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  • Writer's pictureProfiles in Catholicism

Christian Zionism Examined

by Steven Paas

This is a powerful book written with clarity and purpose. It has the knowledge that many Catholics only slightly. It gives us another insight into religion. First of all, Zion, was the name of the stronghold that King David took from the Jebusites and converted into the ‘city of David’ or the ‘city of God’. Zion also became a designation for Jerusalem and the whole of Israel and a personification of its inhabitants. In particular, it is used as the name of the mountain where Solomon built the temple. In the Old Testament the term came to personify the faithful remnant Judah that returned to the country after the period of exile. Eventually, in its deeper and higher meaning in Scripture the name Zion is used for the believers, the people of God. In the New Testament Zion is the Kingdom of God, which in principle has arrived and will be consummated at Christ’s return. It is given the meaning of the heavenly Jerusalem descending from God. Christ is the foundation of this Zion.

The majority of the Jews, however, turned away from the final reality of Zion in Christ. For the few who were allowed to remain in Israel and for the many in the diaspora Zion became a symbol of expected restoration of Israel, and of the desire to return to the Holy Land. Jews read Psalm 126 as a future fulfilment of God’s promise through the prophets: ‘When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed ‘The love of Zion and the hope to return have always characterized Jewish communities and Jewish literature, especially the Talmud. The Jewish orientation on restoration as a people to an earthly Israel to be founded in Palestine is called Zionism. Ultimately, it is religiously defined, as .it depends on the expectation of the coming of the Messiah, who is He who is believed to lead His people back and restore the Kingdom of David. In the meantime, Palestine successfully under Byzantine, Arab and Turkish rule, had never been entirely without Jews. Especially in the nineteenth century new settlements were added. They were forerunners of a secular form of Jewish, Zionism, and considered to be initiated by Theodor Herzl. It was a direct reaction to the pogroms in Russia under Czar Alexander II, which started in 1881, and the notorious Dreyfus scandal in France.

Orthodox Jews oppose the idea that secular Zionism and the Israeli State are fulfilments of Biblical prophecy. Different orthodox groups draw different practical conclusions from this religious stance. Many orthodox actively participate in society and politics. According to the official statistics of 2016 the ultra-orthodox. In 1970 religious Jews oriented towards Orthodox Judaism found an expression of Zionism that includes the modern State of Israel and its extension. This non-secular Neo Zionism mainly consists of West Bank settlers and members of the National Religious Party. Likud, and of the non-parliamentary Movement for Greater Israel.

In general, post-holocaust public opinion in the West has embraced the re-introduction of a Jewish presence in Israel or Palestine, although some anti-Israeli anti-Semitism has surfaced since the beginning of the new millennium. On the whole Western politics hs appreciated and even admired the modern State of Israel as a stable counterbalance to the Islamic threat and as an example of democracy, although Israeli occupation policies of Palestinian territories are considered an embarrassment and the human rights situation has been criticized. The Jewish people together with the physical Israelites of the other tribes who mostly cannot be identified anymore among humanity signify all the peoples of the earth that are blessed through the promise to Abraham, which are realized in Christ.

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