Christopher Connelly, in his article, “Why American Evangelicals Are a Huge Base of Support for Israel,” written before the last election, concludes: “However the election in November turns out, there is one certainty: Support for Israel will remain strong in both Congress and the White House. The reason for that has a lot to do with the strength of a pro-Israeli religious community with a strong grassroots political organization and fundraising arm. It just may not be the religious community that first comes to mind…’Supporting Israel is not a political issue, it is a bible issue, Pastor John Hagee, the founder and national chairman of Christians United for Israel, said in a speech last year.’”
WHTT agrees with Connelly and observes that he has quoted the most vocal bible-bending pastor he could have found. Pastor Hagee relies on the Zionist edited Scofield Reference Bible as his source of scripture, with his own bazaar twists. We Hold These Truths sees political Israel as fulfilling nothing but greedy men’s dreams of gaining control over the Middle East’s oil reserves. Jesus Christ seems nowhere in the Zionist plan, but is used as whitewash for the scheme to grain Christian support. Sadly and admittedly, many of us were once among those who were influenced by Christian Zionism, by whatever name!
“Mainline” pastors have been traditionally taught in seminaries, but too many are reluctant to speak out to challenge the likes of Hagee, Jerry Falwell Jr., Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, and others. Many traditional or mainline churches seem to have a small but vocal zionized Christian membership. The primary sources of this negative teaching are home and church borrowed space bible study classes taught by two well-funded national groups, Kay Arthur’s Precept Ministries, and Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) both of which teach Christian Zionism. Thereby, traditional churches are being influenced to remain silent on war issues, including the brutal occupation of Gaza.
John Hagee’s flagrant scriptural warping seems beyond what is believable. He and the Bible study groups mentioned invariably start and end with the claim that “God gave the land of Israel to the Jews, and they always have and always will own it, and we are obligated to support them”, if we want to go to heaven. (Last phrase is implied in the teaching)
Pastors in many mainline churches, while perhaps not believing dispensational teaching, allow it to go largely unchallenged probably because they consider home bible studies heathy, and they think it’s better not to make waves by challenging the “slightly skewed” point of view of this minority in the pews. The result is watered down teaching in mainline churches that never gets around to exposing these errors which support the killing of unarmed virtual prisoners in Gaza.
Too many Mainline churches ignore wars rather than reminding listeners that Jesus was a “peacemaker”! They have recently ignored the planned and executed Israeli open and public slaughter of 150 or more protesters in Gaze done less than a month ago. And Israel’s snipers deliberately wounded over 2000 more unarmed protesters. Using scoped sniper rifles they should rarely miss, be it an eye or knee cap they are aiming at. The whole world was told about it, for those who would look.
Dispensational teaching (DT hereafter) spreads because it is a belief system easy on the conscience. DT’s can ignore and be comfortable with the news that came from Gaza last month because they are told words to the effect, God gave this land to Israel and the evil Philistines are still trying to take it back, they deserve being killed and maimed. Old Testament scripture makes plenty of references to slaughtering enemies of “Israel.” This is Israel’s bible based pattern.
Christopher Connelly tells us: “Hagee’s talk was indicative of the group’s message. He expressed frustration that, from his perspective, the Obama administration was more focused on improving ties with America’s and Israel’s enemies in the Middle East, than on Israel’s security, and that it blamed Israel more than the Palestinians for the failure of the peace process.…
For some, the power of organizations like Christians United for Israel to influence US foreign policy is out-sized. But that influence wouldn’t exist without a receptive audience.
Evangelical Christians make up the biggest pro-Israel bloc in the US. Support for Israel is stronger among American evangelicals than it is even among American Jews. According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, 82 percent of white evangelicals think God gave Israel to the Jewish people. Less than half as many Jewish Americans or Catholic Americans agree.
And according to a Bloomberg poll, almost 60 percent of evangelicals say the US should support Israel even if its interests diverge with American interests…
There are other Biblical and more future-oriented reasons that some evangelicals support Israel — specifically the “prophecy that Israel has a major role to play at the end of days. This idea was popularized in the Left Behind book series, which sold tens of millions of copies and was adapted into a film series starring Kirk Cameron in 2001, and rebooted in 2014 with Nicolas Cage….”
Connelly gets to the bitter truth, speaking of justice: ‘”To take this popularized Apocalyptic end times view as the norm is a huge mistake. It’s absolutely not, and most evangelicals don’t share it,” says Robert Nicholson, executive director of Philos Project, a nonprofit working to promote positive Christian engagement in the Middle East. There are evangelicals who think some of those things, but they’re an absolute minority.
While support for Israel is strong, there are some signs of growing sympathy of Palestinians as well. Bock, of the Dallas Theological Seminary, notes that this seems particularly true among younger evangelicals.
What drives millennial are justice questions — and there are real questions related to justice and how Israel handles the Palestinians. Of course, the flip side of this is that there are real problems of security that Israel has to cope with so Israel is a very tangled web,’ he said…
Connelly continues “But for now, at least, the shift seems to be a small one. In 2013, a Pew Research poll found that 72 percent of white evangelicals said they felt more sympathy for Israelis than Palestinians. There are tens of millions of American evangelicals, with a range of views, but the core is still solidly on the side of Israel.”
We Hold These Truths adds: Yes we are outspoken and perhaps harshly critical because we have watched for what seems to be a lifetime while the imprisonment and the killing of Palestinians is ignored by most church leaders. To repeat, most of us at WHTT were at one time or another among those influenced by some practices of Christian Zionism. But one by one, we have put it aside and we want to help you do the same. One wonderful example is provided by the testimony of Pastor Chuck Baldwin, a candidate for President in 2008, who speaks of his many years as a Zionist pastor. You will moved by it.
We have also studied and traveled in Gaza, and our film, Christian Zionism, The Tragedy and the Turning, includes a live Israeli bombing scene (filmed by this author) that killed four unarmed Palestinians and wounded 40 way back in 2002.
When Zionist influenced Jesus believers recognize that they are supporting a kill-or-maim-on-purpose system, they will then either cease to follow dispensational Zionism, or cease to follow Jesus, one or the other. One can not follow both! – Editor C E Carlson