Friday, January 31, 2014

A Cheeky Christian (Updated)

Anti-Zionist clergyman Stephen Sizer (Christ Church, Christchurch Road, Virginia Water, Surrey) has posted a sermon.

Chutzpah, I think, would be parallel to the charge of cheeky, as the Brits might phrase it.  And no being of that faith, I will not turn a cheek.

There has "been a family dispute over the inheritance of Abraham. Millions and millions of the relatives of Ishmael and Isaac believe they are the rightful heir", is his foundation basis.

He's concerned of "accusations of holocaust denial, anti-semitism, racism, apartheid and Islamophobia. And, sadly, it is being perpetuated by some misguided Christians."  In other words, it's all we Jews' fault.

Sizer, down-sizing history, Bible, law, and whatnot, will assist you "to discover the rightful heirs of Abraham, how to resolve this age long conflict, and most important of all, how you can claim a share of Abraham’s inheritance."

I think you know where this is going (where he is going, well, let's leave that to theology).

Let's deal with those Seven Steps.  And I'll have to trim down his ramblings.

1.    Abraham’s Inheritance was Promised

“On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates…” (Genesis 15:18-21)
The ‘wadi of Egypt’ is probably one of the tributaries of the Nile. The Euphrates begins in Turkey and flows through Syria and Iraq before entering the Persian Gulf. So parts of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Iraq, and even Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are included.  While most secular Israeli’s today would not identify with these ‘biblical’ borders, the founders of Zionism like Theodore Herzl, Vladimir Jabotinsky and David Ben-Gurion, certainly did.
The State of Israel was founded in 1948 but successive governments have yet to declare what they regard as their international borders. Why? Because they want as larger share of Abraham’s inheritance.

Father Sizer, or is it Padre?  Even medieval Jewish commentators disagree as to those borders.  But in any case, Israel's borders have been fixed through peace treaties.  Egypt and Jordan.  The Lebanese and the Arabs-who-call-themselves-Palestinians have as yet to agree to live peacefully with Israel.

And don't forget.  Abraham was, actually, the first to accept partition.  Genesis, Chapter 13:

9 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me; if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou take the right hand, then I will go to the left.' 

2.    Abraham’s Inheritance was Misunderstood

He writes

Let me give you an example. The International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (ICEJ) the colonisation of Palestine [I can't wait to see if he writes that the Arabs 'colonised' Palestien' too] by assisting Jewish people from around the world to emigrate and live in the illegal Settlements.
The irony is, Abraham’s inheritance has been misunderstood since the days of Moses. {He then quotes Deuteronomy 1:41-44 about the battle withe Amorites but that was a one-time error and when God wanted them to fight, he was with them all the way.  He didn't say not to fight at all.

He notes that the Children of Israel "boasted", and that as per Ezekiel 33:23-28

The same arrogance prevailed in the days of Ezekiel....Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Since you eat meat with the blood still in it and look to your idols and shed blood, should you then possess the land?  You rely on your sword, … Should you then possess the land?’ “Say this to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: As surely as I live …  I will make the land a desolate waste, and her proud strength will come to an end…"...Abraham’s inheritance was promised but misunderstood because they forgot it was God’s land. It could not be conquered by a bigger army but only by God’s providence.

Well, we now surely haven't forgotten and since we staved off an invasion in 1948 and other battles and wars quite successfully, does that not indicate Divine compliance and support?

3.    Abraham’s Inheritance was Conditional

There should not have been any ambiguity over title to the land because the Lord was crystal clear in Leviticus:

“‘The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers.” (Leviticus 25:23)

God’s people were only permitted to reside in God’s land as foreigners and strangers.

The land was never their personal possession.

Well, we know he didn't give it to anyone else.  And that his prophets indicated we'd return.

And yes,

That is precisely why the Ten Northern tribes were eventually kicked out of the land and exiled to Assyria. Then  the remaining tribes of Judah and Benjamin were also exiled to Babylon.   Abraham’s inheritance was promised but misunderstood because they were only ever foreigners and tenants. Their continued residence was always conditional on faithful obedience.

But the Exile was ended, twice.  Once 70 years later and again, starting in the mid-19th century.

4.    Abraham’s Inheritance was Partially Experienced

Some claim the borders of Israel will extend from the Nile to the Euphrates because God’s word has not yet been fulfilled literally. But that is not what the Bible actually says...Abraham’s inheritance was promised but misunderstood because residence was always conditional and only ever experienced partially in Canaan.

These or that borders, the Land was promised to the Jews (you do, Sizer, believe that, yes?) and to no other.  The foreigner could reside and he needed to be respected.  But no right of "possession", especially not in place of the Jews.  Oh, is Sizer a supersessionist?

