Dan Juster

Director
Tikkun Ministries International
 
 
"Some now claim that the commitment to the election of the Jewish people and their return to the Land is the product of the errant theology of John Nelson Darby from the mid to late 19th century. In addition, Jewish leaders frequently claim that the Christian support for Israel is shallow and a cover for seeking their conversion. These claims are also false. The first is an outright egregious misreading of history and the second is contrary to the basic theology of those Christians who have supported the Jewish people and the return to the Land."






 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
"There is so much more to the story. It is quite amazing! Without this Christian support, I do not believe there would be an Israel today. Key Christian leaders were involved in the policies that led to the State of Israel, the training of the Israel Defense Force before World War II and a great deal more."
 
 

A Serious Gap in Historical Knowledge

Fact: In past generations, there was deep and wide support for the Jewish people from Evangelicals. That this is not widely known is one of the sad (or perhaps even deliberate) revisions of church history. Evangelicals embraced the Jewish people as God's elect people and supported their return to the Promised Land. Both Jews and Christians need to know this amazing history.

Today there is a new embrace of "replacement theology" among Evangelicals. This is the theory that asserts that the Church is now the Israel of God and has replaced the Jewish people as God's elect chosen people. In my booklet based on lectures I gave in England, "Inclusion Versus Replacement"*, I spoke of addition or enlargement theology - not replacement, as the key to understanding how the promises apply to gentile Christians. Some now claim that the commitment to the election of the Jewish people and their return to the Land is the product of the errant theology of John Nelson Darby from the mid to late 19th century. Darby founded the theology that we today call Dispensationalism. This article will not respond to Darby's theology, for I have already done so in two of my books (Israel, the Church, and the Last Days and Jewish Roots).

In addition, Jewish leaders frequently claim that the Christian support for Israel is shallow and a cover for seeking their conversion. When the Jewish people do not convert, this support will be lost. This response is largely driven by liberal Jewish reactions to Christian conservative viewpoints in social policy and theology. These claims are also false. The first is an outright egregious misreading of history and the second is contrary to the basic theology of those Christians who have supported the Jewish people and the return to the Land.

To deal with these issues, I am pleased to announce the publication of my new book by Lederer Publishers, entitled Passion for Israel. I believe that this little book destroys the false historical narratives that are common among replacement Evangelicals and among Jews. The rest of this article will summarize my findings.

The Puritan Roots of Support for Israel's Restoration

The Evangelical support for Israel is broad, deep and historically rooted. The Evangelical movement derived from these streams. I am using the term "Evangelical" broadly, to describe all who fit the definitions of the National Association of Evangelicals in the United States and the World Evangelical Alliance. This encompasses Pentecostals and Charismatics as well. It includes all who have a high view of scriptural inspiration and authority, and a classic Protestant understanding of Bible doctrine.

I trace the Evangelical Christian movement to the Puritans and their influence on the German Lutheran Pietists. The Puritans were a "back to the Bible movement." As such, they read the Bible in a straightforward way. Two important aspects determined their theology on Israel. First, they read Romans, chapters 9-11 with great care, noting that Romans 11:25-31 teaches the continued election of the Jewish people, though they are enemies of the Gospel. To the Puritans, the text clearly taught that the gifts and call of God to the Jewish people, as yet unconverted to Jesus, were irrevocable. From the same text they looked toward the general conversion of the Jewish people to faith in their King and Messiah at the end of the age.

Secondly, they read the Old Testament straightforwardly. Even though the Puritans applied the promises to spiritual Israel, the Church, they did not do so in a replacement way. The promises were still taken to apply to ethnic Israel. This led several to believe in the Jewish return to the Land. These views eventually influenced political leaders, even those outside of the convictions of Evangelicals. Here are just a few of the key Puritans who promoted these beliefs.

In his book, Revelation of the Revelation, Thomas Brightman (1562-1607) argued that there was nothing more certain than the return of the Jewish people to Jerusalem. Thomas Giles in 1608 wrote The World's Resurrection, of the Calling of the Jews. Others who supported the basic themes included the famous Puritan writer, Samuel Rutherford, author of Rex Lex (Law is King). There are far too many others to name them all, but I especially want to include the famous narrative poet, John Milton. In Paradise Regained, Milton argued the same view. The founder of Harvard, Increase Mather, should also be included. Pro-Israel views even influenced John Adams, the second president of the United States, who spoke of his hope for the establishment of Israel in his day.

From the Puritans to the Lutheran Pietists and Moravians

From the Puritans, the "restoration of Israel" views spread to the Lutheran Pietists (the forerunners of the Evangelicals). This influenced Ludwig Von Zinzendorf, the Lutheran who was later to lead the Moravian movement. The theology also spread to Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians and Baptists in Britain, and Lutherans in Scandinavia. My own Norwegian relatives embraced this theology long before Darby wrote anything. Anglican Bishop, Joseph Butler wrote The Analogy of Religion, a text many have considered the greatest apologetic textbook defending Christianity. This book, used as the basic text in theological schools for 150 years, argued forcefully for the Jewish return to the Land. That was in 1732! By 1840, this was the consensus of British theology and led to the effort to establish a Jewish Anglican bishop in Jerusalem to prepare for that return. The church of that bishop is today's Christ Church at the Jaffa Gate in the Old City. There is so much more to the story. It is quite amazing! Without this Christian support, I do not believe there would be an Israel today. Key Christian leaders were involved in the policies that led to the State of Israel, the training of the Israel Defense Force before World War II and a great deal more.

