This blog was written in response to a recent blog by Ron Cantor entitled “The Myth of Christian Nationalism” which I highly recommend everyone read, but it’s also a response to another recent blog here at KNI by David Silver entitled “Where is the next generation of Christian Zionists” and last but not least, it’ll include some thoughts I have to share about some of the feedback I got from my last blog entitled “Truth, Consequences and Jonathan Pollard.”
Let’s start with what all three of these blogs have in common.
In short, there is a lot of crossover between Christian Nationalism and Christian Zionism, and the myths and fairy tales about Jonathan Pollard are a great illustration of this phenomenon.
Something I think I always knew about Jonathan Pollard but while writing that blog and interacting with people who shared their thoughts in reaction to it is that the flesh and blood human being named “Jonathan Pollard” and the mythical icon who is also called by that name are two very different things.
The flesh and blood human being named Jonathan Pollard has admitted to many of the crimes he committed (which go far beyond the one count of espionage he plead guilty to and spent 30 years in prison for) and has apologized for all the harm he did, the embarrassment he caused Israel, etc. The mythical icon never even did anything wrong, never hurt anyone who didn’t deserve it and has nothing to apologize to anyone for. In fact, the FBI, CIA, Mossad and the universe in general owe HIM an apology.
This mythical icon is something of a sacred cow for many Jewish and Christian supporters of Israel. Even though the truth about Jonathan Pollard, the flesh and blood human being, is readily available for anyone who is interested in it, many people are desperately in love with the myth. So, they cling to that myth, angrily rejecting any attempts to draw their attention to the truth and/or dismissing those who try to point out the truth as “anti-Semites” or whatever.
In this way, the myth of Jonathan Pollard has become even more than just a sacred cow for many Christian Zionists, it’s become an idol. Perhaps it would be more correct to say that it’s become a part of the idolatrous construct that Christian Zionism has built for itself, which is, for many Christian Zionists, an extension of the Christian Nationalism they’ve allowed themselves to fall into, often without even realizing it.
A few years ago I wrote a blog here at KNI entitled “How much do you really know about Israel” in which I lamented the fact that many Christians who say they support “Israel” actually support something which is in large part a figment of their imagination. The actual flesh and blood country called “Israel” that exists along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea north of the Sinai Desert, west of Jordan and south of Lebanon and Syria, is a place most Christian Zionists actually know very little about.
The “Israel” they’re experts on is the “Israel” which they’ve constructed in their minds, a place where everyone is a Biblical scholar and an expert on geopolitics, where no one has time for political correctness, where no one is “woke” or “socialist” or any of that other stuff they don’t like, where there’s a massively powerful army which everyone supports and which holds the country together and makes quick work of all the bad guys that Christians are so fearful of in this season of history.
In other words, the “Israel” that so many Christian Zionists support is a miniature version of what they wished America was. This can be seen even in many Christian Zionists who live in other Western countries like Australia and Finland, which closely follow America’s political, cultural, economic and military leadership.
One manifestation of this phenomenon is the stated policy of some Christian Zionist groups, most notably John Hagee’s Christians United for Israel (CUFI) that their position is precisely the same as whatever the position of the current Israeli government is. I’ve always wanted to ask John Hagee if that includes the policies of successive Israeli governments to allocate tens of millions of taxpayer shekels for promoting and managing the LGBTQ Pride parades in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem every year, or the policy of giving two free abortions to young women doing their mandatory service in the IDF, or the policy of having the Interior Ministry work with Yad Le’Chaim to make it difficult for Jewish Believers to immigrate to Israel.
(If there’s any representative of CUFI who is reading this blog, I’d love to hear from you if you have any answers to these questions.)
Another manifestation of this phenomenon is observable in the way most of the Jewish groups, prominent rabbis and individuals that Christian ZIonist groups work with in Israel are all from one political/ideological camp, that being the appropriately named National Religious camp which dominates the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (known to most of the non-Christian world as “West Bank settlers.+)
There are many Christians in America, and the Western world of which America is the leading State, who qualify as “National-Religious”, so, they support Israel because they support Jewish Nationalism, which they like because it’s very similar to their own Christian Nationalism. In other words, they are supportive of Israel because Israel is a country which defines itself in Religious/Ethnic Nationalist terms, and they’d like their own countries to do the same thing.
This is, in my humble opinion, an example of doing a good thing for a bad reason, and there are several examples in the Bible of God being displeased with people doing good things for bad reasons.
Which brings us back to the title of this blog, which is a deliberate misnomer.
There is actually no such thing as Nationalism that is compatible with a life dedicated to following the Lord God Jesus Christ. Nationalism is, at its core, an idolatrous level of worship and devotion to a nation-state, its shared collective national narrative (which always includes a lot of myths and legends and rarely if ever an acknowledgement of mistakes made or sins committed).
The fact that the Bible had such a massive cultural influence on America certainly does make America exceptional in many ways, and it is the reason for all the things that have gone right in that country over the past 200 years. It was what allowed America to be a blessing to many other countries, including Israel. But it also causes some confusion among American Christians and is a prime cause of the error of Christian Nationalism that so many American Christians have fallen into.
But the cultural influence of the Bible in America is fading fast, and what’s left is just another hopeless, desperately wicked and increasingly dysfunctional dumpster fire of a nation state, in every respect indistinguishable from all the other dysfunctional dumpster fires all over the world. It certainly is not something which anyone who had something better to claim allegiance to should try to cling to or lament the passing of.
The Kingdom of the Lord God Jesus Christ is that something better that you and I can and should be looking towards, building and working for. His Kingdom is not of this earth, as He tells us in John 18:36. His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, and although we all have a temporary citizenship in the nation states of this present earthly age, our true citizenship is in that Heavenly Kingdom
As the Apostle Paul said in Romans 15:17, “Therefore in Christ Jesus I have found reason for boasting in things pertaining to God.”
So, brothers and sisters, I urge all of you to pray to our Heavenly Father and ask Him to cleanse your hearts and minds of any thought, feeling, emotion or habit which might, even by accident, be encouraging you to think, act or behave like a Christian Nationalist. Ask Him to let the love and attachment you have for the physical kingdom you’re a citizen of here in this present age to decrease while causing the love and attachment you have to HIS spiritual Kingdom to increase.
That is what I am teaching my own children to pray for and it is my belief that it is something we should all be praying for for ourselves and our children, so that (to answer David Silver’s question) the “next generation of Christian Zionists” will be young people who love and support Israel for the reasons that God loves Israel, which He tells us about in His Word, and not because it’s some kind of mini-America, or because it’s “the only true democracy in the Middle East” or whatever other flesh and blood thing it might be.
Because flesh and blood things are passing away, faster than any of us could have ever imagined. Soon they’ll be all gone, and the spiritual things will be all that’s left. There are only two spiritual kingdoms, and all the citizens of both kingdoms will soon be irrevocably and eternally placed in the kingdom which they chose to be citizens of during their time in this physical realm.
Me and my house have made our choice, and I hope reading this blog helped someone make their choice.