Church of England repents over anti-Semitic past

Much of the blame for the current Middle East conflict should be laid squarely at the door – not of Israel, but the Church.

It is wholly appropriate, therefore, that the Church of England held a service of repentance for historic anti-Semitism at Oxford Cathedral on 8 May.

In 1222 humilitating anti-Jewish laws were passed

Photo: Diocese of Oxford

For it was at the Synod of Oxford in 1222 (800 years ago) that humilitating anti-Jewish laws were passed which ultimately led to the expulsion of Jews from England in 1290. Nearly 400 years passed before they were welcomed back by Cromwell.

The move to hold the service follows the Anglican Church’s 2019 document, ‘God’s Unfailing Word’ which acknowledged the Church’s role in fostering anti-Semitic feeling, especially timely amidst an exponential rise in this shocking form of racism.

Another significant step forward has been the recent launch in Rochester Cathedral of a new form of liturgy for Jewish followers of Jesus which fully acknowledges the context of their culture. The expectation that such believers should deny their traditions and be absorbed into a Gentile ‘Christian’ environment has at last been cast aside.

Anglican mission CMJ (the Church’s Ministry among the Jewish people) has clearly had a hand in this development, having already followed this policy for over 200 years.

The cause of Church-based anti-Semitism was not just our sinful, hateful hearts, but bad theology

The Catholic bishop Rt Rev William Kenney speaking the Act of
Penitence over the anti-Jewish laws passed when England was Catholic in 1222 Photo: Diocese of Oxford

The cause of Church-based anti-Semitism was not just our sinful, hateful hearts, but bad theology going all the way back to the second century, now acknowledged in part by the established Church.

It was shortly after the Apostles died that the so-called ‘Church Fathers’ began the process of disassociating Christianity from its Judaic foundations by marking the Sabbath on a different day and separating Passover from Easter.

Yes, the Jewish leaders did conspire to crucify Christ, but the other side of the same coin is that it was meant to happen, as Jesus was the ultimate Passover Lamb sacrificed for the sins of both Jew and Gentile (see Isaiah 53:10). In that sense, we are all responsible for nailing him to the Cross.

Jewish hearts were hardened for a time so that Gentiles too could taste the sweet salvation of sins forgiven

St Paul explains how Jewish hearts were hardened for a time for our sakes so that Gentiles too could taste the sweet salvation of sins forgiven. (Romans 11:25)

But God, as a loving Father, still loves his ancient people (see Jeremiah 31:3) and there is coming a day when “all Israel” will acknowledge their Messiah (Romans 11:26).

Oxford Cathedral’s beautiful altar. Photo: Diocese of Oxford

Indeed, there is coming a time when Jerusalem will no longer be trampled upon by Gentiles in fulfilment of Jesus’ prophecy (Luke 21:24). There are parts of the city – particularly the Temple Mount – still under Gentile (Jordanian) control. But this will soon end, which is why there is such a furious battle over this piece of real estate.

It is, after all, God’s ‘holy mountain’ (Psalm 48:1, Ezekiel 43:6f) – but the devil, the ‘prince of this world’, is holding on to it for as long as he can. However, King Jesus is coming to reign from this mount and idolatry will cease as he sets up his Kingdom for a thousand years.

The distancing from Judaism encouraged by the likes of Constantine and the Church Fathers went hand in hand with the heretical notion that Christians had replaced Israel in God’s affections. This effectively meant that wherever we read ‘Israel’ in the Bible, we should think ‘Church’.

Such denial of the Father’s love for Jews spread like cancer through Christ’s ‘body’ on earth and also infected much of the political realm. Luther was an obvious example of this, with his anti-Semitic writings providing the religious defence for Nazism 400 years later.

Julius Streicher cited Luther’s book ‘The Jews and their Lies’ as part of his defence at the Nuremberg Trials, declaring: “Dr Martin Luther would very probably sit in my place in the defendants’ dock today if this book had been taken into consideration by the prosecution.”

Many churches today refuse to see the marvellous miracle of Jewish restoration as part of God’s plan

But as in all things in God’s world, there is a strong correlation between the physical and the spiritual. Denying God’s favour for the Jewish people will inevitably lead to denial of their right to the land, which is the default position of so many churches today. They refuse to see the marvellous miracle of Jewish restoration as part of God’s plan in spite of the plethora of Scriptures referring to it.

Jeremiah, who repeatedly castigated his people for their idolatry, nevertheless prophesied that their return from the far corners of the earth would be a greater miracle than the crossing of the Red Sea (Jeremiah 16:14f).

Charles Spurgeon, John Wesley and Bishop J C Ryle were among the great evangelical preachers of the past who clearly saw this.

If you are a Bible believer, Jewish entitlement to the land of Israel is surely a given. And when they are back in the land, according to Ezekiel, they will also turn back to the Lord as they are given a ‘new heart’ (Ezekiel 36:24- 26).

