Recovering Evangelicalism – Seeking a Justice-based peace in the Middle East –

In reply to Colin Austin Barnes.

Hi Colin,

Frankly, this is getting boring. You agree these are important questions but you only address the first, and there you are both partial and inconsistent. Even when you address the issues, you start from your own presuppositions, ignoring my para 2 and 3. Fair enough, but do it on your own blog.

You spend most of your 5 page response ‘proving’ that the Jews of Jesus day are Israel, answering your question, (whilst ignoring mine) “does the NT consider that the Jewish people of that time are the literal and spiritual descendants of Biblical Israel, the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?” That Jewish people of the time of Jesus were descendants of Abraham-Jacob is not, so far as I know, in dispute. But your ‘question’ muddies the ground. In it you have four people groups and two undefined terms. Having conflated that lot you then go into a lot of detail that, again, is not in dispute.

So, some truth, but, as I pointed out, ‘not true enough’, and, since it is not true enough it is misleading, (and I’m holding back here). John the Baptist, you note ‘appeared publicly to Israel’. You are surely not claiming that he was seen by every Israelite, including those in the diaspora, or that he simultaneously stood on every piece of ‘eretz Israel’. That would be absurd: but we know what was meant and it isn’t what you imply. Once again you have failed to engage with the questions I’ve raised and  pursued your own propaganda issues. I am sure you mean well, but this does not serve faith or justice.

What must be questioned is whether they, the Jews of the time, represent the whole of Israel or even ‘Biblical Israel’. (It is highly questionable whether many Jews today have significant or even any of Jacob’s DNA. Thats another debate). By lumping all these categories together you fail to understand what it means to be ‘Biblical Israel’ that is to say to be ‘God’s people’. You’ll have to wait for my book.

You correctly note Paul’s reference to the remnant in every generation and it is clear from the prophets that the restoration cannot apply to every Israelite. (Even dispensationalists can’t agree on what ‘all Israel’ means.) But, as with so many commentators on Romans, you seem to regard chapters 9-11 as somewhat distinct from the rest. (I do find it irritating when Christian Zionists claim that these chapters cannot be lifted out of the ‘ever-flowing stream’ of Romans, but then do precisely that)!

We will not understand Romans 9, for example, if we don’t follow the argument from chapter 8 and chapter 7. Of course, Paul’s actual argument, of which this is the culmination, begins at chapter 1 verse 16. The kin to which Paul refers in 9:3 are ‘my kinsmen according to flesh’ and if we want to know what he means by ‘kata sarka’ we need to read chapter 7 and 8. Paul here identifies two groups of Israel, those who please God and those who don’t. And the pathos of 9:1-5 depends on chapter 8, ‘who can separate us from the love of Christ?’ No-one, nothing, nothing … But, what about …’

I will not convince you, you are too heavily committed to your own version of the truth. I respect your integrity but not your arguments or your theology. When I came to this nearly 10 years ago I vowed that I would re-read the whole of the scripture and go where the story took me, keeping in mind my own pre-supposition that Jesus was and is the Jewish Messiah. I have also read Christian Zionist writings and those who oppose Christian Zionism. Without exception the Christian Zionist writers depend on selective and non-contextual readings of the Bible, stringing together verses gathered from all over the place. The story worked OK just so long as you didn’t look closely at the context and the contradictions, for, as Don Carson has pointed out, remove one element and the whole edifice collapses.

And none of them, the question you failed to address, made sense of The Cross.

If, just for a few hours, Christian Zionists were to set aside their theology and consider only the history it is impossible that they could conclude other than that the Palestinians have been greatly wronged. I’m assuming that many Christian Zionists are otherwise reasonable and generous people. Starting simply with the history there is no other possibility. A right to a land based on being there 2000 years ago must be rejected, and the actual claim of having lived there seriously questioned. So, if history tells us that the Palestinians have suffered injustice why do Christian Zionists trump it with the suffering of a different group, or ignore it completely?

It looks different if you start from the presupposition that God gave the land to the Jews and that God is bringing them back to it. And that rather depends on how we read scripture and which bits we prefer to ignore. Because, if we are honest, there are some bits that are confusing and appear to be contradictory. In those cases we have two options; ignore the bits that don’t fit ‘our story’, or keep working till we find a coherent story that acommodates all the ‘bits’.

However, there are some ‘bits’ of some stories that we should reject out of hand, like the claim that ‘God gave the land to the Jews’.  Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want to reject it because it isn’t true but because it isn’t true enough. Here’s where to start, where in the Hebrew Bible does it tell us that God promised the land of Canaan (Palestine) to ‘the Jews’? Answer, nowhere. Assuming that the Jews, even those of Ezra-Nehemiah, equal Israel of the promises, goes way beyond what the Bible says. It doesn’t take seriously the promises and covenants, the conditions attached that brought about the Deuteronomic punishments, or the reality of broken covenant. It also puts the New Covenant unhappily alongside the old broken Covenant in ways that have produced the hate and antisemitism of the past 1800 years. It’s no use us saying that the church needs to repent of its past if we compound the errors by repeating them.

But, second, doesn’t the Bible tell us of some important conditions associated with the return to the land? And the Bible clearly tells us that both the exiles and the returns were partial. As for we who are Christians, doesn’t the actual appearance of the Jewish Messiah change pretty much everything, or was the cross only a partial solution? Answers, why don’t you go do the work I’ve done over the last few years, just read your Bible with an open mind and pay close attention to the history. Oh, and start by recognising and putting to one side, your presuppositions.

