Why evangelicals support Israel

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evang.jpegThere’s been some back and forth on TPM lately on the nature of evangelical support for Israel, and specifically the extent to which it rests on millennialist expectations–the need for an in-gathering of the Jews in order to prepare the way for Armageddon, the Second Coming, etc. In fact, it’s hard to put a clear number on this. Whereas such expectations have been part of the theological armory of conservative evangelicalism for more than a century, evangelicals need not, and often do not, refer to them as the basis of their support for the Jewish State. They also cite the fact that the Bible says (for example, in Gen. 15) that God gave the Land of Israel to the Jews.

In a 2003 survey conducted by John Green (see “Evangelicals and Jews: A View from the Polls,” in Mittelman, Johnson and Isserman, eds., Uneasy Allies?, 35-36), 84 percent of evangelicals said they sympathized with Israel because of the covenantal gift, while 75 percent cited biblical prophecy–i.e. millennialist expectations. In other words, evangelicals’ support for Israel is biblically overdetermined.