(Washington, D.C.) — Today, FoxNews.com published a new column of mine. While I wouldn’t have written the headline quite the way they did, I am grateful they allowed me to lay out my thoughts in an op-ed significantly longer than they usually run.
AFTER TRUMP RECOGNIZES JERUSALEM AS ISRAEL’S CAPITAL, EVANGELICALS WORK FOR PEACE BETWEEN JEWS & ARABS
By Joel C. Rosenberg, December 9, 2017
Many evangelical Christians are rejoicing over President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to begin planning to move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv.
However, other evangelicals who love Israel and believe Jerusalem is the biblical and historic capital of the Jewish State see the timing of the president’s decision as a mistake. They are concerned the move will cause more tension and violence, not create conditions more conducive to peace.
Most Palestinian and other Arab Christians in Jordan, Egypt and elsewhere are also opposed to the decision for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that they worry renewed violence could be directed at them and their children.
As a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen, an evangelical and a resident of Jerusalem with my wife and kids, these issues are not just theological or theoretical for me. They’re personal.
I love Jerusalem. And because I love Jesus, I love both Israelis and Palestinians dearly and equally because I believe God does. The last thing I want to see is more division, violence, terror or injustice of any kind.
I long to see peace between the two sides. I pray and work for the day when both peoples can truly live side by side, and among each other, in safety, security, freedom and prosperity.
I long to see peace between the two sides. I pray and work for the day when both peoples can truly live side by side, and among each other, in safety, security, freedom and prosperity.
Toward that end, on Monday at the National Press Club in Washington, I helped launch a new organization called the “Alliance For The Peace of Jerusalem.”
We are a group of evangelicals scholars, pastors, authors and ministry leaders who believe that now more than ever, the Church needs to be faithful to the Psalmist’s command to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6) as well as to “seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14).
We also believe evangelicals need to be faithful ambassadors of God’s love and compassion to both Jews and Arabs, who find themselves trapped in a cycle of seemingly never-ending conflict. And we believe evangelicals need to be ambassadors of grace toward Christian brothers and sisters who have different (and deeply held) views of how best to achieve peace.
As we approach the 70th anniversary of the rebirth of the State of Israel on May 14, tensions between Israelis and Palestinians will no doubt increase.
For some, this will be a year of thanksgiving to the God of Israel who made ancient promises to the Jewish people and is keeping those promises in modern times. For others, however, the anniversary of the creation of modern-day Israel will be a year of pain, even anger. They call it al Nakba – the Arabic term for “The Catastrophe.”
Presidents and prime ministers, kings and their counselors, have been confounded for decades on how to achieve peace between Israel and its neighbors. It should not be a surprise that pastors, priests and lay leaders are often confounded by how to apply biblical principles to most effectively resolve a conflict with roots going back thousands of years.
The last thing the Church needs is to engage in a snarky political firefight over some of the most contentious issues on the planet. Rather, we need to engage in thoughtful, respectful conversations on what the Bible teaches about Israel and its neighbors, and how we can play a more constructive role as peacemakers.
As the Alliance begins our work, we conducted a comprehensive survey of the attitudes of American evangelicals toward Israel, the Palestinians and the peace process as we enter this historic year. The results were fascinating. Let me draw out three key points.
First, American evangelicals have a remarkably deep love for Israel and the Jewish people.
Our survey confirms that the people of Israel have no better friends in the U.S. than evangelical Christians.
- Eight in ten evangelicals believe that the Abrahamic Covenant was an unconditional promise God made to the Jewish people for all time – a mere 5 percent disagree.
- Eight in ten believe the rebirth of the State of Israel was the fulfillment of Bible prophecy – only 20 percent think it was merely an interesting geopolitical event.
- And nearly eight in ten (76 percent) believe that Christians should support the Jewish people’s right to live in the sovereign State of Israel.
The survey makes clear that evangelical Christians of all ages, ethnicities, incomes and regions of the country overwhelmingly believe that God has made binding promises to Abraham and his descendants: to make them a nation; to give them a land; and to make them a blessing to the rest of the world.
