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THE RESURGENCE OF "CHRISTIAN' ANTI-SEMITISM
by Gene Shaparenko
FLASH REPORT - 2/22/09
Report: Obama Taps Israel Critic For Intel Council
Sunday, February 22, 2009 8:32 PM
The respected Foreign Policy magazine's Web site column "The Cable" reported last week that President Barack Obama is set to appoint a fierce critic of Israel to his National Intelligence Council.
The web site reported: "Sources tell The Cable that Chas W. Freeman, Jr., the former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, will become chairman of the National Intelligence Council, the intelligence community's primary big-think shop and the lead body in producing national intelligence estimates."
The Cable quoted Freeman as telling associates that "he will occasionally accompany Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair to give the president his daily intelligence briefing."
The choice of Freeman, who will reportedly play a key role in shaping U.S. intelligence estimates, has pro-Israel groups in a tizzy.
Israel’s Arutz Sheva news agency detailed some of Freeman's policy remarks relating to Israel.
In a 2007 speech before the Washington Institute of Foreign Affairs, Freeman blamed Israel for the strife in the region:
"American identification with Israeli policy has also become total. Those in the region and beyond it who detest Israeli behavior, which is to say almost everyone, now naturally extend their loathing to Americans.
This has had the effect of universalizing anti-Americanism, legitimizing radical Islamism, and gaining Iran a foothold among Sunni as well as Shiite Arabs.
For its part, Israel no longer even pretends to seek peace with the Palestinians; it strives instead to pacify them. Palestinian retaliation against this policy is as likely to be directed against Israel’s American backers as against Israel itself.
Under the circumstances, such retaliation – whatever form it takes – will have the support or at least the sympathy of most people in the region and many outside it. This makes the long-term escalation of terrorism against the United States a certainty, not a matter of conjecture."
Arutz Sheva also says that Freeman is a strong advocate of talking to Hamas. The agency quotes Freeman as stating that Hamas "is the only democratically-elected government in the Arab world."
The agency quoted another speech, also made in 2007, to Pacific Council on International Policy, in which Freeman reportedly said: "We abandoned the role of Middle East peacemaker to back Israel’s efforts to pacify its captive and increasingly ghettoized Arab populations. We wring our hands while sitting on them as the Jewish state continues to seize ever more Arab land for its colonists. This has convinced most Palestinians that Israel cannot be appeased and is persuading increasing numbers of them that a two-state solution is infeasible. It threatens Israelis with an unwelcome choice between a democratic society and a Jewish identity for their state. Now the United States has brought the Palestinian experience – of humiliation, dislocation, and death – to millions more in Afghanistan and Iraq. Israel and the United States each have our reasons for what we are doing, but no amount of public diplomacy can persuade the victims of our policies that their suffering is justified, or spin away their anger, or assuage their desire for reprisal and revenge.”
© 2009 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
The May 2009 issue of US News and World Report carried discussion regarding the role of the Presbyterian church in advocating anti-semiticism from the pulpit. The commentary regarding this mainline Protestant organization comes from writers and observers who represent strong Israeli viewpoints.
As we point out in the latter portions of the following article, this "death wish" being promoted by such religious groups is completely anti-productive to any attempts to bring Jesus Christ to the nation of Israel. There will indeed be a day of reckoning in the future for those who stand abrogate the promises made by God to Abraham and stand in the way of evangelism of any group, including those whom Jesus referred to as "his brethren".
The Presbyterian church seems to have lost its theological compass and has become host to a growing number of so-called "intelligentsia" who advocate the "Replacement Theology" discussed below.
History has shown us that the Jewish people have been alternatively blessed and persecuted---the blessings coming from God, and the persecutions coming at the hands of their neighbors, enemies as well as the Christian Church.
For those of us who believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible, those persecutions were ordained by God to punish the Jewish people for their various departures from the pre-ordained paths which God had set forth for them.
It is a scriptural fact that God even went so far as to specify the time and duration of many of these persecutions and/or punishments. We all remember the 70 years of Babylonian captivity when the Jews were hustled off to Iraq/Babylon and only allowed to return to Palestine when the 70 years had expired.
We also read in the early parts of the Old Testament about the various covenants that God made with Abraham and his descendents, covenants that God swore to keep even though the other party(Israel) might fail to keep.
Unfortunately, today many “Christians” have turned scripture upside down and follow a belief system called “Replacement Theology” whereby the Christian Church supposedly has assumed the covenantal status from Israel and the Jews.
The idea that the Church is the "new" Israel is by no means a new thing. However, in recent years this doctrine seems to be making a comeback among many theological circles determined to preclude Israel from the plan of God.
Even as current events unfold in the war on terrorism and the confrontations with Iraq, Iran, Syria et al. one can see the groundswell of anti-Semitism in Europe where anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist demonstrations and media recrimination are widespread in France, Germany, Belgium and many other EU countries.
Since most European nations place little or no currency in the Bible, it is easy to see the growing satanic influence in political and media circles where support for radical Islamic and Palestinian terrorism("freedom fighters" is what they are now called) is becoming mainstream. The recent, uncontrolled terrorist rampages across France is yet another example of such activity.
Where biblical truth is repeatedly ignored, such satanic influence is easily established and in most cases difficult if not impossible to eradicate. Of course, the sadder truth is that even where a modicum of biblical truth resides, the roots of Replacement Theology have taken hold through centuries of spiritual famine and blindness combined with outright minsinformation.
This article is primarily about how institutionalized Christianity has responded to and even encouraged this "new anti-semitism". The largest operating international church fellowship, the World Council of Churches(WCC), repeatedly misrepresents and denounces Israeli, but not Palestinian policy. According to Gerald McDermott's "The Land: Evangelicals and Israel", the WCC regards the creation of the modern Jewish state as "problematic". "Problematic"?
