Christian Palestinianism


Since the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 there has been a growing movement of Christians who are opposed to the alleged ‘occupation’ of Palestine by the Jews.  Their opposition to Israel and her Christian allies is expressed in their outspoken support of the Palestinian agenda.


By 1994 the movement became institutionalised by the founding of ‘Sabeel’ by Naim Ateek.  This Palestinian Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center based in Jerusalem now spearheads the movement and is a co-ordinated voice with which to marshal its troops.  One of the key ways in which support is mustered is by identifying Jesus as ‘a Palestinian living under an occupation.’  Sadly, as Bat Ye’or remarks:

This Islamisation of the Jewish sources of Christianity, disseminated through European Islamophile church networks, plays into the hands of Muslims eager to co-opt Christianity and instrumentalise Christians as partners in their struggle against Israel.

Agreements between Evangelicals and Muslims

One of the most disturbing developments within what we refer to as ‘Christian Palestinianism’ is the alliance Evangelicals have forged with the Muslim world.  The champion of this inter-faith dialogue is Dr Stephen Sizer, a UK Anglican minister.  For example, in 2007 Sizer defended President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (who has been quoted as insisting that Israel should be wiped off the map).  Sizer laid the blame for the conflict in the Middle East at the feet of Israel and her Christian allies.

Stephen Sizer

Sizer, a member of the Evangelical Alliance and of the Willow Creek Association, has promoted his distorted version of Christian Zionism across the Middle East and has been warmly welcomed by Islamic clerics and scholars – an indication that his stance serves to affirm Muslims in their hatred of Israel.

At the meeting of the World Islamic Call Society in Toronto in 2010, Sizer endorsed their vision, as expressed on the Bridges to Faith website:

The ultimate goal of the Evangelical Christian-Muslim Dialogue is to commit ourselves to a dialogue that will build a deep and lasting trust that will remain despite any obstacles that may arise . . . It is our intention to endeavour sincerely to discover our common values and systems of ethics so that we may agree on a common set of shared spiritual values and moral precepts.

Our concerns

This is of great concern to us here at Christian Spectrum, because it is a denial of the unique and on-going role of Israel in God’s purposes, particularly as the End Times unfold.  From other pages on this website you will see that we do not view Israel through rose-coloured spectacles, but we are convinced that she always has had, and still has, a strategic prophetic task to fulfil.  Her presence in the land, along with the events of 1948 and 1967 in particular, are prophetic signs to the church and the world that Jesus’ return is imminent.

The Bridges to Faith agenda may eventually bring about a temporary peace in the Middle East, if Israel is coerced, but it won’t be the world peace mankind is seeking.  Rather, it could serve to shunt the world into the chaotic tribulation years immediately preceding Jesus’ return.


It appears that those Evangelical leaders who are dialoguing with Islamic clerics and scholars are doing so purely over the issue of their common enemy – Israel.  Certainly Israel is the enemy of ecumenism.  The World Council of Churches was calling for member churches to help end ‘the illegal occupation of Palestine’ back in 2002.  Seven years later it called for ‘an international boycott of goods produced in the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.’  More recently the PIEF (Palestine-Israel Ecumenical Forum) stated as one of its goals: ‘challenge Christian Zionist and millennialism theologies or other theologies which support the occupation.’

Concurrently Sizer conducted an interview with Naim Ateek at the ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ conference in Bethlehem, where Ateek was delighted that US Christians were supporting BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) against Israel.

Zionism and racism

In order to propagate the anti-Zionist view, Christian Palestinianists accuse Israel and her Christian allies of playing the ‘Holocaust guilt-card.’  For instance, Kenneth Cragg denounces what he calls ‘the awful authority of the Holocaust’ which ‘unjustifies all Palestinian protest’ and gives Israel ‘a warrant of innocence.’  Michael Prior wrote that Auschwitz had become for the Jewish people ‘a place where they can hide their accountability in the present’ and ‘a symbol that makes them untouchable.’  Marc Ellis portrays Arab Palestinians living in Israel today as ‘the last victims of the Holocaust.’

