Christian Zionism Gone Crazy

Christian Zionism Gone Crazy March 12, 2024

Christian Zionism Gone Crazy

Recently I met a Christian man, an evangelical, who believes the State of Israel ought to commit genocide against Palestinians in “Greater Israel.” He did not specify the precise boundaries of “Greater Israel,” but for him it definitely includes the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. According to him, and I’m sure he didn’t come up with this idea on his own, Joshua and the Israelites of old did not obey or complete the alleged mandate from Yahweh to kill all the inhabitants of Canaan. The time is now, he believes, for the Jews of Israel to finish the job.

Now, I grew up in the thick of American conservative Christian Zionism. I have described that here before. Our church, my denomination (then), my family believed that Jewish people are God’s chosen people and that whoever blesses them will be blessed and whoever harms them will be cursed. We and other conservative Protestants, mostly Pentecostals and charismatics, went out of our way to support the Jewish State of Israel and Jews everywhere.

But we never talked about the Palestinians. Except when we went to Israel on pilgrimages. Then we didn’t as much talk about them as avoid them.

There is now a growing sentiment among SOME Christian Zionists that Israel has the right to destroy all Palestinians who will not leave “Greater Israel” whose exact boundaries they neglect to identify. These people, mostly fundamentalist Protestants, many of them Pentecostals and charismatics, all of them dispensationalists, unconditionally support Israel’s war against Gaza in spite of the fact that there are Christian Palestinians there and on the West Bank, in the emerging Palestinian State.

I have actually been told by some of these people that I am anti-Semitic for criticizing the State of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians over the years. I’ve been to Israel twice and seen with my own eyes how Palestinians within Israel, even citizens of Israel, are treated as second class citizens. A 2010 report by the U.S. State Department documented issues of “institutional, legal and societal discrimination” against Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Although I have been a strong supporter of Israel all of my life, that does not mean I agree with everything Israel does—including Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty  ship in 1967. I vehemently deny any extreme Zionist claim that that makes me anti-Semitic.

Back to the topic here. Personally, I think Israel’s war against the residents of Gaza is overkill. But my sole point here, in this blog essay, is this: Taking portions of the Old Testament literally, as teaching that God did actually command genocide against the inhabitants of Canaan, opens the door to belief that modern Israel has the right to commit genocide. It also leaves the door open to belief that genocide is God’s will, even after the Jewish return and occupation of the “promised land” as recorded in Judges in the Old Testament.

The larger theological issue here is biblical literalism and even belief in biblical inerrancy. Christianity can be stronger and better without those. Anyone who thinks I am endorsing liberal theology needs to read my book Against Liberal Theology where I explain what real liberal theology is. Belief in biblical inerrancy CAN lead a person, a church, an organization, to believe that God commands genocide. I will not say “wrong in my opinion.” I will slay “just wrong.” God is revealed supremely in Jesus Christ and effectively in his cross.

*Note: If you choose to comment, make sure your comment is relatively brief (no more than 100 words), on topic, addressed to me, civil and respectful (not hostile or argumentative), and devoid of pictures or links.*

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