American Christian Zionists often pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Christian Zionists teach their children to appreciate Judaism and help them seek awareness of the Holocaust. Despite their teachings, Christians strongly believe that Jesus Christ will rule over Israel one day. Continue reading to understand the theological history and ambivalence of American Christian Zionism.
An Introduction to American Christian Zionism
In the broadest terms, Christians’ theologically-motivated support for the Jewish state of Israel is called Christian Zionism. In Christian history, different Christian Zionist versions have existed in small regions. A wide range of political ideologies, ways of reading the Bible, and religious theologies have motivated Christians to support, advocate, and anticipate a restored Jewish homeland.
Today, Christian Zionism in America is about dispensational premillennialism, a unique Christian eschatology influence. Eschatology governs the doctrine the Christians believe regarding the happenings that’ll occur at end of human history. It supports Jesus’ second coming and its significance for all those Christians who await these events.
In many Christian eschatologies, Revelation chapter 20 has been a determining factor for the millennium and a 1000-year reign of peace on earth. Some Christians are postmillennial, while others are premillennial. Postmillennial Christians expect Jesus to return at the millennium’s end, whereas premillennial Christians believe Jesus will arrive in the beginning to establish a millennium himself. A few Christians are also amillennial, which means they don’t believe that eschatology has anything to do with a 1000-year earthly reign.
In the 19th century, a significant premillennialist movement in Britain taught how God dealt with mankind throughout history. The movement described a series of dispensations, each having its form of divine providence. God used new means to reach mankind during each dispensation, allowing them to respond faithfully. Unfortunately, humans failed the test every time, and were judged by God!
Two Distinct Messages in the Bible
John Nelson Darby suggested premillennialism shared an innovative belief that Bible contained two distinct messages. According to him, one of those messages was for the church, while the other was meant for Israel. These messages applied to different dispensations because the Church and Israel played two distinct roles in God’s plan for mankind. Darby strongly believed that the church wasn’t the new Israel and that none of God’s promises to Israel were to be fulfilled by the church. He believed God’s promises to Israel were yet to be fulfilled.
Even though Darby’s dispensationalism remained for a short time among the British premillennialists, his eschatology became a predominant formacross the Atlantic as he took hold of premillennialism in America. Bible conferences spread dispensationalism across America, establishing Bible institutes and publishing “The Scofield Reference Bible.” Dispensational premillennialism was the eschatological plank in the fundamentalist platform with the rise of the fundamentalist movement by the 20th century.
Dispensational premillennialism refers to how the world is locked in a downward spiral. It teaches mankind how there would be more wars, natural disasters, poverty, apostasy, and immortality near the end of times. This is primarily because the current and the final dispensation are ending. Although we don’t know when this period will end, it will end with a sudden rupture, fulfilling all the remaining prophecies mentioned in the Bible. Jews will return to Israel and Jesus will fight against all the evil armies who’d come against Israel. He’d establish the kingdom on earth, and reign in Jerusalem for a millennium.
Before the 1970s, most American dispensationalists believed all this was a matter not of political activism, but doctrinal belief. Nevertheless, Israel was recognized as a state in 1948 and expanded by 1967, forming a new alliance with an emerging evangelical political activism.
During the 1970s, dispensationalists forged a new partnership with Israeli and American Jews, supporting the Israeli state. Dispensationalism became popular in the 1990s with a dozen of universities and colleges training thousands of dispensationalist lay people, scholars, and pastors.
Texas pastor John Hagee, founder, and director of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) is the more recent well-known face of dispensationalist Christian Zionism. CUFI’s rebranding works for combatting anti-Semitism. American Christian Zionists of today understand that their dispensationalism association affects their wider credibility.
American Christian Zionism is ambivalent about peace in the Middle East, Judaism, and Jews. On the one hand, Darby’s belief about the Bible having two significant messages rejects supersessionism, i.e., Christians replacing Israel with God’s plans. The conception of Jerusalem, Judaism, and Jews in dispensationalist centrality reject anti-Semitism. On the other hand, dispensationalist beliefs about all Jews gathering in Israel followed by Jesus’ return translate into activism and beliefs in which Israel and Jews are pawns and archetypes rather than fellow believers or friends.
In the 20th century, Judeo-Christianity, a capacious concept allowed cooperation, lowering barriers between Christians and Jews. Both the “Christian” and “Judeo” are highly contextualized modern invocation components by Christian Zionist theological views and Israeli state identity.
Therefore, an American Christian Zionist can go and pray in the church for peace in Jerusalem without feeling any sense of dissonance. The peace Christians pray for is believed to be brought by Jesus in the millennium.
Our Final Thoughts
It is challenging to understate the significance of interfaith concepts to Christian Zionism. One important source of contemporary political influenceis the Christian Zionists’ adeptness to cooperate with the Israeli government and American Jewish groups without historical barriers. The perpetuation of an exclusivist Judeo-Christian identity, the rise of formal interfaith dialogues, the longstanding presence of Israeli governmental interference all reflect a profound instance of interfaith cooperation. Christian Zionism fuses politics and religion into an interfaith solidarity discourse.