Sunday, 29 December 2013

Understanding Israel - The Church, The Jewish People, and the Struggle for Identity - Coming Soon.

A new book is coming soon. It is heavily revised from Zion's New Name to the point where a new title was considered necessary.

From the back Cover:

This book seeks a biblical approach to the identity of Israel, and grew out of the previous title Zion’s New Name as a heavily revised work. There is polarised opinion between Christian Zionists on one side, and sceptics of the State of Israel on the other. These sceptics are usually accused of holding to Replacement Theology, but this is often rhetorical and fails to address the issues.  Here the aim is to get to the heart of Scripture through a careful analysis of the Prophets and the New Testament. In this sense I am taking a broadly classical Reformed approach, but also seeking to get to the truth of Scripture. I seek to avoid the excessive political activity of both sides of this debate on the left and right.

Scripture reveals clearly that a remnant of Jews continued from the Old to the New Covenant, as evidenced by the 120 in the upper room when the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost. During the first century Jewish believers in the Messiah helped to lay the foundation of the Church, and we should not overlook their hard work and sacrifice for Jesus. Later, the outward Jewish identity of the growing Church was overshadowed as more Gentiles joined, but the Church remained as the called-out remnant of Israel, formed in the Messiah. In this light I discuss the theological themes of remnant and continuity in relation to Israel.

However, we need to remember to express love to the Jewish people and offer regret for their suffering through history. The final great hope is that they will experience a great revival before the Messiah returns, and come to experience the fullness of life in Jesus.

Why do many Christian Zionists undermine the Church? GOD TV

I have blogged about this before. But why do Christian Zionists spend so much time attacking the Christian Church? I can understand a desire to seek peace and security for the State of Israel, who doesn't want that? But Zionism goes further. It must justify Israel's existence spiritually, and this to the detriment of the Christian Church. So Zionist' Christians will travel about taking conferences, go on TV, and attack what they characterise as Replacement Theology.

Now Replacement Theology does exist, and some Reformers have made anti-Semitic comments, and this needs identifying and challenging, but what is attacked in essence is a strawman position. Zionist' Christians then suggest that those who hold to Covenantal Theology are somehow on the edge of anti-Semitism. And this is on popular Christian TV. I have for instance recently watched a video by Ron Matsen, linked with Koinonia House, on GOD TV.

However, Reformed Covenantal theology is much more nuanced that Zionists would have us believe. So what is set-up and challenged is a misrepresentation of the truth. Christian TV in the UK generally supports Christian Zionism and gives little time to alternatives, although Revelation TV had a good debate with Stephen Sizer and Calvin L.Smith a while ago. But let us have a wider debate about the impact that certain teaching has on the health of the Church. Should we not be building up the Church instead of tearing it down?    

I am in the process of releasing a new book Understanding Israel that looks at the question of identity in relation to Israel. More news on that soon.

No place for offensive Nazi-like salutes in football - Anelka in trouble

Nicolas Anelka has been accused of a Nazi salute, although he defends his actions. This is reported on the BBC website.

This salute has been popularised amongst a section of Muslims by the French comedian Dieudonne M'bala. The French government minister, Valerie Fourneyro, however is trying to ban use of this symbolic act because of its anti-Semitic overtones. Although in response it is claimed to be anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic. Fourneyron however wrote  : "Anelka's gesture is a shocking provocation, disgusting. There's no place for anti-Semitism on the football field."

For those of us who wish to challenge Zionism in a rational manner, this sort of salute does not help at all and is objectionable. It does nothing for the Middle East peace process, and nothing for the Palestinian cause. It is deliberately offensive, and any justification is mere window dressing.