Next time you are engaged in a discussion about Israel with fellow Jews, try this experiment. Mention how important you believe the strong support that Christians have shown for the State of Israel has proved in recent years. Then, wait for the reaction. More often than not, someone will talk about their agenda. Either it’s the fact that they support Israel only because they want to convert Jews, or else, it’s because their apocalyptic visions of a messianic future require fiery destruction in the Holy Land. Talk about Islamic terror and you may hear sensible reasons for it. Talk about Christian support, and the arguments that get made seem like a page ripped out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
David Brog has written an important book, which has been too long in coming. Finally, someone comes to provide the muchneeded background as to why Christians used to have Inquisitions, and now they have Church Dinners to raise funds for Jewish Olim (new immigrants). And, that this phenomenon does not post-date George Bush, nor is it unique to America. Nor is it because of some vast complex conspiracy, but for far simpler reasons, such as the fact that today’s Christians, particularly evangelical Protestants, may sympathize with the Jewish State, repent their past persecutions, and actually believe in the God of the Old Testament, who repeatedly promised Israel a land.
Brog was for many years Chief of Staff for the Jewish and liberal Republican senator, Arlen Specter, often a target of the evangelical right. So, he does not come to his argument from an obvious prejudice. Instead, he builds his case by introducing us to Christian Zionists both living and dead, and examining the history that brought them there.
It begins with an explication of Replacement Theology, the initial response by Paul to the contradiction of the Jews. If the Jews did indeed have a covenant with God, how could the Christians have one? Since the Jews rejected Jesus, God must have rejected them and replaced them with the Church. From this theory stems two thousand years of discrimination. Fast-forward to a 19th century sect called the Plymouth Brethren, founded by a man named John Nelson Darby. From Darby’s small group, and others like it, has grown the behemoth today known as evangelical fundamentalism, and these Christians believe that not only were the Jews never rejected by God, but that it is incumbent upon the believer to bless the Jews, and through them, to be blessed.
There is no more powerful pro-Zionist force in the world today than conservative American Christianity. And there is probably no force less trusted. David Brog provides a cogent argument about why Jews may need to change that attitude. Index, notes.