The Table Podcast

New Christian Zionism

In this episode, Drs. Darrell L. Bock and Gerald McDermott discuss The New Christian Zionism, focusing on Israel and The Land.

Timecodes
00:15
McDermott’s interest in Christian Zionism
03:55
What is the New Christian Zionism?
06:55
McDermott explains his book The New Christian Zionism
16:10
History of Christian Zionism
25:00
Importance of Israel as a legal nation
33:30
Are the concepts of Zionism and Israel as a Jewish state racist?
43:20
Theological implications of Christian Zionism
Resources

McDermott, Gerald R., ed. The New Christian Zionism: Fresh Perspectives On Israel and the Land. Downer's Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2016.

Transcript
Bock
Welcome to the table. I’m Darrell Bock the executive director for cultural engagement at the Hendrix Center at Dallas Theological Seminary. And my guest today is Gerald McDermott, the Anglican chair of divinity at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama. So welcome Gerald, Jerry, I don’t know –
McDermott
Gerry, just call me Gerry.
Bock
You got your PhD from the University of Iowa, in what area?
McDermott
In religion. Back in the day the Ph.D. program had a major and a minor. My major was History of Christianity and my minor was Asian religions.
Bock
Oh wow. I might have to invite you back to talk about that topic, but anyway –
McDermott
Oh I’d be happy to.
Bock
And so Jerry’s the editor of a book, Christian Zionism: Fresh perspectives on Israel and the land, and it’s a multi-volume Edition, and it has several contributors. Is actually papers presented at a conference at Georgetown University a couple of years ago. And, so how did the good Anglican like you get interested in this topic?
McDermott
Well I used to be a supersessions, and I imagine your audience knows what that word means?
Bock
Yeah the idea of at the church in a major way, shape, or form has some way replace Israel in the plan of God.
McDermott
Yeah. 1992 I took one of my first trips of 14 trips to Israel. And essentially, I was answering the same question at lunch today, by going to Israel and looking around and talking to people, both Arabs and Jews and Druze, and other sorts of folks, Christians and Muslims, I started to see things on the ground that were very different, not only from what I was saying in the newspapers, but also from what’s different from the theology I had.
Bock
So that struck your entrance and years later but it stuck with you and years later you organized this conference that we had at Georgetown?
McDermott
Yeah I felt that this is a compelling theological problem, and that there is gross misunderstanding theologically. I wanted to put on an academic come, and I invited you Darrell, I wanted you there, to help kind of correct some of the kind of widespread theological misunderstanding. We intended it from day one that this would become a book, you knew that when I invited you. We’re very grateful after the conference that eventually after the conference we landed a contract with IDV intervarsity academic intervarsity.
Bock
I enjoyed the experience very much. Give me a very unique assignment at that conference, because I came without a paper. I had to listen to All of the papers and construct a concluding set of remarks based on what I had heard, which is probably one of the most challenging tasks I’ve ever had while attending a conferences, but it was a great experience because it was a wonderful conference. A lot of very capable people speaking from a variety of angles. It wasn’t just Theology, there were people who had a historical background. People of a cultural context speaking to it. So it was a very well-planned and conference in terms of the way in which the question was tackled. And say you get a title like the new Christian Zionism and the next thing you’re going to get someone who is going to ask, what in the world is that?
McDermott
Well it’s Zionism because it is devoted to the idea that at the return of the Jews to the land from countries all over the world in the last hundred and 50 years is a God thing. It’s a good thing. Actually Zionism by itself doesn’t actually mean to God it just means that it’s a good thing that we all to support. Christian Zionism of course is there are Christian theological reasons for believing this is a God thing and not just a nationalistic process and event. And new because it’s much broader than just the dispensationalist Christian Zionism for which I am very grateful. We are standing and some sense on your shoulders, and yet we are trying to demonstrate that Christian Zionism is 2000 years old. It didn’t start with the rise of dispensationalism over in England and here in the mid-nineteenth century.
