The belief that President Trump’s correct decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem holds eschatological significance may be one reason many evangelical Christians have given Trump steadfast support despite his amoral history and tenuous understanding of the faith they claim he holds.
That controversial pastors like John Hagee and Robert Jeffress were involved in the ceremonies surrounding the new Embassy opening. Jeffress, whom Mitt Romney called a bigot on Twitter this week
Robert Jeffress says “you can’t be saved by being a Jew,“ and “Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell.” He’s said the same about Islam. Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) May 14, 2018
Jeffress gives a religious bigot’s rote response which while true, is not the whole truth.
Historic Christianity has taught for 2,000 years that salvation is through faith in Christ alone. The fact that I, along with tens of millions of evangelical Christians around the world, continue to espouse that belief, is neither bigoted nor newsworthy.
— Dr. Robert Jeffress (@robertjeffress) May 14, 2018
I believe when debating religion there’s a line you must tread between espousing what you believe to be true and proclaiming that others are going to hell. Jeffress and many people of all denominations cross the line indiscriminately, then retreat to the “but I’m just saying what Jesus said” routine. To me it all comes off as rather cultish and driven more by pride than concern for anyone’s immortal soul.
No one has ever been offended into converting to a different faith. However, a lot of people have probably joined churches because the pastor attacks the people they already hate. There’s an obvious parallel between that brand of evangelicalism and Trump’s brand of politics. It’s all basically the same sort of populist, tribal mentality that some of us have been writing about for more than a year now.
Erick Erickson published a piece correctly pointing out that the move is not a biblical prophecy being fulfilled.
I am not in the evangelical camp that thinks Israel still has a special role to play in the Bible. The Israelites of the Old Testament were superceded by the church in the New Testament. Christians are now God’s people and faith in Christ is what gains one admission into God’s eternal kingdom. I do not believe the modern nation-state of Israel has any Biblical role to play, though I recognize and embrace the historicity of the Kingdom of David, the role the Romans played in changing the name from Judea to Palestine, and that the Jews legitimately have a several thousand year old claim to set up shop in the area on which the modern nation-state exists.
Some may find it surprising that someone would even feel it necessary to make such a distinction but there is a segment of the Christian Right whose support for Israel is rooted in more than just a shared belief in Democracy.
I say that to say I do not view Donald Trump as fulfilling some prophesy or helping bring about the second coming through moving America’s Embassy to Jerusalem. I believe it was just the right thing to do.
That may put him at odds with many evangelical Trump supporters, for whom this is not just international diplomacy but a step—in their minds—toward the second coming of Christ. That seems to be the case with Jeffress as seen in his prayer at the opening of the new Embassy.
“We want to thank you for the tremendous leadership of our great president, Donald J. Trump. Without President Trump’s determination, resolve and courage we would not be here today,” he said.
“And I believe I speak for everyone of us when I say I thank you every day that you have given us a President who boldly stands on the right side of history but more importantly stands on the right side of you, O God, when it comes to Israel,” Jeffress added.
There is, of course, no “right side of history.” There is just history.
The “end times” aspect of the right’s support for Israel is seldom spoken about publicly by politicians. You won’t see it debated on Fox News. To me, believing that American politics is somehow directly tied to the end of the world is little different from paranoia about the Bilderbergers or chemtrails.
As a political activist I’ve had some skin-crawly moments when people open up about their views on biblical prophecy when they think they’re in a room with people who think like them.
As Erickson said, moving the Embassy to Jerusalem is the right thing to do. Interpreting the Bible as if the times you live in are specifically foretold in scripture and judging political decisions on what you believe to be prophecy is the wrong thing to do. Give me leaders who base their decisions in a Judeo-Christian concept of morality and justice and not in what they know is supposed to happen.