Today I wish to make a statement about the premillennial dispensationalist theology (a la Left Behind) that is rife in certain quarters of evangelicalism. Most Biblical scholars have been moving away from this view in recent years, but alas, the train has already left the station. Because policy makers in the US and in Israel and others who are concerned about the state of Israel have jumped on board with this “Left Behind” theology and are using it to guide their thinking and decisions.
Let me direct your attention to an op-ed piece that just dropped last week. I will give it to you straight up, and then check back in afterward with some commentary from yours truly.
IN CRITICAL times such as this, run-of-the mill diplomacy just won’t do. Generating a few press releases, writing a couple of op-eds and mobilizing Jewish organizations won’t be enough to turn the tide that is heading straight for our shores.
Instead, we need to reach deep into our arsenal and harness one of the most powerful, and underutilized, weapons at our disposal: faith-based diplomacy. For far too long, we have relied solely on military, geopolitical and historical arguments when making our case abroad.
Hesitant or even ashamed to invoke our biblical right to this land, many of our spokesmen and diplomats have failed to deploy the moral and theological arguments which are the underpinning of our very presence here.
And just look where that has gotten us.
The fact is that our largest, best-organized and most powerful friends – namely US Evangelical Christians – stand by us not because of some UN resolution from 1947, but because of what God promised Abraham more than 3,700 years ago. And that is why we need to start quoting Genesis far more often than the League of Nations or the Balfour Declaration.
. . . And that is why it is all the more essential to be cultivating faith-based Christian support, both in the US and elsewhere. Because unlike fair-weather friends, whose backing depends on fluid and constantly-shifting political or economic interests, Bible-believing Christians stand with us out of solid belief. Their friendship is like steel – highly durable and resistant to breakage.
Thankfully, various Jewish and Christian groups are stepping in where the government has failed to act. The Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, for example, is building an extensive network of international parliamentary caucuses which mobilize support and coordinate various pro-Israel activities. From the US to Japan to the European Union, it has forged sister caucuses around the world.
Christian organizations in America are also leading the charge. Pastor John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel has built a nationwide grassroots movement that reaches more people and decision-makers than any communiqué from the Foreign Ministry ever did.
[In subsequent paragraphs, the writer mentions other Christian groups that support Israel in the way he is suggesting—the Christian Broadcasting Network, Rev. Robert Stearns of Eagles’ Wings, the International Christian Embassy, Bridges for Peace and Christian Friends of Israel, Christians for Israel International and their paper, Israel and Christians Today.]
. . . Now more than ever, we need to rally our “Christian base” in America and elsewhere. A few simple steps, such as organizing a Prime Minister’s Conference for Christian Leadership, developing the equivalent of a Birthright program for young churchgoers and establishing “Israel prayer battalions” would serve to reinforce this critical bond.
We should also appoint a roving ambassador whose responsibility would be to fortify and strengthen relations with Christians in America. This should not be an honorary title, but a position with real substance and meaning, manned by a person of faith and not just another political appointee.
With the world increasingly breathing down our neck, it is time that we embrace faith-based diplomacy, and not shy away from it in the heat of debate. As proud Jews who have returned to our land by divine right, we need not be embarrassed to assert our claim to our patrimony by relying on the Book of Books.
Nor should we fear that in doing so, we will stand alone. As recent years have shown, there will be millions of Christians ready to stand with us.
The writer of this piece is Michael Freund. He wrote this for the Jerusalem Post, in a column entitled “Fundamentally Freund”. In case you haven’t gathered, Freund is a Jew who is very strongly concerned about Israel in its ongoing struggle with the Palestinians, and who wishes to enlist the support of evangelical Christians in this struggle.
Freund seems to believe that this support is automatic–that if Israel seeks to make a case for complete and uncontested possession of the land on the basis of Genesis, then evangelicals will automatically fall in behind them in support. And many evangelicals will, because of the “Left Behind” theology that is prevalent in many quarters of evangelicalism. To put it simply and bluntly, many evangelicals believe that certain things have to happen before Christ will return, and that by engineering certain geopolitical outcomes concerning Israel we can hasten the return of Christ.
Whoops…forgot to tell you about the Antichrist. He’s coming before Christ returns and he will inflict untold amounts of suffering upon the vast majority of the human race. But that’s OK, because the Rapture will happen long before the Antichrist shows up on the scene and all the true believers (who are the only people who mean anything to God anyway) will be safely out of harm’s way. Read the Left Behind books (or better yet just read the synopsis on Wikipedia) and it will tell you all you need to know.
Doesn’t this bother you, people?
Personally I think that the idea of unqualified, unquestioning support for Israel regardless of the consequences for others who are involved in this conflict will only push us into a state of all-out war in the Middle East. This is scary, and we don’t need to go there.
But let’s not even talk about that. There is an even larger–much larger–issue at play here: the idea that the Church is nothing more than a pawn that can be used by certain people in the world to achieve the geopolitical outcomes that they wish to achieve. And beyond that, the idea that the Church can be used by anyone who has an agenda that they wish to accomplish–even when that agenda has nothing whatsoever to do with advancing the message of humanity’s reconciliation with God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Doesn’t that bother you, people?