This same august organization initiated an international movement in 2002 called Ecumenical Campaign to End the Illegal Occupation of Palestine...a vigilante committee reporting on Israel's(not Palestinian terrorists') "violations of human rights".
Does this body which claims to represent 400 million Christian believers in more than 100 countries represent this new Christian anti-semitism?
Closer to home, the National Council of Churches(NCC), composed of 50 million believers in 36 different Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox denominations and calling itself the"leading force for cooperation amongst Christians in America", in 2002 condemned Israel for her treatment of Palestinians, but did not censure Palestinians for their murderous terror against Israel.
The leadership of the Presbyterian Church recently decided to encourage its governing body to promote divestment from companies that do business with Israel.
Shortly thereafter, the Anglican church, the Lutheran church and the World Council of Churches (WCC, with 347 member denominations world-wide) followed suit with the explanation that divestment"...(is) a new way to work for peace, by looking at ways to not participate economically in illegal activities related to the Israeli occupation."
These churches are among those often referred to as "mainline" churches.
The most problematic issue of this new “mainline” posture is that it is clearly intended to support the Arab terror war against Israel; and to justify that support, church spokespersons make use of false information about the conflict.
A review of factual information about the conflict and the nature of divestment reveals that the mainline churches have stood up in favor of a process that is illegal, irrational, immoral, biased against Israel and in favor of Israel’s enemies, and consciously oblivious to the transparent lies of divestment proponents.
Moreover, by supporting divestment, they ignore the real threats of global terrorism which seeks, among other things, the destruction of all other forms of religion in the world, including Christianity.
The mainline churches' stand, therefore, is quite literally self-destructive.
Where does this hate and bias against Israel come from and why are we seeing it in our generation, perhaps the last generation before Christ returns?
We will look closely at how this hatred developed within the Church both here and in Europe in a few paragraphs but first we need to understand precisely what Replacement Theology is and in addition to the WCC and NCC noted above, who amongst “Christian” people are promoting it today.
Replacement Theology Defined
Replacement Theology teaches that the “church” has replaced the Jewish people in the purposes of God. It boldly declares that the Church is now the "New Israel," that God has rejected and is punishing the Jewish people because of their rejection of Jesus Christ, and that there is no future for the Jewish people as a nation or the land of Israel.
Through this doctrine, Christians in dozens of denominations are taught that God has finished His dealings with natural Israel (both the land and the people), and that He is now concerned only with the Church.
At best, Christians have been taught that the Jewish people and the nation of Israel are to be viewed like any other nation on the earth, with no Biblical or prophetic significance. At worst, Christians have been taught that it was their responsibility to persecute the Jews, as a testimony to the wrath of God that will fall upon all who reject Christ.
Replacement Theology teaches that the Church is now to be thought of as the "new" or "spiritual" Israel. Christians are taught to believe that they have inherited all of the promises of blessings made to the Jewish people and to the land of Israel.
The Church, as the "New Israel," has replaced natural Israel and is now the beneficiary of all that God promised the Jewish people. To the Replacement Theologist, when the Bible speaks of God's blessing the Jewish people, He really means the Gentile Church. When God speaks of blessing the land or the city of Jerusalem, He is actually speaking spiritually to the Church. The “church” has now become the land or the city, or anyone of anything else for which are promises of blessing.
Oddly enough, when God speaks of judgment instead of blessing, Replacement Theology quickly reverses itself and declares that God is directing His curses or judgment toward the Jewish people or to the land of Israel. They are quick to point out the current Jewish problem with the Palestinians and past problems with the Holocaust. Amazingly then, all the blessings are for the Church, and all the curses are for the Jews!
The Specific Doctrine of Replacement Theology
Curiously, as does Islam, the Doctrine of Replacement Theology rests on five main pillars:
1. Israel (the Jewish people and the land) has been replaced by the Christian Church in the purposes of God, or, more precisely, the Church is the historic continuation of Israel to the exclusion of the former.
2. The Jewish people are now no longer a "chosen people." In fact, they are no different from any other group, such as the English, Spanish, or Africans.
3. Apart from repentance, the new birth, and incorporation into the Church, the Jewish people have no future, no hope, and no calling in the plan of God. The same is true for every other nation and group.
4. Since Pentecost of Acts 2, the term "Israel," as found in the Bible, now refers to the Church.
5. The promises, covenants and blessings ascribed to Israel in the Bible have been taken away from the Jews and given to the Church, which has superseded them. However, the Jews are subject to the curses found in the Bible, as a result of their rejection of Christ.
Therefore, according to Replacement Theology, all the Old Testament promises made to Israel, unless they were historically fulfilled before the first coming of Messiah, are now the property of the Christian Church. They are not to be interpreted carnally and literally, but spiritually and symbolically.
Therefore, Old Testament references to "Israel," "Jerusalem," "Zion," and the "Temple," where they are predictive, refer to the Church. In the New Testament all these things are understood spiritually (Gal. 4:21-26; 6:16; Eph. 2:19-22; Heb. 12:22).
The attraction of this doctrine comes from the Church's past. It is historically well rooted in the Church Fathers (Origen, St. Augustine and Tertullian), Martin Luther's writings and the Reformers as we shall see below.
More importantly, Replacement Theology has an intellectual appeal since it does not base its foundation on a literal interpretation of the Bible. The self-defined Replacement Theology intellectual characteristically has difficulty accepting things at face value and thus seeks a “deeper understanding”, demanding that he or she be given the latitude to determine if conditional or situational issues need to be applied to the interpretation process.
Such thinking naturally fits well in an ever widening theological circle where allegories, spiritualization and higher criticism are the order of the day.
Replacement Theology also appeals to that side of human character which has difficulty in acceding the election to others. The Bible refers to this as pride. Rather than the "elect" remnant of Messianic Jews who follow Christ during the second part of the Tribulation(the "time of Jacob's trouble"), the church sees itself as that "elect" or "remnant". These characteristics feed into and from the anti-semitic past of the Church.