In addition, the commitment to the Jewish people was deep and unconditional. Jewish conversion was not expected in large numbers until the end of this age. Therefore, disappointment in the response to the Gospel had no negative effect on that support. The present Jewish suspicion is unwarranted. This is a 450 year history that must be more widely known. In order to set the record straight and counter the false narrative being touted by some Evangelical leaders today, I recommend my book to all Christians and Jews.

*"Inclusion Versus Replacement" is sold on the UK Christian Friends of Israel website: http://www.cfi.org.uk/inclusion-versus-replacement-a-reformed-theology-for-the-church.html

By Daniel Juster
Dan Juster leads the overall ministry Tikkun International Donate to Tikkun International.
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Comments
Comments:
15:19 30Jul12 Errol Francis -
Very good article, to me it seems that the peace negotiations have stalled so the opposition shifts to come from the unbeliveving church. Very sad but subtle. Just yesterday I was studying the concept that Israel will be dispersed again to be regathered a second time. Is that true? Isaiah 11.11 was not the first regathering from Babylon? So now is the second and final regathering.

  -- Dr Juster replies: I really do not see another scattering in the Bible. It seems that the last trial is in the land and looks like all is lost before God intervenes and saves the Jewish people who are in their land. See Zech. 12, 14 and Ezek. 38, 39 or Joel 3.

16:34 30Jul12 Wes Carmack -
Thanks for tracing the specifics of support for Israel in the Evangelical Church. We need to be more aware of the historic stand of clear thinking Evangelicals on this topic.

21:13 30Jul12 Juan Pascual -
Christian support for Israel is based on sound Biblical doctrine. It comes out clearly so especially from the New Testament.

12:55 31Jul12 Philip Latham -
Another absolutely clear delineation of the special place Israel and Israelites occupy in the heart of God.

17:47 01Aug12 Maureen Long -
I just recently (last year) learned about replacement theology and was shocked. However, I remember as a young girl taught by catholic nuns, having the thought that the jews were out and we were in. Since becoming a born again believer, the Holy Spirit has filled me with thirst for understanding of the Jewish people and all things Messianic. Thank you for this. I have much more to read thanks to this article.

18:38 05Aug12 Glenn -
Before Darby was born and Dispensationlism even existed there had been a large "restoration movement" in England that believed the Jews would be restored to the land cited in many books including Mede's Key to Revelation which says the collapse of the Turkish empire would lead to the Jewish return to the land. William Twisse stated in his preface that the return of the Jews to the land would so enrage the Turks it would set in motion the final battle. Issac Newton was famous for accepting the Restorationist view. This in return lead to a large Anti-Restorationists movement by many in England which reached its peak in 1690, 100 years before the birth of Darby! This is so well documented in books like Philo-Semitism and the Readmission of the Jews to England by David Katz and N.I. Matar's work titled Restoration of the Jews 1661-1701 and 1701-1753.

12:56 06Aug12 Sarah Allen -
Thank you for this article. Whenever i thought about the Jewish people, I felt in my heart that God's promises were still with them, even if they didn't see yet that Jesus is the Messiah.

13:37 10Aug12 Bob Ward -
What a wonderful clear and incisive message that should be known by all that in particular call upon the Name of our Lord Jesus as The Messiah and live as such. May the Lord bless your most recent book to help spread this truth so needed in this present time and age.

06:51 28Aug12 Peter Hartgerink -
Excellent summary. Thank you.

08:28 29Sep12 Jennifer Sorge -
I remember years ago when the Iron Curtain was still up, our Pastor (here in the USA) would visit the underground church in Russia. On one visit we asked that he makes sure to tell them that the Christians here in the USA are praying for them because we hear how hard it is over there.

When our Pastor got back, he said he felt humbled when he shared with the Russian Christians what we asked him to ... because they said it is the American Christians that need prayer. As we are the ones with plenty ... to the point that we struggle with even seeing our need for God! Whereas God was already blessing them, as the only thing they had was God, so their faith was already strong.

PLEASE pray for US Christians! We have too much and easily get caught up in worldly thinking and attitudes. The church is easily swayed and lose sight of Christ and growing to become more like Him. We get caught up in the sensationalism and name calling of this Presidential election. THANK YOU!!


Also in this issue of the newsletter:
Eitan Shishkoff: Ex-Muslims Proclaim Yeshua in Israel
Terri Morey: Praising Him in All Things: Brookie's story
David: Is There Room In Our Heart? Ingredients of Identity
Asher Intrater: Apostolic Community in Jerusalem