Represented by literally hundreds of small denominations and churches today, particularly in America, evangelical Christian Zionist messianism is today a formidable force and a major actor in global politics. It exercises an enormous clout in the current Bush administration in America. George Bush, too, himself can be characterized as an arch upholder of this ideology, and his policies in the Middle East and elsewhere clearly reflect or tally with the Christian Zionist messianic agenda. Firmly supportive of Zionism, Israel and Israeli expansionism, Christian Zionist messianism is today one of the principal fountainheads of Islamophobia on the global scene.
This paper provides a general overview of the ideology of Christian Zionist messianism, focusing, in particular, on the way Islam and Muslims are depicted as an integral part—in the role of the antagonistic ‘Other—of this ideology. It shows how Christian Zionist messianic expectations generate enormously destructive imperialistic and militaristic tendencies that threaten to drown the world in an unprecedented global war, with Muslims being projected as the principal ‘enemy’. The implications of this dangerous ideology, a combination of centuries of white racism and Islamophobia, Zionist claims to supremacy and aims at global domination and the machinations of the present global capitalistic order, for Muslims, and for the world at large, are then sought to be outlined. This it does by looking specifically at the writings and activities of one of the leading American Christian Zionist ideologues of today, John Hagee, senior pastor of the Cornerstone Church in San Antonia in Texas, in America’s notorious ‘Bible-belt’, which is also the bastion of white racism and supremacy in America.

Introduction
Approximately a tenth of the American population is today a devoted member of the cult of Christian Zionist messianism, writes the noted scholar-activist Dan Cohn-Sherbook, himself a Jew and Profesor of Judaism at the University of Wales in a recently published book, The Politics of Apocalypse—The History and Influence of Christian Zionism. ‘It is the fastest growing religious movement in Christianity today’, he writes. Many followers of the cult are from the middle and upper-middle classes, followers of televangelists who wield enormous political and economic clout.

Christian Zionist messianists are impelled by an imperialistic vision, of Jesus’ impending arrival on earth as the Messiah, when he shall, so they believe, wipe out all his enemies (all non-Christians, presumably) and establish his global dominion, with his capital at Jerusalem. Meanwhile, Christian Zionists believe that they, as allegedly God’s chosen people, will be spared the horrors of the global war that shall precede Jesus’ advent, and will be miraculously wafted up to heaven, where they shall watch the final destruction of the world.

Christian Zionists believe that Jesus can only return the world once the Jews colonise Palestine. This belief is based on the contentious claim that God had granted this land to the progeny of Abraham, through Isaac, that is the Jews, for eternity. This land is not restricted to the present borders of the state of Israel. Instead, Zionists, both Jewish and Christian, believe that a vast swathe of land, stretching from the Nile to the Euphrates, today inhabited by millions of Arab Muslims and Christians, belongs rightfully to the Jews, and so must be ethnically ‘cleansed’ of non-Jewish presence. Hence the justification they offer for their genocidal project aimed at the Arabs. Hence, too, their consistent backing to Israel, their generous funding of Jewish settlements in Palestine, and their enormous pressure on successive American governments to adopt rigorously pro-Israel and anti Palestinian policies.
Cohn-Sherbook traces the origins of Christian Zionism to the changing attitude of Christian groups towards the Jews following the Protestant Revolution. The early Catholic Church justified the witch-hunt of the Jews, labeling them as alleged Christ-killers. However, numerous Protestant sects, while equally vehemently anti-Jewish, believed that the Jews needed to colonise Palestine before Jesus would re-appear in the world to save it. This was, and still is, by no means a generous acceptance of the Jews. Rather, they believed, as Christian Zionists today do, that only those Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah would be saved. The rest would ally themselves with the Anti-Christ and would be defeated by Jesus and his forces and, consequently, would be sent off to eternal damnation in the fires of hell.
From the seventeenth century onwards, Cohn-Sherbook shows, numerous European, and, later American, Protestant churches began evolving schemes to settle the Jews in Palestine. This was also seen as a convenient way of getting rid of the Jewish presence in Europe. They petitioned various European powers to back this scheme. By the early nineteenth century, numerous British administrators had been won round to this idea, impelled, no doubt, also by a motive to undermine the Ottoman Empire, which at that time controlled Palestine, and by a deep-rooted aversion to Islam.

