Well before Theodore Herzl founded political Zionism and published The Jewish State, Christian Zionists in the United States and England were already seeking to direct and influence the foreign policy of both nations in service to a religious obsession end times prophecy
By Whitney Webb
July 18, 2019 "Information Clearing House" - The largest pro-Israel organization in the United States is not composed of Jews, but of Christian evangelicals, with a total membership of 7 million, more than 2 million more members than the entirety of the American Jewish community.
Members of this organization, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), met in Washington on Monday, attracting thousands of attendees and featuring speeches from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Secretary of State and former CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence, and National Security Advisor John Bolton. CUFI’s leader, controversial evangelical preacher John Hagee, has met with President Donald Trump several times and was recently part of an exclusive White House meeting in March on the administration’s upcoming “peace plan” for Israel and Palestine.
CUFI is but one of many organizations throughout American history that have promoted the state of Israel and Zionism on the grounds that a Jewish ethnostate in Palestine is a requirement for the fulfillment of end-times prophecy and necessary for Jesus Christ to return to Earth — an event Christians often refer to as “the Second Coming.”
While organizations like CUFI and its predecessors have long seen the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, and the later Israeli victory and conquest of Jerusalem in 1967, as the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, there is one prophecy that this sect of evangelical Christians believes is the only thing standing between them and the Second Coming. There are estimated to be more than 20 million of these Christians, often referred to as Christian Zionists, in the United States and they are a key voting bloc and source of political donations for the Republican Party.
As was explored in previous installments of this series, these Christian Zionists, much like religious Zionist extremists in Israel, believe that the Al Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock must be replaced with a Third Jewish Temple in order to usher in the end times.
These two groups of different faiths, since the 19th century, have repeatedly formed an opportunistic alliance in order to ensure the fulfillment of their respective prophecies, despite the fact that members of the other faith are rarely if ever on the same page in their interpretations of what occurs after the temple’s construction.
This alliance, based on a mutual obsession with hastening the coming of the Apocalypse, continues to this day and now, more than at any other time in history, these groups have reached the heights of power in both Israel and the United States. Parts I and II of this exclusive series explored how this branch of religious Zionism has come to dominate the current right-wing government of Israel and has led Israel’s current government to take definitive steps towards the destruction of the Al Aqsa mosque and the imminent construction of a Third Temple.
Now this installment (Part III) will show how this movement’s Christian counterpart in the United States, Christian Zionism, has likewise become a dominant force in American politics, particularly following the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, where this apocalyptic vision is a major driver behind his administration’s Middle East policy.
Yet, this fire-and-brimstone vision of the end times has long been a guide for prominent figures in American history and the American elite, even predating Zionism’s founding as a political movement. Thus, Christian Zionism’s influence on Trump administration policy is merely the latest of a long list of examples where prophecy and politics have mixed in American history, often with world-altering results.
Puritans, Prophecy and Palestine
Accounts of the role of European and North American Christians in the creation of the state of Israel often begin with the Balfour Declaration of 1917, but the efforts of certain Christian groups in England and the United States to create a Jewish state in Palestine actually date back centuries earlier and significantly predate Zionism’s official founding by Theodore Herzl.
Among the first advocates for the physical immigration of European Jews to Palestine were the Puritans, an offshoot of Christian Protestantism that emerged in the late 16th century and became influential in England and, later, in the American colonies. Influential Puritans devoted considerable interest to the role of Jews in eschatology, or end-times theology, with many — such as John Owen, a 17th-century theologian, member of parliament, and administrator at Oxford — believing that the physical return of Jews to Palestine was necessary for the fulfillment of end-time prophecy.
While the Puritan roots of what would later become known as Christian Zionism are often overlooked in modern accounts of where and why American evangelical support for Israel began, its adherents still clearly acknowledge its legacy. For instance, on Monday at the CUFI conference, Pompeo, himself a Christian Zionist known for his obsession with the end times, told the group the following:
Christian support in America for Zion — for a Jewish homeland — runs back to the early Puritan settlers, and it has endured for centuries. Indeed, our second president [John Adams], a couple years back, said… ‘I really wish the Jews again in Judea an independent nation.’
These Puritan beliefs, which persist today and have only grown in popularity, became more entrenched in England and colonial America with time, especially among the monied political class, and led to a variety of interpretations regarding exactly what the Bible says about the end times. Among the most influential was the development of Christian “dispensationalism,” an interpretive framework that uses the Bible to divide history into different periods of “dispensations” and sees the Bible’s prophetic references to “Israel” as signifying an ethnically Jewish nation established in Palestine.
Charles Russell’s visual interpretation of Darby’s ‘dispensations’ circa 1886
Dispensationalism was largely developed by English-Irish preacher John Nelson Darby, who believed that the God-ordained fates of Israel and the Christian church were completely separate, with the latter to be physically removed from the Earth by God prior to a foretold period of earthly suffering known as the Tribulation.
In Darby’s view, the Tribulation would begin following the construction of a Third Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This belief in the physical removal of Christians from the Earth prior to the Tribulation, widely known as “the rapture,” was invented by Darby in the 1820s and its lack of scriptural support has been widely noted by theologians of various denominations as well as biblical scholars. However, it is important to point that there are differences among dispensationalist Christians as to whether the rapture will occur before, during or after the Tribulation period.
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