Sunday, May 13, 2012

Jewish Christians, Israel, Replacement Theology, Anti-Semitism, Catholic connection

Heard last weekend's radio program at Jan Markell's website, Understanding the Times, titled The Church's Missing Agenda, with the show's executive producer Larry Kutzler sitting in for Jan, and I've got to say this was one confusing -- and annoying -- theological experience. I had to listen more than once to try to figure it out.

The guests on the show were Shelly and Scott Volk, father and son, Jewish pastors of churches, Shelly's in Arizona, Scott's in North Carolina. I knew of Shelly Volk because of his earlier association with Art Katz, whose books and tapes I absorbed avidly years ago. Art Katz was an inspiring preacher and he never annoyed me, so I was surprised to have such a reaction to this interview with the Volks.

Let me see if I can sum up my annoyance: They seem to be saying that the "Church" has a "Gentile" flavor to it that denies the essential Hebrewness of the scriptures, which deprives us of a necessary perspective, especially on Israel. Much of the time their way of speaking seems to set themselves outside the Church as in "we" versus "them" although they are believers in Christ and certainly know that scripture tells us "there is no more Jew or Gentile ... but all are one in Christ Jesus." They do emphasize at times that they identify with the Church, but often their language suggests a sense of distance from it nevertheless.

For instance, they refer to the mention in the Book of Acts [Acts 11:26] of the point at which the Church started to be called "Christians" and clearly imply that they think this described a switch from a predominantly Jewish to a Gentile Church, which makes the name "Christian" pretty much synonymous in their minds with "Gentile." But the Church at Antioch was just as much Jewish in those days as all the churches were. Paul and the apostles always went to the Jews first, to the synagogues, wherever they took the gospel. The first believers were ALL "Christians", both Jew and Gentile. This kind of thinking that makes the Church Gentile simply must come from the modern Jewish mentality and not from early church history.

In fact, Matthew Henry makes the point that the name "Christian" would have been a unifier of Jew and Gentile, rather than the divisive Gentile designation the Volks are trying to make of it:

Thus those who before their conversion had been distinguished by the names of Jews and Gentiles might after their conversion be called by one and the same name, which would help them to forget their former dividing names, and prevent their bringing their former marks of distinction, and with them the seeds of contention, into the church. Let not one say, "I was a Jew;’’ nor the other, "I was a Gentile;’’ when both the one and the other must now say, "I am a Christian." [Matthew Henry commentary at Blue Letter Bible for Acts 11:26]
This quote gets at what annoyed me so much about the interview with the Volks. All this emphasis on their Jewishness and the Jewishness of the scriptures and the supposed Gentileness of the Church and so on IS divisive and does bring "seeds of contention into the church." And after you spend some time sorting it out and finding that they are wrong about most of this, wrong about this supposed denial of the relevant Hebrew context of the scriptures and the gospel, which I went on to do and report on below, it is more clearly shown that this IS merely a contentiousness that shouldn't be made so much of.

They don't quote anyone so that we might know who, or what segment of the Church, they are referring to when they speak of "Christians" having a deficient appreciation of the Hebrew background of the scriptures, or what that looks like in action. This is made all the more mystifying in the context of the use of audio clips concerning anti-Semitism, in which the speakers --both pro and con anti-Semitic positions-- are also not identified, but the implication is that "Christians" are somehow the "anti-Semites." We are left having to figure out how to connect these vague accusations with some notion that the Church is rather too "Gentile" and doesn't appreciate the Hebrew scriptures.

A host of objections floods my mind as I try to grapple with this.

First, the Reformers, as I've been most particularly learning from Chris Pinto recently, DID see a role for Israel in the last days, contrary to the accusation that the "Church" has left Israel out of their reckoning. Have contemporary Reformed churches done so? They need to be specific.

Second, I remember a discussion of the translators of the King James Version of the Bible as taking care to preserve the Hebrew forms and rhythms of its language even in the New Testament Greek -- wish I knew where to find that comment now. Certainly the newer translations haven't bothered with such niceties but I don't think this is what the Volks are objecting to.

Third, my own experience since I became a believer in the late 80s has been of a veritable inundation with the Hebrew context of the gospel. Who hasn't learned the "scarlet thread of redemption" that can be traced from Eden to Christ? Who has missed out on a study of the Book of Daniel's direct prophecy of the timing of the coming of Christ, or the prophecies of the world situation of the last days in that and other Old and New Testament books as well, prophecies we are seeing unfolding before our eyes? I had years of Bible study with Kay Arthur's materials for instance, who is strongly pro-Israel. I got this in both a Presbyterian church and a charismatic church. The same pro-Israel position is also true of John MacArthur whose books and tapes I avidly learned from. And Chuck Missler did very interesting in-depth studies of the meaning of the ceremonies and feasts of Israel as depicting Christ. I got from Kay Arthur's studies the analysis of the tabernacle as showing Christ, and that's the sort of teaching Missler also did. Jews for Jesus made the rounds of the churches too in those days with similar teachings; maybe they still do but it's been a while since I got to see them.

Perhaps my experience was not the norm? But if not, then what is needed is a clear reference to the experience of the majority of the churches about which I apparently know nothing, as I would have thought such teaching, at least of the building of the New Testament on the Old, to be essential and unavoidable.

So, I need to ask WHICH part of the "Church" is supposedly deprived of this sort of teaching?