Bock
Yeah, I like to say when you’re talking about the role of Israel and scripture you’re talking about a biblical and theological position rather than a theological traditions position.
McDermott
Right and it’s also new because we are eschatalogically agnostic that is we don’t take a position on what’s going to happen when. We believe there’s more sacred history that will unfold, but we don’t, and we probably disagree amongst us about what is going to happen, and when or whether we will know about that. So that’s one other new thing, and another new thing about this Christian Zionism is that we are willing to criticize the state of Israel, not that previous Christian Zionists have not entirely but we don’t think it’s a perfect State and for that matter we don’t think any country in the world is a perfect state. We are all worthy of criticism. On the other hand, on the one hand as Tevye in Fiddler did, the other hand we believe that Israel is a light in the terrible darkness of the nations of the Middle East and in fact is Israel as a light to the nations even today apart from ways that are completely apart from religious.
Bock
So the root, and we’ve talked about this with other guests on other podcasts, you know about the program of God tied to covenantal commitments that God has made and reflection of his faithfulness in texts like you know in Genesis 12 and is Abrahamic covenant etc. are in play here and run through the text. And there is a middle portion of the book that deals with the different contributions of different portions of scripture to this theme. Why don’t you overview kind of where the book takes us, then I want to look kind of particularly at the introduction and conclusion of the book and talk specifically about that.
McDermott
Sure, sure. Thanks Darrel. So there’s an introduction where we deal with a number of the immediate questions that always come up when you mention Zionism and particularly Christian Zionism, and you’ll talk about them in a minute. Part one is theology and history, Chapter 1 talks about the history of supersessionism which goes back to the early church. Chapter 2 is a history of Christian Zionism, which shows that it’s two thousand years old not just 150 years old, Christian Zionism. Part two is Theology and the Bible and this really is the heart of the book. These are New Testament scholars, first biblical hermeneutics, Craig Blazing, great New Testament scholar who this audience probably knows of and has probably been on your show. He talks about, how do we understand the relationship between Old and New Testament? And then we’ve got a Matthew scholar on the gospel on Zionism in the gospel of Matthew. And then we’ve got a new testament scholar on is Zionism in Luke/Acts. Then we’ve got a new testament scholar on Zionism and Paul so these four chapters argue the thesis that the New Testament is thoroughly Zionist, and the reason why we haven’t seen that and at least most of the Academy and most of the churches have not seen it, it’s because we’ve been trained not to see it.
Bock
Yeah I think that’s fair. And similar Publications to the one on Luke/Acts and what I’m constantly telling people is what we get is oftentimes is a set of passages where it’s clear that the church has oftentimes taken up the story of redemption from Israel and this current era, but that doesn’t mean that that Gentile inclusion and that fulfillment means the exclusion of Israel in the program and plan of God. And two Luke/Acts in particular has a series of passages, I call them the until passages, that show that Israel still has a future and the program of God. These are passages like, your house is desolate until you say blessed is he who call on the name of the Lord. That anticipates a response. In Luke 13 the disciples having been in the ultimate Old Testament in the new era class having spent 40 days with Jesus respond after those 40 days, is this the time you’re going to restore the Kingdom of Israel? So nothing that he is told them has disabused them of the idea, and nothing in his answer disabuses them of that idea either. He simply says it’s not for you to know the times and the seasons he doesn’t say I tell you what we need to re-enroll in eschatology 101, and go from there. And then the passage in Acts 3 where Peter says, the way to know what’s coming next with the Lord’s return is to read the Hebrew scriptures and has the Apostle playing in back to these earlier texts as the completion of the promise.
McDermott
And in that Passage, Peter says excuse me-
Bock
No that’s fine.
McDermott
He refers to the apokatastasus that is to come. Now that is the Greek word that’s variously translated into English translations that is the same Greek word that is used in all the Old Testament passages of the Septuagint the Greek version of the Old Testament that the early church was using and Paul was using and probably Peter was using, for the return of Jews to the land of Israel and the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel. Same word. Peter shows that he is still looking forward to something to come in the future in the land of Israel and with the particular people of Israel.