In Hank Hanegraaff’s book endorsed by Sizer,’ The Apocalypse Code’ (2007) he speaks of ‘the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians’ thus equating Zionism with racism.  Sizer reinforces this view in his own book, ‘Christian Zionism: Road-map to Armageddon?’  He quotes Norman Finkelstein to back up his belief that the Holocaust has been exploited by both Jewish and Christian Zionists to immunise Israel from censure.

Fulfilment Theology

Christian Palestinianists adhere to Fulfilment Theology, which, in a nutshell, sees everything spoken of by the prophets in relation to the land and people of Israel fulfilled spiritually by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  The nation of Israel therefore holds no prophetic significance now, since the church is the new Israel.   Many theologians agree with this view, the most influential of whom is N T Wright, former Bishop of Durham.  He clearly states that the Old Testament promises relating to the restoration of Zion are now transferred to Jesus and his people (meaning the church).  John Stott, Rector Emeritus of All Souls Church, London, another eminent theologian, is quoted as saying:

I myself believe that Zionism, both political and Christian, is incompatible with biblical faith.  Stephen Sizer’s books have helped to reinforce that conviction.

Reinterpreting scripture

In our articles on the dangers of the Emerging Church we address the issue of holding a low view of the authority of scripture.  Since those involved in the Emerging Church movement tend to support Christian Palestinianism, it’s not surprising that this group also hold a low view of scripture.  Since they deny any future prophetic role for the nation of Israel, a ‘new hermeneutic’ has had to be found in order to reconcile the scriptures which clearly indicate that there is a future role for Israel.  Naim Ateek talks of ‘de-Zionising these texts.’  Sizer also wages war with Christians such as us here at Christian Spectrum, who believe in a plain reading and understanding of scripture.

Palestinianist propaganda

Emotive terms such as ‘ethnic cleansing’, ‘apartheid’, and ‘occupation’ serve the Palestinianist cause by twisting the opinions of many Christians against the Jewish people and the state of Israel.  Sizer is one scholar who has adopted ‘apartheid’ terminology, and he endorses the writings of Ben White, who brands Zionism as a worse form of Apartheid than existed in South Africa.  Sizer also applauds the works of both Ilan Pappé and Mark Braverman, who both claim that Israel has consistently pursued a policy of ethnic cleansing towards the Palestinians.

Identifying the Palestinian people with Jesus on the cross has become a powerful propaganda weapon for Christian Palestinianists.  Back in 2001 Naim Ateek declared:

Here in Palestine Jesus is again walking the via dolorosa.  Jesus is the powerless Palestinian humiliated at a checkpoint . . . It seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of Palestinians around him . . . The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily.

The 2009 Kairos Palestine Document made the following statements:

The Israeli occupation of Palestinian land is a sin against God. The aggression against the Palestinian people, which is the Israeli occupation, is an evil that must be resisted.  It is an evil and a sin that must be resisted and removed.

The document provides a list of various oppressive Israeli measures taken against Palestinians and presents the real nature of the conflict as ‘an Israeli occupation faced by Palestinian legal resistance.'  There is no mention however of censure of Palestinian suicide bombers, Palestinian terrorist groups such as Hamas and other Islamic fundamentalist groups!


Ben White, mentioned above, an anti-Israel campaigner and journalist but keen not to be thought an anti-Semite, wrote in Punch:

Comparisons between the Israeli government and the Nazis is unwise and unsound, since the Israelis have not (at the time of going to press) exterminated in a systematic fashion an enormous percentage of the Palestinians.  Cold-blooded killings, beatings, house demolitions, vandalism, occupation, military assaults, and two historical pushes at ethnic cleansing – yes.  Fully fledged genocide – no.

He also admits that while he wouldn’t call himself an anti-Semite he can understand why others are.  Sadly,he’s not alone in this opinion.

