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History of Christian Zionism

History of Christian Zionism

A definition of Zionism is "The national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland." Christian Zionism is defined by Bob Simon of CBS' 60 MInutes:

For Christians who interpret the bible in a literal fashion, Israel has a crucial role to play in bringing on the Second Coming of Christ.

In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries British and some American Puritans started writing about God's plan to restore the Jews to their homeland. These were the early Christian Zionists. Their writings were based on the Abrahamic Covenant from Genesis of the Old Testament written more than 3,800 years ago:

"Now the LORD said to Abraham . And I will make you a great nation. (Genesis 12:2) And the LORD appeared unto Abraham, and said, "unto thy seed will I give this land." (Genesis 12:7)

And God's promise to Jacob:

"The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you." (Genesis 35:12)

To read a more complete statement about the theological significance of the state of Israel to Christian Zionists, go to the Pre-Trib Research Center.

In the nineteenth century a line of British politicians were Christian Zionists:

Palmerston, Lloyd George, T.E. Lawrence and Allenby were Christian Zionists. The Christian Zionist project became political reality when Arthur Balfour proclaimed in his famous "Declaration" of 1917 that Palestine become the homeland for the Jewish people. He believed a modern state of Israel was part of the divine plan announced in Old Testament prophetic literature. (Canadian Dimensions, March/April, 2003).

The Balfour Declaration asserted the British Government's support for the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, and was endorsed by a number of other countries, including the United States. The Balfour Declaration became more important following World War I, when the League of Nations passed the Palestine Mandate, assigning the United Kingdom power to administrate Palestine. Ultimately, though the UK sided with the Arab population of Palestine and imposed restrictions on Jewish immigration to Palestine in 1939.

The First Christian Zionist Congress met in 1985. One resolution at that Congress called for all Jews living outside Israel to move to Israel.

The Christians also urged Israel to annex that portion of occupied Palestine called the West Bank, with its near one million Palestinian inhabitants. An Israeli Jew, seated in the audience, rose to suggest that perhaps the language might be modified. He pointed out that an Israeli poll showed that one-third of the Israelis would be willing to trade territory seized in 1967 for peace with the Palestinians.

"We don't care what the Israelis vote!" declared van der Hoeven [spokesman for the International Christian Embassy]. We care what God says! And God gave that land to the Jews!" After his impassioned outburst, the Christians by a nearly unanimous show of hands passed the resolution. (Grace Halsell, Prophecy and Politics, p.133)

Christian Zionism in the United States has taken on messianic overtones. A recent survey reported in Beliefnet found:

.. over one-third of those Americans who support Israel report that they do so because they believe the Bible teaches that the Jews must possess their own country in the Holy Land before Jesus can return.

Last updated: 14-Jul-2004