Dialogika

Israel, Palestinians & Mid-East

Land of Promise? - Mapping Our Views

The following is the concluding chapter of a 76-page report — available HERE — entitled, "Land of Promise?: An Anglican exploration of Christian attitudes to the Holy Land, with special reference to 'Christian Zionism.'" This chapter "maps" out points which the authors believe all Anglicans should affirm, should disapprove, or about which there is uncertainty.

 

Chapter 8: Mapping our views


8.1 We came to the task of writing this report as a group of Anglicans of quite diverse views, and recognising that we were dealing with issues about which there is not merely diversity but passionately conducted disagreements among Anglicans, as among other Christians. We are also very conscious that, like the overwhelming majority of Christians worldwide, although we are bound to the Holy Land by strong bonds of interest and affection, Israel and Palestine are not our countries. That means we do not have to live with the daily realities faced by Christians, Jews, Muslims and others who live in the Holy Land; and that in turn lays on us not only a responsibility to listen to those who do live there, but also a responsibility to be thoughtful and careful in the language we use and the actions we take, because we do not have to live directly with the consequences. That said, we have come to three conclusions: that there are some key principles on which we agree, and which we think all Anglicans can and should affirm; that there are some beliefs and attitudes which we cannot accept, and which we think should be unacceptable to all Anglicans; and that there are some issues on which we sincerely hold different views, and on which we think vigorous but courteous debate needs to continue amongst Anglicans.

In the lists of these beliefs and principles set out below, the references given in brackets relate to the paragraph(s) in the report which discuss or substantiate the assertions we are making. The references are indicative, and not necessarily exhaustive.

8.2 We agree that all Anglicans can and should affirm the following:

  • God is equally concerned for all peoples and all lands (5.3; 7.29; 7.35)

  • Our primary identity is given in Jesus Christ, and this must be prior to our national or ethnic identity (7.20)

  • All Christians are of equal standing in the Church, whether Jewish or ‘Gentile’, indigenous or migrant (7.18)

  • God has acted decisively at specific times in history in the Holy Land, supremely in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth (5.3; 5.9; 7.30-1; 7.36)

  • All scripture is inspired by God, and needs interpretation in the light of Jesus Christ (5.5; 6.9; 7.28)

  • The spiritual and the material have to be held together, as do the particular and the universal (3.3; 5.12; 7.2; 7.4-8)

  • It is essential to sustain a Christian, and in particular an Anglican, presence in the Holy Land (Foreword; 2.38; 5.7; 5.11-12; 7.1; 7.9)

  • It is essential to sustain a Christian, and in particular an Anglican, presence in Jerusalem (Foreword; 2.38; 5.7; 5.11-12; 7.1; 7.9; 7.36)

  • Christians around the world have a duty to pray for, listen to and be in solidarity with their fellow Christians in the Holy Land (Foreword; 2.38; 7.1)

  • Anglicans around the world have a duty to pray for, listen to and be in solidarity with their fellow Anglicans in the Holy Land (Foreword; 2.38; 7.1; 7.36)

  • The particular place which the land of Israel and city of Jerusalem hold for Jewish people must be taken seriously by Christians (2.6; 2.15; 7.11)

  • The figure of Israel speaks to us all of the way we have to struggle with the Word of God (1.1-3)

  • Israel as a people has been chosen by God to serve his mission (1.1-3)

  • The Jewish people have a continuing role within the purposes of God (6.52; Afterword)

  • The advances made in Jewish-Christian relations over the last fifty years must be consolidated and developed (5.1; 6.34; 6.36; 6.42; Afterword)

  • All who live in the Holy Land should have equal access to land, water, and other resources, and an equal guarantee of security (2.31-32; 7.16-17)

  • Legitimate concerns about security must not be used by any party as an excuse unilaterally to alter boundaries without the consent of other affected parties (2.28; 7.17; Afterword)

