Among many Jews—and indeed among many non-Jews who have spent their lives in America’s secular urban enclaves—there is a widespread belief that evangelical Christian enthusiasm for Zionism is motivated solely by a desire to bring about the messianic era, rather than from any genuine affection for the Jewish people. Jarvis Best, himself a Christian Zionist raised in a fundamentalist church, explains how far this crude stereotype is from the truth, and urges Jews to “take Christian support of Israel at face value.”
In the fundamentalist, conservative church I grew up in, with hymns and organs, long skirts for the ladies and young-earth creationism, preachers frequently borrowed an image from the New Testament book of Romans to explain the relationship between Christians and Jews. It said that Jews were like an olive tree with a strong root in the law, the prophets, and the Torah. . . . Christians were not one with Judaism, but were supported and nourished by it. We were taught that Christians and Jews are natural allies.
Sure, there were political differences; my church was almost 100-percent Republican, and we knew that most American Jews were Democrats. But we did not care. The biblical mandate to support Jewish people trumped the fleeting controversies of partisan politics. I eventually abandoned the fundamentalism of my youth. But I retained my Christianity, and with it, the love of the Jewish people and Israel.
A 2017 survey of evangelicals who support Israel found that the primary reasons for their support were their beliefs that God gave the Land of Israel to Jews and that Israel is the historic Jewish homeland. Only 12 percent of evangelicals cited fulfillment of prophecy as the most important reason to support Israel. . . . In my decades of church attendance, I have heard just two or three sermons on the “end times.”