This post also features on Harry’s Place.
This week, The Baptist Times features an article about Stephen Sizer and his book Zion’s Christian Soldiers. Rev Sizer has this to say about Christian Zionism:
‘In its worst forms, Christian Zionism uses the Bible to justify racial superiority, land expropriation, home demolitions, colonial settlements, the denial of international law and the dehumanisation of Arabs. It not only fuels Islamophobia but also anti-Semitism and Islamist retaliation against Christians.’
Sizer repeatedly attacks Christian Zionists for their apocalyptic theology. Based upon a literal understanding of the Book of Revelation, the Christian Zionists believe that the return of Jesus will be precipitated by the war of Armageddon. This belief, coupled with a desire to influence U.S. foreign policy, is a significant force in American politics.
Yet in reality, apocalyptic dispensationalism is only one factor in Christian support for Israel. Many Christians support the existence of the state of Israel and her right to defend herself due to Christian morals, belief that God has not rejected Israel or the Jewish people, respect for international law, repulsion of terrorism, or simply because they extend the same respect towards the Jewish state as they would towards any other nation.
In recent years however, Anglican vicar Stephen Sizer has made a name for himself by exaggerating the power and influence of the Christian Zionist movement, even claiming that it keeps US and Israeli politicians in power.
Here is Sizer on Press TV critiquing Christian Zionism:
Yet if such criticisms can be made of a Christian theological movement which supports Israel, then there are surely legitimate concerns of a theological movement which opposes Israel, also adhered to by many Christians.
Based upon Sizer’s claims that any support for Israel plays into the hands of those anxious for a Christian Zionist armaggedon, it is equally justifiable to argue that any criticism of Israel also plays into the hands of those anxious for a Shi’ite Mahdist armaggedon.
Many of the religious leaders of Iran believe in Shi’ite Mahdism, and share a belief with Christian Zionists that global warfare will precede the return of Jesus. Like the Christian Zionists, Islamist Mahdists couple their religious beliefs with intervention in global politics. And so Ahmadinejad preaches the Mahdist doctrine calling for Israel to be wiped off the map.
In October 2007, Stephen Sizer was invited to Iran by Zahra Mostafavi and Jawad Sharbaf of the Iranian institute NEDA, notorious for its links with Holocaust deniers. Not one to insult his hosts, Sizer’s main concern in Iran was to preach about the evils of Christian Zionism.
Thus Stephen Sizer’s speaking tour of Iran played right into the Mahdist apocalyptic agenda. The UK’s other prominent Christian anti-Zionist writer Dr Anthony McRoy even attended an international conference on Mahdism in Iran, drawing favourable comparisons between Christian social action and faith in Jesus, and Hezbollah suicide bombings and faith in the Mahdi. Moreover, both Sizer and McRoy have publicly defended Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
It is highly hypocritical of Sizer and McRoy to chastise Christian Zionism as being obsessed with war and Armageddon in the Middle East, and then ally themselves with Islamist Mahdists who theologise and threaten the destruction of Israel whilst imagining the apocalypse.