Introduction to “Christian Zionism” Issue

1] In our time, when the Israeli/Palestinian conflict occupies such a prominent place in our political discourse, the topic of Christian Zionism has become a critical matter for theological and ethical deliberation. In this issue, the Journal of Lutheran Ethics is pleased to provide a contribution to this important discussion.

[2] Robert O. Smith reminds readers of the historical and existential context for Jewish sensitivities regarding Christian discussions of this topic. He contends that discussions pertaining to Christian Zionism must also take into account important conversations concerning proper Jewish-Christian relations.

[3] JoAnn G. Magnuson presents the case for Christian Zionism, based on both biblical and historical considerations. As someone with long involvement in the Christian Zionist movement, she argues that not all Christian Zionists are committed to dispensational theology. She provides a Christian Zionist perspective on the way forward in Israeli-Palestinian relations.

[4] Bishop Munib Younan provides a robust theological critique of the topic, and speaks from the vantage point of his personal experience as an Arab Palestinian Lutheran Christian. He examines the theology of the Promised Land based on an examination of scripture. He notes that the Bible is a “complex narrative that shows God’s intent to transform the world and its people into a new community of shalom/salaam/peace.” He leads readers through a litany of problems with Christian Zionism from the point of view of someone who lives daily with this issue.

[5] John Hubers describes the ethical dilemma created by the displacement of many thousands of non-Jewish residents brought about by the creation of the state of Israel. He lifts up elements of the historical context for the discussion of the ethical issues involved, and lays out the implications of the discussion of Christian Zionism for the contemporary situation in Israel/Palestine. Like Bishop Younan, Hubers provides a theological critique of the main Christian Zionist assertions.

[6] Participants in this discussion firmly maintain that any Christian critique of Christian Zionism, or of certain Israeli government policies, should not be understood as failure to support the existence and security of the state of Israel. They point to God’s call for people to work for peace with justice.