Political Animal


May 09, 2013 5:11 PM The Supercessionist Case Against Zionism

By Ed Kilgore

Buried in a long, angry Jerusalem Post column about a proposed Church of Scotland policy statement on Israel and Palestine is this fascinating argument from the document in question:

“Promises about the land of Israel were never intended to be taken literally… [God’s] promise to Abraham about land is fulfilled through the impact of Jesus, not by restoration of land to the Jewish people.”

Huh. I can’t recall hearing a supercessionist argument (i.e., one based on the claim that New Covenant of Jesus voided and replaced the Old Covenant between God and the Jewish people) argument against Zionism. But then the Kirk (the Church of Scotland) has often been associated with odd mixtures of old and new, back to the days when it represented the most “modern” version of the Reformation, even as it carried out some of Europe’s most savage witch-hunts.

UPDATE: Just this afternoon, the Church of Scotland agreed to revise the draft policy statement to take out the arguments about Abraham. Good idea.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • bob on May 09, 2013 5:50 PM:

    It is irrelevant what the Church of Scotland or any other religious group says about this. It would be ludicrous for any nation or international body to make policy on the basis of the Bible or any other religious myths.

  • thebewilderness on May 09, 2013 7:11 PM:

    It is one of those "if I had a nickle for every time..."
    a religious leader declared that God did not mean what he said in the Bible.

  • suitworld on May 09, 2013 8:22 PM:

    Hopefully there will come a day when the term "theology" is retired and the ideas therein will be grouped under the rest of religious ideas, under "mythology." Why are only the monotheistic religions considered to have "theology"?

  • davidp on May 09, 2013 8:48 PM:

    Isn't that "supersessionist"?

  • Steve on May 09, 2013 9:29 PM:

    Funny how the deity just happened to grant the land to the people who wrote the book, isn't it?

    I think I'll write a book saying that the creator grants me all the gold in Fort Knox.

    We'll see how well that works out.

  • RepubAnon on May 09, 2013 10:11 PM:

    I seem to recall that God didn't give the Jewish people title to Israel in Fee Simple Absolute, title was contingent on their not falling into sinful ways. When they fell into sin, they got conquered.

    Thus, title as granted in the King James Bible's telling was more a fee simple subject to a condition subsequent. Thus, the Biblical claim would seem to lack merit.

    Note that this doesn't have any bearing on whether the State of Israel is a legitimate country - it definitely is. However, it's also true that Israel has seized a bunch of other land from its rightful owners, and should give it back.

  • DJ on May 09, 2013 10:44 PM:

    Why are only the monotheistic religions considered to have "theology"?

    They aren't:


  • Werewolf on May 10, 2013 12:05 AM:


    Which rightful owners would that be-the Egyptians, whose military ruled Gaza from 1948-1967? The Jordanians, whose annexation of the West Bank was recognized only by the Brits (their patrons)? I agree that their needs to be a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, but Israel did *not* seize those territories from the Palestinians.

  • ajay on May 10, 2013 5:08 AM:

    Which rightful owners would that be?

    Well, the British, of course.

    As descendants of one of the Lost Tribes of Israel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Israelism), we retain an equal right of ownership to the Holy Land, which was, after all, granted by God to all twelve tribes.

    And unlike the two non-lost tribes, we didn't forfeit that right of ownership due to a subsequent falling into sinful ways (as RepubAnon points out).

  • evodevo on May 10, 2013 9:10 AM:

    Hey! The rightful owners during the time of Joshua (at first dated to 1200 BC by the fundies, but since equivocated on because of incontrovertible archeological evidence LOL) were the EGYPTIANS, who controlled Canaan down to the late 1100's BC. Archaeology tells us that the Israelites were actually indigenous Canaanites, with a concocted past. After that, the heretical "northern" kingdom of Israel controlled the country down to the Jerusalem area, wherein a weak Judean king reigned. Then the Assyrians stormed the northern kingdom and relegated it to vassal status, and only THEN, in ~mid-700's BC was an "independent" Judean kingdom in existence. Even then they were paying tribute to first the Assyrians, then the Babylonians, down to their unsuccessful revolt against same.
    So, in short, the country belongs to BOTH peoples. Good luck convincing anyone of that.
    And Xtian fundies have the policy that Jesus cancels out the "old covenant", though they don't say why they still insist that the 10 commandments are still valid!

  • red rabbit on May 10, 2013 10:04 AM:

    "And unlike the two non-lost tribes, we didn't forfeit that right of ownership due to a subsequent falling into sinful ways (as RepubAnon points out)."

    yeah you did, as I'm sure the many people around the world that you colonized would tell you, if you ever bothered to ask.
    but then again, I'm against using the Bible or any other book of mostly fictional fairy tales as the basis for domestic or foreign policy, or claims to any land.

  • Heather on May 10, 2013 12:38 PM:

    Mr Kilgore I believe belongs to the UCC...which grew out of 4 denominations in the 1950's. One of these groups had roots in Puritan New England according to the UCC's website (http://www.ucc.org/about-us/short-course/the-early-church.html). Now people with that history shouldn't be casting aspersions about savage witch-hunts.... But seriously, as a Presbyterian, and Scottish at that, I think the C of S got this wrong. Of course, if you're familiar with the stories, Abraham himself muddied the waters as far as descendents are concerned...