Theology and foreign policy

The influence of ‘end-time’ theology on the (middle Eastern) foreign policy of the US has been there for some time, certainly since the Reagan era. This article in the Guardian is a good precis of where things lie currently:

Sadly the eschatology behind it all – even the adjusted schemes – can only be historically traced back to 1830 or thereabouts; in its unquestioned support for Israel it embraces not a Jewish framework for eschatology, but a Hellenistic one.

The integrity of those who hold this kind of position is not what is at stake but it is the clear danger of any theology to justify our actions to control that is the concern.

6 thoughts on “Theology and foreign policy

  1. Something not mentioned in this article but that I’ve heard from the almost all Evangelical ‘prophets’ in the US is a real fear of and desire to keep out Islam. This approach has been used to endorse Brexit when speaking into the UK and all sort of border controls and of course Trump’s policies in the US. I am a lot more afraid of the rise of the far right than I am of Muslims and Islam. I have a strong conviction that Islam can be transformed and redeemed from within. I have had in the past a sort of vision of what that could look like! I am very weary of this prevailing Islamophobia in the church (which I actually think is more widespread than support for Trump of Brexit) and I think this also fits in with the article you wrote before about your dream of ‘revival’ coming out of a very uniform group. The diversity that Isaiah 25 mentions of ‘all people’s’ being brought up to the mountain of the Lord has somehow been lost. I think there will be a confusion as you suggest when the voices fuse but when true unity comes it will be a beautiful thing. I feel that involves Muslims and a deep love that we should have for them which God has given me personally. I only wish that many Christians could see them as God does and would welcome them in unequivocally to our country particularly thinking of refugees and share our wealth and privilege instead of trying to keep them out and turn them away! Sorry if I’ve gone a bit off track here.

    1. Joanna. In the Christian context a brave perspective! But a necessary one. It could be argued that Mohammed had some measure of ‘God’ revelation – monotheism in a polytheistic / animist context – but did not find a resonance in the Christian expression. Maybe Islam moved forward when they could establish a base in Constantinople pulling on the expression of Christendom with the cathedral located there.

      And certainly I consider that Christendom is what gives Islam its strength. The Christendom approach is that of ‘shariah’ law. The greater the ‘power’ resistance to Islam is present the greater the strength of Islam.

      Our battle is NEVER against flesh and blood… Any ‘Christian’ victory will not involve the shedding of others’ blood.

    2. Thanks Martin. The connection you find between rise of empire like Christendom and the strengthening of Islam is really fascinating and profound. In that condition the way of love and unity is lost. I totally agree that none of the transformation can come from shedding of blood or protectionism either. Both are counter to our faith.

  2. I’m afraid I wouldn’t be relying on the Daily Mail for a good precis on where the Brexit debate lay currently, nor would I be relying on the Guardian for any insight into American foreign policy and the middle east. Too much baggage I’m afraid. A point of view in search of a story to support it

    Oh, and…. “It is a belief, known as premillenial dispensationalism or Christian Zionism”


    blessings all

    1. Yes… journalism with a bias for sure in most cases. I have though for many years been following the influence of eschatological teaching into US policy and would hold that there is a strong element of what is in the article as pretty reflective of the situation. As for the terms:

      Dispensationalism is much stronger – and always has been – in the US than in Europe. Almost non-existent in many parts of mainland Europe. Scofield and then DL Moody being the forerunners for the likes of Lindsey, LaHaye etc. Also Pentecostalism just followed on the same track. The strength of it in the US is almost unbelievable.

      And I don’t think the term ‘Christian Zionism’ is inaccurate either in this case – of course there can be support for Israel, a belief in pre-millennialism that is not based on that approach, but the reflection is on what is behind the beliefs such as was described in the article.

    2. thanks Martin, I don’t deny premillenialism is more prevalent in the US than Europe and also that Christian Zionism is more prevalent in the US than in Europe. My point (other than don’t trust the Guardian reporting on Israel) was that it is over-simplifying things to conflate the two terms

      The reality is always more subtle

      A couple of points:

      Reformed theology has a very strong voice in the US and historically has not identified with any particular eschatological position. Most baptists notionally A-millenial. I am not resident in this space and so it is possible they may be drifting toward a dispensational position. I wouldn’t know.

      Second, the charismatic church in the US with its roots in dispensationalism is by no means pure on this and I would even suggest is drifting away (in number of members) from a “get saved and get in the lifeboat” mentality toward a “transform your city” mindset that is practically a-millenial. Bethel Church with enormous global influence, would be a case in point.

      Third, the church in Europe may not be dispensational but nor does it have any influence whatsoever at the policy level in the public sphere.

      All this my subjective judgement of course

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