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Israel and the Christian Church: Heritage, History, and Hope


Israel and the Christian Church: Heritage, History, and Hope. Dr. Robert C. Kurka, Professor of Theology and Church in Culture, Lincoln Christian University – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Israel and the Christian Church: Heritage, History, and Hope

Israel and the Christian Church Heritage,
History, and Hope
  • Dr. Robert C. Kurka, Professor of Theology and
    Church in Culture, Lincoln Christian University
  • Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Bradley
  • 2016

Lecture 3 How Has the Church Treated the
Jewish People? Some Shamefuland Saintly Examples
  • Let us revisit our four theological models on the
    nature of the Israel/Christian Church

There is no argument that even prior to AD 70,
Christianity and Judaism were at odds
  • In Acts 2-5 Jewish-Christians begin to share
    their faith in Jesus with fellow Jews, their
    Jewish neighbors were not so hospitable
  • Some conversions to Christianity
  • Persecution
  • Executions
  • Expulsion from the synagogue
  • Denunciation as heretics by Jewish leaders

Early Christian Sentiments About Judaism
  • 2nd century Marcions New Testament(anti-Jewish)
    Canon edited version of Gospel of Luke, 10
    Pauline epistles Marcion taught that the OT God
    and NT God were two completely different deities
  • 2nd century Justin Martyr (Christians) are the
    true Israelite race, the spiritual one, that of
    Judah and Jacob and Abraham (Dial. 115)
  • 4th century Roman Emperor Constantine makes
    Christianity the official religion of the Roman
    state (321). Jews are forbidden from making
    converts, serving in the military, holding high
  • 4th century John Chrysostom The synagogue is a
    brothel and a theatera den for unclean
    animalsNever has a Jew prayed to GodThey are
    all possessed by the devil.
  • 6th century Byzantine Emperor Justinian decrees
    that Jewish Passover must be celebrated after

Does the New Testament (especially the Fourth
Gospel) affirm an Anti-Semitism?
  • Jesus said to them, If God were your Father, you
    would love me, for I have come here from God. I
    have not come on my own God sent me. Why is my
    language not clear to you? Because you are unable
    to hear what I say. You belong to your father,
    the devil, and you want to carry out your
    fathers desires. He was a murderer from the
    beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is
    no truth in himYet because I tell the truth you
    do not believe me? Whoever belongs to God hears
    what God says. The reason you do not hear is that
    you do not belong to God. John 842-47
  • 60x John refers to the Jews often in opposition
    to Jesus
  • John 842-45

Middle Ages A Time of Christian Intolerance for
the Jewish People
  • Jews were largely excluded from the culture of
    European Christendom
  • This social, economic, and ecclesiastical
    alienation, in turn, forced them to live behind
    ghetto walls
  • They were permitted to practice usury, however
    (in violation of Jewish law) which brought
    charges that they were a pariah people from the
    Christian society
  • They were forced to wear distinctive hats or
    patches on their clothing
  • They were accused of having a peculiar smellas
    opposed to the odor of sanctity
  • They were regularly maligned as Christ-killers
  • They were accused of desecrating the host,
    murdering Christian infants for their blood
  • They were blamed for the Black Plague
  • They were accused of poisoning wells and being
    sucklers of sows

and there is more
  • During the First Crusade, numerous Jews committed
    mass suicides to avoid forced baptism
  • Towards the end of the Middle Ages, many Jews had
    become homeless wanderers
  • They faced numerous expulsions from England
    (1290) from France (1306) and in subsequent
    years from cities in Spain, Germany, and Austria
  • In 1492, the Spanish Inquisition brought
    expulsion, thousands of tortures, burnings at the
    stake, and forced conversions

The Sixteenth-Century European Reformation The
Theological Triumph of Supersessionism
  • Supersessionism Belief that Christianity has
    superceded (replaced)the relationship between God
    and Israel through its embrace of Jesus the
    Messiah. In other words, the Gentiles (Church)
    have become the true heirs of the divine promises
    given to Abraham in Genesis.
  • The predominant scholarly view of the sixteenth
    century stresses the Reformation intensified a
    process, under way since the later Middle Ages,
    of more strictly defining the markers of
    Christian identity. Thus the Reformation did not
    create substantially new ideas about the limits
    of Christianity it simply intensified sentiments
    already in placeThe process of reevaluation of
    Christian beliefs and social arrangements led to
    the creation of notions of identity and defensive
    boundaries directed both against members of other
    religions and against other Christians.
  • Susan Boettcher, Insiders and Outsiders, in
    Reformation Christianity, Peter Matheson, ed.

