This is a cross-post from Calvin Smith.
Protestant and Evangelical Involvement in the Holocaust
We sometimes hear about the pre-war Roman Catholic Church’s attitudes towards the Jews which not only reflected European deep-rooted anti-Semitism at the time but also contributed to a milieu which allowed the Holocaust to happen. Yet we read far less about Protestant attitudes (Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, even Pentecostal) towards the Jews in Germany and across pre-war Europe, which likewise permitted the architects of the Holocaust to go about their genocidal task. Here’s an excerpt taken from a disturbing essay on the subject (itself part of a much larger piece of research). Evangelicals take note.In 1933, Bishop Rendtorff (who would later become a leader in the Confessing Church) had questioned the whole assumption that the state’s behaviour towards the Jews was “unevangelical”. For 1700 years, he noted, the church had fully approved of restrictive laws against Jews. Emancipation was an idea of the enlightenment, and should not be identified as an evangelical norm (26). Wilhelm Halfmann, the spiritual director of the Confessing Church in Schleswig-Holstein, and Bishop of Holstein after 1946, wrote in 1936 that, because of “legitimate” Christian anti-Semitism, it was not the church’s duty “to interfere in the state’s Jewish legislation:
Far more, we of the church must say, based upon two thousand years’ experience with the Jews: the state is right. It is attempting to protect the German people … with the approval of the Christian church”. (27)Likewise, the Brethren Die Tenne spoke of the “accursed” nature of the Jews, and of “the cleansing of Germany from … Jewish immigrants”. On June 18, 1933,Licht und Leben carried an article by the Chairman of the Gnadau Association to Promote Fellowship and Evangelisation, Walter Michaelis, stating that he and his organisation “had nothing against stemming Jewish influence, and treating Jews as non Germans.” From a Biblical point of view, “nothing could be said against this,” and it was indeed, “part of the divine plan for them.” (28) Concerning the Nuremberg Laws, the Baptist Wahrheitszeuge “told its readers not to forget that the hearts of Jews had been hardened by God following their rejection of the Messiah. Under God’s judgment, they had become a curse for the world.” (29) Likewise, the founder of the Elim Pentecostal church in Germany stated that he had “warmly welcomed” the Nuremberg Laws and knew that they did not violate God’s Word “in any way”. (30)In Poland, during 1936, Monsignor Trzeciak addressed a large audience on the topic “The Jewish problem in the light of Christian ethics”. He stated:
Saint Jerome hated the Jews and Pope Pius V expelled all Jews from the Papal domain. Poland should follow this example: Jews should be destroyed, exterminated and expelled from Poland … Noble are those Christians who refuse to sit with Jews on the same bench at university … every Polish woman who buys from a Jew is a traitor. The Christian religion imposes a penalty for dealing with Jews. (31)The fruits of supersessionism in the above material are clear. Anti-Jewish legislation is approved of by these churches, based on “2,000 years” of Church history, the “accursed” nature of the Jews, the “divine plan” for them and “God’s word.” Jewish suffering was officially promoted by these churches based on their own doctrines. The churches could have behaved like the Israelites in 2 Chronicles 28:13-15, or like David in 1 Samuel 26:11. Instead, they behaved like Babylon in Isaiah 47:6, not understanding Isaiah 54:7-8. This official support for the boycott and exclusion of Jews dispersed across Europe finds its ugly parallel in today’s supersessionist Christian support for the boycott, disinvestment and sanctions aimed at the ingathered Jews in the state of Israel.Excerpt from Colin Barnes, “Denouement of Supersessionist Triumphalism: European Churches and the Holocaust” in Calvin L. Smith, ed. The Jews, Modern Israel and the New Supersessionism. New revised and expanded edition (King’s Divinity Press 2013), 74-77.
Here is a great article at algemeiner.com by Grand Rabbi Y. A. Korff, the Zvhil-Mezbuz Rebbe of Boston examining the use and misuse of Tikkun Olam, stating that if everything is Tikkun Olam, nothing is. This is a salutary piece and teachers in the Messianic Movement should take note that we don’t misuse this term either.
The Fallacy, Delusion and Myth of Tikkun Olam
The term and concept Tikkun Olam appears nowhere in the Torah itself, but first appears only in the Mishna and Talmud in the context of the courts and halakhic (legal) regulations involving disputes and legal rights.
Tikkun Olam is quite clearly “a theological notion and not a trendy socioeconomic or political one,” observing that, “It would be an exaggeration, but only a small one, to say that nothing in Judaism directs us to the pursuit of social (as opposed to judicial) justice.”
Calling it “a blatant distortion of the meaning of the term,” a “substitute faith” and a “shibboleth,” he writes that “the current [promiscuous] usage of this term represents a category mistake, is a blatant example of conversion by redefinition, and constitutes a paradigmatic example of the reductionist fallacy” which is merely “liberation theology without the theology.” He concludes, “Tikkun Olam means ‘for the proper order of the Jewish community.’ It is a long way from that definition to ‘build a better world.’”
Please read the full article here.
