Rethinking Christian Zionism

Among the most prominent criticisms of Christian Zionism—the belief that Christians are theologically obligated to support the existence of a Jewish state in the land of Israel—is that it is solely a product of a particular strand of Protestant eschatological thinking known as dispensationalism. At a recent conference, Christian scholars strove to put forward arguments that could be persuasive to Christians of a broad variety of denominations. One of these scholars, Gerald McDermott, explains:

[Some] scholars at the conference argued that the history of Christian Zionism is as old as Christianity itself. . . . [However,] it took the Reformation’s return to the plain sense of the biblical text to restore confidence that there could be a future role for a particular Israel, both as a people and a land, even while Christian salvation was offered to a whole world. . . . . Long before the rise of dispensationalism in the 19th century, Protestants in a variety of churches foresaw a role for a particular Zion [i.e., Zion as a literal place rather than a figurative ideal] in times before the End [of Days]. Then, after the Holocaust and the establishment of Israel in 1948, both Catholic and Protestant theologians recognized from Romans 11 that the rise of the Church did not end God’s continuing covenant with Israel. As theologians brought new focus on that covenant, many came to see that the land was integral to it. . . .

[My colleagues] made not only theological but also prudential arguments. Israel, it was noted, is an island of democracy and freedom in a sea of authoritarian and despotic regimes. It deserves support, especially as anti-Semitism rises precipitously around the world. But the purpose of these prudential arguments—political and legal and moral—was to undergird a new theological argument that the people of Israel continue to be significant for the history of redemption, and that the land of Israel, which is at the heart of the covenantal promises, continues to be critical to God’s providential purposes.

Read more at First Things

More about: Christian Zionism, Eschatology, Jewish-Christian relations, Religion & Holidays, Theology

As Hamas’s Power Collapses, Old Feuds Are Resurfacing

In May, Mahmoud Nashabat, a high-ranking military figure in the Fatah party (which controls the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority), was gunned down in central Gaza. Nashabat was an officer in the Gaza wing of the Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, a terrorist outfit that served as Fatah’s vanguard during the second intifada, and now sometimes collaborates with Hamas. But his killers were Hamas members, and he was one of at least 35 Palestinians murdered in Gaza in the past two months as various terrorist and criminal groups go about settling old scores, some of which date back to the 1980s. Einav Halabi writes:

Security sources familiar with the situation told the London-based newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat that Gaza is now also beleaguered by the resurgence of old conflicts. “Many people have been killed in incidents related to the first intifada in 1987, while others have died in family disputes,” they said.

The “first-intifada portfolio” in Gaza is considered complex and convoluted, as it is filled with hatred among residents who accuse others of killing relatives for various reasons, including collaboration with Israel. . . . According to reports from Gaza, there are vigorous efforts on the ground to contain these developments, but the chances of success remain unclear. Hamas, for its part, is trying to project governance and control, recently releasing several videos showcasing how its operatives brutally beat residents accused of looting.

These incidents, gruesome as they are, suggest that Hamas’s control over the territory is slipping, and it no longer holds a monopoly on violence or commands the fear necessary to keep the population in line. The murders and beatings also dimension the grim reality that would ensue if the war ends precipitously: a re-empowered Hamas setting about getting vengeance on its enemies and reimposing its reign of terror.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Fatah, Gaza War 2023, Hamas