Monday, August 12, 2013
The “Evangelical,” Dispensationalism and War by David R. Seppi
Are you one of the growing numbers of Americans who are disgusted with the perpetual Evangelical support of Middle East wars? Do you feel animosity when you hear words like “warvangelicals” and “Armageddonites?” Why this link between the Christian and aggressive war? Few realize that the false doctrine of dispensational premillenialism is the source of the evangelical backing of Israel “no matter what.” The evangelical voting block enables the Israeli government to control Congress, causing America’s inescapable Middle East wars. Look at the response of evangelical leadership to Ron Paul.
During the 2008 presidential debates, Jon Basil Utley noticed how Evangelicals seemed to care more for war than for any other issue candidates held. While watching evangelical leadership respond to Ron Paul, the limited government, pro-family, anti-abortion, constitutionalist, he noted “they consistently favored a Gingrich or Rick Santorum - big government “conservatives” who were always quick to espouse war and ‘back Israel.’”Utley showed this with the striking example of Joseph Lieberman:
"Earlier there was a major far leftist candidate who supported all the issues that evangelicals oppose, and was a vocal proponent for expanding Israeli settlements on the West Bank and promoting the war on Iraq. He was overjoyed when open homosexuality became allowed in the military, he supports abortion, gay marriage and the leftist agenda for big, intrusive government; power to labor unions as well as expanded, unconstitutional police powers within the U.S. Evangelicals adore him and went all out to support him 2006, when he lost his primary race and ran as an independent for the Senate. He is Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut."
Why did the Bible-believing evangelicals take leave of their moral convictions when voting? The answer? Senator Lieberman is a passionate supporter of Israel, which, to this day is a nation that persecutes Christians who attempt to preach the gospel.
Ron Paul wanted to cut all foreign aid (including three billion a year to Israel) and pull out of the Middle East. Eureka! Perhaps this gives us a clue to the Ron Paul rejection.
As early as 2002 the L.A. Times reported “an overwhelming pro-Israel congress” and an “unflagging congressional support for Israel.” Currently, by one poll, as many as 71% of Americans “favor Israel.” All this has led Congress to unconditional support for Israel. The Republican party, called by some “the war party,” may have as many as 50% evangelicals. CNN’s Chief international correspondent Christine Amanpour cited: “A recent poll found that 59 percent of American evangelicals believe Israel is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy....The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates 85 million evangelicals believes God tells them to support Israel — more than six times the world's Jewish population." (source)
Does this affect the Washington politician? In the last presidential debate Romney and Obama frequently spoke of America being Israel’s “best friend and true ally.” Recently, the US Senate voted 99 to 0 to pass S. Res. 65, stating the US will provide “diplomatic, military and economic support” to Israel if they go to war with Iran.
Paul Craig Roberts, describing Israel’s control of Congress, writes:
“The ears of the american “superpower” only work when the Israeli prime minister, Netanyahu, speaks. Then Washington hears everything and rushes to comply. Israel is a tiny insignificant state. . . It has no power except what its American protector provides. Yet, despite Israel’s insignificance, it rules Washington.
When a resolution introduced by the Israel Lobby is delivered to Congress, it passes unanimously. If Israel wants war, Israel gets its wish. When Israel commits war crimes against Palestinians and Lebanon and is damned by the hundred plus UN resolutions passed against Israel’s actions, the US bails Israel out of trouble with its veto.
The power that tiny Israel exercises over the “world’s only superpower” is unique in history. Tens of millions of Christians bow down to this power, reinforcing it, moved by the exhortations of large numbers of Christian ministers.”
Laurence M. Vance quoted Evangelical leaders who were fervently pushing for war at the time: Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Hal Lindsey, Cal Thomas, Pat Boone, and Joseph Farah. What Mr. Vance failed to note was all these Ron Paul critics were dispensational premillennialists.
