Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Revd. Phil Hill: Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary

Dear Bishop Christopher,

I have been thinking that I should write to express to you my support for Stephen Sizer as you weigh the issues surrounding his stance with regard to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. If you wish to check my credentials, I am known both to John Gladwin and Colin Bennetts - who had better speak well of me or expect the leakage of a few tales of their youth!

I have been a Baptist minister since 1971 and have played senior roles in Baptist and evangelical life for many years before taking up my present appointment in Israel in 2008. This itself arose from pioneering British Baptist support for the Arab Baptist community in Israel from around 2000 onwards. The seminary at which I now teach was founded in 2007 by the Association of Baptist Churches in Israel as a resource for the whole evangelical community in Israel, and includes on its staff both Arab and Messianic teachers as well as expatriates like myself. It is this 'middle ground' position from within the Arab Christian and Messianic communities that I believe enables me to offer you a worthwhile additional perspective.

There are times when I think Stephen goes too far in sympathy with some Arab viewpoints and not far enough in favour of some Israeli government policies. However, I have never doubted that he is a man of high integrity, profound Christian and biblical faithfulness, a lover of truth as he genuinely sees it as much as he is a man of great grace and humility to all, both Jew and Arab (and I have personal knowledge of both). Criticize his views, by all means - but I can tell you he is a better man than most I have met in forty years of evangelical ministry.

With warm good wishes,

Phil Hill

Revd. Phil Hill, BA, MPhil,
Lecturer in Church History and Pastoral Studies,
Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary,
PO Box 50105,
Nazareth 16100,

See also letters from:

Right Revd Riah Abo El Assal, 13th Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem
Dr Bishara Awad, Founder and President Emeritus, Bethlehem Bible College
Dr Mark Braverman, Author of the Fatal Embrace
Rabbi Professor Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Lampeter University
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Islington North
Katherine Cunningham, Moderator, IPMN, Presbyterian Church USA
Professor Scott Elias, Royal Holloway, University of London
Tony Greenstein, Founding Member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Professor Mary Grey, Patron, Friends of Sabeel UK
Dr Jeff Halper, Co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
Revd Phil Hill, Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary
Canon Garth Hewitt, Founder of the Amos Trust
Dr Ghada Karmi, Exeter University
Manfred W. Kohl, Ambassador Overseas Council
Dr Attorney Jonathan Kuttab, Chairman of the Board, Bethlehem Bible College
Venerable Michael Lawson, Chairman, Church of England Evangelical Council
Jeremy Moodey, Chief Executive, Embrace the Middle East
Diana Neslen, Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Professor Ilan Pappe, Exeter University
Revd Jack Sara, President, Bethlehem Bible College
Rabbi Dr Stanley Howard Schwartz, Hospice Chaplain and retired Army Chaplain
Revd Dr Donald Wagner, National Director, Friends of Sabeel North America
Revd John Woodger, Retired vicar of St Mary's Watford

Anthony Julius is chairman of the London Consortium and a Visiting Professor at Birbeck College, University of London. His book Trials of the Diaspora, is a magisterial 800 page examination of the history of Anti-Semitism in England. In the final chapter which deals with the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, Julius writes,
"He has recently explained, however, that he 'categorically reject[s] any position that threatens the territorial integrity of Israel as a sovereign nation.... Stephen Sizer's work has the merit of clearly setting out the issues that divide the two sides, and furthermore doing so without the rancour or sheer nastiness of tone typical of the polemics in the conflict." (p.571)
It is ironic that much of the "rancour or sheer nastiness", it seems, comes from those unable to distinguish between two.

And see also these articles from other news sources:

Phil Groom (member of CCJ): Jeremiah's Underpants
Phil Groom (member of CCJ): Dr Sizer is cleared
Church of England Newspaper: Sizer complaint
Church Times:  Vicar is not Anti-Semitic
Church Times:  Rabbi Clears Vicar of Anti-Semitism
Jewish Chronicle: Bishop: anti-Zionist vicar ‘no antisemite
Jewish Chronicle: Sizer: I am ready to meet the Board of Deputies any time