Just for Fun: Some Reasons (Conservative) Christians Support Jews and Israel

February 15, 2006 at 11:34 pm (Uncategorized)

An issue that appears every now and then is the support of Christians (particularly on the so-called conservative side) for Jews and Israel. Permit Us to explain a few reasons why this is so and to comment, in general, on this phenomenon.

Like Muslims, many Christians believe in supersuccessionism, namely, that one group chosen by God has been replaced by another group. Muslims believe they have been chosen by God as His people in place of Christians and Jews (ostensibly, ahl al-kitaab, or “the People of the Book,” in Islamic terms). Christianity, having emerged before Islam, views itself as the chosen people of God in place of the Jews, while Muslims have no argument in their favor to claim being a people of God. In other words, with the establishment of Christianity, God, through Jesus Christ, virtually transfers the covenant from the people of Israel by blood (Jews, Hebrews, the offspring of Isaac, however one wants to label them) to the new Israel, the people grafted onto the tree, as it were, by spiritual adoption.

Justifiably, many Jews are concerned about Christian support for Jews and Israel because of this belief. Why would Christians support Jews and Israel when Christians believe Jews and the land of Israel have been replaced by Christians and a spiritual communion that can be called Israel, among other terms? The answer does lie in dispensationalism – which some Christians condemn – but the root reason lies deeper.

Dispensationalism is the belief that certain rules and peoples play a role in God’s work in certain periods of time. At one time, God confined His covenant interaction to a certain people (Jews) for a certain period of time (between Abraham and Jesus, essentially). Even within this period, the rules changed – the rules during Abraham’s time were not the same as those in Isaac’s time, while the rules changed dramatically at the Encounter at Sinai. Some dispensationalists believe that despite Christianity’s claim of being God’s people, despite its supersuccessionism, Jews and Israel continue to play a role, and have yet to play a role, in the end of the current and the beginning of the next dispensation; the two dispensations will be separated by the coming of Jesus. Indeed, many of these dispensationalists believe that after the ingathering of the exiles has completed, the Jews will convert to Christ, be threatened, and then will be saved by Christ.

However, other communities in Christianity, and even people who subscribe to dispensationalism, have different reasons. The root reason goes back to the beginning of Christianity: it’s foundation within Judaism. Although it grew into a religion in its own right, and even though relations between Christians and Jews (not to mention between Christianity and Judaism) have been strained (to put it mildly), there’s a common understanding of God, a common history, and common scriptures that both peoples share. Christians do not reject the “God of the Old Testament”: indeed, they embrace Him, as they believe He came to earth in Jesus Christ. Christians continue to read, study, and interpret what they call the Old Testament. Christians and Jews share many, many stories and tales: Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Joseph, Job, Jonah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Ruth, Esther, Moses, Isaiah. The list goes on and on. Like Jews, Christians revere the ten commandments. Indeed, various moral laws and rules in the Torah (also known as the Pentateuch or the Five Book of Moses or the Law) are still very much in force within Christianity. These factors give Judaism and Christianity a common ground that no two other religions share.

Islam claims to have evolved from Judaism and Christianity: more appropriately, Islam claims to share the same history, people, and texts with Christians and Jews. However, Islam also teaches that Christians and Jews have perverted their texts, traditions, beliefs, and rules. In reality, there is little, if any, common ground between Christians and Jews on the one hand and Muslims on the other hand. The people of one, who call God their Father (Father in Heaven, Avinu shebashamayim), share little with the people of the other, who call themselves the slaves of God (indeed, “slave” (“‘abd”) is a very common part of Muslim names: ‘abd allaah, ‘abd ar-raHmaan, ‘abd ar-raHeem, ‘abd ar-razzaaq, ‘abd al-malik, ‘abd al-‘azeez, et cetera). So, when Christians are forced to support one culture against another, they will instinctively support Jews and Christians.

Furthermore, both Jews and Christians believe that Israel is holy land. Muslims believe that Jerusalem is holy, but this is exaggerated, for some reason, in Islam. The only real significance Jerusalem has for Muslims is that it is site from which Muhammad supposedly ascended to Heaven, riding a winged beast (buraq), during his Night Vision or Ascension, over which Muslims still bicker whether it was a vision or an actual physical ascension (if the former, then Jerusalem would have no major reason to be significant). It is true that Muslims used to pray towards Jerusalem, but this was only to indicate solidarity with the Jews. When the Jews refused to join the Muslims or recognize Muhammad as a prophet, Muhammad conveniently received a revelation mid-prayer that the direction of prayer has been changed to the Ka’ba in Mecca. Thereby, Muhammad ended his strategy to attract Jews to his religion and began focusing on attracting more Arabs to Islam.

Christianity and Judaism, on one hand, and Islam, on the other, also have different rules and standards. Both Christianity and Judaism began as minority and powerless religions. Even Judaism, when it established a state, was relatively introspective: the Hebrew leaders did not waste time trying to expand their empire to encompass the known world, unlike the Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Romans, and Muslims. There is no element of state-building in early Christianity. Islam has aspects of both imperialism and state-building built within itself. This is largely because unlike the “founders” of Christianity and Judaism, the founder of Islam was a successful conqueror and warrior. (Jesus, Moses, and Abraham cared more about imposing, explaining, teaching, and following God’s spiritual and ritual laws than conquest, booty, and other matters of state.) Regarding Judaism, when God gave the Promised Land to His people, He explicitly established its borders. There is no such limiting in Islam.

