How can you work to combat antisemitism and supersessionism in your own Christian community?
Well, these two are facedby many christians in different communities that force them feel not worth living. To me as the bible says that the truth shall set you free,the first step is to stand firm to the truth and teach our fellows with no fear. However in so doing,love must prevail for each person you meet. “Without love ,we don’t know God” for He is love. Even those that isolate christians,we must prove love to them as we preach the truth. Together with patience,it conquers all.
Three ways that I can continue to participate in combating antisemitism is, educating myself about anti-Semitism, particularly the anti-Semitism comingled with the demonization of Israel. Continue to learn more about anti-Semitic stereotypes and myths by sharing with others what I have learned. Being on campus has allowed me to get connected with SSI and whenever there is a guest speaker I try to attend, ask questions, and engage to show support.
Ways in which I can combat supersessionism in my own Christian community, begin with me. It is important that I have a clear understanding of where I stand and my own theology before I can begin to recognize other types of theology. I realized from my own experience that it can be challenging to recognize at times especially because it is not always obvious that someone blatantly believes or would label their theology as “replacement theology”. However, instances, where I have been able to detect it most, are when my Christian friends dismiss the importance of modern-day Israel and the Jewish people. I believe that the best way to get other Christians to think about the importance of Israel and the Jewish people today is by sharing my story and experience with them and pointing to scripture and to Jesus. One of my favorite passages that has stuck with me from the first trip to Israel is Jeremiah 31:35–37.
I love that you’ve gotten involved with SSI, they’re awesome! I agree, you have to be strong and well versed in your theology before you can recognize others, including replacement theology. I hadn’t even heard about replacement theology until I became involved in this Israel space, and when I did I started recognizing it popping up here and there. I’m actually currently writing a letter to my former homeschool curriculum company because I recognize that some of their materials promote replacement theology. The more you know, the better we can do!
I really appreciate your ongoing willingness and desire to continue your own personal education and growth regarding your knowledge of Israel and the Jewish people. I think self education is crucial in a world that doesn’t always stand with the truth. I also like how you said that change starts with you and then goes outwards. I truly hope that you are able to continue in this fight of dispelling the lies and standing up for truth.
Hi Yasmin, I agree with you – educating ourselves about antisemitism first is the key to combating it. The more we learn, the more prepared we will be to defend our stance on this topic. Knowledge will also help us challenge our own antisemetic beliefs, whether or not we are conscious of them. Change begins with us and it is great to see you that you are already involved on campus already with SSI. Attending these events as a non-Jew itself shows solidarity with the Jews, which is a great way to support our Jewish community.
I think the tragedy is that most of the time we talk about the Jews, but not with them. (Unfortunately, in my European countries – Switzerland and Portugal – there are very few Jews and it is not easy to have personal contact with them.) But we host young Israeli Travelers and very good discussions took place. We also had valuable exchanges with Jews on our trips in Israel.
I studied Theology and History of Christianity, but unfortunately contemporary Israel and the Jews were left out in the teaching. Dispensationalism rules in many churches here in Portugal, but proclaiming to the Jews that they will have to suffer for 1000years is really not the message they need to hear.
As Christians, we must leave behind our spiritual superiority and dualism and recognize the people of Israel as the older brother. As younger brothers, it is not our place to judge, condemn and reject the older ones. To speak in the language of the parable of Jesus and the two brothers, this authority only belongs to the Father.
Hi Hans! I find it interesting that you mention your studies in Theology and History of Christianity do not include contemporary Jews. It is sort of like hidden antisemitism. I took a class in the Politics of the Middle East and the class obviously focused on the Palestinian side. My professor did not criticize Israel and the Jews, but he was silent about it. That is why I am glad to be taking this course, so I may see Jewish thought and practices.
I enjoyed reading your insights pertaining to this issue. I have been often shocked and appalled at the viewpoints of many of my Christian friends towards Jews, Judaism, and Israel. I believe anti-semitism is, unfortunately, on the rise across the globe. I think the Philos Project is leading the charge in combatting this anti-semitic movement. Truthful education and empathetic dialogue is the first step. Similar to the pharisees in Jesus’ day, tradition is our biggest enemy. When the masses view tradition as doctrine, conversion to a new way of thinking becomes astronomically more difficult.
