Theologians Outline Alternative Approach to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in ‘Israel, the Church, and the Middle East’

Essays Released Just Prior to Israel’s 70th Anniversary Respond to Critics of Evangelical Support of Jewish State

DALLAS, May 2, 2018 – In an effort to provide guidance and resources regarding the cultural, political and theological conflict surrounding the Middle East, 13 theological experts unpack the historical and biblical role of Israel in “Israel, the Church, and the Middle East: A Biblical Response to the Current Conflict” (May 8, 2018, Kregel Publications, $24.99, ISBN 9780825445774), a new collection of essays edited by Dr. Darrell Bock and Dr. Mitch Glaser.

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The book releases just before the 70th anniversary of the creation of the modern Jewish state on May 14. Israel, which was founded out of the ashes of the Holocaust in 1948, survives today, surrounded by enemies, even though its future role in the Middle East and biblical prophecy remains controversial.

Evangelicals have traditionally been pro-Israel, but recently supporters of the Palestinian cause have called for a more nuanced approach by Christians who believe that the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people by virtue of God’s covenants and promises.

“The debate surrounding the relationship between the Church and Israel has evolved from mere disagreement over doctrine and now includes areas of both historical and political debate regarding the current Middle East that further divides Christians,” write Bock and Glaser in the introduction. “The editors are hopeful that this book will lead to greater unity at many levels: in the Body of Christ between Jews and Arabs, between Supersession­ists and those who are not, between those who want to reach Muslims and those who want to reach Jewish people, and for those who want to reach all these groups.”

“Israel, the Church, and the Middle East” explores the hermeneutics and wider effects of the Middle East conflict, such as the growing antipathy within the Church toward the evangelization of the Jewish people, and provides readers with an objective and interdisciplinary treatment, which is both irenic and respectful in tone.

“The time has come to … temper our rhetoric, calming the waters of antagonism so that the gospel may be preached to both Israelis and Palestinians as all sides agree that Jesus is the only hope for peace in the Middle East,” writes Glaser, president of Chosen People Ministries.

The essays challenge Christian “Supersessionists” who believe the Church has replaced Israel in God’s plan. Contributors represent a wide spectrum of Evangelicals sharing a common view regarding the ongoing election of the Jewish people:

  • Dr. Richard E. Averbeck, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School;
  • Dr. Mark L. Bailey, Dallas Theological Seminary;
  • Dr. Craig Blaising, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary;
  • Dr. Darrell Bock, Dallas Theological Seminary;
  • Dr. Mike Brown, Messianic Jewish author;
  • Tom Doyle, e3 Partners and Uncharted ministries;
  • Dr. Mitch Glaser, Chosen People Ministries;
  • Dr. Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary;
  • Craig Parshall, human-rights attorney;
  • Dr. Michael Rydelnik, Moody Bible Institute;
  • Dr. Erez Soref, One for Israel;
  • Dr. Michael J. Vlach, The Master’s Seminary; and
  • Dr. Mark Yarbrough, Dallas Theological Seminary.

In addition, “Israel, The Church, and The Middle East” includes surprising data from “Evangelical Attitudes Toward Israel and the Peace Process,” a new survey conducted by LifeWay Research. The survey unveils a number of key findings, including:

  • Although more than 3 in 4 Evangelicals (76 percent) say Christians should support Israel, 4 in 10 younger Evangelicals (41 percent) have no strong views about Israel.
  • Fewer younger Evangelicals (58 percent) have an overall positive perception of Israel than older Evangelicals (76 percent), and they are less sure Israel’s rebirth in 1948 was a good thing for the Palestinians;
  • Eighty-six percent of Americans with evangelical beliefs say sharing the Gospel with Jewish people is important; and
  • An estimated 871,000 Americans with evangelical beliefs – almost three times the most generous previous estimates -- have a Jewish parent or grandparent.

Based on the results, key faith leaders, scholars, authors and pastors formed the Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem, an organization dedicated to facilitating a better public understanding of the complexities of the Middle East including its roots in history and the Bible.

The Alliance released “Our Hope for Peace: A Statement on Israel, the Nations and the Gospel,” featuring 13 affirmations and 13 denials regarding Israel in early 2018, inviting others to sign the document in a stance of unity. The full statement is also included in “Israel, the Church, and the Middle East.”

“Our hope is that this volume has presented the current complexities of the region in a way that affirms Israel’s place in the Middle East,” Bock, Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, writes in the conclusion of the book. “Israel has been, and is, an essential part of God’s unfolding plan to bless and heal our world so desperately in need of redemption. …”

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