King's Evangelical Divinity School

10 October 2013

Excellent Video Resources on Israel and the Middle East


Last week a major conference entitled The People, the Land and the Future of Israel was held in New York. The event, organised by Chosen People Ministries, headed by Dr Mitch Glaser, brought together various well-known and respected Evangelical scholars with hundreds of publications between them to explore the issue of Israel and the Middle East conflict from an Evangelical perspective. 

The conference explored these issues from various angles and theological subdisciplines, including biblical theology, church history, systematics, practical theology, political theology and ministry. Importantly, this excellent collection of valuable resources by these distinguished speakers was filmed and is now available online for viewing here

I would strongly encourage all Evangelicals, regardless of their position on Israel, to view these videos and engage with the arguments and positions presented. For too long (with important exceptions), there have been too few scholarly resources available to respond to a new and somewhat aggressive expression of supersessionism doing the rounds within Evangelical circles during the past two or so decades. But in recent years this has begun to change, and these videos represent another valuable resource for Christians of all persuasions seeking to eschew the polemics of the current debate and instead explore the issues objectively and open-mindedly. These videos provide such people with an alternative, non-pejorative viewpoint by scholars who are experts in their field, and as such they merit attention.

16 August 2013

Mitch Glaser on the Release of Palestinian Prisoners

President of Chosen People Ministries and Messianic leader Dr Mitch Glaser reflects on this week's release of Palestinian prisoners to further peace talks in the region. After highlighting the crimes committed by the released prisoners and the impact of their release upon the victims' families, he writes:
Israel is often characterized by world opinion – and by some evangelical Christians – as a nation that acts unjustly and lacks compassion. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth, and the release of the prisoners is clear evidence of the extent to which Israeli leaders are willing to go to achieve peace. 
I am not going to try and paint Israel or the Jewish people as perfect or without moral blemish. We are all sinners – both individuals and nations. However, since there has been so much criticism of Israel in recent days, I think it is important to show that Israel and its leaders have gone far beyond what even most citizens of Israel would believe to be just and fair. 
What other nation in recent days has released its convicted prisoners or offered them early “parole,” as the Israeli government is describing the nature of their actions? 
These controversial decisions on the part of the Israeli leadership will be debated for years and perhaps centuries. I do not believe that the Israeli leadership views the release of the prisoners as forgiveness, nor necessarily an act of compassion, even though in some cases this might be the case – especially for the more elderly prisoners.
I assume the release of the prisoners was enacted for the sake of political expediency in hopes that the release will lead towards peace. We might not know the answer to this for a number of years, and even if some type of peace comes about as a result of this effort – many will still feel that the price for peace was too high.
I am writing these reflections to demonstrate to Evangelical Christians who have been so very critical of Israel lately that Israeli leaders are willing to do what might be viewed as reprehensible and politically inexpedient, simply in order move the peace process forward. 
Really, this is all about the character of Israeli leadership and of the people of Israel. Look at the great lengths to which they have gone to show good faith in the peace process. There will be continued controversy over the next few days regarding Israel’s moving forward with housing settlements in Gilo and regarding the recent air strike, destroying the Hamas rocket launcher that was aiming missiles into Israel from Gaza. The antagonists of Israel will focus on these things and miss the fact that the leadership of Israel has risked the soul of the nation for the sake of peace. 
I believe that evangelical Christians, especially those that have been so opposed to Israel in recent days and have accused Israel of being unjust, need to pause and reconsider their position in light of the renewed tears shed by the families of those who were murdered – and the cheers and celebrations by the communities of those who were released.  
Read Mitch Glaser's comment in full on his blog.

22 July 2013

Wayne Hilsden endorses JMINS

Wayne Hilsden, Lead Pastor of the King of Kings Community Jerusalem, has endorsed the new revised and expanded edition of The Jews, Modern Israel and the New Supersessionism. He writes:
I am deeply grateful to Dr. Calvin Smith and the fine collection of scholars who have presented their case. The Jews, Modern Israel and the New Supersessionism will be one of my reference works for years to come. Where one lands in relation to the theory of supersessionism can impact not only the fate of Jewish people still in unbelief, but also those who profess to follow Jesus the Messiah. So I exhort the reader to be concerned not only about the theological debate, but also how supersessionism has the potential to profoundly affect eternal consequences.
The endorsement (together with others and details of where to buy) can be found on the book pageMore on Wayne Hilsden's further involvement in this book project shortly!

