If you were to compile a list of the most influential people in history, you would probably start with the most influential ideas. The people responsible for inventing those ideas or popularizing them would be on the list of influential people. Presumably, without those people, the ideas would not have had the same level of impact. Marx would be on the list because he came up with Marxism. Without Marx, it is hard to imagine that branch of socialism developing as it has over 150 years.
Christian Zionism is an idea that does not get much attention, despite the fact it has cast a long shadow over Western history. It is fair to say that Zionism would not exist if not for the Christian Zionists. As much as people like to talk about the influence of Jews and Judaism on the West, it was Christians and a peculiar strain of Christianity that made Zionism possible. In fact, the modern state of Israel probably owes its existence to the hard work of Christian Zionist.
Christian Zionism has its roots in the Protestant Reformation. The revolts against the Church gave rise to a wholesale reassessment of Christian dogma. The distribution of the Bible in vernacular languages allowed radical Protestants to interpret the scriptures in ways contrary medieval Catholic tradition. Christian Zionism can be viewed as the result of the democratization of Christianity. When every man could read the Bible, ever man’s interpretation of Scripture was suddenly equal.
Restorationism was the Protestant idea that the Jews would eventually return to Israel as part of the flow of history. Here you see the early roots of this idea that history flows in one direction toward a predictable end. With regards to the Jews, their return to Israel was part of the end times. It did not take long before this evolved into a belief that helping the Jews return was an essential part of Christianity. Restoring Israel was the next logical step for this branch of Christianity.
Picking the first Christian Zionist or even the most influential one is difficult as the 19th century had many philosemitic Protestants. Of course, all of them were relying on Puritan interpretation of Scripture, so you can probably credit Oliver Cromwell with making it possible for Christian Zionism to flourish. The British empire then spread the idea around the world. Wherever English speaking people exist in large numbers, you have fanatical support for Israel to this day.
The guy who should probably get credit for the invention of Zionism is an Anglican clergyman named William Hechler. He was a rabid crusader against antisemitism and the sponsor of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism. He called for the Jews to return to Palestine as a pre-condition for the return of Jesus, which made the unconditional support of Jews and Israel a core Christian belief. Overtime this has evolved into unquestioned devotion to Israel.
Theodor Herzl could also get credit for Christian Zionism. After all, it takes two to make a relationship and Herzl was the first Jewish Zionist. If not for large swaths of the Jewish diaspora embracing the ideas of the Christian Zionist, it is hard to imagine the movement lasting into the 20th century. Even today, secular Jews despise Evangelical Christians, in part, because of their support for Zionism. There are other reasons, but the unbridled support of Israel and the restoration is one element.
Even so, the creation of the Jewish state in the middle of the last century was the product of Christian Zionism. Its existence has nurtured and supported Christian Zionism, especially in America. In fact, much of the spiritual fervor that would flow into Christian identity politics is channeled into Zionism. In the cultural climate of the West, this is one of the few safe ways for white people to cheer for their own side. You can probably argue that Zionism relies on a form of white identity politics.
Christian Zionism and Zionism would not exist without the strange form of empire first invented by the British then perfected by Americans. The British were the first ocean empire. The Greeks dominated the Mediterranean, of course, but that is not the same as dominating oceans. At the minimum, the British Empire was the first modern ocean empire. Today, America controls the world because she controls the seas, which means she controls the flow of goods globally.
It is hard to argue against Zionism as the most influential idea of the 20th century and now the 21st century. The creation of Israel by the British in 1948 has focused the attention of the West on the Middle East ever since. The long Cold War was entangled with Zionism which gave birth to neoconservatism. The last thirty years has kept the American empire obsessed with the fate of Israel. It is not unreasonable to say that American foreign policy is controlled by the Israelis.
Step back and you can argue that Christian Zionism is the result of two main forces unleashed in the West. One is the democratization of Christianity. It is impossible to imagine Zionism flourishing within the Catholic Church. The other is egalitarianism, the very Protestant idea of equality. Without hierarchy, theology was turned over to the entrepreneur, always looking for a novel way to sell Scripture. That is how you get ideas like Restorationism or Mormonism.
Returning to where we started, if one was looking to compile a list of great historical figures, you would have to include William Hechler on that list. Even though his name is unfamiliar to the modern ear, his influence is immense. If not for his tireless promotion of Theodor Herzl, it is possible that Zionism was never born. Imagine what the world would be like if Israel remained a concept, rather than a physical reality. The last century would not be possible.
The crackdown by the oligarchs on dissidents has had the happy result of a proliferation of new ways to support your favorite creator. If you like my work and wish to kick in a few bucks, you can buy me a beer. You can sign up for a SubscribeStar subscription and get some extra content. You can donate via PayPal. My crypto addresses are here for those who prefer that option. You can send gold bars to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. Thank you for your support!
Promotions: We have a new addition to the list. Havamal Soap Works is the maker of natural, handmade soap and bath products. If you are looking to reduce the volume of man-made chemicals in your life, all-natural personal products are a good start. If you use this link you get 15% off of your purchase.
The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is a tea, but it has a mild flavor. It’s autumn here in Lagos, so it is my daily beverage now.
Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link. If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb. Just email them directly to book at firstname.lastname@example.org.