The survey also finds that evangelicals believe that God is in the process of keeping his promises – that he is graciously bringing the Jewish people back to the Land of Israel after 2,000 years of exile, and rebuilding the State of Israel in the heart of the Middle East against all odds.
Second, American evangelicals want to obey Jesus’ command to love Israel’s neighbors.
- 59 percent believe Christians should do more to love and care for the Palestinian people, and 66 percent of younger evangelicals believe this.
- 73 percent are concerned for the safety of Christians in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
- 41 percent agree with the statement: “Jewish people have a biblical right to the land of Israel, but also have a responsibility to share the land with Palestinian Arabs.” Another 28 percent disagree, while 31 percent say they’re not sure.
Too often, we hear an “either/or” tone when Christian leaders speak about their love for Israel or the Palestinians. But the God of the Bible is not “either/or.” He is “both/and.” He loves Jews and He loves Arabs. So must the Church.
Third, evangelicals aren’t convinced they understand enough about God’s plans for Israel.
In fact, 72 percent of evangelicals say they want to know more about what the Bible teaches about Israel’s future.
So that’s the good news. But there is some challenging news in the data as well, specifically when it comes to younger evangelicals.
Millennials are sending the Church a sobering message. They’re not against Israel. But the survey makes it clear that many of them really don’t understand Israel’s place in the biblical narrative. Thus, their support for Israel is nearly 20 points less than the support voiced by their parents and grandparents.
Extrapolate that going forward. Unless the Church gives younger believers an understanding of God’s love and plan for Israel, evangelical support for the Jewish State could plummet over the next decade as millennials represent an ever-larger percentage of the Church body.
The raging controversy over President Trump’s decision on Jerusalem – and evangelicals’ conflicted views over how best to advocate peace – underscore the need for the new group Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem.
As we head into the new year, we need educate the Church – particularly millennials – about God’s love and plan for both Israel and its Arab neighbors, and to mobilize them to both pray for and seek peace in a dark and troubled region.
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Time and again, Jerusalem lies at the Epicenter of the momentous events that are shaking our world and shaping our future. This week is no exception.
As a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen — and a Jewish Evangelical — and most recently as a new resident of Jerusalem where my wife and kids and I now live, these issues are not just theological or theoretical for me. They’re personal.
Lynn and I love Jerusalem — we love both Israelis and Palestinians. We love them dearly and equally, as we believe God does. We don’t want to see any more divisions or violence or terror or injustice of any kind. There has been too much suffering, too much bloodshed. We long to see peace between the two sides. We pray and work for the day when both peoples can truly live side by side, and amongst each other, in safety and security and freedom and prosperity — free and willing and eager even to seek the Prince of Peace and make Him known to the rest of the world.
On Monday at the National Press Club, I helped launch a new organization called the “Alliance For The Peace of Jerusalem.” The timing, I believe, was from the Lord. Now more than ever, the Church needs to be faithful to the Psalmist’s command to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6) . Now more than ever, the Church needs to “seek peace and pursue it” (Psalm 34:14). Now more than ever, we need to be faithful ambassadors of God’s love and compassion to both Jews and Arabs trapped in a cycle of seemingly never-ending tension — and ambassadors of grace towards Christian brothers and sisters who have different (and deeply held) views of how best to achieve peace.
Here is the full statement the Alliance’s executive leadership released today — I hope you’ll take a moment to read it in full, share your comments with me on my “Epicenter Facebook Page,” and share this with your family and friends at this critical hour. God bless you.
Evangelicals Conflicted Over President Trump’s Decision on Jerusalem and How Best to Make Peace. New survey shows nuances in Evangelical thinking toward Israel; Leaders say praying for the peace of Jerusalem more urgent than ever.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2017 – Even Evangelical Christians who love and support Israel have diverse views on how best to proceed with peace, including a range of reactions to President Donald Trump’s announcement recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the relocation of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
According to a new survey, “Evangelical Attitudes Toward Israel and the Peace Process,” the overwhelming majority of Evangelicals do support Israel. Eighty percent of evangelicals agree that God’s promise to Abraham and his descendants was for all time; 76 percent say Christians should support the Jewish people’s right to live in the sovereign state of Israel; and 69 percent say Israel has a historic right to the land. Additionally, 66 percent say Israel’s existence, security and prosperity are things they support.