18 July 2013

The EU's "useful idiots"

Earlier this week the European Union, in a breathtaking display of complete misunderstanding of the complex nature of the Middle East conflict, singled out and targeted Israel in the EU's ongoing efforts to make itself politically relevant. In doing so it has threatened any last vestiges of influence it has upon the Jewish state.

But irony of ironies, a film has just surfaced of an imam preaching from a Temple Mount pulpit a few days ago in which he calls for Europe's destruction and the re-establishment of a new Caliphate (you know, that Muslim political entity which tore Europe in two for centuries quite a long time ago). I'm reminded of those Western Soviet propagandists during the Cold War often referred to as "useful idiots".

For its part, I think Israel is becoming a bit too soft, allowing this kind of thing. Perhaps it's time to act as they are frequently accused and viewed. They could start by ending all EU projects in the West Bank, then move on to take back the Temple Mount. After all, no one preaching such rubbish deserves any land. As I keep saying, the Palestinians have had a raw deal, owed in substantial part to a long history of dismal leaders who refuse to make peace with Israel. Very soon there'll be nothing left for them to negotiate for.

5 July 2013

Arrested for Offending. It's All Becoming Quite Sinister

Archbishop Cranmer has posted a video of a US street preacher arrested this week in London because someone listening to him was offended by what he had to say (while talking about sin he dwelt upon all forms of sexual immorality and had the audacity to label homosexuality a "sin"). The video details the exchange with the police (from about 24:30 onwards). Cranmer has also posted a transcript of the interview held later at the police station, which the police have apparently released. The story has also been covered in the Christian press and elsewhere, including the Daily Telegraph.

Whatever your view of street preaching, or the style or approach of this particular preacher (though uncompromising in his beliefs he seemed far more respectful and controlled than some I've heard, possibly because he is a former US police office), we have indeed reached a sinister stage in our country where a single individual who is "offended" can result in the arrest, fingerprinting, DNA sampling and interrogation of another individual. And it won't stop there. I wouldn't be surprised if the preacher isn't allowed back in the country. 

This situation is wrong on so many levels. That a single complainant can have a person arrested merely because she felt offended. That even though she swore at him in a public place (she told him to F off) he is the one arrested. That really it's not about "offence" in general (after all, when was the last time someone was arrested for offending Christians?) but rather that someone challenged and offended the new orthodoxy. That to express a view which a segment of society disagrees with can now result in this kind of police action. That people frequently say offensive things on our streets, behave obnoxiously, even demonstrate aggressively, yet without fear of arrest. That while some gay people are as appalled by this lack of freedom as anyone else, yet others are delighting in hounding Christians (conveniently forgetting that publicising the hounding of homosexuals has been the linchpin of the gay liberation movement). That the police now police people's sexual viewpoints and how they express them. That we now have the ludicrous situation where policemen question and probe someone's theology in a recorded interview. That deep down we think we know that if the preacher's colleagues hadn't recorded the event for this very reason, quite a different story, demonising the preacher, would have emerged. That it all contributes to making a great country in so many ways look rather petty, silly and a bit over-sensitive. That this has been a complete waste of time and money. That before hitting the "Publish" button I'm having to read through this carefully just to make sure I haven't said anything that may result in my arrest.

4 July 2013

Anglican Friends of Israel review my book

Having watched Calvin Smith debate so effectively on TV with fierce opponent of Christian Zionism, Stephen Sizer, a couple of years ago, I awaited this series of essays ‘The Jews, Modern Israel and the new Supercessionism’ with some impatience.

