian support will completely flip … in next generation’
An interview with an American Christian commentator published by Israeli media this week reveals just how far the evangelical church has moved into the “Palestinian camp” when it comes to the Middle East conflict.
For decades, Israel’s most stalwart supporters were to be found among evangelical Christians, the bulk of whom saw the rebirth of the Jewish state as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy and evidence of God’s faithfulness.
But a new generation of evangelical leaders are “committed to spreading the Palestinian version of the conflict,” said Jim Fletcher, a long-time Christian publisher, in an interview published to Israel National News. “These pro-Palestinian leaders currently control the narrative within the church.”
According to Fletcher, there is a “massive effort … in the heart of the American evangelical church to lure its members to the Palestinian side.” As a result of that effort, it is now “severely mistaken to think that all evangelicals are pro-Israel.”
Among those evangelical leaders one should be wary of are Willow Creek Pastor Lynne Hybels, Saddleback Community Church Pastor Rick Warren, Dr. Gary Burge of Wheaton College and Christian publisher Cameron Strang.
Hybels and Burge were speakers at last year’s Christ at the Checkpoint conference in Bethlehem, where local and foreign evangelical leaders painted modern Israel as a nation wholly disconnected from its biblical roots and prophecies pertaining to it.
Furthermore, this movement interprets Yeshua’s own teachings in a more humanistic light in order to use them against Israel.
“In the Palestinian narrative, emotion is predominant. The emphasis is on ‘land confiscations, checkpoints, detentions, beatings.’ What they call the ‘apartheid wall’ is also mentioned frequently,” explained Fletcher.
But, perhaps most disconcerting, is the lack of a strong response from those who still love Israel and see her for what she truly is, warts and all.
“To my knowledge, there are no broad-based evangelical leaders in the U.S. who will speak out about this problem, which is developing into an epidemic,” said Fletcher, warning in conclusion that “the way things are going, support will completely flip from Israel to the Palestinians in the next generation.”
For those of us sitting in Israel, there is another worrying effect: more and more Israelis are starting to feel that, once again, they cannot trust or rely on Christians.
The mere fact that this interview was published on a religious Israeli media website demonstrates that Israeli Jews see the strong wall of Christian support eroding, and as a result the bonds that were built up over the past century are beginning to unravel
Father Roy writes:
Pasted below is an article from the Jerusalem Post which reports a controversy that’s dividing Germany and German Jewry. I’ve highlighted the cause of the furor.
A similar development is evolving in the UK. An Anglican Priest has been accused of promoting anti-Semitism. The Rev’d Dr. Stephen Sizer is under attack by organized Jewish groups because he challenges Christian Zionism.
Controversy in the Church of England is growing, albeit quietly. Click here for updates. A ruling from Stephen’s Bishop may come later this month. Read on to learn about the controversy in Germany. Notice that the dynamics in the two cases are virtually the same.
ADL slams German Spiegel author for anti-Semitism
By BENJAMIN WEINTHAL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
Anti-Defamation League tells ‘Post:’ Augustein’s statement “crosses the line into anti-Semitic conspiracy thinking.”
BERLIN — The deputy national director of the New York-based Anti-Defamation League on Friday weighed in on the raging German dispute over the alleged anti-Semitism of Der Spiegel Columnist Jakob Augstein and his attacks on Jews and Israel. Augstein’s statement about Jewish control of US foreign policy “crosses the line into anti-Semitic conspiracy thinking,“ Ken Jacobson, the ADL‘s deputy National Director, told the Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center included Jakob Augstein in its list of last year’s (2012) top-ten anti-Semites. Jacobson, a leading expert on contemporary anti-Semitism, cited one of Augstein‘s quotes in the Wiesenthal list as being contaminated with conspiratorial anti-Semitism . The quote from Augstein’s Spiegel column reads,“With backing from the US, where the president must secure the support of Jewish lobby groups, and in Germany, where coping with history, in the meantime, has a military component, the Netanyahu government keeps the world on a leash with an ever-swelling war chant.”
The ADL, like the Wiesenthal Center, carries great weight with its assessment of modern anti-Semitism in Europe in general and Germany in particular.
