Reviews - What do customers think about On the Road to Armageddon: How Evangelicals Became Israel's Best Friend?
A historical overview of dispensationalism. Feb 29, 2008
I found this book to be informative and well researched. The author examines the diversity of premillenialist's beliefs as well as dispensational beliefs. The key issue in "On the road to Armageddon" is their support for the state of Israel,particularly in light of their Biblical interpretation of Armageddon.
Some of the highlights for me were: The Plymouth Brethren. Who they were and the manipulation of the crucifixion date in relation to Artaxerxe's decree.
The source of the rapture theory. Most likely from Margaret MacDonald, a "prophetess" from Scotland. John Darby's oppurtunism as an early proponent of the rapture theory. "According to recent theory,Darby returned home totally against the so-called outpouring of the Holy Spirit but convinced that Maragaret MacDonald's view of the rapture was true."-page 24.
Premillenialism as well as postmillenialism and other branches of eschatological belief are based on interpretation of Scripture. This paves the way for "proof texting",cherry-picking and avoidance of interpreting Scripture while considering context.
The effect that "higher criticism" had on strenghening the dispensational movement.
The origin of identifying Scriptural "Gog" as Russia and why it is very likely wrong.
The Presbyterian church's missionary work among Jews between the World Wars draws a striking paralell to messianic judaism of today. Retaining Biblical holy days and Old Testament law(Torah) while accepting Yehusha as Savior or Messiah. The author provided a historical overview of messianic judaism as well.
This is the first I have read of a potential,future "bloodless" temple. I find it hypocritical that any Christian would advocate a future temple that would reinstate animal sacrifice.
An excellent book on the subject. "Forcing God's Hand" by Grace Halsell is another very good book on the subject,but I would recommend this book more.
Read Your Bible Again First Oct 6, 2007
Rather than waste too much time trying to understand dispensationalists without first grasping what is promised for us, please take the time to read and study through the book of Revelation (that's the last book of the New Testament for those who might not know) before you invest in this book. From my perspective, I found this book to be a slanted, liberal useless waste of time written by someone who must be questioning their faith and/or does not believe the Bible to be the inspired word of God.
The Strange Christian-Israeli Alliance. Jan 4, 2005
Timothy Weber has written a fascinating theological/political history in his book, _On the Road to Armageddon: How Evangelicals Became Israel's Best Friend_. It covers a strange and often neglected alliance between a subset of Christian Protestant evangelicals (specifically, "dispensationalists") and the political aspirations of Zionism and Israeli expansionism in the Middle East. It also covers in detail related topics such as evangelical missions to convert Jews in the US, Messianic Judaism, Jews for Jesus, popular works of dispensationalist literature, Israeli tours in the Holy Land, and charities formed to Russian Jews in Palestine.
Dispensationalist theology developed in the 19th century at the hand of a British minister, John Darby, who carried his message to the United States. The dispensationalist method of Bible interpretation owes greatly to the Scofield Reference Bible (1908). Central to dispensationalist theology is the idea that God has dealt with humanity in a series of "dispensations" where man has been judged based on whether or not he has responded to God's demands correctly. After Christ, believers are saved by faith in the Lord Jesus and may attain to resurrection from the dead and heavenly glories. Central to God's plans for humanity in this age, as Weber focuses on in this book, is the return of Jews to Palestine. In order for Christ to return, the Antichrist needs to set up a one world government and command himself to be worshipped as God in the reconstructed Temple in Jerusalem. The Antichrist will persecute Jews who will in turn come to recognize Christ as their savior and repent of their unbelief. In the interim, an estimated two-thirds of Israel will be destroyed by the ravages of the Antichrist. However, believing Christians will not have to suffer this persecution because they will be "raptured" before the global strife (Tribulation) begins. After Christ returns he will set up a millennial kingdom in Israel as the Jewish Messiah in literal fulfillment of such prophecies found in Ezekiel and Revelation.
Dispensationalists are reactionaries against theological liberalism and are not connected to established Christian churches. Many of their pastors base their ministries on charisma and preaching rather than institutional authority. Many have built up huge media-ecclesiastical enterprises in the past thirty years. The most popular of the early dispensationalist book was of course the _Scofield Reference Bible_ and a number of books from the early 1900s, many of which dealt with coming destruction of the world, political conspiracies and Jesus' eminent return. In the later 1900s, dispensationalist publications such as Hal Lindsey's _The Late Great Planet Earth_ (1970) and the _Left Behind_ series (late 1990s/early 2000s) by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins sold tens of millions of copies. Other notable dispensationalist enterprises include John Hagee's 17,000-member Cornerstone Church in Dallas Texas and Pat Robertson's media network such as his Christian Broadcasting Network. Probably the most notorious involvement of dispensationalists in the political arena was that of Jerry Falwell's pro-Regan Moral Majority during the 1980s.
