G. Douglas Young, the founder of the American Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College), is a largely forgotten figure in the history of Christian Zionism. Born into a fundamentalist household, Young developed an intense identification with Jews and support for the state of Israel from an early age. By 1957, when he founded his Institute, Young developed a worldview that merged numerous strands of evangelical thinking—dispensationalism, neo-evangelicalism, and his own ideas about Jewish-Christian relations—into a distinctive understanding of Israel. Young’s influence in American evangelicalism reached a climax in the years 1967–1971. This period, and Young’s activism therein, represents a distinct phase in the evolution of Jewish-evangelical relations and evangelical Christian Zionism. Young’s engagement with the Israeli state prefigured the Christian Zionists of the 1980s.
This article examines Young’s distinctive theology and politics and situates them in intellectual and international contexts. It argues that Young sought to place Christian Zionism at the center of American evangelicalism after 1967 and that his effort was only partially successful. While Young spoke to thousands of evangelicals, trained hundreds of students, and sat on boards and committees to broaden the appeal of Christian Zionism, he also met stiff resistance by some members of the American evangelical establishment. The Jerusalem Conference on Biblical Prophecy, which saw Young collide with Carl F. H. Henry, a leading American evangelical, illustrates the limits of Young’s efforts. Ultimately, a look at Young reframes the rise of Christian Zionism among American evangelicals and situates activism in Israel as central to the development of Jewish-evangelical relations in the twentieth century.
- G. Douglas Young
- American Institute of Holy Land Studies
- Christian Zionism
- Jewish-Christian relations
- © 2015 by The Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture