Zion's New Name: A Review

February 22, 2011
Author Article Book Israel

Although I have been threatening to do so for a while, this is the first time I have placed a blog post discussing my views on Israel. Please note that my views do not reflect the views of my employers, who take no position on this subject.

The current trend in evangelical Christian authors setting up their own publishing imprints, through print-on-demand systems, like that of Lightning Source, is to be applauded. Many existing evangelical publishers have become too bland and too “safe” to publish a lot of important new works. That is the reason that I have set up my own imprint—Just Six Days Publishing—to get the sort of books that, before God, I think necessary out into the marketplace. Another writer to have made his own imprint recently is the fellow creationist writer, Andrew Sibley, who has set up a Lightning Source imprint called Fastnet Publications, in order to publish his new book, Zion’s New Name. The fact that he has published his book in this way is, in my opinion, a good thing.

Nevertheless, I have serious problems with the content of the book. I have noted that Sibley is a fellow creationist writer. One of the book’s two forewords is written by another creationist – Dr Farid Abou-Rahme. (The other foreword is written by the noted evangelical anti-Zionist, Stephen Sizer) It is this creationist connection which causes me to want to write this review. It may be that Sibley wishes to give the impression that his position on the modern State of Israel, and its place (or, as he sees it, lack of place) in prophecy is in accord with a creationist view of scripture. It is not. Indeed, the methods of interpretation used in Zion’s New Name, in my opinion, run counter to the way that I interpret it; and obviously I intend that my method be in accord with a creationist presupposition.

Mr Sibley claims that he is opposed to “Replacement Theology”. He justifies this by claiming, in chapter 2, that he disagrees with the theologies of Augustine or Luther. So far, so positive. He then goes on to criticise David Pawson, who has categorised those who reject Christian Zionism, for omitting to mention “those who believe the Church is a continuation of biblical Israel.” (p24 – emphasis mine). What does he mean by this “Continuation Theology? Few would want to argue with Sibley’s assertion that “the new covenant is in fact the fulfilment of the continuing promise given to Abraham”. The problem is that the promises given to Abraham were not just spiritual. Abraham was promised land – and that promise was not and has never been revoked. It was, however, renewed through Isaac and Jacob (Israel), indicating that Israel is the everlasting beneficiary of that promise. Sibley, in contrast, claims that “the Church should be considered a legitimate continuation, or extension of a united Israel and Judah, in a spiritual, ethnic and legal sense.” By this method, he can claim that prophecies relating to Israel actually apply to the church. As the blogger Mike Moore has asked “What is this if not Replacement Theology?”[1] In other words, Sibley has only been able to declare himself opposed to Replacement Theology by redefining Replacement Theology. If we use the definition that most of us would understand—that the prophecies relating to Israel now relate to the Church—then Sibley’s Continuation Theology merely becomes a subset of Replacement Theology. However, I am not trying to smear by labels. It is Sibley’s Continuation Theology itself which I believe to be in error.

In my book, No Time for Itching Ears, I have written about the covenant of Abraham[2]. However, because of the nature of the book, I have not expanded fully on my understanding of the application of the covenant. I will need to do so on this blog. In brief, it should be noted that Sibley is correct that the Abrahamic Covenant has implications for the church—after all, that is why it is mentioned so often in the New Testament. However, the reason for this is that “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3). This blessing to people of faith in no way negates the literal promise of the land to Abraham and his descendents: “T your descendents I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates.” (Genesis 15:18) I often point out to people that only a literal interpretation of Genesis 1-11 is consistent with the literal interpretation of Genesis 12-50. Perhaps I now need to point out to my fellow creationists that only a literal interpretation of Genesis 12-50 is consistent with a literal reading of Genesis 1-11.

