Tuesday this week saw Ephraim Mirvis, Britain’s Chief Rabbi,...
What is the consequence of believing that the Jews have lost their covenant with God?
Whether you consider the subject material in these articles relevant to your lifestyle is not important. What is important is that the story of the Jews serves to help you to realise that there’s more to this World than what you can see, hear, touch, smell or feel.
If you are Jewish, then you must realise that your heart has been wrapped in chains and securely locked up for centuries. But there is a key to this lock. It has grown rusty and has been more commonly used as a weapon against you, but it is coming back into view. That key is Jesus of Nazareth. He is the key to understanding and the key to life. Be bold, you have nothing to lose. You will receive such knowledge, wisdom and understanding that you will regret that you never found him earlier. I certainly did.
In the words of Moses, “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
For Gentile Christians among you, given that I consider the only valid explanation to the questions posed is that there are spiritual forces afoot, what exactly do I mean? I will bow to the insights and knowledge of the sorely missed Derek Prince to furnish an explanation. In his teaching letter (No. 7) on The Root of Anti-Semitism, he says this:
“While I was preaching in our local church in Jerusalem, quite unexpectedly I heard myself say, “Anti-Semitism can be summed up in one word – MESSIAH!!” At that moment I understood that from its beginning anti-Semitism had one source – Satan – who was motivated by the knowledge that the One who was to be his conqueror, the Messiah, would come through a people that would be specially prepared by God.”
One’s theology in this case determines one’s views on a whole people, the Jews, and a whole nation, Israel
God has provided us with the Bible to guide us towards a godly life and to allow us to know His ways. We follow the words, are blessed by them and, often, are spurred into action by them. In the case of Mr. Shoots (those who believe the Church replaced the Jews) and Mr. Roots (those who believe that the Jews still have a covenant relationship with God), the action taken can be, and certainly has been, most significant because the actions taken are often most visible. One’s theology in this case determines one’s views on a whole people, the Jews, and a whole nation, Israel. Because the question of Israel is one of the true ‘hot chestnuts’ in the World today, one will naturally be drawn into the discussion.
In the case of Mr. Shoots, 2000 years of history has determined what can be a possible outcome of such views and, so, when it comes to analyse how Mr. Shoots comes to his particular theological position there can be a typical ‘chicken and egg’ situation. Either he is convinced by his theological arguments first, leading to his particular view of history regarding Israel and the Jews or … vice versa. And it’s the vice versa that is borne out by the dark side of Christian history over the past 2000 years, borne out by the tragedies of the Crusades, the Inquisition, forced expulsions and, ultimately, the Holocaust.
Is a particular reading of Scripture regarding the Jews a justification for the blind hatred that has been shown by those professing a religion of love and forgiveness, or did the hatred come first? People who subscribe to the theological arguments of Mr. Shoots should be aware of its limitations and implications because the “spiritualising” of Scripture has provided the theoretical justification for some of the most shameful episodes in Church history.
This is not to say that Mr. Shoots is anti-Semitic, just to say that ‘Christian’ anti-Semitism has often found a fertile ground in the views expressed by Mr. Shoots.
If my words have offended you then I apologise, because I know that taking this theological view doesn’t automatically mean you are anti-Semitic. The vast majority of you are, I am sure, completely sincere in your beliefs and have arrived at your position with an open mind. All I would ask you to do is to persevere with my argument and then agree to disagree, amicably and in Christian brotherhood.
Arguments presented by Mr. Shoots have been used by such church luminaries as John Chrysostom, Augustine, Tertullian, Origen, Irenaeus and Martin Luther, mentioned in earlier articles.
And it wasn’t long before their theology and teachings gave way to practical action in the form of persecution, expulsion and extermination, solely on the basis of the arguments that the Jews had been replaced by the Church. Although, these days, the Church has laid aside this practical action, the theology that inspired it is still with us and you must really examine what God’s views would be on a particular interpretation of His Scripture that could inspire such shameful behaviour by leading Christian teachers throughout history.
It is a sad fact of history that one of the most unifying concepts through church history has not been theology or the teachings of Jesus, but negativity towards the Jewish people. That is putting it mildly!
For the previous article in this series, click here.
For the next article in this series, click here.
To find out what is my favourite book of the Bible, click here.
You can reach Steve with any comments or questions at the Saltshakers Web Community website.