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December 18, 2016 5:34 am

Despite Its Good Deeds, the Salvation Army Has a Jewish Problem

avatar by Dexter Van Zile

Email a copy of "Despite Its Good Deeds, the Salvation Army Has a Jewish Problem" to a friend
A Salvation Army building in Connecticut. Photo: Wiki Commons.

A Salvation Army building in Connecticut. Photo: Wiki Commons.

When it comes to helping people — whether those who’ve struggled through hurricanes and earthquakes or more personal catastrophes such as alcoholism or drug addiction — very few institutions can hold a candle to the Salvation Army.

Without question, the Salvation Army saves lives. And for that reason, I have always put money into the red kettles on my way out of the grocery store during Christmas season.

That is about to change.

A friend recently alerted me to the church’s statement about the Jewish people — and I am filled with grief that an organization that does so much good can promote the notion that the Jewish people have collectively forsaken God and are no longer in His care. But that’s what the Salvation Army says in black and white, right there on its website.

In a statement titled “Reaching Jews With the Gospel,” the Salvation Army declares that “Israel has largely forsaken its place within the care and special purposes of God.” The text goes on to state:

It is the privilege and responsibility of the Christian Church and Christians everywhere to ‘go and make disciples of ALL nations’. In the face of ready acceptance or of stubborn obduracy the Christian Church must continue to fulfill its mission. The Jews are part of this mission, and we recognize that the Great Commission is not fulfilled before the gospel has been presented in a meaningful way also to the Jews.

Like a lot of Christian churches, the Salvation Army is committed to the Great Commission that calls upon Christians to share the faith with everyone — but the Jews especially. The focus on converting the Jews is troublesome because when Christians who express a particular desire to convert Jews are frustrated in their desire, their disappointment can turn to hostility very quickly.

Martin Luther said nice things about the Jews when he hoped they would convert, but when they did not, he helped lay the ground work for their destruction with the hateful essay, “The Jews And Their Lies,” which called for Jews to be punished because of their refusal to accept the Christian gospel.

Five hundred years later, we see a similar theology is afoot — in the writings of the Salvation Army no less. The Salvation Army’s statement does not declare that the Jews are singularly obdurate or stubborn, but the use of these phrases in a document calling for their conversion has troubling overtones that simply cannot be ignored.

Ironically, in the same document, the Salvation Army encourages its members to share the Gospel with Jews by reminding them “of the continued place of the Jewish people in the divine plan of redemption,” and by fighting antisemitism “in society in general” and “in the Church specifically.”

If the Salvation Army truly believes that the Jewish people have a “continued place” in the divine plan of redemption,” then why does it declare that “Israel has largely forsaken its place within the care and special purposes of God”?

And if the Salvation Army is truly interested in fighting antisemitism, why does the church hold up the Jews as in singular and special need of conversion?

The Salvation Army’s statement raises an important question: Is Christian opposition to antisemitism principled, or merely instrumental? In other words, is Christian opposition to Jew-hatred rooted in a desire to convert them later, or is it rooted in a principled opposition to hatred of all types?

The Salvation Army will do well to investigate the writings of Gerald McDermott, editor of The New Christian Zionism: Fresh Perspectives on Israel and the Land. In this book, McDermott argues that God’s promises to the Jewish people endure, and that Jews still have a role to play in His plans for humanity.

Hopefully, the Salvation Army will rework its theology regarding the Jewish people and continue to bless the world, just as the Jewish people have done throughout their history.

Dexter Van Zile is Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. His opinions are his own.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • SteveC1

    In recent public communication, the Salvation Army stated that it no longer espouses at least “replacement theology” if not “supersession” as well. At least not publicly. But yes, most if not all Christians – especially evangelical Christians – do seem to believe in those concepts.

  • SteveC1

    There are no unanswered questions regarding this matter.
    In fact, the organization has already pulled the document in question from its website and posted explanation of the document’s actual origin along with clarification that it did not reflect the larger organization’s thinking regarding Judaism or the religions adherents.

  • Cooper

    Don’t worry. Not for long

  • Cooper

    All comments must be pre-approved thru the Gestapo

  • Keep It Real

    Your memory is faulty. I’ve seen them provide food and shelter to many homeless people over the years without any such requirement. They do ask that people attend their religious services, but it’s not compulsory, so where’s the harm in that?

  • Michael Rosenbaum

    Dexter, you do a disservice to the Salvation Army by this article and you mislead Jewish readers of Algemeiner into thinking that the SA is an anti-Semitic organization. They are an evangelical organization. True. But that does not make them anti-Semites. It is possible to walk and chew gum at the same time. Moreover, the quote you cite is not a statement of Replacement Theology but refers to the Christian doctrine of sin. All are sinners and are under God’s judgement. SA doctrine is not segregating Jews into a special category of sinner. They are, however, being honest about their mission to Jews as well as Gentiles. We need not fear the SA bell ringer as a sign of rising anti-Semitism.

  • Steve Silverstone

    i shall now for your benefit declare myself to be the light of the world and of course the only begotten son of god, the lamb of god who takes away sin of the world. that was easy

  • Leslie Benjamini

    This is where antisemitism comes from. Very unhelpful comment.

  • Afsaneh Khoshgeleh

    Never gave them a red penny.

  • Holy Shirt

    The article reflects author Dexter Van Zile’s opinion, not The Algemeiner’s. My opinion is that your comment makes you appear Dexter Zan Vile. I suggest you read Steve Allen’s Dumbth, facing a full-length mirror:

  • Holy Shirt

    Our local, small-town S.A. citadel fills its homeless shelter much fuller in frigid winter weather than in mild summer weather. Overnight “guests” are invited to attend their religious services but are not required to do so. Nevertheless, word on the street is that participants are likelier to be accommodated than non-participants on the nights the dormotories cannot accommodate the demand. Taking no government support, what are they doing wrong?

