A Reply To David Rausch’s “Fundamentalism And The Jew” -- By: Timothy P. Weber

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 24:1 (Mar 1981)
Article: A Reply To David Rausch’s “Fundamentalism And The Jew”
Author: Timothy P. Weber

A Reply To David Rausch’s
“Fundamentalism And The Jew”

Timothy P. Weber*

In the June 1980 issue of JETS there appeared an article by David Rausch entitled “Fundamentalism and the Jew: An Interpretive Essay,” which criticized what the author believes are unwarranted and inaccurate portrayals of the historic relationship between Jews and fundamentalists. In his discussion Rausch claimed that my Living in the Shadow of the Second Coming: American Premillennialism, 1875–1925 (Oxford, 1979) “epitomizes” those works that attack fundamentalism for its support of Zionism on the one hand and then accuse it of latent anti-Semitism on the other.1

Writers of history expect criticism. As one of my teachers used to say, “The study of history is an argument without end.” And so it is: Write a book, take your chances. In the year since its publication my book has been reviewed over twenty times. Most reviewers have been overwhelmingly gracious in their remarks, though a few have taken me to task for one thing or another. Some of these criticisms have been well founded, and I have learned from them. Not until Rausch, however, has any reviewer seriously misrepresented my views. Since, I may assume, most readers of Rausch’s article will not take the time to read my book, it is necessary for me to clarify my position.

Nowhere in his article did Rausch substantiate the charge that I attack fundamentalism for its support of Zionism. In the chapter that I devote to this issue,2 I argue that premillennialist eschatology programmed its adherents to be the friends of Israel. Since Jews played such an important role in their end-times expectations, premillennialists paid them close and even affectionate attention.

During most of the nineteenth century premillennialists predicted the restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land. On occasion they even tried to help things along. In 1891, for example, they petitioned President Benjamin Harrison to lead a diplomatic drive to “give Palestine back to [the Jews] again.” When Theodor Herzl founded Zionism in 1897, most premillennialists hailed the act as the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy and became enthusiastic supporters of the Zionist cause. Some premillennialists, such as William E. Blackstone, actually joined the movement and were honored by Jews for their loyal support.

I further relate how premillennialists built bridges between Christians and Jews, engaged in sincere and unprejudiced Jewish evangelism, condemned European anti-Semitism, and in general stood for Jewish rights when few others seemed to care. Nowhere in my presentation is there anythin...

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