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?” 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. 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 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 – 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. 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.
 Moore, M. (2010), Replacement Theology’s New Name, < http://fromthetopcom.blogspot.com/2010/01/replacement-theologys-new-name.html >
 Taylor, PF. (2010), No Time for Itching Ears, (Leicestershire: J6D Publishing), pp157-175
 Ref. 2, pp25-28