The Meaning of Trump’s Israel Comments

The president has been talking about Israel a lot lately.

First, there was Trump pressuring Benjamin Netanyahu to prevent two members of Congress from visiting Israel.

Then he suggested that Jews who vote for Democratic candidates lack knowledge and are “disloyal.”

Then a conservative pundit and promoter of the Obama birther conspiracy named Wayne Allyn Root said this about Trump:

I happen to be Jewish by birth, and 75% of all Jews vote Democrat and they don’t like Trump and he is the greatest president for Jews, and for Israel, in the history of the world–not just America, Trump is the best for Israel in the history of world.  And the Jewish people love him like he’s the King of Israel.  They love him like he is the second coming of God. And in America, American Jews don’t like him.

Trump liked what he heard.  Of course he did.  He is always glad when one of his sycophants worships him.  He tweeted:

And then there was yesterday press briefing.  I think Root got in his head.  Watch Trump’s refer to himself as “the chosen one”:

Whenever Donald Trump mentions Israel he is speaking directly to his evangelical base.

Here is what I wrote in Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump:

The third major issue championed by the court evangelicals is the United states recognition of Jerusalem as the “eternal capital ” of the Jewish people….One of the reasons conservative evangelicals are ecstatic about this move is that many of them believe…that biblical prophecy teaches that the return of the Jews to Israel is a prerequisite for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  Christ will one day return to earth with his raptured saints and descend on a rebuilt temple located inside Jerusalem.  Robert Jeffress is one of the most outspoken defenders of Trump’s decision to move the capital to the holy city.  He has written several books on biblical prophecy and is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, the center of Dispensational theology in America.  Jeffress told Fox News that Trump is now “on the right side of history” and on the “right side of God.”

Trump’s decision to move the embassy, which no doubt came after much lobbying from the court evangelicals, is not only a triumph for the Dispensationalists; it also fits well with INC apostle Lance Wallnau’s prophecy that Donald Trump is a new King Cyrus.  This merger of Dispensational theology and INC prophecy appears in court evangelical Mike Evans’s response to the Trump move.  One of America’s leading Christian Zionists, Evans recently founded the Friends of Zion Heritage Center and the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem to celebrate the “everlasting bond between the Jewish and Christian peoples.”  When Trump announced that he was moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, Evans enthusiastically told the Christian Broadcasting Network that when he next saw Trump in the Oval Office he would say to him: “Cyrus, you’re Cyrus.  Because you’ve done something historic and prophetic.”  Wallnau envisioned Trump as a Cyrus who would save American Christians; Evans believed that Trump was a modern-day Cyrus who would make possible the restoration of Jerusalem and the further confirmation of Israel’s future role in biblical prophecy.  Because of Trump’s actions, Evans declared, the blessing of God would come upon America.  Indeed, this decision would make America great in the eyes of God.  It also made Trump great in the eyes of the court evangelicals, raising questions about whether his decision to move the American embassy to Jerusalem was more of a political move than a diplomatic or religious one.

Yesterday Fox News broadcaster Todd Starnes had court evangelical Robert Jeffress on the show to talk about Trump’s comments about Israel.  Listen to it here:

Jeffress tries to downplay biblical prophecy in this interview (despite the fact that he has written books about this very topic), but it should not surprise anyone that he supports Trump’s remarks about Jews who vote for Democratic candidates.

Again, when you hear Trump talk about Israel, think about the evangelical base he needs to win in 2020.

28 thoughts on “The Meaning of Trump’s Israel Comments

  1. Paul,

    I simply mentioned Hitchens, Dawkins, Harris, Ehrman etc. as the most noted within the current crop of anti-religionists. If your thinking is not specifically a product of those men, it is still tied to very similar writers.

    Dr. Fea and I were having a discussion about difficult periods in U.S. history and instead of joining into that theme, you precipitously launched into an attack upon the effects of religious belief for the past three or four thousand years.

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  2. James, everything you say or think about me is misinformed or wrong, so just assume when you give me advice that my response is something that would not get through the filter of the good Prof. Fea.