Church replaces Israel

  • Typical Reformation Era artistic image Ecclesia
    et Synogoga

and then there was Martin Luther
  • In a 1523 pamphlet, Luther showed a remarkable
    (for his day) tolerance towards the Jews,
    criticizing superstitious beliefs about them, as
    well as persecutions against them. He had an
    evangelistic purpose A more Christ-like Church
    would be more attractive to them.
  • However, in 1543 (he died in 1546), Luther
    authored the infamous work, On Jews and Their
    Lies, expressing sentiments like these
  • They (Jews) must be driven from our country
  • If God were to give me no other Messiah than
    such as the Jews wish and hope for, I would much,
    much rather be a sow than a human being
  • My essay, I hope, will furnish a Christian (who
    in any case has no desire to become a Jew) with
    enough material not only to defend himself
    against the blind, venomous Jews, but also to
    become the foe of the Jewsthey are surely
    possessed by all devils

Johannes Reuchlin (1455-1522) A Lonely Advocate
for the Jews
  • German humanist scholar who was Roman Catholic
    (but in his latter years seamed to be leaning
  • Championed the study of the Hebrew Bible
    published a landmark Hebrew grammar and lexicon
  • Promoted the study of Hebrew among Christian
    scholars (which would lead to a more critical
    reading of the Vulgate and yield new, vernacular
  • Challenged the popular notion that all Jewish
    books should be confiscated and burned (allegedly
    because they defamed Christianity)
  • --Most Jewish books did not attack
    Christianity (and those that did were not
    accepted by Jewish scholars)

Post-Reformation Europe was not much better for
the Jews
  • 1648-58 500,000 Jews are killed in Poland due to
    being in the middle of a bloody revolt against
    the Cossacks
  • Continued to be viewed with contemptor
    persecutedin other European countries
  • 19th -20th centuries Czarist Russia conducts
    series of pogroms against its large Jewish
    population (approx. 6 million) leaving 1000s
  • 1880-1910 More than 2 million Jews immigrate to
    US through New York City

and then along came Adolf Hitler
  • The best characterization is provided by the
    product of this religious education, the Jew
    himself. His life is only of this world, and his
    spirit is inwardly as alien to true Christianity
    as his nature two thousand years previous was to
    the great founder of the new doctrine. Of course,
    the latter made no secret of his attitude toward
    the Jewish people, and when necessary he even
    took the whip to drive from the temple of the
    Lord this adversary of all humanity, who then as
    always saw in religion nothing but an instrument
    for his business existence. In return, Christ was
    nailed to the cross, while our present-day party
    Christians debase themselves to begging for
    Jewish votes at elections and later try to
    arrange political swindles with atheistic Jewish
    partiesand this against their own nation.
    --Mein Kampf (1925)

20th Century Holocaust Did the Church Do Enough?
  • Pope Pius XII Complex and conflicting responses
    to the Nazi anti-Semitism Public repudiation,
    advocacy for Jewish refugees, providing housing
    to Jewish childrenand silence. How much did the
    Vatican know about the holocaust? Opinions vary
    Pius has been criticized by many Jewish scholars,
    defended by Catholics. However, in 2012, Pope
    Benedict began to slow a process that would lead
    to Pius sainthood.
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1933 Essay, The Church and
    the Jewish Question in which he boldly
    criticizes Hitlers persecution of the Jews on
    the basis of human rights and political injustice
    but also reveals a supersessionist theology that
    views this as part of a conversion narrative

Practical Christian AdvocacyThe Netherlands
Ten Boom Family Hiding Persecuted Jewish
  • In this household, Gods people are always
    welcome (Casper Ten Boom)

