Christ at the Checkpoint organiser Stephen Sizer, has given yet another interview to a Islamic TV station (Iraqi Aletejah TV) to blast and misrepresent Christian supporters of Israel.
In this video Sizer claims at 20:10 mins that Christian Zionists are greedy because, according to him, their support is based on the hope that they will get financial gain for supporting Israel as a result of the Bible statement from God “I will bless those that bless you and curse those that curse you.” Not only does Sizer offer an implied caricature image of all Christian support of Israel as being based on self-interest, he claims this verse is proof that Christian Zionism is a prosperity Gospel. He calls a major promise by God to Abraham a nonsense if it is believed to still be for Jews today.
Sizer will not turn his nose up at even the most ridiculous of arguments to serve his anti-Israel cause, not even his claim at 14:26 mins that the two blue lines top and bottom of the Israeli flag represent the two rivers Nile and Euphrates and are an evidence of Israel’s expansionism. The blue on the Israeli flag owes more to the tallit (prayer shawl) than the traditional anti-Semitic canard that there is a shadowy Zionist desire to rule the world.
It must be said, for a self-proclaimed evangelical and a cleric, he missed a great chance to share his faith. In fact he reveals his real influence is politics, and Jesus, it seems, is a good vehicle for him to promote his political agenda. He fails also to admit to the Muslim host, that he was a rather vigorous Christian Zionist himself. Maybe his critique of Christian support of Israel is more a commentary of what he used to believe rather than what all Christian Zionists actually believe. He claims 18:20 mins that the destruction of Christians in the Palestinian Authority areas is not due to the suppression of them by Hamas, the PA and other Islamist groups, but rather European Christians. He reveals his Euro-centric view of the world, failing to note the vast majority of Evangelicals today are not European white-males like him, rather they are in the global South.
Stephen Sizer does with history and the Bible what Dan Brown did with art, history and the Bible in the Da Vinci Code, creates an amazing fantasy world with just enough random anchor points in fact to make it plausible to the gullible and justification for those who just like to hate Jews.
For those Messianic Jews speaking at CaTC this year, they will simply be used as more evidences by Sizer for his fantasy world.
In this horrendous clip, CaTC shaker-makers hang themselves on their own words. Manfred Kohl, for example, calls Jews who think the State of Israel has anything to do with God’s Covenant faithfulness to Abraham, “dummkopfs”! at 4:30 mins, much to the delight of the CaTC crowd. This made my skin crawl to hear a German Christian calling Jews dummkopfs again. Kohl was born in Germany in WWII so should really know better.
At 5:28 mins Kohl says , jumping from God’s promise to Abraham to the modern State of Israel is to nullify the cross of Jesus Christ. Really!? A Christian theologian thinks that something can nullify the redemptive death of Jesus, weird. Does he hate Israel so much that his very faith in the redemptive work of the Cross is threatened by a Jewish State of Israel? Seems so.
Unsurprisingly Stephen Sizer used a letter from Kohl as some kind of proof that he is not anti-Semitic – dummkopf!
What can you expect at CaTC 2014? Well the organisers are certainly being a little more coy and careful in the lead up to the conference, perhaps learning the lessons of the controversies of the last CatCs.
Her film The Stones Cry Out claim that the Palestinians today are the descendants of the early followers of Jesus, despite the fact the New Testament tells us they were Jews! Is the film claiming the Palestinians are really Jewish? No, it is another political re-writing of New Testament history, and this is exactly what you can expect from Christ at the Checkpoint 2014.
In these early months of the 2013/14 Premier League season, anti-Semitism has reared its ugly head.
The Football Association has warned fans that anyone caught chanting the word ‘Yid’ could face criminal charges. This anti-Semitic term has been aimed at the fans of Tottenham Hotspurs due to Tottenham’s large Jewish population and Spurs fans in reaction have begun to sing ‘Yid Army’ as a form of identity. In recent weeks a video was posted on YouTube showing West Ham supporters singing anti-Semitic chants at their October match against Spurs.
Close to the wind
Racism has no place in any civilised society and certainly has no place in God’s church, which calls people from every nation, tribe and tongue to know the love of God in Christ.