    I’ve never read Hitchens or Dawkins or Harris, don’t care what they think, and your pretentious habit of throwing out names makes you seem like a freshman college student desperately trying to impress someone.

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  3. Paul,

    I perceive from several of your postings over the months that you are a critic of religion. (That is totally your prerogative, and I respect it,) Furthermore, you appear to have some of the same arguments as the “popular” atheists and skeptics. Specifically, the arguments of Hutchins, Harris, Dawkins, Ehrman, etc. play heavily in your postings. I recommend that you dig more deeply into this subject by reading skeptics who have more intellectual heft. Start with Bertrand Russell, David Hume, Arthur Schopenhauer, and John Paul Sartre. These guys do a better job than the current crop of lightweights.

    James

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  4. Haha, a diatribe against religion? Like the reference to the Romans who crucified so many people they supposedly ran out of trees outside of Jerusalem? You are hilariously inept at trolling.

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  5. it didn’t seem like a diatribe against religion, it seemed like a reasonable reminder that culture-religious conflicts throughout history have been much more extreme and desperate.

    It’s weird that you imagine that things now are worse than when Christians were being burned alive and thrown to lions, or when major religious groups were killing each other in centuries-long war or the Holocaust was happening or when the Crusades were happening or the slave trade was the backbone of the American economy… it really is a type of narcissism to think that having a government that is less Christian than you imagine it used to be is equal to any of these historical moments.

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  6. Paul,

    Your diatribe against religion would fit better in another discussion. Dr. Fea and I were discussing American history and not the ills of Western religion.

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  7. Is there cultural resistance and opposition to Christian faith? Sure. There is now and, to a higher or lesser degree, there always has been, and always will be. The Bible is quite clear that this is an inescapable fact of faith.

    Do I really think that “we are in a cultural and moral war unimaginable even a generation ago”? I’m sorry, I just don’t see it in such stark terms. I am old enough and I’ve been a Christian for enough decades to know that my ability to freely exercise my faith today is very little changed from decades ago.

    Are there some particular areas with more flash points (e.g. some sectors of academia)? Sure. I recognize that there are some “battlegrounds” that are more difficult than others. Are there some on the far left who engage in particularly hostile rhetoric and activism? Sure. I don’t deny that there are areas where more “robust” or firm faith advocacy needs to take place.

    But again, I just don’t see it in the day-to-day to anywhere near the extent that is described by those on the right. And my friends and acquaintances who do see it so are invariably those people who constantly follow Facebook pages and social media that scour the news to find the most egregious cases and then make those out to be the norm, and who watch hours of Fox News regularly to get their daily dose of how our very American way of life is about to crumble and how only the Trump Republicans can possibly save us from utter annihilation.

    We have so many Christians who have made “the enemy” out to be so bad, so threatening, so widespread, so scary, that they have convinced themselves that NO forceful response and NO attack or retaliation is going too far. And what is more, in doing so, they have made themselves out to be the very “religious bogeymen” that the vocally and activist anti-religious folks fear, and therefore they bring about a self-fulfilling prophecy of stronger opposition.

    Too many Christians have put their faith entirely in the “horses and chariots” of today’s political partisans and see their salvation in political strongmen.

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  8. Paul,
    Please reread my posting to Alex. Where did I state that the essential historic Messianic understanding was Trinitarian or anything short of traditional Jewish Unitarianism?

    James

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  9. Well then wouldn’t Root say the second coming of God is going to turn out very poorly for most people, including most Jewish people?
    It just seems like a terrible simile. It’s as clear as saying ‘Turkeys love corn like it were thanksgiving!’

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  10. For the love of YHWH, please do not speak for the Jews. No Jew has ever equated the Messiah with God. The messiah is — always has been — a human figure. Apocalyptic Jews of the first century, including Jesus and Paul,thought that God would overthrow the evil overlords and institute a world order led by a priest(Messiah) and a political leader (king of some sort).

    They didn’t all agree on the details, but they all thought the messiah was a human agent of God, and that the kingdom was going to be on earth.

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  11. The idea that the word is worse than it ever was displays an almost unimaginable ignorance of history, yet it is a staple of evangelical churches (naturally).

