The following is Reggie’s response to this article:
Part II: The Source of the Problem in the Mid East
by Charles E Carlson
Usually I don’t know enough about the history or the facts to comment on any of the many conspiracy theories that come my way. This one is the exception. I dignify it with an answer only for your sake.
The author is interested to make a conspiratorial connection between dispensationalism and Zionism, as “the source of the problem in the Mid East.” It is a pure flight of fantasy!
Pre tribulational Dispensationalism is a comparatively recent branch of a much larger tree. It is only one form of premillennialism, which has a much longer history. Most of the early church fathers can be quoted to show clearly that they were premillennial, literalistic, and futuristic in their reading of prophecy. The allegorical approach to prophecy, basic to all forms of replacement theology, came much later with Origen and Augustine and has since dominated both Catholicism and Protestantism, but not without many great lights all through church history that continued to hold the plain reading of the prophetic scriptures.
There is one note of ‘half truth’ in this writer’s wild claims. Historically, wherever the scripture has been interpreted literally, there has been a favorable disposition towards the Jew. I believe this owes to one thing in particular. Any plain reading of Scripture gives the strong impression that though God is sometimes especially angry with this people, a closer look will reveal that this special anger is related to a special love, so that regardless how one understands the precise nature of divine election, one gets the impression that whatever it is, the Jew is God’s special witness to it. The Jew represents God’s divine right to choose as He will choose, which is precisely what is being so deeply tested and exposed through the issue of the Jew historically, as will be especially apparent in the coming “controversy of Zion” (Isa 34:8; Zech 12:2-3).
It is true that there was a measure of indirect instrumentality on the part of some ministers of millennial belief in the formation of British policy towards Palestine. W.E. Blackstone, who wrote the influential, “Jesus is Coming” in 1878, was one that took special pains to dissuade Theodore Herzl’s supporters from seeking to establish a national Jewish homeland in Uganda. Contrary to the implications of this writer’s claims, the secular “Zionists” would have been content with anything anywhere, provided it could give safe haven and respite for what Jews were continuing to suffer throughout the nations.
Although Blackstone’s faith led him to be ‘pro active’, his interests in the return of the Jews to the Land had nothing to do with any conspiracy between dispensationalists and the nefarious “Zionist” world planners of popular conspiracy myth.
The ancient prayer, “Next Year in Jerusalem,” had nothing to do with a dispensationalist or Zionist conspiracy, unless we want to say that there has been a Zionist conspiracy ever since the Jews were dispersed by the Romans. And yes, as a people of high and privileged calling, their sin was great and their judgment great, but who among these boasters can claim the higher moral ground? They need to grapple with Paul’s question: “Who has made you to differ?” God said He would bring them back, and Blackstone believed it. He saw no contradiction in being an activist towards its achievement. If love of the Jew and identification with them in their sufferings (as Jeremiah and all the prophets) makes one a Zionist, then God is a Zionist!
For centuries, the general view of premillennial writers (not only dispensationalists) is that before the Lord returns, the Jew would meet his greatest divine discipline and judgment in the land itself. In other words, the consensus view has always been a great tribulation in the Land before Christ’s return. This meant (as Blackstone and many others have written), that either with the help of the nations, or somehow under their own power, the Jews must be gathered back to the Land, while still in unbelief (see Zeph 2:1-2). That is just so basic.
Why then should the great revival and restoration of premillennial prophetic truth to the church in the mid to late 1800’s be considered part of a sinister plot to induce the nations to flood hapless Palestine with ambitious Jews (who had plenty of homes elsewhere)? Well, has anyone considered divine providence?
Historically, premillennialists (that’s me) have recognized (as anyone accepting the plain, forthright interpretation of scripture) that the Jews had to be once more in the land, dwelling as a distinct nation (Dan 12:1) BEFORE the great judgment of Jacob’s trouble, i.e., the great tribulation (Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1 with Mt 24:21). There was nothing conspiratorial about the initiatives of Blackstone and others in trying to gain support for a national Jewish homeland in Palestine rather than Uganda.
Premillennialists in general, and NOT only the dispensationalist variety, have always tended to be scorned as “Jew lovers.” Blame it on our “wooden literalism.” I would point out that the precious Ten Boom family, as also many of the Christians that suffered most in your own nation for their fatal association with Jews were millennial in their reading of scripture. That view of scripture quite naturally warms the heart towards the Jew. That is why, in that day, the Ten Booms and many others will hear, “when you did unto one of the least of these my brethren, you did it unto me.”
Millennial believers saw that though the Jew was momentarily the enemy of the gospel, it is “FOR OUR SAKES.” In other words, there is more at work here than good guys and bad guys. Although an enemy, they are none the less BELOVED FOR THE FATHER’S SAKES. That’s election! That’s grace! The Jew is the BELOVED enemy. “The Jew in the midst” has always been a touchstone of divine testing for the nations. The issue of the Jew finds out the true church from the false. It always has and it will again. I can give you a “thus saith the Lord” on that!!
