Stephen Sizer: Why Zionists Are Ticked Off About the Film “With God on Our Side”
by Adam Maarschalk (October 16, 2010)
Back in late April I wrote a favorable review for the film documentary entitled, “With God on Our Side.” This film takes a critical look at the movement known as Christian Zionism, which by and large gives uncritical support for the policies of the Israeli government and shows great partiality to the Jewish people at the expense of Palestinians and other non-Jews. The Bible, on the other hand, holds that Jews and non-Jews are equally lost without Christ, and that all who are in Christ have the same access to God’s blessings and promises regardless of ethnicity. The review I wrote on this film can be seen here.
Then in July I wrote a critique of Jan Markell’s strong denunciation of this film. This critique can be seen here. One of the film’s participants was Stephen Sizer, a pastor in England who is also an author, theologian, and an international speaker specializing in topics relating to the land of Israel. Jan unfairly said of Sizer that he “cannot stand the stench of Israel,” a point which I know from reading his materials is not the least bit true. Beneath that post one person also left a comment which simply included three links attempting to associate Sizer with Dale Crowley, a Washington journalist known for denying the Holocaust. As far as I could tell, after examining those links, Sizer had merely cited a statistic from Crowley in order to answer a question asked of him in a video interview with Alan Hart. He also, in that same interview, cited a statistic from John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel. No sound-minded person would suggest that Sizer, by doing so, endorsed the views of John Hagee.
The film, “With God on Our Side,” has not surprisingly stirred up a significant amount of opposition from supporters of Christian Zionism. However, I have yet to see any critiques of this film which deal with the actual content of the film in a fair way. Perhaps someone else knows of one?
A new critique has now come out, which Stephen Sizer wrote about on his blog last Sunday, October 10th. This critique is in the form of a booklet, which I have not had a chance to read, and was written by Eliyahu Ben-Haim, a Jewish believer in Christ who ministers as a pastor in Israel. The booklet is being sold by Intercessors for Israel, with this description:
The original motivation to write this paper was to provide a response to the video “With God on our Side,” produced by Porter Speakman Jr. in 2010. The video is a direct attack upon Israel and upon “Christian Zionists,” that part of the Church that is standing with God’s plan for the restoration and salvation of Israel. The question of Israel’s legitimacy as a nation in the family of nations is an issue that is being raised more frequently every day even in the Church. In many circles, present day Israel as a fulfillment of God’s prophetic word is denied as a false interpretation of Scripture. This is a battle that is not going away but on the contrary will increase in intensity. In many ways the delegitimization of Israel is an attack on God’s character, His Word, His sovereignty and His covenants. It really brings into question the truth of Scripture and God’s promises to us through His Son Jesus. Most of you will never see this video and I don’t recommend it to anyone. However the questions it raises, the accusations it makes, need answers. I have tried to provide responses historically, legally and Scripturally.
While it’s unfortunate that readers of this booklet are discouraged from viewing the documentary, it would seem to be a good thing that Eliyahu has attempted to interact with the questions raised in the film. How effectively or fairly he did so, I do not know, but the statement that With God on Our Side is “a direct attack upon Israel” already raises my level of skepticism. The following is Stephen Sizer’s assessment of Eliyahu’s critique:
Intercessors for Israel have ill-advisedly rushed into print a rebuttal of the hugely popular new film With God on our Side. Entitled, Setting the Record Straight, the booklet wrongly claims our film is “a direct attack upon Israel”. It most certainly is not, either in intent or delivery.
With God on our Side is a direct challenge to the foolish idea that Christian Zionism has any biblical or moral foundation. It is an oxymoron, as absurd as to suggest that biblical Christianity and apartheid are in any way compatible. The Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa tried and failed and eventually repented. Would that Christian Zionists did the same.
It is utterly reprehensible that so called Christians would try and justify on theological grounds the theft of land, the demolition of homes, the destruction of property, the creation of ghettos and the denial of fundamental human rights, in order to create what is increasingly becoming a racist state.
It is not an understatement to say that what is at stake is our understanding of the gospel, the centrality of the cross, the role of the church, and the nature of our missionary mandate, not least, to the beloved Jewish people. If we don’t see Jesus at the heart of the Hebrew scriptures, and the continuity between his Old Testament and New Testament saints in the one inclusive Church, we’re not reading them correctly. The key question is this: “Was the coming of Jesus and the birth of the Church the fulfilment or the postponement of the promises God made to Abraham?”
Christian Zionists see the promises of identity, land and destiny as part of an ongoing covenant God has with the Jewish people. In Zion’s Christian Soldiers I unpack this question and show that Christian Zionism is a recent manifestation of a heresy conclusively refuted by the New Testament.
I so appreciate Sizer’s point that Jesus is at the heart of the Hebrew Scriptures, and that there is great continuity rather than a disconnect between the people of God before and after Christ’s first coming.
How would you answer Sizer’s key question: “Was the coming of Jesus and the birth of the Church [a] the fulfillment or [b] the postponement of the promises God made to Abraham?” My answer is that this was the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham, and that all of God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ and that none remain to be fulfilled outside of Christ. What’s your answer?
Sizer also said this regarding Christian Zionism, and all the implications of following this movement and accepting its claims: “It is not an understatement to say that what is at stake is our understanding of the gospel, the centrality of the cross, the role of the church, and the nature of our missionary mandate, not least, to the beloved Jewish people.” That’s quite a statement. How do you find this to be, or perhaps not to be, true?
All posts on the subject of Christian Zionism can be found here.