In a recent article appearing in The Wall Street Journal, some disturbing news was shared. A growing trend among young evangelical Christians finds they are less supportive of Israel than previous generations. This trend is reflected in a survey by LifeWay – a leading evangelical publishing house and polling organization – who surveyed more than 2,000 people in December 2017. The results were shocking. Only 58% of evangelicals ages 18 to 34 hold positive views of Israel, compared with 76% of evangelicals over 65 years old. Therefore, we can surmise that evangelicals in the “millennial” category are increasingly less supportive of Israel and also less supportive of the U.S. government’s involvement with Israel in the Palestinian conflict. The Wall Street Journal article notes that some younger evangelicals sided with liberal Jewish groups in their criticism of the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem and the fatal shooting of protesters who approached Israel’s border fence in Gaza the same day. Israeli officials said the tactics were a necessary defense of its borders.
Humanitarian Rights are Prime Concern
A 21 year old young evangelical Christian, Caleb Fitzpatrick, was quoted by The Wall Street Journal as indicating he has become critical of Israel over what he says is the mistreatment of Palestinians. “Human rights is a core issue to me,” Mr. Fitzpatrick said. He added, “It’s less important to me who has dominion over the northern part of historical Israel.” This view illustrates the generational divide that is opening up between young evangelicals and older evangelicals. However, the differences extend to larger issues as well. Younger evangelicals are also more likely to support tougher environmental laws, more liberal abortion laws, same-sex marriage, recreational drug legalization, and other serious issues that older evangelicals spent decades working against. The wavering support among younger American Christians has been noticed by the Israeli government. Since much of their country’s revenue depends on Christian tourism, “The depth of the crisis…hit us three years ago,” Uri Steinberg, the Israeli tourism commissioner for North America, said referring to young evangelicals. He added “We realized we had to act now if we want to continue this bond with the faith-based community in the U.S.”
Relevant Bible Passages
The Bible makes it clear that Christians should be supportive of Israel. Israel as a nation is clearly identified as being special to God. The prophet Zechariah indicated that God considers Israel – as a nation –as “the apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8). Moreover, Israel has a very special role in God’s eternal – salvific – purpose and plan. God's eternal purpose is to bless the world through Israel. He has already done so in Jesus’ incarnation that resulted in “salvation” being “from the Jews" (John 4:22). However, the fullness of Israel’s future blessing to the world is indicated in the wondrous promise of Isaiah 27:6: “In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit.” Importantly, the Bible also records that God has promised that whoever blesses Israel will be blessed by God and whoever curses Israel will be cursed by God (Genesis 12:3). Therefore, we should take our support of Israel as a mandate from God. All of us here at WPM are rising to this occasion and Dr. Hindson is actively leading the charge to reverse this disturbing trend among younger evangelicals.