Just over half of U.S. evangelicals believe the Jewish people are “God’s chosen people,” according to a new survey that suggests views about Israel are more divided than is often assumed.
The poll of 1,000 American evangelical Protestants by Infinity Concepts and Grey Matter Research found that 51 percent believe the Jews are God’s chosen people, while another 19 percent are not sure what to believe. Nearly one in five (17 percent) believe Christians replaced the Jews as God’s chosen people, while 10 percent believe the Jews never were God’s chosen people. Two percent had another view not listed. All total, 48 percent of U.S. evangelicals either weren’t sure or outright rejected the idea that the Jews were God’s chosen people, according to the poll.
A news release about the poll said evangelicals “are not of one mind on what they believe about Israel and the Jewish people.” The survey defined “evangelicals” as those who affirmed four key spiritual beliefs.
“Older evangelicals and those who are Charismatic or Pentecostal are the most likely to believe the Jews are God’s chosen people,” said Mark Dreistadt, president of Infinity Concepts. “Also, evangelicals who read the Bible at least weekly are significantly more likely to believe this than are infrequent Bible readers.”
About half of evangelicals (48 percent) say they prioritize support for Israel in their personal giving, while 21 percent rate it a low priority.
“The stereotype tends to be that evangelicals are staunch supporters of Israel who view things mostly through a political lens,” said Ron Sellers, president of Grey Matter Research. “So much previous research focusing on geopolitical issues contributed to this stereotype. We wanted to examine this from a theological and charitable standpoint, and found the political angle is rarely where evangelicals focus their priorities. Evangelicals are also far from unified in their theology related to Israel and the Jewish people.”
A 2014 Lifeway Research survey found that 66 percent of U.S. evangelicals believe the Jews are God’s chosen people. Meanwhile, a 2017 Lifeway Research poll found that 12 percent of U.S. evangelicals “strongly agree” and 16 percent “somewhat agree” with the statement that the “Christian church has fulfilled or replaced the nation of Israel in God’s plan.” That same 2017 survey also found that 80 percent of evangelicals believe the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948 was a fulfillment “of Bible prophecy” and showed “we are getting closer to the return of Jesus Christ.”
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.