Hi Hans, that’s awesome to hear that although you’re not around a large Jewish community that you have still found ways to build friendship through hosting Israelis. I also like your analogy of the two being brothers, and the importance of leaving behind the belief of spiritual superiority
It all starts with education. Often times, I’ve found that my fellow Christians aren’t educated on antisemitism and therefore cannot identify it when incidents occur.
I work professionally in the Israel field, and one of the things that I do is give presentations on antisemitism, antizionism, and criticism of Israel to Christian schools, groups, and churches. Most of the time I give this presentation, the audience members are surprised by how deep the roots of antisemitism are. I hear a lot of “I had no idea”, and I can completely relate to that! Before I became involved in the pro-Israel world, I had no idea that antisemitism is still such a huge problem. I didn’t see it, so I didn’t know it was there. Now that I’ve learned, I know how to identify antisemitism wherever it occurs, and I can have a conversation as to why it is an issue. I think that educating our friends and family on the roots of antisemitism is important. From there, you can help them to see why certain jokes aren’t ok, or why comparing other groups to Nazis is not ok. Words carry weight, and we must help people to see that.
I think your statement that it all starts with education is a good one. I also agree with the need for education, which is why I am writing novels, novellas, and short stories about the Jewish people in the Bible. My goal is to creatively teach readers about issues like antisemitism and the history of Christianity and Judaism in a fictional, but true style. I hope it will be an enjoyable read and educate my readers without them even realizing it because it is so fun!
I grew up in a conservative Christian community, which is very much pro-Jew and pro-state of Israel, so I’ve not encountered antisemitism. At the same time, I’ve also not encountered many Jews (or at least, practicing Jews) and wouldn’t know what connection, if any, I should share with them. Education, such as this course, is particularly useful in helping understand the historical connections and build relationships. And, as you mention, expose/understand the antisemitism that is pervasive but I haven’t personally seen.
This is an excellent way to show different ways of thinking about topics that typically do not get enough time within Christian circles. I always find it easiest to not talk at people about tough situations but opening a dialogue with them and speaking with them, as opposed speaking to them.
Thanks Mary – great response. It’s so easy for “out of sight, out of mind,” to be our default state of thinking. Personally, I wasn’t even remotely connected to a Jewish community in rural NC growing up. So our conversations and discussions about Judaism was generally theological and historical.
It’s amazing how easy it is to completely be oblivious to the suffering of others when they’re not in our tribe, and how easy it is to ignore those in our tribe when they say false things about people we don’t particularly care about or know in a personal way.
Prior to this course, I had almost no knowledge of the Jewish community outside of International Relations courses in school. I know in my denomination, many still blame the Jews for the death of Christ rather than acknowledging that every single sin we commit drives a nail into the cross. I would not call it anti-semitism but you could probably align it closely with replacement theology.
Specifically in regards to my faith community, I can point others to Nostra Aetate, an encyclical by Pope Paul VI which focuses upon our relationships with the Jews. It played a huge impact on now St. JP II’s views on Catholic-Jew relations- the belief that God’s covenant with the Jews was never revoked.
Practically, I think pointing others in my community to the teachings of those with authority will grant a deeper reading into the Old Testament (that we have in common with the Jews) to better inform our understandings of our New Testament.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic. I think your reference to the Old Testament is a great way to tie the Jewish community to the Christian faith. The values and history shared in that text is great grounds to show the similarities that ought to cut down any antisemitism that could arise in conversation. The popes that have shared their appreciation for the Jewish community have helped others see the need to build bridges between both faiths.
I loved taking this course with you all and have enjoyed reading through your thoughts! I entirely agree that is it essential to combat antisemitism within our own Christian communities in order to combat rising Jew-hatred across America and around the world while further emboldening strong Jewish-Christian relations. However, in order to achieve this, it is crucial to understand the complexities that have taken place between Jews and Christians throughout history. When I first became involved in the Israel space in college, I was shocked to learn about the fact that Christian leaders would teach radical concepts such as Replacement Theology that claim that God has broken his covenant with the Jewish people over the killing of Jesus. For decades, this hateful rhetoric has further promoted discrimination and antisemitism against the Jewish community and has prevented Christians from speaking up for our Jewish brothers and sisters against atrocities committed against them. To combat antisemitism and supersessionism within our own faith community, I believe it is essential to embody the boldness of leaders like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who stood with the Jewish community against radical hatred against them, even when other Christian leaders denounced these efforts. To achieve this, I plan to speak out against antisemitism through the Philos Action League while further educating my fellow Christians about the importance of supporting the Jewish people.
