Christian Zionism in the United Kingdom

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Lord Shaftesbury's "Memorandum to Protestant Monarchs of Europe for the restoration of the Jews to Palestine", published in the Colonial Times, in 1841

Christian Zionism in the United Kingdom is a Christian ideology that sees the return of the Jews to Israel as a fulfilment of scriptural prophecy. Supporters of Christian Zionism believe that the existence of the Jewish State can and should be supported on theological grounds.


William Hechler, An 'indefatigable' supporter of Theodor Herzl[1]

Christian Zionism preceded Zionism amongst both secular and rabbinic Jews,[2] and much of the initiative for this came from within the United Kingdom.[3][4] Expectations of a national return of the Jews to their homeland, often called Restorationism, were widely held amongst the Puritans, also heralding greater tolerance and the gradual readmission of Jews to England.[5][6]

In effect, Zionism stood at the cradle of the resettlement of Jews to England.[6]

17th century Congregationalists like John Owen,[7] and Baptists like John Gill,[8] and John Rippon, some 18th century Methodists[9] and 19th century preachers like C H Spurgeon,[10] Presbyterians like Samuel Rutherford,[11] Horatius[12] and Andrew Bonar,[13] and Robert Murray M'Chyene,[14] and many Anglicans including Bishop J C Ryle[15] and Charles Simeon held similar views. Simeon wrote in 1820, 'the Jews at large, and the generality of Christians also, believe that the dispersed of Israel will one day be restored to their own land'[16]

The meaning of our text, as opened up by the context, is most evidently, if words mean anything, first, that there shall be a political restoration of the Jews to their own land and to their own nationality. C H Spurgeon in 1864, 32 years before Herzl's Der Judenstaat,[10]

Jewish Christians like Joseph Frey, who founded the London Society for the Jews, Joseph Woolf, and two theologians Ridley Herschell and Philip Hirschfeld formed an important link between the earlier Restorationism of German Lutheran pietists and British evangelicals, and played a large part in galvanizing widespread evangelical support in the UK.[4] Herschell founded what is now called Christian Witness to Israel and the Evangelical Alliance in 1845.[17] In 1840, G. W. Pieritz, another Jewish missionary for the London Society played an important role in exposing the Damascus blood libels to the British public in The Times.[18] Erasmus Calman was a Latvian Jewish Christian, resident in Jerusalem from 1833, who in 1840 also lobbied vigorously for Jewish settlement in Palestine.[4]

Early political momentum from the 1790s to encourage and facilitate a Jewish return to Israel was doctrinally post millennial in character, being based on Puritan teaching.[4][5] Influential premillennial teachers like James Frere, James Haldane Stewart and Edward Irving in the 1820s and 30s spurred a shift in widely held opinion, with equal advocacy for the restoration.[4][19] The close associates Edward Bickersteth and Lord Shaftesbury were prominent premillennial proponents of Restoration, though Bickersteth did not publicly come to this view of the millennium until 1835, and both held differently nuanced views but jointly considered a return to the land would precede the receipt of spiritual life.[4]

Perhaps the greater paradox was that Victorian England's leading Christian Zionist had been encouraged and confirmed in his restorationist views by Jewish converts who were far more zealous in the Zionist cause than most of their fellow Jews. On Lord Shaftesbury, Donald Lewis, Professor Church History, Regent College, Vancouver.[4]

Shaftesbury repeatedly lobbied Lord Palmerston for moves to stimulate Jewish return to the Middle East, primarily by the appointment of a British Consul in Jerusalem in 1838. He also pressed for the building of Christ Church, the first place of Reformed worship in Jerusalem despite Ottoman and local opposition and the consecration in 1841 of a Jewish joint Anglican and Prussian Bishop in Jerusalem.[4][20] Shaftesbury's labours paved the way for the Balfour Declaration.[4][21]

Christ Church, The first Protestant church in Jerusalem, and the result of a petition of 1,400 clergy and 15,000 laity on 18 March 1845 to Lord Aberdeen[20]

William Hechler, an Anglican minister has been described as, 'not only the first, but the most constant and the most indefatigable of Herzl’s followers'.[1] Due to his German court connections, Hechler initially introduced Herzl to the Grand Duke of Baden, and through him hoped to present early Zionist proposals to Kaiser Wilhelm II,[22] prompting one historian to suggest that with less German suspicion, the Zionist cause might instead have been brought to birth through its own initiative.[3]

Christian Zionists like John Henry Patterson[23] and Orde Wingate[24] played crucial roles in the initiation and development of the Haganah, sometimes despite British Government opposition.

Some proponents of Christian Zionism believe that Israel must belong to the Jewish people as one of the prerequisites for the return of Jesus to earth.[3][25] This eschatology has been criticized by Stephen Sizer.[26] He and Christian Zionist David Pawson have publicly debated the issue.[27]

In 2007, the Israeli English-language newspaper The Jerusalem Post, reported on the Jerusalem Summit Europe conference held in London, describing it as an attempt "to stem the tide of rising Islamic fundamentalism" and of moral relativism.[28][29] According to the paper, the goal was to "rekindle the faded force of Christian Zionism in the United Kingdom."[30]


Exploits Ministry is one of the London organizations which promotes Christian Zionism.[31]

