King's Evangelical Divinity School

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.


Amanda Brown said...

I too recently watched the debate between Dr Calvin Smith and Dr Stephen Sizer on whether or not the church has replaced Israel (Revelation TV, YouTube 2012). Praise God for Dr Calvin Smith as a Watchman on the walls of the literal Jerusalem. Dr Sizer seemed to argue that inheritance of the Land of Israel for the Jews was always conditional upon their faithfulness to God and that the behaviour of the Jews currently in the modern state of Israel would evoke, if anything, an imminent exile from the Land, rather than its restoration. Dr Sizer correlated his theory with the fact that, as individuals, scripture is clear that we enter the Kingdom of God on an individual basis only and not as a nation en mass. In response to this, I would like to offer that the definition of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:31ff is specifically with Israel and Judah and that, in contrast to the previous conditional Mosaic covenant (which left Israel bereft of the Land), God implies that his new (or 'renewed') covenant with Israel and Judah will this time be unconditional wherein it promises: a) the secure restoration of Israel and Judah to their Land as a nation and b) the spiritual salvation of Israel through their own Messiah. The new covenant is unconditional in that, despite Israel's current national state of unbelief and unfaithfulness, God will nevertheless personally facilitate their spiritual salvation as a whole nation, by removing ungodliness from Jacob wherein all Israel will be saved (Rom 11:26-27, Isa 59:20, Zech 12:10-13:1). Zechariah 12:10ff would seem to describe how God finally accomplishes this on a national level. What seemed to elude Dr Sizer was that this national salvific restoration of Israel will, of necessity, simultaneously occur on an individual level. In a lateral context, Zechariah 12:10ff is a picture not dissimilar to the Welsh revivals, which involved large groups of people being convicted by the Holy Spirit on an individual basis. I look forward to reading Dr Calvin Smith's new book!

Calvin L. Smith said...

Amanda, many thanks for your comments and kind words. I hope you enjoy the book.