Christian Zionism Christian Zionists support the official Zionists - RothschildZionists.
Evangelical Christian Zionism
Why do so many Evangelical Christians view the State of Israel as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy? The answer lies in a system of biblical interpretation called either Dispensationalism or Premillennialism.
Modern Dispensationalists divide all of history into seven epochs called ‘dispensations,’ beginning with “Creation” and ending with the Millennial Kingdom of Jesus which is to follow the final Battle of Armageddon.
Premillennialism, a form of dispensationalism, holds that at the end of history Jesus Christ personally will return to earth, save Israel from defeat at the hands of the evil Anti-Christ, then establish a thousand year reign in Jerusalem.
Various forms of Premillennialism have arisen since the early days of the Christian Church. In the eighteenth century a new form called “Futurist Premillennialism” consolidated trends that began in the Protestant Reformation and became the basis for today’s Evangelical Christian Zionist movement. Using selected Apocalyptic texts from the Bible such as Ezekiel 38-39, Daniel 7-12, and portions of the Book of Revelation, Futurists see the establishment of Israel in 1948 as the prophetic hinge on which other prophecies depend: the rebuilding of the Third Temple, Russia’s invasion of Israel, the rise of the Anti-Christ, and the final Battle of Armageddon. Evangelical Christian Zionism has its roots in this Futurist Premillennialism, with its deep emphasis on the role of the Christian Church in fulfilling God’s plan for salvation and its elevation of the modern Jewish state in its place.3
[There is a mainstream Protestant and Roman Catholic form of Christian Zionism that marshals various biblical and theological arguments to make the case that modern political Zionism is the liberation movement of the Jews and that Gentile guilt for the holocaust is linked to the survival of Israel. Representatives of this school are Dr. Franklin Littel, Dr. Roy Eckhart, Dr. Reinhold Nieburh and Dr. Paul Van Buren.]
The rise of Evangelical Christian Zionism in the United States can be traced directly to John Nelson Darby (1800-82), by far the most important personality for the development of Evangelical Christian Zionism. His preaching of Future Premillennianism influenced prominent Evangelicals such as Dwight L. Moody, C.I. Scofield and William E. Blackstone. [Blackstone, in his bestselling book, “Jesus is Coming,” called Zionism the fulfillment of prophecy.4 In 1891, he organized a national campaign to urge President Harrison to back a Jewish state in Palestine, and gathered extensive support from governors of leading states, major newspapers, and financiers such as John D. Rockefeller, Charles B. Scribner, and J.P. Morgan. It is likely that this campaign was the first organized lobbying effort in the U.S. on behalf of Zionist causes. When Blackstone heard that Theodor Herzl was considering Uganda or Argentina for the Jewish state, he sent the Zionist leader a Bible marking every passage that referred to Israel and Palestine, with instructions that Palestine alone should be the Jewish state.5]
The most important instrument at the popular level for advancing futurist premillennial theology was the 1909 publication of the “Scofield Reference Bible,”which quickly became the primary edition used by most American Evangelicals and fundamentalists for the next sixty years.
Christian Zionism did not become a defined movement until the mid-1970s, with the occurrence of two events: the establishment in 1948 of the state of Israel and Israel’s 1967 victory over the Arabs and its capture of Jerusalem. Billy Graham’s father-in-law and editor of the influential Christianity Today, L. Nelson Bell, reflected the sentiments of most Evangelicals when he wrote: “That for the first time in more than 2,000 years Jerusalem is now completely in the hands of the Jews gives a student of the Bible a thrill and a renewed faith in the accuracy and validity of the Bible.”6
By the early 1970s there were numerous books, films and television programs, the most important of which was Hal Lindsay’s “The Late Great Planet Earth,” a popularized form of Christian Zionist literature that has sold over 25 million copies wince its 1971 publication. Lindsay, in turn, has assumed major consulting roles with the Pentagon and the Government of Israel.
By the 1976 Bicentennial year a political alliance was forming between U.S. Evangelicals, American Zionists and Israeli government officials. American Zionist leaders, perceiving changes in mainline Protestant denominations, turned more to the Evangelicals as major allies. Concentrating on the right-wing Evangelicals (the “Charismatics” and “fundamentalists”), the Zionists found natural allies who were pleased to take aggressive political positions on behalf of Israel.