That the essays would be scholarly was beyond doubt. But Smith wants more than that. His aim is to give ‘everyday Christians’ a toolbox of ‘resources to draw upon’ as they debate issues around the topic of the relationship that Christians should have with the modern State of Israel. Smith is driven, he writes, by ‘an urgent desire to respond to growing anti-Israel sentiment and Christian anti-Zionism among some Evangelicals.’

With his choice of essayists Smith certainly succeeds in ‘challenging disingenuous efforts by … supercessionist commentators aimed at portraying all (Zionist) Christians …….. as a somehow narrow, peripheral and fanatical segment of the church.’ Written by such varied authors as Calvinist Stephen Vantassel and Charismatic Steve Malz, the range of Zionist Christians can scarcely be described as narrow.

There’s a useful arrangement of material too, as readers can see the roots of supersessionism in Plato and his Christian admirers through to New Testament writers and the Early Church rejection of its Jewish roots, culminating with the baleful effects of Supersessionism from 19th Century until today. Any reader would find valuable information in these essays, depending on the questions they are asking or being required to answer...

Read the rest of Fran Waddams' review over at Anglican Friends of Israel.

29 June 2013

Are you on the "Zionist lobby" list too?

The chaps over at Rosh Pina Project have produced a rather amusing response to recent news that, having been included on a special list, they are officially part of the UK "Zionist lobby". Their post also provides helpful advice on how your organisation too can join this apparently all-powerful and influential lobby, including details of how to be fast-tracked onto "the list". Hmm. There's a long, obsessive and rather unpleasant history involving drawing up lists of Jews. But apparently now even friends of Jewish Israel merit their own special list.

21 June 2013

Mike Moore of CWI Endorses JMINS

Mike Moore, General Secretary of Christian Witness to Israel (a Protestant interdenominational evangelistic society), has provided the following kind endorsement of The Jews, Modern Israel and the New Supersessionism...
Supersessionism has existed since the second century but in the last three decades a virulent new strain has emerged that not only continues to demonise the Jewish people but does so also by delegitimizing the claim of Jews to their ancient homeland. Advocates of the New Supersessionism are invariably intelligent, articulate and biblically literate, and the case they present is highly plausible. In many Christian circles, therefore, those who view the Jewish people and the state of Israel positively are now seen as the Church’s equivalent of the Tory party’s ‘swivel-eyed loons’. 
The Jews, Modern Israel and the New Supersessionism is a biblical, scholarly, balanced and sane antidote to Supersessionism old and new. It informs, teaches, corrects, stimulates, encourages, surprises and shocks. All apart from the incorrigibly apathetic will benefit from reading it.
 Mike Moore
General Secretary, Christian Witness to Israel

Find out more about the book (including other endorsements and where to purchase) here. Also available on Amazon Kindle.

19 June 2013

Richard Harvey Endorsement

New endorsement of The Jews, Modern Israel and the New Supersessionism (New Revised and Expanded Edition).

“Supersessionism” is not just a technical theological term. It is the deeply rooted mistaken assumption in much Christian thinking that God has finished with Israel (the Jewish people) and that his covenant with them has been "superseded" now that the Church has become the "new Israel".  In its modern form, sometimes known as replacement theology, it has done irreparable damage to relations between Jews and Christians, and has been a cancer in the Church’s self-understanding and its attempts to share the Gospel with Jewish people. 

Calvin Smith has done us a great service in bringing together and carefully editing these essays by leading scholars and Messianic Jews to explain the theoretical aspects and practical effects of such teaching. He calls on Christians to read their Scriptures more carefully and treat their Jewish friends more sensitively in the light of God’s ongoing election of Israel. This book should be required reading for anyone who loves God, His Word, His Church and His people Israel. 

Dr. Richard Harvey
Former Academic Dean, All Nations Christian College
UK and Senior Researcher with Jews for Jesus

13 June 2013

Protestant and Evangelical Involvement in the Holocaust

We sometimes hear about the pre-war Roman Catholic Church's attitudes towards the Jews which not only reflected European deep-rooted anti-Semitism at the time but also contributed to a milieu which allowed the Holocaust to happen. Yet we read far less about Protestant attitudes (Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, even Pentecostal) towards the Jews in Germany and across pre-war Europe, which likewise permitted the architects of the Holocaust to go about their genocidal task. Here's an excerpt taken from a disturbing essay on the subject (itself part of a much larger piece of research). Evangelicals take note.

