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December 20, 2016 6:22 pm

Salvation Army Scrubs Replacement Theology From Website After Scrutiny

avatar by Dexter Van Zile

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

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

One step at a time.

Approximately two days after The Algemeiner published an article about the Salvation Army’s stance on the Jewish people, the charitable organization has quietly removed a document from the internet that propounded the notion that, “Israel has largely forsaken its place within the care and special purposes of God.” People who click on the link to the article will now see a “file not found” message.

Officials from the Salvation Army have not responded to repeated queries, but it seems reasonable to conclude that The Algemeiner article prompted the organization to take down the document, which has been preserved at least five times on the Wayback Machine’s archive-crawler beginning in 2014.

It’s a small step, but it’s a good start. The document, which called on Christians to fight antisemitism, also declared that the “it is the obligation of Christians to bring Jews into the Christian fold.”

“In the face of ready acceptance or stubborn obduracy the Christian Church must continue to fulfill this mission [of converting the Jews],” the article announced.

The words “stubborn” and “obdurate” regularly appeared in the anti-Judaic writings of the early church fathers who were offended at the Jewish refusal to accept the Christian gospel. Numerous scholars have concluded that these writings were a precursor to the Holocaust in Europe in the 1930s and 40s.

The assessment that the Jews no longer have a place in God’s plan for humanity is one of the main features of Christian replacement theology — also known as supersessionism. The prevalence of supersessionism in the Christian faith, despite efforts to discredit the theology by numerous Christian scholars, has been a significant concern of interfaith relations activists in the decades since the Holocaust. Many anti-Israel commentators, such as Naim Ateek, Gary Burge, Mitri Raheb and Steven Sizer (and others), rely on supersessionist arguments to portray the existence of the Jewish state as an affront to the Christian faith, and therefore unworthy of Christian support.

The Salvation Army’s apparent supersessionism is not nearly as punitive as the writings of these commentators, but it is troubling nonetheless.

Concerns about supersessionism have increased since the terror attacks of 9/11, as Muslim sources proclaim that Islam supersedes or replaces both Judaism and Christianity and jihadists invoke these sources to justify their attacks against Jews and Christians throughout the world. If Christians embrace a supersessionist attitude toward Judaism, they have no warrant to complain when Muslims embrace a supersessionist or supremacist attitude toward their faith.

The general public needs to pay close attention to how the Salvation Army proceeds in its response to this controversy. The fact that it has taken down the offending document is a good first step. But at some point, the organization is going to have to explain why it made the decision. Did the Salvation Army remove the document to protect its reputation or is the document’s removal a harbinger of a change in attitude toward the Jewish people?

The upshot is that theology matters — it matters a lot — in how humans deal with one another on both an individual and collective basis.

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  • Joseph K. McCall

    This article was all over the place…..and somewhat humorous….

  • Abelardy

    Replacement theology is anti-Semitism. Get rid of it.

  • Bro. Nick

    The probability of the ‘Salvation Army’ actually moving away from ‘mildly anti-Semitic’ beliefs’ to actual support of “ISRAEL” – the people and your eternal land is practically ZERO – for it is written in “the word of the Lord”:
    “Your glorying is not good.
    Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?”
    (1 Corinthians 5:6 ~ AV)

    And – most unfortunately there is constantly increasing belief here in ‘Amerika’ in ‘replacement theology’ among many that call people and denominations that call and think of themselves as ‘Christians’
    – and they commonly make various excuses against – or choose to ignore – or choose to deny the eternal promise that the “LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of ISRAEL” made to Abram:
    “Now the LORD had said unto Abram,
    Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house,
    unto a land that I will shew thee:
    And I will make of thee a great nation,
    and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
    (Genesis 12:1-3 ~ AV)

    Thankfully, I am a ‘Biblical CHRISTian’ that has been given a deep personal love for more than 50 years for “ISRAEL” – your people and your eternal homeland
    – and I have chosen to believe “the certainty of the words of truth”:
    they shall prosper that love thee.”
    (Psalm 122:6 ~ AV)

  • SteveC1


  • George

    I strongly suspect this is now about the money. Many Jews are probably supportive of the good work that the Salvation Army does and make contributions when they see the red kettle or get a fundraising letter in the mail. I am proud to say that in general American Jews are relatively affluent and supportive of charities of all types. If the Salvation Army thought this was offensive or inappropriate it would not be on their website for so many years, or at all. The fact that they have been discovered and outed by algemeiner obviously opens the door to discovery by the much wider population of American Jews that are not readers of algemeiner and this could significantly impact contributions, especially at this time of year. They need not to be let off the hook or given a free pass on this until they issue a public statement at least to the Jewish Community that they disavow this theology. Anything less is unsatisfactory and the fact that they embrace this theology needs to be made known throughout the entire American Jewish Community.

  • crinedel

    Just because the Salvation Army removed this embarrassing statement doesn’t mean they’ve removed it from their theology.
    Or their theology. Or their minds. Or their hearts.
    No matter what they publicly proclaim, Christians of all kinds believe those who don’t believe in Christianity are doomed; respect for other belief systems is incompatible with core Christianity. To respect other faiths undermines Christianity’s basic message–the good deeds are just a means to an end.