Another element that does not exist in Islam that exists in Christianity and Judaism is an evolution of the fundamentals of the two religions. The canon of neither religion was decided and enforced in the beginning. Indeed, the canons were closed quite some time into the religions’ lives. Both Christianity and Judaism have seen dramatic changes and innovations over their histories. Indeed, different communities consider each other to still belong to the religion even if they are wrong. (Extremists exist, but they are the fringe.) The Vatican does not say that Protestants are not Christians. (Indeed, most Protestant baptisms are considered valid according to Catholic law.) Jews of all major groups consider each other to be Jews despite level of observance or denominational affiliation. Such cordiality is sorely lacking in Islam, where takfeer (proclaiming another to be a non-Muslim) is often the first, rather than last, impulse when a Muslim encounters one who belongs to another tradition. Additionally, Christianity and Judaism actively try to deal with changing circumstances, integrating ancient fundamentals with modern understanding, in ways that many Muslims seem to oppose. Many Muslims would like to recreate the Islam of the salafeeyoon (early Muslims) rather than adapt Islam to modernity.

Some Christians feel that Jews, although not Christians, are related to Christians spiritually and certainly theologically. These relations exist at no level with Muslims. (If people do believe such relationships exist with Muslims, the explanation as to how this is so would be quite forced.)

These are only a few reasons why Christians support Jews, particularly when confronted with a people like Muslims or a religion/culture like Islam. This is not to say some Christians do not have ulterior motives: but the majority support Jews and Israel for theological reasons and because of a kinship that is strongly felt by Christians.

(These Christians do not support only Jews and Israel. They are also heavy supporters of conservative Jews. This raises the influence of traditional Jewish groups over secular ones; both conservative Jews and conservative Christians oppose efforts by secularists to de-religionize Israel. Both groups seek to religionize Israel, to make it truly a Jewish state, faithful to Jewish (and thus Christian) morals and values. But this is another matter all together.)

inna naHnu-l-a’lamoon.

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6 Comments

  1. Barker said,

    Notwithstanding the fact that Jesus Christ was a Jewish Rabbi, God,when talking to Abraham, admonishes all people, of any religion or faith, that ” I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you”.

    While some may support Jews and Israel out of fear of Gods curse, and some out of anticipation of His blessing, most supporting Christians will tell you they do it because of love, which is a lost word in the lexicon of times in the Middle-East and elsewhere.

  2. Muslihoon said,

    Very well said.

    It is quite interesting how even though Christianity and Judaism speak extensively about fearing God or having the fear of Heaven, both religions idealize and promote loving God over fearing God. In Islam, the focus is on fear. The God as described in the Qur’an is quite different from God as revealed in the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) and the New Testament.

  3. Dr Bernard Leeman said,

    I have recently published a book “Queen of Sheba and Biblical Scholarship” (Queensland Academic Press) free as an email download, which sought to provide a solution to the bitter struggle within Biblical archaeology as to whether the pre-586 BCE account is fantasy or a true story. My work, which took me 19 years, utilizes Arabian and Ethiopian evdience to conclude that the Old Testament is a true historical account or events that occurred in western Arabia not Palestine. In short, Modern Israel is in the wrong place.

    If my conclusion is true, what would be the theologcial repurcussions for Christianity and Judaism?

  4. Royce said,

    I have also found that the support for, or against Israel can come down to political ideology as well. It appears that conservatives in the USA are more likely to support Israel than liberals. This is even true among the Jewish community.

    But, on the other hand, this could be similar to which came first, the chicken or the egg? It seems that those raised in either a practicing Christian or Jewish home are more likely to be conservative. Maybe it could also just come down to the fact that if one is to believe in and try to live by the Ten Commandments, that they are far more likely to become conservative as well.

    Liberals prefer to see life in more of a gray scale, where as Conservatives live by a black and white view of life. But this split between Conservative and Liberals seems to me to have deeper roots. After the Ten Commandments, life was pretty much black and white. However, with the teachings of Jesus Christ, our black and white world mixed into the gray scale we have today.

    While Christians and Jews have learned to deal with some aspects of life in the black and white scale, and the others in a gray scale, Muslims have continued to live only in the black and white, and this is especially true with the Muslim extremists. I believe this is another reason that Christians continue to support Israel.

  5. Teketel said,

    I know the God of Islam as killer, krul, confused by teaching the followers to kill all innocent babies, older, youth so forth other than musilim. Even he does not give assurance for the salivation of his followers by sayg that he will pik them out from heaven & will send to hell. The heaven according to Quran is not the place of joy & happiness and free from all wories rather every Musilim male will excpect 70 christian vergins to have sex all his life. And no one worries about Muslil Woman except using them as much as he can in this world. So what is more confusing than this religion.

    On the other hand, the God in the BIble is LOVE, KInd, Sen his only son to save the whole mankind. No killing just free salivation by beliving his son Jesus christ saviuor of the world.

    My prayer for all Musilims is to see this light & escap from daeth.

  6. aL said,

    You’ve puie alot of thought into this,but remember God doesn’t change an neither doess human nature. If you try to earn your way to Heaven as a Muslim or a Catholic you are ignoring the righteousness of God in Christ.
    Having a black and white view doesn’t make you againmst God
    The ten commandments were very black and white ,but the point is thst we could not kep them .Only God in Christ did that for us.

    If you need further help with your study of the scriptures and (your mastery of the English langauge please let me know)
    I admire your efforts.
    Take Care,
    Al

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