Yet the data also show evangelicals are conflicted on the best way to move forward with establishing peace. Forty-one percent of survey respondents argue the Jewish people have a biblical right to the land but also have a responsibility to share, although another 31 percent are not sure. In regard to the one-state versus two-state solution, there is a high level of uncertainty, as 23 percent stated the Palestinians should be allowed to create their own sovereign state while 31 percent disagree and 46 percent of respondents are unsure. This level of uncertainty is even higher among the millennial generation, of which 4 in 10 (41 percent) have no strong views about Israel.
The LifeWay Research study, released this week, is co-sponsored by Chosen People Ministries and New York Times bestselling author Joel C. Rosenberg.
“While the survey didn’t ask questions specifically related to the capital or embassy location, the responses clearly show that while there may be support, there are also many questions about the details of how and when this could or should work,” said Dr. Darrell Bock, New Testament professor at Dallas Theological Seminary.
In response to changing views of Israel among younger Evangelicals, a group of faith leaders, scholars, authors and pastors formed the Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem, an organization dedicated to better public understanding of the complexities of the Middle East including its historical and biblical roots as well as calling Christians to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
“The president’s decision and the domestic and international controversy it has aroused underscores the importance of calling the church to pray faithfully and consistently for the peace of Jerusalem—now more than ever,” said Rosenberg, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen. “It is clear from the survey that Evangelicals want peace. The question of how to get there has confounded presidents, kings and prime ministers, so it’s not surprising that the church isn’t clear how best to apply biblical principles concerning Jerusalem to a conflict that’s thousands of years old. There are very different views in the Christian world on how best to make peace, which is why we must show grace to one another in these very important and timely discussions. This is exactly why the Alliance exists.”
The Alliance will strive to educate the church about Israel’s role in the biblical narrative—past, present and future—while also affirming God’s concern for Palestinians and all peoples of the Middle East.
“I applaud the support of the Evangelical community for Israel, and we are ready to make the case to the next generation of Evangelicals about God’s continued purposes for the nation of Israel—which includes Jerusalem,” said Dr. Mitch Glaser, president of Chosen People Ministries. “Yet, the survey also indicates that Christians, especially the younger generation, deeply care about the Palestinians and how they will achieve freedom and opportunity. Our Alliance will encourage everyone — Evangelicals especially, to fervently pray for God’s peace to rest upon all people in the region.”
The “Evangelical Attitudes Toward Israel and the Peace Process” study was conducted Sept. 20-28, 2017. The survey asked 2,002 Americans with evangelical beliefs about a wide range of issues involving Israel and the Palestinians. Results were unveiled Dec. 4 during a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington.
For the full survey results, visit http://lifewayresearch.com/2017/12/04/support-of-israel-among-younger-evangelicals/. For video of the press conference, visit https://chosenpeople.com/site/evangelical-attitudes-toward-israel-press-conference/.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For video, audio or images from the Dec. 4 announcement press conference as well as interviews, contact Kristin Cole at email@example.com or 972-267-1111.
(Washington, D.C.) — This morning at the National Press Club, several colleagues and I released a ground-breaking new survey on “American Evangelical Attitudes Towards Israel and the Peace Process.” Below, I’ve posted links to the survey, our analysis of the data, and articles that have already been published this morning.
I had the honor of joining Scott McConnell, Dr. Mitch Glaser, Dr. Darrell Bock, Bishop Harry Jackson, Rev. Tony Suarez, Larry Ross and Kristin Cole in presenting and analyzing the data.
We also announced the formation of a new organization — the Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem — with 25 prominent Evangelical seminary professors, Bible scholars, authors and ministry leaders. More on that to come.
