As the Israel-Hamas War continues, and we see ever-increasing antisemitic words and actions transpire across the globe, one group unwavering in its support for Israel is the American evangelical church. Be it from a pulpit or podium, the stand is unmovable.
Mike Johnson, the new House Speaker, tells a gathering of "pro-Israel" donors he personally assured Netanyahu that Congress will back the war "unwaveringly, till the end"October 29, 2023
"As a Christian, we believe the Bible teaches very clearly that we're to stand with Israel," Johnson says pic.twitter.com/IYpqjB43aL
To examine why this is, and also to assist in understanding why there is such astonishing contempt for Israel among today’s anti-hoi polloi, a brief history lesson.
In 19th century America, and to a lesser degree in other countries, as the traditional prominent Protestant denominations drifted toward a secularly tainted and theologically liberal mindset, the fundamentalist movement took root. Based on beliefs about which believers tolerated no debate — the inerrancy of Scripture, Jesus’ virgin birth, His substitutionary death for humanity and subsequent physical resurrection, Christ’s promised Second Coming, the need for personal confession of sin and direct acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior to ensure eternal salvation — this revolt against worldliness developed into the 20th century evangelical movement. Its high moments include the rise of media-savvy evangelists such as Billy Sunday, Aimee Semple McPherson, and Billy Graham. There was also the “Jesus Revolution” of the late 1960s and early to mid-1970s, in which disaffected boomers turned from both their parent’s nominal but uncommitted religious adherences and the dead-end vapidity of the hippie counterculture to embrace the living Savior.
A keen interest in eschatology, the study and interpretation of Scripture regarding Christ’s Second Coming, has long been a cornerstone of the evangelical movement. Related to this, although not necessarily coupled initially with it, was a complete reevaluation of Christianity’s complex and ofttimes horrific relationship with Judaism. For example, when one of the first, if not the first, things that come to mind when contemplating the Roman Catholic Church and Judaism over the centuries is the Spanish Inquisition, one quickly understands why the 16th century Council of Trent’s declaration that the Jewish deicide belief under which Jews had previously suffered persecuted was utterly in error gets short shrift.
Back to 20th, now 21st-century evangelism. From its inception, the evangelistic church has viewed Jews as God’s chosen people in need of being told the Gospel without intimidation or prejudice. The evangelistic church has universally heralded Christians who stood in direct opposition to the Holocaust, be they martyrs such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer or survivors such as Corrie ten Boom.
Speaking of Bonhoeffer, he provides an illustration of another facet of the complicated relationship between Christianity and Judaism, this time in relationship to 20th-century events. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website, while acknowledging Bonhoeffer’s unyielding stance against Naziism, contains this curious aside.
On the other hand, the theological section of the essay also contains the traditional antisemitic teachings that for centuries had characterized Christian understandings of Judaism, and Bonhoeffer argued that the “Jewish question” would ultimately be resolved through the conversion of the Jews. He never explicitly abandoned this view.
The museum is in error. Bonhoeffer and other evangelicals, while bearing no traits of the attempted forced conversions that marked the pre-evangelical church’s assault on Judaism, also bore no ill will or disrespect in their witnessing to Jews that Christ was indeed the promised Messiah. Its roots were in the above-noted belief that the Jews were God’s chosen people and a sincere desire that all should know the salvation and joy of life in Jesus. The evangelical theology and mindset hold nothing but love for Jews. Anyone who claims affiliation with the evangelistic church yet does not uphold these principles is swiftly dismissed from fellowship.
Many evangelicals saw Israel’s 1948 birth as an unmistakable fulfillment of the prophecy that prior to Christ’s Second Coming, Israel would again be a nation. A Scripture commonly used in this line of reasoning is Isaiah 11:11.
In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the Mediterranean.
There is also Isaiah 66:7-8, interpreted as referring to Israel’s lightning-quick inception as a nation.
“Before she goes into labor,
she gives birth;
before the pains come upon her,
she delivers a son.
Who has ever heard of such things?
Who has ever seen things like this?
Can a country be born in a day
or a nation be brought forth in a moment?
Yet no sooner is Zion in labor
than she gives birth to her children.
And, Zechariah 8:4-5, referring to Jerusalem as a city at peace.
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each of them with cane in hand because of their age. The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there.”
There are seemingly innumerable lines of thought in this area, so in lieu of disappearing down any given prophetic rabbit hole, we’ll leave the eschatological argument aside in favor of commenting on how and why the belief mentioned above directly ties into the virulent hatred of not only Israel but Jews individually and collectively.
The American evangelical church, while not universally politically conservative, is firmly to the point of overwhelmingly so even as it is overwhelmingly socially conservative. It has, therefore, been battered for decades by society and culture’s self-appointed upper crust. This includes the media, be it as an entertainment provider or news/information purveyor. Focusing on recent decades, as part of the wholesale rejection of the Industrial Revolution-onward Western adherence to Christian-based moral form with scant if any foundation, a loose societal alliance with Scriptural principles such as the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments minus any genuine connection with the God behind them, society’s misled leading edge has performed the neat trick of simultaneously denying the need for repentance from personally committed misdeeds while, in the case of modern mythology such as “white fragility,” demanding the confession of sins allegedly carried out by forefathers.
Tied into this is the notion modern society cannot fathom, that being evil’s existence aside from the flippant assigning of “evil” to anyone or anything deemed potentially ruining the party. Since October 7, 2023, the world has seen brutality and death on a scale unimaginable to the allegedly sophisticated modern mind. The Israel-Hamas War is anything but the bloodless imagery of video games flashing across a screen, imaginary bullets cutting down digital depictions of nonexistent foes. From the war’s beginning, subhuman perversion on Hamas’ part has ravaged humanity on a scale and to a depraved depth hard to envision and even harder to stomach for even the most battle-hardened veteran observers of man’s inhumanity.
It is little wonder that in the face of such barbarism, many have retreated to their preferred variant of lollipop dreams in a cotton candy sky, one in which Hamas’ satanic cruelty and hatred cannot possibly exist and therefore does not exist. Also seeping from society’s sewer are the hardened antisemites whose true gruesome colors are now on full display. In addition, an allegedly more civilized yet equally vacuous resistance to Israel’s effort toward forever ending Hamas in the only fashion it can be terminated, namely killing its members and supporters, emanates from social media stages and corporate political/media stooges bleating for an Israeli-led ceasefire as a legitimate response. Were it not for the desperately unfunny nature of matters, this would be laughable. Envision, if you will, a bully punching you in the nose. You draw your fist back to hit back twice as hard, thus ensuring no further assault. At the sight of this, the bully cries out, “Don’t hit me! No more violence!” This takes place with no assurance save their word alone of the bully abandoning their previous behavior. Does any reasonable person agree to such a relationship? The last person who did so was Neville Chamberlain, and as a quick glance at history’s way reveals, it did not go well for him or Europe.
Considering all the above, it is little wonder that progressives hate Israel and Jews with such passion. Progressives believe they must despise whatever, or whoever, the other side loves. Evangelicals, i.e., conservatives, love Israel and demonstrate no bias against Jews? We must do the opposite! And so, in its zeal to disdain everyone and everything held dear by those believed inferior, progressives have revealed the fatal flaw in their reasoning. They preach love and tolerance yet exhibit neither. Instead, they are miffed to the point of madness by the notion that the God in Whom they seldom believe has deemed someone other than themselves as His elect. As Jesus Himself said to His disciples just before His arrest and crucifixion, ironically speaking of the Jews in the psalmist’s words that today find themselves used against Jews, “They hated Me without reason.”