The Historical Roots of Replacement Theology
Replacement Theology has deep historical roots, going back all the way to the fourth century when St. Augustine(354-430 AD), officially recognized as a “Doctor of the Catholic Church” and others began stirring secular(Greek) thinking into orthodox Christianity. The result was a quantum step toward marginalizing literal, biblical interpretation.
The Catholic Church quickly seized upon this theological error and straightway proceeded to establish itself for the next millennia and a half as the recipient of the various covenants which God clearly assigned to Israel. That position continues today, compounded by Catholicism's vague and feigned acknowledgement of Israel, the Jews, and their covenantal status as established in the Old Testament.
This theological dogleg maneuver was an easy step for Catholicism to take since it(the Catholic Church) was already waist deep in constructing its own unbiblical and humanistic theology involving Mary worship, the supremacy of the papacy, the magesterium, purgatory, the mass and the equal authority of Scripture and Catholic Church tradition.
The social conditions of the early Middle Ages(lack of literacy and the power of the Catholic church over its laity) made this essentially a seamless transition .
So powerful and distinctive was this transition from traditional, orthodox Christianity to unscriptural paths that even Martin Luther, although taking a “sola scriptura” stand against the Catholic Church, still exhibited a strong, anti-Semitic tendency even to his deathbed.
Much of mainstream Protestantism, although breaking with many of Roman traditions and dogma, still carries the extra baggage of amillennialism, post-tribulationism and its attendant anti-Semitism to the current day.
If there is any question that the Catholic Church, throughout the Dark Ages when the Bible was rigorously kept from the laity, had any thoughts of protecting and returning Palestine to its rightful owners, the Jews, one only needs to review the history of the Crusades to see that the Catholic Church’s true objective was one of recapturing that territory from the Muslims and creating its own fiefdom rather than a land set aside for the Jews.
Today, an shockingly large number of mainstream Protestants and Evangelical Christians are following this same Catholic mantra, claiming that today’s Church(as did the Catholic Church for 1500 years) can claim the covenantal promises God made to Israel.
These groups are led by a great number of strikingly bright theological scholars, many from the Evangelical community, who really should know better but who appear to be moving in the direction of humanistic accomplishments versus accomplishments that only Christ will achieve when He returns to earth at the end of this current age.
Today’s Jewish population is thus left with only a handful of Evangelical and Fundamental Christians who follow a literal interpretation of the Bible, carefully analyzing what the Old Testament prophets such as Ezekiel, Daniel and Zechariah foretold regarding Israel’s future.
These are the few Christians who may still be holding back the winds of war in the Middle East, encouraging Jews to return to Palestine, thus initiating what they see as a partial fulfillment of prophecies detailed in Ezekiel 37 through 40.
As problems continue to escalate in the Middle East, that handful of Evangelical and Fundamental Christians wonder why there is no outcry or support for the Jews and their rights to the land on behalf of the so-called Protestant community.
The answer is clear when one remembers that Replacement Theology is being taught from the mainline pulpits in America as well as Europe and most who call themselves Christians don’t have the foggiest idea of what the Bible really says about that area of the world and either its historical or future significance as clearly and repeatedly stated in scripture.
What is terribly distressing about the current thinking of the Replacement Theologists who now infect most of the major seminaries in America is the number of scriptural references that these Replacement Theologists must deny as literal and of necessity place in either an allegorical or spiritualistic context.
By ignoring, or more correctly, by actually setting aside the theological importance of Israel and the Jews, these Replacement Theologists assume a clear and unmistakable anti-Semitic stance regarding these entities.
Most will vehemently deny such an anti-Semitic position, but their outright dismissal of clear scriptural references amongst both the major and minor prophets of the OT clearly places them in a bad crowd - the same secular crowd that decries the current Jewish claim to the Temple Mount and the multiplicity of references in the Torah to the Kingdom reign of Christ on earth for a thousand literal years.
The Christian Replacement Theology and Reconstructionist views are certainly not over looked by Muslims and by Palestinian terrorists and are pointed to as another reason that so called “Christians” deem Israel’s position is wrong and that she(Israel) must ultimately be displaced from Palestine. In reality, this position comes close to aiding and abetting the enemy, albeit verbally via their Replacement Theology viewpoint.
In our own century, the idea that the Church has replaced Israel has so permeated our thinking that even recently published Bibles and study guides often contain marginal notes and chapter headings that continue to support this ancient error that results in hatred of Jews.
The anti-dispensational viewpoint of the majority of Replacement Theologist and Reconstructionists may be one of the driving reasons behind their misdirected theology. These groups apparently are poor history students, forgetting that the various economies that God established since Creation were intended to demonstrate that without God, man will fail and fail miserably.
Reconstructionists turn that history upside down and believe that with their PhD's in theology they can intellectually apply man's better attributes and Old Testament law and create a better society, one where all elements of society are in conformity to God's law.
In other words, man does not have to live by the application of God's grace, he can bootstrap himself into a better and more God-like society using human instruments of law and discipline. Incredible!
The influence of some of these latter day theologists can even be seen in Bible dictionaries. One well-known Bible dictionary(Harpers), in commenting on Paul and his relationship to his Jewish heritage, states:
Paul argued that the Jews had forfeited these promises, which had come to Abraham through faith, not the law(Rom. 4:13). Because “it is men of faith who are the (true) sons of Abraham” (Gal. 3:7), Christians not Jews could now claim to be descended from the Israelite patriarchs. The Church was, in fact “the twelve tribes in the Dispersion (Diaspora)”(Jas.1:1).
Exactly what type of preachers and teachers does one expect American seminaries and Bible colleges to turn out when these types of theological errors are promulgated in its classrooms to students?