Twentieth Century Establishment of the State of
  • 1896 Jewish agnostic, Theodor Herzl, published
    Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State)advocating that
    a new Jewish nation be created in Palestine in
    the belief that anti-Semitism was inescapable
    apart from a Jewish homeland. While his
    intentions were secular, the majority of Herzls
    followers were Orthodox southeastern Europeans
  • 70,00 Jews settled in Palestine after Herzls
    death in 1904. In 1917, Britain issued the
    Balfour Declaration endorsing the establishment
    of a Jewish national home
  • Major episodes of Jewish persecution in the 20th
    century (i.e., Russian pogroms, Nazi Holocaust)
    contributed to wide support for a Palestinian
    homeland among the worlds powers (USA and USSR)
    and the United Nations
  • May 14, 1948 State of Israel was formally

and Christian Zionism
  • Growth of Dispensationalism among Protestant
    Conservatives in the early 20th century brought
    and its belief that ethnic Israel would be
    restoredcreated a Christian Zionism that
    further argued that the Jewish people had an
    inherent right to the land. The establishment of
    national Israel in 1948 was seen as a miraculous,
    prophetic fulfillment.
  • Liberal Protestants called for the
    internationalization of the city of Jerusalem
    while these conservatives contended that
    biblically, it belonged to the Jewish people.
    After the 1967 Six-Day War, the National Council
    of Churches denounced Israels annexation of the
    old city while Christian Zionists hailed it as an
    act of God.
  • 1976 Bicentennial Congress of Prophecy in
    Philadelphia issued a proclamation in support of
    Israel signed by 11 key evangelical leaders.
    Thousands signed this document which was
    presented to the Israeli ambassador to the US.
  • 1977 Billy Graham calls for the US to rededicate
    itself to the safety of Israel
  • 2006 Evangelist John Hagee forms the largest US
    pro-Israel organization, Christians United for

The State of Israel and American Conservative
Christians An On-going Coalition
However, Christian Zionism may be
recedingespecially among the Next Generation of
Evangelicals due to concerns about peace,
justice, morality, and faith
  • In October 2010, the Pew Forum on Religion and
    Public Life conducted a major survey of
    evangelical leaders attending the Third Lausanne
    Congress of World Evangelization in Cape Town,
    South Africa. When asked with which side of the
    Israeli-Palestinian conflict they sympathized,
    these leaders answered as follows
  • All Evangelicals (Global)
  • Sympathize with Israel34
  • Sympathize with the Palestinians11
  • Sympathize with Both Equally39
  • American Evangelicals
  • Sympathize with Israel30
  • Sympathize with the Palestinians13
  • Sympathize with Both Sides Equally49
  • --David Brog, The End of Evangelical Support for
    Israel? Middle East Quarterly Spring 2014

Restoration of Israel Heartsand Home
  • For I will take you out of the nations I will
    gather you from all the countries and bring you
    back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean
    water on you, and you will be clean I will
    cleanse you from your impurities and from all
    your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a
    new spirit in you I will remove from you your
    heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And
    I will put my Spirit in you and move you to
    follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
    Then you will live in the land I gave your
    ancestors you will be my people, and I will be
    your God.

  • --Ezekiel 3624-28 NIV

Lecture 4 Towards a Healthy Jewish-Christian
Dialogue Critically (and charitably)Affirming
Points of Similarity and Difference
  • Our course of study enables us to make the
    following observations
  • Christian Church is deeply indebted to Ancient
    Israel Its Story, Scriptures, and Savior come
    from the Jews.
  • There are genuine differences between Judaism and
    Christianity largely centering on the person and
    work of Jesus of Nazareth. For Christians, he is
    imperative to any discussion of the monotheistic
    nature of God and the goal of biblical
  • .Israel (and Jew?)has several layers of
    meaning on Scripture ( in both OT and NT)
    ethnicity, geographic location, spiritual
    conditionand these should be kept in some
    relation to each other
  • Persecution has come from both directionsalthough
    after AD 70, the overwhelming numerical (and
    social and political) size of Christianity has
    made it the major aggressor
  • Anti-Semitism even in its soft formshas
    contributed to a tolerance (and even approval) of
    negativity and mistreatment of the Jewish people

  • Replacement Theology has tended to foster a
    spiritual superiority among Christians towards
    their Jewish neighborsan acceptance of Jewish
    persecution a (as a divine remedial/conversion
  • Christian Zionismdue to its view of predictive
    prophecy-- on the other hand, can tend to assess
    the actions of present-day Israel in an
    uncritical fashion by excusing its spiritual
    apathy and political/social injustices to its
    Palestinian neighbors
  • Biblical, balanced, and Christ-like
    understanding of the relationship between Israel
    and the Christian Church will most likely come
    from some hybrid of the Four Views a
    delicate balance of continuity and discontinuity

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