So, yes, there is a connection between millennial faith and the modern state, one that I see as entirely appropriate. I thank God for Blackstone’s faith in the literal fulfillment of prophecy. I passionately oppose his pretribulational view of the rapture, but you should see the wonderful chapter in his book on the restoration of Israel. Just the sheer volume of scripture cited and written out was worth the price of the book. For one to read such a volume of scripture so clearly saying the same thing in every place becomes much more than a question of hermeneutics, it becomes the issue of “has God really said?”
It may be questioned how ‘pro active’ Christians should be in politics or the shaping of public policy, but Blackstone was acting according to conscience. Schofield came much later and his reference Bible has about as much to do with Zionism as the proverbial man in the moon. Naturally, Schofield’s literalism would incline him towards enthusiasm concerning Israel’s return to the Land, as it did many in the English speaking world.
Rather than blame a sinisterly contrived conspiracy, why don’t we see what an amazing providence must be at work to account for how such a small handful of millennial believers (a comparatively rare view among Christians at the time) played such a significant role in British foreign policy. Still, none of this would have been sufficient cause apart from the Holocaust. What an irony: Hitler’s effort to save the world from the Jews became the catalyst for the greater curse of a Jewish state that moves the world closer to its date with Armageddon; an Armageddon that will be blamed on Jews and Christian fundamentalists.
Ironically, after the Holocaust, the open spectacle of a relentless history of anti-Semitism prevailed for a brief moment to soften international sentiment towards Jews just long enough to allow the votes for the birth of Israel. So it appears that the conspiracy just kept helping itself along towards the gigantic mistake of Israel.
Oh, if only the world wasn’t plagued with Israel and the master plan of the sinister Zionist! But the Devil didn’t give us the Jew, God did, and He’s very interested in our attitude and response. Will we curse or will we bless? That is the question.
Of course, it will be objected that we’re not to bless unbelieving Jews who do not have the faith of Abraham. This moralistic response reveals an ignorance of the nature of corporate election. Even if unsaved, the Jewish people belong to an elect corporate entity, a nation of special discipline and destiny. Israel remains God’s national son, as a host of scriptures shows. Nothing has changed or canceled that status.
Though individual persons perish without Christ, the nation as a corporate entity remains elect and precious in His sight. Even in its unbelief, God waits for the return of His national son like a Father waits for his erring child. Not only is His covenant incomplete without them; His heart cannot be satisfied until they are one. They are the vessel that it has pleased Him to fill publicly and openly in the eyes of all nations, and He will not be defeated by their unbelief. The Jew is God’s “mission impossible” to the praise of the glory of His grace. Furthermore, the church needs to know that the Jews don’t exist just as a hard case for God to show His glory. He loves what He has chosen! The church that does not have God’s heart for Israel is not the church!
The church has always defined itself over against Israel, but the early church saw themselves as a kind of corporate prophet Jeremiah, the prophetic remnant (the ‘maskilim’) within the nation travailing in priestly and prophetic ministry until the nation is turned through what was expected as the imminent judgments of Jacob’s trouble. That is why, for Paul the futurist, Israel’s return and national regeneration will mean resurrection life from the dead, not only for them but for us. Only through their return is the mystery of God finished and Satan bound (Rev 10:7).
There is a mystery here that God has deliberately hidden. Though not without support from scripture, it must be intuited by the Spirit; it will not be attained by confidence in the intellect, which is nothing more than “confidence in the flesh.” God has chosen to elude any self reliant approach to His truth. The whole thing is a divine set up to test and expose hearts.
Those who do not understand the special divine election of Israel do not understand the nature of election, or the nature of the covenant. Whether it be Calvinist or Arminian, any view of election that is not centered in God’s corporate election of Israel, in full light of ‘the eschatology of the covenant’, is a view that threatens to distort our view of God’s very heart and nature.
What you sent here for my review and response is a travesty that preys upon people’s credulity and ignorance of the facts. “It’s a joke.” But the anti-Semitic venom behind it is no joke. I wish Art could have lived to see the days that we’re about to see. Fasten your seat belts, church, we’re going for a ride! There will be martyrs that fall over this kind of artful “connecting of the dots.”
It’s amazing how much Jewish blood has been spilled through the heresies of the church. We are not dealing here merely with how facts and half truths can be artfully pieced together to create a deceptive illusion; this is spiritual wickedness in high places. These people are getting help, folks! I hope you can see that.
This is a perfect example of the artful manipulation of history. Our Internet surfing brothers and sisters had better do a heart check, before spending all their time tracking down and sorting through all the vast amounts of information in Cyberspace. There is only one question we are obligated to answer. It is: “What says the Scripture?” This is more than a debate about hermeneutics; it is the ancient question, “Has God really said.” There may be a lot of ‘nice’, sophisticated, well meaning people asking ‘reasonable’ questions, making ‘reasonable’ points, but behind that disarming surface, is a fierce spiritual war of cunning spirits preparing for the kill. Ask the Jews concerning articulate speeches that end with a knock on the door.
Your friend in the fray, Reggie