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Evangelicals and Israel: The Story of American Christian Zionism
Most observers explain evangelical Christians' bedrock support for Israel as stemming from the apocalyptic belief that the Jews must return to the Holy Land as a precondition for the second coming of Christ. But the real reasons, argues Stephen Spector, are far more complicated. In Evangelicals and Israel, Spector delves deeply into the Christian Zionist...
Most observers explain evangelical Christians' bedrock support for Israel as stemming from the apocalyptic belief that the Jews must return to the Holy Land as a precondition for the second coming of Christ. But the real reasons, argues Stephen Spector, are far more complicated. In Evangelicals and Israel, Spector delves deeply into the Christian Zionist movement, mining information from original interviews, web sites, publications, news reports, survey research, worship services, and interfaith conferences, to provide a surprising look at the sources of evangelical support for Israel. Israel is God's prophetic clock for many evangelicals - irrefutable proof that prophecy is true and coming to pass in our lifetime. But Spector goes beyond end-times theology to find a complex set of motivations behind Israel-evangelical relations. These include the promise of God's blessing for those who bless the Jews; gratitude to Jews for establishing the foundations of Christianity; remorse for the Church's past anti-Semitism; fear that God will judge the nations based on how they treated the Jewish people; and reliance on Israel as the West's firewall against Islamist terrorism. Spector explores many Christian Zionists' hostility toward Islam, but also uncovers an unexpected pragmatism and flexiblility concerning Israel's possession of the entire Holy Land. For evangelicals, politics frequently mixes with faith. Yet Spector argues that evangelical beliefs - though often portrayed as unifying and rigid - are in reality various and even contradictory. Spector uses George W. Bush's beliefs about the Bible as a sounding board for these issues and explores the evangelical influence on his Middle East policies. Evangelicals and Israel corrects much of the speculation about Bush's personal faith and about evangelicalism's impact on American-Middle East relations, and provides the fullest and most nuanced account to date of the motives and theology behind Christian Zionism.
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