Tony Campolo’s conversion to proxy anti-Zionism

Tony Campolo wrote an emotionally charged article titled Christian Zionism: Theology that Legitimates Oppression for Sojourners. This one article highlights why Christ at the Checkpoint is so keen to get influential evangelical leaders to their 2012 conference. They want to woo and win them for the Palestinian political cause and convert their theology from a pro-Israel one to one that delegitimizes Israel and especially her Christian supporters. 

Campolo also repeats the lie that the exodus of Christians from Bethlehem is due to Israel rather than the Palestinian Authority that rules the West Bank and the Islamic fundamentalist that are pushing Christians out. He falsely blames Zionists by using the devise of putting words into their communal mouths by claiming they say “good riddance” to Christians. If the Zionists are the cause for the Christian Exodus from Palestinian Authority controlled areas, why then are Christians flourishing and growing in Israel!

 I recently returned from a speaking engagement at the Bethlehem Bible College; and what I witnessed firsthand sent chills up my back. Listening to the horror stories told to me by oppressed Palestinians elicited feelings ranging from indignation to compassion. What was particularly upsetting were the pained questions of an elderly Christian Palestinian woman, who asked, “Why don’t our Christian brothers and sisters in America care about what is happening to us? Do they even know we exist? Do they know that their tax dollars paid for the Israeli tanks that destroyed my house and the houses of my neighbors?”

Twenty-five years ago, Bethlehem was 70 percent Christian. Today less than 15 percent of its population is Christian. Sometimes heartless and dehumanizing treatment that Bethlehem Christians have had to endure over the years has led most of them to emigrate to other countries. To this exodus, many religious Zionists say, “Good riddance!” Presently, 42 percent of all Israeli citizens believe that all Palestinians should be removed from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The most serious threats to the well-being of the Palestinians in general, and to the Christian Palestinians in particular, come not from the Jews, but from Christian Zionists here in the United States. They are armed with a theology created in the middle of the 19th century by a disaffected Anglican clergyman named John Nelson Darby in Plymouth, England. With this theology, called “Dispensationalism,” they argue that according to their interpretation of Genesis 15:18-21, the Holy Land should belong exclusively to the Jews. They contend that all of this land is what was promised to “the seed of Abraham” and, according to their interpretation of biblical prophecies, Jesus cannot return until all of this land is occupied by Jews, and all others are forced to leave.

Of course, the Darbyites completely ignore the fact that the Arab peoples are also the seed of Abraham, having descended to the present day from Hagar, one of Abraham’s servants. They fail to notice that Abraham affirmed both Isaac (his son by Sarah) and Ishmael (his son by Hagar) as his seed and called both to be present to bury their common father (Genesis 25:9). Furthermore, they are also prone to ignore that the land that Christian Zionists argue should be occupied only by Jews stretches from the Euphrates River to the Nile (Genesis 15:18-21). This includes the land now occupied by Arabs in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. That would mean that all of the Arabs in those countries would have to be forced to leave their homelands. I need not spell out the ramifications of what that would mean.

It should be noted that no prominent theologians until Darby (i.e., Calvin, Luther, Augustine, Aquinas) ever mentioned anything remotely resembling these claims made by dispensationalists. This Johnny-come-lately theology of John Nelson Darby has permeated American Protestantism via the publication in 1908 of the incredibly popular Scofield Reference Study Bible. Too often Evangelicals have treated the Scofield reference notes at the bottom of each page of scripture with almost as much reverence as they do the holy writ at the top of each page. So prevalent is Darby’s dispensationalist theology that most Evangelicals would be surprised to learn that his prophecies of a “rapture” and the historical events that he taught would accompany the rapture are nowhere to be found in Christian theology prior to the mid-19th century. Darby’s prophecies make the early church fathers, along with the apostle Paul, seem stupid since Christ could not possibly have returned during their own times, as they were prone to expect.

Darby’s influence on American Protestantism has recently received an enormous boost with the publication of theLeft Behind series of books by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. Their series of books which are imagined accounts of events leading up to the rapture have sold more than 100 million copies.

You can gain some idea of the huge ideological support Christian Zionists have gained as of late by considering the extremist claims of television evangelist Pat Robertson, who says that Palestinian Christians have no right at all to any part of the Holy Land, even though in many instances it has been land that their ancestors have lived on for generations.

There are those who blame the Jewish lobbies for the 30 percent of all U.S. foreign aid that has gone to the State of Israel and which has enabled the Israelis to create the fourth most powerful army in the world. In reality, however, it is the Christian Zionists, led by such powerful televangelists as John Hagee who have been the primary sources of pressure on the U.S. Congress to financially back the Israeli military that has made the injustices I have described possible.

The following video is Campolo being interviewed by Stephen Sizer where Campolo blames “Christian Zionists” for the problem rather than “Jewish Zionists”! He then conflates his theological disagreements with Dispensationalism with the complex politics and history of the Israeli-Arab conflict. Long dead Christian preachers John Darby and Cyrus Ingerson Scofield are blamed for “the mess” and not a word is said about any wrongs done by the Arab world. So according to Campolo the Arabs are not to blame, the Jews are not to blame, it is really all Darby and Scofield’s fault! Campolo hold a proxy anti-Zionism, blaming his fellow Christians, who are Christian Zionists rather than taking aim at Jewish Zionists and whitewashing the Arab Palestinians of any blame. 

