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The Christian right stands by Israel out of a misguided theology
by Graeme J. Davidson
19 August 2006

Instead of trying to bring a just peace, Zionist Christians are in fact acting like the Antichrist they warn about by encouraging an unholy apocalypse now.

....In the twinkling of an eye, born-again Christians are sucked into heaven in an event known as the Rapture. Chaos descends and an Antichrist ruler bearing the mark 666 takes over. There is one world government, economy and religion. Those left behind face hell-like tribulations for seven years. Then Jesus returns to Jerusalem to reign for 1000 years and Jews must either accept him or face eternal annihilation.
....That’s the storyline of the Left Behind novels and movies by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B Jenkins. A Brethren bible teacher, John Darby, introduced these ideas in 1828 and, ever since, followers have warned the end is nigh. Now, LaHaye, along with many on the Christian right, believes the Rapture is about to happen.
....Sales of LaHaye and Jenkins’ books have hit 65 million, most in the US where an estimated one in three adults identifies with this bizarre, strongly pro-Israel apocalypse. The two Left Behind movies I set out to review were so bad I endured my seven years of tribulation watching them.
....Televangelist John Hagee, author of another bestseller, Jerusalem Countdown, even welcomes the hostilities in the Middle East as the fulfilment of biblical prophecy that will bring on the Rapture. He encourages a pre-emptive strike against Iran. At a recent Washington meeting of Christians United for Israel, Hagee insisted a ceasefire in Lebanon would defy “God’s foreign policy statement” towards the Jews. President Bush sent a message of support to the meeting.
....The appeal of end-times books to born-again Americans is their literalist approach to the Bible, which mistakenly interprets prophecy as being about modern events rather than the times of the biblical writers. Highly selective passages from the apocalyptic books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation are weaved into doomsday nightmares that have more in common with the horror writings of Stephen King than the Christian gospel of love and forgiveness.
.... Despite the New Testament emphasis on how Jesus established a New Covenant between God and believers from all nations, end-times Christians uphold Israel as the only nation created by God through a 4000-year old promise to Abraham and his descendents. They point to how throughout the Old Testament God was on the side of the Jews as they fought their enemies for their God-given land. And they emphasise that Jesus was a Jew who lived and died in Israel.
.... In an interview with Newsweek, LaHaye explained, “Christians who take the Bible literally are generally supportive of Israel because God promises to bless those nations that are a blessing to Israel and curse those nations that are not. And the history of America bears that out.” LaHaye overlooks how Bible prophets constantly denounced Israel and its rulers for ungodly and unjust behaviour.
.... Ironically, while an estimated 70 million Evangelicals are largely conservative and Republican, most of the five million Jews in the US are liberal supporters of the Democratic Party. This makes for an uneasy alliance between Jews, who reject end-times theology, and the Christian right. Nevertheless, many Jews believe that this “philo-Semitism” is preferable to the anti-Semitism that used to influence Christians.
.... This odd alliance provides the political mandate in the US for Israel’s special treatment, including billions of dollars in aid each year, much of it in military cooperation.
It may also explain why the popular news media in the US is more pro-Israel compared to other Western countries. Recent polls show that 59 percent of US adults support Israel’s actions in Lebanon, compared with 17 percent in the UK and 12 percent in Germany.
.... In a recent letter, the Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem, Riah H Abu El-Assal, pleaded the plight of Palestinians struggling to survive under severe Israeli oppression. He deplored how the “strategy of ethnic cleansing on the part of the State of Israel continues” and stated he was “disturbed that the Zionist Christian community is damaging America’s image”.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the ICRC and the UN have also cited Hizbollah, but especially Israel, for serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. In response, Christian Right leaders insist God is with Israel, and that its harsh response to “terrorism” is ethically justified.
.... Instead of trying to bring a just peace, Zionist Christians are in fact acting like the Antichrist they warn about by encouraging an unholy apocalypse now.


 

 

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