For the last couple of years I have shared my story with many Christians. Many are surprised to learn that until about two years ago that I had never had a meaningful conversation with a Christian. All of that changed when I attended a Christians United for Israel (CUFI) event here in Israel and met Pastor Tom and Shelli Brim-Baggett. I am not going to recount the whole story now but you can read it here if you haven’t heard it already.
One of the main reasons that I and many in the Jewish community had little to no contact with Christians was because when growing up, we tend to lump all Christians together. Most Jews do not know what replacement theology is, nor do they know the difference between an Evangelical Christian and a Catholic. When I share with my Jewish brothers and sisters that the Evangelicals whom I guide here in Israel do not go to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the various other churches here, they are in shock. They can’t believe it. They just don’t see the distinction between Christians and what their various beliefs are in terms of their theology and how they relate to Israel, the Bible and the Jewish people.
With all of that said, this week the Church of Scotland came out with an official report regarding the State of Israel. The statement included the following: "Promises about the land of Israel were never intended to be taken literally" and "From this examination of the various views in the Bible about the relation of land to the people of God, it can be concluded that Christians should not be supporting any claims by Jewish or any other people to an exclusive or even privileged Divine right to possess particular territory.” Hmmmm—has the Church of Scotland actually read the Bible? How about Genesis 12:7? Of course they are entitled to their opinion but do they really have such a creative reading of the Bible?
Here are some of the reactions of those in the Jewish community: The Israeli ambassador to the region said "This report not only plays into extremist political positions, but negates and belittles the deeply held Jewish attachment to the land of Israel in a way which is truly hurtful." The Anti-Defamation League in New York said the paper was "stunningly offensive" and "negated the beliefs of Judaism." Most aggressively, here is a statement by the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities. Referring to the report they said it “reads like an Inquisition-era polemic against Jews and Judaism” and "The arrogance of telling the Jewish people how to interpret Jewish texts and Jewish theology is breathtaking.”
This is a perfect example of why so many in the Jewish community have such a hard time accepting the hand of well intentioned Christians. They simply can’t distinguish between different groups of Christians. Dennis Prager once said, “We (the Jewish community) are excellent at recognizing our enemies but not as good at recognizing our friends.” There is a mistrust that has been built up for so many years and it is comments like those of the Church of Scotland that fan the flames.
We in the Jewish community are starting to come around and to understand the Christian world better. Much of this turnaround can be credited in no small measure to all of those who have been doing the heavy lifting in the last thirty years to raise a voice of Christian support for Israel. We appreciate that for the first time in Jewish history we have found good friends. We are not standing alone. We must continue to make our voices heard and not let those who delegitimize the State of Israel go unchallenged, no matter whether it is the Church of Scotland or otherwise. The voice of Christians who support Israel has to be so loud that it drowns out the voice of those who oppose. Love has to be stronger than hate and truth more common than lies. Together we will build a new future for our two communities. This is what Teach Israel is about. We are thrilled that you are a part of it.