Zionism As Theology: An Evangelical Approach -- By: Marvin R, Wilson

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 22:1 (Mar 1979)
Article: Zionism As Theology: An Evangelical Approach
Author: Marvin R, Wilson

Zionism As Theology: An Evangelical Approach

Marvin R, Wilson*

The skeptic Voltaire once asked, “Why should the world be made to rotate around the insignificant pimple of Jewry?1 In reality, Voltaire’s question is the stark recognition by him that from Abraham’s day till now the Jew has had a central and unique role in contributing the values, skills and talents that have molded western civilization. Such thinking runs contrary, however, to the perspective of the late historian Arnold Toynbee, who once stated that the Jew was merely a dried-up fossil, the vestige of a dead culture. Who is right, Toynbee or Voltaire? Is world Jewry dead or alive?

It is my deep conviction, in presenting the following Christian perspective on Zionism, that the people of Israel lives. Accordingly, it has been observed that when Israel chose to enter into a living covenant relationship with God she became “the first people in history to have done something truly revolutionary.”2 This unique relationship carried with it a mission to be a servant.3 Israel was created to be “a light to the nations” (Isa 42:6). The revolutionary role to be played by this covenant community was to shape the very course and destiny of mankind. Israel’s task was to extend not only throughout “this age” but also to “the age to come,” the time of Israel’s final vindication and redemption. This sense of the continuing relevance of the Jewish people over the centuries has been captured in a striking way in a delightful little story told about Frederick the Great. It is said that one time the cynical Frederick brusquely inquired of the court chaplain, “Herr Professor, give me a proof of the Bible, but briefly, for I have little time.” The chaplain answered, “Majesty, the Jews.”4

I. Biblical Roots

The topic of Zionism has a long history, for in a sense the history of Judaism is equally as long.5 It was an ancient dream; it is now a living reality. But what of the current charge that “Zionism is racism”? And what about those who say that the Zionism of the Hebrew prophets was messianic and spiritual but that of the

*Marvin Wilson is professor of Biblical studies at Gordon College, Wenham, Massachusetts.

modern state of Israel is secular and political? Or again, is the Church the new Israel, having triumphantly superseded Israel of’ old and the covenant promises made to her? Only by tracing this movement from Biblical times to the ...

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