Christian Zionism—a movement based on the belief that support of Israel, and Israeli ownership of and residence in Jerusalem, is a prerequisite for Christ’s return—has been a significant substratum within theologies and ecclesiologies of many churches in the US and Europe for centuries. Since the 1970s, US-based Christian Zionism organizations, encouraged by and collaborating with the Israeli government, have used a significant amount of resources to spread the movement into other regions of the world, including Africa. In many African countries, Christian Zionism combines perniciously with Prosperity Gospel preaching, interpreting Genesis 12:3 as a divine map to gain blessings—material and otherwise—through complete and uncritical support for the modern-day State of Israel. Many African governments have come to understand that this support is lucrative--and coercive. African officials working with Israel learn that openly supporting Palestine will result in their partnerships with Israel being discontinued.
Contributors to this interdisciplinary volume analyze the meaning and ramifications of the emergence of Christian Zionist ideologies in Africa and its churches, in interfaith work, in politics, in law, and in the use and abuse of power between peoples of different races, histories, economic strength, and influence on the international stage.
Cynthia Holder Rich serves on the Faculty of Theology at Tumaini University Makumira near Arusha, Tanzania.
History, Law, and Politics
1. Onward Christian Soldiers: An Historical Overview of Christian Zionism John M. Hubers
2. Historicizing Zionism from Gospel Songs in East Africa, Late 1980s to the Present
Samwel Shanga Mhajida
3. Assessing the Legal Realities of Zionism in Africa Benjamin J. Parsalaw and Sara Ryan
4. Apartheid and Christian Zionism Jonathan Kuttab
5. ‘Brand Jesus’: Pro-Israel Messaging through Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches in Ghana Suraya Dadoo
Biblical and Theological Aspects and Impacts
6. Christian Zionism: An African Theological Critique Nehemia G. Moshi
7. Describing Christian Zionism as Heresy Mark Rich
8. Paul's Inclusive Christianity as a Means against Xenophobic, Anti-Semitic and Anti-Immigrant Ideologies in the 21st Century Faustin Leonard Mahali
9. Race, Power, and Theology: A Christian Appraisal of Christian Zionism in Africa Cynthia Holder Rich
Ministry in the Church
10. Christian Zionism in Tanzania: A case study from the Evangelical Lutheran Church Modestus Lukonge
11. The New Christian Zionism in Africa: A Critical Analysis from a Missiological Perspective Jörg Zehelein
12. Empire and African Initiated Churches: The Cost of Israel’s Lies Marthie Momberg
13. Zionism, the Palestinian call and the meaning of the land: a challenge to the church Mark Braverman
It has, for some decades, been something of a truism that the centre of gravity in global Christianity was shifting towards Africa. This collection is therefore as timely as it is important. The legacy of missionary piety, compounded by romanticized identification of themselves with ancient Israel by African Christian movements, both settler and indigenous, and tensions with Muslim neighbors in many parts of the continent, have left African Christianity and the political movements which represent them prey to manipulation and exploitation by Israeli political, economic, and military interests. Similar developments are attested in Asia and Latin America, and it is past time that Christians recognize that Christian Zionism has become a front for the militaristic capitalism which nourishes fascism in Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories, and many countries in the global South. Cynthia Holder Rich is to be commended for bringing this material to the attention of North American and other readers, and it is to be hoped that the response will be appropriate, vigorous, and sustained. Comparisons between Israel-Palestine and apartheid South Africa are more than apt, and a global Christian commitment to overcoming evil with justice is urgently needed.
Since the rise of US Evangelicalism as a power player in the late 1970s, Christian Zionism has played a large role in US foreign policy, disguising a vulgar anti-Semitic and Islamophobic agenda behind a pro-Israel political stance. To find this strange breed of American jingoism taking root and spreading on the African continent is not surprising given the history of US missionary evangelism. As this fine volume makes evident, the gospel of American exceptionalism is implicated in the spread of African Christian Zionism to the detriment of peacemaking efforts in the region, and the future of Christian-Muslim relations in Africa will be greatly helped by the kind of theological deconstruction here offered.
This is an extremely important and groundbreaking book that analyzes and assesses the spread and impact of Christian Zionism in Africa. The volume is comprehensive in that it covers the historical, political, biblical, and missiological aspects to this movement. Given the reemergence of Christian Zionism as a political force in North America and the rest of the world, this book is timely, and the viewpoints and criticisms offered by the authors are to be taken seriously.
Christian Zionism is a deeply destructive theology born out of the 19th Century era of European imperialism. Claiming 50 million adherents today in the USA alone, the movement provides religious justification for the exceptionalism of US foreign policy toward Israel, while perpetuating the injustices experienced by Palestinians. Though it has been repudiated by mainstream Christian denominations in the Middle East, Europe and USA, it was perhaps inevitable, if ironic, that advocates would export their racist and supremacist theology to the very countries still liberating themselves from the legacy of Western colonialism. This analysis of Christian Zionism in Africa is both vital and timely. It is hoped these essays will inoculate readers from this deviant heresy.
I am heartsick to find anti-apartheid people in Africa who uncritically embrace heretical Christian Zionism. I urge the digesting and applying this much-needed collection of essays from trusted colleagues and advisors. May it serve to remove scales from many eyes especially in Jerusalem, Africa, America (and beyond).