Increasingly, Christian Zionists began to join hands with secular Jewish Zionists, whose plans to settling Jews in Israel had nothing to do with any messianic hopes, but, rather, arose as a response to the centuries’-old persecution of Jews by European Christians. (In contrast, Cohn-Sherbook rightly notes, ‘In Arab lands, Jews had flourished for centuries […] [while] in European countries Jewry had been subject to oppression and persecution.’
Ties between secular Jewish Zionists and Christian Zionists to pursue the common project of Jewish colonization of Palestine were strengthened by the support given to Theodore Herzl (b.1860), the Hungarian Jew who is regarded as the father of modern-day Zionism. Cohn-Sherbook traces in considerable detail the course of this close collaboration down to the present-day, describing the strong political and financial links between Christian and Israeli/Jewish Zionists and also the enormous clout of the Zionist lobby in American political circles.

Christian Zionism, based on a virulently anti-Islamic agenda, is a major hurdle to peace not just in West Asia but globally, too. Indeed, some Christian Zionists even ardently wish (and work for) a final global war or Armageddon, in the belief that this would accelerate their hoped-for wafting up to heaven and the subsequent arrival of Jesus. Christian Zionist messianism is a call for global war. The belief that Christianity is the sole truth, that all other faiths are ‘Satanic’ or ‘false’, that the Jews must all gather in Palestine to fulfill so-called Biblical prophecies, and that a grand global war will soon erupt leading to the massacre of hundreds of millions and heralding the ‘second coming’ of Jesus, who will establish his Christian kingdom extending till the four corners of the world, clearly indicate the hate-driven, global expansionist project of Christian Zionism.

In his remarkable book, The Cross and the Crescent: The Rise of American Evangelism and the Future of Muslims, Muhammad Arif Zakaullah brings out in considerable detail how Christian Zionist messianists have specifically framed and targeted Muslims as allegedly being in league with the Anti-Christ and against whom Jesus and the Christians must fight in a bloody war of unprecedented dimensions in the last days. This explains, Zakaullah writes, their unstinting support to Israel and its brutal suppression of the Palestinians, and their fervent backing of America’s invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan and its so-called ‘war on terror’. Zakaullah quotes several leading American Christian messianic evangelists as describing Islam and Muslims in lurid colours and branding it as irredeemably ‘anti-Christian’. Not surprisingly, he writes, they have been among the most fierce backers of America’s imperialist misadventures that many Muslims see as directed against them. American imperialism is thus sought to be given a suitable ‘Christian’ sanction, and is presented as working to usher in Jesus’ triumphant return to the world. War and bloodshed on an unimaginable scale, mainly against Muslims, and not peace and reconciliation, American Christian fundamentalists seem to believe, will herald the eventual establishment of the Kingdom of God, the rule of supposedly pious Christians all over the globe.

John Hagee: Ideologue of Christian Zionist Messianic Imperialism and Advocate Of Cosmic War Against Islam and Muslims

John Hagee is today recognized the world over as one of the leading ideologues of contemporary Christian Zionist messianism. He is the founder and pastor of the Cornerstone Church, in Texas, USA, which claims some 18,000 active members. As with numerous other similar American Christian fundamentalist preachers, his church is richly endowed and media savvy. Hagee is the president of the ‘Global Evangelism’ media company that broadcasts his daily programmes on television and radio throughout the USA and around the world. He is the author of numerous books on Christian Zionism, some of which have been reprinted by Christian fundamentalist publishers abroad as well.

Final Dawn Over Jerusalem is one of Hagee’s major writings on Christian Zionism that well exemplifies the imperialist agenda that lies at its very core. The aim of the book is to defend the Israeli occupation of Palestine, to denounce those who seek to protest Israeli atrocities, and to advocate the cause of ‘Greater Israel’, all this in the name of Christianity and premised on the notion of the Jews as being allegedly God’s ‘Chosen People’.