Several Zionist organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC), hired staff to monitor and nurture political ties among Evangelicals. In Chicago, ADL’s Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein developed close ties with many televangelists, mainstream Evangelical centrists, and the fundamentalist wing of the Southern Baptist Convention.
During the 1976-79 period, four developments occurred that served to accelerate the political dimension of the new American Christian Zionist movement.
First, when Menachem Begin and the Likud Party came to power in 1977 they utilized religious language to advance their Revisionist Zionist political agenda. The strategy was effective among Evangelicals, particularly those predisposed to futurist premillennial theology.
Second, a triangular political relationship was cemented among the Israeli lobby in the United States, Israeli political leaders from Likud, and Evangelicals. A series of conferences, tours of Evangelicals to Israel, and selected political campaigns for Israeli interests solidified the bone.
Third, in the 1976 election, Evangelicals became a political force. They were courted by both political parties but, more importantly, they developed methods and instruments of political activity that would become of major significance during the 1983 election. In the 1976 election, Evangelicals backed a “born again” Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher, Jimmy Carter, who was elected President.
Fourth, in March 1977 President Carter announced his support for the creation of a Palestinian “homeland.” A Carter staff member told me that the phrase was not in the President’s prepared text and reflected his own convictions. At this point, the Israeli lobby turned to activate its newly-found friends, the Christian Zionists, against Carter.
One successful strategy by the Jewish and Christian Zionists was placing full-page advertisements in major newspapers across the United States. The advertisements were titled “Evangelical Support for Israel!” The text stated in part: “The time has come for Evangelical Christians to affirm their belief in Biblical prophecy and Israel’s divine right to the Holy Land.”7
This basic Christian Zionist theme targeted President Carter’s public support for a Palestinian homeland and was designed to force him to pay a political price. Among the signators were prominent Evangelicals from the “right” and “center” of U.S. Evangelicalism, including singer Pat Boone, Kenneth Kantzer of Christianity Today, and Dallas Seminary’s premillennialist theologian John Walvoord.
This heavily-financed campaign bore significant fruit for the Christian-Jewish Zionist alliance. It may have initiated the eventual departure of millions of pro-Zionist Christian Evangelical voters from Jimmy Carter. As Jerry Strober, a former American Jewish Committee employee then under contract to organize the campaign, told Newsweek: “[The Evangelicals] are Carter’s constituency and he had better listen to them...The real source of strength the Jews have in this country is from the Evangelicals.”8 Strober’s remarks were significant and anticipated problems Carter would face in the 1980 presidential election.
The 1980 Presidential election campaign found the Evangelicals joining the conservative wing of the Republican party, where over 80% swung to Reagan. The election of Ronald Reagan ushered in not only the most pro-Israel administration in history but gave several Christian Zionists prominent political posts. In addition to the President, those who subscribed to the futurist premillennial theology and Christian Zionism included Attorney General Ed Meese, Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger, and Secretary of the Interior James Watt. Several second level personnel held the Christian Zionist perspective and had considerable influence.
Once the Reagan Administration opened the door, leading Evangelical Christian Zionist televangelists and writers were given direct access to the President and cabinet members. Rev. Jerry Falwell, Christian Zionist televangelist Mike Evans, and author Hal Lindsay were among them. In addition, annual “Prayer Breakfasts for Israel” and frequent “White House Seminars” brought Evangelicals of the Christian Zionist persuasion face to face with the Reagan administration and Congressional leadership.