The Thompson Chain Reference Bible, in all respects a fine work, in its 4th edition, points out the widespread acceptance of the spiritual demise of Israel and the concurrent ascendancy of the Church. Incredulously, inasmuch as the Church remained a “mystery” to the Old Testament writers, and is never mentioned in Isaiah, the following chapter headings for the Book of Isaiah appear:
Isaiah 41 - God speaks of his merciful providence in regard to his Church
Isaiah 43 - The Lord comforts the Church with his promises
Isaiah 52 - The Church roused with God’s promise of free redemption
Isaiah 60 - Glory of the Church in the abundant access of the Gentiles
Isaiah 63 - The Gentiles called. The Jews rejected. A remnant saved. Blessed state of the New Jerusalem.
The page headings in these chapters are even more graphic.
New Christians reading these reference materials and bibles for the first time are entirely misled with respect to the Church’s and Israel’s role in the Last Days.
If you reside in a mainline Protestant Church, I challenge you to write down the day of the next sermon from the pulpit in your church that discusses the Israeli issue without employing some aspect of Replacement Theology.
Replacement Theology thus operates on several levels. Theologically, Christianity assumed for itself not only a unique but also an exclusive place in God’s purposes and affections. Typological interpretation of the ‘Old’ Testament underpinned this vision.
Even patterns of rival brothers, sisters or wives are being consistently interpreted to support the Church’s supremacy over Judaism. Cain, Esau, Hagar and Leah all represented the rejected (and wicked) Jew, while Abel, Jacob, Sarah and Rachel represented the Church beloved of God.
The Development and Chronology of Replacement Theology
It is instructive to look at the early(Pre-Medieval and Medieval) history of Christianity and see how this “legacy of hatred” towards the Jewish people and Israel evolved.
In the first century AD, the Church was well-connected to its Jewish roots, and Jesus did not intend for it to be any other way. After all, Jesus is Jewish and the basis of His teaching is consistent with the Hebrew Scriptures.
In Matthew 5:17-18 He states
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."
Before the First Jewish Revolt in AD 66, Christianity was basically a sect of Judaism, as were the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes.
Separation between Judaism and Christianity began as a result of religious and social differences. According to David Rausch in his book, "A Legacy of Hatred", there were several contributing factors:
1) the Roman intrusion into Judea, and the widespread acceptance of Christianity by the Gentiles, complicated the history of Jewish Christianity;
2) the Roman wars against the Jews not only destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem, but also resulted in Jerusalem's relinquishing her position as a center of Christian faith in the Roman world; and,
3) the rapid acceptance of Christianity among the Gentiles led to an early conflict between the Church and Synagogue. Paul's missionary journeys brought the Christian faith to the Gentile world, and as their numbers grew, so did their influence, which ultimately disconnected Christianity from its Jewish roots.
Many Gentile Christians interpreted the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem(Matthew 24) as a sign that God had abandoned Judaism(Preterism), and that He had provided the Gentiles freedom to develop their own Christian theology in a setting free from Jerusalem's influence.
After the Second Jewish Revolt (AD 133-135) put down by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, theological and political power moved from Jewish Christian leaders to centers of Gentile Christian leadership such as Alexandria, Rome, and Antioch. It is important to understand this change, because it influenced the early Church Fathers(Origen, et al.) to make anti-Jewish statements as Christianity began to disconnect itself from its Jewish roots.
As the Church spread far and wide within the Roman Empire, and its membership grew increasingly non-Jewish, Greek and Roman thought began to creep in and completely change the orientation of Biblical interpretation through a Greek mind set, rather than a Jewish or Hebraic mind set(Augustine and Origen are classic examples). This would later result in many heresies, some of which the Church is still practicing today.
Once Christianity and Judaism began to take separate paths, the chasm became wider and wider. Judaism was considered a legal religion under Roman law, while Christianity, a new religion, was illegal. As Christianity grew, the Romans tried to suppress it.
In an attempt to alleviate this persecution, Christian apologists tried in vain to convince Rome that Christianity was an extension of Judaism. However, Rome was not convinced. The resulting persecutions and frustration of the Christians bred an animosity towards the Jewish community, which was free to worship without persecution. Later, when the Church became the religion of the state, it would pass laws against the Jews in retribution.
The antagonism of the early Christians towards the Jews was reflected in the writings of the early Church Fathers. For example, Justin Martyr(100-166 AD) in speaking to a Jew circa AD160 said:
"The Scriptures are not yours, but ours."
Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon and disciple of Polyarp(100-202 AD) declared( c. AD 177):
"Jews are disinherited from the grace of God."
Tertullian (AD 160-230), in his treatise, "Against the Jews," announced that God had rejected the Jews in favor of the Christians.
In the early 4th century, Eusebius of Caesaria(270-340 AD) who baptized Constantine and who authored over 45 books argued that the promises of the Hebrew Scriptures were for Christians and not the Jews, and the curses were for the Jews. He argued that the Church was the continuation of the Old Testament and thus superseded Judaism. with the early Hebrews having been not Jews but “Christians” who “led a Christian way of life”.
Eusebius(and Origen) typically presented biblical heroes - Abraham, David, Solomon - as early Christians, while Saul and Ahab were real and wicked Jews.
Origen was from Alexandria, Egypt and wrote some 6000 volumes and lived from 186-253 AD and was one of the originators of many anti-Semitic concepts.
The young Church thus declared itself to be the true Israel, or "Israel according to the Spirit," heir to the divine promises. They found it essential to discredit the "Israel according to the flesh" to prove that God had cast away His people and transferred His love to the Christians.
At the beginning of the 4th century, a monumental event occurred for the Church, which placed "the Church Triumphant" over "Vanquished Israel." In AD 306, Constantine became the first Christian Roman Emperor. At first, he had a rather pluralistic view and accorded Jews the same religious rights as Christians.
However, in AD 321, he made Christianity the official religion of the Empire to the exclusion of all other religions. This signaled the end of the persecution of Christians, but the beginning of discrimination and persecution of the Jewish people.
