Christian Zionists pledge ‘I am an Israeli’

A big pro-Israel crowd recently came to the Washington, D.C., convention center to listen to people like Joe Lieberman and to promise their eternal devotion to the Holy Land.

But they weren’t Jews.

They were…Christian Zionists.

A colorful report on WeeklyStandard.com notes that Charlie Daniels played Hatikvah (the Israeli national anthem) on his fiddle at the big Christians United for Israel bash. The evangelical Christian group is led by the San Antonio megachurch pastor John Hagee.

The Standard quotes Hagee:

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The Bible from Genesis to Revelation is a Zionist text. To read and understand the Bible is to accept the reality that the Jewish people are not living where they chose but where God chose. There is a real estate contract recorded in the Bible with the boundaries of Israel, given as clearly as the human tongue can express. And the land is God’s gift to the Jewish people. That’s not political. It is the will of the sovereign and eternal God.

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The article — by Jennifer Rubin, contributing editor to the conservative Jewish journal Commentary — focuses on Christian Zionists’ political support for Israel, especially at this tenuous time for Israeli support in general. One leader is quoted as saying that it would be a tragedy if “one of the two parties ceased to be pro-Israel.”

Rubin also lets them explain their historical ties to the Jewish people. It’s the Judeo part in Judeo-Christian, one fellow says.

Hagee says he understands if many Jews don’t trust them because of a history of Christian anti-Semitism. One pastor, who does Hispanic outreach for the group, says outright that they are not trying to convert Jews — an usual statement from an evangelical about any group of non-Christians.

The story avoids the question of whether Christian Zionists support Israel because of a much-discussed belief that the Jews must be united in Israel before Jesus can return. Maybe this was a starting point in drawing certain evangelicals to Israel before they discovered other commonalities? Who knows?

Regardless, at one point in D.C., 4,000 Christians stood and chanted “I am an Israeli.”

(AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

NCC speaks out on ‘Christian Zionism’

We’ve heard a lot in recent years about the growing numbers of evangelical Christians who support Israel.

The movement — or belief — is often described as “Christian Zionism.”

It’s often said that Christian Zionists believe that Jews must be gathered in Israel before Christ can return, fulfilling biblical prophesy.

Now the generally liberal National Council of Churches has put out a brochure called Why We Should Be Concerned About Christian Zionism.

A release explains:

Christian Zionism, while ostensibly a Christian movement in support of Israel, actually has the opposite effect. This brochure shows Christian Zionism to be a misguided ideology that considers the State of Israel divinely ordained with the role of ushering in the end of history, where unconverted Jews and Christians of “questionable status” will be judged by God’s wrath. In fact, the brochure points out, many evangelical Christians and Israelis reject the notion.

Belief in Christian Zionism will get in the way of a two-state solution in the Middle East, the NCC says.

“The danger of this ideology is that it is a manipulation of Christian scripture and teaching,” says Dr. Antonios Kireopoulos, NCC Senior Program Director for Interfaith Relations. “Unfortunately it has influence in American churches, to the point where many well-meaning Christians are swayed to support particularly destructive directions in U.S. foreign policy with regard to the Middle East.”