However, it seems that some Christian groups which take an anti-state of Israel stance either sail very close to the wind or may at times tumble over into what amounts to be anti-Semitism. This year’s Greenbelt festival saw the launch of ‘Kairos Britain: Time for Action’. This is a new, avowedly pro-Palestianian, Christian organisation. Their website says that they seek a just and lasting peace in the region based on the realisation of full human and political rights for all and calls for an end to oppression and injustice. So far, so good. But when you read their understanding of the situation in Palestine you find a pretty one-sided view of what has gone on. There is no mention of rocket attacks on Israel from Hamas. There is no mention of Palestinian suicide bombings on buses with Israel. I am certainly not someone who thinks that the state of Israel is above criticism, but this is unbalanced.
It would clearly be unfair to equate criticism of the state of Israel with anti-Semitism. However, in supporting various Muslim groups in the Middle East, such a Christian organisation may well be giving support, perhaps inadvertently, to those who hate Jews per se. One only has to think of some of the extreme statements of ex-President Ahmedinajad of Iran to realise that such people do exist.
Nick Gray, director of Christian Middle East Watch, which takes a different view from that of Kairos Britain, warns of a disturbing imbalance. He says: ‘In November 2012, Christian Aid held a conference in Gateshead on “Peace and Justice in the Holy Land”. A non-Christian commentator, Denis McEoin, who is an expert on Middle East affairs, wrote a detailed account of the proceedings1. He says: “The conference was, from beginning to end, a total travesty of those ideals (of peace and justice); it was in all respects one-sided, often dangerously so. One after another, the speakers all presented the pro-Palestinian narrative and arguments derived from Palestinian political theory. Not once was an Israeli or Jewish narrative even mentioned… yet Israel was on several occasions ridiculed and condemned”’.
With anti-Semitism finding public expression in the Premier League, Christians need to be very careful not to be understood to be aligned with it. In our politically correct environment, in which those who can paint themselves as the most victimised are always assumed to be in the right, God’s word calls us to be more discerning (Exodus 23.2,3). May God grant true peace in the Middle East. Meanwhile the Jerusalem that is above is free and those in Christ belong to that heavenly city.
Following on from our post on the Brown/Sizer debate -Is Christian Zionism Christian, we have Baruch Maoz, a veteran Jewish Christian church-planter in Israel, who has some good points to make in his article about Christian Zionism, but they are often overshadowed when he makes stunningly broad, unverified and polemical claims, such as:
“Christian Zionism is wrong, on every point.”
Every point? What, even their faith that Jesus is the Messiah! Here and here
Maoz also opines:
“Christian Zionism is sub-Christian because ignores moral considerations, and because it identifies a political platform with the Gospel, enlisting God in support this form of national selfishness.”
However where is the evidence to prove such a bold claim? None is offered, rather what we get is a sermonic denunciation of Christians whom he considers to love Jewish stuff just a little too much.
Where is the evidence that Christian Zionism ignores moral consideration, what exactly does this mean? Is it simply because they claim Bible support for a political agenda? I have never yet heard a Christian Zionist confuse the Gospel with their own version of eschatologically inspired political activism. Eschatology is not the Gospel, therefore the claim Maoz makes is very serious if it is true, however no documentary evidence is provided to demonstrate this to be true of one Christian Zionist leader let alone the whole diverse movement. I am not saying there is not one CZ leader who is theologically confused or off balanced in some way, rather I have not seen any of them identify the Gospel with a political platform, eschatology, evangelism yes, but not the Gospel.
Christian Zionism is not the Gospel, but neither is anti-Christian Zionism. However, how we view God’s ability to keep the covenants he made with Israel does impinge on the character and integrity of God, and whether He keeps His covenants as promised, or not.
Would Maoz also condemn all other theologically driven political activism by Christians in such a way, or is it just political activism with a Christian agenda for Israel that bothers him?
Maoz claims to be a Zionist himself:
“Let me be clear: I’m a Zionist. I am a Christian and I am a Zionist. But I am not a Christian Zionist”
Yet Maoz calls Zionism a form of “national selfishness”! This sounds at odds with another statement he makes in the same article:
“We Jews have an historic, moral right to live in the land of our forefathers and there to freely conduct our national life.”
“I affirm Zionism as a legitimate, morally valid option; the only reasonable option for my people.”
Maoz claims that Christian Zionist support of Israel is based on some future-Holocaust-end-times-death-wish which dehumanises Jewish people and turns them into and end-times marker. This istrue of a small percentage of Christian Zionists, but certainly not all. Studies into the very complex nature of the motivation of Christians who support Israel reveals a wide spectrum of motives, not just this myopic eschatalogical one. One book investigating the history of this complex movement is Philosemitism: Admiration and Support in the English-Speaking World for Jews, 1840-1939: Admiration and Support for Jews in the English-speaking World, 1840-1939 by William D. Rubinstein and Hilary L. Rubinstein.
