By David Krusch, Jewish Virtual Library
Christian Zionism can be defined as Christian support for the Zionist cause– the return of the Jewish people to its biblical homeland in Israel. It is a belief among some Christians that the return of Jews to Israel is in line with a biblical prophecy, and is necessary for Jesus to return to Earth as its king. These Christians are partly motivated by the writings of the Bible and the words of the prophets. However, they are also driven to support Israel because they wish to “repay” the debt of gratitude to the Jewish people for providing Christ and the other fundamentals of their faith, and to support a political ally, according to David Brog, author “Standing With Israel: Why Christians Support the Jewish State.”
Christian Zionists interpret both the Torah and the New Testament as prophetic texts that describe future events of how the world will one day end with the return of Jesus from Heaven to rule on Earth. Israel and its people are central to their vision. They interpret passages from the books of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Isaiah as foreshadowing the coming Christian era. The New Testament Book of Revelation is read by many Christians as a prophetic text of how the world will be in the End Times.
Christian Zionists, through their volunteer work, political support, and financial assistance to Israel and Jewish causes, have shown that they are stalwart friends of Israel. They have donated large sums of money to support Israel, including to charities that pay the costs of bringing Jews from the former Soviet Union and Ethiopia to Israel. For example, Pastor John Hagee has raised more than $4.7 million for the United Jewish Communities. Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to help poor Jews across the world move to Israel….
Despite their support for Israel, many Jews however, are uncomfortable with Christian Zionists. This discomfort is fed by Christian anti-Semitism, Christian replacement theology, evangelical proselytizing, and and disagreements over domestic and political issues. …
Although these Christians do hope for a Messianic age, the majority of them do not wish for the deaths of thousands of Jews during Armageddon. … Christianity did not come into existence to replace Judaism, but to restore it. This view has surpassed replacement theology as the dominant form of Christian thought regarding Israel in America today. Jews who are suspicious of Christian Zionist motives are usually unaware that many Christian supporters of Israel have abandoned replacement theology.
Aside from anti-Semitism and Christian replacement theology, many Jews are wary of the fact that many evangelical Christians simply want to convert them to Christianity or speed up the Second Coming of Christ. David Brog refutes this claim:
“evangelicals who support Israel most certainly do want to convert people. Evangelicals who don’t support Israel also want to convert people. The mission of sharing the ˜good news” of Jesus Christ is central to being an evangelical. But it is important to note that this is not about converting just the Jews” Christians want to share their faith with Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and their Christian friends and neighbors who have yet to be born again. The important question is this: Is evangelical support for Israel merely a tool in the effort to convert the Jews? Is this merely some scheme to soften the Jews up so that they can better sell Jesus to them? And the answer to this question is absolutely not. If anything, the opposite it true….
Pastor John Hagee, a longtime supporter of Israel, based at the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, heads Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a pro-Israel group established in 2006. Hagee has denounced replacement theology, and … Claims that he and other Christian Zionists support Israel because they owe a debt of gratitude to the Jewish people, and not because they want Jews to convert to Christianity. … Christians cannot explain our existence without Judaism. The roots of Christianity are Jewish.”…
Jews are also uncomfortable with Christian Zionists because most have few other common political interests besides their support for Israel. The majority of American Jews are politically and socially liberal. Christian Zionists are on the whole politically conservative Republicans who, for example, oppose abortion and gay marriage, and support prayer in public schools. Most Jews are particularly concerned over what they see as the Christian Right’s efforts to weaken the separation between church and state. The Anti-Defamation League’s director, Abe Foxman, has been particularly outspoken and has said that if the domestic agenda of the Christian Right ever materializes, it will turn American Jews into “second-class citizens in our own country.”
Christian Zionists are also more conservative on Israel than many Jews. They favor Israel maintaining all of its settlements in the West Bank, and were opposed to the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip. Some prominent Christian Zionists have been highly critical of Israeli government policy of giving over parts of Israel to the Palestinian people. Christian Zionists, like followers of the Israeli Right, believe that Israel should never cede any section of Israel to the Palestinians because Israel was given to the Jews by God. … When asked about Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s convergence plan to evacuate settlements in the West Bank, Pat Robertson said, “it’s an absolute disaster…I dont think the holy God is going to be happy about someone giving up his land”
Conservative Christians, in general, are viewed as particularly influential with the Bush Administration and Republican Congress, and Christian Zionists are consequently viewed as also having greater access to decision makers. It is not clear, however, that pro-Israel Christians have exerted decisive influence on any significant decisions and their clout is expected to decline if Democrats regain the White House and/or the majority in Congress.