Bock
Yeah that’s right. And I like to tell people that the Acts 3 speech actually shows you how Peter processes that conversation earlier in Acts 1 when they ask the original question, is this the time that you’re going to restore the Kingdom of Israel and Jesus answers it’s not for you to know the times and the seasons, but this is for you to know in the meantime take the gospel into all the world. So that restoration idea was still there with him being taught and preached in Acts chapter 3 as the church was in the process of carrying out what Jesus had asked them to do. So a very important section obviously of the book. Craig Blazing does do a lot of care for work in the New Testament he is also a systematic Theologian who has written in the area of dispensationalism and a significant and full way and has this kind of dual capability that very few people sometimes have. He is a very talented writer and this is an important chapter in the book.
McDermott
So part 3 is called Theology and its implications until Mark Tulley the president at the IRD, the Institute for Religion and Democracy, does the chapter on Zionism and the churches, how mainline protestants have dealt with Zionism and anti-Zionism. Then then Robert Benny has a marvelous chapter on Reinhold Niebuhr who was a Christian Zionist which was a great surprise. Most Niebuhr fans and Niebuhr fans are legion including Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter, have no idea I’m sure that Reinhold Niebuhr was a Christian Zionist. And then Robin Nicholson has a very important chapter on theology and the law. Does the modern state of Israel violate it’s covenant to justice by its relation to international law? Basically he’s a legal scholar, and he does a very careful job to show that no Israel is not violating international law as is often alleged in the media and elsewhere.
Bock
And we’ll come back to that.
McDermott
Then chapter 10 is by Shaddi Kalu, Shaddi Kalu lives in the land. He is not a Jew. He is the leader of the Aramain community, still speaking Aramaic. So he is what the rest of the world might call a Palestinian, but he says I am not a Palestinian. They came long after we were there.

And he talks about what is it like to live as a religious minority in the Jewish state, and he says it’s wonderful. And he said I’m a Christian and this wonderful state of Israel is the only country in the Middle East where I can raise my children as Christians in freedom, and freely practice my faith. Then the last part is theology and the future. Darrell Bock has a Wonderful chapter concluding things and talking about where a Christian Zionists ought to go from there, and I hope that Darrell you say a few things about that. And then I have a few concluding implications and propositions for Christian theology. What sort of direction should a Christian theology sort of go in if these things are true?

Bock
So it’s a book that covers both Theology and the current status of things if you will. It’s pretty comprehensive. And it’s making a very important point that I think is underappreciated, I think you’re making several of them, one of the points and this is a good place to start with your introductory chapter, so I’m transitioning as well, is this is a group that’s broader than dispensationalism, what you’re saying is that Christians who have recognized the role of Israel in scripture have been around for a long time and have come in many stripes. And so talk about the, we didn’t talk about this when we went through the authors, but all the authors come from a variety of backgrounds themselves. They aren’t, as you made the point, they aren’t just dispensationalists. You’re an Anglican-
McDermott
Benny is a Lutheran, Mark Tulley is a Methodist, Robert Nicols is a Baptist, Shaddi Kaluhl is a Aramaean orthodox I believe, Mark Kinser is a Messianic Jew. David Rudolph is too. So we come from a variety of denominations and religious traditions.
Bock
So again, point being that this understanding of scripture is one that is broad ranging in terms of the background. And another point that you make that is similar it’s a different point but it’s a similar kind of historical point is that Zionism itself is not a recent thing either. We’re not dealing with a movement that came out of the 19th century as it is often portrayed, but Zionism itself is also significantly older and you make a variety of points here, but I’ll let you develop it. So in what sets as Zionism had a long life?