Though Jacobson said the assertion about US Jews controlling foreign policy is anti-Semitic, he added “I don’t know enough about him [Augstein] to say he is an anti-Semite.“
Jacobson also added that Augstein’s quote, in which he equated Haredi with Islamic fundamental terrorists, “crosses the line into steroetypes of Jews.”
Jacobson qualified his remarks as a general matter “anti-Israel criticism is not necessarily anti-Semitic.”
The Augstein controversy has divided Germany’s Jews. German media reported that the vice president of Germany’s Central Council Jews Salomon Korn said Augstein’s writings are anti-Semitic. Korn argued that the Wiesenthal Center should not have included Augstein in its list because the organization “does not know German relations.”
Though the head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dr. Dieter Graumann did not completely agree with the Wiesenthal ranking list in connection with Augstein, he, however, said Augstein’s Israel texts are “dreadful and not nuanced.”
Graumann added that Augstein apparently has an “Israel obsession and “spreads “anti-Jewish resentments. “ His Spiegel columns contribute to an “anti-Israel atmosphere” in the Federal Republic, noted Graumann, whose comments were reported in the main German Jewish newspaper, die Jüdische Allgemeine.
Dr. Alexander Brenner, the former head of Germany’s largest Jewish community in Berlin, told the Post on Friday that he agrees with Wiesenthal Center’s designation of Augstein as their number 9 anti-Semitic and anti-Israel person of the year.
Brenner, who has a seat in the directorate of the Central Council, and in the representation board of the Berlin community, sharply criticized Solomon Korn as an “alibi Jew.” The phrase “alibi Jew” is frequently used by German Jews to describe a small group of fringe Jews who serve to protect anti-Semites and anti-Israel critics from rebuke in the public sphere. Brenner, a popular Jewish leader in Berlin, called on the Central Council to stand behind the Wiesenthal Center and Henryk Broder.
Broder was the first German journalist to term Augstein’s articles anti-Semitic and has labeled the Spiegel author a “flawless ant-Semite” because of his writings. Brenner said Korn’s behavior makes one want “to throw up.” He said Augstein is, “without question an anti-Semite.”
Augstein has told the German media that he does not know what prompted him to be placed on the Wiesenthal list and said the inclusion of him on the list only hurts “critical journalism” because it will be stigmatized as anti-Semitic or racist.
Father Roy writes: The highlights in this article are mine. Excitement is in the air. Al-Quds means “Jerusalem” in Arabic. Chuck Carlson writes: ” Pastor Lon …. knew we were not picketing the church, but challenging what he teaches. He wanted his flock to think we were there to attack them, not to correct his own errors of scripture.” Peace, Roy
Al Quds Day, and a Demonstration for Peace at Mclean Bible Church
Charles E. Carlson
My story begins with my speech at a Rally for Peace in Jerusalem on August 25, organized by Muslim friends and held at Sheridan Circle, Washington DC, a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol Building. It ends 48 hours later, in front of a war-making church that is actively engaged in blocking the path to peace.
Al-Quds means “Jerusalem” in Arabic. Peace-seeking speakers from Christian, secular, and pro-peace Jewish groups added their voices to the Muslims, first in Jerusalem, and then world-wide. The rally began not far from the Capitol Building, where war upon Iran is being planned by war-making lobbies and a willing Congress, and ended with a dinner in St Stephens Church. I was moved by the hospitality of our Muslim hosts.
In my talk, I concentrated on the warring impact of evangelical church teaching that the state of Israel is the fulfillment of Biblical prophesy, and that to them Israel can therefore do no wrong and all the land of the Philistines, including Al-Quds, belongs to Israel. I explained that one such evangelical church, McLean Bible Church, was only a few miles away, and is one of about 3000 mega-churches that may be the single biggest obstacle in the U.S. to freedom for the Philistines.
How can it be that a Christian church is a greater stumbling block to peace than the Israeli occupiers and the Congress that finances them? America is a war-based economy and certain identifiable evangelical churches have elevated Israel to Jesus level support the political forces who bring war upon us. Rally attendees of all ages let me know they understood.