Racism is integral to the Christian Zionist message, as Hagee makes amply clear. The Bible, Hagee, says, describes the Jews as ‘the apple of God’s eye’ [Zech 2:8]. He quotes the Bible as addressing the Jews and declaring, ‘For you are a holy people to the LORD your God’ and ‘the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth’ [Deut.14:2]. This means, so Hagee argues, that those who harm the Jews or the state of Israel or stand in the way of the design of ‘Greater Israel’ will ‘experience the instant wrath of God’. To those who dare to challenge the oppressive Zionist state, Hagee announces, ‘The man or nation that lifts a voice or hand against Israel invites the wrath of God’. Such people will, Hagee insists, be ‘cursed’ by God.

Hagee’s notion of God thus appears to be that of a tribal Jewish deity, who functions as a willing tool in the pursuit of Jewish expansionism. The Bible was written by Jewish hands, and given that, as many liberal Christians would themselves concede, much of it is a human product, numerous Biblical verses were written in order to legitimise the interests of the community from which its writers were drawn. This would seem obvious to any discerning layman, but Biblical literalists like Hagee vehemently disagree. For them every word of the Bible is sacrosanct and divine. Biblical literalism is pressed into the service of the Christian Zionist messianic imperialist and racist agenda. Drawing upon numerous verses of the Bible, Hagee argues, ‘God watches over Israel as a protective parent hovers over an only child’. ‘The nation of Israel’, he makes so bold as to declare, ‘was created by a sovereign act of God. All other nations were created by an act of war or a declaration of men, but Israel was intentionally created by God so that He would have a physical place of inheritance on the earth’. Accordingly, Hagee would have us believe that for this god, who is seen as in need of a ‘physical place’ for himself, non-Jews or Gentiles, are second-rate human beings or less, and so can easily be dispensed with if they are seen as coming in the way of Jewish imperialism.

The tribal Jewish version of God that Hagee presents appears entirely unjust and arbitrary, far from being impartial in the way he deals with His creation. Given the fact that the God of the Biblical literalist imagination is a Jewish deity, and not the universal God who looks upon His entire creation impartially, he is seen as blessing Jewish conquests of territories of their enemies. Thus, quoting the Bible, Hagee writes that God gave the land of ‘Greater Israel’, a vast swathe of land stretching from Egypt all the way till Iraq, to the Jews, descendants of Isaac, forever. That being the case, Hagee suggests that people living in those territories, millions of Arabs, both Muslims and Christians, have no right to live there or else must accept to live under Jewish rule. Although Hagee does not say this explicitly, what this means is that those who refuse to accept Jewish rule must, therefore, be either killed or expelled.

The god of Hagee’s imagination appears as an entirely whimsical real estate agent. ‘God established Israel’s national geographic boundaries’, Hagee writes. ‘The exact borders of Israel are detailed in Scripture just as our heavenly Father dictated them’, he goes on, adding, ‘The divine Surveyor drove the original stakes into Judean soil and decreed that no one should ever change these property lines. The real estate contract and lands covenants were signed in blood and stand to this very hour’. Hence, he argues, ‘Jews have the absolute right as mandated by God to the land of Israel and, more specifically, to the city of Jerusalem’. Hence, he suggests, Palestinians have no claim to their own historical land, and must make way for Jewish occupiers.

Hagee’s defence of Zionist imperialism goes to ridiculous lengths. Laughable as this may sound, he argues, ‘Israel has a Spy in the sky’—God Himself. God, he claims, provides Israel, the Jewish people and the state of Israel, with special protection. ‘No nation in the world can match the defensive force guarding the State of Israel. The archangel Michael has a special assignment to guard Israel’. And those who, for any reason oppose Israel, and this includes Palestinians fighting Israeli occupation and oppression, are said to incur God’s wrath. ‘The Lord stands watch in the darkest night with an eye trained on the nation of Israel and, more specifically, Jerusalem. Those who fight with Israel fight with Him’, Hagee asserts.

