Christian Palestinian-ism :: by Matt Ward

“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6a)

The world in which we live is a befuddled mess. There has been a seismic move within the Church, and it has generally gone unnoticed. Good theology has been replaced by bad, Christian Palestinianism has replaced traditional Christian support for Israel.

Even the words “Christian Zionist” are tainted, scoffed at and derided, evoking open hostility and vitriol in many. Accusations of “apartheid,” “colonization,” “ethnic cleansing” or “nazification” abound. The criticism of so called Christian Zionists is harsh, it is nasty and I think is born out of biblical illiteracy.

Looking forward it would also appear that the opposition and hostility toward those within the Church who have a heart for Israel is going to get much, much worse. Persecution is coming from within.

As the world’s hatred for Israel increases and becomes more entrenched, so will the Church’s patience diminish for those within its fold who support Israel. You can see the shadows of coming persecution on our horizons already. Well known, popular Christian leaders are laying the ground work, whether they know it or not, for a persecution of those within their own fold. Notable, prominent ministers of the gospel are making their views known and preparing the biblically illiterate masses for what may amount to a purge from within their own ranks.

People like Tony Campolo, a prominent American Pastor and the founder of the Red Letter Christians movement openly describes Christian Zionism as, “…a theology that legitimates oppression.” [1]

Those are harsh words. Those are not the words of a man interested in finding a middle ground, they are openly hostile and aggressive. Most worryingly, they are accepted and applauded by most within the mainstream Christian church, especially amongst the young. He is subtly tarnishing those within his own church who have a heart for Israel, singling them out and isolating them.

History teaches us that after isolation, comes vilification and persecution.

Christian Palestinianists advocate a belief that Israel has effectively been passed over and put aside by God. They believe that when the Jews crucified and rejected Jesus 2,000 years ago, God overlooked Israel and re-applied all the biblical promises made to Israel to the new fledgling church. They believe that the re-emergence of Israel in 1948, after two thousand years in Diaspora is a mere note of history, that it is of no biblical significance at all—despite the plethora of prophetic verses indicating a return of Israel to their land in the “latter days” would occur just prior to the return of Messiah.

Christian Palestinianists believe that Israel has been set aside by God.

As Dr Paul Wilkinson comments:

Christian Palestinianism is an inverted mirror image of Christian Zionism. All the basic elements of a Christian Zionist eschatology are reversed, so that the Bible is seen to be Christian, not Jewish, the land of the Bible is Palestine not Israel, the son of God is a Palestinian not a Jew, the Holocaust is resented not remembered, 1948 is a catastrophe not a miracle, the Jewish people are illegal occupiers not rightful owners, and biblical prophecy is a moral manifesto and not a signpost to the Second Coming.”

There are basic biblical problems with Christian Palestinianism. It represents a real slap in the face to God. It is the exemplification of Replacement Theology (that the Church has replaced Israel in God’s plans and Israel is now completely irrelevant). It is at the forefront of “de-Judaizing” the Bible and it attempts to rewrite key, fundamental aspects of a biblically based Christian faith.

The key narrative of Christian Palestinianism is the often repeated view that Israel is an occupier; the belief that at some point in history past, Israel came and stole the land from the Palestinian people subjugating them and even indulging in occasional ethnic cleansing. On two levels this is a falsehood; biblically and historically.

Biblically, God gave that land to Abraham and his descendants, through the line of Isaac. God gave the land to the Jews,

“The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:1-3).

In Genesis 15:18-20, God Himself also specifically laid out the exact parameters of this land. (Speaking to Abraham):

“To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite.”

To hold to Christian Palestinianism means one has to discard and abandon entire tracts of God’s inspired Word and say, “I know what the Bible says, but I know better…”

Historically, the notion that Israel displaced a Palestinian people already settled is demonstrably false. The last time Israel was in the land, previous to 1948, was shortly after the death of Jesus. In 70 AD the full might of the Roman Empire came against that region. The Jews then living in Israel had rebelled and the Emperor Vespasian sent his son, General Titus with his Tenth Legion to crush the revolt. And crush it they did. Millions of Jews died in the siege of Jerusalem with the Jewish inhabitants so oppressed that they were reduced to cannibalizing their own children to survive.

