A joint response by the ICEJ, Bridges for Peace, and Christian Friends of Israel
The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism
It is with concern that we note the negative opinions about Christian Zionism voiced by certain church clerics in Jerusalem in a recent statement entitled, “The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism” (view entire statement below). Using inflammatory language they have expressed views that are far from the truth.
The truth is:
1. Christian Zionism is a theological position that sees a future destiny for Israel in the land of her forefathers. A Christian Zionist believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible and rejects Replacement Theology that definitely played a pivotal role in the persecution of Jews through the centuries, and undergirded the Holocaust. Christian Zionism is not heretical; in fact, Christians from all traditional backgrounds have held such a view for two thousand years. Simply put, a Christian Zionist is one who believes that God, by a sovereign choice, gave the Land of Canaan as an everlasting possession to the Jewish people, for His kingdom purposes. (Genesis 17:7-8)
2. Christian Zionists believe that while God loves all people equally, He has chosen the Jewish people to bring redemption to mankind. Our Messiah and King, Jesus Christ, was born of Jewish parents, into a Jewish society, thus making the Jewish people our ‘royal family’, to be honored because the King was born to them. Christian Zionists reject hatred of any people group.
3. Christian Zionists do not base their theological position on end-time prophecy, but on the faithful covenant promises of God given to Abraham some four thousand years ago. They do not have a “thirst for Armageddon,” and do not claim to know the sequence of events that will lead to it.
4. Christian Zionists recognize that Israel has a right to exist in peace and security. Moreover, there are biblical considerations that regulate Israel’s national existence and these have to do with the issues of justice and righteousness and her treatment of the stranger within her midst. Christian Zionists fully recognize this and stand for these.
5. Christian Zionism is not a threat to anybody, but instead seeks to be a blessing. The Christian Zionist organizations in Israel have given millions of dollars of aid and care to all the population groups in the land, including Israeli and Palestinian Arabs, Druze, and others.
We pray for peace. But we note with sadness that the present Palestinian Government is totally dedicated to the destruction of Israel and its charter declares it. So, the problem in the region is not as simple as the Jerusalem Declaration makes out!
6. Sadly there have been no meetings between the Jerusalem clerics and their Christian Zionist counterparts. We invite such a dialogue and consider it a biblical prerequisite. We are distressed that a public denunciation has occurred first. We feel that we have been treated with disrespect and disdain, and attacked by the issuing of these public declarations. They present themselves as lovers of justice, mercy, truth, and peace! This public attack seems lacking in these qualities.
We find the paper unbalanced and notably one-sided. It totally ignores the jihadist goals of the Hamas government and turns a blind eye to terrorism perpetrated by this regime. Everything is attributed to “occupation and militarism”, meaning Israel is the only problem. We think not! This one-sided unbalanced view of the conflict is in fact unhelpful to the peace process and contributing to its failure!
So, in closing, we Christian Zionists call upon Christians and Churches everywhere not to remain silent, but to break their silence and speak for reconciliation with justice in the Holy Land. To pray for the peace of Jerusalem, to affirm Israel’s right to live in peace and security, free from the threat of liquidation by Islamic Jihadists who definitely seek to ‘colonize’ the Jewish State by bringing it into the Empire of Islam. We reject all forms of discrimination.
International President, Bridges For Peace
Executive Director, Christian Friends of Israel
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem
“THE JERUSALEM DECLARATION ON CHRISTIAN ZIONISM”
Statement by the Patriarch and Local Heads of Churches In Jerusalem
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Christian Zionism is a modern theological and political movement that embraces the most extreme ideological positions of Zionism, thereby becoming detrimental to a just peace within Palestine and Israel. The Christian Zionist programme provides a worldview where the Gospel is identified with the ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism. In its extreme form, it places an emphasis on apocalyptic events leading to the end of history rather than living Christ’s love and justice today.
We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation.
We further reject the contemporary alliance of Christian Zionist leaders and organizations with elements in the governments of Israel and the United States that are presently imposing their unilateral pre-emptive borders and domination over Palestine. This inevitably
leads to unending cycles of violence that undermine the security of all peoples of the Middle East and the rest of the world.
We reject the teachings of Christian Zionism that facilitate and support these policies as they advance racial exclusivity and perpetual war rather than the gospel of universal love, redemption and reconciliation taught by Jesus Christ. Rather than condemn the world to the doom of Armageddon we call upon everyone to liberate themselves from the ideologies of militarism and occupation. Instead, let them pursue the healing of the nations!
We call upon Christians in Churches on every continent to pray for the Palestinian and Israeli people, both of whom are suffering as victims of occupation and militarism. These discriminative actions are turning Palestine into impoverished ghettos surrounded by exclusive Israeli settlements. The establishment of the illegal settlements and the construction of the Separation Wall on confiscated Palestinian land undermines the viability of a Palestinian state as well as peace and security in the entire region.
We call upon all Churches that remain silent, to break their silence and speak for reconciliation with justice in the Holy Land.
Therefore, we commit ourselves to the following principles as an alternative way:
We affirm that all people are created in the image of God. In turn they are called to honor the dignity of every human being and to respect their inalienable rights.
We affirm that Israelis and Palestinians are capable of living together within peace, justice and security.
We affirm that Palestinians are one people, both Muslim and Christian. We reject all attempts to subvert and fragment their unity.
We call upon all people to reject the narrow world view of Christian Zionism and other ideologies that privilege one people at the expense of others.
We are committed to non-violent resistance as the most effective means to end the illegal occupation in order to attain a just and lasting peace.
With urgency we warn that Christian Zionism and its alliances are justifying colonization, apartheid and empire-building.
God demands that justice be done. No enduring peace, security or reconciliation is possible without the foundation of justice. The demands of justice will not disappear. The struggle for justice must be pursued diligently and persistently but non-violently.
“What does the Lord require of you, to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
This is where we take our stand. We stand for justice. We can do no other. Justice alone guarantees a peace that will lead to reconciliation with a life of security and prosperity for all the peoples of our Land. By standing on the side of justice, we open ourselves to the work of peace – and working for peace makes us children of God.
“God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Cor 5:19)
His Beattitude Patriarch Michel Sabbah
Latin Patriarchate, Jerusalem
Archbishop Swerios Malki Mourad,
Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem
Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal,
Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
Bishop Munib Younan,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land