So central is Israel to Hagee’s tribalistic version of God that he goes to the extent of arguing that the fate of each and every person on the face of the planet depends essentially on his or her attitude to the Jews. ‘Prosperity or punishment depends on how we treat Israel’, he alleges, because, he claims, the Jews, as descendants of Abraham ‘enjoy heavenly favour’. To back his claim he quotes the Bible as saying that when God entered into a covenant with Abra¬ham, He gave him an ‘awesome promise’, saying, ‘I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed’ [Gen. 12:3]. Hence, Hagee insists, the United States, and, indeed, anyone else who wishes to please God, must consistently engage in ‘compassionate support of the State of Israel’, adding that, ‘The quickest and most effective way to be on God’s side is to stand with the State of Israel and the Jewish people in their hour of need’. By doing this, he claims, one can win God’s favour, because, ‘God blesses the man or nation that blesses Israel or the Jewish people’.

At no time before, Hagee firmly believes, has support for Israel and Zionist imperialism, been more crucial than today. This is because, he claims, Jesus is returning to the world soon, and Israel must be protected in order to welcome the Messiah. Hagee’s image of Jesus in his ‘second coming’ bears no resemblance to the familiar notion of the suffering, loving Christ. Rather, in his description Jesus appears as a fierce warrior, rallying Christians to arms and heralding the final, global war, ironically in the name of the ‘Prince of Peace’. In the doomsday scenario that Hagee outlines, what he calls ‘fanatical attacks’ by Arabs on Israel, particularly Jerusalem, would mount. In response, Christians the world over, he says, must rally behind Israel. At this hour, he insists, ‘we must let the world know that if a line has to be drawn, it will be drawn around Christians as well as Jews. We are united and indivisible’.

The city of Jersualem, Hagee believes, is the crux of the final battle before Jesus’ ‘second coming’. This city, considered sacred by Jews, Muslims and Christians alike, has been ordained, so Hagee argues, by God to be ‘under the exclusive control of the Jewish people’ until Jesus arrives again. The final battle of Armageddon will, he writes, be centred on this city, with Arabs or Muslims seeking to wrest control of it from the Jews. In this regard, Hagee says, Christians, for their part, must staunchly defend Israel and must refuse any peace offers, such as allowing for a shared Jerusalem or joint control of the town by Jews and Arabs. In particular, he appeals to the United States to do everything in its power to back Israel and to crush its opponents, claiming this is the only way to win God’s favour. If America fails to do this, so he warns, it would be crushed by God Himself!

Quoting various verses of the Bible, Hagee describes what he sees as the unfolding of events of cosmic proportions, ushering in a global war the like of which has never been witnessed hitherto and heralding the ‘second coming of Jesus’. In this global war, he says, Muslims, whom he regards as followers of a ‘false’ religion, would ally with the Russians to fight against Israel. This would lead to a global nuclear war, with hundreds of millions being killed. At this point, the ‘Anti-Christ’ will appear, attack Jerusalem and will take over the reigns of the world, falsely claiming to usher in peace. But, this grand deception will not last long, and, instead, will only lead to even more devastating wars. At this time, Hagee says, Christians must defend, by every means possible, the Jews and Israel, and wage war against the armies of those opposed to God’s ‘Chosen Race’, the Jews. Only then can they be saved, he insists.

After years of global war and terrible destruction, Hagee writes, Jesus will be sent by God to deliver the world. Mounted on a white horse, he will arrive at the battlefield at Armageddon. Defeating the ‘Anti-Christ’ and his army, he will establish his global kingdom with his capital in Jerusalem, there to ‘rule and reign forever’. Hagee’s description of Jesus’ future global kingdom offers little cause to cheer for non-Christians, including, ironically, even the Jews whom he so ardently defends. It would, as he himself makes clear, be nothing short of a global Christian empire, and an antiquated one at that, with kings and queens and presidents still in place! How they would continue to be around when Jesus rules the whole world is a mystery that Hagee leaves unsolved.

Ruled by Jesus, Hagee writes, ‘Jerusalem, the apple of God’s eye, will become the joy of the world. The city will become the international worship center, and people from all over the world will make pilgrimages to worship in the holy temple. Kings, queens, princes and presidents shall come to the Holy City’ to adore Jesus. Presumably, these all will be Christians themselves, for Hagee quotes the Bible as predicting that ‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow […] and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’.

