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Messianic Jewish Coalition Accuses the Church of Scotland of Promoting Christian Anti-Semitism


May 30, 2013 – The Church of Scotland (COS) has been involved in an international firestorm of controversy throughout the month of May because of what has been widely perceived as an anti-Israel and anti-Semitic report by its Church and Society Council entitled, “The inheritance of Abraham? A report on ‘the promised land’”. This report, which has now been overwhelmingly adopted by the General Assembly of the COS, asserts that Israel has no special Biblical right to the historic land of Israel despite the clear Biblical record and the voluminous prophecies contained in it concerning Israel’s return to the land in the latter days. Soon after the report’s initial release, the Church was forced by international and interfaith pressure to withdraw it for revision. However, the revised report that was accepted by the General Assembly included only cosmetic improvements, but did nothing to address its underlying errors and distortions, or to support the unjust recommendations with which it concludes.

The leaders of the International Messianic Jewish Alliance (IMJA), the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC), the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA), the International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues (IAMCS) and the British Messianic Jewish Alliance (BMJA) are shocked and dismayed that another denomination that purports to believe the Scripture is God’s Word and to follow the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and believe in a Jewish Messiah and Savior for all could wander onto the well-worn path of Christian anti-Semitism. “The inheritance of Abraham?” sows anti-Semitic thinking into the very fabric of the denomination through the following flaws:

  1. It ignores the clear contextual teaching of Scripture in favor of a faulty, out-of- context, and biased theology. The Church of Scotland joins efforts by other denominations in recent years to oppose not only specific Israeli policies, but also the Jewish character of the state. But it goes beyond other recent statements in basing this opposition on its theological argument—repudiated in much of the Christian world today—that the ancient Jewish claim to being chosen or special in God’s sight is invalidated by the New Testament. “If Jesus is indeed the Yes to all God’s promises [2 Cor. 1:20] then for Christians the promise to Abraham about land is fulfilled through the impact of Jesus. . . .  To Christians in the 21st century, promises about the land of Israel shouldn’t be intended to be taken literally.” The target of this report, then, is not only specific Israeli policies, and not only the Jewish character of the State of Israel, but a foundational aspect of Jewish thought and identity over the ages.
  2. The report seeks to delegitimize Zionism and the modern state of Israel. The report embraces a caricature of the modern Zionist movement and the birth of the state of Israel as the product of colonialism. It cites without question Naim Ateek, head of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, who claims that “the sole ambition of Zionists, Christians and Jews alike, has been the acquisition of the land for the Jewish people.” Such a characterization ignores the millennia-old Jewish hope for a return to their ancient homeland; it ignores the presence of a Jewish population within the Jewish homeland throughout that period; and it ignores the actual historical context of Zionism, which drove Jews not to seek “the acquisition of land” but to seek a restored place of refuge for the Jewish people who were being pressured out of Europe well before the rise of Hitler. Far from being a product of imperialism, Zionism required the collapse of one imperial power, Turkey, and the withdrawal of another, Great Britain, for its hopes to be accomplished.
  3. The report claims to seek justice and reconciliation, but violates the most basic premises of justice. First, it reflects only a Palestinian and anti-Zionist narrative and accepts its allegations uncritically. As a result, the report claims that “reconciliation can only be possible if the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the blockade of Gaza, are ended.” But it provides no context for the “occupation” and blockade, and no demand upon Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel or to renounce their support for rocket attacks and other terrorist acts against Israeli civilians. Second, the report supports a campaign of financial pressure, including boycotts, against Israel alone of all the nations of the world. It is tragic to see a Christian denomination advocate punishing the Jewish state with the same sort of action used against the Jewish people so unjustly in the last century.

Combining the argument that the Zionists seek only land with the denial of any special Jewish claim upon the land produces the outrageous, unjust, and yet undeniable, implication of this report: justice can only be achieved if Israel denies its very raison d’etre as a place of refuge and safety for the Jewish people.

In short, “The Inheritance of Abraham” remains an instrument not of peace and reconciliation but of religious arrogance and hypocrisy. It is ready to impose its interpretation of the Torah and Prophets as “Christians of the 21st century” should understand them upon the Jewish people. Based on its own skewed interpretation, the Church is unashamed to demand that Israel unilaterally place itself in a weaker position amidst its hostile neighbors and abandon its founding vision as a refuge for the Jewish people. The report claims a commitment to peace, but actually serves to undermine the possibility of peace by delegitimizing the Jewish State of Israel. The bias and arrogance evident within “The inheritance of Abraham” deprive the report, its concluding recommendations, and the Church of Scotland itself, of any genuine moral force.

 Representatives of the Messianic Jewish Coalition

 

John Fischer, President

Paul Wilbur, Executive Director

International Messianic Jewish Alliance

 

Kirk Gliebe, President

Russell Resnik, Executive Director

Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations

 

Paul Liberman, President

Joel Chernoff, General Secretary

Messianic Jewish Alliance of America

 

Jeffrey Forman, Chairman

International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues

 

Mr. J. Mendelsohn Esq, President

Mr. D Nessim, Vice-President

British Messianic Jewish Alliance

 

Contact: Joel Chernoff, joelchernoff@mjaa.org, 610-304-2237
Russ Resnik, rebrez@umjc.org, 505-440-2265

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