The following is the text of the prepared statement I made:
Good morning, my name is Joel Rosenberg, and I am honored to join my colleagues today as one of the founding members of the “Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem.”
We are, as you know, approaching the 70th anniversary of the rebirth of the State of Israel on May 14th, 1948.
For many, this will be a season of thanksgiving to the God of Israel who made ancient promises to the Jewish people and is keeping those promises in modern times.
For others, however, this will be a season of pain, resentment, even anger, for what they regard as al Nakba, “The Catastrophe.”
For presidents and prime ministers, kings and their counselors, this is a season to try yet again to broker a just and comprehensive peace agreement.
What season is it for Church? How should Christians approach this historic yet highly controversial year? What do Evangelicals, in particular, believe about Israel, the Palestinians and the peace process? Where are they getting their information? What are the gaps in their knowledge? How can followers of the Prince of Peace be effective ambassadors of peace and reconciliation in the Middle East, as we are called to be in the Scriptures? What does it mean to obey Jesus’ command to love our neighbors and love our enemies? And as importantly, how can Christians discuss hot button theological and geopolitical issues in a thoughtful, respectful Biblical manner that builds the kind of unity Jesus speaks of in John chapter 17, rather than causing more discord and division?
These are some of the questions the “Alliance For The Peace of Jerusalem” will be asking, as we believe this is precisely the conversation the Church needs to be having.
I’d like to comment on the survey. But first, let me put my cards on the table.
- By heritage, I am Jewish on my father’s side, and Gentile on my mother’s side.
- By faith, I am an Evangelical — I am a follower of Jesus.
- By age, I’m a part of Generation X, having been born in April of 1967.
- By citizenship, I am a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen.
- By residence, my wife and sons and I are Jerusalemites – we made Aliyah a few years ago and moved from the Washington, D.C. area to make our home in Israel, first in a community a bit north of Tel Aviv, and more recently in Jerusalem.
As such, I can assure you this is not a theoretical exercise for me. This is personal.
Never have I been more committed to praying for the peace of Jerusalem, or more passionate about educating Christians about God’s love and plan for the people of the Middle East, or more dedicated to mobilizing Christians to pray for and work for the peace of Jerusalem than I have been since moving to the Epicenter.
I am grateful to my colleagues here, and to LifeWay Research, for this ground-breaking survey. I find the data fascinating, and I suspect pastors and ministry leaders, Bible college and seminary presidents and professors, students, lay leaders, the media and others will find it so, as well, particularly as we head into this momentous year.
The good news here is very good – let me make three key points.
First, despite all the beatings that Israel takes in the media, in academia, from the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement, and from various Replacement theologians and pastors, the survey reveals that American Evangelicals still have a remarkably deep love for Israel.
Indeed, the survey overwhelmingly confirms that the people of Israel have no better or more loyal friends in the United States than Evangelical Christians.
- Fully eight-in-ten American Evangelicals believe that the Abrahamic Covenant was a promise God made for all time, that it was unconditional, that it could not be revoked – a mere 5% disagree.
- Fully eight-in-ten of American Evangelicals believe the rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948 is the fulfillment of Bible prophecy – only 20% think it was merely an interesting geopolitical event but unrelated to God keeping His promises.
- And nearly eight-in-ten Evangelicals (76%) believe that Christians should support Jewish people’s right to live in the sovereign state of Israel.
The survey makes clear that Evangelical Christians of all ages, ethnicities, income levels and regions of the country overwhelmingly believe that God has made binding promises to Abraham and his descendants:
- To make them a nation.
- To give them a Land.
- And to make them a blessing to the rest of the world.
What’s more, the survey finds that Evangelicals believe that God is in the process of keeping His promises – that He is graciously and mercifully bringing the Jewish people back to the Land of Israel after 2,000 years of exile, and rebuilding the State of Israel in the heart of the Middle East, against all odds, despite violent opposition, and despite of our flaws and mistakes and sins.
This is not only tremendously encouraging – it is surprisingly so. Honestly, I did not expect the numbers to be this good.
