Thanks to EPF PIN member Cliff Cutler for offering another perspective on Christian Zionism as we prepare for our work in supporting resolutions on Christian Zionism.
Susan Brogden, a lifelong member of Disciples of Christ congregations and currently Regional Coordinator for Churches for Middle East Peace, wrote an essay, part of a series in christianzionism.org entitled “Why I Am Not a Christian Zionist.” Her essay was shared by Christians for Middle East Peace (CMEP) Prayers4Peace on April 20, 2022.
Susan belongs to a mainline denomination whose identity in part is a “movement for wholeness in a fragmented world.” Therefore her essay does not directly address the two resolutions on Christian Zionism submitted to General Convention. Resolution C012, submitted by the Diocese of Chicago, rejects as inherently antisemitic the fundamentalist, dispensational theology promulgated by the Rev. John Hagee and his 8-million-member Christians United for Palestine (CUFI). It is a major player in Washington’s pro-Israel lobby. The essay also does not directly address Resolution C040 submitted by the Diocese of Washington that rejects the nationalistic theology of fundamentalist Christian Zionism and the political policy positions that follow from it. This resolution explains, “Christian Zionism has been used to support the State of Israel’s continued annexation of the entire land of Palestine-Israel, and the displacement and oppression of the indigenous Palestinian people, including our Christian and Muslim brothers and sisters.”
Instead, Ms. Brogden’s essay asks us to look a bit closer to home. Her story may mirror many of our own, born in a post-Holocaust world, raised in a conservative congregation and home, inspired by the Six-Day War in 1967, it took a trip to Israel to discover the fissure between what she describes as her admiration for Judaism and the policies of the modern State of Israel. Hers is what Don Wagner, former director of Friends of Sabeel North America and retired professor of Middle East studies, calls “mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic Christian Zionism.” This is a concern within the mainline church that “supports the zionist movement and views modern Israel as the answer to the Nazi Holocaust and antisemitism thus guaranteeing the Jewish people an independent Jewish state in historic Palestine with unconditional political, moral, and religious support.”
Clearly it is important for the Episcopal Church to reject the fundamentalist, dispensational, nationalistic brand of Christian Zionism as reflected in the Resolutions submitted to General Convention. But equally important is the courage to examine ourselves in our own church that is not fundamentalist. Perhaps you will see in Susan Brogden’s story a part of your own.