Christian Zionism

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Christian Zionism is Christian movement that supports the return of Jews to Israel, as well as support for Israel. It is a common view among American Evangelicals. Pastor John Hagee of Christians United for Israel, televangelist Jack Van Impe, and the late Jerry Falwell are prominent in the movement.

Christian Zionism has its roots in the Purtianism of Cromwell's England. In America, the movement was popularized by the book Jesus is Coming (1878), a Dispensationalist account by William E. Blackstone. The Scofield Reference Bible (1917) by Cyrus I. Scofield also played a crucial role in popularizing this viewpoint. The Moral Majority, founded by Falwell in 1979, turned fundamentalists into a political pressure group.


The restoration of the Jews to the holy land is a theme in the writings of various Protestant denominations. There was burst of Zionist activity in the 1650s, when Cromwell and the Puritans ruled England.[1]

Various writers interpreted the career of Napoleon in light of Biblical prophesy, leading to a revival of interest in the subject.[2] As a movement, Christian Zionism can be traced back to Scottish clergyman Edward Irving and the Albury conferences of 1826 to 1830. These conferences focused on interpreting current political and social events in light of prophesy. They were held at Albury Park, the estate of Henry Drummond, in Surrey, England. They were followed up by the Powerscourt Conferences of 1831 to 1833. These were held in Ireland and were led by John Nelson Darby.

In America, Christian Zionism was popularized by the hugely popular book Jesus is Coming (1878), a Dispensationalist account by William E. Blackstone. Among Jews, the Zionism movement began with the First Aliyah of 1882 to 1903. In 1917, The Scofield Reference Bible by Cyrus I. Scofield was published. This is perhaps the most influential Zionist work.

In 1882, Laurence Oliphant proposed the "Gilead Plan" for a large Jewish colony under British auspices in eastern Palestine.

From the early 1940s to the late 1960s American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr was the most eloquent of American Christian Zionists.


Zionism is a central element in Dispensationalism, especially the Plymouth Brethren version promoted by John Nelson Darby in the mid 19th century. Darby's ideas were spread by Cyrus Scofield in his Scofield Reference Bible (1909 and many later edition). It was most significant premillennialist book. In recent decades the popular expression of Dispensationalist ideas is to be found in Hal Lindsey's The Late Great Planet Earth (1970) and especially in the ''Left Behind books by Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins published in the 1990s and early 2000s. The series sold over sixty-five million copies. In each of the twelve "Left Behind" novels, Israel and Israeli Jews play a pivotal role.

The Dispensationalists argue from the Bible that before the Second Coming Christ is possible, the Antichrist must first set up a one world government and command himself to be worshiped as God in the reconstructed Temple in Jerusalem. The Antichrist will persecute Jews but they will recognize Christ as their savior and repent. Believing Christians will be "raptured" before the global strife (Tribulation) begins. After Christ returns he will set up a millennial kingdom in Israel as the Jewish Messiah in literal fulfillment of such prophecies found in Ezekiel and Revelation. Until the 1940s Dispensationalists ignored the Middle East. The founding of Israel and, especially, the Six Day War in 1967 changed them radically, and they focused enormous attention on the region. In the 1970s they became politicized and started voting along foreign policy lines, with a strong preference for Ronald Reagan and his followers. The liberal notion that Palestinians rightfully should own the West Bank and Gaza (Judea and Samaria) is anathema to Christian Zionists.


In 1981, the Israeli air force destroyed Osirak, Baathist Iraq's nuclear installation. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin called Reverend Jerry Falwell and asked for political support. Falwell replied, "I support Israel with all my heart." Falwell systematically rounded up evangelical support for Israel's military actions. The evangelicals from that point on increased their pressure on Congress to support Israel. Reverend John Hagee in Dallas was as enthusiastic as Falwell, and pressured Congressman Tom DeLay to join the cause, which DeLay did with enthusiasm. By 2001, DeLay was the most powerful member of Congress, and his message resonated with the Bush White House.

Christian promoters

  • Francis Kett (1547–1589) [3]
  • Thomas Brightman (1552-1607) [3]
  • Sir Henry Finch (1558-1625) [4]
  • Isaac de la Peyrere (1594-1676) [3]
  • Lewis Way (1772-1840) [5]
  • George Bush (1796-1859) [6]
  • John Nelson Darby (1800 - 1882)
  • Anthony Ashley Cooper (1801 - 1885) [7]
  • James H. Brookes (1830 – 1897)[8]
  • William Eugene Blackstone (1841–1935)[9]
  • Reinhold Niebuhr (1892—1971) [3]
  • John C. Hagee (b. 1940)

Further reading

  • Brog, David. Standing With Israel: Why Christians Support the Jewish State (2006) 285 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Merkley, Paul Charles. Christian Attitudes towards the State of Israel (2001) 266 pp. scholarly study by a supporter Christian Zionism
  • Merkley, Paul Charles. 'The Politics of Christian Zionism, 1891–1948' (1998)
  • Weber, Timothy P. On the Road to Armageddon: How Evangelicals Became Israel's Best Friend (2004). 336 pp. excerpt and text search, somewhat hostile


  1. "Of such a kind was the project elaborated in England about 1654, an account of which is contained in the Egerton collection of manuscripts in the British Museum. This account is entitled "Privileges Granted to the People of the Hebrew Nation That Are to Goe to the Wilde Cust," and, according to Lucien Wolf, has reference to a Jewish settlement in Surinam. Such colonies as these with far-reaching administrative rights had been established in Curaçao in 1652 under the authority of the Dutch West India Company, and in 1659 in Cayenne by the French West India Company ("Tr. Jew. Hist. Soc. Eng." iii. 82)." ("Zionism", Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906)
  2. Ezra Sargeant, The Identity of Napoleon and Antichrist Completely Demonstrated, Or, A Commentary on the Chapters of the Scripture which Relate to Antichrist: Where All the Passages are Shown to Apply to Napoleon in the Most Striking Manner : and where Especially the Prophetic Number 666 is Found in His Name, with Perfect Exactness, in Two Different Manners, 1809.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "History of Christian Zionism by Rev. Malcolm Hedding"
  4. RHS Bibliography
  5. Jewish
  6. "Bush 43 and Bush 1844"
  8. James H. Brookes: A Memoir
  9. "Dr. William Eugene Blackstone (Oct. 6, 1841 – Nov. 7, 1935)"