Televangelist Mike Evans was typical of those who gained considerable visibility and political influence during the early Reagan years. In a fundraising letter in 1982, Evans, claiming he had been called “to shake America and Israel for God,” went on to say: “Little did I know that the President of the United States would invite me up to challenge 58 generals and admirals with the truth of God in the middle of a White House meeting. Little did I know that a speech written by me, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit and filled with the Word of God, calling America to stand by Israel, would be put into the Congressional Record.”9
Jerry Falwell was intimate with leading Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Menachem Begin. In 1979, Falwell received the Jabotinsky Award from Israel in appreciation of his pro-Israel political activity. Israel donated a Lear jet to him for use in his travels. After bombing Baghdad’s nuclear reactor in 1981, Begin did not call President Reagan first, but instead phoned Falwell and asked him to tell Americans why Israel needed to protect herself. Columnists Evans and Novak revealed in August 1981 that Falwell’s ties to Begin were so close that the evangelist routinely telephoned Begin to get approval before meeting any Arab Christians. Grace Halsell’s insightful volume “Prophecy and Politics” offers firsthand experience with the Falwell version of Christian Zionism.10
Israel’s 1989 invasion of Lebanon provided Evangelical Christian Zionists and the Reagan Administration another opportunity to express their political linkage. During the first week of the invasion, June 4-10, 1982, CBN’s Pat Robertson charted the Israeli attacks each day on his “700 Club” television program and rendered his futurist premillennialist interpretation. Robertson speculated that the invasion might be a sign pointing toward the Battle of Armageddon and claimed that Israel’s attack was “a modern Joshua event.” Robertson used his television program to urge viewers to write President Reagan immediately and encourage Israel’s war against the Palestinians.11
There were also several Evangelical Christian Zionist leaders, considerably to the right of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, who had direct access to the Reagan White House. Among them were Terry Risenhoover and Doug Krieger who in the early 1980s were the prime movers behind American support for the Jewish extremist organization, the Temple Mount Faithful (Jerusalem). These Evangelical Christian Zionists believed that the destruction of the Dome of the Rock and rebuilding the Third Jewish Temple were the final events necessary to insure the return of Jesus.
In May 1984, Risenhoover and Krieger organized a major “White House” briefing for Evangelicals on Middle East issues. Over 150 Christian Evangelicals and heads of major American Zionist organizations received invitations on U.S. State Department stationery. Among those present were Hal Lindsay, Jimmy Swaggert and Conservative strategist Ed McAteer. Not a single mainline Protestant, Roman Catholic, or African-American Evangelical leader was invited. The Middle East policy briefing, chaired by Reagan spokesman J. William Middendorf, was given by Bud McFarlane, later of Iran-Contra fame.
While the Reagan administration enabled Evangelical Christian Zionists to expand their political influence to remarkable heights, the Bush Administration has been more restrained. Yet, as evident at the 1992 Republican Convention in Houston, the religious right is very much alive and well. Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, whose 300 delegates dominated the platform committee, boasts 550 chapters in 50 states and a membership of 250,000, compared with 100,000 a year ago. Their political zealotry was not lost on the man running for reelection. Speaking before a gathering of the Religious Roundtable soon after the Convention, President Bush professed that he “was struck that the other party took words to put together a platform but left out three simple letters: G-O-D.”12
To mobilize the financial and political support of U.S. Evangelicals for Israel, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), the most active and important Christian Zionist organization with an international agenda, recently opened a Washington, D.C. lobby office called the Christian-Israel Political Affairs Committee (CIPAC). Since 1990, ICEJ has raised over $2 million to bring 35 plane loads of Soviet Jews to Israel. It has also been active in lobbying the U.S. Congress to support Israel’s $10 billion loan guarantee request and to promote Jewish settlement throughout Israel and occupied Palestine.
The Roots of Change Dr. John Stott is perhaps the most influential Evangelical aside from Billy Graham of the present generation. His books number over thirty volumes and have helped shape Evangelical students and young adults since the early 1950s. It was John Stott who drafted much of the “Lausanne Covenant,” adopted by Evangelicals from 150 nations at the International Congress on World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland in 1974. The Lausanne Covenant continues to be the doctrinal position to which most Evangelicals adhere.
Built into the Lausanne Covenant is a strong position on human rights:
[We] call upon [the leaders of nations] to guarantee freedom of thought and conscience, and freedom to practice and propagate religion in accordance with the will of God and as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We also express our deep concern for all who have been unjustly imprisoned, and especially for our brethren who are suffering for their testimony to the Lord Jesus. We promise to pay and work for their freedom.13 The potential for Evangelical concern for justice and human rights for any people, including Palestinians and Israelis, lies with this statement. However, few Evangelicals would address the Palestine issue until the late 1980s. In February 1987, I had an opportunity to meet Dr. Stott and asked “What is your perspective now on Zionism and Christian Zionism in particular?” He paused, then answered: “After considerable study, I have concluded that Zionism and especially Christian Zionism are biblically untenable.”
