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July 27, 2016 3:34 pm

On Modern Antisemitism, Christian Silence Is Complicity

avatar by Carla Brewington / JNS.org

Email a copy of "On Modern Antisemitism, Christian Silence Is Complicity" to a friend
The site of the Hyper Cacher hostage-taking and murders. Photo: Wikipedia.

The site of the Hyper Cacher hostage-taking and murders. Photo: Wikipedia.

JNS.org – In the 1930s in Germany, many caved to the dangerous political agenda of the time. They wanted power, peace, and prosperity, to reclaim their country from the ravages of World War I. Christians were no different. But in doing so, they embraced the words of Martin Luther. In 1539, in his book “The Jews and Their Lies,” he wrote, “Next to the devil, you have no more bitter, venomous and vehement foe than a real Jew…Even if the Jews were punished in the most gruesome manner so that the streets ran with blood, so that their dead would be counted not in the thousands but in the millions.”

Christians, he said, are urged to “burn down Jewish synagogues and schools and warn people against them; [to] refuse to let Jews own houses among Christians; for Jewish religious writings to be taken away; [for] rabbis be forbidden to preach; [to] offer no protection to Jews on highways.”

In his autobiography, “Mein Kampf,” Adolf Hitler lauded Martin Luther. “To this group (great protagonists) belong not only the great statesmen, but all the great reformers as well. Beside Frederick the Great, we have such men as Martin Luther and Richard Wagner,” he wrote. Whether it be their military prowess, theology, or music, all three men were known for their antisemitism. Luther’s book paved the way for Hitler and was used as a strategy for the horror of Kristallnacht, and opened the door for the Shoah. For centuries, those words were utilized by many to persecute the Jewish people.

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In 1930, the British newspapers The Guardian and The Observer did not take Hitler seriously. They saw him as a weak man spouting his rhetoric with a loud voice; dramatic and egotistical. Both believed Hitler had Christian ideals that were a perfect fit for German Christians. Some saw him as a “outsider” who was only stirring the pot of those in power. History would prove them wrong.

In 1933, Hitler became chancellor of Germany and soon after, the churches were told to put the swastika alongside the cross. The horrible truth is that most of them did. Soon after, the swastika was all that remained; the cross had been taken down. The German church cared more about its “reputation” than about human lives. The Christians scattered the seeds of Jew-hatred, seeds that were planted and grew in German hearts.

As the Third Reich grew, the German Faith Movement capitulated and embraced Nazi ideology. Hanns Kerrl, the Reich’s minister for church affairs, said, “Adolf Hitler gave us back our faith. He showed us the true meaning of religion. He has come to renew for us the faith of our fathers and to make us new and better beings…Adolf Hitler is the true Holy Ghost.”

It must also be said that there were many unnamed Christians who hid Jews in their homes, sheltered them from the Nazis, and tried to fight the evil. During pogroms, raids, ghettos, and death camps, true Christians risked their lives for their Jewish sisters and brothers. Many of those in the “professing church” also gave their lives for Jews. Yet sadly, there could have been greater numbers of Christians who actively helped stand up for what is right. Needless to say, this is more than a history lesson. The quotes in this article speak for themselves. The question is, what will we do during our slice of history?

Today, we see Christians who make the choice to sit in churches and turn away when they hear the newest forms of antisemitism. There are Christians of the “emergent church” who join other “peace and justice” activists and embrace a cause they think is good and right. They are being swayed by the fashionable attitudes of the “progressive left” when the truth is that antisemitism is beginning to shake the world again. Never having gone away, it is currently escalating faster than anyone would have ever thought possible.

Antisemitism can be found on campuses, in the marketplace, within government agencies, and at the United Nations. It is found in churches where the deceit of replacement theology/supersessionism plays itself out. Hatred of Jews has been taught for generations under the guise of mere doctrinal difference.

Christians must be more engaged in learning not only about the historical oppression of Jews, but about the current overt hatred of Jews through the promotion of lies and misinformation about Israel. Today, the voices of antisemitism are once again rising—this time through the anti-Israel boycott movement. The memories of those murdered by the Nazis must be shared among those who do not know, to serve as a warning to those who are as clueless as the ordinary Europeans were in the 1930s.

Elie Wiesel — the recently deceased Holocaust survivor, author, and human rights activist — said, “To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” I would add that it would be not only dangerous and offensive, but unconscionable if Christians like me make the mistake of not learning from the past.

Whether the State of Israel is surrounded by guns or hostile rhetoric, Christians must make the decision now to take action. Tomorrow will soon become today. One cannot assume that they will suddenly become a voice when the rhetoric turns to violence. It doesn’t happen that way. May we all choose the right side of history and be counted among the righteous.

Carla Brewington, PhD, earned her doctorate at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. She is a Christian volunteer speaker for the pro-Israel education organization StandWithUs.