In 1933, Bishop Rendtorff (who would later become a leader in the Confessing Church) had questioned the whole assumption that the state’s behaviour towards the Jews was “unevangelical”. For 1700 years, he noted, the church had fully approved of restrictive laws against Jews. Emancipation was an idea of the enlightenment, and should not be identified as an evangelical norm (26).  Wilhelm Halfmann, the spiritual director of the Confessing Church in Schleswig-Holstein, and Bishop of Holstein after 1946, wrote in 1936 that, because of “legitimate” Christian anti-Semitism, it was not the church’s duty “to interfere in the state’s Jewish legislation: 
Far more, we of the church must say, based upon two thousand years’ experience with the Jews: the state is right. It is attempting to protect the German people ... with the approval of the Christian church”.  (27)
Likewise, the Brethren Die Tenne spoke of the “accursed” nature of the Jews, and of “the cleansing of Germany from ... Jewish immigrants”. On June 18, 1933, Licht und Leben carried an article by the Chairman of the Gnadau Association to Promote Fellowship and Evangelisation, Walter Michaelis, stating that he and his organisation “had nothing against stemming Jewish influence, and treating Jews as non Germans.” From a Biblical point of view, “nothing could be said against this,” and it was indeed, “part of the divine plan for them.” (28) Concerning the Nuremberg Laws, the Baptist Wahrheitszeuge “told its readers not to forget that the hearts of Jews had been hardened by God following their rejection of the Messiah. Under God’s judgment, they had become a curse for the world.” (29) Likewise, the founder of the Elim Pentecostal church in Germany stated that he had “warmly welcomed” the Nuremberg Laws and knew that they did not violate God’s Word “in any way”. (30)

10 June 2013

Now in Print! (from today)

The print edition of The Jews, Modern Israel and the New Supersessionism (New Revised and Expanded version) is available from today in print. It can be bought through KEDS, Amazon and also ordered through local booksellers. For bulk/bookseller orders contact KEDS at: officeATkingsdivinity.org (replace AT with the @ symbol).

A print version will be available in the US shortly, but for now a copy can be bought through Amazon (US site) or Amazon UK

(Looks good, nice glossy cover, passes the "weight test" ;)


7 June 2013

Are You a Subversive or Submissive Christian?

Last night the BBC aired an excellent programme by the broadcaster Melvin Bragg entitled The Most Dangerous Man in Tudor England. The programme explored the life and work of the Bible translator William Tyndale. Bragg introduces his film thus:
Today many have never even heard of him. Yet this man's legacy lives on in every English-speaking country. Tyndale's influence is immeasurable. His translation of the Bible fuelled a Protestant ascendancy that went throughout the world. The biblical ideas that he released into the common tongue fired the English Reformation. And his genius, now acknowledged, makes him, alongside Shakespeare, one of the co-creators of the modern English language.
Tyndale has long been one of my favourite characters from the Reformation period. At that time in England, the Bible was only available in the ancient languages of scholars and thus the preserve of intellectuals, priests and church leaders. Tyndale wanted to translate the Bible into the everyday vernacular so that it could be read and understood by common men and women. But this was subversive stuff, threatening those church leaders who, through their knowledge of the ancient languages, controlled the reading and interpretation of the Bible. On an occasion when a priest openly attacked him, Tyndale famously said him:
If God spare my life, before very long I shall cause a plough boy to know the scriptures better than you do! (TyndaleArchive.com)
This access to Scripture has always represented an important defining feature of the Reformation and Protestantism. The Roman Catholic Church did not encourage a universal reading of the Bible, instead emphasising the teachings of the church whose leaders, it was (and is) maintained, can alone interpret the Bible correctly. The Reformers, on the other hand, believed the Bible should be made available to all, and that, for a large part, was understandable to all (hence the doctrine of the perspicuity, or clarity, of Scripture).

