Do Jews have a divine right to the Promised Land? How do Christians understand the Israeli-Palestinian dispute?

Greg Strand – June 25, 2012 1 Comment

Christianity Today (CT) was the public forum for a conversation between John Piper and David Brickner, executive director of Jews for Jesus (since 1996), regarding the question, “Do Jews have a divine right to the Promised Land?” 

Here is how CT framed this conversation. 

Do Jews have a divine right to the Promised Land? Are American pastors dismissive of Arab Christians in Israel? Should Christians treat the Israeli-Palestinian dispute differently than other conflicts? As pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, John Piper has been addressing these contentious questions for years. After he began informally discussing them with David Brickner, executive director of Jews for Jesus, we invited them to share some of their discussion with our readers.

David Brickner, “Do Jews Have a Divine Right to Israel’s Land?,” Christianity Today 56/6 (June 20 [Web-only], 2012), Part 1

John Piper, “How to Treat a Rebellious Israel,” Christianity Today 56/6 (June 21 [Web-only], 2012), Part 2 

David Brickner, “God Doesn’t Keep Jews in a Pickle Jar,” Christianity Today 56/6 (June 22 [Web-only], 2012), Part 3 

John Piper, “Why Israel Exists ‘for the Palestinians’—and the Rest of the World,” Christianity Today 56/6 (June 25 [Web-only], 2012), Part 4  

This is a both a very helpful dialogue and a model for how to engage in theological debate/discussion about an issue that is understood differently. They are not afraid to point out the differences, but also to affirm the areas of agreement. I encourage you to take the time to read through the conversation.

Greg Strand


Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

One response to Do Jews have a divine right to the Promised Land? How do Christians understand the Israeli-Palestinian dispute?

  1. The Christianity Today articles were a good start, but they were only a start. I thought back to homiletics class and being told that exposition is not enough in any sermon. Application is just as important.

    Neither Brickner nor Piper addressed the application of their theological convictions with any specificity. Even Piper, who said that “the rights of nations should be decided by the principles of compassionate and public justice,” did not apply that principle to what is currently going on in Israel and Palestine.

    Just recently Netanyahu abided by the Israeli Supreme Court’s decision that five houses in the Ulpana neighborhood were on land belonging to Palestinians and had to be removed. But then he went on and promised that eight hundred new houses would be built on the West Bank to compensate for the loss of those five houses. That, I’m sorry to say, represents all too well the overall approach of the Israeli government since 1967. There is an appearance of justice, but the reality is a consistent and heavy-handed oppression of the Palestinians including our Palestinian brothers and sisters in Christ.

    I wish that Brickner and Piper had addressed the issues of continuing Israeli land confiscation and settlement construction, the building of bypass roads in the West Bank that are just for Israelis, the harassment of Palestinians at checkpoints, the violence of Israeli settlers against Palestinians, the restrictions on the Palestinians’ use of water resources in the West Bank, the construction and route of the Separation Barrier, the illegal claim of Israel to East Jerusalem, the practice of administrative detention or imprisonment without trial, and the unjust demolition of Palestinian homes.

    Until those issues are discussed, evangelicals have not adequately addressed the situation that exists in Israel and Palestine.

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