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Christian challenge to Christian Zionism
January 16, 2006 5:48 PM   Subscribe

Challenging Christian Zionism "We are a group of evangelical pastors, academics and mission executives who have been disturbed by the growing influence of Christian Zionism on the political scene in America..." Detailed critique of the Christian Zionist movement includes a look at Hal Lindsey, "the Father of Apocalyptic Christian Zionism."
posted by mediareport (47 comments total)

 
People these days are really obsessed with this whole judaism thing. Oi vey.
posted by nightchrome at 6:01 PM on January 16, 2006


The links are interesting though.

The way US Evangelical Christianity has such a determined point of view is odd. In other countries Christians are as much, if not more often on the Left rather than the right.

The joining of the Evangelical movement to Zionist causes is also quite odd. Are there are another strongly religious people who tie themselves to the goals of another religion? Usually it's the other way around. Are there other examples?
posted by sien at 6:07 PM on January 16, 2006


sien writes "The joining of the Evangelical movement to Zionist causes is also quite odd."

Not when you consider that it helps bring about the End Times. See? Perfectly logical really.

When I think about the fact that the fucking President buys into this, I'm not just pissed: I'm scared.
posted by brundlefly at 6:17 PM on January 16, 2006


The links are interesting though.

Thanks, I thought so too. A friend just turned me on to Stephen Sizer; he's an interesting guy who seems to really get fundamentalists angry.

brundlefly gets things off to a cruddy start: You obviously hate the Jews.

Dude, I get the sarcasm, but would you mind not rushing to 'frist post' a snide joke in a religion thread? We have enough trouble with this stuff without adding that shit at the very start, ok? Thanks.
posted by mediareport at 6:27 PM on January 16, 2006


Wouldn't the end of the world have a negative impact on US national security? These christian terrorists have got to be stopped!
posted by modernerd at 6:39 PM on January 16, 2006


mediareport writes "Dude, I get the sarcasm, but would you mind not rushing to 'frist post' a snide joke in a religion thread? We have enough trouble with this stuff without adding that shit at the very start, ok? Thanks."

Hey, sorry man. I didn't rush to do anything. I'm just bitter and pissed off (having been accused of antisemitism several times because of this bullshit). Didn't mean to cause offense. It's a great link and I'm browsing it as we speak.
posted by brundlefly at 6:42 PM on January 16, 2006


The way US Evangelical Christianity has such a determined point of view is odd. In other countries Christians are as much, if not more often on the Left rather than the right.

Well, it's not really the majority of christians. There are plenty of Christian Democrats as well.
posted by delmoi at 6:53 PM on January 16, 2006


Hal Lindsey's writings were my first clue that Christianity is madness. Oddly, they don't seem to have had the same effect on many others.
posted by telstar at 6:57 PM on January 16, 2006


When I think about the fact that the fucking President buys into this, I'm not just pissed: I'm scared.

I can't believe anyone still believes this. Bush is a businessman who uses this image to get votes and money; he absolutely does not sincerely believe in this stuff.
posted by interrobang at 6:57 PM on January 16, 2006


"We are a group of evangelical pastors ..."

I find the term evangelical confusing because it can carry many meanings from which an audience is supposed to pick out the right one. Various meanings are: gospel centered, born again, biblical literalism, trust in the truth the bible speaks to you over any body else's interpretative.

I think it would be better, as a first pass, to lable factions with the part of the Bible they quote the most. Is this altercation between Gospel Christians and Old Testament/Revalations Christians?
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 7:06 PM on January 16, 2006


interrobang writes "Bush is a businessman who uses this image to get votes and money"

Hope you're right, but I've seen nothing to suggest it. He clearly uses the stoopid good ol' boy act for this purpose, but I'd be genuinely surprised if the religious thing is an act...
posted by brundlefly at 7:08 PM on January 16, 2006


I can't believe anyone still believes this. Bush is a businessman who uses this image to get votes and money; he absolutely does not sincerely believe in this stuff.

