Challenging Christian Zionism: Canadian Roots and Responses

Date(s) - October 25, 2014
9:30 am - 11:30 am

St. Mary's Anglican Church Kerrisdale

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with Dr. Gary Burge and Dr. Ron Dart

Friday October 24, 7:30 pm at University of Fraser Valley, Abbotsford
and Saturday October 25, 9:30 am, Vancouver BC
Hosted by Canadian Friends of Sabeel BC

Organized by Rev’d William Roberts [email protected] 604 966 8082 and
Andrew Klager, PhD [email protected] 604 820 7443

Background to this Event
Gary Burge and Ron Dart are published experts on Christian Zionism. From Gary’s base at
Wheaton College in Chicago (see bio) he builds on work previously done by Sabeel Jerusalem
(April 2004) and Friends of Sabeel North America, (Chicago 2007) and the recent publication of
Zionism Through Christian Lenses. Ron Dart (see bio) and his newly released Canadian
Christian Zionism: A Tangled Tale, gives a Canadian focus to the issues regarding the Israel-
Palestine conflict that Christians in Canada face today. Together their presentations will help
Canadian churches, denominational leaders, theological schools and students, members of
NGOs, federal political party members and others to understand the deleterious impacts of
Christian Zionism. !

The Growing Roots and Responses of Christian Zionism in Canada
Over the last twenty years, there has been a dramatic rise in the influence of Christian Zionism in
fundamentalist Christian churches and in Canadian foreign policy regarding the Mideast. It also
latently informs the views of many Christians of mainstream churches, who often become
confused and unresponsive to the suffering of Palestinian Christians and Arabs. For many people
in the pews the issues are seen as too complex and sensitive. As a result little if anything is said
or done, except by the forceful emergence of Christian Zionist voices and money. Directly and
indirectly, Christian Zionists have emerged as a 50-million-strong constituency in both Canada
and USA. They adopt theological interpretations of Scripture deemed to be heretical, and offer
uncritical and theologically problematic support to the State of Israel.
In 2012 the Presbyterian Church in Canada’s General Assembly resolved to “reject Christian
Zionism as a doctrinal stance … and that Christian Zionism poses a significant obstacle to a just
peace between Israelis and Palestinians”. Likewise the United Church of Canada adopted the
Report of the Working Group on Israel/Palestine in August 2012, noting that it is “deeply
concerned that the occupation is being supported financially and politically by Christian Zionist
movements throughout North America. These organizations and churches operate out of a
theology that the working group believes to be false. Palestinian Christians have similarly
called on the Christian community throughout the world to confront this false teaching.”
In July 2013 the Anglican Church of Canada General Synod passed a resolution committing the
church to work with its ecumenical partners to:
i. enable deeper church-wide awareness of and response to the call of Kairos Palestine: A
Moment of Truth (2009);
ii. educate the church about the impact of the illegal settlements on the lives of both Palestinians
and Israelis, and about imported products identified as produced in or related to the illegal
settlements and misleadingly labeled as produced in Israel, and about the complexities of
economic advocacy measures; and
iii. explore and challenge theologies and beliefs, such as Christian Zionism, which support the
Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

Goals of this Speaker Event:
1. To educate participants on the history and theology of Christian Zionism in Canada and on
how its manifestations represent a barrier to peace in the Middle East.
2. To empower denominational leaders with a deeper understanding of active and passive
Christian Zionism so that they can educate their members on this aspect of engaging their
faith with integrity.
3. To galvanize church-related organizations, faith-based groups and civil society groups who
are working with the churches and who affirm the role of the churches in challenging
charges of anti-semitism and being anti-Jewish .
4. To equip churches, seminaries and teaching centres with updated scholarship and
information on the churches’ stand on Christian Zionism.
5. To support Christians in Canada with the knowledge, resources and confidence to participate
more actively and effectively in the wider public discourse regarding Canada’s role in Israel
Palestine and foreign policy in the Middle East. !

