“Israel Matters” details an evolution into Christian Zionism

“Israel Matters: Why Christians Must Think Differently about the People and the Land” is the title of a relatively new and thought-provoking book by Anglican theologian Gerald McDermott, who is currently affiliated with Samford University in Birmingham, Ala.

In his book, McDermott challenges his own previous belief that in God’s view Jews became a peripheral people when they did not accept Jesus as the Messiah and, as a result, their relationship to their land and the land itself lost its significance.

McDermott also revises his own view that Jesus and the ascendancy of Christianity and the Church replaced Israel and the Jewish people as God’s covanental partners.

He also examines his previous inclination to accept the false claims that modern Israel was established on land “stolen” from Arabs; that Israel oppresses Palestinians; and that Zionism — which maintains that the Jewish people have a right to sovereignty in some portion of their biblical homeland — is a racist ideology.

With grace and humility, and an easy-to-read style despite tackling complex subjects, McDermott writes that as a result of his continued Biblical studies, willingness to consider things in new ways, and multiple visits to Israel, that he was wrong on each of the above accounts.

In addition, as part of his journey — a journey marked by some heavy-duty rethinking and rereading of both the Old and New Testaments — he evolved from being dubious about Christian Zionists to becoming one himself.

The book is a fascinating exploration of how a growing number of Christian Zionists think about Jews, both Biblically and today; how they’ve come to reconcile Jewish non-acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah with their Christian belief that he is and that acceptance of him is the one true path to salvation; and how Christians have come to be among Israel’s most ardent supporters.