Second, the survey found that American Evangelicals not only love Israel, but they also want to obey Jesus’ command to love Israel’s neighbors.
Consider several data points:
- 59% of Evangelicals believe Christians should do more to love and care for Palestinian people, and fully 66% of younger Evangelicals believe this.
- 73% are concerned for the safety of Christians in areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority
This is also encouraging, and to some may be somewhat counter-intuitive.
Too often, we hear an “either/or” tone in the way Christian leaders speak about their love for Israel or the Palestinians. Some pastors express a great love and zeal for one side, yet either ignore or speak quite unkindly or disrespectfully of the other.
But the God of the Bible is not “either/or.” He is “both/and.” He loves Jews and He loves Arabs. He loves Israelis and He loves Palestinians, and Jordanians, and Egyptians and all the people of the Middle East. So must the Church.
As an Israeli Evangelical, I’m working hard to build friendships with my Palestinian neighbors and others in the region.
Last month, I had the honor of leading a delegation of American Evangelical leaders to Egypt and Jordan. We had working meetings with Egyptian President el-Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah. We met with senior Islamic leaders. We visited a refugee camp of some 80,000 Syrian refugees. We also met with dozens of senior Arab Christian pastors and ministry leaders in Egypt and Jordan. After that, I spent several days with about 150 Palestinian pastors and ministry leaders and their wives. Building friendships. Listening to their needs and concerns. Praying with and for them.
Why? Because the Psalmist said, “Seek peace and pursue it.” Because Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
We might not agree on every theological or geopolitical issue, including – and sometimes especially – God’s plans and purposes for Israel and the Jewish people.
But that’s okay. God does not require us to have uniform views. But He does call us to unity. He does ask if we who love Israel will also love and honor and respect and listen to our Arab and Persian and Kurdish brothers and sisters?
The Church needs to do a better job loving the Arab and Muslim people. I’m convinced we can. And I’m encouraged that the survey picked up a desire by Evangelicals to do better in this regard.
Third, Americans Evangelicals aren’t convinced they understand enough about God’s plans and purposes for Israel, and they want to know more.
- No fewer than seven-in-ten American Evangelicals (72%) say they want to know more about what the Bible teaches about Israel’s future.
- Amen – this is a need pastors and ministry leaders and seminaries and Bible colleges can and should address, and it’s an area my colleagues and I stand and this new “Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem” stand ready to assist.
So this is the good news.
But there is some bad news – or, let us say, challenging news – in the data as well, specifically when it comes to younger Evangelicals.
Millennials are sending the Church a sobering message. They’re not against Israel. Not yet. Not at all. But the survey makes it clear that many of them really don’t understand Israel’s place in the biblical narrative. Thus, their support for Israel is nearly 20 points less than their parents and grandparents.
Now, extrapolate that going forward. Unless the Church gives younger believers a healthy, balanced, solidly biblical understanding of God’s love and plan for Israel, overall Evangelical support for the Jewish State could very well plummet over the next decade as Millennials represent an ever-larger percentage of the overall Church body.
That said, when I look at the totality of the survey results, I’m cautiously optimistic.
I’ve agreed to be part of the founding leadership council of “Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem” because I see a real need to educate the Church – and particularly younger Evangelicals – about God’s love and plan for both Israel and her Arab and Persian neighbors, and to mobilize them to seek peace, pray for peace, and be peacemakers in a dark and troubled region. Thank you.
- Read the document, “Evangelical Attitudes Toward Israel Research Study.”
- Read the full survey with extensive data and cross-tabs.
- Read article, “Surprising new survey reveals a generational shift in Evangelical views Toward Israel. Leaders Unveil LifeWay Research Study, Form Alliance to Educate the Church on Israel’s Critical Past and Future Roles.” (Religion News Service)
- Read article, “New Survey: Young Evangelicals Less Unconditionally Supportive of Israel, More Sympathetic Toward Palestinians.” (Haaretz)
- Read an article, “Support of Israel Wanes Among Younger Evangelicals.” (LifeWay Research)
“[Dispute Over Jesus’ Testimony] When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.””