Having seen that, in my opinion, Sibley’s basic presupposition is in error, we can now observe that his general attitudes to Israel are interpreted from a wrong starting point. Not only are his political interpretations of the modern State of Israel in error, I actually think they are bordering on naïve. He criticises Israel for “violence brought to bear against Palestinians in recent years” (p12). In this, he has been misled by the anti-Israel bias of so much of our UK media. The website Honest Reporting[3] has repeatedly shown that what is often labelled as violence against Palestinian protesters is no such thing. Sibley comments that many of the Palestinians are Christians. This is true. However, it is not the Israelis who drove Palestinian Christians out of Bethlehem and continues to harass them; it is the actions of those supported by the Palestinian Authority. Sibley needs to read the accounts of genuine Palestinian Christians, such as Walid Shoebat[4] – a man who understands the anti-Israel bias of much of the Western media. Surely Sibley would not interpret the opinions of liberal, traditional Palestinian denominations as “Christian”, anymore than he would the anti-creationist outpourings of compromised UK churches.

Sibley claims, disingenuously, that “it was initially Zionist terrorism that sought to drive the British Mandate forces out of the land and forced Palestinians from their historical lands.” This is just nonsense. While I would never claim that every Jewish person in Israel has behaved like an angel, it needs to be pointed out that, in the late 1940s, Britain was seriously in breach of the terms of its Mandate, and, under the Balfour Declaration, should already have given the entire land of the present-day Israel, Gaza, West Bank and Jordan to the Jewish people. Palestinians were not forced from their lands. At the end of 1948, there were an equal number of Jewish and Palestinian refugees in the area. The Jewish refugees were assimilated into Israel. Arab countries, with their vastly greater geographical area, could easily have assimilated Palestinian refugees, but chose not to do so. Sibley really shows his naivety when he claims “as far as I know Palestinian Muslims do not worship pagan gods such as Baal…”. Who does he think Allah is? Allah is a false god, a derivative of the sort of moon worship of pagan Middle Eastern people. I have shown elsewhere that Allah is not the same as the God of the Bible.[5] For Sibley to accept the liberal suggestion that Allah is the same as the true God shows that, in these issues, he has been influenced by liberals.

I think it is likely that I will need to return to this issue and write a lot more on the errors propagated in Zion’s New Name. For now, we should note that the type of biblical interpretation used by Sibley is not of the standard expected of a creationist, and is not in accord with a consistent interpretation of Genesis. No one should suppose that, because Sibley is a creationist, that his views are the consistent views that a creationist should normally hold. They are not.


[1] Moore, M. (2010), Replacement Theology’s New Name, < http://fromthetopcom.blogspot.com/2010/01/replacement-theologys-new-name.html >

 

[2] Taylor, PF. (2010), No Time for Itching Ears, (Leicestershire: J6D Publishing), pp157-175

[3]www.honestreporting.co.uk >

[4]www.shoebat.com >

[5] Ref. 2, pp25-28

4 responses on “Zion's New Name: A Review

  1. pftaylor61 Post author

    Andrew Sibley has attempted to post a comment to this article. It is my intention that comments always be allowed from those who register with the site, and all comments are screened before posting. Mr Sibley has said that he was unable to post this comment. I must apologise to him, if I have got the settings wrong.

    For reasons of fairness, I have therefore copied the comment he posted on to his own blog into the next comment.

  2. pftaylor61 Post author

    This is Andrew Sibley's comment:

    Paul Taylor of Answers in Genesis has written a review of my book, but given no right of reply on his blog. So I am adding my comments here.

    Firstly, Paul Taylor says that AiG takes no position on this question (which is I guess true), but then asserts that someone with my beliefs is below the standard of a true creationist, which implies he doesn't really accept AiGs position to be valid.

    [PT: It is true that both my old employer and new employer take no position on the subject of Israel. It should also be noted that the J6D blog is nothing to do with either AiG or CSE and should in no way be taken as being their opinion. This blog is MY opinion, written in a personal capacity.]

    But anyway, I believe that my beliefs set out in the book Zion’s New Name about Israel and the Church (and also Creation) closely reflect the teachings of St Paul in the New Testament, and the Protestant Reformation through Calvin. Calvin believed in a literal creation and that the Church was the continuation of Israel’s promises in a literal sense because the Church was founded by Jesus with a few Jews as the legitimate obedient root of Israel (read carefully Isaiah 1-10). Many Gentiles have been grafted into the Church as Israel, but I believe it remains the true expression of Israel in the world today.

