Saturday, January 07, 2006

Apocalyptic Quest

Pat Robertson's most recent incendiary rhetoric has hit the nation's headlines again. He told the viewers of "The 700 Club" that Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's massive stroke could be God's divine retribution raining down on him for giving up Israeli territory. Mr. Robertson was referring to the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the forced relocation of thousands of settlers from the territory engineered by Sharon in his quest for peace with Palestinians.

Even though very well deserved excoriation for yet another gem from Mr. Robertson has come from all different directions, alarmingly absent is the understanding of why he said what he said.

There is a big picture here that has eluded the public's radar screen. Mr. Robertson's verbal gaffe is only a tiny tip of the massive iceberg called "Christian Zionism."

Even if you are not familiar with Middle East politics, you probably can surmise from his statement that this conservative Evangelical leader is ardently pro-Israel in the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the troubled region.

You may be a bit puzzled to find that the most fiercely loyal of the pro-Israel supporters in America are not found in the Jewish community, but among Evangelical Christians especially given the backdrop of their history of anti-Semitism.

Also mystifying may be that the pro-Israeli stance does not follow the usual pattern of the social political agenda promoted by conservative Evangelicals. The notion of "restoring Christian principles" back to America is the driving philosophical force as evident in the politics of "family values", which I certainly sympathize with to a degree with some major caveats, but how and why has the conflict two continents away made its way to the forefront?

The answer lies in Biblical prophecy. To be more specific, it comes from the conservative Evangelical interpretation of Biblical prophecy.

They believe that the critical harbinger to the Second Coming of Jesus is the return of the Jews once scattered around the world. They view the birth of Israel after World War II as the resurrection of ancient Israel, and the fulfillment of end times prophecy.

But according to their reasoning, the prophecy has been only partially fulfilled, since the nation's borders do not match those of ancient Israel because of the presence of the Palestinian population whom they view as "trespassers" who should be subject to expulsion, not peaceful co-existence with the Jews.

As extreme and sacrilegious as it may sound, it is a mainstream position held in the conservative Evangelical community as evident in the Christian Coalition's strong support of Israel and self-identified "Christian Zionists" whose influence has intensified especially since 9/11 in the Bush Administration and Republican Congress.

The Evangelical church that I used to attend organizes regular trips to Israel, not just for pilgrimage, but to rally behind the Israeli side. It finances a "ministry" to provide winter clothes and other goods to Israeli solders positioned in and around the occupied territories, but its silence on the plight of the Palestinians is deafening. They refer to the Israeli Jews as the "chosen people of God" and  the Palestinians "Satan's pawns" and "God's enemies." The church does not belong to a fringe group, but is widely recognized as a mainstream Evangelical congregation.

What it comes down to is the apocalyptic quest to hasten the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

To Mr. Robertson and conservative Evangelicals, Ariel Sharon's move to withdraw from the Gaza Strip amounts to blasphemy which has resulted in the delay of Jesus' coming.

Well, there are many things wrong with this picture, and I don't know where to begin. Let me see if I can spell out a few points before I lose you.

* This particular interpretation of Biblical prophecy is based on a systematic theology known as "dispensationalism." Before John Nelson Darby (1800-1892) came up with this particular movement, nobody before him promoted this brand of Biblical prophecy. Apparently from the first century and to when Darby came up with this idea in the 1800's, nobody was smart enough to figure this thing out.

* The most often used verse to back the pro-Israel political stance is what God said to Abraham roughly five thousand years ago - "I will bless those who bless you. I will curse those who curse you."  What God said to Abraham 5,000 years ago somehow applies to the modern state of Israel. That is quite a leap for Christians who pride themselves in the tradition of literal interpretation of Scripture.

* Evangelical Christian political activists lobby heavily the Congress and President Bush to stand with Israel and thus thwart Satan's plan to prevent the second Coming of Christ. How for thousands of years God has managed to conduct his business and fulfill his own prophecies without the generous and kind assistance from the United States Congress and the Bush Administration is beyond me.

Here is a question that I have been seeking an answer for in light of the apocalyptic quest to hasten the second coming of Jesus Christ. Foretold in end times prophecy is a rapid world-wide moral deterioration, but yet conservative Christian political activists fight hard to "restore Christian principles and values" in America. If they were successful, wouldn't a morally righteous America delay the second coming of Jesus?

I gotta go and brace myself for divine retribution now.


Christian Zionist sites. See for yourself.
* Christians For Israel
* Israel My Beloved
* Stand For Israel
* I Stand with Israel

Articles critical of Christian Zionism
* Mixing prophecy and politics
* Challenging Christian Zionism
* Christian Zionism, Evangelicals and Israel

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At January 08, 2006 9:37 AM, Blogger A thinker said...

:-D very good.

and amen David!!

At January 08, 2006 7:41 PM, Blogger L-girl said...

Excellent post, David!

I'm going to quote you tomorrow, so expect a bunch of crazy leftists swarming all over your site. ;-)

At January 08, 2006 8:56 PM, Anonymous jane said...

great post David....

and like I said in the other place that we chat,

the only punishment that America should fear from God is still hearing Pat Robertson's quotes on our nightly news......