Already at the Church Council in Elvira (Spain) in AD 305, declarations were made(Canon 16) to keep Jews and Christians apart, including ordering Christians not to share meals with Jews(Canon 50), not to marry Jews, not to use Jews to bless their fields(Canon 49), and not to observe the Jewish Sabbath.
Imperial Rome, in AD 313, issued the Edict of Milan, which granted favor to Christianity, while outlawing Jewish synagogues. Then, in AD 315, another edict allowed the burning of Jews if they were convicted of breaking the laws. As Christianity was becoming the religion of the state, further laws were passed against the Jews:
(1) The ancient privileges granted to the Jews were withdrawn.
(2) Rabbinical jurisdiction was abolished or severely curtailed.
(3) Proselytism to Judaism was prohibited and made punishable by death.
(4) Jews were excluded from holding high office or a military career.
These and other restrictions were confirmed over and over again by various Church Councils for the next 1,000 years.
In AD 321, Constantine decreed all business should cease on "the honored day of the sun." By substituting Sunday for Saturday as the day for Christian worship, he further advanced the split.
This Jewish Shabbat/Christian Sunday controversy also came up at the first real ecumenical Council of Nicea (AD 325), which concluded Sunday to be the Christian day of rest, although it was debated for long after that. The underlying intention of this ordinance was to sever Jewish connections to Passover.
Overnight, Christianity was given the power of the Imperial State, and the emperors began to translate the concepts and claims of the Christian theologians against the Jews and Judaism into practice. Instead of the Church taking this opportunity to spread its Gospel message in love, it truly became the Church Triumphant, ready to vanquish its foes.
After 321, the writings of the Church Fathers changed in character. No longer was it on the defensive and apologetic, but aggressive, directing its venom at everyone "outside of the flock," in particular the Jewish people who could be found in almost every community and nation. During this period, we find more examples of anti-Jewish bias in Church literature written by Church leaders:
Hilary of Poitiers (AD 291-371) wrote:
"Jews are a perverse people accursed by God forever."
Gregory of Nyssa (died AD 394), Bishop of Cappadocia:
"the Jews are a brood of vipers, haters of goodness..."
St. Jerome (AD 347-407) describes the Jews as
"... serpents, wearing the image of Judas, their psalms and prayers are the braying of donkeys."
At the end of the 4th century, the Bishop of Antioch, John Chrysostom( AD344-407), who was called the “golden mouthed” and “silver tongued” orator, wrote a series of eight sermons against the Jews. He had seen Christians talking with Jewish people, taking oaths in front of the Ark, and some were keeping the Jewish feasts. He wanted this to stop. In an effort to bring his people back to what he called, "the true faith," the Jews became the whipping boy for his sermon series.
To quote Chrysostom:
"the synagogue is not only a brothel and a theater; it is also a den of robbers and a lodging for wild beasts. No Jew adores God... Jews are inveterate murderers, possessed by the devil, their debauchery and drunkenness gives them the manners of the pig. They kill and maim one another..."
One can easily see that a Judeo-Christian who wanted to hold on to his heritage, or a Gentile Christian who wanted to learn more about the parent faith of Christianity, would have found it extremely difficult under this pressure.
Chrysostom further sought to separate Christianity totally from Judaism. He wrote in his 4th Discourse,
"I have said enough against those who say they are on our side, but are eager to follow the Jewish rites... it is against the Jews that I wish to draw up my battle... Jews are abandoned by God and for the crime of deicide, there is no expiation possible."
Chrysostom was known for his fiery preaching against what he saw as threats to his flock, including wealth, entertainment, privilege and outward adornment. However, his preaching against the Jewish community, which he believed had a negative influence on Christians, is inexcusable and blatantly anti-Semitic in its content.
Another unfortunate contribution Chrysostom made to Christian anti-Semitism was to hold the whole Jewish people culpable for the killing of Christ.
In the fifth century, the burning question was:
“If the Jews and Judaism were cursed by God, then how can you explain their existence?”
St. Augustine, the famous Doctor of the Catholic Church, tackled this issue in his "Sermon Against the Jews." He asserted that even though the Jews deserved the most severe punishment for having put Jesus to death, they have been kept alive by Divine Providence to serve, together with their Scriptures, as witnesses to the truth of Christianity.
In an interesting twist, he claimed that their(the Jews) existence was further justified by the service they rendered to the Christian truth, in attesting through their humiliation, the triumph of the Church over the Synagogue. They were to be a "Witness people"; slaves and servants who should be humbled.
As a result of this type of theological discourse, the monarchs of the Holy Roman Empire thus began to regard the Jews as serfs or servants of the royal chamber (servi camerae), and utilized them as slave librarians to maintain Hebrew writings.
They also utilized the services of Jews in another enterprise - usury, or money-lending. The loaning of money was necessary to a growing economy. However, usury was considered to endanger the eternal salvation of the Christian, and was thus forbidden.
So, the Church endorsed the practice of lending by Jews, for according to the Church’s reasoning, their Jewish souls were lost in any case. Much later, the Jewish people were utilized by the Western countries as trade agents in commerce, and thus we see how the Jewish people found their way into the fields of banking and commerce.
So, by the Middle Ages, the ideological arsenal of Christian anti-Semitism and Replacement Theology was completely established. This was further manifested in a variety of precedent-setting events within the Church, such as Patriarch Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, expelling the Jews and giving their property to a Christian mob.
From a social standpoint, the deterioration of the Jewish position in society was only beginning its decline. During this early period, the virulent Judeo- phobia was primarily limited to the clergy who were always trying to keep their flocks away from the Jews. However, later, the rank and file, growing middle class would be the main source of anti-Semitic activity.
