Approaching the Jewish people under a Christian banner, even when connected to “Zionism,” has always been a liability. The memory of forced conversions and unbridled Christian anti-Semitism is too ingrained to be quickly set aside. So even though Christian support for Israel has been quite forthcoming over the last 40 years, it wasn’t until recently that many Israelis began to accept our support as genuine. And to reciprocate with a generous measure of trust.
However, the problem I’m alluding to concerning the term ‘Christian Zionism’ is not coming from Jews, but the Church. It seems there is a growing hostility within the Traditional Church towards those members whom they feel love Israel too much! A church in my own hometown of Pennsylvania recently spilt over support for Israel.
The hostility is being spearheaded, of course, by pastors and denominations still in the grip of Replacement Theology. But they are being increasingly joined by other Christians who aren’t anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist, but who just don’t get it. Not having awakened yet to the Hebraic roots of their faith they can’t understand why Zionist Christians love Israel so much. They feel we’re putting our love for Israel above our love for the Church.
If things continue, Christian Zionists could one day be unwelcome within the Christian tent.
Inflaming this problem, of course, is the false narrative being pushed by both religious and secular anti-Semites who keep insisting the so-called Palestinian/Israeli conflict is the reason Muslims hate the West. And Israel, they say, is responsible for both the cause and continuation of the problem. If Israel would just give back the land they took from the Palestinians, then peace would come to the Middle East and joy to the rest of the world. That this is a complete nonsense is besides the point. The lie has been repeated so many times, in so many ways, it has become the reality.
Complicating things even further is a new ecumenical movement on the rise within Christendom. It involves a final push to patch up all the major theological differences that has fractured Christianity into thousands of sects. Their goal is to fulfill Jesus prayer to the Father about his followers, “that they might all be one’ (John 17:21). Many influential evangelicals are now paving the way for reunification, believing all roads must lead to Rome. The scriptural protests that inspired the Protestant Reformation are being minimized, while our points of agreement maximized. Even the giant schism that divided the Church into east and west is quietly being sewn back together.
If this reunification takes place, as it probably will, Christianity would once again become that intolerant ecclesiastical power we’ve been apologizing to the Jews for since the Holocaust. And Christians who love Israel could become as much of a pariah in their home churches as Israel presently is to their governments.
If that happens, I believe Christian Zionists will be forced to make a hard decision about where their loyalty lies. Will we stand with Israel, or with the religion that long ago severed us from the Hebraic roots of our faith, and persecuted the family of Messiah Yeshua?
When push comes to shove, it will help to recall the name ‘Christian’ is not something we owe a great deal of loyalty to. It was just a name imposed upon us by our enemies that we eventually adopted. And it was not a nice name at that. According to the scholars, it was meant to be one of scorn and derision. The term only appears in the Bible three times (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16). Paul never used it to address believers. The name the early church referred to themselves by most often was as members of “The Way.”
In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion “Christian” may be the name Isaiah was referring to when he uttered this judgment against the persecutors of God’s people: “You will leave your name for a curse to My chosen ones. And the Lord God will slay you. But My servants will be called by another name” (Isa. 65:15).
Brian Hennessy is the author of Valley of the Steeples, available at: ketchpublishing/BrianHennessyBooks.htm