    Think at all about past times in history — heck, in the Bible it was not frowned upon to kill entire populations for the sake of a deity. It wasn’t frowned upon to kill the men and take the women as slaves. Child sacrifice was common (and yes, the Israelites almost certainly did it for centuries).

    Think about the great empires that ruled the world by brute force. Think about how disposable life was trough most of history. The Bible doesn’t say that the Romans did anything against nature when they executed Jesus, it was taken for granted that mass crucifixions were normal.

    Think about the the war and killing between Catholics and Protestants, the times when the church could burn people at the stake for being a heretic (Calvin and Servetus anyone?).

    Our own history of slavery, lynchings, child labor, women and homosexuals being oppressed … one could go on forever like this. It is stunningly ignorant to think the moral order is worse. So of course there are regular commentators here willing to take on that task.

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  12. John,

    I respectfully submit that many historians would debate you on your elevation of 1859 over 2019. First of all, we did not have the frightening Orwellian technological control of society in the 1850s. Neither did we have multinational-governmental partnerships as they exist today. Thirdly, society in the 1850s at least maintained a semblance of religious values. Finally, the basic building blocks of human society such as men, women, gender, and marriage were not officially undermined.

    The narcissistic argument is also debatable, John. Specifically, you and everyone else living today have no real idea of the future impact of the forces confronting us now. To propose that they are monumental is hardly unreasonable. I would reckon that the British people had a definite feel for the gravity of their plight in 1940.

    As an aside, I think it’s just as easy to make a case that the 1950s were as tumultuous in certain ways as were the 1850s. I was one of those kids who had to practice getting under my school desk with my coat over my head. I can recall getting scared every time a television program was interrupted by a special news bulletin. Had Nikita Khrushchev let his ICBMs loose?

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  13. 1. The 1850s. The cultural and moral war–literally–was over slavery.
    2. Narcissism has everything to do with it. A narcissist believes that the present moment–the moment in which he lives–is the most important, most tragic, most X. It reveals a failure to understand that our current moment is part of a larger human story that has unfolded over centuries.

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  14. John,

    Please point me to a period in history in which the cultural and moral upheaval has been this great as amplified by technology and centralized governmental control. I respectfully don’t think you can do it.

    James

    P.S. What does narcissism have to do with this discussion?

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  15. Dave H.,

    I can understand why you see evangelical support for Trump as bring unquestioning. There is indeed a rather unified and ostensibly uniform support of the man. I can’t speak for all Christians, but it’s possible also to include traditional Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, and even certain unusual sects under the Trumpian umbrella.

    We are in a cultural and moral war unimaginable even a generation ago. The secular left will stop at nothing to achieve its goals. Christians might be slow learners but they have finally come to grips with that fact. When the people of the British Isles were living in their darkest days awaiting an impending German invasion, I would speculate that certain criticisms of Winston Churchill were muted and postponed. It is counterproductive to wound your leader unnecessarily during wartime. As long as Trump adheres officially to basic moral norms, he will be supported by Christian traditionalists.

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  16. I don’t know about every tweet, Trump could certainly be speaking off the cuff about Jewish people and Israel at times, but it is almost certain that some significant part of the administration’s approach to Israel is guided by the evangelicals who are advising or are part of the administration.

    Several years ago I came out of a lengthy time in an evangelical church where the triumvirate of Christian social/political issues was (1) abortion, (2) same-sex marriage, and (3) Israel. Every election season with national or state implications was a guarantee of a September-to-November series of sermons dealing with this three areas. The Israel part was simple: it was an essential requirement for all Christians and the USA to support Israel. “Support” here meant that whatever Israel did was right, the USA was obligated to support it 100%, and there could never be a word of criticism (even critical advice/guidance by a staunch ally) directed to Israel. This came out of the pastor’s (not necessarily the denomination’s) eschatological view of Israel in the “last days,” which clearly identified Israel as the nation-state rather than as the Jewish people. (This view also largely explains the meteoric rise of end-times prophecy books and discussions after the establishment of the modern state of Israel in the aftermath of World War II.)

