Christian Zionist Dispensationalists are sort of like Christian Creationists. They are reviled and mocked by cultural elites as dangerous and retrograde often without deep explanation. Their very existence is portrayed as an offense to all right thinking and sophistication.
As a Mainline Protestant and Methodist, I’m not a Dispensationalist. That school of thought descends from 19th century English theologian John Darby, who outlined a particular apocalyptic end-times scenario. This scenario includes the rebuilding of the Hebrew temple, a rapture, a tribulation, and an Armageddon, among other dramatic events. American Evangelicalism has popularized and globalized Dispensationalism.
Dispensationalists are typically Zionists, which often earns them further contempt. A recent example includes a Religion News Service column by two leftist activist clergy, one Jewish and one United Church of Christ. They target the latest annual gathering of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a group strongly influenced by Dispensationalism, and which they denounce for “anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia and sexism.”
They further allege of CUFI:
This kind of pseudo-fundamentalist theology has long been the basis for white supremacy and colonialism, which relied on the concept that it was the “white man’s burden” to save people of color from themselves. It was this same political religious fervor that sought to tame “savages” in the Americas.
And they declare:
As we seek healing and repair for the harms of the past, we cannot tolerate organizations that promote theologies built on hatred and exclusivity. This is not the way forward. We have sacrificed enough children on the altars of white supremacy. No more.
So CUFI is white supremacist and should not even be tolerated. The implication is that these Christian Dispensationalists are morally equivalent to the KKK.
I’ve attended a few CUFI annual convos in DC, which include thousands of people. And I noticed the crowd is multiracial and multiethnic. Many are from racially diverse Pentecostal and charismatic churches. Stereotypes about Christian Zionists being all rich white Texans driving Cadillacs are not rooted in reality.
Also I’ve noticed many Jewish speakers, both American and Jewish, speaking at CUFI events. They evidently have not detected the antisemitism that these leftist clergy discovered.
CUFI’s founder and leader, Rev. John Hagee, often speaks controversially and intemperately. He can be faulted for his own remarks. But do all Christian Zionist Dispensationalists merit denunciation for “anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia and sexism?”
It seems likely that these two clergy critics would denounce nearly anyone outside their own far left perch for “anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia and sexism.” Their critique of CUFI seems to be the generic leftist critique of Western Civilization and the United States in particular.
What Christian model towards Israel would these two leftist clergy prefer? Likely they approve of the United Church of Christ (UCC), to which one of them belongs, and which has endorsed anti-Israel divestment while routinely denouncing Israel when typically ignoring human rights abuses almost everywhere else.
Such a preoccupation with Israeli sins and indifference to all others might itself be called antisemitic. Mainstream U.S. and Israeli Jews don’t typically get invited to speak to the governing synod of the UCC, which is fast declining and, unlike CUFI, nearly all white and upper middle class.
I don’t share the Dispensationalism common at CUFI. Nor do I share confidence in Rev. Hagee’s timetable for the end-times, whose schedule I believe God has reserved unto Himself. But I do share with CUFI, as do most Christians in America, a conviction that the often tormented Jewish people should have a homeland where they can live freely and safely.
Christian Dispensationalism, as a 19th century creation, is too theologically modern for my own tastes. But it is a sloppy slander to compare its millions of adherents to the Klan. The two unserious leftist clergy making this charge in Religion News Service seem guilty of their own unthinking bigotry.