The result of these anti-Jewish teachings continued onwards throughout Church history, manifesting itself in such events and actions as the Crusades, the accusation of communion host desecration and blood libel by the Jews, the forced wearing of distinguishing marks to ostracize them, the Inquisition, the displacement of whole Jewish communities by exile or separate ghettoes, the destruction of synagogues and Jewish books, physical persecution and execution, the Pogroms.
Specifically, the Lateran councils of A.D. 1179 and A.D. 1215 ordered Jews to live in separate quarters and to wear distinctive dress. This paved the way for ghetto living throughout Europe and the yellow badge required prior to and during the time of the Nazi Holocaust.
Martin Luther, who did much to bring about a reformed Church, helped advance further disdain for the Jews. Luther apparently learning nothing from Romans 11:28-29 which says:
“As far as the gospel is concerned, they(the Jews) are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable”
Luther’s comments on this scripture(as documented in Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans):
“The word ‘enemies’ must here be taken in a passive sense, that is, they(the Jews) deserve to be hated. God hates them, and so they are hated by the Apostles and all who are of God”.
Ultimately, the seeds of destruction grew to epic proportions, culminating in the Holocaust, which occurred in "Christian" Europe. Hitler found ample ammunition for his “final solution” within the Church teachings in Germany, Austria and most of the remainder of Europe. Luther is quoted in the evil dictator’s classic work Mein Kampf!
Destruction of Christian Witness
It is virtually impossible to imagine how much damage has been done to Christian witnessing to the Jews. Jews, in particular those in the orthodox and ultra-orthodox area, probably understand the Old Testament covenant promises better than many Christians.
Knowing God's plan to use the Church to provoke Israel to jealousy, the devil succeeded in so distorting the "faith once delivered to the saints," that the Jewish people were only too glad to reject such an idol worshiping, blood-shedding abomination.
They(the Jews) reasoned:
"How could anything that evil and malignant come from the God of Israel?"
"How could the Yeshua (Jesus) they claim to believe in, be our Messiah?
“Whatever He is, whoever He was, He is not the promised Messiah, for certainly our Messiah could not or would not, inflame His followers with such hatred and evil?"
The plan of the devil was succeeding: A perverted Church persecuting the Jews in the name of Yeshua - Yeshua, the name in which the Jewish nation must believe before He can return to destroy the devil.
A master stroke of evil genius! The Jewish people could never come to faith in the one whose supposed followers persecuted and killed them.
One need not wonder why it is so difficult to witness to the Jewish population when Replacement Theology is shouted from the pulpits of many mainstream Protestant and Evangelical Christian Churches in America and from most Churches in Europe.
Had the Church understood the clear message from Romans 11 of being grafted into the Olive Tree from the beginning, then the sad legacy of anti-Semitic hatred from the Church may have been avoided.
The error of Replacement Theology is like a cancer in the Church that has not only caused it to violate God's Word concerning the Jewish people and Israel, but it made us into instruments of hate, not love in God's Name.
It is difficult to imagine that such thinking can be spiritually discerned when its component parts deviate so dramatically from what the Bible clearly teaches regarding Israel.
God clearly says to Israel in Genesis 12:2-3 that:
“...I will bless them that bless you and curse them that curse you”.
The Replacement Theologists are clearly not “blessing” Israel by their theology; only God can determine whether or not their thinking resembles a “curse” against Israel.
Included in this group of anti-Semitic, replacement theologians are those who claim to have special interpretations of the last times, including claims of “numerological” and “pattern processes” which they claim places the Church in a position to usurp the unconditional covenantal promises which God made to Abraham.
In most cases these well meaning but misdirected theologians and writers have developed an impressive but highly incorrect “private interpretation”, clearly condemned by 2 Peter 1:20.
Simultaneously, they fail to distinguish between what is called the “Church” or “body of Christ” and those who Christ calls his “brethren”, his “nation”, the "elect" or “people” throughout the Bible.
Even Christian Reconstructionists(John Rushdoony, Gary North, Earl Paulk, et al)have fallen into this anti-Semetic trap as evidenced from the late Reconstructionist David Chilton’s book “Days of Vengeance’ where he states:
“The nation that will not serve us will perish(Isa. 60:12); ‘all the peoples of the earth will be subdued under our feet’(Ps. 47:1-3 )--- (these are)promises made originally to Israel, but now to be fulfilled in the New Israel, the Church.”
Reconstructionists constitute a significant portion of that group which Washington politicians and the media refer to as the “Christian Right”. Although other types of evangelical Christians can normally be found in this group, the Reconstructionists have assumed the “intelligencia” role and have actually elevated their anti-Semitic viewpoint to another level.
They not only have assumed the covenantal promises made to the Jews but espouse a highly legalistic belief structure, claiming that Old Testament moral guidelines provided to the Jews are now to be imprinted on world government, providing a total “dominion” over things both spiritual and civil.
It is entirely possible that these Reconstructionists and Replacement Theologists have succeeded in misleading the current(and past) administrations into partitioning Palestine between the Jews and Arabs, something God clearly has forbidden in the Bible.
Was 9/11 in part God's punishment on America for continuing to disregard His directive not to give away Israel's land?
Reconstructionists and many Replacement Theologists simply cannot understand that the “law” and “grace” cannot co-exist. They want the grace that came by way of Christ’s once for all sacrifice at Calvary as well as the “law” that governed the Israelites during Old Testament times.
They refuse to acknowledge the wisdom of Paul’s message in Galations 4: 19-31 regarding Abraham’s two sons: one borne under the flesh(Ishmael) and the one born of promise(Isaac). When combined with Romans 11(the olive tree discussion) it should be obvious that Replacement Theologists and Reconstructionists alike are heading down a dark theological alley.
The extent to which this complicated Reconstructionist/Replacement Theology belief structure has begun to infect evangelical Christians and others as well can be realized by remembering what Dr. Gary North said about the Y2K debacle which never happened:
“...of course I want to see Y2K bring down the system, all over the world. This(Y2K event) will decentralize the social order. I have hoped for this all of my adult life. Y2K is our deliverance!”.