McDermott
So it started two thousand years ago well Zionism itself started more than two thousand years ago in the Old Testament with the Old Testament prophets, but just after the New Testament you have early Christian leaders, even Christian leaders who are saying the church is the new Israel wrongly, nevertheless say that there’s going to be a restoration of Israel in the future, and Jerusalem is going to be the new center of the world and the new Heaven and new earth. So people like Justin Martyr who in many ways is the arch-supersessionist and started the ball rolling with serious theological supersessionism, nevertheless taught that there will be a future Kingdom of Israel and the land of Israel so the land of Israel and the City of Jerusalem are still theologically significant.
Bock
Yeah and in fact the interesting thing about that is probably for the first few centuries of the early church most anyone who is a theologian had a physical view of the Kingdom that look to the Future that involves the nation of Israel and the City of Jerusalem in it. This is not an innovation in theology that is late. It is actually much, much earlier.
McDermott
There is plenty of Christian Zionism up until the 4th century. Now in the 4th century when Constantine comes and the Empire becomes officially Christian. Christianity is tolerated at first and then later under Justinian it is mandated, then and then later in the century you get to see the theology of Augustine who says that the millennium is simply a symbol for the current reign of Christ through the church, through the Catholic Church. And so you do have Christian Zionists, but they go pretty much underground through the Middle Ages. Christian Zionism gets resurrected in a big way in the 16th century three centuries before the 19th century. Primarily because of the Reformation’s emphasis on a plain sense reading of the Bible. In other words let’s not hyper spiritualize all of these Old Testament promises and New Testaments suggestions, Let’s recognize that God is a god of the particular, not just the universal. God is a god of Flesh and bodies and land and not just bodiless spirits. So if we believe in the resurrection of the body for the individual, the Bible also talks about the resurrection of the land so to speak. A renewed land and this is particularly the Christians and theologians who particularly pick this up are the Puritians. Starting in the 16th Century and it’s through puritanism that you get this theological Revival of Christian Zionism in the 16th century before 250 almost 350 years before the rise of dispensationalism.
Bock
It’s true and it’s interesting that what they’re picking up on, as you say, is this language of scripture which seems to suggest that there’s is physical dimension to salvation there’s a physical dimension to the kingdom which is about this history. It’s not a two plane history in which there’s a spiritual thing going on in the midst of the physical the promises of God are kept to the people who the promises were originally given even as Gentiles are coming in alongside and are certainly blessed and have full participation and right and what Christ has to offer their presence doesn’t mean the Nullification of another group of people to whom God has made commitments.
McDermott
Yes and so you’ve got people like Jonathan Edwards who was the postmillennialist just the opposite of a premillennialist he believed in a literal millennium, but that Jesus was not going to come until after the end this literal millennium but he was a Christian Zionist. He said the Jews will return to the land. We know that they are dispersed right now in the diaspora, and we know the bible promises that they will so we know that something great is going to happen in the land of Israel sometime in the future we don’t know when. Now he was writing this in about the 1740s and Jews didn’t begin returning to the land in big numbers until the 1870s or so. So here’s a post millennialist, a leading Christian Zionist, the greatest American theologian, I would say one of the five or six greatest theologians of Christian thought was a Christian Zionist back in the 18th century.
Bock
Interesting. You know we moved quickly so we got past this topic when the Church and politics were so tightly wrapped together that it was hard to separate the Kingdom from politically what was going on which probably contributed to the belief that the church was the political and redemptive answer to things in the world. That mixture could lead easily to that confusion which sometimes we get that civil religion and gospel values which get mixed up in our own reflections on society. So in one sense it that just happened. Particularly as Christianity got further and further away from its Jewish roots sociologically in that period and it lost touch with the Jewish roots of what the church has been in those first few centuries.
