Sociopolitical prophecy must not be confused with personal and spiritual promise.

I greatly appreciate Dr. Hanna’s insistence that God has a distinct future in store for Israel. I can also agree that we must shun anti-Semitism in any form. I, too, believe we have an obligation to love and witness to all men, Jew and Gentile alike. However, a number of his points greatly trouble me.

The first is the way he presents the options: Either Christians should be pro-Israel to the point of condoning every act of the state of Israel, or they should be positive but impartial to all people with no special emphasis on Israel. Either you use Genesis 12:3 to condone all of Israel’s actions, or you follow the New Testament teaching that God has no favorites.

Hanna seems to think that most fundamentalists and evangelicals (dispensationalists especially) hold the former position. He urges the latter.

I do not agree with either view, nor believe they are the only options. Why can’t a Bible-believing Christian (1) recognize Israel as God’s chosen people (Deut. 7:6–8); (2) recognize that the establishment of the modern State of Israel is a fulfillment of prophecy (Ezek. 37; Isa. 43:5–6); (3) recognize Israel’s special position socially, politically, and economically in the kingdom (Ezek. 36:30, 33–38; Joel 3:18; Zech. 14:16–19; Amos 9:14–15; Isa. 49:22–23; 60:14–17; 61:6–7; Zech. 8:22–23); and (4) recognize Israel’s God-given right to the land (Deut. 28–30) without having to condone every specific act of the State of Israel? Hanna does not seem to consider that possibility, which seems to be the most biblically sound view of all.

I am also disturbed by what seem to be theological and biblical errors. Hanna urges us not to overemphasize Israel’s importance because the real people of God are the saved of all ages. They will share equally in the blessings of the kingdom, whether they be Jew, Arab, or whatever. I do not deny that the saved are the people of God. But we must also follow Scripture when it says Israel is God’s special inheritance (Deut. 7:6–8; Ps. 135:4; Isa. 41:8–9), and when the New Testament teaches that God has not cast off his people Israel (Rom. 11:1–2, 11, 25–27).

I think Hanna’s basic mistake is refusal to distinguish between the spiritual aspects of kingdom blessing and its socio-politico-economic aspects. Certainly all believers share equally in the spiritual blessings of the kingdom; that is true now as in the future. But that is not the issue at stake. Scripture teaches a special socio-politico-economic position for Israel in the kingdom. It also teaches that God has ordained a series of events, including the presence in and possession of the land by Israel, as preparatory to setting up the kingdom.

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I also find Hanna’s handling of the remnant confused. He is right that not the whole nation but only “a redeemed remnant of Jews will constitute the nucleus of a new nation of Israel in the kingdom age.” But he gives the impression that this means national Israel before the kingdom has no special right to the land because of unbelief. I find this unacceptable in view of Scriptures that show God has promised to bring Israel back to the land, even though in unbelief (Ezek. 37:8, 12–14; Zech. 12; Zech. 13:8–9). These same Scriptures indicate that Israel’s presence in the land as a nation is the first step in God’s plan to drive it back to himself.

In fact, does not the tribulation that will drive Israel to seek God presuppose its presence in the land as a nation? How, then, can Hanna seem to suggest that the truth of a redeemed remnant is grounds for removing unbelieving Israel from the land? Hanna cannot have his cake and eat it too. If he accepts the doctrine of a saved remnant, he must accept the presence of the whole nation in the land prior to the salvation that goes with it.

Third, Hanna’s handling of Scripture concerns me. He appeals to Matthew 5:43–48; Luke 6:28; Romans 12:14, and James 2:1–9 to prove that Jews deserve no special treatment. Unfortunately, he has ignored the contexts of these passages: they deal with the Christian’s general obligation to all men at the level of interpersonal relationship. That is not relevant, however, when the issue is God’s treatment of and our attitude toward nations.

Moreover, God is impartial to all men when it comes to spiritual matters. Christ died for all men (Heb. 2:9; 1 John 2:2), and he desires that all men be saved (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9). But again, the topic is not just spiritual standing and blessing before God. The topic is socio-politico-economic blessing, and God does distinguish among nations in those areas.

Beyond that, impartiality is only one side of the story; it has to be fitted together with other doctrines of Scripture. If God really intended that there be absolute impartiality in all matters, would he not either have to send us all to hell or save us all? Certainly Hanna overemphasizes and misunderstands the biblical teaching on impartiality. Even worse, though, is his dismissal of passages like Genesis 12:3 and Psalm 122:6 because they are not repeated in the New Testament.

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Moreover, if Hanna’s practice were followed, the Davidic Covenant he holds to as a dispensationalist would have to be thrown out because 2 Samuel 7:12–16 is repeated nowhere in the New Testament. (Incidentally, Psalm 23 is repeated nowhere in the New Testament. Should we dismiss it, too?)

Hanna’s whole point seems incredible in light of Romans 11. Paul finishes speaking about what God will do for Israel in the future and then sums it up by saying “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Rom. 11:29), a reference to the whole message of the chapter. That should be enough certification that God’s attitude and plan for Israel is no different than it was in the Old Testament.

Finally, Hanna’s logic is too unconvinching at too many points. For example, he complains that a pro-Israel stand has been abused by Christians. As a result, many Arabs have been turned off toward Christianity. That is probably true—but how is it relevant to what God’s Word teaches about his program for Israel? Since when do we determine what biblical truth is in virtue of how Christians use or abuse it?

Likewise, Hanna urges us to consider that we have many Arab brothers and sisters in Christ, and that our tie with them is stronger than with unbelieving Israel. I thank God for all Arab Christians, but what does their existence prove in relation to the issue? I don’t know what to make of it, especially when I think of all my Hebrew-Christian brothers and sisters in Christ. Scripture does teach that ultimately there will be blessing upon both Israel and upon Arabs in the kingdom (Isa. 19:24–25). But neither the existence of my Hebrew-Christian nor my Arab-Christian brothers and sisters in Christ helps me on the issues under discussion.

I appreciate Dr. Hanna’s discussion of these issues, and I thank God for him. However, I remain unconvinced by his arguments. The best scriptural evidence also demands that we call sin what God calls it. Thus, if Israel acts in a sinful manner, no one should condone such actions. That, however, has nothing to do with Israel’s right to exist, its right to the land, its future position in the kingdom, or the fact that God will fulfill his promise in Genesis 12:3.

Mr. Falwell is pastor of the Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, Virginia, and president of Moral Majority.

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