At January 09, 2006 12:08 AM, Blogger David Cho said...

Thanks, thinker, Laura, and Jane.

Laura, BRING IT ON! I will stay the course :-)

At January 09, 2006 5:20 AM, Blogger L-girl said...

Laura, BRING IT ON! I will stay the course :-)

I'm sure most wmtc readers will agree with you. Sorry. ;-)

At January 09, 2006 7:52 AM, Blogger Granny said...

I posted on the same thing a few days ago but not with your thoroughness.

Please visit us at

I'd like to add you to our blogroll. I live in the CA central valley, worried american is from TX.

At January 09, 2006 9:13 AM, Blogger Kat said...

david, you make some great points. very well said.

At January 09, 2006 12:16 PM, Blogger Kyahgirl said...

excellent post-very insightful. thanks.

(dropping in from wmtc)

At January 09, 2006 3:37 PM, Blogger Max said...

Excellent post David! I'm sure you'll get some great hits off of this one!

At January 09, 2006 5:52 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Thanks for the links!

At January 09, 2006 8:33 PM, Blogger JuBlue said...

Great post, and I, too, have personal experience with the people who hold these beliefs (close relatives). I'd had that passage from the Bible quoted to me, and they've explained it in detail. STILL, they think it's their mission to convert the Jews to Christianity.

At January 10, 2006 8:03 PM, Blogger Brotha Buck said...

Man, you are much more informed on this subject than I. I won't even try to comment.

At January 10, 2006 8:12 PM, Blogger David Cho said...

Well, Buck. You better especially if you are in Tom Delay's district. He is the most outspoken Christian Zionist in Congress.

At January 11, 2006 1:41 AM, Blogger The Gig said...

What a great post! Quite thought provoking and I will have to think on that one.

About your comment on my post --
LOL,LOL good humor and thanks for the compliment, however, after eating all that food, I gained some weight.

At January 11, 2006 6:51 AM, Blogger Gary Means said...

Awesome post, David. Thanks for making me think.

At January 11, 2006 2:42 PM, Blogger Bruce said...

Well I'm impressed. This was great stuff. And I just thought you were a computer geek. :-)


At January 11, 2006 4:34 PM, Blogger San Nakji said...

Hi from a crazy leftist. This was a very interesting post, I am feeling nice and informed.


At January 12, 2006 10:30 PM, Blogger Elizabeth Green said...

I am one of those crazy leftists someone was talking about. I understand Robertson's reasoning, and I think you did a great job of explaining it, but from Sharon's point of view, the Jews aren't losing much to give up Gaza. It pretty much started out as a wasteland and was the hardest place to settle, both in terms of fighting off the Palestinians and ekeing a living out of the soil.

In my opinion, it was a shrewd political move on Sharon's part (even though a lot of Israelis don't like it). It throws a bone to the Palestinians, makes a step toward peace, and the Israelis get to keep the best parts of the country--Jerusalem and the Jezreel Valley.

I tend to support the Israelis, but for different reasons. For thousands of years that country was just a massive desert and the Palestinians lived there like nomads in miserable poverty. The Jews came there, worked to make it a fertile and productive country, and shared the fruits of their labors (schools, hospitals, etc) with the Palestinians, and all of a sudden the Palestinians thought they had to claim the country and get rid of the Israelis. Sorry, but something is wrong with this picture to me.

At January 12, 2006 10:48 PM, Blogger David Cho said...

Elizabeth, thanks for stopping by.

I agree with everything you are saying, and I believe in Israel's right to exist. It is the only functioning democracy right now, and it is vital for the US to remain supportive of the nation in light of very hostile enemies who want to see nothing less than the total destruction of Israel.

But the plight of the Palestinian people should also be taken into account, and Israel has some explaining to do when it comes to human rights abuse. And well, I won't even go into the Hamas and other terrorist organizations on the Palestinian side.

Even-handedness and fairness should drive the US policy, not some dubious interpretations of biblical prophecy.

At January 13, 2006 11:42 PM, Blogger Elizabeth Green said...

I agree with you about the human rights abuses. I think there is plenty of blame on both sides. I think they need to agree to co-exist and work together. The country could be a home for both groups. They both have a tradition there.

I think that trying to understand each other is a first step toward peace.

I enjoyed your blog

At January 15, 2006 1:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Super-duper blog! It's in line with something I found on the web. Type in "Pretrib Rapture Diehards" (while observing LaHaye's hypocrisy in item "1992") to see recently found facts about the rapture's 1830 origin. Is the article writer balmy? Hardly. Type in "Scholars Weigh My Research" to see the kudos given him by the Einsteins of eschatology. So how could all of the origin documentation have been covered up so long? Is the church in America this much asleep? M.F.

At January 17, 2006 3:43 PM, Anonymous Joshua said...

Outstanding post, David, and you sum up quite a few things that I've been thinking for a while. As a Jew myself, sometimes I get the sense that the so-called "philo-Semites" like Pat Robertson are doing more damage to us (and more dangerous to us) than the frank anti-Semites. They seem to have only modest interest in the Jewish people as individuals, yet deep down, they basically see us as tools, as pawns for their own sick ambitions.