Dispensational premillennialism, or Christian Zionism, is a branch of Christianity which holds to the establishment of Israel as a nation and the return of the Jews to “their” land as “fulfillment” of Bible prophecy. American evangelicals typically believe the Jews to be direct descendants of Abraham, whose friends, they believe, God blesses and whose enemies God destroys. Many look forward to Armageddon, a history-ending war, bringing the return of Christ for a thousand year reign in a rebuilt Jerusalem temple.
Where did all this come from?
From Rural England to Mainstream Christianity
England’s Plymouth Brethren sent its leader, J. N. Darby, to spread his premillennial rapture ideas in America through a series of six visits, between 1862 and 1877. The escapist mythology gained rapid acceptance in the trauma of war and Reconstruction. Meanwhile, Zionist, Louis Untemeyer, a wealthy, powerful New York lawyer began cultivating C. I. Scofield. Joseph Canfield wrote, “Scofield, an ambitious liar, a former criminal, a wife deserter who ruined his own family, somehow was what Untermeyer was looking for.” In 1909 Oxford University Press published the Scofield Reference Bible, spreading dispensationalism worldwide. C. E. Carlson writes: “Scofield’s success as an international Bible editor without portfolio and his lavish living in Europe could only have been accomplished with financial aid and international influence.” Darby’s ideas and Scofield’s footnoted Bible popularized dispensational premillennialism and Christian Zionism.
These ideas have morphed into a “last days” obsession that has made staggering growth for decades, with novels, movies, and pulpits aflame with “the rapture.” The results? “A 100-year-old offshoot of fundamental Christianity [Dispensationalism] has almost single-handedly legitimized wars in Arab states since 1991.” (C. E. Carlson)
Clifford Kirakofe traces Zionism’s climb to power:
“Working in the U.S. Senate as a foreign policy staffer, I saw first-hand the process by which the Christian Right emerged during the 1980s.
Over a decade I watched its rigidly pro-Israel stance first challenge and undermine our foreign policy and national security...Then in early 1980s, the neoconservative movement, a Jewish intellectual network, began tutoring the Christian Right in foreign policy with a particular emphasis on pro-Israel political action. The Christian Right soon aligned itself politically with the Jewish pro-Israel lobby spear headed by American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC).”
“By the mid 1980s an intimate working relationship had developed among the New Right, the Neoconservative movement, and the Jewish pro-Israel lobby. This alliance tightened its political bonds and intensified its political activity in Washington, DC, and across the nation, during the 1990s. It also prepared the domestic political situation that would enable President Bush’s later catastrophic crusade in the Middle East wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and confrontation with Syria and Iran.” [p.136]
Eric Margolis, long-time Middle East expert, said about the Israel lobby: “In official Washington it is taboo to even say there is an Israel lobby, though in reality everyone knows it dictates Mid-East policy to Congress.”
Evangelicals are being used by pro-war forces and have become a significant part of the problem in the Middle East wars. The church’s “end-times” confusion has locked America into unconditional support of national Israel, endless wars, playing its role in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Now over 150,000 Christians are murdered every year for their faith worldwide. Over three-fourths are in Islamic dominated nations, and this is the result of US foreign policy. “In many cases, U.S. taxpayers are either subsidizing the slaughter by distributing billions to oppressive regimes, or worse, helping to create the conditions that allow the persecution to happen in the first place.” (The New American)
Much of the Evangelical rejection of Ron Paul was rooted in false doctrine. Their voting, their fervency for war and their obsession with Israel largely flow from dispensational premillennial thinking. On this, the American warfare state, the Israeli government, and the neo-conservatives have capitalized, building congress’s Middle East policy of perpetual war.
Shouldn’t the evangelical community consider a position questionable that causes the unnecessary death of hundreds of thousands of people, and isn’t even biblical?
We must go to the bible for our ethics. Theology is a life-and-death issue.
David Seppi is a happily married homeschooling Christian father of seven. After 30 years of teaching in public school gained his freedom from “the system.” Our family economy is engaged in beekeeping, learning the joys of working together.