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Evangelicals & Israel: Conditional Love

Since September 11, there has been a growing coalition between Jews and evangelicals. And in the past few days, we have seen evangelicals rush to support Israel in its war against Hamas and Hezbollah.

The Israel/evangelical alliance highlights the complexity of being a religious person. Religion is not just about spirituality, beliefs, and theology; it’s about life, culture, politics–in short, it’s not just doctrine, it’s a lifeworld that’s all-encompassing. That said, here are my two cents on the new Jewish/Israeli evangelical alliance.

Jews and Israelis should embrace and befriend evangelicals. Israel can use every friend it can get. However, we also have to be honest and explain to them what worries us about their theology.


You see, since the Holocaust we have been telling Catholics and mainline Protestants that theology matters. Christian superssesionism played in a role in the murdering of six million and the countless other pogroms and attacks on Jews for over two thousand years. No, we said, it’s not good enough to just say I am sorry and be vigilant against anti-Semitism. If you want to be our friends than make a long term commitment to change your theology, change your doctrine and change the texts depicting us in ugly ways. With Vatican II the Church took giant leaps forward in correcting its theological position regarding Jews.

On the other hand, many evangelicals who support Israel continue to hold on to the theological doctrine of pre-millennial dispensationalism. This theory begins was developed by an Englishman, John Nelson Darby, who taught in the 1830s and 1840s that Christians would be taken instantaneously out of the world in the “Rapture” before Christ returns. Darby’s views became known as dispensationalism,” because he divided God’s dealing with mankind in history into three consecutive “dispensations.”


The first dispensation was the Mosaic law, through which God offered salvation to the Jews through the observance of His commandments. This age closed with the coming of Christ, who instituted the age of Grace, in which God became preoccupied with Christians. The third and final stage will begin with the return of Jesus, who will establish his reign upon the earth.

Jesus’ return is preconditioned, however, by an ingathering of exiles and a return of the Jews to Israel were the hearts will be cleansed and they will all either die or convert to Christianity. Hmmmmmmm.

When we accept evangelical support without making it known to them that we find their theological outlook problematic and unacceptable, we sacrifice long term reconciliation for short term political gains.

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Joseph D'Hippolito

posted July 25, 2006 at 2:56 am

While I understand the misgivings you would have about evangelical theology, I should tell you that mainline Protestants and Catholics have effectively abandoned not only Israel but Jews as a whole (and I’m speaking as a Catholic). The mainline Protestants are too infatuated with intellectual fashion and political correctness (witness their willingness to encourage “disinvestment” from Israel) to do anything but blindly support the Palestinians and any Arabs who appear to be “underdogs.” As far as Catholics are concerned, the Vatican has been speaking decidedly with forked tounge for at least the past four years. On Catholic blogs, I routinely find those who abhor the Israeli response because it “violates” the “just war” theory (as if professional terrorists and totalitarian, imperialist Muslims really give a damn about such theories). All too often, Catholics try to apply esoteric, etherial solutions to “real world” problems. Look at it this way: The U.S. and UK had far greater misgivings about Marxist ideology than Jews do concerning evangelical theology (at least Jews and evangelicals believe in the same God, though their interpretations differ widely). Those misgivings, however, didn’t prevent the U.S. and UK from allying with the USSR to stop Hitler and Tojo — and neither the U.S. nor the UK lost their respective identities in the process.

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Rabbi Eliyahu Stern

posted July 25, 2006 at 5:03 am

Very well said Joseph, let me be clear i never intended to say Jews should not embrace evenglicals just that we should should also let them know that not everything is fine and dandy..eventually theology matters and we need to encourage them to remove from their tradition those elements that prevent true reconcilliation.

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Joseph D'Hippolito

posted July 26, 2006 at 1:13 am

Thank you very much, Rabbi Stern. I knew you weren’t suggesting that Jews should not embrace evangelicals. Perhaps the best model for such relations might be the one I suggested involving the U.S, UK and USSR allying to fight Hitler and Tojo. Let’s face it; if the Muslims had their way, they would either force all Jews and Christians to convert, or else. Comparatively speaking, even the substantial gaps between the Jewish and evangelical understandings of God are irrelevant in the face of the Muslim threat.

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Baffour Awuah

posted July 27, 2006 at 2:18 pm

misinterpretation or misunderstanding of the 1000 prophetic years has prompted all these problems. In the presnce of God there are only these two groups of people, The Jews and the rest of the Nations known as the Gentiles. So also there are two sets of times and they are Jewish periods and Gentiles times. These sets times do not run simultaneously. So the world at point in time is either in Jewish period or Gentiles times. Examples of these are the 70 years that the Jews spent in the Babylonian captivity. That era was a Gentiles times which real hardship and suferings on the Jews. Then came the 70 prophetic weeks (525 years) that was given to the Jews as their Restoration Period predicted through Daniel. Dan. 9:24. That era ended in Ad 91 when the world entered into another Gentiles times given in Daniel 8 verse 14 as 2300 prophetic days (2300years). That Gentiles times expires around the year 2358 and ushers in the 1000 years Jewsh time stated in Revelation 20. That 1000 years is going to be a Jewish period and Christian are blessed to share with the Jews because spiritually they are also Jews. It is the 1000 years Jewish period that Isiah talked about in chapter 65 verse 17 downwards and it will be a Jewsh period not Christians. However Christian would be blessed when the Jews are blessed

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teresa saul

posted July 27, 2006 at 4:59 pm

thank you so much for sharing your beliefs. i read your comments with great interest and i could not agree more that the radical terrorist muslim threat in the world today is all that matters right now. In their eyes, jews and christians are the same…both “infidels”. and since the fascist terrorist element has been using this unity to hold at bay the criticism against them of more moderate muslims, that is what we should be focusing on right now…our similarities with christians who consider themselves ‘spiritual jews’ and not the differences in our theology. we face this same life or death radical muslim threat. what matter will be the differences in our theologies if we are taken over and destroyed by muslim radical fascist terrorists, first just by virtue of us being jews and christians. The radical muslim terrorist has the same fate awaiting both, accoding to their interpretation of the Koran.

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