Culture At Large

Can Jews and evangelicals get along?

Andy Rau

Here's a controversy-loaded question to ponder this weekend: what explains the strange love/hate relationship between evangelicals and the Jewish community?

I get nervous even thinking about that question, given all the politics and history behind it. But in the above article, Pepperdine professor James Wilson asks a good question: why do evangelicals seem so positive about the Jewish community and the state of Israel, and why isn't that sentiment reciprocated as much as you'd expect?

Wilson seems to boil the answer down largely to politics—the old conservative/liberal divide, in which a predominately liberal Jewish community is uncomfortable with the politics of a mostly conservative evangelical movement. But there's a lot more bubbling beneath the surface of this issue, as Wilson notes. For one, there's the dispensationalist movement, which gives the state of Israel and Jewish people a prominent place in End Times theology. (Some evangelicals might think of this as flattering, but I've always thought that playing a major role in the theology of somebody else's religion would feel a little... awkward.) And of course there is more anti-semitism lurking in some corners of the evangelical world than we'd like to admit.

I certainly don't have this one figured out. I want to steer clear of a political debate, but I'd be interested to hear your take on a few points:

  • Do you buy into Wilson's claim—that there's a love/hate relationship between evangelicals and Jews?
  • Does your theology of the End Times, whatever it is, positively influence your attitude toward Judaism? How about toward the state of Israel?
  • Is it even appropriate to be talking about "the evangelicals" and "the Jews" in such broad terms? Both groups encompass a great diversity of views.
  • What do you think needs to happen to improve the relationship between evangelicals and the Jewish community?

Topics: Culture At Large, Theology & The Church, Theology, News & Politics, World