In a more recent book on the same subject, titled Jerusalem Countdown: A Prelude to War, Hagee further elaborates on the theme of a global war against Islam and Muslims that he appeals to Christians and Jews to jointly launch, arguing that this is precisely what Jesus wants to happen before his Second Coming. Not surprisingly, and like other Christian Zionist messianic evangelists, Hagee is convinced that there can be absolutely no room for dialogue with Muslims, principally because, so he argues, Christians and Jews, on the one hand, and Muslims, on the other, do not worship the same God. In fact, he goes so far as to claim that the God of the Jews and the Christians is the diametrical opposite of the Muslim God. Accordingly, he presents Islam in the most lurid colours. He claims that Islam aims at nothing short of exterminating all non-Muslims and establishing a one-world Islamic government. Islam, he argues, is ‘a doctrine of death’ which promotes ‘terrorism’ , He approvingly quotes George Bush as having declared that America ‘is at war with Islamic fascists’ and insists that ‘This is a religious war’ and that ‘there is no room for compromise’.

Hagee writes that America, and ‘Christendom’ more generally, along with the Jews, are now deeply involved in the final war that will supposedly herald the return of Jesus as messiah, a war in which Christians and Jews are pitted against Muslims. All Christians (and Jews), he asserts, must participate whole-heartedly in this cosmic war because, he says, if America loses the war,

‘[T]he Law of Shariah, the Islamic law, will rule America and the Western world. Christian churches and synagogues will be burned to the ground. Every Christian who refuses to denounce Jesus to accept Allah will be decapitated […] Radical Islam does not want us to be quiet—they want us to be dead.’

Hagee, like many of his fellow Christian fundamentalists, fervently exhorts America to take the lead in bloody attacks against Muslim states that are opposed to Israeli brutalities, because he sees these as fundamentally ‘anti-Christian’. In this regard, he singles out Iran, one of the most militarily powerful Muslim countries in the world and certainly the most vocally opposed to American imperialism, for particular attack. He claims that Iran is rapidly building up a nuclear stockpile, which it intends, so he says, to use to bomb and destroy Israel and perhaps America. Before that can happen, he insists, America must take the initiative and invade and destroy Iran, particularly targeting its nuclear facilities. This step, he argues, would actually be ‘part of God’s plan for the future of Israel and the entire world’, in that it would drive the world to the global disaster of Armageddon, ‘the countdown that will usher in the end of the world’. This will be, so he claims, followed by the rise of the Anti-Christ, and then, finally, the Second Coming of Jesus, when all non-Christians, including Muslims, will be slain. In short, a global war against Islam and Muslims is precisely what Hagee, like many others of his ilk, want to see unleashed in the hope that their wild messianic expectations will thereby be fulfilled.
Conclusion

Based on a fundamental hatred for Islam and Muslims, a legacy of many centuries, Christian Zionist messianism has emerged as one of the most pressing and disastrous threats and challenges of our times. With the massive financial and political clout that it wields, particularly in America, it is the new face of Western imperialism, one that is inherently and fiercely opposed to people of other faiths and even to Christians who do not subscribe to its bloody doctrines.

Islam and Muslims have a special place in the ideology of Christian Zionist messianic fascism: as alleged ‘enemies’ of God. Based on this bizarre belief, theological sanction is sought for bloody wars against Muslims the world over. This ideology has instigated and is being used to justify American (and Israeli) imperialist aggression in many Muslim countries today, and possibly against Iran in the near future. Clearly, Muslims need to be aware of this dangerous project and take appropriate measures. So, also, do other non-Christians, who, like Muslims, are seen as doomed to hell by Christian fundamentalists. And so, too, do other Christians, who relate to their religious traditions in different ways and who firmly believe that the Christian Zionist messianic project represents a fundamental betrayal of the message of Jesus Christ, ironically a betrayal being so aggressively perpetrated in his name.

Source: al-shia.org

 


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