Wednesday, July 26, 2006


This powerful Christian tradition emerged in England in the early 1800s, when two theological themes began to merge: Jewish restorationism (the concept that the Jews must return to Palestine in order to fulfill the prophetic scriptures), and the literal and futuristic interpretation of the apocalyptic texts. Conservative Christian support for a Jewish state was clearly articulated in 1839 when the great evangelical social reformer Lord Shaftesbury published an article in the London Sunday Times calling for the English Parliament to support the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine.

Shaftesbury's rationale was based on the premillennialism of Rev. John Nelson Darby—a renegade Irishman who eventually led a movement called the Plymouth Brethren—but it took on a distinctively political agenda.

Shaftesbury drew a relationship between three themes: 1) The idea that Jews must be restored to Palestine in order to fulfill the prophetic scriptures at the end of time; 2) the need for England to support a Jewish state in Palestine to fulfill that goal and to work toward the evangelization of Jews to Christianity; and 3) the belief that God would bless Britain if it supported the creation of a Jewish nation in Palestine, a matter that had colonial implications in England's competition with other European powers.

Darby is credited with bringing premillennial dispensationalism to the United States. His seven missionary journeys to North America influenced major American preachers and evangelists to adopt these "latter day" doctrines. Among them was Christian author William E. Blackstone, who in 1891 enlisted more than 400 leading politicians in a petition to President Benjamin Harrison, seeking his support for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. President Harrison ignored Blackstone's petition, but it reveals nascent support of Zionism within Christian and political circles in the United States some eight years before Jewish Zionism marked its official political beginning.

When Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl gathered Jewish leaders in Basle, Switzerland, in August 1897—the meeting that launched the political platform of Jewish Zionism—Blackstone urged Herzl to adopt Palestine as the location for the state, which he argued would eventually find significant political support from "Christian nations" of the West.

1. John Nelson Darby
2. Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury
3. Cyrus Ingerson Scofield
4. Hal Lindsey

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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