Since Stephen Strang of Charisma Magazine, joined up with John Hagee and the CUFI organization this year, its been interesting to read some of the articles Charisma posts in their new Standing With Israel section.
Not all of the articles are written by Christians, such as this one, (Who Crucified Zion?) written by David Brog, who is the executive director of John Hagee’s “Christians United For Israel” (CUFI). Brog, himself an American Jew, has never accepted Jesus as Messiah, but works along-side Hagee to promote political and financial support for Israel, from among American Evangelicals.
From an interview with CUFI’s David Brog:
Which Christians in the U.S. are most Zionist and why?
“The evangelicals. No contest. Their Zionism comes directly from their theology.”
Was there an event that made this alliance stronger? Has it always been under the radar?
“Evangelical Christians largely shunned politics until the late 1970s, when Jerry Falwell created the Moral Majority and led them back onto the political playing field. Israel was among the priorities of the Christian Right from the start. In fact, when Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority he made support for Israel one of the group’s four organizing principles along with the issue of abortion, traditional marriage, and a strong U.S. defense.”
(Concerning Converting Jews to Christ)
“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. I and others who have worked with Christians in support of Israel all report that no one has ever tried to convert us. In fact, Christians who support Israel tend to know more Jews and to understand their sensitivities better than Christians who do not. Thus, they have learned that Jews find “Jesus talk” offensive, and they tend to leave it out of the dialogue.”
*The underlining of specific words is my doing.
I want to also include a segment from an article concerning Christian Zionism, found at the website of the excellent organization, Jews for Jesus; a ministry, which for over 30 years has been diligent in pushing against the spiritual darkness, in order to evangelize lost Jews.
“…there is a serious problem with Christian Zionism that cannot be chalked up to the biases or lack of balance that some critics demonstrate. That problem ought not go without scrutiny and censure, but unfortunately the average Christian is unaware of it. The problem is, many Christian Zionists are involved (some proactively, others unknowingly) in preventing Jews from hearing the gospel.
So maybe the time has come for us to ask, “How Christian is today’s Christian Zionism?”
Please note the word “today’s,” because the landscape of Christian Zionism has dramatically shifted in recent years.
In the United States, biblical Christian Zionism was promoted by a wide range of theologians, though it became more widespread, in part due to the rise of dispensational theology. William Blackstone championed the cause and rallied four hundred American business leaders and politicians—both Christian and Jewish—to sign a bold statement calling for the establishment of a Jewish homeland. That petition is known as the Blackstone Memorial. Blackstone was also committed to Jewish evangelism, and founded a Jewish mission agency known as “Life in Messiah.”
When Israel finally became a modern state in 1948, it was a glorious, faith-strengthening confirmation of biblical Christian Zionism. And when Jerusalem was reclaimed in 1967, many believed the “times of the Gentiles” had been fulfilled and the end-times scenario of rapture and tribulation was about to unfold.
Certainly there did seem to be many Jewish people coming to believe in Jesus in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Jews for Jesus came into existence during that time. Yet the numbers of Jesus-believing Jews, especially in Israel, remained few. One might think that Christian Zionism would see this as a challenge to be met by greater fervor and commitment to proclaiming the good news to Jewish people.
But curiously, the opposite occurred.
A new form of Christian Zionism emerged in the mid 1970s and early 1980s; it was more political and actually divorced itself from Jewish evangelism, contending that a Christian’s biblical duty to the Jews and Israel was best carried out through providing material comfort, political support and helping fund Jewish immigration to Israel.
These new Christian Zionist organizations, best represented by Bridges for Peace and the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, made it very clear to Jewish leaders in Israel and abroad they had no intention of evangelizing Jews. Some, not all, of their leaders argued that evangelism of Jews was a waste of time and unnecessarily offensive. Jewish evangelism, in any case, was not a cause that would endear these leaders to the people with whom they were beginning to network. The hope seemed to be that eventually those networks would help open people’s hearts to the gospel in a way that direct evangelism would not. If this has proven to be the case, it is a well-kept secret.