Champions of the Palestinian cause

Amongst those who are willing to align themselves with the Christian Palestinian stance are South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former American president Jimmy Carter.  Both are recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize.  Tutu, who has met with Ismail Haniyeh, a senior Hamas leader who was elected Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority in 2006 has said this:

Now, alas, we see apartheid in Israel . . . The apartheid government (in South Africa) was very powerful, but today it no longer exists.  Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end, they bit the dust.

Sizer and others had high-profile meetings with Yasser Arafat, expressing solidarity with the Palestinian cause, a cause which Arafat referred to as ‘the peace of the brave.’

The Lausanne Movement

The vision of ‘the whole church taking the whole Gospel to the whole world’ was encapsulated in the covenant produced at the first Lausanne Conference in 1974, hosted by Billy Graham and John Stott.  The third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism in Cape Town in 2010 produced a statement with Replacement Theology at its heart:

. . . while there are multiple ethnicities within the one church by God’s clear intention, no single ethnic group holds privileged place in God’s economy of salvation or God’s eschatological purpose.  Thus, we strongly believe that the separate and privileged place given to the modern Israeli state, in certain forms of dispensationalism or Christian Zionism, should be challenged.

The Emerging Church

‘With God on our Side’ is a documentary film released in 2010, produced by Porter Speakman Jr.  It challenges Christian Zionism, offering ‘a better way, a way of justice, peace and love for Jews and Palestinians.  One that is inclusive, not exclusive.’  The film has been widely shown in the US and in the UK and is endorsed by Tony Campolo and Brian McLaren, both key players in the Emerging Church movement and the Christian-Left (left-wing Christian political groups and individuals).  In relation to the pro-Palestinian thrust of this film, McLaren comments on his internet blog:

The need to confront the terrible, deadly, distorted, yet popular theologies associated with Christian Zionism and deterministic dispensationalism which use a bogus end-of-the-world scenario to create a kind of death-wish for World War III, which – unless it is confronted more robustly by the rest of us – could too easily create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Tony Campolo was one of 84 Evangelical signatories on the letter to President Bush which attempted to counter traditional Evangelical support for Israel and called for Bush to implement the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Another signatory was Jim Wallis, part of the Christian-left, founder of Sojourners magazine and an advocate of Progressive Christianity, which challenges traditional conservative Evangelicalism and champions human diversity, environmental stewardship, ecumenism, inter-faith dialogue and social justice.

We recommend ‘The Destiny of Britain’ and ‘The Cyrus Call’ - documentary films produced in 2008 by The Hatikvah Film Trust charting the history of Evangelical belief in the restoration of the Jews.  Our web pages on the history of the modern State of Israel are based on information included in these films.

In summary

To sum up, we quote from a paper produced by Paul Wilkinson: ‘Prophets who Prophesy Lies in my Name (Christian Palestinianism and the anti-Israel Crusade.)  Much of the information in this article was gleaned from his paper:

Christian Palestinianism is an inverted mirror image of Christian Zionism.  All the basic elements of a Christian Zionist eschatology are reversed, so that the Bible is seen to be Christian, not Jewish, the land of the Bible is Palestine not Israel, the Son of God is a Palestinian not a Jew, the Holocaust is resented not remembered, 1948 is a catastrophe not a miracle, the Jewish people are illegal occupiers not rightful owners, and Biblical prophecy is a moral manifesto and not a signpost to the Second Coming.  Despite enlisting support from the theological community and seeking validation through academia, the overriding thrust of Christian Palestinianism is political not Biblical.  As we have seen, this reactionary movement, spearheaded by Sabeel, is a one-issue coalition of strange bedfellows whose diverse, ideological perspectives are held in tension as they unite against a common enemy.

For further reading, we recommend David Pawson’s book: ‘Defending Christian Zionism.'

Christian Palestinianism is an inverted mirror image of Christian Zionism.  All the basic elements of a Christian Zionist eschatology are reversed, so that the Bible is seen to be Christian, not Jewish, the land of the Bible is Palestine not Israel, the Son of God is a Palestinian not a Jew, the Holocaust is resented not remembered . . .

website designed and maintained by adept