Jonathan Bernis - Christian Anti-Semitism
I think we all know that antisemitism has continued to raise its ugly head in our world, but were you aware that perhaps some of the most dangerous people behind this movement might be in your church? The fact is it's true, and most Christians have no idea it's even happening. Want to know more? I've got an expert on the program today that will explain it all.
Jonathan Bernis: Shalom and welcome to "Jewish Voice". Thank you for joining me today. I'm Jonathan Bernis and I'm joined today by my co-host, Ezra Benjamin. Could we be living in a time when the world has turned against the Jewish people, just as it did during the time of Adolph Hitler? And what may be worse, could the Christian church unknowingly be promoting this movement? Well, here with me today is one of the most respected Messianic Bible scholars in the world, Dr. Michael brown. Dr. Michael brown is back with us again! Ezra, this is the first time that you have joined our little pow-wow.
Ezra Benjamin: It is. What an honor to be with you, Dr. Brown. Excited to hear from you today.
Dr. Michael Brown: Great to be with you.
Jonathan Bernis: I want to jump right in talking about antisemitism. What is antisemitism? We've all heard the term repeatedly. Give us a definition of antisemitism.
Dr. Michael Brown: So, antisemitism is fundamentally Jew hatred. It is hatred of Jewish people, demonizing of Jewish people as a people. It can relate to the modern state of Israel as well, where the modern state of Israel is de-legitimized and demonized. It's not a matter of having a valid criticism or having a difference, it's a matter of the generalizing, the caricaturing, the demonizing: "The Jews are this, the Jews are evil, the Jews want to take over the world, the Jews are subversive". And when it comes to the modern state of Israel, that the Jewish people have no right to be there, that they are committing genocide. It is these generalized false statements. So, if you say, "I went to school with a Jewish kid and he was obnoxious," that's not being an antisemite. It's being an antisemite if you say, "All Jews are obnoxious". If you say, "You know what? I differ with some of Israel's policies with the Palestinians," that's not being an antisemite. It's being an antisemite to say, "Israel is part of a Jewish cabal to take over and dominate the whole world". And what's wild about antisemitism, you find it in the ancient Greco-Roman world before the time of Jesus. You find it in the early church and in church history right up until today. You find it in the world of Islam. You find it among black supremacists, among white supremacists. You find it with the Hitler, you find it with a Stalin. It is so widespread that to me, it's clear that ultimately, the spirit behind antisemitism is demonic, Satan himself.
Jonathan Bernis: Well, I completely, we completely agree. But, Dr. Brown, most people that are watching the program watch because they love Israel, they love the Jewish people. And I know what you're thinking at home, "I'm not antisemitic. I love Israel". But you're making a claim that there is antisemitism in the church, that there is some form of antisemitism in Christianity. Unpack that.
Dr. Michael Brown: All right. So, historically, as the Jewish people, as a people, did not follow Jesus as the Messiah, as the national leaders rejected him, as the church continued to reach out to Jewish people with the Gospel and these Jewish people continued to reject the Gospel, that this became further proof that the Jews, as a people, are stiff-necked and hardhearted. You say, "Well, God says that about Israel, the people of Israel, in the Bible". Okay, well, now you extend it when gentiles are saying it about the Jewish people, and now beginning to demonize the Jewish people. And then, to caricature them as all Jews, through all ages, are somehow guilty of the crucifixion of Christ. If you lived 500 years after Jesus in another country and never even heard of him, but you're Jewish, you are now complicit. You are now a Christ-killer. So, this led to a lot of wrong attitudes, and since Christ is God, then the Jews are guilty of deicide, killing God. So, this is something that's actually made its way through church history. And then, what's happened over the centuries in the church is that, say with modern Israel, initially after the horrors of the holocaust and the recognition that the church's wrong theology - the church is the new Israel, the church has replaced the old Israel, God has forever done with the Jewish people as a people - that wrong theology helped to contribute to the antisemitism of Europe before the holocaust, the centuries leading up to it. Many theologians were grieved over it. They recognized our wrong wrong teaching has paid the way for this. And then, the birth of the modern state of Israel, it seemed miraculous, and the six-day war. I mean, we remember these things unfolding, and Jerusalem back in Jewish hands, and all of this. That was a long time ago, and the media has so demonized Israel for so many years and made Israel into the evil Goliath in the Middle East, committing apartheid and genocide against the Palestinian people, that sympathies have even turned against Israel and some of the old lies have been resuscitated, even within the church.
Jonathan Bernis: But I often hear that there is a separation between Zionism and being against Zionism, and being antisemitic - they're two completely different things. That's the argument I hear from those that are opposed to the Jewish people occupying the west bank and other areas that don't belong to them. How do you respond to that? True or untrue?
Dr. Michael Brown: Sometimes you can be against Israeli policies and strongly criticize the nation of Israel, and call them out for falling short, of the modern state of Israel, and that's perfectly fair. In fact, you can be a friend of Israel and do that. You can be a Jew lover and do that. Or, you can theologically differ with Zionism and say, "I don't see in the Bible a prophesied return of the Jewish people to the land". We can debate those things, but when you de-legitimize Israel as a whole, "From the river to the sea, Palestine shall be free," meaning no Jewish state, no Jewish people living there - when you say all Israelis are this, or Israel itself is guilty of these various things. So, it is the demonizing and the de-legitimizing, so that often antisemitism is just a mask to wear, cloaking.
Jonathan Bernis: So, antisemitism... Anti-Zionism is antisemitism. True?