    I never could understand why “support” couldn’t mean to be an ally but also to acknowledge concerns and to offer up criticism/guidance as an ally. (“Faithful are the wounds of a friend,” right?) But now that I see how so much of the current evangelical support of Trump is conducted the exact same way — i.e. unquestioning blanket approval for anything and everything that is said and done, and total enmity towards everyone who does not similarly offer that unquestioning blanket approval — it makes it far easier to understand.

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  17. Unicorn
    ,

    Which major prophecy teacher adhered to point 4? I know of no significant prophecy teacher who took that crude position.

    James

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  18. One of the reasons conservative evangelicals are ecstatic about this move is that many of them believe…that biblical prophecy teaches that the return of the Jews to Israel is a prerequisite for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

    I was in-country during the Age of Hal Lindsay, when Late Great Planet Earth WAS the 67th book of the Bible, Inerrant SCRIPTURE superseding the other 66.

    During that time, I observed the above “Anti-Semitic Zionism”. It went like this:
    1) The Jews were in The Land; this fulfills End Time Prophecy. Because of this…
    2) Israel is Carrying Out God’s Will and Can Do No Wrong. (“IT’S PROPHESIED! IT’S PROPHESIED!”)
    3) God will bless those who support Israel and curse those who don’t. (“SCRIPTURE! SCRIPTURE!”)
    4) But Jews are still Christ-Killers and Christ will destroy them all at Armageddon for Not AcceptingHIMasTheirPersonalLORDandSavior, giving the renewed Earth to his REAL Chosen People, Us Christians.

    To summarize, Israel was nothing more than an Armageddon tripwire starting God’s clock for the End Times (tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick…) and the Israelis (like you and me) were nothing more than pieces to move around the End Times gameboard and another item to check off on the End Times checklist (check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check…). All PROVEN with Chapters and Verses.

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  19. And any skepticism about the improbability of the Official End Times Checklist was dismissed with “GOD Shall Send Them Strong Delusion, That They Shall Believe a Lie. Tsk. Tsk.”

    Now the same Rapture Ready Christians For Nuclear War are behaving the exact same way as the Beast Worshippers they Tsked Tsked. “TRUMP IS LOOOOOORD! PRAISE AND ADORE HIM!”

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  20. Justin,

    Personally, I don’t think Trump sees international relations through a Biblical lens. While it is possible that certain dispensationalists have sold him on their prophetic outlooks, I would not bet money on it. In my opinion, Trump compartmentalizes his unclear personal religion in a small box. His strong support for Israel is based on his fondness for the Jewish people on a human rather than an eschatological level.

    Regarding his pro-Israel rhetoric, I do not see that it has been overly laced with Bible verses. If there have been examples of that, it was most certainly the work of an evangelical speechwriter. Trump doesn’t know enough about the Bible to do take a position one way or the other. (Of course, there is seldom any major political figure, who knows the Bible well enough to comment comfortably on it. Jimmy Carter made an effort but that’s another complex discussion we would need to have.)

    James

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  21. James, help me understand how what you said has any apparent bearing on the strange messianic rhetoric emanating from the evangelicals’ strongman president. It is of course possible to support Israel and/or Trump for reasons other than delusions of apocalyptic grandeur–but that’s not what it sounds like in this instance.

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  22. I grew up among evangelicals telling me that the antichrist would be a popular world leader who would say these kind of things, and that those he had deceived would love him unconditionally until he led them to their doom.

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  23. “[the Jewish people] love him like he is the second coming of God”
    What’s he saying here? Is “the second coming of God” something that the Jewish people are looking forward to? What does “the second coming of God” mean to someone who practices Judaism? I thought it was just a christian thing.

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  24. John,

    You have been around the Christian scene long enough to know that there are non dispensational writers who still come down on Israel’s side. Their reasons might not be as eschatologically focused as Jeffress and Evans, however. After all, it’s possible for an amillennial believer to prefer Israel simply because it is a democracy and is Western in its orientation. Not all preferences in the world of international relations hinge directly upon someone’s prophetic outlook.

    I even know of a few Jewish Christians who do not hold to Darby’s hermeneutic system but nevertheless support Trump and Israel for other reasons.

    James

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