Some of the complaint from the Volks seems to have to do with "replacement theology," which has been the subject of a few recent posts of mine, but it's not clear exactly how that fits in either. WHICH part of the Church teaches this theology anyway? And exactly WHAT IS this theology in their minds? Surely they can't deny that the Church IS the Israel of God, spiritual Zion, the inheritor of the Abrahamic covenant by faith, SCRIPTURE SAYS SO. But they DO seem to deny this and get it all confused with the notion that "therefore" there is no longer a role for national Israel. The latter does not necessarily follow from the former but they seem to put it all together as one package. I've discussed my own view of this in more detail in earlier posts.


Is it perhaps the CATHOLIC "church" that most strongly holds the "replacement theology" that is so objected to? This needs to be made clear.

One clue to this particular confusion did come up in this broadcast as an audio clip was played of a man very aggressively denouncing the Jews as "the accursed Jews" -- without identifying the speaker but implying that he somehow represents something "Christian." It wasn't hard to google "accursed Jews" and trace the clip to a video at You Tube in which a Catholic [identified as Richard Joseph Michael Ibranyi] standing in front of a table full of Roman Catholic paraphernalia, a crucifix with a dead Christ pinned to it, pictures of Christ with a Catholic flavor, a picture of the face on the shroud of Turin, a statue of Mary, candles and so on, goes on ranting against the Jews. The film was made by a group called "Mary's Little Remnant" --Mary, not Christ, Mary the true god of Roman Catholicism.

From his first few minutes on the subject it's clear he's a traditionalist Catholic who rejects the council of Vatican II as apostasy, and some of his objection is that that council said Jews should not be accused of the blood of Christ. Of course his own views are apostate as well, just judging from the table behind him, although he's right that the Jews did take the curse of Jesus' death upon themselves and Vatican II is wrong.

So are the Volks who deny the special culpability of the Jews, and the rest of us who have tried to take the heat off the Jews for this, as I also used to do. Shelly Volk gives the typical defensive denial {17:06]:

I would just say this: Jews for centuries have been called Christ-killers, and you know what, in a sense we even see that written in the New Covenant [so far so good, yes we do], but the reality of it is [could "the reality of it" be something different from what the New Covenant says? Careful here.] that the Roman Centurions killed Him, the Jews killed Him, we all killed Him by sin, but the fact of the matter is, the crucifixion of the Messiah was in the heart of God. In other words ... He wasn't killed, He gave up His life voluntarily to fulfill the will of God and that's what we have to go for. The ultimate end is, What does the word of God say? {17:42]
This is what a lot of us do when we discover the role of the Jews in the Bible, try to get them off the hook. But we have to rewrite scripture to do that. The Jewish leaders brought the charges against Jesus, the Jewish people supported that action with their cheers for the release of Barabbas rather than Jesus, then they took the curse of the death of Jesus on themselves and their posterity:

Matthew 27:22-25 Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? [They] all say unto him, Let him be crucified. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified. When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but [that] rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed [his] hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye [to it]. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood [be] on us, and on our children.
Scripture is very clear that they did this, it can't be avoided. Yes, in a sense we're all guilty of the blood of Christ, but it was the Jewish leaders who brought the charges against Him while Pilate tried to get out of prosecuting Him, and only the Jews specifically agreed to be cursed for His death.

It's sad, really, they had no idea what they were doing, as Jesus said from the cross, but the curse has followed them down the centuries nevertheless. What should our response be? Pity I think.

I do agree with the Volks about the Catholic guy's ATTITUDE, it is arrogant and boasting against the Jews and you can see how violence could come out of it. I only heard the first few minutes of his talk and it would need a lot of careful thought to sort out the true from the false and all the implications, but acknowledging that the Jews are under a curse for the blood of Christ [until they receive Him as Savior] no way justifies the Roman Church's anti-Jewish pogroms and the tortures and murders of the Inquisition. Jesus rejected all violence against His enemies and the Romanist perpetrators are going to get worse than the Inquisition at the judgment seat, PRAISE THE LORD!

One thing needs to be made clear in these last days: THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS NOT CHRISTIAN. Pre-Vatican II or post-Vatican II it's all still the Antichrist system and the Great Apostasy. This is one of the biggest errors being made by the true churches these days, to treat Romanism as just another denomination of Christianity. It is NOT CHRISTIAN AT ALL! If there IS a Rapture of the Church soon, before the last days come to their full expression of horror and evil, the main representative of "Christianity" left on earth is going to be the apostate Antichrist Roman Catholic Church, the Harlot Church, and the Great Tribulation of those days is very likely to look like the Inquisition and the Holocaust (which also had Roman Catholic roots -- go hear Chris Pinto) rolled into one and magnified to unimaginable heights.

It was not right for the Roman identity of this denouncer of the Jews to have been left out of the discussion with the Volks. This is a rant that could have come from Mel Gibson, who was apparently raised in this form of Catholic anti-Semitism.

Also, at the very beginning of the Understanding the Times radio broadcast an audio clip was played of a man with a British accent who is also not identified, who was going on about how anti-Semitism in Europe has been increasing in recent years "as a consequence of pandering to the bigotry of Muslims," referring to the huge increase in the European Muslim population, who then went on to say "not that Europe has ever needed much encouragement in that direction." And here again it occurred to me to ask, WHICH PART OF EUROPE? Catholic Europe perhaps? The Inquisition killed over 50 million people, most of them TRUE CHRISTIANS. It was the ROMAN Church that set itself to exterminate the Jews, along with all the true Christians, along with sundry Muslims, witches and whomever else they felt like torturing and murdering. If there was SOME Protestant or other source of anti-Semitism, this has to be made clear. And try to avoid histories of such things that have a hidden Jesuit connection in them too. The history of the Holocaust often traces it back to Luther's Lies of the Jews, but the predominant role was really the Catholic church. Pinto proves this.