Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Evangelicals and Israel

The headline of this article in the NY Times could just as easily read "Misunderstanding of History Prompts Some Christians to Support the Bombing of Men, Women and Children":

As Israeli bombs fell on Lebanon for a second week last July, the Rev. John Hagee of San Antonio arrived in Washington with 3,500 evangelicals for the first annual conference of his newly founded organization, Christians United For Israel. At a dinner addressed by the Israeli ambassador, a handful of Republican senators and the chairman of the Republican Party, Mr. Hagee read greetings from President Bush and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel and dispatched the crowd with a message for their representatives in Congress. Tell them “to let Israel do their job” of destroying the Lebanese militia, Hezbollah, Mr. Hagee said.

He called the conflict “a battle between good and evil” and said support for Israel was “God’s foreign policy.”Many conservative Christians say they believe that the president’s support for Israel fulfills a biblical injunction to protect the Jewish state, which some of them think will play a pivotal role in the second coming. Many on the left, in turn, fear that such theology may influence decisions the administration makes toward Israel and the Middle East.
Yeah, that "many" would include us here at TWM. It's not so much the influence that evangelicals may have on the White House that's worrisome, it's what Bush himself believes, being as he is of the same school of thought as these conservative evangelicals.

Why do these evangelicals support Israel so strongly? Setting the elements of the rapture aside:

Evangelical Christians love Israel because they believe God loves Israel. "And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed," God's promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, is the driving force behind that belief, according to David Brog, author of "Standing with Israel: Why Christians Support the Jewish State." "The real motive behind Christianity's support for Israel is the promises of Genesis, not the prophecies of Revelation," says Brog, a practicing Jew who once served as chief of staff to Republican senator Arlen Specter. To Christians, those promises indicate that Israel's continued existence as a nation is God's will.

That's a primary reason many believers supported the establishment of Israel. It's also why substantial numbers of the American faithful stood by Israel during the Six Days' War in 1967, after which Israel captured Jerusalem, occupying the Gaza strip, the Sinai Peninsula and beyond. After all, this was the territory the Bible says God promised Israel after delivering the Hebrews from Egypt. The Bible maintains that God was, and is, on the side of Israel.
Except, archaeologists no longer believe that's the way it happened:

Rather than revealing that Canaan was entered from the outside, analysis of ancient settlement patterns indicated that a distinctive Israelite culture arose locally around 1200 B.C. as nomadic shepherds and goatherds ceased their wanderings and began settling down in the nearby uplands. Instead of an alien culture, the Israelites were indigenous. Indeed, they were highly similar to other cultures that were emerging in the region around the same time--except for one thing: whereas archaeologists found pig bones in other sites, they found none among the Israelites. A prohibition on eating pork may have been one of the earliest ways in which the Israelites distinguished themselves from their neighbors.

Thus there was no migration from Mesopotamia, no sojourn in Egypt, and no exodus. There was no conquest upon the Israelites' return and, for that matter, no peaceful infiltration such as the one advanced by Yohanan Aharoni. Rather than conquerors, the Hebrews were a native people who had never left in the first place.

In other words, perhaps the Israelites were gifted only in the sense that they got there before anybody else, which isn't much more than just about any other group of people can say about where they arose.

This is the danger of basing foreign policy on religious doctrine. Historically incorrect belief, combined with religious zealotry and ignorance/prejudice towards and fear of the Muslim "other", results in seemingly devout Christians dismissing moral proscriptions against the killing of innocents. I do not for an instant believe that we permitted Israel to wage a disproportionate campaign against the people of Lebanon because of Christian zealots. The Bush administration's foreign policy approach, which puts the danger of terrorism against even our allies above all other legitimate foreign policy concerns, was the primary factor in us failing to reign in the Israelis. But President Bush believes much of what these Christians believe, and they certainly have his ear. To what extent is our President attempting to abide by a biblical "mandate" when he acquiesced to the bombing of civilians, including children in fleeing convoys of cars? What would someone who doesn't hold these beliefs have done?


Fan Boy said...