    He is of course free to disagree with me, but I don’t think it is fair to suggest my interpretation of Scripture is somehow below the standard of a creationist when I am closer to Calvin and the Reformation in these positions than Christian Zionists. I believe that evolution and Christian Zionism grew up at the same time in the 19th C and both were departures from good sound Protestant beliefs.[1]

    The global Judeo-Christian meta-narrative involves Creation, Fall, Redemption through Christ as the fulfilment of Israel’s promises, and the final consummation of all things in Christ.

    Now let me give a few Scriptures from St Paul (NIV). He first explains his concern that people were turning away from the true Gospel because of Judaisers in the Church, a concern I share when I hear Christian Zionist theology.

    Gal 1:6-7 “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.”

    Gal. 3:7-9 &14 “Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”…”He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”

    Gal. 3:26-29 “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise [emphasis added].”

    Eph. 2:11-22 “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

    From this I believe that the Church is the continuation of Israel in Christ, and the promise of land to Abraham is fulfilled today in Jesus and through the Church, where the ‘Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.’ In other words, the promise of land in the Middle East remains in a literal sense, but it has been extended to cover the whole Earth.

    His second point about Islam and Allah also requires a response. Paul Taylor may not know, but Arab Christians were using the word Allah for God before Mohammed was born. So it is unhelpful to many Arab Christians to suggest Allah is the moon god. [2] It has been seen historically as a legitimate name for God in the Arab language and I don’t quite see how traditional use of a name in this way makes me a liberal.

    As noted the reason for writing this book is because many Christians appear to be giving up on the gospel and suggest Jews do not need to come to Christ, or wish to rebuild the temple and reintroduce temple sacrifices. I would have thought he would share such concerns and shown a little more understanding of those who wish to uphold sound Reformation doctrines.

    Sources
    [1] There is even a tenuous link through Thomas Carlyle who was a close friend of both Edward Irving and Charles Darwin.
    [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arab_Christians_and_Arabic-speaking_Christians
    Andrew Sibley BSc, MSc (EDM), FRMetS
    Free book offer at:
    http://www.fastnet-publications.co.uk/
    http://science-and-values.blogspot.com/

  3. pftaylor61 Post author

    I tend to think that backward and forward criticisms are of little benefit. I will therefore restrict my comments on Mr Sibley's comment to the following.

    He claims that his views are those of St Paul. They are not. A thorough discussion of the apostle Paul's teaching on Israel can best be found in Pawson, D. Israel in the New Testament. The scriptures quoted by Mr Sibley from Paul's epistles are irrelevant to this discussion. I would stand with Mr Sibley on opposition to Judaizers – because Paul was opposed to judaising (if that is a word).

    Analysing whether Mr Sibley or myself are closer to Calvin would be a redundant argument – especially for someone like myself, who is not fully convinced of Calvinism. I would not share Calvin's views on baptism, for example – and Calvin's views on Israel stemmed directly from his covenant theology.

    The literature showing that Allah is the Moon God is legion. The fact that this word was misused before Mohammed is irrelevant. Mohammed used the name of an existing false god for his religion. Most of the people that Mr Sibley is referring to as Arab Christians are not Christians in any case – at least not in the sense of born-again believers. They are members of centuries-old compromised denominations. Again, I refer readers to Palestinian Christians like Walid Shoebat, who know to what they are referring.

    His plea is to uphold “sound reformation doctrines”. Yet the majority of those who hold Reformed theology in the UK and the USA would not agree with his conclusions about Israel.

  4. Gavin Finley MD

    This church / Israel subject is an exceedingly tricky subject to deal with and requires careful definition of terms. I would invite comments of the new Commonwealth Theology which sees the end-time Elect as a Company of the saved in Christ from the Jewish and non-Jewish quarters but based upon Christ as the promised Seed of Abraham. The chosen are all saved the same way, by grace through faith in the atoning blood of Israel’s promised Sacrifice Lamb, our Lord Jesus Christ, Yeshua Hamashiach.
    See our website.
    http://CommonwealthTheology.com
    And
    http://endtimepilgrim.org/coi.htm

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