Middle East Bishops condemn "Christian Zionism"

In its extreme form, the Christian Zionist program identifies the Gospel with "the ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism" and is "detrimental to a just peace within Palestine and Israel", say Jerusalem bishops in a hard-hitting statement.

The statement, signed by Catholic Latin Patriarch, Cardinal Michel Sabbah (pictured), and leaders of the Syrian Orthodox, Episcopal and the Evangelical Lutheran churches in Jerusalem, directs its attack at a belief among some Christians that the defence of the State of Israel is in accordance with Biblical prophecy.

The "Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism" describes Christian Zionism as "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."

"In its extreme form, it laces an emphasis on apocalyptic events leading to the end of history rather than living Christ's love and justice today," the Christian leaders said.

"We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation," the statement continues.

The statement goes on to reject what it describes as "the contemporary alliance of Christian Zionist leaders and organisations with elements in the governments of Israel and the United States that are presently imposing their unilateral preemptive 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," said the statement.

Instead of advancing "racial exclusivity and perpetual war", what is needed is "the gospel of universal love, redemption and reconciliation taught by Jesus Christ," the bishops say.

The statement calls upon Christians everywhere to pray for the Palestinian and Israeli people, "both of whom are suffering as victims of occupation and militarism."

"We call upon all Churches that remain silent, to break their silence and speak for reconciliation with justice in the Holy Land," the Christian leaders added.

"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," the statement concludes.

According to the Washington Post, Christian Zionists form a growing part of the pro-Israel lobby in the US, the Jewish state's main ally.

Religious Leaders' Statement on Christian Zionism (Zenit, 30/8/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Michel Sabbah
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
Christian Zionism (Wikipedia)
The Episcopal Diocese Of Jerusalem

Holy Land churches attack Christian Zionism (Washington Post 31/8/06)
Religious Leaders' Statement on Christian Zionism (Catholic Online 31/8/06)
Religious Leaders' Statement on Christian Zionism (Indian Catholic 31/8/06)

1 Sep 2006