The accusation has been made by Mr. Hal Lindsey that Christians who do not share Mr. Lindsey's views on eschatol-ogy - that is, pre-tribulational, dispensational, premillennial-ism - hold to a theology which leads inherently and inescapably to anti-Semitism. He presents this utterly bizarre thesis in his provocatively titled book, The Road to Holocaust.11 do not share Mr. Lindsey's views on eschatology, nor has the Church of Jesus Christ throughout most of its history. (Mr. Lindsey's views on eschatology appeared in Church history no earlier than 1830.) Is the Church therefore implicit anti-Semitic? Is my theology inherently anti-Semitic, as he says?
Some Jews say yes. Why? Because the Church believes that Christians should tell Jews that they, like everyone else in history, need to believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior in order to receive eternal life. Jesus died for the sins of men, and anyone who does not accept this sacrifice as his substitute payment to God will go to hell and spend eternity in torment. "And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:14- 15). Jesus said: "He that believeth on the Son bath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36). Jesus Christ is our sacrifice - the only sacrifice acceptable to God.
1. Lindsey, The Road to Holocaust (New York: Bantam Books, 1989).
Paul wrote to the church at Rome:
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement (Remans 5:7-11).
Some Jews and Jewish organizations regard this view of the atonement as inherently anti-Semitic. In fact, when the Willow-bank Declaration appeared in late April, 1989 (see below), a representative of the American Jewish Committee stated that it was "a blueprint for spiritual genocide."2
Now, if preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to Jews is an inherently anti-Semitic, spiritually genocidal act, then there is no escape for Christians: we must indeed become spiritually genocidal anti-Semites, as improperly defined. But how can it be anti-Semitic to present the claims of Jesus Christ, born a Jew in Israel, and then ask that person to accept Jesus as His personal Savior? We are inviting him to become part of the true Israel! Paul wrote: "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh" (Philippians 3:3). Paul made it very clear: the Church of Jesus Christ is the true Israel: "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God" (Galatians 6:15-16).
Jews deny this view of the Church. But this is nothing new; they always have denied it. It was the basis of the spiritual war between Christians and Jews from the beginning of the Church. Even to hint that this ancient debate over who the true Jews are, or what the true Israel is, has anything to do with modern anti-
2. Reported in World magazine (May 20, 1989).
Semitism or the holocaust is misleading; it is simply rhetoric. It will not stand the test of open debate.
Christians must reject any definition of anti-Semitism as invalid which says that to preach the gospel to a Jew is anti-Semitic. To accept such a definition, and then spend our lives trying to "avoid becoming anti-Semitic," so defined, would be to deny our Savior. We have been warned about this kind of irresponsibility:
But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing (I Peter 3: 14-17).
For this reason, I am reprinting the Willowbank Declaration. It was signed on April 29, 1989, by a number of evangelical Christians, including Vernon C. Grounds, J. I. Packer, Arthur and Kenneth Kantzer. It was a statement of the World Evangelical Fellowship of Wheaton, Illinois. Attendees came from around the world to attend the conference, held in Willowbank, Bermuda (April 26-29). The statement addresses the problem of the evangelization of the Jews. I am in agreement with all 27 statements. If you believe that the Willowbank Statement statement is inherently anti-Semitic, then there is no way that I can successfully prove my innocense to your accusation — not in your court, anyway. You have the sentence of "guilty" written on a paper in your pocket before we even begin the trial.
The ultimate decision of guilt or innocense will be made in God's court on judgment day. This is the court that Christians have been told by Jesus Christ to fear. "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28).
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