You know if you right something about Right Wing Evangelicals, maybe, just maybe you should rad some of thier doctrinal beliefs and not opposition beliefs that are commonly not central to the everyday believer.

Evangelicals do believe that the Jewish Nation are God's people. That they are blessed in so much as that can be said that is accurate on your account.

However Christians long abandoned the thought of being blessed by blessing Israel as a country. Most have a much darker reason based in the apocolyptic roots of the country.

They believe by Isreal going to war it will force a peace treaty of 7 years. This to premillenialist is the Holy Grail of the beginning of the end.

The second reason why the US and England pushed and did not smack Israel for taking Jeruselum is simple. The Temple mount is structurally under the Dome of the Roque.

For Biblical prophecy to begin the Temple must be rebuilt, to do that is to detroy the meteorite housed in the Dome.

Christians believe by helping Israel they are helping in the end games. That they are helping to bring upon the earth Gods wrath and judgements. All good intentioned of course.

By the way, I hottly disagree with your assertions of a mass exodus when historically speaking much more evidence suggest it did happen than the one finding.

No one could possibly bring into fact that maybe a similar indigenous people with dietary laws even a off shoot of the main body could have pre existed. No one takes into account that very very large possibility.

Fan Boy said...

My spelling is actually getting worse. Gheesh, sorry.

One last thing. Many Evangangelicals will also tell you that Christianity might be the one world religion at the time that the Anti-Christ comes from. The said, it would explain why so many people who call on the name of God will not be saved. I think it is an interesting theological debate.

Christians and Islam don't mix you can look in Genesis and see why. It is no suprise that we can't get along. Humanlly speaking we can, when things get so watered down that they have no meaning.

I will say on Haggee's comments I absolutly view Islam Extremist as Evil, not the religion, but those followers I certainly do. Just like I view the misguided Crusaders as being Evil.

Nat-Wu said...

As to the first point, I've seen both points of view and I don't have a clue which might be more prevalent.

As to the Exodus (and many other points of biblical "history"), that one's down for the count. There are three important findings to consider: one, that not only is there no evidence that a large group of Hebrews ever lived in Egypt or were slaves there, but that precisely the opposite has been found. The large-scale projects built by the Egyptians were built by peasants under compulsory labor. Two, there is no archaeological evidence of the Exodus. That's not the strongest point, because obviously it would be hard to find sites of that antiquity when you don't know where to look. Three, there is positive evidence that the Hebrews developed locally. They don't differ greatly from the other peoples who arose around them. There's no reason, other than the Biblical writings, to believe they came from somewhere else.

Good reading on the subject would be The Bible Unearthed. It actually is like a summary of all the science that's been done on the subject; specifically the archaeology, although there is some discussion of historical records and linguistic evidence.

Xanthippas said...

Sorry, I didn't meant to start a debate on the validity of historical aspects of the Bible. Really, my only point was that conservative Christians should not be so willing to sacrifice something like the precepts reagarding when war is moral and/or appropriate, because they are either afraid of Muslims, don't care about Muslims, and Israel is doing the killing.

Also, I should say I haven't meant to spend so much time "evangelical" bashing. It just seems to be in the news, evangelicals and politics, in the wake of the mid-terms, and there's plenty to write about.

Fan Boy said...

Christians will stand up when you have a prevlent alternate religion that is trying to impose its self upon others by force.

The distrust of Islam goes back as far as the apostles deaths, the same as the distrust of Jewish intentions.

These three religons of Abraham have centuries full of reasons to distrust the other.

Most Christians support Israel, to say they support the slaughter of innocent life and that someone has no value because of conflicting beliefs are a gross overstatement.

Christians support Israels right to exists, they also support a free Palestine. They don't support annialationist that have aligned themselves against Israel. The lines get blurred who those are that want peace and those who want to conquer.

Fan Boy said...

P.S.: There is still a great deal more ancient evidence that the Exodus did take place.

Nat-Wu said...


Fan Boy said...


Nat-Wu said...

Still no. I'm telling you, read the book I recommended before saying anything else.