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The Hermeneutics of Christian Palestinianism

Calvin Smith recently wrote a great blog on Christian Palestinianism and ‘Jewish Roots’ at http://tinyurl.com/852gjk6There’s good food for thought there.

In general the CZ (Christian Zionist) and CP (Christian Palestinian) ‘camps’ approach the Hebrew Bible on radically different terms. This was partly addressed in a chapter by Prasch in the book Calvin Smith edited, called The Jews, Modern Israel and the New Supercessionism. If Sizer is anyone to go by, CP’s would caricaturise CZ’s as wooden literalists, whereas I have no doubt that most CZ’s would characterise the CP position as ‘spiritualising’ the OT. In addition, CP’s tend towards ‘covenant’ theology and Reformed doctrinal positions. CP’s seek to (mis-)portray covenant theology and Reformed doctrine as the dominant, correct, and accepted views, and as naturally leading to Supercessionism. Thus non-Supersessionists are pictured as holding to aberrant theologies, quite often as quirky dispensationalists.

Dispensationalists are to be commended for at least one thing – an insistence upon interpreting Scripture literally unless there is reason not to. If one leaves the moorings of literality, then Scripture can be interpreted willy-nilly according to the inclinations of the reader. This, it seems to me, is quite convenient for the CP, who would like to minimise the importance of Israel and God’s covenants with him in the OT. These, the ‘Jewish Roots’ of Christianity become a very inconvenient truth. Thus the CP chooses to read their particular interpretation of the NT back into the OT, reinterpreting its original meaning and sense regardless of the text’s initial sitz-im-leben. The OT is relegated to a subservient status to the NT. Thus it is inevitable that a modern form of Marcionism should become a threat.

CP’s are seeking to convince CZ’s and Christians in general of their warped hermeneutical approach. This is necessary for them as they contend that modern Israel is irrelevant to God and therefore to Christians today. I fear that their political positions are driving their hermeneutics and ultimately their theology, forcing them into yet more radical political postures in a vicious circle that they would like to turn into a vortex, dragging the whole church down with them.

Israel and the Church

Increasingly, British Christians are becoming perplexed about the relationship between Israel and the Church. Political and Theological positions are becoming melded and divorced in surprising ways. Sometimes this is due perceptions regarding the state of affairs between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Sometimes this is due to other factors, such as the perception that the Jewish people no longer have a key role (or any role) in the Plan of salvation for the world.

Into this quandary have stepped various authors and pundits, as well as Chosen People Ministries and Kings Evangelical Divinity School, with a conference entitled Israel and the Church: A Common Heritage and an Uncommon Future. This is a unique conference to be held on the campus of the London School of Theology on 8-9 October, 2010 .

Israel and the Church will explore the often tense relationship between the Church and Israel and provide insights into the Middle East Crisis, encouraging Christians to pray and evangelise among Jews and Muslims – in Britain and abroad.

Registration is only £30. To hear such speakers such as Darrell Bock, Barry Horner, Calvin Smith and more – it is a bargain. Not to mention the free concert in Hammersmith that will follow, by well known Messianic artist Marty Goetz.

To register, just go to  Israel and the Church: A Common Heritage and an Uncommon Future and follow the link.

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