Here is an article from the Huffungton Post arguing that Paul was a dedicated Jew till the end of his life – read in full here
It’s widely acknowledged that Jesus was a thoroughly practicing Jew throughout his life. Anglican Priest Bruce Chilton expressed that conclusion explicitly and concisely in his book “Rabbi Jesus”: “It became clear to me that everything Jesus did was as a Jew, for Jews, and about Jews.”
But what about Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles? It’s generally accepted that Paul was the true founder of a new religion called Christianity. Biblical scholar Gerd Ludemann, author of several books about Jesus and Paul including “Paul: Founder of Christianity,” affirms that “Without Paul there would be no church and no Christianity.” Ludemann adds, “He’s the most decisive person that shaped Christianity as it developed. Without Paul we would have had reformed Judaism … but no Christianity.”
Paul converted Jews and then Gentiles to Jewish Christianity, basing these conversions on his belief in the teachings, resurrection and divinity of Jesus. But powerful evidence within “Acts of the Apostles,” the book of the New Testament that chronicles Paul’s mission, reveals that Paul, like Jesus, remained a dedicated Jew until his execution. In fact, if Paul had simply stated that he was no longer a Jew but the leader of a new religion, he would not have been imprisoned or executed.
This is a cross-post from Calvin Smith’s blog
The Syrian civil war rages on, increasingly brutal and with no end in sight. This morning’s news that the Assad regime claims to have re-taken the town of Qusair merely confirms that Syrians are in for a long haul, that this bloody and merciless conflict will not be settled any time soon.The situation is made worse by Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon siding with the Assad regime to whom it existentially depends. If Assad falls, Hezbollah is severely weakened, losing a key ally and military supplier. Thus the recent news reports detailing thousands of Hezbollah fighters now in Syria fighting for Assad against Syrian opposition groups. To the outsider it must seem somewhat ironic for Hezbollah Islamists to side with a secular leader against a Syrian rebellion that contains a strong Islamist element (the Muslim Brotherhood). Of course, they both represent different expressions of Islam – Shia and Sunni – and the historic rivalry between provides and added dimension of complexity to the current conflict.Because of increasing Hezbollah involvement in the Syrian civil war, Syrian rebels are now targeting Hezbollah within Lebanon itself. Rockets were recently fired at Hezbollah districts in Lebanon, while today the BBC is reporting a senior Syrian rebel leader’ claims that they have every right, given Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria, to take the war to Lebanon and fight Hezbollah in their own country.There have also been attempts to drag Israel into the fray in the Golan region, presumably to unite Arabs against a common foe. The danger of a regional war are therefore very real. The Syrian regime’s use (now confirmed) of chemical weapons against its own people could spell disastrous consequences in such a war. Right now the Israeli government is spending a third of a billion dollars to ensure every resident has a gas mask.
Malcolm Lowe has written this devastating piece for the Gladstone Institute.
Church of Scotland Shreds Bible
Canonizes Palestinian “Scripture,” Flunks Exams
The Kirk has committed theological suicide in order to promote political inanities. The former Church of Scotland is defunct; the Church of Latter Day Scots has taken over the premises.
At its recent General Assembly (May 18-24, 2013), the Church of Scotland adopted a pro-Palestinian tract entitled The Inheritance of Abraham? Its Preface admits that a previous version “caused worry and concern in parts of the Jewish Community in Israel and beyond” and offers “clarification.” The clarification is mere window-dressing, but that is beside the point. It is rather “parts of the Christian Community in Scotland and beyond” that should be worried and concerned. To judge from the amateurish theological absurdities in this document, which passed through all the relevant levels of the bureaucracy up to the General Assembly, the whole Kirk is adrift. It has abandoned a glorious past for a dubious future.
We shall look at those absurdities in a moment, but first consider the dire situation of the Kirk. Its decline in recent decades parallels that of Christianity elsewhere in the UK. Nearly half the Scottish population still professes allegiance to the Kirk, but actual membership is below 10%. It was noted already in 2008 that “The number of new members joining each year has dropped by nearly 80% since 1981″ and that the average age of congregations is “maybe even over 60.”
Thanks in part to immigration, for the first time since John Knox there are more worshipers on a Sunday in Roman Catholic churches than in the Kirk. The Church of Rome, despite its recent travails, retains the advantage that it would never publish a document that had not been vetted by serious theologians.
The State of Israel, on the other hand, is doing very well, thank you, and need not care two hoots what the Church of Scotland thinks about it. Israel’s GDP is higher than Scotland’s. The GDP is still lower per capita, but that is because Scotland has benefited for decades from North Sea oil and gas, whereas Israel’s immense natural gas reserves are a recent discovery only now coming on tap. As it is, Israel’s growth rate is far higher than Scotland’s (2.8% versus 0.5%).
The Jewish Community in Scotland and the UK is another matter. As elsewhere in Europe today, its synagogues and institutions are under intense security surveillance. Any kind of anti-Israel agitation, whose major sources include churches and trades unions in the UK, is likely to encourage anti-Jewish violence.
Read full article here