Over the past several years, I have spent a greater amount of time discussing antisemitism with my Jewish friends. It seems to me that a bulk of the attacks come from individuals that do not deeply engage with a Judeo-Christian faith. The values shared by Christian and Jewish denominations profoundly share the value of respect and love for one another. So, when I encounter someone who shares antisemitism sentiments that claim to be Christian, I quickly find myself saying, “That’s not true.”
I found that addressing the issue when it arises lets those around me know what I do and don’t agree with. As relationships with friends and coworkers grow, I try my best to use transparency as a middle ground for conversations around topics like this to happen. It’s my hope that respect is found regardless of the points of views that are expressed in the said conversations with others.
Hi John Ryan,
That is such a good point – even as we hope to persuade our fellows of particular convictions which we hold, respect is of the utmost importance. For true persuasion to happen, we have to regard the human dignity which we all possess, and this necessitates enshrining respect for others, even when we think they might be wrong. I hope that you will continue to lead to combat anti-Semitism in your workplace and in other venues, and that your conversations may yield spiritual fruit for yourself and others!
Well Attending UC Berkeley, I quickly realized that I had to take initiative and contact the Jewish groups on Campus.
For example during club rush. I went to contact the Tikvah students and become great friends with them.
I wanted my Jewish friends to learn that their was a supportive student even if I was just one voice like Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I knew that if my attendance to Tikvah was found out by Pro Palestine club I would be banned. However my love for Christ took me to take the role as a diplomat for Christ and befriend students in both groups.
I also want to get more involved as you in the Philos Action League.
Hey John Ryan,
I think you have touched on an excellent and interesting point that not many people today address. A good portion of the antisemitism that I have heard about, especially within the American context, is not coming from Christians as a whole but rather from another predominant faith which seems to have an entrenched culture of antisemitism attached to it. While we, of course, do not like to paint with a broad brush a whole community, a first step is to have an open and honest conversation about who is committing the vast majority of these antisemitic incidents, why they are and finally, how can we as a society move forward. I genuinely think it is the best way to address the antisemitic elephant in the room.
I think the best way to combat the antisemitism is through education. Personally speaking, everything changed in my life when I began to study about the Jewish Messiah. Yeshua lives as a Jewish man. It’s your identity.
Other point, I want to show how evil supersessionists is and how this view still have a influence on the churches these days and I will always talk about the Holocaust.
I truly believe the Holocaust is a neglected topic currently in the world education system.
Yes the lack of education in these specific topics will continue to allow hateful rhetoric against the Jewish people to take root in the minds of the next generations around the world.
As an educator I always teach on the Holocaust to show students that they never learned this topic or acknowledge the death of over 6 million Jews during World War 2.
Lastly I believe that Jesus is the Messiah and superssionist neglect that Jesus was a Jew and neglect that the foundation of the early church was built by Jewish men and women that love and accepted Jesus as their Savior and Messiah.
Hi Ana, I agree. I think education is key to combat anti-semitism. From the crusades to the Shoah, to modern day we’ve seen how ignorance helps perpetrate violence. Only through education and friendships can we start to break down the walls of ignorance.
Hi Ana, I agree. I think education is key to combat anti-semitism. From the crusades to the Shoah, to modern day we’ve seen how ignorance helps perpetrate violence. Only through education and friendships can we start to break down the walls of ignorance.
I believe personally I can do a better job reaching out to thew Jewish community in the Bay Area.
The goal is to let the Jewish community know that a community or body of Christ wants to have a relationship with the local synagogue. I noticed that the modern church does not realize the spiritual connection they have with the Jewish people. The modern church can learn so much with spiritual metaphors, faith, culture and the modern state of Israel.
Secondly within the Christian community they need to see a connection between their faith and the Jewish people. What does that mean? To me it means that my faith, Jesus, walked and was born in Israel/Near East.
