Is Evangelical Support Good for the Jews?

The following appeared in Jewish in Seattle magazine, the August/September 2018, edition. The question posed to Rabbi Daniel Lapin was, “Is Evangelical support good for the Jews?”

Forgive me for conforming to the rabbinic stereotype of answering a question with a question but when you ask “…good for the Jews?”  which Jews do you mean?  I often tell my audiences that if you gathered together, into a colossal stadium, every self-identifying American Jew, the only thing you could get us all to agree on is that Hitler was a very bad man.

Evangelical support is good for those Jews who see modern day Israel as a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham.  The nexus of American support for Israel is not Foggy Bottom. The State Department has long leaned Arab.  The United States was not the first country to recognize Israel in May 1948; the Soviet Union was.  But since 1948, Christian Evangelical strength in America has skyrocketed and paralleling it, so has American support for the Jewish state.  America’s Bible belt has become Israel’s safety belt.

For Jews who would rather see slightly less whole-hearted support for Israel and who would prefer a nuanced vision for the Middle East in which Jew and Arab are seen as equivalent partners with congruent understandings of peace, well, Evangelical support is not so good.

Should we criticize Evangelical support for being self-serving?  Though most Evangelicals dispute this, undoubtedly some Christians support Israel to accelerate messianic days.  Jewish law mandates that we owe a debt of gratitude even to someone wishing us harm but who unintentionally does us good.  At the very least we ought to gratefully welcome the support of those who wish us only good.

In today’s post-Christian Europe, Jewish men can no longer walk the streets of Paris, Manchester, Cologne, or Stockholm while wearing a kippah on their heads.  Evangelical philo-Semitism indirectly helps protect kippah-wearing men in America.  I for one, welcome their support and express a heartfelt thank you.

4 thoughts on “Is Evangelical Support Good for the Jews?”

  1. In my religion, we believe we must be grateful to the Jews. They gave us the scriptures, ancient Jewish wisdom that makes our lives, family, society, etc. better, the prophets, Jesus, and the Jews have suffered greatly over the millennia to give us all the above.

    My support for orthodox Jews and Israel isn’t for accelerating messianic days (though I do believe there will be a messianic era eventually, but it will happen when it happens). I believe supporting these will make our lives and the world better. The more wisdom and understanding I attain as I accumulate more time lived on Earth, the more it is clear to me that the Jews have a divine mission through whom the Almighty blesses the Earth. Why wouldn’t I want to support that? Why would I want to fight against that? I also believe there is an opposition force that inspires opposition to thwart that mission. I believe this is the root of anti-Semitism over the millennia.

  2. Dear Rabbi and Susan,

    I am a Christian. I am not trying to convert you to Christianity.

    However, regardless of what many people think and believe, we do share a common bond.

    Jesus was a Jew.

    The larger part of Christian Scripture is the Tanakh.

    Paul and the disciples were Jews.

    So, yes, I guess you could say we Christians have a vested, self-interest in the Jewish faith. I have no problem with that.

    Much of what Jesus, the disciples and Paul had to say were direct quotes or references to the Torah or Haftaros.

    I can only apologize and ask forgiveness for the horrors and evils that have been done “in the name of Jesus”.

    I would only ask my Jewish friends and brothers to try and see past that to see that not everyone who marches under the banner of Christianity are in fact Christians any more than everyone living in Israel or going to Synagogue, Reformed, Conservative or Traditional (I have heard your take on the term Orthodox) are true sons of Israel, Isaac and Abraham in their hearts. That came as quite a shock to me to learn. In my ignorance and naivete I somehow assumed all Jews must be pious and observant.

    Neither are people who want to call themselves Christians, but have nothing do with following the teachings of Jesus.

    I understand your fellows’ fears, disgust and mistrust.

    But the more I study the Scriptures from a Jewish perspective, the more sense they make and the more they come alive. After all the Bible was written by Jews, primarily to a Jewish readership.

    Adam is not just some guy’s name like Bill or Fred. Beer Sheba actually means something, not like Paris, Tx.

    Thank you and Susan and your father for helping us to see the things that bring us together rather than separate us.

    David Danielson (my name actually has meaning in Hebrew and the Torah teaches that God even influences parents in the choice of names.)

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      What a fascinating letter, David,
      I think it important not to blame only philosophies and beliefs for the bad actions of individuals. Likewise, the many courageous Christians who saved Jewish lives in World War II, people like Corrie Ten Boom and her family, were incredibly brave and heroic though of course their Christian beliefs certainly lay at the root of their heroism.
      By the way, you graciously thank Susan and me but you also thank my father? That is so interesting. Did you know him?

      1. All I know of your father is what you and Susan have shared and that part of him that lives on in your lives and teaching. Would have been a priviledge and is a treat.

        Thank you.

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