Then There Are Christians
It wasn’t too many years ago that we were hearing a great deal about the inherent goodness of man. Scorning the biblically mandated necessity of redemption, liberal religionists promoted the “divine spark” theory. Every person, they proposed, had a divine spark within. All that was needed was a fanning process through example, environment, and assorted social utensils. This fanning would create a flame and fuel the inevitable movement to a “love your neighbor” world devoid of the moral and spiritual indelicacies that out-of-fashion fundamentalists still called “sin.”
I’m not hearing much of that kind of talk these days. On the contrary, with neo-barbarians running amok throughout the Western world, one need not be a Rhodes scholar to conclude that optimistic “fan the flame” liberals made a very wrong assessment of the human condition. The spark was not divinity; it was depravity—a depravity now being vented to such an extent that one wonders just how violent and flagrantly wicked man can become before God intervenes.
Among the most belligerent manifestations of evil is anti-Semitism. Given the immense problems of starvation, bloodletting, and tyrannical aggression abroad today, some would view anti-Semitism as but a ripple on our global sea of distress. But be assured that it cannot be viewed as a marginal manifestation. Of all of the wicked schemes being concocted at the present time, none as clearly defines the evil within as does anti-Semitism. Documentation for the persistence of anti-Semitism is provided in the chart and articles to follow in this issue.
Viewing the pattern and progress of active hostility toward the Jewish people from the post-Egyptian period to the present, one can accurately conclude that man is not in a process of upward moral evolution. Quite to the contrary, evidence is mounting of a growing regression that embodies the basest elements of human depravity. Internationally, we continue to witness incomprehensible prejudice in the way “enlightened” U.N. functionaries respond to issues related to Israel. When Israel expelled 400 terrorists dedicated to the Muslim-fundamentalist Hamas commitment to kill Jews, wreck the peace process, and wipe out Israel, the U.N. threatened sanctions against the Jewish state. Israeli Prime Minister Rabin correctly characterized U.N. Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali’s call for action against Israel as “a moral double standard.” Indeed, Rabin continued, “It totally ignores extremist fundamentalism and its objective of destroying the peace process.” Not to mention hacking Israelis to death, an activity the U.N. doesn’t seem to notice.
It’s an old story, of course, and the chronicles of the institution pledged to promote international peace and equity are filled with such illustrations of malicious intent when arbitrating issues between Israel and her avowed enemies, who openly flaunt their obsession to destroy Israel and her children. In view of such bias, it’s not difficult to envision a day when the nations will gather against the Jews and Jerusalem (Zech 14:1–3).
The persistent international double-standard attitude toward Jewry and Israel has counterparts at national and local levels. Pamyat in Russia, hate-driven neo-Nazis in Europe, bed sheet-clad Ku Klux Klanners in America, and their lesser-known cohorts form a vicious circle of adversaries. And while their delusions of destiny very, a sustaining bond of solidarity binds them in spirit: They all hate the Jewish people.
This phenomenon parallels the Islamic scenario. Islam is made up of many peoples of the world. Some are far removed from the Middle East and are of diverse sects of Islam, yet there is a linking factor: common antagonism toward Jewry and the State of Israel.
Vying for the status of the most despicable of these groups is the made-in-America “Christian Identity.” Proclaiming that they know their identity—Anglo-Saxon descendants of the ten lost tribes and thus the true Israel of God—they parade under the banner of Christianity. Both claims are monumental misrepresentations of the truth. In reality, they are neither Israel nor Christian and are only, once again, in its ugliest form, the pseudo–Christian persecutors of Jewish people who choose to do the Devil’s work in the name of the Prince of Peace.
Christian Identity is composed of a number of small cadres in diverse parts of the country. Operating under names such as Church of Jesus Christ Christian, Aryan Nations, and other obscure designations, they share a common theology of white supremacy and hatred for Jewish people. With their Klan and neo-Nazi cohorts, Identity champions their British-Israelite fantasy and determination to one day depose America’s Zionist Occupational Government (ZOG). Preparatory engagements in the move to a final overthrow are now being waged by distributing hate literature, venomous harangues against Jews and other “sub-human” minorities, and physical acts of defamation and injury.
The Deeper Evil
The age-old persistence of such unified vehemence evidences a deeper malignancy. And while conspiracy hunters can unearth innumerable human perpetrators, anti-Semitism is unmistakably not merely a human invention. No, there is too much evidence to the contrary. Of course we cannot lay blame for all that has been done to Jewry, in whatever name, to a flippant “the Devil made me do it” cop-out. (All anti-Semites are willing participants and fully obligated to bear responsibility for their iniquitous conduct.) But a larger conspirator, Satan, is orchestrating a determined program to destroy Jewry. The Bible clearly declares what history documents in the patterns confirming the dimensions of the great Satan-God struggle (see Dr. Showers’ article in this issue).
