By Pastor Kenneth W. Rawson
As a Christian minister dedicated to encouraging the Jewish people around the world to cherish their Jewish roots and not convert to the churches, I feel compelled to enter the debate over the Evangelical Christian Zionists. Evangelical Zionists deliver massive political clout for Israel in Washington and millions of dollars for Israeli causes. Why?
Its argued they give non-theological reasons for their ardent support of Israel. Does anyone really think they would openly admit their primary reason their belief that Jesus returns to a Christian Israel? Some Jewish leaders insist Evangelicals are only seeking God's promise of a blessing to those that bless the descendants of Abraham.
As a Christian I appreciate this blessing, but I find it impossible to believe that Christians are donating millions of dollars to Jewish causes simply to attain a degree of blessing unattainable within their own Christian religion. Can Jewish leaders be this naive?
To the Evangelical Zionists the prophetic rebirth of the Israeli State was the most dynamic event in the church's history a sure sign that Jesus will return in their lifetime. Effervescing with excitement, they will do anything to keep this prophetic sign alive.
Nothing Must Interfere
A Palestinian State in the heartland of Israel, Samaria and Judea or Arabs becoming a majority in Israel during the next 10 years would dampen this jubilant expectation. Such setbacks must be prevented. Leveraging massive political pressure on Washington to oppose a Palestinian State, donating millions to fly Jewish immigrants to Israel to assure a Jewish majority, strengthening the West Bank settlements all these are musts. Nothing can interfere with their urgent anticipation of Jesus' return.
Unfortunately their ardor does not and will not stop here. The Biblical interpretation of most Evangelical Zionists demands a Christian Israel before Jesus can return. In fact, they believe two-thirds of the Israelis will be killed and damned eternally while only one-third will convert and escape damnation. This is well publicized in the Evangelical bestseller book series, LEFT BEHIND.
Here is the problem. Who is going to convert these Israelis? Often Evangelicals shout "We love Israel!" These Evangelicals hope to gradually love Jews to death their death as Jews when they convert. They hope their generosity and support continual acts of Christian love will wear down Israeli resistance. They call this provoking Jews to jealousy by acts of love to convert. Rabbi Michael Skobac of Jews for Judaism calls it making nice to lubricate the conversion process. Ironically, these evangelicals expect the Orthodox settlers, upon whom they are showering tens of thousands of dollars, to be the best candidates for conversion.
Meanwhile the majority of the Evangelical Zionists also give much of the over fifty million dollars annually donated to Jews for Jesus, Messianic Jews and to other missionary groups that are targeting the Jewish people around the world especially in the former Soviet Union. What are the results? Christians for Israel though their Exobus Project assist Ukrainian Jews immigrating to Israel. Of course they share the love of Jesus with their Jewish passengers. A Messianic campaign in Odessa converted 30,000 Jews to Christ. Now many of them are boarding Christians for Israel buses on the way to Israel where they become one on one missionaries. (The Jewish Voice, Englewood, NJ)
What about Evangelical Zionist organizations in Israel like the International Christian Embassy and Bridges For Peace? They have a missionary agenda according to Mark Powers, US Director of Magen, an international counter-missionary operation. Obviously, the over 100 Messianic Synagogues in Israel have a missionary agenda many are financed by Evangelicals in the US. Christian Friends of Israel-USA, an avid financial supporter of the West Bank settlements, has a website linked to King of Kings Assemblies, a major Messianic Synagogue operation in Israel. Why?
But how do Evangelical Zionists react to Jews who counter missionaries targeting the Jewish people. Evangelicals enjoyed Rabbi Tovia Singer's right wing views about
Israel broadcasted on WMCA, New York's Christian Radio. Why did the station cancel Singer's show? He is involved in countering Christian missionary efforts targeting Jews. Evangelical Zionists do have a missionary agenda and they are irate when a Christian or Jew opposes their missionary agenda. I know.
Jen Willem van der Hoeven, a highly regarded Evangelical Christian in Israel, maintains converting Jews is anti-Christian. Yet Hoeven told The New York Times that Jews converted by his people remained faithful to their roots and to Israel. I guess with the backing of notables like Morton Klien and Bi Bi Netanyahu this double talk is somehow not converting Jews even though these Jews did convert to Jesus.
An equation of tolerance seems to be developing. How much converting is tolerable by individuals or Christian groups compared to their great efforts in supporting the State of Israel? I find it difficult to accept that Jewish leaders who ardently extol these Evangelical Zionists are totally unaware of their missionary work.
Perhaps the Jewish leaders are not so naive. Maybe they are just playing the game. In view of church history, take their money but don't feel the least bit ingratiated. Nevertheless this is a dangerous game.
They are pressing their conversion agenda. There are evangelical tour groups trained to disarm, and then convert Israelis. Evangelicals have ingratiated themselves into Israeli communities. In Ariel an Evangelical friend of the mayor is conducting a covert missionary operation with a vision to multiply this operation throughout Israel. Christian Jews from the Ukraine, Argentina and elsewhere are immigrating to Israel. Israel is becoming honeycombed with one on one missionaries and home churches. Israelis wake up!