Therefore the modern church needs to see that all roads lead to Jerusalem, and that “no one just visits Jerusalem but returns”.
I truly believe that the church needs to stay connected and support the Jewish people wherever on the planet and to support Israel.
Anti-Semitism and suppressionism in the church come from the lack of understanding the churches roots that come from Judaism.
Lastly my goal as a leader is to encourage the body of Christ to learn more about Judaism, Isreal, Near East, languages of the region, and cultures. I believe this is the way to combat within the church any form of anti Jewish sentiment and any type of thought that neglects the role and acceptance of the Jewish people in the time we live in.
I really appreciate your willingness and desire to reach out the local jewish community in your area, I really commend you for that. I also really appreciate how you recognize the need for the body of Christ to understand the jewish roots of our christian faith and then call us to actively particpate in furthering our education and knowledge about the roots of our faith.
Hopefully in the coming days we do see people actively engaging in the same and strengthing jewish – christian relations.
Yes! I love your honesty Gabriel. I have not been intentional about reaching out and supporting Jewish communities in my city. I think the only way to start combating antisemitism in our own communities is for each of us individually to acknowledge, honestly, what we haven’t done enough and that we don’t know as much about our neighbors as we should.
It many ways it’s comforting to see a reply, yours, that starts with a mild confession. My reply too should start the same. Thanks!
It seems to me that the best way to combat misinformed theology in one’s daily experience is to have a few ready-made claims memorized, coupled with the ability to unpack those claims, in a friendly, but firm discussion when challenged. One helpful fact found in Dr. McDermott’s lectures is the faulty use of The Parable of the Bad Tenants, cited by past supersessionist theologians to justify their replacement theology. It is clear, especially in light of the horrors of the holocaust, that these claims are not benign abstractions, innocently opined by ivory tower theologians; they are as meaningful as they can be dangerous. Additionally, one could cite the use of supersessionism as justification for the alienation of Jewish Christian and an egregious disregard for the Old Testament scriptures. The level of discord and cognitive dissonance which was borne out in history, is a powerful reason to re-think such theology.
I am a Roman Catholic and I believe that one of the best ways to combat antisemitism and supersessionism in my church community is to look at the Old Testament and its history. For example, learning about the Second Temple Period, the period in which Jesus walked the earth, is beneficial because we can see the Jewish context, setting, lifestyle, and religion that Jesus grew up in. Furthermore, if we study the Old Testament, we will find that one scholar says something along the lines of “The New Testament is hidden in the Old Testament and the Old Testament is fulfilled by the New Testament.” The Old Testament is the background and foreground of our faith. If we understand it, we come closer to understanding our brothers and sisters in Judaism. We won’t seem as “different.” As a Christian, I actually enjoy the Old Testament more than the New Testament. I like how rich in history it is and I have come to know God in many different ways because of it.
Great perspective! I agree that diving into the Bible to find the Jewish roots of Christianity is very important. Besides the Old Testament, the New Testament has also been almost exclusively written by Jews (at least in an ethnic sense). Probing as to what the biblical basis is for the fulfillment of the old covenant -and then discerning what that actually means- seems crucial to constructively pointing to the Hebraic heritage we share.
Would you also see a place for contemporary considerations such as the return of the Jewish people to the promised land?
An excellent way to combat any belief that is hurtful or just wrong is to study the history behind it. Once YOU understand where these beliefs come from you can do a more impactful job of combating that belief. Attempting to change someone’s opinion on a subject is no small feat. Being able to relate to them and bring points to the table that they believe is an efficient way to win them to your side.
I think there are numerous ways to combat antisemitism and supersessionism in my own christian community and I think the first step is being informed and aware of the right theology and truths about the Bible. Being a diligent student of the word is imperative in dispelling wrong narratives about the jews and the land of Israel. I think this Course has done a phenomenal job in explaining to us the right biblical way to view the Jews and Israel.
Another way would be to be bold and speak up when you hear wrong theology about Israel and not be afraid of the backlash now might face, after all the christian community has persecuted the Jews for hundreds of years and now is the the time to right the wrongs we have done In the past. Off course we need to speak truth in love but we need to speak truth regardless.
