On Christian Zionism

NOTES FROM THE IIIT CONFERENCE ON GOOD GOVERNANCE IN ISLAM: CLASSICAL AND CONTEMPORARY APPROACHES #12

[This is the twelfth in a series of my notes on the International Institute of Islamic Thought conference on Good Governance in Islam: Classical and Contemporary Approaches held in Herndon, VA. These notes have only been lightly edited and represent my perception of the discussion. The proceedings will be published by IIIT at a later time. Responsibility for any errors in the notes is mine alone. Names of participants (other than mine) in the general discussion have been omitted by request of the organizers.]

“On Christian Zionism” by Norton Mezvinsky, Ph.D., President, International Council for Middle East Studies (ICMES)

It is necessary to understand this faith-based phenomenon is not aimed at peacemaking. Evangelical Christian Zionism is major threat to our society both for its emphasis on Israel and Jews and toward Muslims and Islam. Not all Evangelicals in the US are Christian Zionists, only the vast majority. Rev. Jerry Falwell, one of the best known Christian Zionists bragged the number was 100 million, surely an exaggeration; but in 2012, 50 million is plausible estimate.

Christian Zionism is a movement in Protestant Christianity that grew out of pre-millennialism of John Nelson Darby and Edward Irvington dealing with such things as the anti-Christ and Armageddon. Dwight L. Moody, Billy Sunday, James Brooks Harol Ironsides, and Scofield, who applied Darby’s eschatology to the Bible. Gradually the Scofield Bible became the only version used by Evangelical Christians. He added the idea of the Rapture and marked history in periods called Dispensations. The fulfillment of prophetic signs becomes the central job of Christian Zionism. It supports the central claims of Jewish Zionism. It states without question that Israel must be in control of all of Palestine before the return of Jesus and that an Armageddon, the mother of all holocausts, must take place in which everyone except born-again Christians and the Jews will be destroyed. The Jews will convert to Christianity upon the return of Christ. The Christian Zionist lobby, far more than the Jewish Zionist lobby, is hostile to Islam and Muslims.

After the 1967 war Israel began to work closely with Christian Zionists.  In 1978 they were invited to Israel and Falwell was given a Lear jet. Twenty years ago Ed McKeever, considered by many to be the Godfather of the religious right in the US, said every grain of sand between the Mediterranean and the Jordan belongs to the Jews.  In Foreign Policy Stephen Zunes gave many examples to prove that Christian Zionists were more influential than Jewish Zionists. Christian Zionists support of settlements in the West Bank amounts to tens of millions of dollars. Best-selling novels beginning with Hal Lindsay’sThe Late Great Planet Earth demonstrate the size of this movement. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’ Left Behind series are fictional popularizations of the Christian Zionists themes.

Christian Zionists leaders are publicly outspoken about their hatred for Islam and Muslims. The 1979 Iranian Revolution drove more concern. McKeever predicted that Islam is more dangerous than was generally believed and that the Muslims had declared war on the west. Pat Robertson, was named Christian broadcaster of the year in 1989, when he declared that Israel and American were on the same side against “evil Islam.” With the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait Christian Zionist speakers became regular guests on major news media, with Biblical prophecy at a fever pitch and with Iraq as “political Babylon.” Many believed that Saddam Hussein intended to rebuild the ancient city of Babylon. Charles Dyer of the Dallas seminary believed Saddam should rebuild Babylon so the returning Christ could destroy it. Charles Taylor reported what is transpiring is a shifting of nations to prepare for the return of Christ. The second Gulf War produced a mixed reaction. Michael Evans argued that terrorism is the logical consequence of Islam. Netanyahu has praised Evans for his “moral clarity.” John Hagee, probably the major Christian Zionist leader in the US, has consistently emphasized that Islam is an evil and dangerous religion and that militant Muslims are committed to the expansion of the Islamic empire to the entire world. For Hagee, Hamas and Hezbullah are the leaders of a war against Jews and a resurgent Russia will be their ally.

The antagonism exploded after 9/11/01. The role of Israel became more important and the Christian Zionists support of Israel increased. Gary Bauer considers himself to be a soldier in the clash of civilizations, and Israel and the US to be twin pillars of the West under attack from the same enemy. Numerous members of congress have declared their allegiance to and affiliation with Christian Zionism.

After 9/11 George W. Bush declared Islam was a religion of peace and the US was not at war with Islam, causing many Christian Zionists to criticize him. Franklin Graham, who converted Bush to Evangelical Christianity and gave the invocation at Bush’s inauguration, took issue with the President and declared Islam does not believe in coexistence with other religions. Rev. Ron Parsley, maybe the #2 Christian Zionist today, said the US should wage war against evil Islam.

To counter the threat Muslims must have a clear understanding of the threat posed by Christian Zionists. Most important is conveying the threat to others in our society unaware of the threat of Christian Zionism.

Discussant: Prof Muhammad Nimer

I question the numbers, but there is no doubt Christian Zionists are very powerful and very vocal. This relates to our subject as this is a religiously motivated political lobby. The question is what does this mean for emerging Arab governments in the region that are also faith-based?