5.    Abraham’s Inheritance was to be Shared

He quotes

When the exiles returned to the Promised Land, as a sign of their repentance, God insisted they share the land with those of other nations residing among them.
“You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners residing among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. In whatever tribe foreigners reside, there you are to give them their inheritance,” declares the Sovereign Lord. (Ezekiel 47:21-23)...

But doesn't that insistence happen after

behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward, for the forefront of the house looked toward the east; and the waters came down from under, from the right side of the house, on the south of the altar.

First that and then Ezekiel's prophecy?

And of course in the time of redemption all nations shall come up to Jerusalem, a city of the Jews. And the sojourner will not live in his country but

that in what tribe the stranger sojourneth, there shall ye give him his inheritance, saith the Lord GOD

Sizer goes further:

...God...specifically mentions the Egyptians, the Iraqis, the Palestinians, Lebanese and the Africans. People of other nations were given citizenship in Israel by God because of their faith not their race.  God even anticipated that some would not be pleased to extend citizenship to other nations.

"Palestinians"?  Where are they mentioned?  What "citizenship"?

He quotes Isaiah:

“Let no foreigners who have bound themselves to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.”… And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants… and who hold fast to my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer… for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isaiah 56:3, 6-7)
Now why would foreigners think “The Lord will surely exclude me from his people?” Because some of God’s people were doing the excluding! This week 30,000 Africans have been protesting in Tel Aviv because the Israeli government refuses to give them refugee status.

Yes, "residence was always conditional" but "return" was always promised.  And this: "land was to be shared on the basis of faith not race" is true, but the faith is Judaism, not Christianity.

6.    Abraham’s Inheritance is only through Jesus Christ

...Jesus is the true heir to Abraham’s inheritance. This is certainly how the writer to Hebrews portrays Jesus.
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” (Hebrews 1:1-2)
Jesus is the “Heir of all things”. 

As a Jew, well, we could quibble about that.  But a s a Christian?  You're kidding?

He doesn't know Hebrew or Greek when Sizer writes:

The Apostle Paul elaborates: “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.” (Galatians 3:16)

Sorry, but "seed", זרעך, is indeed singular as a collective noun and means progeny, not a person and not Jesus in the sense of a Christian.  Jesus as a Jew, yes.

So the inheritance God promised Abraham would be fulfilled not through his physical descendants but through Abraham’s true heir – the Lord Jesus Christ.  

That's a neat theology trick. *

7.    Abraham’s Inheritance is in Heaven

He quotes (Hebrews 11:8-16) to claim

God had never intended Abraham’s inheritance to be a piece of real estate between Egypt and Iraq...The inheritance of Abraham was never intended to be the ‘everlasting’ possession of Palestine but an eternal home in heaven. 

I wonder what the Muslims think of this.

And then he gets exclusionist himself:

So let me ask you, do you belong to Christ? Have you received Jesus as your Lord and Saviour? Then you are a child of God. You are a legitimate heir and beneficiary of Abraham’s inheritance...Let us pray.

The Reverend Sizer, have a pint.



I now realize that this needs a bit more explanation.

Sizer, following a twisted theological argument, bases himself on a Jew who, after realizing that his only path to success in propagating his religious outlook, is to divorce it from Judaism but to disguise that by circumventing what Judaism says while nevertheless, stealing from Judaism and supplanting it. That is, the gentile can be gentile and Jewish at the same time but even better than the Jews.  Specifically, God's promise of a covenant in which the Land of Israel is to be an everlasting possession of the Jewish People as a nation is to be wrest away from the Jews and awarded not to a people but to all peoples on the basis of a new faith, one that does not demand the fulfillment of the commandments.  And this is doubling annoying since, as we read in Sizer, he takes away from we Jews our land because we do not fulfill, supposedly, those commandments which Christians don't have to follow.  So how can they be given the share in the Land?

As noted:

Paul is forced to stress that God has done something completely new. He has skipped the old Covenant completely and included the gentiles directly in the promise to Abraham. Beker claims that for Paul: “Abraham can only be maintained in salvation-history as a figure of promise . . . The ‘Jewish’ dispensation of circumcision and the Torah has only been a curse and an obstacle . . . an interloper that inserted itself illegitimately between the promise to Abraham and its exclusive fulfilment in Christ.”...The non-Jews were now invited into the Covenant relationship. N. T. Wright takes a similar view, arguing that gentiles are now invited into the “eschatological phase” of Israel’s history which will result in the final victory of God over all gods and nations.

This illogical.



Anonymous said...

mi novice observation is that all of shvatim yisrael are all ready there:

Thor said...

Religon is a fable well told, nationalism is its cruel selfish self, zionists are form of nationalism.

Five Minutes for Israel said...

The real irony about Christian replacement theory is that whatever God in his heaven thinks about Christians taking over from Jews on solid ground the Muslims are taking over from the Christians.