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Young Evangelicals, don't be sucked into world's oldest hatred (pt.1)

Jew, Anti-Semitism
People participate in a Jewish solidarity march on January 5, 2020, in New York City. The march was held in response to a recent rise in anti-Semitic crimes in the greater New York metropolitan area. |

With anti-Jewish hate on the rise in major European and US cities, there are more reports that American universities have become the new breeding ground for anti-Israel and anti-Jewish bias. “BDS” student activism (boycott, divestment, sanctions), the cornerstone of anti-Israel campus animus, easily bleeds into anti-Semitism.

At UC Berkeley recently, nine student groups in the law school amended their by-laws to ensure that no pro-Israel speaker will ever be allowed to address their groups. All this got me thinking about the attitudes that young Evangelical Christian students have and how they might differ from their secular peers. Why should young Evangelical Christians not only oppose anti-Semitism but also be largely supportive of the state of Israel? Let me provide some answers in this two-part commentary.

I define anti-Semitism as a hatred of Jews that stretches across centuries and continents. It has sometimes been called, “the hatred that won’t go away.”

First, young Evangelical students should beware of getting sucked into the world’s oldest hatred. Because so often it has gone way beyond hatred and morphed into something far worse — the impulse to do away with and annihilate. That is what is unique about anti-Semitism historically. It seems that in almost every generation there are forces that keep trying to eliminate the Jews. In ancient Egypt, Pharaoh tried to destroy them. Under Sennacherib, the Assyrians tried to do the same. Then came the Babylonians under king Nebuchadnezzar II. Then the Persians. Then the Romans. Then the Ottomans. Then the Nazis attempted to in the most ambitious attempt at genocide in history.

Since its founding in 1948 Israel has fought numerous wars simply defending its right to exist. Even today, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran want to eliminate Israel as we know it. The fact that this hatred is so pervasive in history, coupled with the miraculous survival of the Jews through the ages, should alert us that something unique is going on here. The reason for their extraordinary survival is because God still has a plan for them. Consequently, when we join in the anti-Semitism we put ourselves on the wrong side of the God of history. So do not fall for this evil that keeps rearing its head. Instead, stand with them and bless them, because God himself says “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you” (Genesis 12.3).

Second, young Evangelical Christians should never forget the Jewish roots of their faith. Sadly, many Christians have forgotten this. Most of our Bible is the Hebrew Scriptures. Without the Jews we would have no Old Testament which led up to and is essential to understand our New Testament. It first introduces us to the themes of creation, fall, redemption, atonement, and the promise of a new heaven and earth. Through the Jews God gave the law of Moses and the 10 commandments, the great commandment and the idea of covenant. We share the same hymnbook — the Psalms. We draw on the same wisdom literature. Without the Jews we have no Church, no Mary, no Joseph and no Jesus! The mother Church of early Christianity was the largely Jewish Jerusalem Church. If the only thing Christians focus on is the early Jewish rejection of Jesus as Messiah, we end up with anti-Semitism. But if we highlight the biblical, and Jewish roots of our faith, it can reshape the Church’s understanding.

Third, young Evangelical Christians should not only oppose anti-Semitism but be generally supportive of the state of Israel because it is a guardian of worldwide Jewry today. After the Holocaust, when other nations would not guarantee a secure refuge, the UN saw fit to approve a separate homeland for the Jews. Israel has now become not only America’s best ally in the Middle East, but a democratic beacon in a tumultuous region.

These are just a few considerations that young Evangelicals must keep in mind as they observe the rise of anti-Semitism in our cities and on our university campuses. They must always think through their own convictions on this important matter.

Dr. Donald Sweeting serves as Chancellor of Colorado Christian University.

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