Recently, the two above-mentioned organizations have been dwarfed in scope and influence by the rise of two other organizations: the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) and Christians United For Israel (CUFI). These financial juggernauts successfully tap into the deep reservoir of Christian Zionist sentiment here in America.
(IFCJ raised 75 million dollars last year. CUFI does not disclose its finances but is on record as giving millions of dollars to various Jewish groups in Israel each year). Both organizations are currently run by Jewish people who do not know Jesus: Yechiel Eckstein of IFCJ is an Orthodox rabbi, and David Brog of CUFI an attorney and former chief of staff to Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.
These newer “Christian” Zionist organizations have set themselves against Jewish evangelism in ways that their predecessors did not.
In his book What Christians Should Know About Jews and Judaism (as well as in other printed material) Rabbi Eckstein suggests that, “The rejection of Jesus as Messiah is the key to Jewish survival.”
Accordingly, a good deal of the money Eckstein raises from Christians goes to organizations whose agendas include anti-missionary activity.
As for David Brog, in an interview with Katherine Jean Lopez on Beliefnet, he boasts on behalf of the Christians he knows that, “I and others who have worked with Christians in support of Israel all report that no one has ever tried to convert us,” and in his book Standing With Israel he says that
“While there is no evidence that the Christian-Jewish alliance in support of Israel [CUFI] facilitates the conversion of Jews, there is evidence that the alliance actually works to impede efforts to convert Jews” (David Brog, Standing With Israel, Lake Mary, Fla.: Frontline Publishers, 2006, 188-189)
While this is meant to reassure the Jewish community concerning Christian Zionists, it ought to have the opposite effect on Christians who care about the salvation of Jewish people. It might seem like the phrases “try to convert” or “efforts to convert” imply a certain overbearing attempt at sharing the gospel, but the fact is, Brog is referring to any attempt to tell Jewish people the gospel.
Washington Jewish Week interviewed Brog and published an article explaining,
“Brog said the group (CUFI) tells people, ‘If you cannot put aside your desire to share the Gospel with Jews, there’s the door'” (Eric Fingerhut, “Educating on Evangelicals.” Washington Jewish Week. July 4, 2007).
I am absolutely convinced the vast majority of Christians supporting CUFI and IFCJ do not know about these policies and practices. My guess is that many who support these groups genuinely believe in Jewish evangelism and expect that their support will help Jewish people come to Christ. Sadly, their resources are going to projects run by people who are committed to preventing Jewish people from hearing about Jesus.
..please consider this: When someone makes an appeal for Christians to show their love for Jewish people, please remember that our love is incomplete at best and misleading at worst if it does not point beyond ourselves and to the One who loved us so much that He sent His Son to die, so that WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM will not perish, but have eternal life.”
Thank you Lord for our Jewish brothers and sisters in Christ at Jews for Jesus. I pray you continue to bless them in their taking the Good News of Jesus Christ to lost Jews. amen.
A few quotes from Brog’s article at Charisma:
It is impossible for a thoughtful Christian to feel such deep gratitude to the Jewish people and not be painfully aware of how poorly this debt to the Jews has been repaid over the centuries.
The flip side of gratitude to the Jews is remorse over the long history of Christian and anti-Semitism. Many of the most passionate Christian Zionists are quick to express regret and even fury over the record of Christian persecution of the Jews. For these Christian Zionists, the need to make amends for the past adds a sense of urgency to the task of supporting Israel today.
For centuries, Christians outraged by the crucifixion of Christ unleashed their fury upon the Jews. John Hagee turns this traditional view of crucifixion on its head. Hagee too is outraged by the crucifixion. But it is the “crucifixion of the Jews” about which Hagee rages. And he is clear about who is responsible for this crucifixion: the Christian church.
Brog quotes Hagee:
“It is time for Christians to stop praising the dead Jews of the past-Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, while slandering the Jews that live across the street. They are the same.”
I will not even comment on those excerpts. You either see the ‘wrongness’ in it or you don’t.
But I will answer the question in the title: How “Christian” is Christian Zionism?. Its not Christian or biblical, in any way. Today’s Christian Zionist movements are enemies of the Gospel.