As one of the principal spokespersons and apologists for the Christian Reconstructionist movement, one can see by the above quotation, his “Rambo style” rhetoric, designed to impose a legalistic, theocratic form of government in the place of democracy was indeed admirable, but terribly misguided.
North’s elaborate Y2K Internet web site literally screamed out to the reader that we were headed for a complete and unmitigated disaster with all of the major infrastructures failing and creating months if not years of worldwide financial, civil and personal chaos.
As Hal Lindsey said in his best selling book - "The Road to Holocaust"
“...if North were as tough with his fists as he is with his words, Mike Tyson would be in real trouble”
A very bright and articulate historian, Dr. North clearly did not have a sufficiently accurate technical background to justify many of his outlandish claims regarding Y2K and today, Dr. Gary North is off the radar screen, nowhere to be found in the printed or electronic media.
However, with his persuasive and impressive Internet web site during the Y2K confusion he was extremely effective in promoting the anti-Semitic, Postmillinnial, Reconstructionist religious agenda.
The “collateral damage” created by this group of so-called Christian ”intelligencia”, committed to a misguided eschatology which consists of a combination of Replacement Theology and Christian Reconstructionism (where man attempts to step in and complete the tasks that only Christ will complete when He returns) is indeed considerable.
Replacement Theology may take on forms other than we have seen above. It is seen where cults such as Jehovah’s Witnesses are so bold as to claim to be those Jews, the 144,000 of the children of Israel who are sealed in Revelation 7.
Apparently the portion of their Bible containing Revelation 2:9 and 3:9 as noted above has been conveniently omitted since they seem to have no fear of Jesus warnings about taking on the identity of individuals in the 12 tribes of Israel.
Jesus warns about doing this twice in Revelation (Rev. 2:9 and Rev. 3:9) He calls the ones
"who say they are Jews but are not" are liars, of the synagogue of Satan, and using "doctrines of demons".
There are of course a wide range of other anti-Semitic groups which gather their energies from incorrect theological enterprises such as the Reconstructionists. Many of these groups integrate heavily pro-Nazi viewpoints, segregationist and other ethnic issues into their vitriolic and sometimes violent activities.
They are too numerous to mention but do gather interest when they become linked to militant activities such as Posse Comitas, Christian Identity, et al and when these groups, correctly or not, become associated with violent, anti-government activities such as the Oklahoma City bombing.
The point of these foregoing examples is simply to illustrate just how far, wide and deep the theological error of Replacement Theology has reached into the landscape of American churches.
A Denial of Futurist Oriented Prophecy
As noted above, most if not all Replacement Theologists also believe that there is no such dispensational time element called the “millennium”, a time when the Bible clearly states that Israel will finally enjoy the unconditional, physical promises made by God to Abraham and his descendants, including Jacob.
To the Replacement Theologist who has made a theological commitment to an anti-Semitic viewpoint, the multiple references to the “1000 years” of Revelation 20 must of necessity be purely symbolic and only represent some sort of fleeting, spiritual event(versus physical) and are of necessity discarded as irrelevant to the Church’s future.
This anti-dispensational, eschatological view is called "preterism" which will be covered in detail in a future article on this web site.
The deviation from a literal interpretation of scriptures in the early centuries as shown earlier provided ample reason for today’s theologians and seminaries to pursue private interpretations of scripture vis a vis wholesale spiritualization or allegorization of scripture which does not fit their particular interpretation.
This approach to scripture is called "pre-suppositional" theology where a theological premise is made and then scripture is selectively used to support this theological premise.
Correctly interpreting scripture leads to a theology, not the inverse as Reconstructionists have done.
For example, by acknowledging a literal, millennial dispensation specifically identified as one of the several economies that God has delegated to mankind from the beginning of time, these modernistic theologians must by all rights acknowledge the unique role that God has set aside for the remnant of Israel. This is anathema to their belief structure.
To be more specific. To believe in a time element such as the Millennium is a tacit admission of the reconstruction of Jewish tradition and worship in a reconstructed temple, all of which is prophesied by several of the minor prophets and which is described in much detail in the latter chapters of Ezekiel.
Since they disavow this unique role by way of covenantal shifts to the Church, they must conversely disavow a literal Millennium which is discussed in both New and Old Testaments. A considerable amount of circular reasoning is implicit in the constructs of their theology.
The failure to understand(or accept) the concept of the Branches and the Root/Tree of Romans 11 is endemic amongst those who have thrown Israel into the wastebasket of history. How such an misunderstanding amongst such supposed intelligencia is possible is truly a great mystery.
This must certainly please the devil who has and continues to attempt to destroy both the legacy of Christ via the Jewish nation as well as biblical prophecy which has been preserved in their regard.
For if the devil is able to convince mankind to dispense with Israel as a physical entity through which Christ, the scriptures and blessings to all nations were delivered, he has these misled theologians exactly where he wants them - as “supposed Christians”, cleverly misleading the laity and unsaved down the slippery path which the devil hopes will lead to the intellectual and physical destruction of that entity(Israel) through which God sent his Son and which nation has thus been constructed to bless the world’s nations.
But we must remember that the deep things of God are spiritually discerned and it is quite possible that that situation applies to those whose lack of a true spiritual(versus intellectual) understanding of scores of references throughout the Old and New Testament has led them eschatologically astray.
It does not take a rocket scientist to see that through the events transpiring in the Middle East, history as we know it is slowly winding down to its last hours. God, throughout the Bible, has repeatedly and concisely placed Israel in the cross hairs of those closing hours of history.
It is foolish to assume that the events in the Middle East, the battle over what one calls “Palestine”, the increasing alignment of world powers against Israel and the Jews and the rapidly increasing immigration of much of the world’s Jewry to Palestine are without spiritual significance.