Mezvinsky: If I had seven more hours I would have loved to talk about US policy in the Middle East and Arab governments. My topic was Christian Zionists, and I think it is sufficiently clear that they are major influence on American policy in the Middle East and I would argue that in the past two decades it was the most influential lobby.

GENERAL DISCUSSION

If any help is going to come to Palestinians in the US it is going to have to come from Christians.

Thomas Kidd’s American Christians and Islam traces hostility of American Christians to Islam back to the Tripoli pirates. Is this peculiar to Evangelical Christians?

Do you think Israel is losing the US as an ally?

Social forces can affect political outcomes. Are Christian Zionists aware of how the rhetoric increases hostility among radical Muslims.

Mezvinsky: There are some well funded Arab and Muslim organizations in DC, but they do not focus the effort that the Zionists do.

I agree with a great deal of what you said, but there are three problematic texts in the Bible: Daniel, Thessalonians and Revelation. We must educate ourselves about what Jews and Muslims say about themselves and others and we must become a power block in America. It is not easy to form a Muslim lobby, but it can be done.

I have heard it said that the Christian Zionists movement preceded the modern Jewish Zionist movement. Did some of the early Christian Zionists work for British intelligence and contribute to the inception of the Jewish Zionist movement?

Mezvinsky: There is nothing to this effect in any of the primary sources and it is almost certainly not true. See Fouad Shaban for the origins of Christian Zionism, going back to the pilgrims.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute
www.minaret.org

One Response to “On Christian Zionism”

  1. Constance says:

    [Hi, Minaret. Saw this article on the net. Reaction?]

    PRETRIB RAPTURE STEALTH !

    Many evangelicals believe that Christ will “rapture” them to heaven years before the second coming and (most importantly) well BEFORE Antichrist and his “tribulation.” But Acts 2:34, 35 reveal that Jesus is at the Father’s right hand in heaven until He leaves to destroy His earthly foes at the second coming. And Acts 3:21 says that Jesus “must” stay in heaven with the Father “until the times of restitution of all things” which includes, says Scofield, “the restoration of the theocracy under David’s Son” which obviously can’t begin before or during Antichrist’s reign. (“The Rapture Question,” by the long time No. 1 pretrib authority John Walvoord, didn’t dare to even list, in its scripture index, the above verses! They were also too hot for John Darby – the so-called “father of dispensationalism” – to list in the scripture index in his “Letters”!)
    Paul explains the “times and the seasons” (I Thess. 5:1) of the catching up (I Thess. 4:17) as the “day of the Lord” (5:2) which FOLLOWS the posttrib sun/moon darkening (Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:20) WHEN “sudden destruction” (5:3) of the wicked occurs! The “rest” for “all them that believe” is also tied to such destruction in II Thess. 1:6-10! (If the wicked are destroyed before or during the trib, who’d be left alive to serve the Antichrist?) Paul also ties the change-into-immortality “rapture” (I Cor. 15:52) to the end of trib “death” (15:54). (Will death be ended before or during the trib? Of course not! And vs. 54 is also tied to Isa. 25:8 which Scofield views as Israel’s posttrib resurrection!) It’s amazing that the Olivet Discourse contains the “great commission” for the church but not even a hint of a pretrib rapture for the church!
    Many don’t know that before 1830 all Christians had always viewed I Thess. 4’s “catching up” as an integral part of the final second coming to earth. In 1830 this “rapture” was stretched forward and turned into an idolized separate coming of Christ. To further strengthen their novel view, which evangelical scholars overwhelmingly rejected throughout the 1800s, pretrib teachers in the early 1900s began to stretch forward the “day of the Lord” (what Darby and Scofield never dared to do) and hook it up with their already-stretched-forward “rapture.” Many leading evangelical scholars still weren’t convinced of pretrib, so pretrib teachers then began teaching that the “falling away” of II Thess. 2:3 is really a pretrib rapture (the same as saying that the “rapture” in 2:3 must happen before the “rapture” [“gathering”] in 2:1 can happen – the height of desperation!). Google “Walvoord Melts Ice” for more on this, and also Google “Pretrib Rapture Pride.”
    Other Google articles on the 183-year-old pretrib rapture view include “X-Raying Margaret,” “Margaret Macdonald’s Rapture Chart,” “Pretrib Rapture’s Missing Lines,” “Edward Irving is Unnerving,” “The Unoriginal John Darby,” “Catholics Did NOT Invent the Rapture,” “The Real Manuel Lacunza,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “Wily Jeffrey,” “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism,” “Scholars Weigh My Research,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy,” “Deceiving and Being Deceived,” “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty,” “Famous Rapture Watchers,” and “Morgan Edwards’ Rapture View” – most by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot” (the most accurate and documented book on pretrib rapture history which is obtainable by calling 800.643.4645).
    PS – For some final shocks Google “The Background Obama Can’t Cover Up.”

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