Whence comes Campolo’s confidence…? Well he claims that God is on his side.

10 thoughts on “Tony Campolo’s conversion to proxy anti-Zionism”

    1. I’ve never met a Dispensationalist yet that supports everything that Israel does. I am not a Dispensationalist but really do not like Campolo simply regurgitating Stephen Sizer’s myth that Christian Zionists are the real secret Zionist cabal that rule the world!

  1. Oh dear. I have to say that Campolo’s comments are so similar to what Sizer repeatedly rants on about that I’m sure the two are working together.

    Let me say this yet again. There are plenty of Christian Zionists who reject dispensationalism and base their support of Israel on covenant theology and/or her historic, moral, and legal rights to live safely and securely in her ancient homeland. The ICEJ is probably the largest Christian Zionist organisation and they take this approach. Many people in the UK also do.

    In fact, you can be a replacement theologian and believe that God has no further role for Israel and still be a Zionist!

    Yes, in the USA, there is a lot of dispensationalism, but the influence of this is often over-stated.

    Campolo is using straw man arguments to demonise and delegitimise Israel, and focussing on Israel’s supposed failings whilst ignoring Palestinian terrorism. I have no hesitation in saying that this is anti-semitic. Shame on him.

  2. This is annoying me so much I’m going to vent again.

    Campolo mentions the huge fall in Bethlehem’s Christian population in the last 25 years. Fine. What he doesn’t mention is that the Oslo accords of 1993 and 1995 transferred control of Bethlehem to the Palestinian Authority, an Islamist government that persecutes Christians. Could that have perhaps have something to do with it?

    Likewise, the Palestinian Authority supports terrorism against Israel. Israel can’t just stand by and let this happen, and it’s an asymmetric war where the terrorists are living amongst the regular population. In situations like this, as seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, civilian casualties are sadly high. But don’t blame Israel, blame the terrorists.

    Campolo is happy to rant on about Darby, but happily ignores the fact that many notable evangelicals who had no time for dispensationalism supported the establishment of a Jewish state. People like Shaftesbury, Wilberforce, and Spurgeon.

    Campolo is a disgrace. As a prominent christian leader, when discussing a complex situation, he should do so in a fair and balanced manner. Instead, he is manipulating people into hating Israel and those who support her. And many people will listen to him.

  3. In short, it is a form of what many term “replacement” or “supercession” teaching. According to the Dispensationalist view there have been a number of “dispensations” during which The Almighty dealt with people in differing ways (this does not sound like the same Deity Who said in Malachi 4 that He doesn’t change). While the number and names of the various dispensations changes quite widely, it is generally held that the “Dispensation of Law” has given way to the “Dispensation of Grace”. This is quite explicitly a way of summing up a “Replacement” view. In Dispensationalism, The Almighty deals with Jewish people and “the Church” in different ways, even though Yeshua says that He is the Way to The Almighty, and we read in Acts that only in the Name of Yeshua can a person be made safe (or saved, as many Christians would say). This is, in essence, a “Dual Covenant” view, and is not Biblical as you can see.
    Dispoensationalism also tends to have a “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” scenario for the End Times. Darby’s view was that the “Church” would be “Raptured” while “Israel” would stay behind for a severe judgement. If that is the case, then what happens to Jewish Followers of Yeshua? If they are to be “Raptured”, then they are clearly no longer a part of “Israel”; if they are still part of “Israel”, then they cannot be “Raptured”. It is also, in the light of the Holocaust, a very damaging and insulting view. In the late 1930’s and early 1940’s more than 6,000,000 Jewish people were systematically murdered by the Nazi regime. In the following 20 years, no-one knows how many Jewish people weere systematically murdered by the Stalinist regime. And, because Jewish people are Jewish, they (we) can expect even MORE suffering during the “Great Tribulation”! The “Rapture” scenario is also equally insulting to those Christians who have (are, and will) been killed and / or maimed for their faith. If the “Church” will be whisked away so as to escape suffering, then why haven’t ALL Jews and Christians been similarly whisked away to escape their suffering? If The Almighty is a Deity of justice and He doesn’t change, then the Dispensationalist ideas are in conflict with what we know wbout Him.
    The “Rapture” will cause chaos, even though the Bible says that He is a Deity of “order, not disorder”.
    It owes more to escapology than it does to eschatology.
    I fully understand the need for humans to try to put everything into manageable boxes, which is why we have many formulae for what many call “Trinity”. However, I personally believe that some things are best left without trying to box them in.
    Someone said that Judaism (ands therefore the teaching of Yeshua) is about how to LIVE, whereas post-300CE Christianity is far more concerned with how a person DIES.

    1. Excellent response, thank you for your time to help me. Much of the terminology is new to me. I have found that Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum has reliable teachings. He says, referring to the goy believers, we are PARTAKERS, and not ‘taker-overs.’ I hate that any would deny the King of the Universe has good plans for His beloved Israel, and will never forsaken His Hebrew children. It is written in His precious Word.

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