Christian Zionism mixes politics and prophecy to galvanize support for Israel. But the chemistry may be changing.

“Seventy Million Christians Urge President Bush to Approve Loan Guarantees for Israel.”

So read the headline of a full-page advertisement in the January 27 Washington Times. Under it, 33 Christian leaders urged Bush to act on $10 billion of U.S. loan guarantees to help settle Soviet Jews in Israel. First on their list of reasons: “We deeply believe in the Biblical, prophetic vision of the ingathering of exiles to Israel, a miracle we are now seeing fulfilled.”

For evangelicals, perhaps no issue twines politics and religion more tightly than the past, present, and future of Israel. Since its establishment in 1948, this tiny nation has been at the center of heated international debate. But more important, its creation signaled for many Christians the beginning of the end times. “ ‘I will restore the fortunes of my people, Israel.… I will plant them upon their land, and they shall never again be plucked up out of the land which I have given them,’ says the LORD your God” (Amos 9:14–15).

In the past 20 years, 25 million copies of The Late, Great Planet Earth have popularized the view that modern Israel is a fulfillment of ancient prophecy. In the eyes of many believers, Israel’s battlefield victories and national prosperity are nothing short of the miraculous work of God. And today, as Jews from the Soviet Union, Ethiopia, and “the ends of the earth” pour into Israel, some see the stage being set for God’s final act in history.

But do 70 million Christians—virtually every “born-again” believer in the U.S—really support unconditional loan guarantees for Israel? The sentiment, if not the number, measures the zeal of Christian ...

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