I’m not talking about the traditional political support of the nation that evangelicals in the United States are known for. I’m talking about something that goes way beyond that.
NAR people often wear the Star of David on necklaces. They participate in Jewish religious feasts. They take pilgrimages to Israel, where they hold large prayer gatherings and blow shofars (a Jewish trumpet made of a ram’s horn). Some even move to Israel.
This behavior all looks unusual, or even fanatical, to more traditional evangelicals. So, you can only imagine how it would look to a secular person. Well, during a recent conversation with a news reporter, she asked me for my opinion about the NAR movement and its obsessive focus on Israel. Here is what I told her.
Charismatic Christians, in general, have always been very supportive of the nation of Israel and have wanted to “bless” the Jewish people. They have put a strong emphasis on knowing and appreciating the “Jewish roots” of their faith. They have also anticipated the end-time fulfillment of Bible prophecies about a large-scale conversion of Jewish people who will accept Jesus as the Messiah.
That being said, I do not believe their motives for supporting the nation of Israel and Jewish people are always entirely altruistic. A major reason why many charismatic Christians support the nation of Israel is because they believe that, if they do so, they personally (and their churches) will be blessed by God. They often cite the Old Testament in support of this belief—verses such as this portion of Genesis 12:3: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse” and also Psalm 122:6: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May those who love you be secure.’”
So, you can see how this charismatic practice of supporting Israel in order to receive personal blessing meshes with other charismatic teachings, such as the “Prosperity Gospel,” that emphasize that God wants all Christians to be blessed (that is, prosper financially and enjoy perfect physical health).
But here is the NAR twist on the traditional charismatic teaching. This video from GOD TV shows Wes Hall–a leader in the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City, Missouri–teaching that the reason to pray for Israel is because it is God’s strategy for releasing “breakthrough” to cities and nations (that is, bringing God’s physical kingdom to earth), and it is also God’s strategy for bringing supernatural power to the church: So, you can see that, in the NAR movement, the reasons for “blessing” and “praying” for Israel go beyond receiving personal blessing and become about a “strategy” for taking “dominion”–in the form of sociopolitical control.
And what may surprise many in the NAR movement is to find out that some NAR leaders have moved away from the traditional evangelical and charismatic view that God’s millennial kingdom will be centered on national Israel. Instead, they believe NAR leaders will bring in God’s kingdom. Thus, they have rejected the traditional evangelical futurist eschatology and have adopted an NAR form of “partial preterism.” In other words, these NAR leaders have a vastly different view of the role of Israel in the end time than traditional charismatics–and these charismatics are in the dark.
This shift in NAR teaching about the nation of Israel is explained in the NAR book Victorious Eschatology by Harold Eberle and Martin Trench (see Section 5 of the book). I believe NAR apostle C. Peter Wagner also holds to this emerging NAR eschatology since he endorsed this book.
Yet, even though a growing number of NAR leaders do not see a future for national Israel, they continue to talk about Israel and the Jewish people a lot. Why? I believe it is because they know their audience. They are trying to appeal to charismatic Christians who, historically, have believed that it is important to support Israel. So, by talking a lot about Israel and Jewish people, NAR leaders can keep their charismatic followers on board with the NAR dominionist agenda.
But if you pay close attention, you will notice that many of these NAR leaders do not talk about a future for Israel as a nation. Instead they talk about a spiritual future for the Jewish people–a time they envision when there will be a massive “awakening” of Jewish people to belief in Jesus and the NAR version of Christianity.
In other words, when NAR leaders speak about “supporting Israel,” they are equivocating on terms. “Equivocation” is a deceptive tactic commonly used by NAR leaders. I wrote about this tactic in my last post.
In short, NAR leaders may be referring to supporting the Jewish people spiritually whereas their more traditional charismatic followers may be referring to supporting Israel both spiritually and nationally. They’re doing a classic bait-and-switch.
These are my thoughts about the NAR movement and Israel. But what do you think? Leave a comment and let me know!
– By Holly Pivec