During the Passover observance in 2019, 19-year-old John Earnest allegedly walked into a synagogue in Poway, California and opened fire, killing one worshipper and wounding three others.
It was later revealed that Earnest was an active member of an Orthodox Presbyterian Church congregation and specifically believed that he was doing God's will by killing Jews.
The revelation that the lone suspect in the mass shooting was a devout Christian stirred reactions from many, including author and columnist Michael Brown, a proponent of Messianic Judaism and host of the nationally syndicated radio show, “The Line of Fire.”
In his latest book, scheduled to be released Tuesday, Christian Antisemitism: Confronting the Lies in Today’s Church, Brown documents a new resurgence of anti-Semitism within American churches.
Brown wrote about what he saw on social media from self-identified Christians and rhetoric espoused by modern Christian ministries and some theologians.
“This is a book I wish I didn’t have to write,” Brown told The Christian Post in an interview. “Sadly, there is a real rise in anti-Semitism in the church, even in America.”
“I felt I had to write the book to demonstrate what was happening,” he added. “The rising tide of anti-Semitism in the church today.”
This includes the rise of replacement theology, the notion that the Church has replaced Israel as the new chosen people, with God no longer having any plans for modern Jews.
Below are excerpts from a conversation CP had with Brown about Christian anti-Semitism and its apparent growing strength.
CP: You have written about anti-Semitism in the Church before; notably the 1992 book Our Hands Are Stained With Blood. How does this book differ from your earlier works?
Brown: This book focuses on what’s happening now. The earlier book,Our Hands Are Stained With Blood: The Tragic Story of the "Church" and the Jewish People,came out in 1992, remained in print continuously until 2019 when we put out a new updated edition of the book.
And in doing so, that was very jarring because I was confronted with what had grown in recent years and how some of the dangerous trends of the past were back today. So Christian Antisemitism, the new book, picks up where Our Hands Are Stained With Blood left off.
It gets much more in-depth into the wrong theology behind it. It traces some of the current conspiracy theories in the Church today about the Jewish people.
It gets much deeper into the contemporary issues that the first book touched on.
CP: Given at one point you write in the book that “no amount of evidence will dissuade someone who hates the Jewish people,” who do you see as your intended audience?
Brown: I want to reach, in particular, any committed Christian on the planet. I know that there are secular readers who will find the book interesting. I know that there are nominal Christians who will learn from it.
But I want to try to get every committed Christian, whatever their background or denomination, to read this and to recognize that lies are being told about the Jewish people, that the Jewish people are being demonized as a whole, that a wrong theology is being established even by people who have good intentions and who themselves are not anti-Semitic.
Perhaps, along the way, by God’s gracious intervention, there will be people who read the book who are anti-Semites and some of them are Christian.
I’m hoping that their eyes will be opened. But I understand it will take God’s grace because the evidence itself will be overruled.
When you have a particular view of someone and then someone else produces contrary evidence, you turn the evidence around: “That just shows how clever they are,” “that just shows how deep the deception is.”
And that’s why I say the presentation of facts is not going to help someone who has bought into lies.
That being the case, I do have hope that those who are sincere will read this and have their eyes opened, and then perhaps they’ll be able to help their friends and others who have fallen into the grip of anti-Semitism.
CP: Why do you believe there has been an uptick in Christian anti-Semitism within the past couple of years? Was it always there, but just dormant? Or is it fresh?
Brown: There’s several factors. One, it never goes away. On a certain level, Jew-hatred is a default attitude of fallen human beings. It’s just part of the way things are because of God’s choosing of the Jewish people for a purpose. Obviously, we’ve often fallen short of that purpose, but choosing us for a purpose means that there will be a demonic hatred against the Jewish people, just like there is a demonic default hatred against the followers of Jesus.
But a few things have happened. One is the Holocaust is much more distant. It’s not something that is actively in the memory of most Americans and of many Christians. Secondly, the rebirth of the modern state of Israel is no longer perceived as a miracle: The Six-Day War, Jerusalem coming back into Jewish hands. For many, that’s just old news and not only so. The state of Israel is perceived to be an apartheid state, a genocidal state. “Evil Israel”; that’s a major narrative people [are] grow up with.
And some of the old theologies can rise up again: the replacement theology that says God’s finished with the Jewish people.
So, it’s a bunch of things that have grown over the decades and they have resurfaced again in dangerous form.
CP: Chapter six, titled “The Truth about the Talmud,” was centered on refuting false anti-Semitic claims about the Jewish text, the Talmud. How important is it for Christians to not believe falsehoods about other religions' holy books, be it the Talmud or the Quran or others?
Brown: It’s very important. We base our lives on truth. And therefore, we have to accurately assess things based on truth. Someone has said that it’s wrong to compare the best of your religion with the worst of the religion of others. And what we’ll do is we’ll ignore all the biblical verses that can be taken out of context. We’ll ignore the atheist attacks on the Bible and say, “they’re misguided.” But then we’ll turn and use the same standard on the religious literature of others.
If we’re going to differ with the Talmud, let’s do it rightly.
There’s much to differ with. I categorically reject the authority of the Talmud.
That being said, it is mischaracterized by anti-Semites continually. False impressions are given about it. So, where we differ, let us differ honestly.
Otherwise, what happens is we incite hatred against the Jewish people based on taking statements, sayings out of context and then giving the impression that that’s what all Jews believe. It would be just as if we read certain portions of the Quran and concluded that all Muslims are terrorists and that the nominal Muslim next door to you actually wants to blow up your house.
CP: You devoted a fair amount of attention to refuting replacement theology. How pervasive a problem do you believe replacement theology is in the American church? Do you see it as more prevalent in some denominations than others?
Brown: Yes, it’s very prominent. It is certainly growing. It is very dangerous. It is more to be found in what would be called the mainstream denominations — so Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Methodist, etc. It is less found in Charismatic circles or in some aspects of evangelism. But the fact is it’s there. It’s certainly there in Catholic theology.
Those that hold to it don’t like to be put in the category of holding to replacement theology. They would rather say they believe in “fulfillment theology” or put another name on it. But the end result is the same: the promises that God once gave to the Jewish people as a people no longer apply to them, but rather apply to the Church.
And once you begin to say that, then God is finished with Israel, God is through with Israel as a nation, as a people. And you can even see the Jewish people as people forever cursed or rejected by God.
Once you begin to see those things, now you make God into a liar if He can make promises to a people and then completely change His mind. And it undercuts so much of the Gospel message.
I point out in Christian Antisemitism that Jesus is coming back to Jerusalem for a reason. He’s not coming back to any other city on the planet but to Jerusalem. And that’s where He’s going to establish His kingdom because he will fulfill His promises to Israel and the Jewish people.
So I’m hopeful that the book will open many eyes and also encourage many to pray for the salvation of the Jewish people because my great goal as a Jewish believer in Jesus is to see the Church provoke Israel to envy. Thus far, it’s been quite the opposite.