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  • Ms Brewington shows courage to write what is not populist and PC. Much of what she describes emanates from Augustine’s eternal witness dictum. While it is no longer condoned, it has never been officially repudiated. The horrors of hep hep riots, Mortara and Dreyfus Affairs, pogroms and the Holocaust all occurred after the Enlightenment. See article , ” do we need another Enlightenment ?”
    Next year is Martin Luther’s 500 th anniversary. Even after the Holocaust, his hateful writings that Ms Brewington mentions have not been repudiated. Why not?

  • enufizenuf

    The best way to curb anti-Semitism is to STOP the flow of muslims into the US. It is they who’ve been influencing churches and academics against Israel – and by extension Jews. Once there are few coming in the political power of those already here must be chipped away at and they must be exposed as the mongers of hate and filth which they are. These things are possible to do, but it will take brave resourceful people and a lot of funding.

  • Ron Jontof-Hutter

    This is a refreshing article written by a woman of valor and integrity. Similar articles such as ” whither Germany” , “Do we need a second Enlightenment ? ” have raised the need for self examination. Unfortunately a mindless populism and political correctness is still the rule and Bon ton as described in the new Amcha. Report this week. The recently published satire, ” the trombone man: tales of a misogynist: depicts this populist hatred based on real events and used expediently. Be blessed Carla!

  • JACK

    Fighting antisemitism is a Christian moral imperative for their
    own redemption, having created this unending hatred over so many centuries.

    G_d bless Ms. Brewington.

  • Howard Wohl

    I think this Christian leader is speaking about demagogues such as Adolf Hitler who promised a Greater Germany, contending that the German people had been destroyed by the victorious and to him vengeful nations that thought Germany ought to be punished for striving toward the Great War. At that time key business leaders were more fearful of the Communists than the Fascists. Too many people thought that Hitler was simply saying things he did not believe in. How many people voting in that election expected that Hitler would take power and turn a democratic government into a dictatorship. How many thought that Hitler would lead his nation to killing the disabled, the political liberals, the communists, the Jews, the Roma. Today Donald Trump offers the same dismissive, nasty, frightening rhetoric promising just like Hitler to greatness. Trump embraces America First which in the 1930s under Lindbergh and Coughlin admired the new Nazi government. They did not want t be involved in other countries’ wars. They were isolationists who made sure that Jewish refugees from Hitler’s Hermany were turned back. Yet today we have a significant part of the Jewish Cmmunity who are willing to bet on Trump as the better alternative to Hillary Clinton to protect Israel and maintain a tolerant nation that treats Jews as equal members of our society. Thus far Trump has offered only scorn, insults and contempt for others. Let this intelligent woman remind us of the dangers of following a demagogue who promises greatness while praising his own capabilities – only I, he says, can save this nation. Sounds familiar. Who can say I could kill someone in full view of all and they would still love me. What have we become? Are we so forgetful? Do we believe that by scapegoating others we will somehow come out more tolerated. Beware a failure to recognize a con artist. Sure Hillary is not perfect. Who is? But to say that we would be better off giving a blank check to a rckless showboat brings ip every fear. Hitler, too, said outrageous things. The media did not call him out. So he doubled down and tripled down. Beware. Be very careful. For the sake of Jewish values and all of our Trah’s teachings, please be very careful.

  • Well speaking as a Southern Baptist Pastor whose church flies the flag of Israel below the American Flag,I would look less on those churches that have completely rejected the Bible as God’s holy word and those who have not. Red River, NM

  • “Confessing” Church, not “professing”

  • stevenl

    Complicit as well as perpetrator.

  • Jay Lavine

    The European perception of a Jew was, and, to some extent, still is, that of a race, ethnicity, or nationality. Jews living in Russia were Jews, not true Russians. Ditto for the rest of eastern Europe. This was often the basis for bigotry and persecution. Unfortunately, this misconception about Jews is reflected in the term “anti-Semitism” itself, which implies that Jews are Semites, brown-skinned inhabitants of eastern Asia. Of course, originally they were, but now, except for the Mizrachi Jews, their appearance tends to be much different. Getting over this idea about Jews and considering them to be not Semites but rather a people defined by the faith and way of life they follow would possibly go a long way toward reducing Judeophobia, a more appropriate term.

    A troubling phenomenon that has arisen in recent years, however, is that, despite the acceptance by some relatively enlightened Europeans that discrimination and persecution against Jews is wrong, there has arisen the concept that Judaism as a religion is highly problematic. They will often cite spurious quotations from the Talmud even though they have never studied the Talmud; they just picked these ideas up from Jew-haters over the years and have accepted these false and out-of-context quotations without questioning them at all. To some degree, they probably believe such things because of deep-seated prejudices about Jews that they have failed to acknowledge to themselves. They end up believing the slanders about Judaism because they’ve been indoctrinated since birth and these libels are consistent with the falsities they’ve grown up with. The adoption of one-sided ideas about and primarily against Israel probably also emanates from those subconscious, preconceived notions about Jews.

    It would also be helpful to get rid of the theological sore point that God rejected the Jews and that, therefore, everything negative that has happened to them they had coming to them (part of supercessionism cited by the author). To quote from the Christian Scriptures, Romans 11:1, King James Bible, “I say then. Hath God cast away his people? God forbid.”

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