Because of their belief in the eminence of the Apocalypse, Weber has catalogued how dispensationalists have reacted to the various episodes of political turmoil, especially in the Middle East during the 1900s. Dispensationalists were generally pro-American in WWI but were not the War's strongest supporters. They were pleased after the Ottoman Empire fell to British forces and signing of the Balfour declaration when the British government promised to establish a homeland for Jews in Palestine. World War II was met with mixed responses. Some dispensationalists read "signs of the times" in the Jewish sufferings at the hand of Hitler. After the WWII, the British were reluctant to continually allowing Jews to emigrate to Palestine in the wake of Arab protest and subsequent civil unrest. However, the State of Israel declared its independence in 1948 as a Jewish State after terrorist and diplomatic pressure forced the British to capitulate. Isreal's founding was viewed as a veritable miracle. Dispensatinalists were especially pleased by Israel's lightning fast war in 1967 against Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, West Bank (which includes the ancient Biblical regions of Judea and Samaria) and most importantly, East Jerusalem, were returned to Jewish hands for the first time in 2,000 years. Israel could also count on American dispensationalist support for its bombing of an Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 and its invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Furthermore, Dispensationalists attempted to read prophetic events into Israel's conflict with Saddam Hussein, who was "exposed" in several sensational pieces of literature as a new Nebuchadnezzar bent of destroying Israel because Iraq occupies similar territory as the ancient Babylonian Empire around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. In contrast to the Persian Gulf War in 1991, dispensationalists were rather silent when Gulf War II broke out in 2003 and when Saddam was eventually captured by US forces.
Since much of dispensationalist eschatology centers around the Jerusalem Temple, some have gone so far as to condone violent attacks to destroy the Dome of the Rock (such as those attempted by Gush Emunim and Yoel Lerner). Dennis Rohan, an Australian Christian inspired by apocalyptic beliefs about the eminent return of Christ, even managed to set fire to the shrine to the angst of Palestinians against the Israeli government. Although the Dome of the Rock is still intact, Jews are technically prohibited against entering the Temple site anyway because of an obscure rule in Leviticus which requires the ashes of a red heifer sprinkled on a Jew because of ritual uncleanness derived from contact with dead bodies. Webster points out how red heifers that meet rabbinical standards are extremely rare. However, Israeli rabbis have developed ties to American cattle breeders to empower Israel's beef industry and hopefully breed a red heifer successfully. Thankfully, this task has not yet been accomplished.
I cannot recommend Weber's book enough. He demonstrates an excellent knowledge of the history and theology of this unusual movement in evangelical Christianity and its political alliance with Jewish nationalism.
Must Read Dec 9, 2004
For anyone trying to understand how Israel/Palestine came to be, the story is in here. I'm not finished with the book yet, but have read the chapters on the history of how the occupation started up through the early 1970's.
From what I've read of the remaining, I'm not sure I can agree with the previous review. I understand the dispensationalists to be a specific 'sect' if you will of the evangelical right, not entirely binary, but I don't understand all evangelicals to be dispensationalists. Hoping this doesn't confuse people... Dispensationalist was a new word for my vocabulary with this book.
My own reaction to the whole concept of dispensationalists is disturbing, and I read the parts of the book I have with disbelief. Humbling, how much I don't know! I was put in that place, for sure!
This book should be read by any who have the slightest interest and feel the need to know more about the conflict in the middle east.
An introduction to the strange world of dispensationalism Sep 13, 2004
This book is essentially an analysis American Dispensational Evangelicalism's relationship with the modern state of Israel. As one who is a) not a Jew, b) not American and c) not an evangelical this book was an excellent introduction to what is often a complex and irritating relationship.
On the road to Armageddon is split into three discernible sections. The first offers a survey of dispensationalism and its changing theological emphases (eg. the move from being apolitical to being members of the Moral Majority) as well as offering an survey of recent popularizations (Such as "The Late Great Planet Earth" and the "Left Behind" series. The second analyses the history of the role of Israel in dispensationalism's understanding of prophecy both pre and post 1948 (the (re?)founding of Israel) and their approach to Jewish proselytism and finally the third is an overview how the contemporary Israeli state and dispensationalists have actively promoted each other for their own ends.
Each section constitutes a comprehensive survey that is at times congratulatory as well as critical that is clearly written and hence accessible to those (like myself) who are novices in the subject area.
My only negative comments are firstly that it does not seem apparent that dispensationalism is synonymous with evangelicalism. I am certainly aware that this is not the case beyond the USA but also suspect this is true within it (the book hints at as much in the closing two chapters). It may seem like pedantry but I think this is the overriding non-Christian (and non-evangelical) media perception and Christian scholars perpetuate this then it is only harmful to how Christianity is portrayed. Weber may be unwittingly advancing the myth that conservative Christianity is synonymous with the hordes of prophecy obsessed tele-evangelists. I am not a conservative but am well aware that there is many in evangelicalism that should be afforded respect (Weber himself for example).
Secondly, on a number of occasions throughout the text the issue of Christianity's relationship with Judaism surfaced particularly the extent to which Jewish religious identity is crucial to what makes a person a Jew. This seems to me to be an issue of paramount importance for Christians to consider and yet a substantive answer is lacking in the book.
Overall however this is definitely worth considering.