5 June 2013

Syria, Israel, Islamists and Christians

The Syrian civil war rages on, increasingly brutal and with no end in sight. This morning's news that the Assad regime claims to have re-taken the town of Qusair merely confirms that Syrians are in for a long haul, that this bloody and merciless conflict will not be settled any time soon.

The situation is made worse by Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon siding with the Assad regime to whom it existentially depends. If Assad falls, Hezbollah is severely weakened, losing a key ally and military supplier. Thus the recent news reports detailing thousands of Hezbollah fighters now in Syria fighting for Assad against Syrian opposition groups. To the outsider it must seem somewhat ironic for Hezbollah Islamists to side with a secular leader against a Syrian rebellion that contains a strong Islamist element (the Muslim Brotherhood). Of course, they both represent different expressions of Islam - Shia and Sunni - and the historic rivalry between provides and added dimension of complexity to the current conflict.

2 June 2013

The Kirk's Revised Report: The Jewish Lobby... Again?

The Church of Scotland's frankly disgraceful report on the Jewish people and Israel last month was hastily withdrawn and hurriedly edited in response to the furore it caused. Remember, the original report was not only offensive to Israelis, or to the wider Jewish world by denying their claim to any of the land of their ancestors. Many Christians were also deeply dismayed. Meanwhile it captured considerable media attention, and not because the Church of Scotland is a "big player": it captured media interest precisely because of its extreme nature as having crossed a line.

So lots of people worldwide were surprised, offended, dismayed. So strong was the negative reaction if was hastily pulled and underwent a re-write. But wait! We seem to have all this quite wrong, actually. It hasn't undergone a re-write because the first version was either offensive, dishonest, woefully unbalanced, politically-driven (and stupid), or because it demonstrated quite breathtaking theological idiocy. Oh no, it would appear far more sinister forces were at work, at least as far as one well-known strongly anti-Israel cleric is concerned:

28 May 2013

New Endorsement of JMINS (new revised and expanded ed.)


The unbiblical doctrine that the church replaces the nation Israel in the plan of God must be challenged with the light of God's word. This work, written by an impressive international cast, continues the case against supersessionism and does so in a clear and compelling way.

Michael J. Vlach, The Master's Seminary, California
Author of Has the Church Replaced Israel? A Theological Evaluation (B&H, 2010).

20 May 2013

New book on the Church, Israel and Middle East now on Kindle

The new revised and expanded version of my edited volume, The Jews, Modern Israel and the New Supersessionism, will (finally!) be published on 1 June 2013.

With front matter it's running nearly four hundred pages (the first edition was around 170), with loads of new and revised content. Cost £14.99.

However, the Kindle edition is available from today at nearly half price!

Further details of the book, including contents, list of contributors and testimonials available on at the King's Evangelical Divinity School site. Please pass on this information and links to anyone you know may be interested in the book's contents. Many thanks.

26 April 2013

BMJA annual conference, London, 27 April

Tomorrow I'm speaking at the BRitish Messianic Jewish Alliance annual conference, which is being held at The Bridge Fellowship, Bridge Lane, Golders Green, London. It begins at 10.30 am and further details can be found on the BMJA website at http://bmja.net/BMJA/News/News.html.

17 April 2013

Jerusalem in 1896

Yesterday I came across the piece of film below here, which is reputed to be the first moving picture of Jerusalem, dated 1896 (the sound track was added much later). 

I'm interested in 19th century photos and first-hand travel accounts of the land because, as someone who takes B.Th. students to Israel to examine (among other things) how topography contributes to a better understanding of some Bible texts, urbanisation has made topographical studies difficult and such pictures can sometimes help us picture Jerusalem's topography more easily.