Gary Burge is Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, in
Wheaton, Ill. Gary travels to the Middle East frequently with students
and adults as a teacher, conference speaker, and researcher. In 1993 he
began writing about the Israel-Palestine conflict due to his growing
network of pastors in the region. This led to his involvement in
Evangelicals for Middle East Understanding that facilitates “briefings”
for Christians about the church in the Middle East. He has also been
involved in many interfaith dialogue groups (with both Muslims and
Jews). In 2003 he wrote the well-known Whose Land? Whose Promise?
What Christians Are Not Being Told About Israel and the Palestinians
which was fully revised in 2013. He is deeply involved with Christ at the
Checkpoint and the work of Bethlehem Bible College.
Ron was on staff with Amnesty International before he joined University of the
Fraser Valley in1990. Ron has an interest in Canadian Nationalism, Canadian
Red/High Toryism, Literature and Politics, Religion and Politics, Human
Rights, World Religions, International Relations, International Organizations,
the clash between the Ancients and the Moderns, Political Philosophy,
Mountaineering and Mountaineering Culture, Ecology and Politics. He has also
done work on political Zionism (Christian and Jewish) and the impact of
Zionist ideology on the Palestinians. Ron is the Political Science advisor to the
Stephen Leacock Home/Museum, on the National Executive of the Thomas
Merton Society of Canada, and he has written/published on George Grant,
Stephen Leacock and Thomas Merton. Ron has published 22 books.

William Roberts is an Anglican priest in the Diocese of New Westminster who has visited Israel-
Palestine four times in the last four years, including the November 2013 International Sabeel Conference,
and his visit to Gaza in support of the work of the Near East Council of Churches and the Episcopal
Diocese of Jerusalem. William did his theological studies at Harvard (EDS) and Union (NYC) writing his
1978 thesis on “Liberation Theology and the Palestinians” drawing heavily on the work of Gustavo
Gutierrez and Martin Buber. He has an Executive MBA from the University of Colorado. For the past ten
years he has led the Whistler Forum for Leadership and Dialogue convening conferences, forums and
seminars on domestic and international public policy matters. He has also served in interim ministry with
more than a dozen parishes in the Diocese of New Westminster. He is also a Board Member of the
Canadian Friends of Sabeel! !

Andrew Klager has a PhD University of Glasgow 2011 Religious Studies, a MA (Honours) McMaster
Divinity College 2006 Christian Studies and a BA Columbia Bible College 2003 Biblical Studies
including electives in Anabaptist-Mennonite History; Conflict Resolution; Cross-Cultural
Communication. His continuing Studies and Certifications include “Interfaith Conflict Resolution” and an
“Introduction to Conflict Analysis” from the United States Institute of Peace. Andrew’s teaching and
research experience include Sessional Instructor, Hist. of Christianity/World History to 1750 Trinity
Western University, History Department, Langley, BC; a Sessional Instructor, History of Christianity/
Western Civilization Trinity Western University (Summit Pacific), Abbotsford, BC and Sessional
Instructor, Mennonite Studies University of the Fraser Valley, Abbotsford, BC. He is also a Visiting
Researcher, Centre for Studies in Religion and Society, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC and Sessional
Instructor, Early Modern Europe/Hist. of Christianity SFU, Department of History, Burnaby, BC
Canadian Friends of Sabeel is a Canadian Christian organization actively engaged in partnerships of
solidarity that promote the perspectives and peace vision of the Palestinian Christian community. Rooted
in the Gospel of non-violence, justice, peace and reconciliation, we work with communities of all faiths,
non-governmental organizations and other like-minded networks and organizations to accomplish our
goals. We focus on working towards a just and enduring peace for Palestinians and Israelis that will
benefit the whole Middle East region. We carry out our mission primarily through education and
solidarity projects in Canada. !

The Canadian Friends of Sabeel (CFOS) is a project of NECEF Sabeel Canada, and is committed to
standing in solidarity with Palestinians, and raising awareness in Canada of the struggle of Palestinian
Christians, while joining all people in Palestine and Israel striving for peace with justice toward

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