And you would know this, how?
posted by veedubya at 7:11 PM on January 16, 2006


I find the term evangelical confusing

That's actually very understandable. Religioustolerance.org has a good page on the confusion inherent in uses of the term "Evangelical." The first section notes there's a big difference between a few usages in Europe and a proliferation of usages in North America; since Sizer is from England, that may explain the use in the quote you cited.
posted by mediareport at 7:14 PM on January 16, 2006


And you would know this, how?

Of course I don't definitively know this, but his actions (killing people, lying, condoning torture, being attached to business interests, actively invoking the name of God in public, praying in public, being rich himself, and so forth) seem most un-Christian to me.
posted by interrobang at 7:17 PM on January 16, 2006


delmoi: Isn't religious attendance a very good predictor of US voting patterns. Quickly Googling turns up this

It is presumably different in other Western countries. But then again, perhaps that is not true.
posted by sien at 7:17 PM on January 16, 2006


but his actions (killing people, lying, condoning torture, being attached to business interests, actively invoking the name of God in public, praying in public, being rich himself, and so forth) seem most un-Christian to me.

Huh?
posted by veedubya at 7:38 PM on January 16, 2006


Are you deaf?
posted by interrobang at 7:39 PM on January 16, 2006


veedubya, I believe interrobang is making a "No True Scotsman" argument, along Christian lines.
posted by nightchrome at 7:48 PM on January 16, 2006


I was once given one of Lindsey's books. I found him to be a hatemonger, and I was deeply disturbed by the fact that the only "support" he had for any of his outlandish assertions was selected Bible verses. I threw the book in the trash rather than let anyone be influenced further by it.
posted by ilsa at 7:54 PM on January 16, 2006


Are you deaf?

No, just sleepy. It's coming up to 4am here.

I was being flippant. I didn't, and still don't, know whether you're being sarcastic. If you weren't being sarcastic, it's an almost unprecedented statement here on MeFi. Unprecedented in a good way.

For the little that it's worth, I think that Bush is a devout Christian. I was raised a Catholic, so I've seen the mental hoops that believers will jump through to square the most insane actions against their religion. Dogma is a funny thing.
posted by veedubya at 8:04 PM on January 16, 2006


Of course I don't definitively know this, but his actions (killing people, lying, condoning torture, being attached to business interests, actively invoking the name of God in public, praying in public, being rich himself, and so forth) seem most un-Christian to me.

Ironically, historically speaking, it is these very attributes which define Bush as the most devout Christian since the Middle Ages.
posted by Rothko at 8:09 PM on January 16, 2006


My two pence worth: I read this guy when he was brand new back in the '70's' and found him full of crap (I was in my mid teens then). Disappointing that people anywhere give him any credibility at all. Just another snake-oil salesman out to make a quick buck off of other's fears. regrettably the one's he's influencing most seem to have their twitchy little fingers on the nuclear button that is able to make it all come to pass. Never would have thought it way back when in the 70's. Now that it's come to pass it just seems so much bad fiction that's been sucked up by the rubes. . .
Flying Spaghetti Monster help us all . . .
posted by mk1gti at 8:19 PM on January 16, 2006


since Sizer is from England, that may explain the use in the quote you cited.

Also I think there have been long standing pissing matches over claiming the lable evangelical. Martin Luther called his movement evangelical and since he had the first success in opposing a corrupt Rome, I fear the word has taken on a sense of "primary" or "pure" rather than to contrast the life of Christ with the fatcats serving the Pope.

Thus if you look at your many definitions of evangelical you find people who people who feel some set of beliefs is most primary, pure, or fundamental and use that to define evangelical.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 8:31 PM on January 16, 2006


I was being flippant. I didn't, and still don't, know whether you're being sarcastic. If you weren't being sarcastic, it's an almost unprecedented statement here on MeFi. Unprecedented in a good way.

I wasn't being sarcastic at all. I really can't imagine how people can see what he does, and figure that he knows anything at all about Jesus.
posted by interrobang at 8:51 PM on January 16, 2006


interrobang writes "I wasn't being sarcastic at all. I really can't imagine how people can see what he does, and figure that he knows anything at all about Jesus."