  • Joshua_Rachman

    Where u meet Jesus?

  • Holy Shirt

    If the recent mushrooming of Islamic beheading of Christians in any indication, Christianity (especially evangelical Christianity) joins Judaism as “people chosen” to convert to Islam or die refusing.. If that makes them the new “Chosen People,” they are welcome to it.

  • hendl

    Until the Salvation Army changes its negative stance on Gays, I won’t have anything to do with them.

  • hendl

    Even without knowing, we are rightly suspicious of their motives and behavior.

  • hendl

    I’m still waiting. Until then, I am VERY happy being a Jew.

  • Herrnhut

    Well you are the Christian Analyst. You should know true Christians do not have a Jewish problem. You are arguing with Adonai in the Psalm 110:1. Your Adonai, Our Lord.

  • solange

    They also outright have a problem with gay people. So, I have not given to them for a very long time. That to me is not Christian.

  • SeizetheLight

    News Flash. It is an evangelic organization.

  • GeenBeen

    Actually, you cannot say that. The NT is nothing to us. Not one shred of truth. Please keep your theology to yourselves. We Jews do not subscribe to your very premise that Jesus was anything more than a man, a mamser and a criminal. That is what he was. Nothing divine about him. He was a heretic that took G-d’s name in vain. Christianity was invented and adopted to control the people. Nothing more. Nothing less. It is actually quite disgusting that Goyim have decided that it is ok to bastardize our Torah and reinterpret it to serve their BS garbage. The Torah is ours. You have no right to gleen anything from it that is not inline with our Jewish beliefs and when you meet your maker you will know that completely.

    • Leslie Benjamini

      And I am sick to death of all the proselytizing by any /all Christian groups feeling that they have to save my Jewish soul from burning in a hell that they inventented or I will not be saved & have a life everlasting. They should keep their beliefs to themselves. I am very happy with my Jewish beliefs & have no need of saving. I hearby relieve them of that burden.

  • Steve 907

    This doesn’t even refer to their mega LGBTQ problem. I guess as an outspoken Queer Jew I am a double looser.

    • Pinchas Baram

      true. and if you don’t want to be a triple loser, you might learn how to spell LOSER.

      • Steve 907

        If all you can critique is a careless typo by fingers numbed by the winter cold, then you, sir, are a much bigger one.

    • hendl

      You hit the nail on the head.

  • Factory_Hag

    Perhaps some of the “awful things that have beset the Jewish people” have happened not because of what they did, but because of what we others didn’t do, to stop it. This is not Heaven. It is not God’s job to protect everyone from harm. If anyone’s, it’s ours. Even right now, we aren’t doing much, and it’s not just Jewish people we are being apathetic about.
    Everything that happened to Jesus happened because it was supposed to. The Romans and Jews were the people around at the time. I guess God could have waited and had The Child born in Cleveland, but perhaps He wanted the child raised in a Kosher home, and in a time when the Jewish faith was strong.
    I would never wish upon the Italians the problems the Jewish folks have had to deal with, but the Romans were running the show, and no one ever accused Italians of killing Christ. That makes me suspicious of the motives of some.

  • WashingtonDame

    As I once said to a friend who questioned my giving money to the SA, please show me a Jewish organization that does the same amount of work on behalf of the homeless and destitute as the SA, and I’ll happily donate to them, too.

  • WashingtonDame

    So as a committed Christian organization, they proselytize. That’s what evangelical (and other) Christians do. So what? If Jews raise their kids right, they have nothing to fear from this.

  • SteveC1

    The Salvation Army is a most unusual organization in this regard, especially in the current age.

    It is an organization that was originally created as a “Christian” organization, similar to the YMCA. But while the latter has largely dropped its emphasis on Christianity – both “on paper” and in actual practice – the former has not (at least not “on paper”). And yet, I have NEVER seen even *one* instance anywhere (at least in the US) wherein anyone from the Salvation Army was proselytizing to *anyone* let alone Jews.

    What to make of this? I honestly don’t know. But I DO limit my donations to this organization to just my local branch and designate them exclusively for helping to meet the needs of local, indigent people. Putting cash in red kettles went “out the door” years ago.

  • Hillary’s Fart-filled Panties

    The Jewish religion is complete. Any embellishment is superfluous. If we don’t believe that Jesus was God, why should we convert? The story simply makes no sense.

    • WashingtonDame

      Of course, we don’t need to. But Christians do not share this belief, which is their right.

  • Felix McAllister

    Please tell us what the Talmud says regarding the role of non-Jews once the Messiah has arrived.

    • cba

      The Talmud says the righteous of all peoples have a place in the World to Come

  • hoptoit27

    Does the Salvation Army make any statements concerning converting Muslims to Christianity? They have a very big job that they could delve into with that group. The should get over the fact that Jesus was born a Jew, lived his life as a Jew and died a Jew. Jesus never promoted anything but his belief in one G-d. His disciples originated the premise that he was something else which has yet to be proven.

    • Great point. I hope the Salvation Army tackles it.
      It is easy to try to convert Jews because Jews are courteous and may take umbrage but they won’t get violent.

    • Rabbi Ricardo

      I agree with most of your post except that I would say it was not his initial disciples who saw him as more than a man but rather those who came later on. Originally, there was one opinion and one camp but in time that changed up until the Council of Nicea when Constantine gathered all his bishops and with a vote declared Jesus to be God which is what the Church system runs on today. Jesus did not see himself as God and as you mentioned was very clear in his declaration of monotheism of only one God not three. 🙂