Christian Zionism, as I define it, is the last grass roots stronghold of the institutionalized war machine in the U.S. Polls now show clearly that more than half of all Americans trust neither their elected Congress, nor the media that filters and distributes the news and the political ads. Fox News, USA Today, and MSNBC are rated at the bottom for believability. Other polls show the trust rating for Congress is even lower than the media. *1. (Pew Poll)
I ask, who are the 49% of Americans who still trust the media? If 75% of the public did not believe Congress or the media, the war-based economy would be cooked…no politician or TV station could withstand such exposure. The answer is that Americans who are brainwashed weekly in Christian Zionist churches are a large part of the 49% who still go along with the war makers.
We must realize that these churches are a part of the media, and that about one third of all churchgoers in America are taught that political Israel has a right to occupy the land of the Philistines, and that killing, maiming, and destroying for Israel’s interests is just.
The vast majority of the 40 to 70 million Americans who identify with churches like McLean Bible Church accept the notion that America’s internal problems can be solved by political regime change, so long as the new regime supports Israel’s interests. This is what “Christian” TV networks and two or three national bible study groups preach. The luckless Philistines are simply in the way of Christian Zionists’ support for Zionism, which often trump the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Thirty-six hours after addressing the Muslim crowd in Sheridan Circle, I joined Francis, a former member of McLean Bible Church, for a vigil outside that most successful Christian Zionist church in the DC area, led by Lon Solomon, who writes in his audio biography, what is “a nice Jewish boy like me” doing making his living in this “business.” Some will find it odd that a self-professed, proclaiming Jew runs a huge “Christian” church. It is not unusual.
Indeed, Mclean Bible Church is ostensibly a very good “business,” occupying a group of massive structures that includes a two-story concrete parking garage that will hold about 3500 cars at one time. Located next to a busy freeway in Vienna, Virginia. A one mile long, four-lane private highway encompasses the church. A private forest shields the entire front of the complex from the highway so that only two corners of the complex can be glimpsed through the trees. McLean Bible Church reeks of power and money. It has two entrances off the freeway, where on-duty local policemen spend their morning and early afternoon directing traffic in and out at taxpayers’ expense.
I stood at one entrance supporting a visual display that read WHO WOULD JESUS BOMB in the face of every auto that came in or went out past my post. Francis stood at the other entrance, a quarter mile north of me, with a similar message. Each of us held up a second symbolic display depicting a crucifixion with “PALESTINE” AND “IRAN” on the crossbars of bloody crosses.
I would guess a minimum of 10,000 to 15,000 attendees and thousands of passersby read our messages. The only way an attendee could fail to see our message was to stiffen his neck and force himself to look away, but for most it was too late. Children and youth stared as they passed. Most mothers tried to appear indifferent, perhaps sensing that Pastor Solomon would not approve if they read the signs. Some offered an encouraging honk or wave; a few marred the day with an obscene gesture; fewer still slowed down to exchange words…”don’t you know there never was a state of Palestine”, one challenged.
Two young men came out and reported how Pastor Lon explained our presence to the congregation: “We are being picketed…they are against Israel.” Pastor Lon may be a “nice Jewish boy” as he claims, but on August 19th he played his media card, creating his own version of the truth, just as MSNBC and Fox news do. He knew we were not “picketing” the church, but challenging what he teaches. He wanted his flock to think we were there to attack them, not to correct his own errors of scripture.
We know Pastor Lon knew our purpose, because we sent him and most members of his large staff a two-page letter that told them exactly what we would do and why we were doing it. *2.
One of those few who came out made my day. He is a former Air Force veteran, and he showed me the spot on his substantial forearm where he said he would soon have the words from our message tattooed: “WHO WOULD JESUS BOMB.” He said something like this: I want this on a tattoo because it is the essence of the conflict between war and Christianity. He is one who was not afraid to face the truth….that the McLean Bible Church is part of the war-making problem.
Wrapping it up:
An Imam who spoke at the park is right, America is part of the Philistines’ problem. Fortunately, an ever increasing percentage of all our people, are willing to say our media cannot be trusted. America’s evangelical Christian Zionist churches are part of this media, and their false doctrine is the largest obstacle to correcting the course of our war-based economy to one that seeks justice and peace for all men.
Who would Jesus Bomb? Maybe I am just the right age for my first Tattoo!
Charles E. (Chuck) Carlson is a pro-peace activist who, with others, organized We Hold These Truths in 1996, and phased out his business interests soon thereafter.