The situation in the land prior to 1948 also gives valuable historical insight into the current conflict. The film shows Jewish people and Hebrew shop signs a year before the First Zionist Congress and only a few years after the start of the  First Aliyah (return of diaspora Jews to their homeland). This is long before the Holocaust (often cited by Israel's opponents as the cause of Western guilt which allowed an influx of Jews to displace the Arab indigenous population - in fact the evidence suggests the opposite is true, that Britain, for example, turned away Jewish refugees from Mandate Palestine). Meanwhile, and what many people don't realise, is that there has been a continuous Jewish presence in the land since the Babylonian exile almost 600 years before the birth of Christ. For anyone interested I commented several years ago on a very interesting book exploring the land before Zionism. It's well worth a read.

11 April 2013

Another Time, Another Life...


From L to R: Rachael Heyhoe Flint OBE DL (famous female cricketer, since ennobled); Rt. Hon. Margaret Thatcher MP, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Head of Her Majesty's Government; Maureen Hicks, Conservative MP for Wolverhampton North East; Calvin Smith (aged 23 then, I think... it's me, I promise), slim upstart with little education and grinning insanely. How things have changed (no longer slim, slightly better educated, but still grinning insanely!).

4 April 2013

Renewal in the Americas

Renewal across the Americas:
Pentecostal-Charismatic Movements in Latin America and among Latinas/os

I've been asked by one of the organisers of the above conference, which will be held at Regent University, Virginia (USA), to circulate details to our students. As some people read this blog because they have an interest in Latin American Protestantism/Pentecostalism I also thought I would post details here. I will likely attend and present a paper. 

The event features some very well-known academics in the field of Latin American Pentecostalism, and this conference is well-worth attending for anyone with an interest in the subject area, region, Pentecostal Studies more generally, and religion and culture. A conference volume is planned. Further details are available on the conference website.

I know the area and campus (which is impressive) and there is plenty to do in this area (Regent is not far from some of the most historic parts of the US, where early English settlers established themselves), so if anyone plans to go and make a holiday of it, it's a good spot to visit.

20 March 2013

KEDS Focus on News

King's Evangelical Divinity School is going through various changes as the school continues to grow and attract new students. We have new modules being introduced (including in the areas of Messianic theology, systematic and apologetics), a major revision of our Knowing Your Bible programme, and an ongoing expansion and development of our innovative eCampus facility (we just had a major upgrade to allow further exciting functionality). 

One of the changes consists of a greater focus on school and tutor news which KEDS is seeking to publicise more widely on its public website, so that prospective students and friends of the school can keep up-to-date with news and developments. Therefore, why not take some time to visit the public site more frequently at www.kingsdivinity.org to keep informed about school news and events. In the meantime watch out for a site redesign in coming weeks.

20 February 2013

Are You a Homophobic Bigot

This is a guest post by Chris Lazenby.

I wonder how many readers of this blog heard last week’s Any Questions (BBC Radio 4, 8pm, Friday 8th Feb 2013). The panel for the evening included feminist Julie Bindel. Ms Bindel describes herself as a ‘radical feminist, not the fun kind but an out and out proud lesbian.’ As the topic of ‘gay marriage’ is hot in the news at the moment, I listened carefully to her comments. Ms Bindel began by saying that ‘those who are opposed to equal marriage are either ‘homophobic, bigoted or are on nodding terms with bigots’ and commented that being against gay marriage is ‘gross discrimination’.

After several such negative comments, she rather surprisingly went on to denigrate marriage, saying that she is ‘very critical of marriage and its patriarchal trappings.’ She went on; ‘Why lesbians and gay men are so desperate to enter into a system that has its roots in inequality I do not know. In the 1960s and ’70s, feminists blew open this myth that marriage was a great institution and kept families and communities together, because we saw that it was about old fashioned property ownership; we saw women rushing to the domestic violence refuges, and also talking about their children being sexually abused; about their unhappiness about the extra-marital affairs, et cetera, et cetera.’ She later talked of marriage as a ‘heterosexual mistake’ and continued; ‘Now that we can, let’s start fighting to abolish marriage and give civil partnerships to everybody, including heterosexuals.’ Although quite a few in the audience applauded, I was confused. It seems to me that Ms Bindel wants gay people to have the right to be married, but once that right is won, she would like to see marriage abolished.