McDermott
Yes. And Jews emphasize this Earth generally more than Christians do, many Jews that I know are critical of Christians because they’re so airy-fairy, super spiritual, hyper spiritualizing everything. They have good reason for these criticisms because so much of the history of Christian theology has hyper-spiritualized the Old Testament promises, making everything apply to the church, taking all of the material application out of the promises and spiritualizing them all. So what you have is sort of a, dare I say it, Christian Gnosticism that separates the soul from body, and almost denigrates the body as being unspiritual and a scandal of particularity is what’s really going on. Now that’s a fancy term that theologians have been using for the last 50 or 60 years, referring to the fact that, actually it goes back to the Enlightenment. The Enlightment thought that everything should be universal, that anything that was particular or any particular truth of history could not have a universal truth. So if there’s a God, course most of the Enlightenment thinkers did think believe in a god, and that God must operate in the same way for all people at all times and all places. So any God that would operate in particular ways, to a particular people like the God of the Jews, and only in particular times revealing himself progressively throughout history instead of revealing himself all at the same time and in the same place must not be the true God.
Bock
So we were in the middle of talking about what the new Christian Zionism is, kind of introducing it to people. And have gone through that it’s broader than dispensationalism, historical and the sense that it shows that Zionism is old, it’s not just a new thing. And the next thing that you do in the introductory chapter is to talk about the issue of legality and justice, which I think is one of the most misunderstood portions of this conversation. There are many attempts to suggest that Israel’s presence in that area of the world is illegal going back to its founding as a nation in 1947 and 1948. And then also in the discussion of the war, the Six-Day War in 1967. And then the discussion subsequently will sometimes point to the UN resolutions that make the same kind of claim. And so your point here is that before we have a discussion about Israel and what it has the rights to not just theologically but even legally there are legal reasons to respect Israel’s right to exist as a nation so help us with that because I do think that is one of the most misunderstood parts of this conversation.
McDermott
Right, and let me deal very briefly and tell listeners and watchers to go to the book for a much more detail. First of all, 1947, 1948 often the allegation is that Jews stole the land from the Arabs. Not so, the United Nations partition the land in a way that the Jews were very unhappy with the partition, but they swallowed hard and said we will accept it, our share of the land, the Arabs did not. And the Arabs proceeded, all the surrounding arab nations, the day after the Israeli state was established, attacked. And as a result of the war, the state was secured. So they did not steal the land rather the United Nations, in an internationally recognized resolution, awarded a part of the land to the Jews which the Jews accepted and the Arabs did not. Secondly, it is often allege today that the so-called occupation of the West Bank is illegal. And they refer first and foremost to the UN resolution 242 in 1967 after the conclusion of the October 6 day war. What a lot of people don’t realize, and what a lot of the media never goes back to check, is that if you go look at the resolution and the authors of the resolution, Arthur Goldberg wrote a long piece about this, the resolution specifically says that Israel is supposed to withdraw from territories, not the territories. And Arthur Goldberg wrote, we specifically left out the word ‘the’ because we recognized that Israel would be committing suicide to withdraw from all the territories because it would not be able to defend itself, and that no final resolution of the borders should be established until there was face to face negotitian between the two parties recognized the legitimacy of the state of Israel, and they haven’t done that. Well, Jordan has and Egypt has but the surrounding states have not. And what a lot of people don’t realize is that Israel already gave back 90% of the land that it won in this defensive war. And they were the initiators not the Jews, not the Israelis, in 1967 the whole Sinai Peninsula which now we know is incredibly mineral-rich and the other thing a lot of people don’t realize is that the West Bank was seized illegally by Jordan in 1948 or 1949 it might have been after the conclusion of the war of independence for Israel Jordan’s takeover of the West Bank was universally condemned even by fellow Arab Nations, so they never had right to the land of the West Bank and by the way they called it the West Bank it was the West Bank of the Jordan of their territory so that’s not even the title does not have international legitimacy or it didn’t have then but by now the universal use of the term it’s just been accepted so. Israel is not violating international law it didn’t steal land in 1948 and it’s not illegally operating, and the other thing people don’t realize is that in 1988 Jordan officially transferred control of the West Bank to the state of Israel.
