Crazy Faith Ministries
While there are a fair number of Americans, some Christian and some not, who are unhappy about the president’s unilateral decision to name Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel, there are many Christians who support this decision and see it as a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.
The move has been widely criticized by America’s allies and by the Muslim world, but those Christians who adhere to a futurist view of prophecy and dispensational theology are quite certain that all that is happening is in line with what is recorded in the Christian Bible. In order for Jesus the Christ to come back, dispensationalists and futurists teach that the Jesus cannot return to us until the Anti-Christ appears.
The presence of the Anti-Christ will spark war and destruction, and a new temple will be built in Jerusalem. But a new temple cannot be built in Jerusalem unless Israel controls that city. Thus, the move by the president is seen by many to be in line with what is supposed to happen. While many people the world over are worried about war, the Christian dispensationalists want a holy war because said war will bring Jesus back. Those on the side of the Christ will be triumphant. Jerusalem is a key part in the restoration of the world order, these Christians believe, that Jesus’ presence on this earth guaranteed.
This theology makes Christian Zionists – i.e., the dispensationalists and futurists – happy, but everyone else is left wallowing in saucers of despair. The dispensationalists believe God’s will is being played out right now – which means that everything that is being done that is shattering the lives of “the least of these” is again in line with God’s will.
The violence in the Middle East that the president’s decision stoked is not surprising to the dispensationalists; it would seem that they are almost giddy as they await the “end days” to play out. Those who want “the end” to come and come swiftly applaud what is going on.
Someone asked me how widespread this kind of religious belief is, and I had to say, “Very.” While some might argue that it is not a valid theology, saying that it is a system of human beliefs imposed upon God, others have their entire spiritual imaginations wrapped up in it. Some of us are shuddering at the possibility that there may soon be another war – in Jerusalem and in the entire world, if the current president and Kim Jong Un have their way – but other people, Christians, are rejoicing. If it is God’s will that many millions of people die, they believe, then it is the will of God. They must make a way for the coming of the Messiah.
This theological perspective is troubling for a number of reasons, but perhaps the biggest reason, at least for this writer, is this: Would God really provoke war causing millions of people to die just so God’s son could come? People already struggle with understanding how God works, a struggle which does not and cannot yield solid answers because nothing God does make sense.
A God who would allow mass destruction of his/her own people doesn’t fit the mold, perception and expectation of a loving, merciful God. While humans may take issue with other people because of their race, ethnicity, sexual identity, sex or any other issues for which Christians turn up their noses, many of us have been taught that God is a parent, a parent who chastises us and chastises us severely, but that God loves and cherishes us.
Dispensationalist theology does not allow that kind of God-perception.
Dispensationalists may be happy about what the president did this week, but there are others of us who are shaking in our boots. If a nuclear war erupts, who will be left standing? If Jesus comes, what will Jesus do? What do the dispensationalists expect Jesus to do?
It is clear that there are almost as many sects of Christianity as there are ethnic groups in the world, and all of them believe their theology is “the truth.”
Some are celebrating what the president did. I wonder if Jesus himself is likewise celebrating, or if he is shaking his head, asking, as he did in the scriptures, “How much longer must I be with you?” when the disciples showed they did not understand who this Jesus was, what he stood for and what he expected.
Religion is supposed to liberate us, but it feels like too many Christians are enslaved to a theology that has severed itself from the lessons Jesus taught. What the president did is likely to cause mass destruction, and that any person who says he/she loves God celebrates that possibility is very troubling indeed.
Rev. Dr. Susan K Smith is the founder and director of Crazy Faith Ministries. She is available for speaking. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.