Just as bad a sin is the way the Philo-Semities royally foul up and contort the notion of the "Chosen People." In Jewish seminars we provide to the public, a thousand times over, we try to explain that "The Chosen People" designation does not mean that G-d chose us as being somehow superior to other people, more special than they, or more favored than other groups. It does not mean that at all! The "Chosen" designation is a historical reference to the fact that we lost our kingdom (of David) in comparison to the intact kingdoms and empires of the Assyrians and the Babylonians, we were downtrodden, and so G-d said, "Hey, this is a good group of people to carry my message. If an oppressed people like the Jews can carry my message throughout the vast realms of the Near East to the people who have not heard it, if this powerless people can serve as messengers, then my word will have greater meaning than if imposed by a powerful emperor from above. Being so chosen, the Jews must also be held to a high standard." That's it. That's what Chosen means. It means selected to convey a message, and held to a standard-- it does not mean we're more special than anyone else. Other groups of people are also Chosen if they hold themselves to such a standard and spread the good word.

Some idiot calling himself "Confessions of a Would-Be Hero" at
the "No Cause to Serve Blog," like other philo-Semites, royally screws up the meaning of "Chosen" to again buy into the idea that we're special compared to other peoples, which understandably provokes anger among more than a few Gentiles. He doesn't get his history right, saying that somehow we're unique among the ancient Middle Eastern peoples (Hittites, Canaanites, he rattles them off) in preserving our culture and people. What an idiot. Has he ever heard of the Assyrians? They're still up and going pretty strong themselves today, mostly as Christians, but still pretty much with the culture they had thousands of years ago, and speaking the Aramaic language. The Canaanities and Hittites never disappeared, they just morphed into the other peoples we recognize in the region today (the Anatolians and Turks, the Palestinians). The Romans are still pretty intact, and have even differentiated into Italians, Spaniards and other modern groups. Many Christian and Muslim denominations still retain their basic features over millennia. Still other ancient groups of people, like the Jewish people, even retain pretty close ties to their ancient cultures and are pretty similar today to the way they were thousands of years ago. The Greeks, the Scandinavians, the Vietnamese, the Dravidian peoples of South India and the Aryan peoples of North India (the true Aryans, not the contortions of the 1930s), the Thais, the native Americans (they're still going strong in much of the Americas, and it's a very good thing), many of the sub-Saharan African tribes, the Burmese-- the list goes on, but there are quite a few ancient cultures going back thousands of years which, like the Jews, are doing pretty damn well.

Even worse an idiot than Confessions of a Would-Be Hero, are fools like Pat Robertson and morons like the aptly-named Reverend Lamarr Mooneyham, featured in a newspaper article recently--
The idiot actually says that the Jewish people are the apple of God's eye, and that the Gentiles must be envious. What an idiot! He's repeating the same claptrap that English anti-Semites used in massacring and expelling us throughout the Middle Ages and afterward, and that the Russians and Poles used while subjecting us to pogroms for centuries.

These philo-Semites are doing us vastly more harm than good by totally screwing up the interpretation of the "Chosen People" and by militantly meddling in the sovereign affairs of Israel, which we have to manage with a smooth and even hand. I can't stand them. Earth to all you so-called Pat Robertson-ish philo-Semites: We don't want your "help." With friends like you, who needs enemies?

At January 17, 2006 7:06 PM, Blogger David Cho said...

Joshua, thank you so much for the informative note. It is a post and a half.

That is an interesting way to look at what it means to be chosen. I never thought of it that way. As to the preservation of ancient cultures, their point may be that the Jews have done so despite nearly 2,000 years of nomadic history. There are other nomadic peoples such as the gypsies who have done just that.

Thanks again. I sure wish I could correspond with you. Please drop me a line if you get a chance.

At March 05, 2006 2:48 PM, Blogger cassandra said...

I am very interested to note that you seem to inept in commenting on Pastor Mooneyham without name calling which is on the level of a six year old. If your so enlightened brain could manage go reread the article and it plainly states that monies given to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews is given without expexting anything in return and as the Pastor has stated that is how it will stand. Just so you know I am a member of The Tabernacle and on the walls of our church are several Hundred names of displaced Jews that have been returned to their homeland without asking the first thing in return. So if our church has done something so harmful by extending help to those who cannot help themselves through an organization run by guess what a jewish rabbi then that is very unfortuanate. Before you go on such tirades of name calling why don't you contact one of those blessed individuals that now have safety in Israel the home of their forefathers and ask them how they feel about our help because my best guess is all you do type lengthy commentary without ever putting any sweat behind you comments

At October 28, 2006 12:12 PM, Blogger annadams95340 said...

Thanks for the comment on what was probably Worried American's post.

I think we covered it a few months ago as well.

I'll go back and read hers (I'm a little behind even on my own shared blog) and I may add a link to yours.

You'll be getting the crazy leftists from both the USA and Canada. (Hi L-girl)


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