Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

The Evils of "Christian Zionism"

Chris Tilling is finishing up his series on the warped theology known as “Christian Zionism.” This popular-but-heretical theology is a major obstacle to Christian work for a just peace in the Middle East. It has led millions of U.S. (and other) evangelicals to abandon even Christian Palestinians in favor of absolute and uncritical support for the government of Israel. Last summer, it led U.S. Christians to completely abandon the large Christian population of Lebanon (largest in the very areas where Hezbollah operates) to support the scorched-earth air war of Israel against Lebanon–actions which have strengthened Hezbollah, undermined the Lebanonese govt., threatened to return Lebanon to civil war, and increase radicalized Islamic fundamentalism in the area–none of which promotes security either for Israel or the U.S.

By exposing the many flaws of Christian Zionism, Chris is doing a favor for both the theological health of the church universal, and helping to promote peace in the world. Check out his series, and use the posts for church discussions in your local congregation/parish.

February 16, 2007 - Posted by | Christian zionism.


  1. Michael,

    Depending on your definition of “Zionism” and how far it stretches, I can agree that it is a problem. However, I find it interesting that you characterize it as heretical. Why do you feel this is a legitimate description of “Zionism”? And do you think there is a middle position between a lack of support for Israel by Christians and an out-and-out “Zionistic” position? If you do, what would that look like?

    Comment by D.R. | February 19, 2007

  2. D.R., “Zionism” does have many definitions. Broadly, it is support for the creation and defense of Israel. Depending on what form that takes, there is nothing wrong with it.

    What I called heretical is “Christian Zionism,” which is NOT just Christian support for the existence of Israel, but the belief that the modern State of Israel is (a) equivalent to biblical Israel and the Pauline “Israel of God;” (b)uniquely favored by God; (c) immune from all political criticism; (d) destined to fulfill prophecies that will make the modern State of Israel expand to the full extent of Solomon’s Israel (which would cover much of modern Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, & Syria–and any move for such an expansion would result in a huge war); (e)land for a Palestinian state is illegitimate and Palestinians must either leave the West Bank and Gaza (including Christian Palestinians whose families have lived there since the time of Jesus) or be destroyed.

    Christian Zionism is heretical in its hermeneutic (derived from an extreme form of Dispensationalism); its soteriology (one form of salvation for Jews and another for Gentiles); it’s belief that ANY nation-state is immune to moral standards in its treatment of others–versus the way the biblical Prophets constantly berated Israel for failing to do justice to sojourners and strangers in the Land; it’s view of God as a God of war; it’s eschatology.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | February 19, 2007

  3. If Christ and the Church are erased from prophecy and Israel substituted, I will certainly join you in calling CZ heresy. Any view of Judaism that isn’t in accordance with Galatians is unacceptable.

    There is something that still mystifies me about all this: The CZ movement is a sub-group of the Christian Right, who are also a sub-group of the American Right. It would seem that the influence of the CZ movement would be negligible.

    Comment by Looney | February 20, 2007

  4. So, are you saying Michael that 1) Christian Zionists believe all of the above in your definition and 2) will go to Hell because of their beliefs since they are heretics?

    Also, are you sure that Christian Zionists believe in 2 forms of salvation currently? My understanding is that Zionists deny Jews can be saved without Christ. It may be that defining “Christian Zionism” as you have seems to suggests a very narrow group of people that aren’t those who have any influence over the majority of Christianity.

    I would say that recently Christian Zionists met in Louisville at Evangel Church, but I don’t think they would fit into your definition. Also John Hagee, a huge supporter of Israel has denied that salvation can come to Jews outside of Christ. Maybe you could help me out by naming some true Christian Zionists and pointing me toward resources where they flesh out their soteriology.

    I think the heretic charge is quite a lot. And if soteriology matters in that statement of heresy, would you say that universalists were heretics as well?

    Also, if you have time please answer my last question above. You didn’t quite get to it in your first response.

    Comment by D.R. | February 20, 2007

  5. Obviously, D.R., I am describing a “pure type” and some Christian Zionists may modify one or more characteristics. Hagee is the prototypical Christian Zionist. He believes that most Israeli Jews will find Jesus after the Rapture. (There is a strong connection between Christian Zionism and Dispensationalism.)

    And, NO, I am not saying who is and who is not “going to hell.” That is not for me to judge–only for God. Heresy is not about who goes to hell. Heresy is any teaching that is so wrong that it denies the heart of the gospel–the Good News of Jesus Christ. Christian Zionism does that.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | February 20, 2007

  6. Looney, the influence of C.Z. in all details is small, but in general outlook is huge. Arab and Persian Christians (and Kurds and Chaldeans, etc.) feel very abandoned by U.S. churches because of the huge influence of Christian Zionism on U.S. Middle East politics. Reading the horrors that Lebanese Christians went through last summer and having seen first hand the oppression of Palestinian Christians makes me very angry at Hagee and other Christian Zionists.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | February 20, 2007

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