Dr. Stott’s response is significant for several reasons. First, it marks a clear position by one of the world’s great Evangelical thinkers, a leader of impeccable credentials. Second, it reflects the logical conclusion of a Lausanne Evangelical who may not have had cause to ponder the Palestine question until the late 1980s, but clearly had changed his thinking by 1988. Third, it is a reminder that changes among Evangelicals on an issue such as Palestine must have a clear biblical foundation, or there will be no change at all. The Bible remains their primary source of authority so that any changes in Evangelical attitudes and policies will come only through their interpretation of the Bible.
Rethinking the Bible and Justice in the Holy Land
It should be noted that the debate on the Palestine question began in the Middle Eastern churches in 1969, long before the Western viewed it as a legitimate theological issue. The first public meetings in the United States that attempted to challenge established Evangelical positions on the Israeli-Palestinian issue were held in LaGrange, Illinois, in May 1979 and May 1981. Co-sponsored by Sojourners Magazine, the Palestine Human Rights Campaign and the Presbytery of Chicago’s Middle East Task Force, the conference stimulated little debate within Evangelicalism but did cause significant discussion among mainstream Protestants. The two conferences heard political and biblical analyses from Palestinian and American analysts and each year issued a Declaration.
The 1979 LaGrange meeting was challenged by several Zionist organizations. Chicago’s Anti-Defamation League representative, Rabbi Y. Eckstein, tried unsuccessfully to force the Chicago Presbytery to withdraw its sponsorship.
The ADL and other Zionist agencies were able, however, to force Rabbi Arnold Kaiman of Chicago and Father John Pawlokowski of Catholic Theological Union to withdraw their participation.
Eventually, the LaGrange Declarations I and II were signed by over 5,000 U.S. Christians. They were widely discussed and served as an initial venture into Evangelical territory. Both Declarations appealed to the Bible and both called for new thinking and sensitivity toward the suffering of Palestinians:
As believers committed to Christ and his Kingdom, we challenge the popular assumptions about biblical interpretation and the presuppositions of political loyalty held so widely by fellow Christians in their attitudes toward the conflict in the Middle East. We address this urgent call to the church of Jesus Christ to hear and heed those voices crying out as bruised reeds for justice in the land where our Lord walked, taught,was crucified, and rose from the dead. We have closed our hearts to these voices and isolated ourselves even from the pleading of fellow Christians who continue to live in that land.  That final phrase, “the pleading of fellow Christians,” referred to the forgotten Palestinian Christian community. Later this theme became the dominant practical message that would challenge Evangelicals.
The Declaration went on to challenge the futurist premillennial Biblical perspective:
We are anguished by the fact that countless Christians believe that the Bible gives the modern state of Israel a divine right to lands inhabited by the Palestinian people and divine sanction to the state of Israel’s policy of territorial acquisition.  Then the Declaration turned to address the specific issues of injustice done to the Palestinian community since the establishment of the state of Israel:
Forthrightly, we declare our conviction that in the process of establishing the state of Israel, a deep injustice was done to the Palestinian people, confiscating their land and driving many into exile and even death. Moreover, for 13 years, large portions of the holy land and its people, including the West Bank of the Jordan River, Gaza and East Jerusalem, have suffered under foreign military occupation, even as in our Lord’s time. Land is seized from its inhabitants. Water for farming is rationed and restricted. Schools and universities are closed by the Israeli military authorities. We confess our silence, our indifference, our hard-heartedness, and our cowardice, all too often, in the face of these dehumanizing realities.16
Sojourners Magazine published the Declaration and received severe criticism, not only from Evangelicals but also from Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant leaders. Despite the fact that the Declaration affirmed Israel’s existence and a right to security for Jews while condemning Arab violence, several Christian scholars dismissed the Declaration as hopelessly anti-Semitic.
While undoubtedly ahead of its time, the Declaration was endorsed by a number of Evangelical leaders, including: John Alexander and Mark Olsen of The Other Side, Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners, Dr. Nicholas Woltersdorff of Calvin College, Paul Rees of World Vision, African-American Christian leaders such as John Perkins, Rev. Joseph Lowery, author Catherine Meeks, Congressman Rev. Walter Fauntroy, Drs. Dewey Beegle and Bruce Birch of Wesley Seminary, Art Gish of New Covenant Fellowship, Walden Howard, President of Faith at Work, and Bill Starr of Young Life. Wes Michaelson, former aide to Senator Mark Hatfield, chaired the LaGrange drafting committee and contributed significantly to its final text.