  • Jewish, Christian and Muslim people should have equal freedom to practise their religions in the Holy Land and in Jerusalem, as these are holy to all their faiths (2.30; 6.6; 7.32-33; 7.39)

  • There must be dialogue concerning the Holy Land and Jerusalem which involves Christians, Jews and Muslims (5.7; 6.32; 7.10)

  • The State of Israel is an established national state, and its citizens have the right to live in security, peace and freedom (2.33; 2.36; 6.37; 7.17)

  • Palestine has a national identity, with a cultural heritage to be acknowledged and respected; Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have the right to live in freedom, peace and security without military occupation or appropriation of land, and to self-determination. (2.36; 7.17)

  • Christians should seek the resolution of conflict, the understanding and meeting of the needs of all concerned, and international cooperation without prejudice (2.40; 5.3; 5.7; 6.51-52; 7.29)

  • Human rights must be observed by all jurisdictions in the Holy Land (7.15)

  • There should be no limits to our expressions of neighbourliness on the basis of religion, ethnicity or nationality (5.3; 6.43; 7.12; 7.16-17)

  • Peace and justice cannot be divorced (2.22; 6.49; 6.51; 7.29)

8.3 We consider that the following beliefs and attitudes are unacceptable within the boundaries of an Anglican interpretation of Christian faith:

  • God has given the Holy Land as an exclusive possession to any one community (4.1; 5.3; 7.10-18)

  • God has given Jerusalem as an exclusive possession to any one community (7.35-39)

  • Jews have forfeited any right to live in the Holy Land because of their alleged disobedience (7.5; 7.10-18)

  • Christians, Muslims and others have no right to live in the Holy Land because it has been given by God to the Jews (4.1)

  • God has no interest in human history, and his workings cannot be discerned there (5.9-10; 7.25-26)

  • Prophecy as prediction can be separated from prophecy as ethics (5.6; 7.14; 7.29)

  • The interpretation of scripture can lead to a clear timetable of the end times (5.6; 7.27-29)

  • The physical re-establishment of the Temple in Jerusalem is a goal which Christians should seek (7.34-35)

  • It is ever right to think, speak or act with hatred towards others (7.29)

  • The door to reconciliation is ever closed (7.29; 7.37)

  • Violence or terrorism is a way of serving God (5.6; 7.29)

  • We should give up on hope, or relish the prospect of destruction (5.6)

8.4 We recognise that there are significantly different views on a number of issues held with integrity among those who hold to an Anglican interpretation of the Christian faith – including the following:

  • The theological significance of Israel as a partner in a continuing covenant with God (2.17)

  • The significance of the events of 1948 and 1967, in the light of prophecy and of God’s providential care (2.8; 7.23-25)

  • The status of Israel as a Jewish state (2.9; 2.18)

  • The moral duty of Christians to support the State of Israel in light of the history of anti-Judaism and the Holocaust (2.16)

  • The call to direct action for Palestinian advocacy as an overriding imperative for Christians (2.35; 2.37)

  • Ways to acknowledge and safeguard Jerusalem's status as a Holy City for Judaism, Christianity and Islam (7.30; 7.32-33; 7.39)

  • The detailed structures of governance and security which will best enable lasting peace and justice in the Holy Land (2.36)

8.5 These are issues which require us to listen carefully to the voices of those who live in Israel and Palestine – people of every community, but especially our Anglican and other Christian brothers and sisters – and to listen carefully to one another, especially to those with whom we disagree. We are to listen not merely as if we were dealing with a human and political situation that is particularly complex and apparently intractable (though we are) but also as people seeking the will of the God who has made himself definitively known in this particular situation. As we recognise that debate will continue, and seek to contribute to that debate, we recognise above all that this is a situation for which we are called to pray, in the words of the Psalmist:

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem;
    may they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls
    and prosperity within your palaces.
For my kindred and companions’ sake
    I will pray that peace be with you.
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God
    I will seek to do you good. (Psalm 122.6-8)