Mar 6, 2017

Do You Like Jews?

I received a fair amount of feedback from the recent “Israel Watch” that spotlighted Calvinists who are dismissive of Israel and Bible prophecy.

Most writers can be more precise, and I certainly should have stated that not all Calvinists have this view of Israel. However, this week I want to pose a different question that has real relevance for this conversation.

Do you like Jews?

When I say “you,” of course, I might be addressing you, but this is also a sample query for that Calvinist in your life that doesn’t talk about Israel or the Jews much. Maybe he is lukewarm on the teaching of Bible prophecy.

One reader wrote to me this week and stated that a well-known pastor has some Calvinist leanings but he is also “pro Israel.”

Along with my question above, let me ask this: what does it mean to be pro Israel?

Is it affirming that Israel plays a major role in prophecy? Is it loving the Balfour Declaration, or May 14, 1948?

What I’m getting at is this: my personal definition of being “pro Israel” also must include a love for the Jews. As Jews, especially those living currently in the state of Israel.

I know there are various camps. Some are annoyed that others don’t join organizations that evangelize Jews. Others acknowledge Jewish history, but Israel today? Not so much.

In fact, I’ve been somewhat alarmed by the number of national evangelical leaders who frankly seem to take a dim view of modern Israel. I suspect that privately, they dislike Israel quite a bit. There is a definite disconnect with some leaders regarding ancient and modern Israel. Some go so far (as a leader in the United Methodist Church told me 20 years ago) as to claim the Jews living in Israel today have no connection to the Israelites of the Bible. This in my view is an outcome of anti-Semitism. It is absurd to claim that Joshua and David are not related to Benjamin Netanyahu or the young Golani troops that guard Israel today.

In Deuteronomy 4:37,38, we read an important point:

“Because he loved your ancestors and chose their descendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his great strength, to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you into their land to give it to you for your inheritance, as it is today.”

God loved, loves, and will love the Jews. Period. So should we do likewise, with no strings attached.

Attaching strings has brought great misery to the Jewish people. An example is their view of who the Messiah is. Christian raging at the Jews for rejecting Jesus has led to murder.

Another reader wrote this week to tell me a story I’ve heard many, many times. It seems that when he was growing up, he heard very negative things about the Jews.

But he never met one.

Anti-Jewish stereotypes are not confined to Nazi Germany or Tehran. Some of them exist in the modern American Evangelical community.

I am pro Israel first because I love the Jews. That’s it. Everything else flows from that: a love for prophecy, a love for modern Israel, etc. I am not pro Israel to “get a blessing” or because they are “an important ally in the Middle East.”

My issue with Calvinists is that with some of them, their personal dislike of Jews colors their view of eschatology. Yet…too many of them I’ve had conversations with dismiss the idea that they are anti-Israel or anti-Jew.

It should seem obvious that we all bring biases to our worldviews. I am biased that the Jewish people are a shining light in our world today. Some people are biased that the Jews are part of a global cabal that controls wars and financial institutions.

The really important question is this: whose bias is true?

I am not dogmatic about everything. I don’t make “loving Jews” a litmus test for fellowship. One does not need to love the study of Bible prophecy.

But if you harbor ill feelings for Jews—if your heart is dark toward them—we part company. I won’t listen to your theology that promotes Replacement Theology at the same time you deny your Replacement Theology.

Notice again those verses from Deuteronomy. Here God is addressing the Jewish people, not the Church or the “True Israel.” He is making specific statements and promises to the physical line of descendants that began with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and remember too, Isaac was the “child of the promise.”

To denigrate the modern Jewish people, because you need the Church to usurp them, is grotesque in my view.

At the end of the day, when entering into a discussion/argument/debate with someone who does not hold the Jewish people and Israel in high esteem, scratch the surface and look at what’s underneath.

Do they like Jews? Or do they dislike Jews?