Church leaders adopt anti-Semitic stance against those to whom they owe everything
CAPE TOWN, October 18 2019 – South Africa’s Anglican Church has nailed its anti-Semitic colours to the mast.
In denying that the modern Jewish state is connected to the ancient Israelites who gave us the Bible, they further dig themselves into a hell-hole by approving a boycott of the nation.
They are thus inviting a curse on themselves (Gen 12.3) in tragically following the politically-correct stand of their own government, in contrast to many other African countries.
At their synod on September 26th, they unanimously approved a resolution to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, justifying their position theologically by saying: “The current political nation state of Israel and Israel in the Bible should not be confused with each other, and neither should the ideology of Zionism and the religion of Judaism be conflated.”1
This statement was described as “beyond the pale” by South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Dr Warren Goldstein, who condemned the resolution as a whole as “morally offensive, and based on a complete distortion of history”, adding that comparisons with apartheid were not only untrue, but insulted the victims of real apartheid.2
Cape Town-based Rev John Atkinson, international chairman of the Church’s Ministry among Jewish people (CMJ), an Anglican society co-founded by William Wilberforce 210 years ago, said it was a sad day. Commenting on the church’s website, he added: “People who forget their own history are doomed to repeat it. [There was] no acknowledgement of centuries of anti-Semitism and violent acts against Jews in Europe by the church, nor of the rise of anti-Semitism in contemporary society. This resolution is one-sided and ill-informed – the very thing it calls for others to avoid.”3
The stand taken by the Republic’s main body of Anglicans4, not to be confused with the breakaway Church of England in South Africa, follows similar sentiments by Presbyterians in the USA and Methodists5 in the UK who, in their backslidden state, find themselves easily caught up in worldly attitudes to God’s chosen people.
It is a wholly unbiblical view generally known as Replacement Theology – contending that the Church has replaced Israel in God’s affections and purposes.
Sadly, it is not a new phenomenon, but goes back to the early Church Fathers who seized upon the concurrence of Jewish exile from Israel in AD 70 with the emergence of Christianity as evidence that the blessings (though not the curses) promised to Abraham’s seed were now exclusively reserved for Christians.
But it questions the very character of God who has made several covenants with Israel which he has vowed never to break. Though their exile was indeed punishment for not recognising the Messiah’s coming, the Scriptures are littered with promises of their eventual return from the four corners of the globe.
How on earth can this be applied to the Church? To which country could we conceivably be seen to return from the north, south, east and west? Such thinking blinds us to what God is doing in restoring his people to their ancient land in preparation for the second advent of his beloved Son.
Just as Jews (as a whole) failed to acknowledge his first coming, many of today’s Gentiles are in danger of not recognising God’s hand in the return to Israel of seven million Jews – and counting – over the past 70 years or so. It’s the greatest sign of our age, but many believers are walking around with their eyes closed.
The growing movement of Jewish followers of Jesus is surely further evidence of their promised restoration – first to the land and then to their Lord (Ezekiel 36.24-26).
Though the church in Britain has been less overtly anti-Israel than our counterparts in South Africa (or the British Labour Party for that matter), I think it’s fair to say that most of our churches, not least through their silence, have effectively adopted replacement theology.
I feel a great sense of urgency in my spirit about this – that many are in the valley of decision with judgment of the nations at the door (Joel 3.2). As armies line up against Israel, we should be looking towards Jerusalem for understanding of the times.
We have just entered the Hebrew year 5780, and I am led to understand that Rabbi Kaduri, the former leader of Israel’s Sephardic community, prophesied back in the 1980s that, just before this very year began last month, two men named Benjamin would be fighting it out for the premiership – unsuccessfully.6
As we should all know, Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz have been doing just that. And this was the same rabbi who reportedly left a note, to be read a year after his passing, revealing the name of the Jewish Messiah.
In plain Hebrew, it read: “He will raise the people and confirm that His Word and Law are standing,” a statement said to incorporate an acronym for Yehoshua (Jesus).
Whatever you think about that, we are surely witnessing hugely significant events lining up with the Scriptural signs of our Lord’s imminent return when the government will be established upon his shoulders! (Isa 9.6)
1Joy! News, October 7 2019, quoting Bridges for Peace SA
2Gateway News, October 11 2019, quoting the South African Jewish Report
4I grew up among these Anglicans, attending Sunday School at a church led by Bill Burnett, a godly vicar who subsequently became Archbishop of Cape Town. Following an experience of breaking out in tongues while in prayer at his cathedral in another diocese, he effectively led the charismatic renewal in South Africa as he preached the Gospel throughout the nation. And soon after I was born again in England, he wrote to me, personally encouraging me to follow the Lord’s calling on my life. His letter was full of scripture; I particularly recall him quoting John 16.33: “In this world you will have trouble. But be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
5The South African Methodists have since followed their Anglican counterparts in approving BDS
6Shma Yisrael newsletter, October 2019