Other organisations are Christian Friends of Israel, UK, the Church's Ministry Among Jewish People (The Israel Trust of the Anglican Church), Intercessors For Britain (IFB), Prayer For Israel (PFI), Derek Prince Ministries, Christians United for Israel UK,[32] Beit Yeshua, North East Messianic Fellowship, Bridges of Peace, C L Ministries, Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, Hatikvah Film Trust, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, UK, Messianic (Christian) Educational Trust, Paul Heyman International Ministries, Revelation TV, the Israel Britain Evangelistic Association and Christian Zionists for Israel UK.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b 25th Anniversary Volume for Theodor Herzl cited in Paul Merkley, The Politics of Christian Zionism 1891-1948, ISBN 9780714644080
  2. ^ Shapira, Anita (2014). Israel a history, translated from Hebrew by Anthony Berris. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. p. 15. ISBN 9781611683523.
  3. ^ a b c Merkley, Paul (2 June 1998). The Politics of Christian Zionism 1891-1948. Florence, Kentucky: Routledge. p. 240. ISBN 9780714644080.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Lewis, Donald (2 January 2014). The Origins of Christian Zionism: Lord Shaftesbury And Evangelical Support For A Jewish Homeland. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 380. ISBN 9781107631960.
  5. ^ a b Murray, Iain (June 1971). the Puritan Hope. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth. p. 326. ISBN 9780851512471.
  6. ^ a b Sokolow, Nahum (1919). History of Zionism 1600-1918. London: Longmans, Green and Co. pp. 17.
  7. ^ Owen, John "Complete Works", Vol.17. Exercitation 18, p. 560.
  8. ^ "Exposition of the Old and New Testament, Deuteronomy 30 verse 5, by John Gill". Retrieved 1 July 2014.
  9. ^ "A Wesley 'Zionist' Hymn? Charles Wesley's hymn, published in 1762 and included by John Wesley in his 1780 hymn-book, A Collection of Hymns for the use of the People called Methodists". The Wesley Fellowship. 1 July 2010. Archived from the original on 5 July 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-05.
  10. ^ a b Spurgeon, Charles (1864), "Sermon preached in June 1864 for the British Society for the Propagation of the Gospel among the Jews", Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 10
  11. ^ Rutherford, Samuel (June 1973). Letters of Samuel Rutherford. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth. pp. 208. ISBN 9780851511634.
  12. ^ 'The Jew', July 1870, The Quarterly Journal of Prophecy
  13. ^ A Narrative of a Mission of Inquiry to the Jews from the Church of Scotland in 1839 (Edinburgh, 1842) ISBN 1-85792-258-1
  14. ^ "Sermon preached 17th November 1839, after returning from a 'Mission of Inquiry into the State of the Jewish People'"
  15. ^ Sermon preached June 1864 to London Society for promoting Christianity among the Jews
  16. ^ Simeon, Charles (9 February 2012). Horae Homileticae, Or, Discourses (in the Form of Skeletons) Upon the Whole Scriptures Volume 6. General Books LLC. p. 190. ISBN 9781235837920.
  17. ^ Jacobs, Joseph; Lipkind, Goodman. "Herschell, Ridley Haim". Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  18. ^ Frankel, Jonathan (13 January 1997). The Damascus Affair: 'Ritual Murder', Politics, and the Jews in 1840. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 512. ISBN 9780521483964.
  19. ^ Sandeen, Ernest (1 August 2008). Roots of Fundamentalism: British and American Millenarianism 1800-1930. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 336. ISBN 9780226734682.
  20. ^ a b Hyamson, Albert M., The British Consulate in Jerusalem in Relation to the Jews of Palestine, 1838-1914, ISBN 978-0404562786, cited in Lewis, D.
  21. ^ Sokolow, Nahum (27 September 2015). History of Zionism, 1600-1918. 1. Charleston SC USA: Forgotten Books. p. 418. ISBN 9781330331842.
  22. ^ Avineri, Shlomo (2013). Theodor Herzl and the Foundation of the Jewish State. London: Orion Books. p. 162. ISBN 9780297868804.
  23. ^ "'Godfather of Israeli Army' John Henry Patterson's Belfast Memorial Defaced With 'Scum,' 'Nazis'". Algemeiner. 19 March 2017. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  24. ^ "Charles Orde Wingate Biography". Jewish Virtual Library. Archived from the original on 20 March 2017. Retrieved 20 March 2017.
  25. ^ "In Depth: Christian Zionism". London Progressive Journal.
  26. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 July 2008. Retrieved 23 July 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  27. ^ Pawson/Sizer debate Archived 29 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ "UK baroness: Islamic extremism greatest threat to West". Jerusalem Post. 30 January 2007. Archived from the original on 13 April 2016. Retrieved 2016-04-13.
  29. ^ "Jerusalem Summit".
  30. ^ UK forum promotes Christian Zionism[permanent dead link], The Jerusalem Post, 28 January 2007
  31. ^ "In Depth: Christian Zionism", London Progressive Journal, Issue 1, 11 to 17 January 2008
  32. ^ Frazer, Jenni (29 May 2015). "Amid rising national anti-Semitism, British evangelicals step up". Times of Israel. Retrieved 6 June 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • Pawson, David Defending Christian Zionism Terra Nova Publications International Ltd April 2008 ISBN 978-1-901949-62-9
  • The Historical Roots of Christian Zionism from Irving to Balfour: Christian Zionism in the United Kingdom (1820–1918) by Stephen Sizer - from the book 'Challenging Christian Zionism: Theology, Politics and the Israel-Palestine Conflict'[1]
  • Donald M. Lewis, "The Origins of Christian Zionism: Lord Shaftesbury and Evangelical Support for a Jewish Homeland," Cambridge University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-521-51518-4
  • Merkley, Paul (2 June 1998). The Politics of Christian Zionism 1891-1948. Florence, Kentucky: Routledge. p. 240. ISBN 9780714644080.

External links[edit]