I think there are several ways.
First, I want to educate myself as well as possible, both for my own convictions and for my ability to reason and defend the Jewish people from a Christian perspective. Second, we can carry these beliefs out to our family, friends, and church community. Third, I think we can work through our local churches and church governance institutions to advocate for fruitful interfaith relations between Christians and Jews.
Personally, I have engaged many friends on the topic of supersessionism and I think quite successfully so. A love for the Jewish people, or at least an understanding of the Hebraic worldview, is transformative to our faith and biblical understanding. I have found it to be doable at least to make people (re-)consider the notions that they have uncritically adopted on Israel and the Jewish people. We should, however, not be limited to our immediate neighbors, but rather carry this mission out wherever we find ourselves, including in politics, media, and education.
I have seen first hand, through friends of mine, that antisemitism is a problem that a lot of time people do not know what they are talking about. The best way to combat this is to explain or try to show that what they are saying simply is not true. Most of the time in Christian communities, going about combating this behavior, in this manner, has the desired result of giving the other side a different way to think about about what they are actually saying. In addition to combating a single person, you have possibly, created second and third orders of effects of combatting antisemitism.
You are so right, the best way to do anything, as Jesus showed us, is discipleship. That is how a movement is created that can lead toward more people opposing this anti-jewish hate. Jesus took disciples aside who would be able to then go out and make more disciples. Not only is this how our religion has and will spread, it is also the best way for us to support movements such as support for israel.
When trying to educate any community about harmful practices, I think one should take a couple of points to consider as a whole. In particular, concerning antisemitism in one’s Christian community, there are several ways young students, in particular, can approach this topic.
Firstly, when trying to educate others on the shameful history Christians have played in the roles of antisemitism, one should try and educate themselves by reading, listening, and researching this practice. It is through getting a well-rounded understanding that one can start answering questions and changing people’s perceptions.
Secondly, get involved in pro-Israel and Jewish cultural clubs on campus to get a better idea of how these communities not just practise but also have the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of Jewish traditions and history.
Lastly, it sounds silly, but it works. Talk to Jewish students and people. The best way to amend the past is to engage and come to an understanding. In my opinion, engaging with all forms of the Jerwishing community has helped to educate me and pass on knowledge about antisemitism which I have been able to share with others myself.
This is something I have found to partially be connected to political ideology. In general, conservative Christians tend to not take up many issues of the “disenfranchised” but they have always been pro-Jewish. Whereas in general many liberal Christians tend to take the issues of disenfranchised people seriously, but do not take the issues of the Jewish peoples seriously. Instead, they focus wholly on the Palestinian Arabs. I think that main way to approach this si to point out to liberal Christians that the Jews are hands down the most abused minority in history. No one has been more hated anywhere they go then the Jews.
On the other hand, to those primarily conservative Christians who believe in supersessionism, this is a different issue where they deny God’s covenant with the Jew’s still stands. It obviously does. Think about this, how could a group, that was exiled all throughout Europe for 2 thousand years, hold on to their culture despite everyone hating them. There is no other example of that, a religious minority, who was forced out of their native lands but their religion survives intact for 2,000 years. That in itself should be proof enough some part of God’s covenant and protection is still in effect.
I think combating antisemitism in our Christian communities starts with humility. We need a humility to listen when our friends and family preach false theology or propagate harmful myths. Personally, I try to ask intentional questions and, in doing so, get people around me to honestly question the things they say.
Often, we simply regurgitate what others have told us to believe. I would venture to say that most of the antisemitism and supersessionism I’ve heard in my life is simply ignorance. By asking honest questions and seeking to empathize – while not giving up ground or agreeing to false narratives – others are forced to grapple with their words.
So I think it starts with educating yourself (myself). Then it moves to cultivating humility and honest curiosity. Then you have to develop a spine. Without courage, we won’t speak up. We have to build confidence and be unafraid to seek and support Truth.
One of my favorite quotes is a MLK Jr quote: “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.” As long as we side on the sideline as others spew supersessionist beliefs, we’re complicit in their beliefs.