Bock
So, if you go before the official founding of the nation in 1947 and 1948 during that period, you have the Balfour Declaration that comes before that, that opened up the possibility of people coming to the land and the opportunity they had to be there etcetera, and all of these steps have legal steps in the context of them in international law. Now the dispute issues from the Arab states not recognizing some of these moves and have not acknowledged the right of Israel to exist. I have spoken at a conference called Christ at the Checkpoint, which is held in Bethlehem at Bethlehem Bible College and they were very gracious to me and they wanted to hear what dispensationalist have to say about Israel, and so I went in and talked about how I thought Israel had a right to the land. And I made the point that when it comes to justice, justice is a two way street. That not only do you have to recognize the injustices that sometimes do come up because Israel is not perfect in the way she responds, but imagine if you were surrounded by surrounding nations, many of whom don’t believe you have the right to exist and many of whom support people who espouse your absolute removal. If I’m speaking to Americans then the analogy I like to make people imagine is if Americans were surrounded by Canadians and Mexicans whose commitment was that the United States should no longer exist and they would do anything in their power to make sure that it was removed, that would probably make you pretty nervous. And so that’s the situation that Israel finds herself in and she deals with this. And so that’s what I said to the mostly Palestinian audience, the preoccupation that Israel has with security is a justified preoccupation and the only way that you’re going to work towards any reconciliation or peace, which this conference was supposed to be talking about, was by being willing to recognize the reality and presence of the other and actually talk in not violent terms about how to live together. So, one of the more interesting hours of my life actually-
McDermott
I bet it was.
Bock
But I feel like this legal two Dimension is one of the things that is assumed in this conversation and that it just doesn’t exist. That doesn’t mean there aren’t real issues to discuss between the parties, I often joke about, when I go to Israel I hear the same stories, people in white hats and black hats, the only difference is which side of the wall I’m on, who’s wearing the white hats and who’s wearing the black hats. There are all sorts of anecdotes about things that were done in each direction that would give a Christian pause, so I think this legal Dimension is important. You do not just discuss it in the introduction, it is also in the conclusion. Those details, the history behind them is very, very important. One of the things I said and my concluding remarks is that whenever this issue gets discussed, making people familiar with what this history is, is actually an important part of this conversation to prevent the presumption of how injustice is working in particular cases. Another thing that you highlight is that idea that this is, from an ethnic standpoint, it’s not racism. That there is another backdrop to this that is important in terms of the religious identity of Israel which is an interesting question itself because if you go to Israel you find very secular Israelis, as well as people who are very religious Israelis are very Orthodox I have this in mind there, so you meet this range that you’ve alluded to in your own visits, talk a little bit about that.
McDermott
I tell people who hear about the 1975 UN resolution condemning Zionism as racism, which implied that Israel as a Jewish state was a racist state because it declares itself a religious, Jewish state, which is a) sort of laughable when you look at all the explicitly Muslim states in the world today, and we don’t accuse them of being racist; and b) it’s laughable if you go to Israel and you see black soldiers in the IDF and white soldiers in the IDF, IDF is the Israeli Defense Force, and brown soldiers in the IDF you see people of all different colors, and all different races who are Jews. There are Chinese Jews; there are African Jews; there are middle eastern; there are North African Jews; and European Jews who tend to be more white. The accusation that Jimmy Carter has most famously made, that Israel is an apartheid state, is also laughable. You’ve got Arabs on the Supreme Court. You’ve got Arabs now, I’ve got a quote in here by a Muslim writer Arshad Manji, and she went to Israel to check out this was an accusation, is this an apartheid state? And she wrote this upon her departure, after she left, as 20% of the population, would Arabs even be eligible for election if they squirmed under the thumb of apartheid? And they do run for office, and Arabs hold seats in the Knesset the Israeli Parliament. Would an apartheid state extend voting rights to women and the poor and local elections? Which Israel did for the first time in the history of Palestinian Arabs. It’s a fact by the way, if you study the politics of Israel, Palestinians, Palestinians will tell you this, have far, far, far more freedom to speak and act as they want to speak and act within the state of Israel then they do on the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority. Where speaking a word against the Palestinian Authority can get them thrown in jail and beaten and perhaps make their families open to attack.
