Most contemporary Protestants are very favorably disposed toward Jews and explain it with their theology. However, it hasn't always been like that. My question is, what has caused this radical shift in disposition? What theological/Biblical findings have been made known that Martin Luther was unaware of?

  • 1
    It's worth noting that Luther himself was not always so extreme as in his later years, and other Protestant reformers may not have fully agreed with his later views even at the time. At any rate I haven't found similarly extreme statements outside of Lutheranism, although the societal context was generally anti-semitic (which is a relevant factor).
    – user111403
    Commented Jun 18 at 7:04

3 Answers 3


This shift has been mostly or entirely the consequence of dispensationalism, which was generally unheard of prior to the 19th century when it was popularized by John Darby.

There is some argument about how far back the history of dispensationalism goes, but there's no clear expression of a broadly dispensational view by any of the significant church fathers, medieval theologians, or reformers.

Importantly to your question, dispensationalists make a distinction between Israel and the Church that distinguishes it from theology that preceded it. This distinction suggests that God's covenants with Israel are going to be fulfilled for the sake of Israel parallel to the Church, not by or through the Church. Covenant Theology is the other major school of thought among protestants concerning these covenants, which alternatively affirms "the fulfillment of the promises to Israel in the person and the work of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, who established the church in organic continuity with Israel." (from Wikipedia)

The Catholic position is slightly different, but like its name (Covenantal Theology) it is more similar to Covenant Theology than Dispensationalism.

Hope this helps, God bless you.


The answer to the shift from the Church being antisemitic to philo-semitic or Zionist, can be seen from the corollary to the evolution of Evangelicalism from the traditional hierarchical Church structure. That is basically the shift from traditionalism to Bible based knowledge in the new age of information, which led to the rejection of traditional replacement theology. The independent, smaller Evangelical system of the Church is characterised by:

  • Biblicalism: A high regard for and obedience to the Bible as the ultimate authority for faith and practice. Evangelicals believe the Bible is the highest authority, as opposed to tradition.
  • Activism: Biblicalism leads to works of righteousness or obedience to the law. The expression and demonstration of the gospel through missionary and social reform efforts. Evangelicals are known for their active engagement in evangelism, missions, and social issues.

The Protestant Church's shift towards supporting Israel and Zionism is a complex and multifaceted process that spans several centuries. Here are some key events and factors that contributed to this shift:

As Evangelicalism has its roots in the Puritan and Quaker movements, so does Christian Zionism.

Calvinistic Puritan Millenialists: Under Christian Zionism

Advocacy on the part of Christians for a Jewish restoration grew after the Protestant Reformation, and is rooted in 17th-century English Puritanism. Contemporary Israeli historian Anita Shapira suggests that England's Zionist Evangelical Protestants "passed this notion on to Jewish circles" around the 1840s...
[...] The Philo-Semitic millennialist undercurrent came to have a direct influence on politics. A number of Cromwell's close advisors, such as John Dury, John Sadler and Hugh Peter, came into contact with Dutch-based Jews such as Menasseh ben Israel and advocated Jewish resettlement in England (they had been banned from the country since the 13th century).

  • The Protestant Church began to shift its stance on Zionism during the 19th century. This was largely due to the influence of Christian missionaries who were working in the Middle East and witnessing the persecution of Jews in Europe. Missionaries like William Blackstone and Marcus Lehmann became prominent advocates for the Jewish people and the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.
  • Early 20th Century: The early 20th century saw a significant increase in Protestant support for Zionism. This was largely driven by the rise of dispensationalism, a theological movement that emphasized the importance of the Jewish people in the end times. Dispensationalists believed that the return of the Jewish people to the Holy Land was a necessary precursor to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Contrary to arguments given by anti-Zionists, Christian Zionism was not started by Dispensationalism. It is a systematic theology movement which found itself emerging together with the political Zionist movement in the 19th century. None of the doctrines taught by Darby, its founder, are unique to this particular doctrine. Its only unique characteristic is the stark dichotomy between Israel and the Church, and exclusive roles, and the peculiar and meticulous segmentations in the dispensations. Not all Christian Zionists are Dispensationalists.

The main contributing factor of Christian Zionism is the awareness of scripture through rejection of supersessionism or replacement theology which had been existed before Darby. This is analogous to the Messianic movement that awaited the Messiah during and before the first century, by recognising a real Messiah in the scriptures rather than rejecting him as a spiritual metaphorical promise, as believed by the later Rabbinic Jews who rejected Christ.

Reformation and Shift in Perspective: The Puritans, the second-generation reformers, slowly departed from replacement theology with piety and political activism. This led to sympathy towards Jews and theological improvement resulted in the discovery of God's special love and the irrevocable covenants with them regardless of their rejection of the gospel (Rom 9:4-5; 11:28-29).

  • @ Michael16 - One cannot deny, though, that Dispensationalism has popularized the pro-Israel movement to a fantastical degree by its aggressive indoctrination by movies, novels, seminars, and plethora of prophecy book! It has caused the Evangelical denominations to jump on board the Zionist train with emotional abandon! And it must be said that this modern move is underscored by an abandonment of clear biblical scriptures which declare that while there is to be no antisemitism there is also to be no preference...because the wall of separation has forever been torn down!
    – ray grant
    Commented Jun 21 at 20:07
  • Antizionism is antisemitism. Dispensationalism characteristics are only end times and rapture, not Zionism. Christian Zionism cannot be reduced to dispensationalism. Jew first and then the rest. Jews are the chosen nation.
    – Michael16
    Commented Jun 22 at 3:02
  • Here's a recent full debate on Zionism by Douglas Murray an atheist , to clarify definition of zionism. youtube.com/watch?v=WxSF4a9Pkn0
    – Michael16
    Commented Jun 22 at 3:27

The bible was never anti-Jewish; they are God's Holy People. Only, men have always misused scripture to support their own agendas and beliefs - no matter how clearly their positions contradict the teachings of scripture.

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

What did change, however, was the world's general stance on racism and antisemitism, particularly following WWII and the Civil Right's Movement. The world got a good look at its own evils and relented. Slowly but surely, racist theologies started to die out in turn as well. They still exist - but they aren't so popular nor so openly preached now a days.

  • so are you saying that with time people have come closer to the Bible?
    – amphibient
    Commented Jun 17 at 19:34
  • @amphibient in certain respects like this, sure. But they've gone further away on other points. For example: how the churches are all now pro-capitalism Commented Jun 17 at 21:01
  • @ Ryan Pierce Williams- It is greatly recommended that you watch a bit more news programs! While the Evangelical denominations---as well as other churches---have attempted to be less prejudice and racist, the world is still a dangerous place. Racism is alive and well throughout the nations of the world. The world's general stance is diverse indeed, but there is much news that demonstrates racism in its meanest forms is rife! Check the number of dead bodies in racist mass graves announced in the news. And pray for peace.
    – ray grant
    Commented Jun 21 at 20:17
  • @raygrant to be clear - I never said racism was by any means eradicated. Rather, I merely pointed out that it is by and large no longer considered socially acceptable by the general populace - and racially motivated hate crimes are treated more severely than the same crime with non-hate motives. Commented Jun 22 at 23:29

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