Brother Ron Barnes
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Causes of Anti-Semitism                                             


Dear Brother Ron

I'm beginning to think American anti-Semitism is more prevalent than I had ever thought. What are your feelings about this? Does the problem stem from supercessionism? Is there a broader issue with discrimination in America that includes a mistrust of all sorts of religious and/or ethnic groups?

ECP


Dear ECP

For those unfamiliar with the term, supercessionism (also known as Replacement Theology) is is the theological concept that, because the vast majority of Jews in the first century did not accept Jesus as their Messiah, God unilaterally terminated his covenants with the Jewish people and transferred them to the followers of Christianity. It relegates Judaism to an inferior position and recognizes Christianity as the 'true' or 'spiritual' Israel. This concept was first developed by Justin Martyr (circa 100 to 165 CE) and Irenaeus of Lyon (circa 130 to 200 CE). It was largely accepted within the church by the 4th century. It has led to a great deal of persecution of Jews by Christians. Many conservative Protestants still believe in this principle. In opposition to supercessionism is the dual covenant theory.

 

According to the dual covenant theory, God's covenant with Moses is still valid. You can find this covenant in Genesis 17:13, where God tells Moses, "He that is born in thy house and he that is bought with thy money must be circumcised; and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant."

 

My problem with supercessionism is that it degrades God. If God can see the future (which I believe He can), then He knew that one day the Jews would deny Jesus and He would break His "everlasting covenant". So this would mean that God was lying to Moses. I do not believe that God is a liar. On the other hand, if God has no clue what will happen next and revoked His covenant out of disappointment, this means God is limited by the same laws of physics which limit human activity and understanding. So God is not all-powerful and is not really God. I find both of these positions unacceptable.

Certainly the teaching of supercessionism, especially by some fundamental Christian groups, has contributed to anti-Semitism. I believe, however, the basic cause is a feeling of inferiority within the bigot himself. If a person does not have a positive self-image, there is a tendency to find or create some fault with others. The bigot can then say, "I may not be all that I should be but at least I am better than the __________".

This is why I encourage people to have a positive self-image. You are a child of the living God. When God created you, He knew what He was doing. You are here for a reason and that reason is in accordance with God's master plan for the universe. Since you are worthy of God's love, you are worthy of the love and respect of others. You are also entitled to love and respect yourself as one of God's beloved children.

If I can have positive feelings about myself, it does not threaten me to have positive feelings about others. Since I believe that I am a great person, I have no trouble believing that you are a great person too.

Only small people need to build themselves up by tearing others down.

Best always
Brother Ron