The world, and much of the so-called Christian community also see no significance in these events since they, in a sense, are as blind as the majority of the Jews have been for 2000 years to the real Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Only a small segment of Israeli society, the Messianic Jews or those who God repeatedly refers to as the "remnant", appear to have any understanding of the significance of current events. They of course are in the minority, amongst a secular Jewish society whose worldliness and lack of spiritual insight rivals the rest of the world’s lost individuals and thus stands in the way of the believing Israeli population.
Sometimes it seems difficult to understand how all of these last days events could possibly occur as the Bible clearly states. But it is good to remember that God has already foreordained the sequence of events in these last days and it will be Him, and not the efforts of man that enables these final events to transpire.
Replacement Theology Refuted by Scripture
It is clear that the Christian Church has blood on its hands as regards its Jewish counterparts. As long as the nations of the earth and the Christian Church in particular do not extend hands of petition to a forgiving God and hands of healing to a wounded people, it is possible that the spiritual famine which infests the world today, and much of the Church as well, will not be stopped.
The Church finds itself in a place today similar to that of King David who, after becoming king saw Israel experience a severe three-year famine.
Perplexed over this crisis, “David sought the face of the Lord”. The Lord said in 2 Samuel 21:1:
“It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death”.
Saul? What did Saul, who was now dead, have to do with David? David was not responsible for Saul’s sins, was he? And the Gibeonites? That was a reference to a covenant made by Joshua hundreds of years earlier(Josh 9). Could that long ago broken promise be affecting David’s reign? Could yesterday’s sins really be the cause of the (then current) famine?
Yes , that is exactly what God was telling David. As Israel entered the land, Joshua made a covenant with the Gibeonites. Four hundred years later, Saul, the first king of Israel, broke that covenant. The famine that blighted the land during David’s reign came because Saul had dishonored and killed a covenant people.
This godless deed, committed centuries earlier, now rested on the head of the present ruler, and God expected an appropriate act of contrition and confession. The Church today finds herself in a similar position. Past generations of leaders(from St. Augustine to Luther) have dishonored and even killed this special people whom God marked for blessing.
We can review the history of great nations such as Spain, Great Britain, Germany and others whose greatness disappeared after they turned their backs of the Jews.
Spain's great economic strength has been attributed to the Jewish immigrants who built Spain into an economic powerhouse. Then came the Inquisitions where untold numbers of Jews died at the hands of the Catholic Church and the Government. Then, on the heels of these atrocities came the demise of Spain's world empire.
Similar historical accounts of the demise of Britain, Germany, the Soviet Union and other nations could be told in an analogous fashion where Jews were persecuted, killed or marginalized by government edict.
If the USA with its "Roadmap to Peace" causes the areas of Judea and Samaria(the West Bank) to be given to the Palestinians(read Arabs), what types of retribution will God allow to fall on the USA? Was 9/11 a warning shot over the bow?
What other denisens from hell will God unleash on the USA if we continue on this path to a gradual disassembly of God's covenantal promises to Israel?
Reaching Jews Today and Recognizing their Role in These Last Days
We(the Church) have made it difficult for the Jewish people to receive Christ. It is important to remember that unsaved Jews and unsaved Gentiles are both reachable with the gospel; but to the unsaved Jew the Christian church today as well as in the past has not acted as if we know the Bible and how the remnant of the Jews and the Church are to occupy the future.
Today’s Church is both the physical and spiritual descendents of those generations and we cannot ignore what has been delineated in the Scriptures about the Jewish people and Israel.
God has given us more than adequate information on this subject and as we have noted in this memorandum many so-called “Christians” continue to ignore these important guideposts for today’s believers:
"...chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant; I have chosen you and have not rejected you.'" Isaiah 41:8,9
"This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar - the LORD Al"But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob whom I have mighty is his name: ‘Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,' declares the LORD, ‘will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me.'" Jeremiah 31:35,36
"How can I give you up Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel?..... for I am God and not man." Hosea 11:8,9
"I have loved you with an everlasting love.." Jeremiah 31:3
"O descendants of Israel his servant, O sons of Jacob, his chosen ones. He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth. He remembers his covenant for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant..." 1Chronicles 16:13-17
"For the LORD's portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance." Deuteronomy 32:9
"He remembers his covenant forever, the word he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant..." Psalm 105:8-10
"He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation." Psalm 147:19,20
"The LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance." Psalm 94:14
"I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means!" Romans 11:1
"Remember that at one time you were separated from Messiah, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise... Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow-citizens with God's people and members of God's household.." Ephesians 2:12 &19
"Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either." Romans 11:20,21
"The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise." Galatians 3:17,18
The Correct Relationship Between the Jews, Christians and the Covenants
There is no question that the Christian today is a SPIRITUAL seed of Abraham. The Holy Spirit directed the Apostle Paul to write in Galations 3:7, 26-29:
“Know ye, therefore, that they who are of faith, the same are the sons(children) of Abraham. For ye are all the sons(children) of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for yea are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.”
Because of our union with Christ in this age, we share in Christ’s lineage from Abraham and in his inheritance rights of the promises. This is part of the enormous blessings that are ours through being
“bone of Christ’s bone and flesh of his flesh”. Eph. 5:30.
But this does not in any way abrogate nor annul the covenants made with the PHYSICAL seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a remnant of which will yet believe in the future and be grafted back into “their own olive tree”.
We Gentiles, as “wild olive branches” as detailed in Romans 11, have been grafted into Israel’s cultivated olive tree. But we would do well to remember that we are supported by their tree and their root only through our union with Christ.
by Gene Shaparenko
Some good reading directly related to the above topic:
"Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse?" - H Wayne House/Thomas Ice; Multnomah Press.
"The Road to Holocaust": Hal Lindsey; Bantam Publications.
"Why Care about Israel?": Sandra Teplinsky; Chosen Press