December 30, 2008

IF YOU CAN FORGIVE THE CRUCIFIXION...:

Love Thy Neighbor: What’s behind evangelical support for Israel? (Jeremy Gillick, Nextbook)

In his book Evangelicals and Israel: The Story of American Christian Zionism, Stephen Spector, a freewheeling professor of English at Stony Brook University and author of Operation Solomon: the Daring Rescue of the Ethiopian Jews, makes the case for a more nuanced understanding of Christian Zionists. Based on a range of evangelical and academic literature as well as dozens of interviews with evangelical leaders and American and Israeli officials, Spector argues that we’ve misunderstood a large, rich, and diverse religious group—at both their expense and our own.

Jews tend to see evangelical support for Israel as self-serving, and worry that evangelicals champion Jews’ return to the Holy Land only so they’ll die or convert to Christianity at the end of days. But you say that's not the whole story.

The reason that's most often cited is Genesis 12:3—God will bless those who bless the Jews and curse those who don't. Generally, the Jews are God's people. God is on the Jews' side, so evangelicals want to be on the Jews' side as well. There's also a commandment to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and it’s said that those who do will prosper. Among evangelicals, I've noticed a genuine fear of what would happen if the United States stopped supporting Israel. Christian Zionists believe that the only reason we are a blessed nation is because we've blessed Israel. [...]

Do you expect Christian Zionist attitudes to change?

Ted Haggard pointed out that dispensational thinking is declining among evangelicals, and wondered whether they would love and support Israel less as a result. Some evangelicals might feel put off if their love for Israel and the Jews seems unrequited. My best guess, though, is that people who read the Bible literally will always take very seriously God's promises of blessing those who bless Israel, and cursing those who curse the Jews.


...are you really supposed to be that bothered that Jews hate Evangelicals?



Posted by Orrin Judd at December 30, 2008 2:10 PM
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