Evidently you think that not knowing anything at all about Jesus and being a dispensationalist are mutually exclusive...
posted by brundlefly at 9:14 PM on January 16, 2006


I don't like christian zionism much, either -- their financial prowess combined with the fanaticism of the extreme right in Israel forms an invisible and massively powerful bloc that pushes the country down all the wrong paths. Seven out of ten Israelis want to see a significant pull-outs from West Bank. In any properly streamlined democracy, it would've happened ages ago; but with this unlikely allegiance of disparate ideologues, it's going to be a long and ugly route.

The unfortunate reality is that it's very hard to resist this sort of covert influence. Orthodox Jews in the diaspora, North American Jews with idle and malignant messianic fantasies and Christian Zionists give a lot of money to Israel, and though most Israelis are uneasy with these people (to say the least), the abstract threat of being politically compromised in the long-run always seems distant in comparison with the tangible benefits of financial investment. It doesn't help that the constant threat of suicide bombing has produced in Israel a culture of après nous le deluge. The middle and upper classes have developed a dangerously cynical and complacent attitude: who gives a shit about the poor and needy if the boat is sinking anyway? Who gives a shit about politics if the cycles of violence return in perpetuity? Israelis have a word for this: "Ha-matzav" (lit. "the situation") -- the numbing tautology of a country which has resigned itself to corruption and brutality. Why are things so bad? Ha-matzav. Why can't we pull out of the West Bank? Because of the matzav. Why are increasing numbers of Israelis unable to provide for themselves? Well, blame the matzav.

The ugly truth is that even though a majority of Israelis are willing to make serious concessions for peace, this same majority has grown accustomed to the toll of the occupation and has abandoned its own dreams of a just and peaceful society as naive. This is why the labor party is in shambles. You can't campaign in Israel promising good things, because they'll think you're an idiot. Thus you end up with the paradox of a silent and impotent majority in a country hijacked by lunatics.
posted by ori at 10:23 PM on January 16, 2006


Oooh, I've got Lindsay's Satan Is Alive And Well On Planet Earth in my "freakout" section. Haven't looked at it in ages, have to flip through sometime.
posted by zoinks at 10:37 PM on January 16, 2006


Great comment there, ori. And zoinks, you should definitely check this page for more "freakout" material; it calls Lindsey "the Christian Carlos Castaneda."
posted by mediareport at 10:49 PM on January 16, 2006


Www.christianzionism.org writes in their mission statement, "We hope to offer an alternative biblical view, one that reflects the true nature of G-d as a G-d of compassion and justice."

It sounds like the UK folks are keeping their eye on their ball, trying to focus on the nature of their G-d as they perceive it in their Christian bible. I wonder if they are worried about the American Christians thinking more about an "Old Testament," fiercer G-d.

On the Jewish side, the Talmud (Sanhedrin 72a) says that, "If someone comes to kill you, kill him first."

This "turn the other cheek" approach is most definitely not a Jewish one.
posted by Adamchik at 11:23 PM on January 16, 2006


Yes, "Lindsey."
Thanks, mediareport. Going to take a look now. [Anything to avoid starting work at 2:45 am]
posted by zoinks at 11:44 PM on January 16, 2006


ori: Really interesting post. It's surprising to hear that 7 out of 10 Israelis want pull outs from the West Bank.

The media reporting of the Gaza pullout was all about how people were protesting against it. It's a pity that more wasn't made about the support for the pullout.
posted by sien at 12:48 AM on January 17, 2006


mediareport, I have to thank you for that link to the rapture movie page. I was just about to do an AskMe on one of the MarkIV films, and that page more than answered my question.
Great post, too. Thanks!
posted by maryh at 12:59 AM on January 17, 2006


sien: "More than 7 in 10 Israelis indicate a willingness to allow a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders if Palestinians commit to stop violence against Israel, and do so for an extended period of time. Fewer than one in five say that they favor Israel holding on to the Territories. However, many in the majority express a lack of faith that Palestinians would really give up violence, and thus at this point there is only a bare majority ready to take a position favoring such a settlement." (Search for Common Ground Poll, 2002)
posted by ori at 1:29 AM on January 17, 2006


but his actions (killing people, lying, condoning torture, being attached to business interests, actively invoking the name of God in public, praying in public, being rich himself, and so forth) seem most un-Christian to me.