Much of what Maoz criticizes in terms of the fortune-telling aspect of Christian Zionism I can agree with, but I feel he goes too far, claims too much and does not substantiate any of his wilder accusations.
“Nor is Christian Zionism’s professed love for Israel sincere. It is, rather, a fascination, largely borne on the grounds of eschatological speculations that change every time the events of the world take a new turn.”
Maoz is careful to reduce this vast spectrum of a movement into one easy to manage caricature and judge every one to be insincere in their motive and ‘professed love’.
Another claim that is a wild exaggeration is:
“Christian Zionists refuse to criticize Israel.”
Many Christian Zionists are very careful to acknowledge that Israel is an imperfect State that has, and does make many mistakes and injustices. Mark Dunman’s book, which I will mention shortly, is a recent example of this, proving the fallacious nature of Maoz’ comment.
Maoz does seem more to be attacking Charismatic and Arminian Christianity as it is manifested generally in the Christian Zionist movement than a researched, thoughtful critique of the flaws and pit-falls of Christian Zionism, a diverse movement that, as all movements have, weak points and extreme elements.
Equally, his lambasting of Christian Zionists for ignoring the Palestinians, may also be true of some, but certainly not all. Once again no evidence is offered for yet another bold, polemic claim. A more serious introduction to thinking about some weak areas of Christian Zionism can be read in Mark Dunman’s Has God Really Finished with Israel?
In short Maoz is a Zionist, but decries Christian Zionists for being Zionists for a Christian reason rather than a Jewish one!
In a recent telephone debate between Messianic Jewish scholar Michael Brown and anti-Zionist crusading vicar Stephen Sizer, hosted by Moody Radio asking if Christian Zionism is Christian, Brown at 50:20 minutes challenges Sizer about claiming Jewish and Arab Israeli followers of Jesus who support their state are an abomination. Initially Sizer flat-out denies he even said it. Brown provides the quote that we broke on RPP in 2011, Sizer accepts he said it, added that he was “comfortable” with it being a true quote. Really, really? Following our coverage of Sizer’s shocking statement that Zionist Israeli Messianic Jews were an abomination to God, Sizer apologized (on the advise of his Messianic Jewish friend), however it was really a non-apology – read here. Now the truth is fully out, Sizer is “comfortable” with his calling those in Israel who follow Jesus and support the State of Israel, an abomination to God. Michael Brown caught him completely off-guard with this as he framed it slightly differently. The facts as they stand are that Sizer called Israeli Messianic Jews and Israeli Arab Christians who support their government and country, an abomination, at a Palestinian Solidarity Campaign meeting, and now additionally charges them with racism, to add to the mix.
It seems as if Sizer’s attempts to schmooze Messianic Jews to try increase Messianic Jewish footfall at the next Christ at the Checkpoint conference, has rather back-fired. If you are a Messianic Jew or Israeli Arab Christian who support the government of Israel, which is inherently Zionist by its very history and nature, Sizer believes:
they’ve repudiated Jesus, they’ve repudiated the Bible, and they are an abomination.
Good luck trying to get a fair hearing anywhere that Sizer has any influence then!
Rev Stephen Sizer is unhappy, and once again he has had to resort to an over-the-top lengthy and detailed defense of himself in the face of much concern that he was sailing too close to anti-Semitism. Methinks he protesteth too loudly. Anyway strip down all his bluster and irritation at the temerity of bloggers who report and analyse what he says, writes and does in the public arena, and, what is left is an admission he was wrong and the implementation of three proofreaders who will check that he does not let slip anything that might be anti-Semitic.
Sizer’s own tome reads like some Hamas victory statement written as if they hadn’t really lost at all! We have to wait until point 141 of the 190 point statement till he admits the real outcome of the conciliation talks between him and the British Board of Jewish Deputies, which is the proofreaders.
His final point (190) demonstrates his problem in perceiving why he got in trouble in the first place, because it is not his criticism of Israeli policies or Zionism that is the issue, rather some of the traditional anti-Semitic tropes that he was utilizing.
Our coverage of Stephen Sizer’s public statements, published works and public visits can been viewed here.