Hi Cara, great insight! I also hadn’t known the full extent of Christian antisemitism until I went to Israel and became involved with CUFI and StandWithUs. I agree that we must help our fellow Christians to understand the Judaic roots of our faith and show Jesus’ life as a Jew. It can be as simple as gently correcting someone when they say something that they may not realize is wrong, or it can be offering to give a presentation to a church based on what we learned in this class.
Thanks for contributing to this discussion. I have had similar experiences while listening to lectures by Jewish scholars in the past. Some of the most profound discussions I have had over the Jewish and Christian faiths came off the heals of the history and stories shared by religious scholars. To hear the commonalities of both faiths is something that makes audiences feel connected and respected. tHAnka gain for sharing. I really enjoyed your input.
Thanks for the comment Cara! I am also one of those Christians who assumed the Jewishness of Christianity. Until I did some research I always assumed the antisemitism of the church was a small minority of outliers. I too was shocked to learn about claims by Martin Luther and John Chrysostom. Combatting that dangerous misinformation needs to be at the top of our to-do list as Christian leaders!
Hi Felipe, I appreciate how you mentioned the concepts of Covenant and Kingdom. I think that is important to remember when combatting antisemitism. God’s covenant with the Jewish people relates to His faithfulness and His keeping His Word. There is a spiritual dimension to combatting antisemitism, which involves prayer and being on our guard spiritually. I believe that being active in relationship building, education, and politics is important as well. However, it is important to not neglect the spiritual aspects involved in antisemitism since it is related to God keeping His covenants.
I enjoyed taking the time to read your post and believe you did an excellent job demonstrating why it is crucial to continue fighting against antisemitism and supersessionism in our own Christian communities. By ignoring the flawed teachings different Christian leaders have endorsed against the Jewish community, we are preventing ourselves from fully connecting with our Jewish brothers and sisters by denouncing antisemitism within our own communities and boldly standing with the Jewish people and their right to self determination in their indigenous homeland.
I appreciated your detailed post and how you pinpointed the importance of denouncing hateful teachings such as Replacement Theology. Although I have also never personally experienced this teaching, it is astonishing to consider how many Christian leaders accepted it and spread it within Christian circles. In order to stand with the Jewish community against Jew-hatred and promote positive Christian-Jewish relations, it is crucial to reject antisemitic teachings within our own faith community.
It is a scary notion that it is somehow a good reason not to teach about events like the Holocaust because it is offensive. It’s offensiveness is plainly the only reason for teaching about it! Learning about the horrors of history is not supposed to be congenial to one’s current sense of well-being. I cannot understand how discomfort is not justification for teaching students about such events. Keep up the good work Thomas!
Thanks for mentioning the politics side of things, Connie. You’re right that this dimension is crucial. I’m extremely alarmed today by people like the Charlottesville protesters who chanted the Nazi slogan of “blood and soil” and the Jan. 6 terrorists who included a man with a “Camp Auschwitz” hoodie. The fact that people can be both stupid enough and evil enough to embrace Nazi ideology at any time, let alone in the 2020s, is horrifying. What’s even more disturbing is that the leader of the Republican Party, in which I spent years of public service, and President, disgustingly could not genuinely and unequivocally condemn either of these evil groups. Excuses are made for this, and all of them are propagandistic or unaware sugarcoating of a tragic moral failure. That and the things said by some on the far Left, like Rep. Omar or British former MP Jeremy Corbyn, are so dangerous to the safety of Jews everywhere and to the goodness of any governmental regime. We MUST denounce these things from extremists regardless of party or position.
I appreciate your points here! I like the connection between God’s promises and empirical reality, as affirmed by Lord Ashley. This way, you link biblical prophesies with the observable facts in our day and age.
I do wonder how you would react to people separating the spiritual from the purely material, observable. For example, one could make the observation that Jews prosper and help the cities where they live to prosper, purely from empirical observation. What then, would someone conclude if they look at it merely through secular lenses? How important is the lens you look through anyways?
It is strange that a certain group of the population has always felt some type of pull to radicalisms, in either the society or in politics. I wonder if this type of radaclism is just part of our human issue, like maybe it is ingrained in us spiritually. That could explain why certain things like January 6 tend to happen repeatedly. The only way this ill be completely snuffed out is if God returns. until then, we have to continue to approve these things ourselves, and to the best we can.