Bock
So and really the point being made there is an important one and it also applies interestingly enough to both sides of this conversation. We sometimes, I think the guilt here is a generalization about who Jews are and interestingly, sometimes we’re doing the same thing about Muslims and assuming that they are all of the same kind, and of the same stripe, and hold the same beliefs, and that’s certainly not the case as well. And in fact it’s the reality of those differences that provide some element of possibility that there are groups willing to talk to one another, you’ve seen that in the Arab world, you’ve already alluded to the fact that Egypt and Jordan have recognized Israel while other Arab states have not. That kind of thing, so we know these kinds of distinctions can be made, but sometimes these terms are thrown about injustice and racism in such a way, to try and paint guilt by huge association and color the conversation. I call it, it’s soundbite debate. And sound bite to be generally doesn’t help us very much because it almost always ignores the depths and levels and complexities of what it is that you’re looking at. The last category that you talked about in the introductory chapter is the societal one, or at least that’s the way I’ve characterizing it, is that Israel is not a theocracy which may seem strange to some people. What point are you trying to making there?
McDermott
Basically a theocracy is when the clerics rule the state, when your theologians make the decisions now. That’s what you have in Iran; the mullahs run Iran. It’s not what you have in Israel. In fact, the rabbis in Israel are often fighting with the decisions made by the state and vice versa. If they were running things there wouldn’t be such hostility as there often is between the rabbis and the Netanyahu government and decisions by the Knesset.
Bock
In fact, the only time they come close to going in this direction as when the ability to build a majority in the country is determined by one or two votes and it is the Orthodox parties that help complete that and then they end up exercising some influence in government policy as a result but even that is not a full theocracy because the power is actually held in the range of elected officials that Israel generates in their elections.
McDermott
And plus the word theocracy suggests that only if you are in the favored religion do you get full civil rights. Well we have this full chapter by our Aramaean leader friend who talks about the full rights he enjoys as a non-Jew.
Bock
Again just to show that there are things to criticize there has been pressure in Israel freedom of religion expression to Christians and Christians’ presence there, so the point is this isn’t perfect, this isn’t a perfect society, but it is far more open society and far more open government and structure than other parts of that part of the world.
McDermott
And Shaddi Kahul the man I was just talking about in his chapter talks about some mistakes the Israeli government has made it toward at the Aramean community so this book once again it does allow for criticism of Israel.
Bock
So let’s turn our attention to the back of the book and where things kind of end up. I’ve already alluded to a couple of things that I highlighted when I tried to pull all of these things together one being gentle inclusion doesn’t mean Israelite exclusion in the plan of God. Another being this really is about God’s faithfulness. God made certain commitments in God’s word to specific groups of people and even as God brought more people in which ultimately originally God had committed God’s self to, because God said through Israel the whole world will be blessed, that doesn’t mean that the original recipients of these promises have been left behind so that’s an important part of the picture. We’ve highlighted another element that I highlighted as well that this is not as nationalistic as some people portray it because it takes place theologically in a place of reconciliation that God is performing at the core of his gospel. One of his key phrases in the New Testament is that in Christ there is no Greek or Jew, or no Gentile or Jew. Part of the point that that’s making is not to wipe out the particularly of the two groups, but to say what holds them together and at least what the gospel is about is ultimately and what salvation is about and is bringing the nations of the world together before God and so that in Revelations 4 and 5 we see all the nations praising God in one voice and in the way heavenly praise is portrayed. And so Paul describes it his own ministry as a Ministry of reconciliation and in 2nd Corinthians that’s between you and God but in Ephesians 2 that’s about how God brings Jew and Gentile together in Christ reinforcing the early in Port point that Gentile inclusion does not mean Israelite exclusion at the same time. And so these are about important theological themes. This is not about a nationalism that says Israel, I’m going to use a German phrase, Israel uberalus, it’s about a commitment that in which everyone shares in the benefits that God has given to people and that’s ultimately what the eschatology in the Bible is looking forward to. So that means justice is cared about on all sides and it also means that we need to have a good non-discriminatory conversation when issues of justice are applied to the region. If we’re going to complain about how Israel treats Palestinians we also have to be willing to talk about how sometimes Palestinians mistreat Jews, and elements like the Intifada and things like that. And I made a point about how to get the word out about these views in terms of conferences and media efforts like the one we’re having right now. So that’s what that chapter was about. You came along with your conclusion, and highlighted what this means for theology, for historical theology, and by theological I mean the reading of the Bible, exegesis, what this means for historical Theology and systematic theology and so I’m going to let you pick those off one at a time.
