Gut Feelings vs. Biblical Truth
Alarms are ringing after a new survey conducted by the Barna Group for the University of North Carolina at Pembroke found support for Israel among young evangelical Christians in extreme decline.
In the spring of 2021, 700 evangelicals between the ages of 18 and 29 were asked to choose sides in the “Israeli-Palestinian dispute.” Of those polled, 33.6 percent supported Israel, 24.3 percent sided with the Palestinians, and 42.2 percent sided with neither.
Three years earlier, a similar poll produced drastically different results. In 2018, 69 percent of young evangelicals said they supported Israel, only 5.6 percent allied themselves with the Palestinians, and 25.7 percent didn’t take sides. The change is alarming. The data also showed an increase in young evangelical support for a Palestinian state—from 35 percent in 2018 to 44.7 percent in 2021.
The numbers have Israelis thinking about the future. Around the time the poll’s results were published, Ron Dermer, former Israeli ambassador to the United States, was quoted as saying, “People have to understand that the backbone of Israel’s support in the United States is the evangelical Christians. It’s true because of numbers and also because of their passionate and unequivocal support for Israel.”
Fifty years from now, will that same evangelical support still exist? One poll does not establish a trend, but it would be a mistake to ignore the results. Other surveys in recent years have demonstrated weaker support for Israel by younger evangelicals. Wheaton College’s Institute for the Studies of American Evangelicals estimates between 90 million and 100 million people in the United States are evangelical Christians; and pewforum.org research says 17 percent of evangelicals are between the ages of 18 and 29. That means there are potentially 17 million evangelical young adults in America. If evangelicals continue to raise children who are less supportive of Israel when they become adults, Israel’s evangelical support will decrease substantially.
It’s time to ask some tough questions. What is happening? Why has support of Israel declined? Why would such a high percentage of young evangelicals switch sides? Their logic will shock you. The polls showed 48.8 percent made their decisions based on political reasons, while another 40 percent said they went purely on gut feelings. To their way of thinking, politics and intuition trump biblical truth. Remember, these are professing evangelical Christians who presumably grew up in the church.
On the other side of the coin, nearly 60 percent of those who said they support Israel named their reasons as religious. What is clear is that many young evangelicals are not being taught Israel’s importance to God and His redemptive plan. It is the Word of God that makes the case why we, as evangelicals, should support and stand with Israel.
There is a growing need to reach young adults with the truth, particularly the 42.2 percent of young evangelicals in the “neither” column. They are waiting to be reached with the biblical truth that God is not finished with Israel. They need to learn God’s grand plan for the ages and the role Israel plays in the future He has appointed for this world.
Those in the “neither” category may be apathetic or uninformed of the issues or unsure what the Bible teaches about Israel. They probably are more willing to learn about Israel and what Scripture actually says than those who have already chosen sides.
We have a great opportunity here that we don’t want to miss. After all, if we don’t teach our young people biblical truth, they’ll continue to be led by politics and gut feelings instead of by God.