|A belief among some Christians that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land, and the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, is in accordance with Biblical prophecy|
Christian Zionism is described by Stephen Sizer as follows:
Christian Zionism is the largest, most controversial and most destructive lobby within Christianity. It bears primary responsibility for perpetuating tensions in the Middle East, justifying Israel’s apartheid colonialist agenda and for undermining the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.
The origins of the movement can be traced to the early 19th century when a group of eccentric British Christian leaders began to lobby for Jewish restoration to Palestine as a necessary precondition for the return of Christ. The movement gained traction from the middle of the 19th century when Palestine became strategic to British, French and German colonial interests in the Middle East. Proto-Christian Zionism therefore preceded Jewish Zionism by more than 50 years.
Christian Zionism as a modern theological and political movement embraces the most extreme ideological positions of Zionism. It has become deeply detrimental to a just peace between Palestine and Israel. It propagates a worldview in which the Christian message is reduced to an ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism. In its extreme form, it places an emphasis on apocalyptic events leading to the end of history rather than living Christ’s love and justice today.
Followers of Christian Zionism are convinced that the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 and the capture of Jerusalem in 1967 were the miraculous fulfilment of God’s promises made to Abraham that he would establish Israel as a Jewish nation forever in Palestine.
Joined at the heart
Burgeoning Christian Zionist organisations such as the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ), Christian Friends of Israel (CFI) and Christians United for Israel (CUFI) wield considerable influence on Capitol Hill, claiming a support base in excess of 50 million true believers. This means there are now at least ten times as many Christian Zionists as Jewish Zionists. And their European cousins are no less active in the Zionist Hasbarafia, lobbying for Israel, attacking its critics and thwarting the peace process. The United States and Israel are often portrayed as Siamese twins, joined at the heart, sharing common historic, religious and political values.
Dylan's Universal Kingdom
Part of the late 1970s evangelical revival in the U.S. was a growth of Zionism among American Christians. It dovetailed with the migration of millions of ex-passive and ex-Democratic voters into the hawkish Republican Party. It was also connected with the popularity of Hal Lindsey’s book "The Late Great Planet Earth", which depicted Israel and the communist Soviet and Chinese governments as military opponents in the soon-to-occur Battle of Armageddon. Hence politics and religion, nationalism and exegesis, were combined into a potent movement. "The Moral Majority" of Jerry Falwell and the "700 Club" of Pat Robertson were two institutional manifestations of this movement.
This was the national religious context at the time Bob Dylan was converted to Christ in 1978-79. It would have made some sense if he had become a new leader of the Christian Zionist movement. He is Jewish. Even before his conversion, he believed in God and was familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures. In Hibbing, Minnesota, his parents were leaders in the local Hadassah (a women’s Zionist organisation) and B’nai B’rith. He spent some of his boyhood summers near Webster, Wisconsin, attending Herzl Camp, a Jewish summer camp with a Zionist focus. He visited Israel in the early 1970s. He was interested in "End Times" prophecy and embraced the premillennial dispensational interpretation of Lindsey. And yet Dylan did not become a leading Christian Zionist. Why not?
The Old Testament promises cannot simply be spiritualised or applied to the Church. That is too self-serving and not faithful to the scriptural record. Israel as an ethnic and historical entity did not disappear with the first advent and promises given to Israel did not simply vanish. Traditionally, Christians believe that in the "Last Days" there will be a consummation of those promises in a way that includes not only the Church but also Israel. Dylan and other believers think that Jesus Christ will reign from Jerusalem but it will not be a specifically Jewish kingdom. It will be a Universal Kingdom that includes the believing remnant of Israel. According to "Revelation" — one of Dylan’s favorite books — the New Jerusalem will bear the names of the twelve apostles of Christ and the twelve tribes of Israel.
In October 2016, Bob Dylan was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”
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