Be Blessed

Especially for Colin,

Hagai El-Ad’s address in a special discussion about settlements at the United Nations Security Council  HERE

I think I might have seen a flying saucer — and Chuka Umunna thinks Labour has a problem with antisemitism. I don’t know anything about UFO’s but here’s my definition of antisemitism: antisemitism is hatred of Jews because they are Jews; simple. Islamophobia is hatred of Muslims simply because they are Muslim and the same test may be applied to any distinctive ethnic or religious or political group. Hatred, even dislike, of a person because of what they are, race, culture, creed, is quite simply, stupid. Criticism of people (of whatever race, creed or culture) because of what they believe or what they do is a totally other matter.


  • Criticism of Jews because they support Israel’s illegal occupation,
  • Criticism of Jews because they support Zionism,
  • Criticism of Jews because they hate Palestinians,
  • Criticism of Jews because they support Chelsea FC

These are NOT antisemitic.Neither, surprisingly (?), is criticism of Christians because they support Israel’s illegal occupation. (When Christians support oppression anywhere they are playing dangerously with fire)

When anti-Zionism is equated to antisemitism the effect — and it is intentional — is to close down discussion of the impact of Zionism on the peoples of the Middle East, most notably, of course, the Palestinians. So, the Israeli government can put out lies about the Palestinians, and our governments say nothing. Israel breaks international agreements and ignore international law and our governments say little and do less.

But when some of us point out that these are lies and double standards we are accused of antisemitism. We are hearing all too frequently across the globe reminders of the 1930’s, of the East German Stasi, of the ‘McCarthy’ inquisition, of police state language.

The equation we are expected to make, subliminally, is that of  Judaism and Zionism. We are being taught — brain-washed — that they are one and the same. Here’s the contradiction our political leaders want to ignore. Semites, (the term ‘semitic’ was originally coined to define a group of languages), in this context taken to be Jews, have been around for about 2500 years. Antisemitism has been present, mainly in Europe and not necessarily so-described, for about 1700 years. Zionism was invented as a political doctrine  in 1896 so less than 150 years ago.

You like contradictions? Here’s another — Zionism, a response to European antisemitism, based its nationalistic demand for a nation state in Palestine on a religious history it rejected. Thus, “secular zionism has an inalienable right to possess the land of Palestiine because 3500 years ago a god we don’t believe in gave it to a tribe there’s a chance we may be loosely related to”. Which to me sounds more like an imperialistic justification than faithful Judaism. (And it certainly aint Christian!)

Flying Saucers? Well, if I thought I saw one, or wanted to believe I saw one and reported I saw one, it must be true, mustn’t it? And since you ask, no I did not. And what we should be asking is why so many of the ‘antisemitism’ reports to CST don’t get reported to the police, and why reports investigated don’t result in prosecution. Why, for instance, have none of the recent allegations resulted, so far as I can gather, in even a police caution?

The Forgotten Faithful

Jeremy Moodey, CEO of Embrace the Middle East will be giving a talk on the Plight of Christians in Palestine. If yoiu are in Leicester UK on 29th October, please come discover.

details from

So a boatful of women is intercepted in international waters, the ‘crew’, including a nobel peace laureate, are arrested. The boat is searched and no weapons, no drugs, no laundered money, nothing worth remarking is found. The boat is not allowed to continue because it would break a siege. So the women are taken under duress to a place they don’t want to go and will be deported. And, as far as I can tell neither the UK or US governments has protested this act of piracy.

I have not searched exhaustively but it seems only the UK Guardian newspaper thought it worth reporting. That report can be found here.  Well, at least, nobody died.

The Guardian report links to another event that has been reported, a ‘rocket’ attack on Sderot and the Israeli response, no reports of casualties. So, again, no-one died; except…

Just check the language. The reason given for Israel’s action is that in Gaza ‘Hamas siezed power in 2007’ which is rather like saying ‘the Tories seized power in 2015’ or ‘Obama seized power in 2009’. Whereas, in all three cases they gained power by free and fair democratic elections. Hamas won an election and the PA, controlled by Fatah, refused to hand over power. Whatever the reasons, at least let us have some truth here.

The Guardian reports ‘Wednesday’s rocket strike landed in Sderot, a southern Israeli town on the Gaza border. No one was wounded, and such incidents have been rare since a 50-day war between Israel and Hamas in mid-2014.       Israel struck a series of Hamas posts in Gaza in response. An obscure group that said it drew inspiration from Islamic State claimed responsibility for firing the rocket, but Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks emanating from the territory.’     Whilst it is true that rocket strikes from Gaza into Israel have been rare since the assault of 2014, Israeli miitary attacks on people and land in Gaza have continued on an almost daily basis.

The double standards at work here can be demonstrated from the last quoted sentence. Hamas is held responsible for everything that happens from among Gaza’s 1.8 million besieged residents. But who holds Israel responsible for the deaths caused directly or indirectly by its illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, (of course it’s an occupation, Israel controls everything that goes into or out of Gaza!)?

And not just on Gaza. If you want a better idea of what actually happens why not check out the Israeli organisation, B’Tselem, for independent and balanced reports.  Our leaders, so-called, throw up their hands and state, ‘it’s not helpful’, but will they do anything? My government will do nothing it is too afraid of Zionism and its attack dogs, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to hide from the world the evil that is being done in Zionism’s name.

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