Thursday, November 09, 2006

Armageddon Theology and Its Impact on Peace in the Midde East

Robert O. Smith, co-author of Christians and a Land Called Holy: How we Can Foster Justice, Peace, and Hope led a Rotation Forum at the NCC General Assembly on Armageddon Theology and its impact on peace in Middle East.

The General Assembly’s theme: "For the Healing of the Nations" (Revelation 22:2) comes from the apocalyptic book of the Bible that is widely used by those who embrace a particular Armageddon theology which is at variance with the interpretation accepted by the member communions of the NCC and their policy positions. He challenged the churches to look not for the speck in the other's eye, but for the log in our own and consider our own lack of a strong eschatology. He expressed the hope that NCC's consideration of the book of Revelation at this meeting might influence a strong articulation of a theology of end times based on a vision of justice and peace.

This theological position, also called Premillennial Dispensationalism, has a strong influence in the cultural and political lanscape in the US. In this week's midterm elections (Zogby Intl.) 31% of likely voters agreed that “Israel must have all of the promised land, including Jerusalem, to facilitate the second coming of the messiah." Its political manifestation called Christian Zionism has bipartisan advocates in the US government. Most recently, Pastor John Hagee of San Antonio, Texas initiated Christians United for Israel (CUFI) as a Christian lobby on behalf of Israel, a Christian AIPAC, based on Christian Zionist ideology. Their methodology includes advocating violence on behalf of Israel which includes the bombing of Iran.

Christian Zionism is an auto-generated movement, not dependent on Jewish political Zionism. William Blackstone's Jesus is Coming was published in 1878 before Theodore Herzl's Der Judenstaat in 1896, which is identified as the beginning of Jewish political Zionism. We can be supporters of Israel, even Zionists, and at the same time stand against this theology.

Mainstream Jews themselves are ambivalent about this as indicated by the following quotes.

  • Gershom Gorenberg: Christian Zionists see “Jews as actors in a Christian drama leading toward the end of days … real Zionism, as a Jewish movement, is a movement aimed at taking Jews out of the mythological realm and making them into normal actors in history, controlling their fate and acting for pragmatic reasons connected to the here and now. So what’s called Christian Zionism is actually very distant from Zionism.”
  • David Cantor (ADL) argued in 1994 that philo-Semitism is the flipside of anti-Semitism. In a section titled “Jews as Cosmic Curiosities,” Cantor noted how Christians often fail “to recognize the common humanity of Jews and tend, finally, to dehumanize Jews.”
  • “Sure, these guys give me the heebie-jeebies. But until I see Jesus coming over the hill, I’m in favor of all the friends Israel can get.” — former AIPAC researcher Lenny Davis

Evangelicals themselves are soul-searching about this. As Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, has said, “Evangelicals who are Christian Zionists want to see events unfold, but they aren’t so concerned about justice.” Smith argued that the evangelical community’s long-time association with an ideological theology that, in the name of God, despises efforts at peacemaking must be “shaken off.”

This emphasis has resulted from the "Jerusalem Declaration" of August 22, 2006, signed by several prominent Christian leaders of Jerusalem. The NCC has committed itself to researching this question and educating the churches. The president of the NCC will appoint a task force that will include members from the Commissions of the NCC to study this phenomenon and bring back a report next year.


At 4:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism

Historian Dave MacPherson has uniquely uncovered the 19th century roots of militant Christian Zionism, a modern crusade supporting American politics and even military action to bring about the End.
The roots of this vengeful and power-mad campaign have been traced by MacPherson to a quarterly British journal known as "The Morning Watch" which, in its Sep., 1830 issue, had the first public teaching of the "pre-tribulation rapture" (the most popular feature of "pre-millennial dispensationalism").
In that same issue, one writer stated that the raptured Christians would then collectively become "the victorious ministerer of the great tribulation" upon those left behind!
An 1832 issue of the same journal taught that the "vials" of wrath in the book of Revelation "shall be poured out by the risen [raptured] saints," and a few months later another issue went even further and declared that the collective group of raptured ones will "wield the thunders of its power against the dragon [Satan] and his angels, and cast them down from heaven"!
But where in the Bible, asks MacPherson, did those British fanatics find support for such "rapture rage," and where are the followers of Christ commanded to pick up a sword and conquer or convert non-believers with it - or even support such sword-bearers?
The above is a tiny fraction of Dave MacPherson's 300-page book "The Rapture Plot," the most detailed and documented history of the "pre-tribulation rapture" view merchandised big time by John Hagee, Tim LaHaye, Jerry Falwell, Hal Lindsey, Jimmy Swaggart, Jack Van Impe etc. for their agendas - an escapist view that was never taught by any church before 1830!
MacPherson, BTW, has stated that all of his royalties have always gone to a nonprofit corporation and not to himself. To obtain a copy of his unique, eye-opening book, call 800.643.4645 or visit online bookstores. (Type in "Scholars Weigh My Research" on Google to read endorsements of it by many leading scholars.)
Do Hagee and his fellow preachers really love Jewish persons as much as they say they do? Then why do they pervert Scripture to try to get themselves raptured off earth before the final "tribulation" instead of wanting to be on earth during that period to minister love to ALL of earth's citizens?
Hagee stated on July 19, 2006 that "The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God's plan for both Israel and the West...." Which Bible verse inspired him to utter this - the one that says "Love ye your enemies" or the one saying "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord"?
It would appear that Hagee, Falwell and other rapture merchandisers and Christian Zionists are trying to identify with the predicted group whose love will "wax cold" (a la Matthew 24:12) during earth's darkest days!

At 10:01 PM, Anonymous PeaceMonger said...

"We can be supporters of Israel, even Zionists, and at the same time stand against this theology."

We can also be Christians, which means we will not be Zionists, and will stand against Christian [sic] and Jewish Zionism. Instead, we will stand for justice and peace.

At 11:29 PM, Blogger John Kettner said...

The United Nations created the modern state of Israel in 1947. That country has nothing to do with God, the Father. Christ Jesus died for the elect remnant and "Christian" Zionists are agents of Rome, looking to lead innocents astray and make a hefty financial profit while doing it.


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