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US Evangelical support for Israel 'has never been more widespread'
As he writes, the anti-Semitic writer of this article can hardly contain his emotion about Christians who support Israel. I imagine him, overcome with the vapours and requiring revival with smelling salts at frequent intervals – or perhaps a desperate sip of sherry (the sort offered at a vicar’s parish function) taken with a shaking hand. You can spot the points where this happens, as he keeps offering what he regards as correct thinking on the issue, just in case the reader should be led astray and begin to sympathise with Israelis.
In a speech that will be greeted with concern by many Christians in the UK, a specialist has suggested that American evangelical support for Israel “has never been more widespread than it is today”.
The comments which will alarm many, come from Southern Baptist religious liberty specialist Richard Land, who was addressing a gathering of Christians and Jews in Washington.
There follows a health warning.
The comments will come as a disappointment to many Christian peacemakers and church leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury. In a joint letter to British Prime Minister Tony Blair last year, Dr Rowan Williams and Dr David Hope warned about the dangers of Christian Zionism. They suggested that "theological work" needed to be done to "counter those interpretations of Scripture from outside the mainstream of the tradition which appear to have become increasingly influential in fostering an uncritical and one-sided approach to the future of the Holy Land."
Having prepared us with these warnings, so that we are not influenced by anything we are about to read, this far from impartial ‘journalist’ gets down to telling us what was said.
A survey from the US has suggested that evangelical Christians in America overwhelmingly support Israel's right to kill terrorist leaders.
(Pause for smelling salts)
But speaking at a briefing sponsored by a pro-Israel organization, the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission said the understanding that God has given the Holy Land to the Jews forever in an unconditional covenant is a “settled conviction” for most evangelicals…
…In his most recent speech at the Stand for Israel briefing, Land said 18th century evangelicals “inherited from their Puritan forebears an interest in the land and the people of Israel as they related to prophecy and end-time events. [Massachusetts pastor] Increase Mather and other American Puritans in the 17th century, for example, had predicted that Israel would be restored politically and spiritually in the future, before the thousand year reign of Christ on the earth.”
I am uneasy about these beliefs in ‘end-time events’, which appear to underlie the support of such Christians for Israel, but those who froth at the mouth over what they call ‘Christian Zionism’ do so not for theological reasons but because of the resulting support for Israel. They do not really care about this as a possibly mistaken theology, as they show no similar interest in any other theologies. Their rage about it springs from other sources than simple concern for correct religious thinking. It angers them because it results in support for Jews.
Land acknowledged he does not speak for all “conservative, Bible-believing Christians.” “There are those who accept what is called a replacement theology, particularly many in what is called the reform tradition, who argue that Israel has now been replaced by the church.” Many who hold to that view support Israel “based on other arguments,” he said.
So even belief in replacement theology does not necessarily result in opposition to the right of Jews to a state of their own, in Israel. A Christian can accept replacement theology and still support Israel. There is no good reason why those who use replacement theology as a weapon against Israel’s right to exist should do so.
“It is a deep religious conviction in our bone marrow, in our genetic code -- God gave the land of Israel to His chosen people the Jews,” he said. “And God blesses those who bless the Jews and curses those who curse the Jews.... And we have seen no more dramatic demonstration of it than we’ve seen in the 20th century. Look at the 20th century history of Russia and Germany, and compare that to the 20th Century history of the United States.”
To ensure that the reader is not led astray by all this talk about Israel having some sort of right to exist, the author recommends an antidote to these dangerous philo-Semitic ideas. He suggests that you rush immediately to read an article by obsessively anti-Semitic Anglican vicar, Stephen Sizer.