Most of my readers know that I am, unapologetically, a theologically conservative Christian, but perhaps not all of them realize that I am also a dispensationalist. But I am not just any run-of-the-mill dispensationalist. I am a scholastic dispsensationalist in the tradition of John F. Walvoord, Lewis Sperry Chafer, Charles C. Ryrie, Dwight Pentecost, and Alva J. McClain. I have a whole shelf of books in my library with all of the major and minor works on dispensationalism, including books critical of dispensationalism like that of my late friend Gary North. I also write for the Journal of Dispensational Theology. My dispensationalist bona fides are well known, and should be contrasted with the pop dispensationalism of Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins, and John Hagee that sees everything that happens in the Middle East as somehow related to biblical prophecy.
The current events in the Middle East are the impetus for this brief article, but I could have said what I am going to say anytime during the last twenty years that I have been writing about the subject of Christianity and war.
Many conservative Christians are dispensationalists (or at least they claim to be or think they are or others think they are). Many more conservative Christians blindly support U.S. wars and military interventions and almost everything that the state of Israel does. It is a mistake to blame this on dispensationalism.
Speaking as a dispensationalist—
There is nothing about dispensationalism that would lead me to confound the government of Israel with the people of Israel.
There is nothing about dispensationalism that would lead me to support collective punishment by Israel.
There is nothing about dispensationalism that would lead me to support indiscriminate bombing by Israel.
There is nothing about dispensationalism that would lead me to dismiss the killing of women and children by Israel as collateral damage.
There is nothing about dispensationalism that would lead me to support foreign aid to Israel. I oppose foreign aid to Israel because I oppose foreign aid to any country. If Christians in America want to help Israel, then I would say the same thing to them as I have said to Christians in America who want to help Ukraine: Send your own money.
There is nothing about dispensationalism that would lead me to believe that God needs the help of the United States to protect the nation of Israel.
There is nothing about dispensationalism that would lead me to believe that the return of the Jewish people to their ancient homeland is necessary before the return of Christ.
There is nothing about dispensationalism that would lead me to accuse critics of the government of Israel of being pro-Palestinian or anti-Jewish.
There is nothing about dispensationalism that would lead me to label those who mention the “Israel Lobby” or “Jewish influence” as anti-Semitic.
There is nothing about dispensationalism that would lead me to blindly support the actions of the Israeli government. I don’t support most of the actions any government (and especially the U.S. government).
There is nothing about dispensationalism that would lead me to support U.S. military intervention in the Middle East. The United States should remain neutral and not intervene militarily in any foreign region.
There is nothing about dispensationalism that would lead me to blindly support Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Among other things, he is a false prophet. Back in 2006, he said that the president of Iran was another Hitler and that Iran would get a nuke and threaten the world within five years. But after two terms as president of Iran, Mahmoud “Hitler” Ahmadinejad could not run again due to term limits and faded into obscurity. Netanyahu also once said “unless the United States stops Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, America has only two to five years left.” Well, the last time I looked, America was still here. Recently, Netanyahu has vowed to lead Israel to a “crushing victory” over Hamas and to “realize the prophecy of Isaiah.” He then selectively referred to Isaiah 60:18: “Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.” Dispensationalists of all people should recognize that this is a prophecy of a future restored Israel that does not describe Israel today.
There is nothing about dispensationalism that would lead me to make such open-ended, blanket statements as “I stand with Israel” or “I support Israel.” What do these statements actually mean? Do they mean that I stand with Israel’s right to exist? Do they mean that I support the right of Israel to defend itself? I would certainly agree with both of those statements. But if that is what they mean, than that is what should be said. Just saying that you “stand with Israel” or that you “support Israel” could be taken to mean almost anything. Do conservative Christians support Israel’s annual gay pride parades in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv? Do conservative Christians stand with the Israeli government’s view toward Christian proselytizing in Israel? Do conservative Christians support the Israeli government expanding its Families of Fallen Soldiers Law to include the common-law partners of LGBTQ members of the Israel Defense Forces? Do conservative Christians stand with Israel’s draconian Covid policies during 2020 and 2021? Do conservative Christians support the 1967 attack on the USS Liberty by Israel?
All of these things being said, I am certainly not pro-Hamas, pro-Palestinian, or pro-Arab, so please don’t bother writing to accuse me of these things or chastise me for not being sufficiently pro-Israel. My unfavorable opinion of Islam is well known, and I will not get into it here. If someone wants to believe that Muhammad is God’s prophet, then so be it. I believe in freedom of conscience, even if the governments and religious leaders in Muslim countries don’t. When it comes to religion, you can believe anything you want, just so long as you don’t aggress against others that disagree, no matter what they say or write about your religious views or commit acts of violence against others in the cause of your religion.
Conservative Christians who support U.S. military interventions and blindly support U.S. wars and military interventions and almost everything that the state of Israel does do so because they are warvangelicals, not because they are dispensationalists (again: or at least they claim to be or think they are or others think they are).
I have written about the errors of these evangelical warvangelicals and their cousins Christian jihadists, Old Testament Christians, Christian armchair warriors, theological schizophrenics, Christian Coalition moralists, nuclear Christians, Janus Christians, Catholic just war theorists, reich-wing Christian nationalists, theocon Values Voters, imperial Christians, pro-lifers for mass murder, Red-State Christian fascists, bloodthirsty Christian conservatives, beam Christians, nuclear Christians, Christian Coalition moralists, double-minded Christians, Christian warmongers, God and country Christian bumpkins, sniper theologians, Christian military idolaters, conservative Christian militarists, and members of the Christian axis of evil for many years (see my list of articles on Christianity and war and my articles on Christianity and the military).
Although many have asked, I have no comments or recommendations to make about the events in the Middle East. There is no solution to the perpetual trouble there. There will be no peace in the Middle East until the return of the Prince of Peace.