Wednesday, April 18, 2007 04/18/07-Four Thousand and Zion

In today's excerpt--with the Second Great Awakening in the early 1800s, American Protestants become focused on evangelizing Jews and re-establishing Zion:

" 'We have now entered upon that period which is immediately preparatory to the Millenium,' one Connecticut minister announced in 1815, describing a period in which all wars would cease, every community would have its church, and every family its daily consecration. Particular emphasis was placed on evangelizing the Jews, on uniting the Old Israel with the New. Proselytizing organizations, such as the Female Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews, flourished and expectations of mass conversions soared. ...

"The fascination that many American Protestants displayed towards the Jews did not stem from any extensive contact with them--some four thousand Jews lived in the United States at that time, roughly .04 percent of the total population--nor did it derive from a desire to befriend them personally. Indeed, some early evangelical writing contained comments that would certainly sound anti-Semitic today, including their insistence that all Jews ultimately be baptized. Yet whatever feelings they bore them as fellow citizens were distinct from the affection with which evangelists held the Jews as their cousins in faith and as agents of future redemption. By expediting the fulfillment of God's promises to repatriate the Jews to their homeland, Christians could re-create the conditions of Jewish sovereignty that existed in Jesus' time and so set the stage for his reappearance."

Michael B. Oren, Power, Faith, and Fantasy, Norton, 2007, pp. 86-88.


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