Christian Zionism fact or fiction

Christian Zionism: Fact or Fiction?

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Professor Takaki discusses (in Chapter fourteen) how Jewish victims of Nazi Germany were nearly overlooked by American society. Today, however, there is a strange amount of attention by so-called Christian Zionists who look to Jews and the state of Israel to fulfill Biblical prophecy.

From an academic perspective, using the Bible as a historical source is problematic. The major issue is how does one distinguish the narrative story that we receive from the Bible (and its corresponding accuracy), from the religious or theological interpretation? Religious scholars will sometimes uphold and sometimes challenge the authenticity of various books and passages of the Bible. Still others (including lay readers) will accept the entire text of the Bible in its literal sense, while others view the Bible in a figurative manner. What are we as students of history to believe?

I am certainly not a Biblical scholar, so my comments are simply to draw your attention to the current debates on this topic.

We know, for example, that Jewish people are among the oldest people known in history and that their religion, Judaism, has exerted great influence. We also know, as discussed in this course, that there is seemingly no real consensus on the definition of a Jew. Nevertheless, the presence and impact of Judaism cannot be denied.

Takaki begins his analysis of the Jewish diaspora with the tremendous immigration of Jews into the United States in the late 19th century. By World War I one third of all Jews in Russia and Eastern Europe had emigrated most of them to the U. S. Within the U.S.—the Shtetl in America—Jewish immigrants flourished. This they did despite the odds and the intense level of anti-Semitism present in America. You will find an introduction to this history in Chapter Eleven of our textbook, A Different Mirror. He picks up the topic again in Chapter Fourteen

We have examined some background into the origins and social history of Jews both in Israel and throughout the Jewish Diaspora—a very difficult thing to do because of the vast nature of the history. Primarily, I wanted you to understand the millennia of persecution; the driving force of Jewish survival after Hitler’s Holocaust; the determination to establish the Jewish Nation of Israel in 1948: the powerful support of Israel from Jews living in the United States; and, the emerging support by Christians in America of Jews in Israel.

Review the film “Christian Zionism:The Christians United for Israel Tour”

Rapture Ready: The Christians United for Israel Tour (Links to an external site.)
Rapture Ready: The Christians United for Israel Tour

The filmmaker is Jewish and attempts to discredit the movement. Thus, the perspective shown was not at all favorable to the beliefs of many Christians in the U.S. who support Jews in Israel.

Here is another source that provides a more balanced explanation of the strongly held views of conservative Christians who support Zionism.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_isra.htm (Links to an external site.)

The article above makes the argument in support of Christian Zionism and provides the biblical passages that support their argument. It provides a theological basis (and a timeline) for Christian support of Israel in end-times. Whether you agree or not, recognize that many Christians in America sincerely hold this belief.

Many Jews, however, resent the religious interpretation (as did the Jewish film editor) because it implies that Jews must give up their faith and convert to Christianity (i.e., that Jews are somehow in error in their beliefs). Under the Christian Zionist view, those Jews who remain faithful to Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) will suffer the negative consequences of Armageddon—i.e., genocide. Faithful Jews argue that Christian Zionism is basically an anti-Semitic doctrine.

Additionally, some Christians reject the doctrine stating that it is a false interpretation of Christian doctrine that justifies violence and oppression in the name of God. You will see in the first video that Pastor Hagee advocated for a pre-emptive attack on Iran to destabilize the Middle East and hasten the process of the second coming of Christ.

Certainly, Palestinians who argue that they were forcefully removed from their ancient homeland by Jewish military intervention (the establishment of Israel in 1948) would reject the doctrine of Christian Zionism as well as Jewish Zionism.

The problem, as mentioned above, is the conflict between the historical narrative (and its accuracy) in the Bible with theological or religious interpretation.

In 1901, C. I. Schofield, a conservative Protestant who edited the King James Version of the Bible emphasized the significance and role of Israel in world history. The Schofield Bible is the most widely read Bible in America. A noted journalist Grace Halsell wrote:

Scofield said that Christ cannot return to earth until certain events occur: The Jews must return to Palestine, gain control of Jerusalem and rebuild a temple, and then we all must engage in the final, great battle called Armageddon. Estimates vary, but most students of Armageddon theology agree that as a result of these relatively recent interpretations of Biblical scripture, 10 to 40 million Americans believe Palestine is God’s chosen land for the Jews.

You may not agree with this perspective, however, many American Christians support this view.

Here is a perspective from the Jewish Magazine Tikkun. The article is entitled: “Selling Israel Biblically: Christian Zionism’s Political Power” by M. Reza Behnam Ph.D. (June 20 2019). The article is clearly biased against Christian Zionism but seems to provide a fair historical account before it provides criticism of the movement.

https://www.tikkun.org/selling-israel-biblically (Links to an external site.)

What is important to note, is not whether or not you agree with Christian Zionism. The key issue is: to what degree should our nation support or restrict the politicization of religious doctrines?

For example, you may not agree with the views of Pastor John Hagee (the minister seen in the video above) however, his influence (and money) has been highly sought after by political candidates. Perhaps you will recall the controversy when Pastor Hagee supported Senator John McCain in the 2008 Republican presidential primary. Pastor Hagee also staunchly supported the past Bush Administration.

Finally, and with a little bit of humor, have you ever wondered how often we as humans have warned about the ending of life on our planet? Wikipedia provides an exhaustive list.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dates_predicted_for_apocalyptic_events (Links to an external site.)

As you might imagine the year 2000 provided us with a slew of the world ending prophecies. Throughout history various religious leaders, profits, and sooth-sayers have warned us (seemingly every year) about the end of the world.

What is interesting is that there is a Biblical reminder that no one knows when heaven and earth will pass away. Matthew 24:35:36 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.”

What are your thoughts on this issue? You may even try to make a respectful argument in support of Christian Zionism. Be mindful and considerate, that some of our classmates may, as devout Christians, sincerely advocate Christian Zionism.

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