Then There Are Christians
Intriguingly, the maze of history has produced twin stereotyping that is devastatingly inaccurate. For many professing Christians, a perception of Jewish people has been formed that is, as Jews will quickly affirm, grossly exaggerated and unfair. For example, no coterie of Jewish men is sitting in a smoke-filled room conspiring to take over the world in the name of Zionism. Nor are Jewish people persistently obstinate, excessively wealthy, or out to victimize Gentiles.
Conversely, all Christians are not anti-Semites who believe Jewish people should be punished as “Christ killers,” proselytized into becoming Gentiles, or converted to Christianity against their will.
My awakening to just how ingrained these stereotypes are came when I was doing research for writing projects in Israel in the 1970s. In discussing the Christian faith with Israelis who had become friends, I discovered that they could readily detail miseries heaped upon them by “Christians” in the name of Christ. However, I did not recognize most people they designated “Christians” as being Christians at all. And further discussions exposed the fact that my friends knew virtually nothing of what true biblical Christianity was all about, or, for that matter, why some believers contradicted the pattern of persecution long associated by Jews with norms of Christian conduct.
The Biblical Injunction
Crucial to Israel and the Jewish people, particularly in these ominous days of rising anti-Semitic activity, is the understanding that all who call themselves Christians are not the enemy. Those who take seriously the biblical program for Israel and her people are supporters, not subverters. The Scriptures—Old Testament and New—are very clear as to where Israel stands with God and where the obligation lies with believers in Jesus.
Central to the mission of Bible-believing Christians is the desire to make the Messiah known to Jews and Gentiles the world over. “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:12–13). Ethically honest evangelicals do not hesitate to articulate this commitment. Israel’s future destiny is irrevocably related to her relationship to the Messiah, whom we believe to be Jesus of Nazareth. And while we serve our commitment to Christ, we do not conspire to impose our faith on those who do not choose to trust Him. Nor do we lack respect for Jewish people who hold variant views.
Scripture reverberates with soundings of the depths of God’s love for the Jewish people. And a scripturally correct standard of conduct demands that believers share His heart. Often repeated, but undergirding all else, is the Genesis 12 promise to “bless them that bless thee [Israel]” (Gen. 12:3). Zechariah summarized beautifully with poignant words of warning: “for he that toucheth you [Israel] toucheth the apple of his eye” (Zech. 2:8).
The New Testament is as specific. Romans 11 admonishes Gentile believers that they “Be not highminded” (Rom. 11:20) toward Jewish people who have rejected Christ. On the contrary, Gentile believers are told of God’s purpose and their place in relationship to Israel.
I say, then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid; but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fullness? (Rom. 11:11–12).
Three facts rise from the text.
(1) God is not finished with Israel. A future day of “their fullness” under the Messiah is assured. The message of Israel’s coming reconciliation to the Messiah runs through the Word of God like a golden thread. Of that day comes the oft-repeated phrase, “I … will be their God, and they shall be my people” (Jer. 31:33). Matthew 24 speaks eloquently of His coming to establish the Kingdom long awaited by believing Jewry.
(2) Their temporary “fall” has provided a grace gift of salvation to the Gentiles. God’s provision for grace for those Gentiles who were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12) was initiated through Israel’s national stumbling. Spiritual vistas heretofore unimagined afforded Gentiles the opportunity to join the believing remnant of Israel in the family of God through Christ, who “hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us” (Eph. 2:14).
(3) Therefore, believing Gentiles have an obligation to embody the best of what Christianity is all about before the Jewish people—conduct that is the ultimate answer to all that is portrayed in vile anti-Semitism. Our world, Jew and Gentile, desperately needs to see on display God’s antidote to anti-Semitism: the very compassion of the Messiah through believers who fully appreciate all that He has given us through His ancient people Israel.
Will Houghton, former president of the Moody Bible Institute, has penned some appropriate words.
Say not a Christian e’er would
persecute a Jew;
A Gentile might, but not a Christian true.
Pilate and Roman guard that folly tried. And with
that great Jew’s death an empire died!
When Christians gather in cathedral,
church or hall,
Hearts turn toward One—the name of Jesus call.
You cannot persecute—whatever else you do—
The race who gave Him—Jesus was a Jew!