The Good Samaritan parable could well apply to organisations today such as Christian Friends of Israel who are busy dressing the wounds of the injured victim on the roadside while many religious people walk by on the other side.

We have also been slow to follow the example of the Germany-based Evangelical Sisters of Mary who have led services of repentance since the end of World War 2.

Britain has yet to formally apologise for the 1939 White Paper that severely restricted Jewish immigration to the Holy Land (then under our jurisdiction), thus preventing their escape from the Nazi death camps. That was a truly shameful period of British history.

It’s time we returned the favour the Jewish people lavished on us with their precious Scriptures, their patriarchs, their prophets and their Saviour. For everything we do, or fail to do, hinges on our response to a Jew, whose name is Jesus.

Historic service to repent over England’s notorious anti-Semitic laws – 800 years later

Hitler was not the first to demand Jews wear a badge of identity – the English had introduced them in 1222

Service of Repentance and commitment on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the Synod of Oxford. Photo: Diocese of Oxford

An English cathedral has just witnessed what must be one of the most significant events in Church history.

On Sunday 8 May 2022 the Church of England chose to mark the 800th anniversary of the notorious Synod of Oxford with a strongly Hebraic service of repentance for historic anti-Semitism. And it took place, appropriately, in the city’s Christ Church Cathedral, with over 300 present including many from the Jewish community.

It was the 1222 synod that passed a raft of laws which paved the way for the eventual expulsion of Jews from England in 1290, the first such decree in Europe. Among the many humiliations imposed upon the Jewish community by the synod was the requirement – another first in Europe – to wear a badge of identity.

“A painful and shameful history”

Was Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral basking in the
sunshine of God’s approval, as penitent visitors arrived for the repentance service?

The Synod of Oxford had barred Jews from entering churches, so their active involvement in this service symbolised the complete re[1]versal of that synod’s decrees. The Bishop of Lichfield, Rt Rev Dr Michael Ipgrave, rightly described it as a “painful and shameful” history, with the synod’s decision shaping the entire medieval Church in Europe in contributing to the teaching of contempt for Jews.

As Christians, he said, they were there to remember and to repent, adding: “As Christians and Jews together, we are here to rebuild.”

In a very moving ceremony liberally infused with powerful music, along with choral renditions sung in Hebrew, the bishop made it clear that the God of Israel is the one “whom Christians also believe to be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

Jewish scholar and author Rebecca Abrams, who outlined the decisions of the historic synod, noted how “unimaginable” this service would have been in medieval England.

Leading the ‘Act of Penitence’, Rt Rev William Kenney (Roman Catholic bishop emeritus) pointed out how Jesus often quoted the Torah (the first five books of the Bible, foundational to Judaism) in his teaching, and acknowledged “with shame and penitence” the synod’s decrees.

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain read a passage from Leviticus 19 in Hebrew and said afterwards: “I think the Jews of 1222 would have been astonished to hear Hebrew ring out in this cathedral.

” And Archdeacon of Oxford, Ven Jonathan Chaffey, spoke of the “profound significance” of a ceremony dealing with “penitence for all acts of anti-Semitism and religious persecution”.

This service, along with the ‘God’s Unfailing Word’ report which also addressed this issue, had been strongly advocated in recent years by Love Never Fails, an umbrella organisation for a number of support groups like Christian Friends of Israel, Ebenezer Operation Exodus and the Church’s Ministry among Jewish People (CMJ).

After the repentance service, a prayer gathering in Blue Boar House nearby was led by Pastor Phil Herklots on behalf of the Oxford churches. More than 100 believers from all over the UK prayed for blessing and healing upon the Jewish people, and for further repentance for replacement the[1]ology in the British Church.

A longer article will be on CMJ UK’s website and there will be a report in its July-September News & Views


Mounting tension: Jerusalem’s Temple Mount has recently witnessed fierce riots in defence of Islam’s exclusive claim to the site (Shutterstock)

Many Muslims are convinced that the state of Israel will cease to exist on 8 July, 2022, which is leading to a spate of murders and stabbings in Israel.

According to Israeli Messianic commentator Amir Tsarfati, Iranian mullahs are inciting violence in Israel because they believe that this year saw the last Ramadan before Israel is eliminated.

Security in Israel now is much weaker than it was under the Netanyahu government, with 11 Israelis murdered by Arab Muslims in terror attacks in just over a week.

IDF restore order to the Temple Mount complex

The perpetrators had been told this was their last opportunity to win the Muslim martyr’s reward of 144 virgins in ‘paradise’.

What’s more, Naftali Bennett, the new Israeli Prime Minister has advised all Israelis who hold gun permits to be armed whenever they leave the house.

Knife-wielding man was ‘looking for a Jew to kill’

A £10,000 reward has been offered for information that could lead to the conviction of a knife-wielding man who attacked a Jew in London.

After threatening his victim with the words, “You are Jewish; I am going to kill you,” the attacker fled and the police only arrived when it was all over.

