Gary Burge and the “Territorial World View of Judaism”

The upcoming movie With God On Our Side seeks to highlight the theology of Christian Zionism and its impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Last month, the Twitter page of With God On Our Side linked to an article written by lecturer and theologian Gary Burge.

Burge’s article ‘Why I’m not a Christian Zionist, Academically Speaking’ is hosted on the website of the Institute for the Study of Christian Zionism (IFCZ) – a group monitoring Christian Zionism which Burge helped found.

Burge concluded his article:

“This is my ultimate complaint perhaps: Christian Zionists believe in Jesus, but I wonder if they are always thinking like Christians in this matter. They have uncritically inherited the territorial world view of Judaism and wed this to prophetic predictions that are unsupportable. And that is why the great historians of the future (who are not yet born) will level a serious critique against this movement.

Burge wants his Christian readers to distance themselves from the “territorial world view of Judaism”.

But is Burge’s world-view also territorial?

Burge’s ISCZ website links approvingly to the website of Neturei Karta. Neturei Karta is an ultra-Orthodox Jewish movement fiercely opposed to the existence of state of Israel on religious grounds.

Neturei Karta are particularly vitriolic in their messianic opposition to the modern state of Israel. Neturei Karta rabbis attended Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust “review” conference in Iran and also congratulated Hamas for gaining power in Gaza. The Neturei Karta’s Aharon Cohen has previously claimed that the Holocaust dead ‘deserved it’.

The ISCZ have also shared a platform with Neturei Karta. In May 2008, Aharon Cohen was present alongside a representative of the ISCZ at the Voice of Palestine conference in Indonesia, in which participants called for a one-state solution.

Given their claim to be “Christians for Biblical Justice“, it is odd that someone representing Burge’s ISCZ should share a platform with alongside the Neturei Karta. It doesn’t make sense either. Whilst Burge’s ISCZ sees Zionism as a consequence of the “territorial worldview of Judaism”, Neturei Karta argue that Zionism is directly opposed to Judaism.

Of course, the ISCZ are not merely cheerleaders for Neturei Karta. They also promote other religious Jewish anti-Zionist sites such as Jews Against Zionism and Jews Not Zionists.

In doing so, however, the ISCZ lay themselves open to the same charges they lay against Christian Zionists: forming alliances with Jews based on shared political opinions about the ‘Holy Land’.

Gary Burge’s ISCZ is happy to criticise the ‘territorial worldview of Judaism’ when writing about Zionism, but then supports a Judaism with an anti-Zionist territorial worldview.

To fully distance himself from a ‘territorial worldview of Judaism’, Burge would have to distance his IFCZ organisation from any religious Jewish group expressing any theologically-based political opinions about the modern state of Israel – starting with Neturei Karta.



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16 responses to “Gary Burge and the “Territorial World View of Judaism”

  1. modernityblog

    “Territorial Worldview of Judaism”

    What an appalling expression, what ropey old theology, hard to believe he’s an academic.

    I very much doubt given his educational history, that Dr. Burge would employ such terminology with another one of the world’s bigger religions.

  2. Anon

    ‘They have uncritically inherited the territorial world view of Judaism’

    Hmm. Christian tradition from the beginning is that Jews have been dispossessed of temple, city and land as a punishment for their rejection of the prophets i.e. is, in its own way, territorial; and that all promises to the Jews are now inherited by the church, including the land: that was the Catholic position until recently, and one reason the Vatican could not recognise the state of Israel.

    What is historically UNIQUE about Christian Zionists, is that they do not hold that this will necessarily be a permanent state of affairs, that g-d can, should he choose, show mercy to the Jews, and restore them to the land.

    Presumably Christian anti-Zionists feel the same way about Palestinian Christians and Muslims.

    As for the fuss about the alleged ‘collusion’ of Christian and Jewish Zionists: the Talmud assumes that a Jewish return to the land will only be with the permission of the powers that be.

    Since the powers that be were either Christian or Islamic, necessarily Christians and/or Muslims would have to sympathise with a Jewish restoration.
    The first exile was only possible with the permission of the Zoroastrian king of Persia, whom Isaiah even calls ‘moshiach’.

    The crime of Britain was that, unlike the previous pagan, Christian and Islamic imperial powers to first found, to alienate Jews from Judea forever, the rule Palestine for 2000 years (with the possible exception of Julian the Apostate) to allow Jews to live in the land in other than tiny, highly discriminated against numbers.

    The crime of Britain was that it did not to actively discourage Jews, or keep them out. It allowed them to return. It didn’t force them. It didn’t transport them. It didn’t ‘plant’ them. It allowed them to return, at a time, in fact, when Jews had most need of a refuge.

    Similarly, Christian Zionists reversed the traditional Christian assumption and assertion that Jews were to be a dispossessed people, in exile, forever.

  3. seismicshock

    Every religion has a territorial worldview as part of its wider worldview, including Christianity, which has a ton of practical advice about land and state in the New Testament.

  4. modernityblog


    Some more than others, which is why it was a rather clumsy point for Dr. Burge to make.

  5. I just read this the other day:

    Sheikh Palazzi believes that the authentic teachings of Muhammad as expressed in the Qur’an and the Hadith instruct Moslems to support the return of the Jewish nation to its historic homeland in Israel, and the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

    The Sheikh’s credentials are impeccable, having received his Islamic education from leading mainstream Saudi Arabian and Egyptian Sunni institutions. Highly controversal in today’s Islamic milieu, Sheikh Palazzi is nevertheless widely recognized as one of the leading Moslem experts today. A long time supporter of Israel, he is a self-described “Zionist Moslem.”

    Just google his name and you will find he is quite out spoken about the rights to an Israeli nation.

  6. Bruge recycles a reformed/dispensational dichotomy to found his case. If he knows his history, he’ll know he stands on shaky ground.
    John Owen and many of the puritans expected a Jewish return to the promised land, so did many of their immediate and later successors, men with impeccable ‘reformed’ credentials, John Gill, Charles Spurgeon, Ryle, M’Cheyne, Horatius Bonar etc etc. Many of them expected repentance to precede return however. Spurgeon said of dispensationalism on the other hand, ‘it is a mercy that these absurdities are revealed at one time, in order that we may be able to endure their stupidity without dying of amazement.’

  7. Pingback: Gary Burge and the “Territorial Worldview of Judaism” | eChurch Christian Blog

  8. zkharya

    ‘Some more than others, which is why it was a rather clumsy point for Dr. Burge to make.’

    And a very pro-Zionist one, too, since that is what he saying about Judaism.

  9. Pingback: Gary Burge and the “Territorial World View of Judaism” « The Rosh Pina Project

  10. Susan

    The Naturei Katai (sp?) believe that there will be a Jewish state when the Messiah comes.

  11. Pingback: Meet The Cast Of “With God On Our Side” « Seismic Shock

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