A leading Anglican theologian is arguing that the reason younger evangelicals are distancing themselves from supporting Israel, including the theological underpinnings for doing so, is in part because of mass media derision of their “immoral” parents.
Before a small crowd of journalists, Christian and Jewish thinkers, and Israel advocates at a gathering at MindSpace in The Washington Post building on Monday, sponsored by the Christian foreign policy journal Providence, Gerald McDermott, Anglican Chair of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, recounted his experiences as the lone pro-Israel voice at the Christ at the Checkpoint conference, which is usually held in Bethlehem, Jesus’ birthplace, but occurred last fall in Oklahoma City.
With its strong pro-Palestine bent, critics say the conference is aimed at turning younger Christians away from the pro-Israel theological paradigm that presently dominates American evangelical Christianity.
Yet millennial evangelicals are increasingly distancing themselves from modern Israel, the Anglican theologian said, in part because they want to distance themselves from their parents, who tend to support Israel enthusiastically, he said in response to a question from The Christian Post about why recent polling data indicates waning support for the Jewish state among younger Christians. CP asked if this trend is a reaction against what they see as uncritically blind, total support for Israel through figures such as San Antonio pastor John Hagee, an outspoken Christian Zionist and the founder of Christians United for Israel.
“Their parents are roundly criticized in our culture for being uneducated, and for being, now, at this point in our culture, immoral. For their opposition to gay marriage, that’s sort of a leading reason. And young people don’t want to be thought of as bad people,” McDermott explained.
Survey data from LifeWay that was published in December 2017 revealed that 77 percent of evangelicals ages 65 and older said they supported the existence, security and prosperity of Israel, whereas only 58 percent of evangelicals ages 18 to 34 said the same. “For the most part, younger evangelicals are indifferent about Israel,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, observed at the time.
The shift is not just political but theological, as younger Christians don’t see a biblical connection between the land of Israel and the modern nation-state, in addition to the ongoing role of the Jewish people in salvation history.
University and college professors have played an important role in this, McDermott said Monday, adding that millennial evangelicals are also more concerned with social justice than their parents.
Their parents recognize that there are many types of “social justice” and some of what is passed off as justice is not, he continued, as some forms actually hurt rather than help the poor, and the form many millennials support is inextricably linked to left-wing politics.
During their formative university years, he continued, “what little media they take in, and it’s mostly social media, rather than The New York Times or The Washington Post, but The New York Times and The Washington Post trickle down into social media. And what they hear there over and over again is the standard Palestinian narrative.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Brandon Showalter