The incident took place near West Hampstead tube station during the Jewish festival of Chanukah last year. The culprit was tearing down a Chanukah display and screaming anti-Semitic abuse when he saw the victim and said he was “looking for a Jew to kill” in an apparent reference to a saying of Muhammed that the end times will not come until Muslims kill Jews.

“The suicide of the West may be what Leftists have wanted all along”

Those who have been warning about the possible impact of this tradition have been denounced as ‘Islamophobes’. But now the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism is offering a reward in the hopes of catching the perpetrator.

Robert Spencer, of the Front Page Magazine, said: “We were trying to alert the world to this risk nearly 15 years ago. And in the near future, there are certain to be many other examples of how right we were to call attention to this and how short-sighted and ultimately suicidal for the West the Left’s approach has been and continues to be. But the suicide of the West may be what Leftists have wanted all along.”

Death chants go unpunished

Not a single arrest has been made (by 24 April) in connection with seven anti-Israel demonstrations held in Britain last year at which death threats were chanted against Jews. But police have admitted that criminal charges could be brought.

At each of the protests – over Israel’s response to the indiscriminate launching of some 4,000 rockets by terror group Hamas – people were heard to chant (in Arabic) “Watch out Jews, remember Khaybar, the Army of Mohammed is returning”.

The cry alludes to a series of seventh century battles in which a Mohammed-led Muslim army defeated Jews.

“We’ve been tracking this for years,” said a spokesman for the Community Security Trust, committed to Jewish safety in the UK. “But the police remain deeply reluctant to make arrests in the middle of a demo and, so far, have only investigated after the event.”

Yet the police and Crown Prosecution Service both admit that the use of this blatant threat constitutes a crime of incitement to racial hatred under Section 18 of the Public Order Act.

London University, meanwhile, is to host an event in July called ‘Marxism 2022’. Its Queen Mary College will welcome speakers who have been embroiled in anti-Semitism scandals including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.


Controversial vicar Stephen Sizer is facing a new Clergy Discipline Measure, thought to relate to ongoing issues over his views on Israel.

He has vehemently denied repeated accusations of anti-Semitism, claiming that ‘anti-Zionism’ is not the same thing. But a full-page article in Evangelicals Now reflects the view of some that many ‘conservative evangelical’ leaders and bodies are largely silent on Israel’s place in the world and have consistently failed to address concerns about Sizer’s views and behaviour. “

If Jews do not count, there simply is no God, no Christ, no Gospel, no Church that is worthy of the name”

In 2015, Sizer apologised for posting a link on social media to an article claiming Israel was behind 9/11, later denying that he himself thought this was the case.

Matthew Mason, tutor in Christian ethics at the Pastors’ Academy, has said that “ongoing silence simply will not do…Of course this is a Gospel issue. For if Jews do not count, there simply is no God, no Christ, no Gospel, no Church that is worthy of the name.”

Palestinian leaders ‘the real criminals’

A former terrorist has exposed the Palestinian leadership as the real criminals in the conflict over Israeli territory.

In a letter to Israel Today, 47-year-old peace activist Mohammed Arif Massad said he had fought fiercely against Israel from the age of 13, but soon discovered that the Palestinian leadership wanted neither peace nor freedom because they profit from the war and destruction in their midst.

The PA’s official TV station featured a Ramadan prayer calling for the mass slaughter of Jews

“They like to attract the attention of the free and good people in the world as the death toll among our people increases, so that the world will provide them with enormous amounts of assistance…

“I have decided to expose to the world the crimes of the real terrorists who are occupying the Palestinian people, which are the Palestinian terrorist organisations that receive full assistance from the corrupt Palestinian Authority.

“If you really want the killing, destruction and siege of the Palestinian people to stop, if you really want the injustice and poverty of the Palestinian people to cease, please stop your support of the PA controlled by the corrupt and unelected dictator Mahmoud Abbas.”

Meanwhile, the PA’s official TV station on 17 April featured a Ramadan prayer calling for the mass slaughter of Jews.

Heavily-armed Arabs pose serious danger

Holon, Israel, 11 May 2021. The immediate aftermath of a Palestinian rocket hitting a passenger bus in central Israel

Retired army general Effi Eitam says Israel is facing a violent uprising among its Arab citizens ultimately aimed at dismantling the Jewish state. He said hundreds of thousands of weapons stolen from IDF bases and police stations are now in the hands of tens of thousands of Arabs, and that Israel is struggling to manage a hostile fifth column with enough firepower to pose a serious danger to national security


Valentyna VeretskaA refugee from the Ukraine has won gold in the Jerusalem Marathon.

Valentyna Veretska, who fled to Poland with her 11-year-old daughter while her husband remained to fight the Russian invasion, clocked 2:45:54 for the 26.2-mile race. Veretska, 31, had planned to participate before war broke out and had asked the organisers to help get her a permit.

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