Book Review of “More Desired than Our Owne Salvation” by Robert O. Smith
Smith, program director for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America/Middle East and North Africa and co-moderator of the Palestine-Israel Ecumenical Forum of the World Council of Churches, correctly traces the roots of American Christian Zionism to English Puritanism and Calvinism and the theology of premillenial dispensationalism. This influential hermeneutic of scriptural interpretation gained momentum through the popular writings of Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHay; then was further propelled by Rev. John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel.
Unfortunately, Smith wears his biases on his sleeve rather than dispassionately describing and chronicling the story promised in his title. He posits that “fundamental presumptions about Israel’s innocence and collective immorality of
Palestinians have been conflated with general suspicions of Islam, suspicions developed through Western Christian history.”Smith berates American Christian Zionist leaders whom he portrays as lunatics, heralding God’s judgments with an apocalyptic literalism. He alludes to Hagee as a “veteran bigot” trying to advance “God’s foreign policy,” which warns against Islamism and its agenda for the destruction of Israel and death to Jews and Christians.
Smith claims that American Protestant Zionists keep alive John Calvin and Martin Luther’s identification of “the pope and the Turk” as the two heads of the anti-Christ. He portrays anti-Zionists such as former president Jimmy Carter and former CIA analyst Kathleen Christison as defenders of intellectual integrity who rightly stand up against an undeserved “affinity for Israel.”
Despite his stated intention to “fully comprehend the sources of American affinity for the state of Israel,” his work fails even to mention the possibility of Christian Zionist presumptions being valid. He ignores the historic Jewish struggle against Arab nationalism with its Islamist undercurrents as he does the dangers to the Jewish people presented by the surrounding Arab states and Iran, including voices such as Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallahand the Muslim Brotherhood’s Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi both of whom have called for the death of all Jews, or the demands to obliterate Israel in the Hamas and Palestine Liberation Organization charters. His omission of these historic facts, which deeply influence the theological outlook of Christian Zionists, renders this work an unsound and untrustworthy account of its subject.
Reprinted with author’s permission from ME Forum