It has been reported from Ohio, with more here, that:
"Elizabeth Phillips, Ph.D., visiting scholar in the Department of Religion at Ashland University, [and is a tutor in Theology and Ethics and interim administrator of Pastoral Studies at Westcott House. She teaches Public Theology - YM] will speak on the role of Christian Zionism in supporting and expanding settlements in the Occupied Territories at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Ridenour Room (Room 115) of the Dauch College of Business and Economics.Christian Zionism is the belief that the return of Jews to the Holy Land is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Zionists believe that the Jews returning to the Holy Land is a prelude to the second coming of Jesus Christ. Issues surrounding the expansion of Jewish settlements into the Occupied Territories have been a major stumbling block in the negotiations...."Christian Zionists believe that with the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948 God was fulfilling a vision of how aspects of time prophecies were meant to come together," Dr. Craig Hovey, assistant professor of Christian theology and ethics at Ashland University, said. "(Phillips'') research took her not only to the West Bank, but to some of the churches in the U.S. where she interviewed people and asked about their support of Israel."Here you have American churches that are supporting Israel in doing what many see as being the most offensive thing they can do, which is continuing to build settlements on the West Bank," Hovey continued. "And then you have American Christians who are giving money to support this. And so the question is, why would they do this? They have particular theological convictions that Israel must come back into its own as part of the plan for the end times to be fulfilled."The event is sponsored by the religion department and Ashland Center for Nonviolence."Hovey''s dissertation was, it seems, "on knowledge, witness, and truth-telling." That is an interesting lead-in but first, let''s clarify a bit about the speaker.Dr. Phillips, I''ve learned, is involved in The Scriptural/Contextual Ethics Consultation project at the American Academy of Religion-AAR which:
"Integrates study of scriptural teachings in their social/ethical context with critical study of present social/ethical contexts. We seek insights from ethical disciplines for self-critical awareness of assumptions that influence scriptural interpretation, and insights from biblical disciplines for self-critical awareness in ethics."Two interesting members of the board of directors of the AAR are Judith Plaskow and Rebecca Sachs Norris. Continuum will be publishing Dr. Phillips'' book, Political Theology: A Guide for the Perplexed in August 2011.By the way, Ashland seems to be a hotbed of pro-Palestinian activity.In September, they had a presentation on “The Israeli - Palestinian Conflict: A Struggle for a Homeland” by Dr. John Byron, associate professor of New Testament and Greek at the Ashland Theology Seminary. Byron provided "an historical framework for understanding the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The conflict is often presented as a struggle between competing ideologies and religions...Israelis and Palestinians represent two groups who live in a land that has experienced some form of occupation for more than 2,000 years." Byron asserts that "this is a very complex situation that has evolved over the last 100 years rather than on the validity of each group''s claim".And there was another program with a new documentary film on nonviolent peacemakers in Israeli and Palestinian, “Little Town of Bethlehem,” which was shown on Sept. 22.I wonder what they are thinking over that Melkite statement of Butros.But returning to Christian Zionism, and there''s a whole site combatting it, it would seem to be quite a problem for liberals. The issue has been around for a while. Here''s a recent book on ther subject. What is apparent is that there are Christians who view the reconstitution of the Jewish homeland as outside their religious conception and that appear to be trying to build a new framework for an old animosity. They do so by focusing on a supposed evil being done to the Arabs of the former Palestine Mandate territory, a land, a holy land, that they previoulsy wrested from the Jews, and thereby prevented any earlier return and then killed, pillaged and attempted to ethnically cleanse those Jews from their homes, some of which they resided in for centuries as in Hebron, Gaza and Shchem (Nablus)! I sincerely cannot fathom the sympathy for terrorists, the ignoring of brutal societal behavior and the political fanaticism of those groups that these anti-Christian Zionism academics and clergymen support. Is their revulsion of Judaism and Jews so irrational to cause this pattern of thought and activity? What moral code can they claim for their version of Christianity that leads them to collaborate with a movement, Palestinianism, that exists but to negate Jewish historical, religious, cultural and legal rights?I am in touch with many Christians who would not agree nor recognize the theology, libertarian or otherwise, that these other Christians promote but one thing for sure, it is not Biblical nor Christian.There are many groups involved in promoting this corrupted interpretation such as Rediscovering Palestine, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), and it has been academically reviewed and researched. The most recent position statement was the Kairos Document.Here is an example of their rhetoric from the Sabeel journal:
"The lack of peace in the state of Israel is due to a predominantly religious definition of the land as well as of the state of Israel itself…The Jewish nation as an ethnic entity existing since biblical times in uninterrupted continuity is a myth…"In early 2011, in Bethlehem, the city of King David’s birth, Sabeel will be holding a conference and its theme will focus on “Empire” which they call “one of the most cutting edge issues in today’s world, and one that touches on both religion and politics” and the organizers further explain:
"Since 1967, the Palestinians have become conscious of their life under a hegemonic American empire with Israel as an essential extension strategically located in the heart of the Middle East.What is truly exciting has been the growing awareness amongst biblical scholars and theologians of this reality. Their work has inspired the work of Sabeel and alerted us to the dangers and threats of empire and challenged us to look at it in light of the Kingdom of God."This is not theology. This is not Christianity. This is not religion. As Shelly Neese pointed out
"According to Naim Ateek, founder of the Sabeel Center, the Torah was seen as a “Zionist text” and became “repugnant” to Palestinians. Palestinian Christians needed a new theology that would in Ateek’s words “liberate God from the Old Testament.”So, we have Christian Arabs seeking to negate a religion which gave birth, in a sense, to their own religion while promoting a nationalism which has taken religious fanaticism to its extreme, including the murderinging of Christians. God help us.