McDermott
Well perhaps a good way for me to go through those is for me to state five propositions I make at the end.
Bock
Okay good.
McDermott
First is Israel shows us who we are and who God is. She shows us who we are before God at both our best and our worst. For Israel demonstrates god’s creation of human beings with the capacity to trust in him and the human predilection to reject God. Two sacred history is not over. As John Carney Darnelle who once observed that biblical prophecy is that biblical prophecy is the announcement of the fact that at the end of time God will perform works still greater than in the past. Now that is important because for a lot of Christians today, outside of this circle, there is nothing really to look forward to except the end of the world. And nothing particularly Christian or Jewish is going to happen then. But if at least part of what we’re saying in this book is true it means we can expect in the latter days the unfolding of sacred history is going to continue. The number three, the eschatological fulfillment is supposed revealed in headed. And a lot of your listeners are probably know that Luther is famous for his saying that God and Jesus Christ is both revealed and hidden, and Bart made that a major theme of his Church Dogmatics. The point that I take away from that is that much of eschatology is wrapped up in mystery I’m scripture to clearly teaches for example that God chose Israel but it never explains why Israel was chosen. And so that the emergence of modern Israel as a fulfilled prophecy seems plain but how it will work out and how is working out now is a mystery that we must leave most of the details to God. And then number four, this fulfillment is not in its final stage. We can’t know the unfolding of the end times with any Precision but we can know this stage of fulfillment is not is probably not the final one.
Bock
And we know some general outlines. We know who the winners and the victorsare going to be in that kind of thing or the way in which this is going to resolve itself one more we just got a touch of time, so-
McDermott
Yeah. So finally that Israel and the church are integrally joined we’re joined at the hip as it were. This is another example of the scandal of particularity. That God works through particular people and particualarly a particular Israelite named Jesus and to reach the world through that particular people and that particular person. So just as he did a thousand years ago he comes to the world universally, he comes to through the world through particular people and a particular land. He did that throughout the Millennia and our book says he continues to do that today.
Bock
Well, thank you Gerald for coming and telling us what the new Christians Zionism is and introducing us to this book. It’s been an enlightening conversation. I hope it’s been beneficial to you. We thank you for joining us at the table, and we hope to see you again soon.
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Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than 40 books, including Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King, Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith, and Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence.
Gerald McDermott
Gerald R. McDermott joined the Beeson Divinity school faculty in 2015 as the Anglican Professor of Divinity, and teaches in the areas of history and doctrine. He is the author, co-author or editor of many books, including A Trinitarian Theology of Religions (with Harold Netland),  Jonathan Edwards Confronts the Gods, The New Christian Zionism: Fresh Perspectives on Israel and the Land, Israel Matters: Why Christians Must Think Differently about the People and the Land, and Famous Stutterers. His academic research focus has been three-fold: Jonathan Edwards, Christian understandings of other religions, and the meaning of Israel. As a renowned Edwards scholar, McDermott has produced six books on Edwards; his Theology of Jonathan Edwards (coauthored with Michael McClymond) won Christianity Today’s 2013 award for Top Book in Theology/Ethics. An Anglican priest, he is associate pastor at Christ the King Anglican Church.
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