When the end came it was carnage. Those not slaughtered by the Roman hoard where reduced to slavery and marched off to the Roman Empire with the rest scattered to the winds of the earth. So hated were the Jews by the Romans that they then renamed Israel, Palestine, as a deep insult to the Jews. They renamed Israel after the Jewish peoples oldest and most hated of enemies, the Philistines, long since extinct.

This is where the name “Palestine” comes from, from the Romans. Today’s Palestinians take their name from the land renamed by the Romans. The land is not named “Palestine” after the Palestinians, the Palestinians take their name from the land.

But the Romans weren’t finished. So hated were the Jews by the Romans that they then sowed salt into the earth, so that nothing would grow there. And nothing did grow there for two thousand years.

If you or I could have visited Israel, Jerusalem or Palestine in 1900 we would have found a barren land, devoid of inhabitants with the exception of small nomadic groups wandering here and there. There were no Palestinians there, there were no Jews there. It was a wasteland. The notion that Israel displaced a Palestinian nation to resettle the land in 1948 could not be more wrong.

The notion that the Jews have persecuted and oppressed the Palestinian people for thousands of years is wrong, another key belief of Christian Palestinianists. How could they when they were dispersed around the world in Diaspora for two thousand years? On the contrary, it has been the Jews who were harassed and persecuted in countless pogroms and attacks all over the world, culminating in a recent Holocaust.

The truth is that the same 1948 UN mandate allowing the Jews to return to their ancestral land had a provision in it for the Palestinian people to settle land also. The Jews and the Palestinians have been in the land for exactly the same amount of time, both since 1948. Yet a plethora of church attending Christians readily accept a version of history that is not just inaccurate, it is demonstrably false. Just read any history book that has not been altered.

The concept of a biblical Palestine is a deception, yet it is accepted willingly by the mainline Church. They are being purposely deceived. The reason for the power of this deception is down to one main thing; biblical illiteracy.

Biblical illiteracy abounds in the Church and this allows those attempting biblical revisionism free reign to rewrite and reinterpret the Bible in whatever way is most convenient to them, even so far as promoting Jesus Christ as the “first Palestinian.” Jesus, for the record, was a Jew, born of a Jewish mother and father, of the line of David, the Jewish king, of the line of Abraham. Jesus was born in a nation called Israel, before “Palestine” even existed.

Jesus isn’t a Palestinian and when He returns to this earth an uncomfortable truth many will have to accept is that He will be returning as an ethnic King. He will be the King of kings and the Lord of lords, but He will also be the King of the Israel, a Jewish King of Israel.

Christian Palestinianism is an attack upon the very nature of God; it questions the integrity of God Himself. The God of the Old Testament is a covenant maker but this theology makes God a covenant breaker. God made an eternal covenant with Israel and He staked His own life on fulfilling that covenant to Israel,

“I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:7).

Christians who believe that God has “set aside” Israel should ask themselves one very important question; if God so readily set Israel aside as a chosen people, what is there to stop God doing the same to the Church today? How can we rely on the promises of God if He is prepared to put those promises to one side, and especially if He is prepared to do so because of disobedience?

God does not change His mind or revoke covenants because of disobedience,

“…the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind” (1 Samuel 15:29).

Joel refers to a time when God will hold the nations of the world to account for how they treat Israel,

“In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will put them on trial for what they did to my inheritance, my people Israel, because they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land. They cast lots for my people and traded boys for prostitutes; they sold girls for wine to drink” (Joel 3:1-3).

God cannot be plainer than this.

Jesus Christ clearly isn’t a Christian Palestinianist, He is a Jew and when He returns it will be to fulfill the covenant promises to Israel on this earth. Yet we live in a time when 136 nations, many of them Christian, now back a Palestinian State, against Israel. We live in a time when the Church back a Palestinian State, the Pope even going so far recently as to call Mahmoud Abbas, “…an angel of peace.”

Christian Palestinianism is interested in delegitimizing Israel and is a part of the wider apostasy predicted to occur in the last days. Christian Palestinianism is a symptom of the churches general fall into apostasy and it indicates that the end is indeed near.

God’s word, “…My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6), has never been more true than it is today