Oh come now, we all know the Christian/Jewish/Muslim God loves to Kill and torture the unjust, what is George doing that would be so dissaproving to (a Christian) God?
posted by twistedonion at 2:11 AM on January 17, 2006


I wonder if they are worried about the American Christians thinking more about an "Old Testament," fiercer G-d.

Probably, but the New Testament isn't a love fest either... Revelations used to scare the shit out of me as a kid.

"Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates." And the four angels who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind.

Maybe that's the weapons of mass destruction George is really looking for.


"They were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were not given power to kill them, but only to torture them for five months. And the agony they suffered was like that of the sting of a scorpion when it strikes a man. During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them."

At least the grass, earth and trees will be left alone, finally!

And God condones torture, waddaya know!
posted by twistedonion at 2:23 AM on January 17, 2006


In America when somebody defines her or himself as "a Christian" I want to run a mile. There is, or has become, a profound difference between these people and those who call themselves presbyterian or baptist or epispicalian or catholic, etc. This is not the case in the UK where I live nor in other countries that I have visited. Here, "Christian" is just another way of saying, Church of England except around one church in our neigborhood called the Kensington Temple which is huge and preaches the good-old-boy style ( read: old testament - apocolypse) brand evangelicalism. But even these guys have a streak of sanity in what they do. They recently bought a cinema across the street from the temple. There was concern that is might be torn down and a lot of us feared that this classic, early cinema was going to be turned into another wing of their church but to everyone's surprise, it has become a good mainstream outlet for first run and also controversial, and off-beat films such as What the~?!Xetc. So much for stereotyping, I guess.
posted by donfactor at 3:00 AM on January 17, 2006


Tangentially, I read a very disturbing novel by Robert Stone several years ago called "Damacus Gate" that involves a conspiracy by radical Christian fundamentalists in the States and ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel to foment an apocolypse by blowing up the Temple Mount.

My synopsis is probably a little shrill, but if you've ever read Robert Stone you'll understand that he can tell a story like that with great plausibility.
posted by hwestiii at 4:05 AM on January 17, 2006


It gets better... Hal Lindsey also does Comic books!


posted by verb at 4:55 AM on January 17, 2006


The Jesus Landing Pad

"It was an e-mail we weren't meant to see. Not for our eyes were the notes that showed White House staffers taking two-hour meetings with Christian fundamentalists, where they passed off bogus social science on gay marriage as if it were holy writ and issued fiery warnings that "the Presidents [sic] Administration and current Government is engaged in cultural, economical, and social struggle on every level"�this to a group whose representative in Israel believed herself to have been attacked by witchcraft unleashed by proximity to a volume of Harry Potter. Most of all, apparently, we're not supposed to know the National Security Council's top Middle East aide consults with apocalyptic Christians eager to ensure American policy on Israel conforms with their sectarian doomsday scenarios.

But now we know.

"Everything that you're discussing is information you're not supposed to have," barked Pentecostal minister Robert G. Upton when asked about the off-the-record briefing his delegation received on March 25. Details of that meeting appear in a confidential memo signed by Upton and obtained by the Voice. "
posted by troutfishing at 6:27 AM on January 17, 2006


This is brilliant. Right-wing Israelis coopt American neocons to advance their vision of the future of Israel. And by future of Israel, that means arms, protection, war in Iraq, sable rattling towards Iran, etc. Those neocons in turn hook the gravytrain to the GOP in the guise of Evangelistic Christians who feel that the sucess of Israel is correlated to the return of Jesus (so long as said Jews convert from OT to NT). Various pro-Israel groups funnel money to the GOP to advance their positions, while anyone who dares oppose them is shouted down as jew-haters. At the same time, anyone who dares question the fundies is squelching someones first ammendment rights. Brilliant!

