While Christian Zionism has long claimed a special link with the Jews and the state of Israel, the identification with Israel has crossed over into a form of “ethnonationalism” among some evangelicals, according to Matt Westbrook of Drew University.
Westbrook, who presented a paper at the SSSR conference, argued that “contemporary Christian Zionism seems to be moving very far from the rhetorical and emotional habitat of early 20th century Christian Zionism” in that the former shows a new “sense of ownership of the land of Israel” and a concern for the “well-being of the Jewish people—to the point of sacrifice.” In studying Christian Zionist blogs and attending events sponsored by the International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem, Westbrook found a number of leaders and followers of the movement stating that they are ready and willing to die for Israel before they would die for the U.S., particularly given what they believe to be the degenerate state of both American culture and the current political leadership.
The fact that Christian Zionism has not only gained access to the Israeli government, but has recently found a place in its political structure through the Christian Allies Caucus in the Knesset has brought the movement new acceptance among both politicians and Orthodox Jews, Westbrook adds. The move toward greater identification with Israel is led by Messianic Jews and Pentecostals, particularly those promoting a “One New Man” theology, which entails a mutual embrace of Jews and Christians as a stepping stone to Jewish conversion. All this intensifies a quest for Christians to find their “Hebrew roots,” usually through onamastics (the study of surnames) and genetic testing.
For instance, Messianic Jewish broadcaster Jonathan Bermis promotes “advanced genetic technology” to confirm the presence of Jewish genes, a process that in itself is seen as a sign of the end times as God gathers his chosen race to himself.