American (and many other) Evangelical Christians worry like dogs over a bone why it is that US President George W. Bush is personally committed to a two-state solution which sees “Israel and Palestine living side by side.”
Why, they ask, is he pursuing a Middle East policy whose ultimate goal, and even the path towards achieving that goal, so obviously puts at risk the very existence of the State of Israel?
How, they fret, can a born-again Christian countenance such a thing? Isn’t he aware of the enormous injustice this plan visits on the Jewish people? Doesn’t he know the biblical promises granting exclusive ownership of this land to the people of Israel? Where is his fear of the God Who has vowed to judge the nations that divide up His land?
For heaven’s sake, isn’t President Bush a Christian Zionist!?
The answers to some of these questions are complex.
But the answer to the last one is a simple “No.”
Mr. Bush is a Christian.
He professes Christianity; he is on record as having committed his life to Christ in the presence of credible and respected witnesses like Arthur Blessit and Billy Graham. A pastor who was among a group of church leaders who laid hands on Bush when he was still state governor and prayed for God to “put the mantle of a champion” on him, described the future president as a man “whose heart gravitates towards the things of the Lord.”
Mr. Bush is a daily Bible reader, has participated in intensive Bible study courses, and hates to miss church. Although no theologian or tele-evangelist, he is transparently unashamed of the Gospel of Christ and has often confessed his faith in Jesus before other men (Luke 12:8).
Asked publicly and directly, shortly before becoming the 43rd president of the United States, if he was born again, Mr. Bush answered with an unequivocal “yes.” Asked how he knew, he quoted Romans 10:9 word for word: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shat be saved.”
“I have been changed inside. My life has been transformed. Jesus is my Lord,” he declared.
Indeed, there is a great deal of evidence to support Mr. Bush’s claim to being a Christian president.
A great deal of other evidence shows just as clearly, however, that he is not a Christian Zionist president.
There is no doubt that Mr. Bush cares deeply about Israel. He has called the Jewish state one of America’s “important friends” whose safety and security is “a top foreign policy priority” of his presidency.
At the onset of his first term in office he announced that his administration would “be steadfast in supporting Israel against terrorism and violence, and in seeking the peace for which all Israelis pray.”
And he cannot be faulted on keeping that pledge. Nor has any other American president given Israel as much consistent support and leeway to act in areas that also impact on American foreign policy as has George W. Bush. Virtually from day one in the White House he enabled Israel to wage its war on terror by refraining from the pressure and manipulative tactics his predecessors frequently employed against Jerusalem.
Instead of calling for Israeli “restraint” as others regularly did, Mr. Bush had his officials coin and consistently use the noncommittal phrase “Israel has the right to defend herself but must keep in mind the consequences of its actions.”
Mr. Bush cares deeply about Israel. I would say he probably loves Israel. He has taken some substantial political risks to support this small nation, standing with her when virtually no other country on earth has been ready to do so.
This means he is a good supporter and a good friend of Israel.
But he is not a Christian Zionist.
If he were a Christian Zionist, President Bush would:
- Support Israel’s God-given right to all the covenanted land, including Gaza, Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights.
- Believe that God’s hand was behind the issuing of the Balfour Declaration in 1917; in its ratification by the League of Nations in 1920; in the United Nations Partition Plan of 1947; and in Israel’s military victories in 1948-9; 1967 and 1973.
- See the hand of God in the unprecedented and incomparable return of the Jews to their land, and in the miraculous return of their land to the Jews, including very much the return of the “occupied territories,” Samaria, Judea, Gaza and the Golan Heights.
- See the unrelenting effort of the Islamic and secular worlds to remove the Jew from their lands and to persecute them everywhere as a satanic attempt to destroy them.
- Believe that it is God’s will that the Jews remain in those lands and that the gentile nations, including the United States, commit to keeping them there.
Mr. Bush does not believe in accordance with these things and it is neither realistic nor fair for Christian Zionists to judge and condemn him for this.
Before God opened my eyes to Israel as a young man, I was a born again Christian born and raised by born again parents and surrounded by born again siblings. I had been taught a great deal about what it means to walk the Christian walk and to live for God. No one who knew me would have questioned my faith in Jesus.
But about God’s purposes for the people and land of Israel I was completely unaware.
The vast, vast majority of Jesus-loving Bible-believing Christians on this planet are living out their lives totally oblivious to Israel’s still central place in God’s unfolding plan of redemption.
President Bush is in the ranks with these millions and millions of Christians.
There is little point, and little headway to be gained, in lambasting him for this. As has happened with past presidents, aggressive Zionist lobbying is more likely to harden Mr. Bush’s heart than soften it.
Far better that we intensify our fasting and our prayers, earnestly and relentlessly petitioning the only One Who is able to open the president’s eyes to do so, and quickly. President Bush does not have much time left in office.
Then write to him, repeatedly even, not to attack him but respectfully urging him to take another look at this issue, starting on his knees and in the pages of the Bible that foretell the restoration of Israel in our day.
“Please Mr. Bush, ask God to show you in His Word what it is that He is doing in and with Israel, and how He would have you, as the man He placed in the White House for such a time as this, flow with the unfolding of His plan.”