What I don't get RE:the comic book is why Christians are fighting the Russians, the Chinese, the Great War on Drugs, the Arab Coalition, et. al. Wouldn't they want the rapture to get here quicker so they can go to the party in the penthouse?

Also, "The Great Snatch", Indeed.

Another interesting question - is this some Grand Neo-Israeli (Feith, Franklin, Perle, AIPAC, OSP, etc.) plot or simply political evolution?
posted by rzklkng at 6:36 AM on January 17, 2006


Oooh, I've got Lindsay's Satan Is Alive And Well On Planet Earth in my "freakout" section. Haven't looked at it in ages, have to flip through sometime.
posted by zoinks at 10:37 PM PST on January 16


Huh. I thought I was the only one with a dedicated "Crazies and Cranks" section in my personal library. I have all sorts of wonderful things: Chick Tracts, Tipler's The Physics of Immortality, little-known and horribly written novel The Voice, James Dobson . . . they're all quite fun, though I wouldn't recommend them for bedtime reading.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:03 AM on January 17, 2006


I was just about to do an AskMe on one of the MarkIV films

Dang, that would've been fun. :) I love that stuff, maryh; a friend and I went to see one of the Ron Ormond flicks a few years back ("The Burning Hell: 20,000 degrees fahrenheit and not a drop of water!"). It was everything that page says:

Ormond's films are easily the most wildly fucked-up Christian movies ever, including the "rapture movies" that are the focus of this piece. They are brutal, vicious, no holds-barred assaults on senses you might not even know you had, and there's simply nothing else quite like them. Anyone who remembers seeing a "hell movie," in which the tortures of the damned are detailed in gory detail is probably remembering an Ormond movie like The Grim Reaper.

The room was packed, mostly with older women and their grandkids, like rooms probably were when the Ormonds shopped these things around the South in the 70s. We had a blast with a couple of little girls in front of us, getting grossed out at the bloody, maggot-infested suffererers. Good times...Oh, and troutfishing, thanks for that Voice link:

I was directed to National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones, whose initial response upon being read a list of the names of White House staffers present was a curt, "You know half the people you just mentioned are Jewish?"

How marvelous.
posted by mediareport at 8:14 AM on January 17, 2006


As far as the term Evangelical goes, it's another harmless word captured by the Right and corrupted. Every Christian is supposed to be an evangelist. That's the great commission: to share our faith. I'm an evangelical Episcopalian. That doesn't mean I'm a born-again neo-Zionist Bush lover, it just means I openly share and celebrate my faith.

This Christian Zionism amazes me. Not that the fundies are trying to bring about the rapture, but that the Israelis are so short sighted as to allow them to come in and build Christian theme-parks and the like (though that seems to be up in the air thanks to Pat Robertson's latest comments.)

The Jerusalem Post is now publishing an English language edition geared toward American Christian tourists. Oy vey, indeed!
posted by Biblio at 8:53 AM on January 17, 2006


How dumb do you have to be to at the same time believe in prophecy (and a very ad-hoc gringo version of profecy at that) and at the same time think you can 'hurry it along'. Either it's written in stone, or it's not.
Is there an actual D.Q. scale?
posted by signal at 8:58 AM on January 17, 2006


I'm too surprised to participate in rational discourse after following mediareport's earlier Religioustolerance.org link, which he nobly posted to help people with the definition of "Evangelical", and coming across this:
"The military should rethink their position. [Wicca] is not a religion." G.W. Bush
/tangent
posted by Emotive Adamantium at 9:56 AM on January 17, 2006


Biblio: Every Christian is supposed to be an evangelist. That's the great commission: to share our faith.

Yet again a sect specific meaning of evangelist. How has "gospel Christian" which was coined to contrast with Papal Christian mutated to mean prostletize?

As far as I can tell, the Old-Testament Christian "evangelists" really only quote one part of the Gospels - John 3:36 - and ignore all of Jesus's teachings about such things as casting stones.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 12:01 PM on January 17, 2006


mediareport, thank you very much for the link. flagged fantastic.
posted by 3.2.3 at 3:45 PM on January 18, 2006


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