A short post covering several issues. First, some time ago I ran a poll on Israel. Here's the question, final results and a brief comment...
Which Best Describes Your Theological View of Modern Israel?
a) The State of Israel is without doubt the fulfilment of biblical prophecy
b) The Jews remain God’s chosen people but I'm unsure if modern Israel is the fulfilment of prophecy
c) The Jews remain God’s chosen people but I don't believe modern Israel is the fulfilment of prophecy
d) Because the Church is now the people of God the State of Israel has no theological significance whatsoever
Results were a) 50% b) 28% c) 6% and d) 15%.
Concerning the views expressed, it's quite clear many Christians continue to link the founding of Israel with biblical prophecy. But clearly a substantial proportion of voters (options b and c) are as much (or more) concerned with the issue of supercessionism than the land. Finally, this website has visitors who take a diammetrically opposed view of Israel from me (and they are welcome).
Of course, given the site had several thousand unique visitors during the life of the poll, votes cast were pretty low, so analysis is not particularly scientific. I'm posting a last poll for the time being, this time on an issue that really seems to work some Christians up. Given the recent and very public statement by a senior member of the Catholic Church that the Devil resides in the Vatican (which for some Protestants rather came across as a bit of an own goal), I've posted a poll on demonology and if a Christian can be demon-possessed (see column on right, about halfway down). I'll be commenting on this in due course after I've finished the Evangelicals and liberation theology piece, due shortly.
One other thing. I've been asked various times today to comment on a rather trite attempt to equate IDF soldiery with Herod. To be honest, though, it has all become rather unworthy of serious comment (reasons here, third comment down). I'm much more interested in engaging in serious academic/biblical treatment of the issues with both allies and worthy adversaries alike.
Hi Calvin - It would be useful if you could some guidance as to what you consider to be worthy of serious consideration. I appreciate you are very busy and don't wish to waste your time, nor do I wish to antagonise you with 'unworthy' comments.
It would though be interesting to know the reason for Stephen Sizer's linkage of Herod with the IDF. I have heard a teaching that sees Herod, who tried to kill Jesus and prevent the first advent, as being a prophetic archetype for the modern State of Israel, although personally speaking there are aspects of this analogy that don't fit very well. Trying to understand biblical prophecy is like trying to piece together a very complex jigsaw puzzle and all engagement might appear unworthy of serious comment to some who have different views. Kind regards
Unworthy of serious consideration: an unnecessarily pejorative approach preferring polemics over eirenic scholarship. Just not interested... bigger fish to fry.
Out of interest, do you think those results are more or less representative of Christians in the UK / further afield generally?
Which one did you vote for?
I doubt it. just my readers. Also, the situation in the UK will differ from, say, the US. Reformed Evangelicals would probably vote for d, but I've met quite a few who go for b. On the other hand, Pentecostals used to be strongly Zionist, but some are now shifting away from this (eg UK Assemblies of God has been moving towards amillennialism). However, the Pew Forum research asked about this issue in its ten-country survey of Pentecostals and results suggest both US-influenced and autochthonous Pentecostals instinctively support Zionism. You can find it here (but remember Pew's stats have been questioned by some): http://pewforum.org/Christian/Evangelical-Protestant-Churches/Spirit-and-Power.aspx
I just used this survey for a chapter I wrote in my latest book on Latin American Pentecostalism, due out later in the year. Among other things I looked at Zionism among Latin American exogenously-influenced classical pentecostals, neopentecostals and autochthonous Pentecostals. Not the variety in views I expected to find, with Zionism quite strong.
Concerning my vote, I can tell you I didn't choose d ;)
I would like to recommend the reading of an article I ran into on Google entitled "Pretrib Rapture Politics" which I found most interesting and informative.
Based on previous posts, I would guess that you go for b. I think, though, that politically you're more pro-Israel (as in the institution of the state of Israel in its modern incarnation) than you are necessarily theologically, yout theological concern being more with the Jewish people, rather than the state itself.
However, my guesswork could be way off the mark!
Philip, I wonder if you misread my last sentence. I said I didn't vote for d (meaning I went for a, b or c)
I know, but I was trying to narrow it further. To b.
I think I could make a case for voting for each of those statements Calvin ;0). Point (a) could be taken in either a positive or a negative sense. Point (b) and (c) depend on what is meant by 'God's chosen people' - with careful clarification I can just about accept that. I voted for (d), although I am not in total agreement with the final part of that statement. The State of Israel exists because God has allowed it to, and it must have at least some theological significance even if it is not living according to God's directive will. God's purposes are complex and even his enemies can become instruments of judgement.
Oh! Well, a nice try, Philip. And in seeking to continue to foster this generous spirit I'd also like to confirm I didn't vote for c. Does that help? :)
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