Why Christian Zionism Is Vanishing in the American Church
Evangelical Christians in the United States have loved and supported the State of Israel because they believe the Bible, take its prophecies literally, and see the modern State of Israel as a first flowering of God’s prophetic promises to the Jewish people.
They have shown their love for Israel by placing political pressure on U.S. foreign policy and by standing up for Israel in the court of world opinion. Evangelical Christians have marched under the slogan, “We stand with Israel.” It’s a well-known phenomenon called Christian Zionism.
The Christian Zionist movement is the matrix from which much of modern Messianic Judaism emerged, including First Fruits of Zion.
All that is changing.
As the Millennial generation takes positions of leadership in the evangelical churches of America, we may see Christian Zionism and support for Israel vanish. It is a process that is already underway.
Today’s 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds think of themselves as well-informed about Israel’s role in the Middle East and its struggle with the Palestinian people. They are likely to feel strong empathy with the oppressed Palestinian people, and they unanimously join the rest of the world in condemning the State of Israel.
In reality, today’s Millennials are only marginally informed on the issues. They know only the side of the story fed to them by a biased media and anti-Israel activists. Most of them know nothing of the real history of the conflict, the Nazi influence over Palestinian Arabs that sparked the conflict, the repeated attempts of the Arab world to annihilate Israel and the Jewish people, or the more recent history of Israel’s attempts to establish peace with an unwilling Palestinian leadership.
Today’s 20- and 30-year-olds have no memory of how Yasser Arafat threw Israel’s concessions from Oslo back in the face of the international community while secretly funding and supporting an ongoing campaign of terror and evil. Today’s generation of youth places the blame for Middle East unrest squarely on Israel. They are seemingly unaware of or unconcerned about how the Palestinian people and the larger Arab world maintain a constant propaganda campaign of agitation to terrorism, murderous incitement and hateful anti-Jewish rhetoric, which will insure peace in the Middle East only through the annihilation of the Jewish people (God forbid).
As a result, today’s young evangelical Christians are far more likely to march under the slogan, “End the Occupation,” than the slogan, “We stand with Israel.” They are following in the footsteps of mainstream denominations such as the Presbyterian Church in the USA, which sponsors boycotts on Israeli products and has published statements condemning the State of Israel for their occupation of Palestine.
The drift away from Christian Zionism finds inspiration from voices like Wheaton College Professor Gary Burge, author of Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told about Israel and the Palestinians. Burge’s teachings attempt to undermine the basis for evangelical political support of Israel. He challenges the theology of an ongoing covenantal status of the Jewish people.
According to his perspective, Israel forfeited that status, and with that forfeiture, they forfeit claim to the land of Israel. In the view of anti-Zionists, Israel is unworthy of Christian support because it is home to Jews who have rejected Jesus as their Messiah. Anti-Zionist evangelicals contend that support for Israel thwarts efforts to share the Christian faith with Muslims in the Middle East. (In other words, Christianity would be more attractive to Islam if we could present it to them as anti-Jewish and anti-Israel.)
Evangelicals who sympathize with the Palestinian cause emphasize the Christian obligation to show concern for human rights violations, but they fail to call upon Christians to stand up against the human rights violations that characterize the policies of governing bodies within Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel’s enemies in the Arab world. Instead, from the point of view of the anti-Christian Zionists, it would appear that Israel is the world’s chief offender in crimes against humanity.
An article in The Times of Israel titled “Evangelical Anti-Zionism Gaining Traction” calls attention to the concerted effort of anti-Israel activists to turn American evangelicals against Israel. The anti-Israel message finds warm welcome with today’s Millennial Christians who have already bought into the notion that blanket condemnation of the State of Israel is a moral obligation incumbent upon every thinking, ethical human being.
The new evangelical struggle with Israel is not a new struggle. It is the same old struggle. For most of two thousand years, the Christian church has been on the wrong side of the fight against anti-Semitism and the wrong side of God’s relationship with the Jewish people. Perhaps Christian Zionism was just a brief anomaly sustained by a generation old enough to remember World War II, to have witnessed the miracle of the birth of the State of Israel, and to have seen the revealed miracles of God’s intervention that sustained the young state.
Daniel Thomas Lancaster is a writer, teacher, and the Director of Education for the Messianic ministry First Fruits of Zion (), an international organization with offices in Israel, Canada, and the USA, bringing Messianic Jewish teaching to Christians and Jews. He is the author of several books about the Jewish roots of Christianity, the Jewishness of the New Testament, and he is the author of the Torah Club Bible study program. He also serves as the teaching pastor at Beth Immanuel, a Messianic Jewish synagogue in Hudson, Wisconsin.
3 Reasons Why you should read Life in the Spirit. 1) Get to know the Holy Spirit. 2) Learn to enter God’s presence 3) Hear God’s voice clearly! Go deeper!
Has God called you to be a leader? Ministry Today magazine is the source that Christian leaders who want to serve with passion and purpose turn to. Subscribe now and receive a free leadership book.
Did you enjoy this blog? Click here to receive it by email.
Love For His People, Inc. founded in 2010 by Steve & Laurie Martin. Charlotte, NC USA