The First Presbyterian Church of Wheaton, through the organization, Becoming the Children of Abraham, have planned a gathering for September 28, and advertised it with a leaflet (click on the "Christian Zionism - A Problem with a Solution” hyperlink) that begins:
“World peace is in danger because some philosophies are having terrible unintended consequences. Zionism was a Jewish movement to find a safe haven from anti-Semitism. Christian Zionism evolved from prophetic ideas and beliefs about the end time. While well intended concepts, the results have become very dangerous. Zionists in Israel have created a state that wants racial purity. Many Zionists want native-born Christians to leave Israel. Christian Zionists in America support Israel because they believe this will accelerate the second coming of Christ. The conflicts in the Middle East have become more agitated because of this.”
After this paragraph, which will be the subject of my posting, they state that New Testament professor Gary Burge will be the speaker. For information on Burge please read, “Gary Burge: Palestine and Israel” and “My thoughts on the IPMN Symposium: Bible, Land and our Theological Challenge: A Presbyterian Conversation.”* The paragraph above may have been written by Burge, but it may have been written by someone else at the church. While the author is unknown, the fact that it is anti-Semitic and untruthful can surely be seen by most readers.
World peace is in danger because of Zionism and Christian Zionism? Hardly. We have just experienced the overthrow of Muslim Brotherhood leadership in Egypt with the counter effect of nearly forty Christian churches and many other Christian institutions being destroyed by MB supporters. We are still in the midst of a quandary over the Arab state of Syria where a dictator gassed his own people while at the same time radical Islamic groups are butchering other Arab citizens including the Christians who have existed in that land for almost two thousand years. And this does not even begin to cover other places in the world, such as North Korea, where both peace and human rights are elusive.
And looking at two other statements in this leaflet one sees glaring error. “Zionists in Israel have created a state that wants racial purity. Many Zionists want native-born Christians to leave Israel,” writes the author of the leaflet. However, the formation of Israel as a state was with the understanding that it would be a Jewish state. That is because the Jewish people have always experienced some form of persecution or discrimination in any nation they have lived in, including the United States. But that does not mean that there are no citizens of Israel who are non-Jews. There are Arab citizens in Israel who have voting rights and are members of the government.
Yes there are some discrimination problems in Israel as there has been and still is in the United States, but those are problems that both nations work on through a democratic process. On the other hand, there are countries like Saudi Arabia where no Jew is allowed and no Christian is safe. And yes, there are extremist settlers and Jewish groups that would undoubtedly like to rid Israel of native-born Christians, (of any Christian), but they are not the main-stream Israeli. The leaflets' blanket statement about Zionists and their desires is untruthful.
And then there is this, “Christian Zionists in America support Israel because they believe this will accelerate the second coming of Christ. Well, maybe some think so—but, while I am Reformed and not a dispensationalist nor a Christian Zionist, I have a friend who is. In fact he is one of the regional directors for John Hagee one of the most well known Christian Zionist. This is what my friend Victor Styrsky writes in his book, Honest to God: Christian Zionists Confront 10 Questions Jews Need Answered, about the second coming of Christ:
“Evangelicals [includes Christian Zionists] have no eschatological teaching (end of days theology) that requires all Jews to be back in the land of Israel for a messianic visitation. Neither do evangelical Christians believe that there is anything we can do to hasten the return (or first visit, as my Jewish friends believe) of Messiah.
Evangelical Christian theology concerning the coming of Messiah is fairly united on the following points:
1) A date for the event has already been secured.
2) Only God the Father knows the time.
3) The coming of Messiah is imminent.”
After offering Mark 13:31-33, Styrsky writes:
“This appointed time cannot and will not be hastened nor detained by our activities or lack thereof. A day has already been set and most evangelical Christians believe that the appearance of Christ is imminent.”
And then Styrsky points out that the biblical church believed also that the coming of Jesus was imminent.
That is fairly clear.
So to return to the most troubling part of the leaflet, that is, the statement that world peace is threatened by Zionism, in this day that statement is considered no different then anti-Semitism. World peace is not threatened by Zionism. It is threatened by philosophies that believe a Jewish State should not exist. The desire to rid the world of its only Jewish State (there are many Islamic states and some Christian states) is surely anti-Semitism and evil in its intent.