Dr. Michael Brown: In its root. In its root, it works out the same way.
Jonathan Bernis: Okay. Ezra, I have this growing concern for your generation and generations younger than you. They don't seem to buy into the right of the Jewish people to the land.
Ezra Benjamin: Sure, and I'm right on the cusp, Jonathan, between the gen-xers and the millennials, depending on how you count, but there's this sense, Dr. Brown, that it's politically correct to make heroes out of the oppressed Palestinian people, and therefore, out of necessity, you have to vilify the Jewish people and the state of Israel.
Dr. Michael Brown: Right. So, the way it unfolds is this, and really, there are two aspects to it. One is like a theological grounding. Just in general, our culture today is less biblically literate. So, without a biblical grounding that we believe this because scripture says it, it's easy to drift away.
Ezra Benjamin: That's right.
Dr. Michael Brown: And then, the younger generation wants to side with the oppressed, which is a good thing. Wants to see justice.
Ezra Benjamin: Sure.
Dr. Michael Brown: But it's often short-sighted. For example, the younger generation can say, "Well, Billy and bob are nice guys and they love each other. Why shouldn't they be able to be married"? Without looking at the larger picture of the meaning of marriage and the purpose of marriage and family in society. The same way, you can look at things on a micro level. "Well, why does Israel have this wall up here"? And, "Why is Israel being mean to the Palestinians"? Without saying, "Wait, wait, there's a larger history". There's a history of being surrounded by terrorists that want to destroy them and kill them, and Israel is simply seeking to live with security. And if the Palestinian leadership was really committed to living side-by-side with Jewish people, then things would look tremendously different. In other words, the onus is on the Palestinians. The Israelis are simply doing their best to survive in a fair and equitable way. But, we must - and Jonathan, you're absolutely right. We must reach the younger generation, because what was kind of taken for granted with our generation, and almost the sentimentalism, and "Oh, Israel, oh, the Jews, and God is protecting the Jewish people," it is not so widespread around the younger generation, even among Christians.
Jonathan Bernis: I think that's a really good point. I think fundamentally that the younger generations aren't either being taught or buying into the idea that God has decreed a land for specific people. That seems to be, maybe it's a devaluing of the whole scriptures or biblical illiteracy. I don't know.
Dr. Michael Brown: Yeah. So, there is biblical illiteracy, so I often think, "Hey, let's not just throw this on the kids. What about the parents who raised them? What about our larger church environment and how deeply we're being taught the word"? So, those are larger questions that I have. And then, the other thing is this idea of moral absolutes starting with God, as opposed to this relativism of, well, this is how it feels and appears in the society around us. All we're saying in Zionism is that the Jewish people deserve a homeland, and that is its historic homeland in Israel. And all we're saying with biblical Zionism is that this is what God explicitly says in his word. But, because - especially in America, think of it. Jews, by and large, are more prosperous than the average. They have more influence on average than other groups in America. So, it's hard to recognize how persecuted, hated, despised, marginalized, Jewish people have been through history. And tragically, Jonathan, it seems the only time the church is really, really sympathetic, or society really, really sympathetic to Israel and the Jewish people is if a lot of Jewish people are dying. Otherwise, antisemitism seems to be the default attitude of the human race.
Jonathan Bernis: What's frightening to me, and it really is frightening - the holocaust wasn't that long ago, and the birth of the modern-day state of Israel.
Ezra Benjamin: Sure.
Jonathan Bernis: But it's long enough ago that we're seeing the repeat trends again.
Dr. Michael Brown: Yes.
Jonathan Bernis: Very sadly. antisemitism is on the rise, are you seeing that in your research?
Dr. Michael Brown: Absolutely, shockingly, and especially through internet, the most fringe, obscure things become the norm.
Jonathan Bernis: This is shocking and should be a concern to every one of you that are watching. Well, as a Christian, you could be walking around with a target on your back and not even know it. We have to take a short break, but when we come back, Dr. Brown is going to share more with you. There really are groups out there looking to take Christians out of the picture, and you need to know how to be prepared. This is information you can't afford to miss.
Jonathan Bernis: Dr. Brown, I left off before the break by saying that Christians have a target on their back without even knowing it. Can you expound on that?
Dr. Michael Brown: Yeah. Well, if you are standing with Israel, if you believe that God brought the Jewish people back to the land, if you believe that God still has purposes for the Jewish people as a nation, and you begin to address these things, suddenly you come under all kinds of attack and onslaught. And I mean primarily online with just a barrage of attack and lies.
Jonathan Bernis: You speak from example, by the way.
Dr. Michael Brown: Yeah. Look, I'm in the thick of controversy. When I got saved, just about 50 years ago, a heavy drug user, all of that - wonderfully, gloriously born again - my dad sees the change in my life. He says, "Michael, that's wonderful, but we're Jews. We don't believe in this". He leads me to meet with the local rabbi. So, from day one I've been in the midst of controversy and all of that, but I don't look for it. I don't try to provoke things. I'll just answer an honest question about the Talmud, and I'm not a Talmudic Jew. Obviously, I'm not a rabbinic Jew. I'm not an orthodox Jew. I differ with the Talmud. I don't submit to Talmudic authority. But you'll hear all these lies about the Talmud - the Talmud sanctions pedoPhilia, the Talmud sanctions killing of gentiles. So, I'll just set the record straight on my radio show one day, and the next thing, there is a flood of attack. And here's what's crazy about this. You have evangelical "Christian" TV networks that are blatantly antisemitic. You have Catholic scholars. Maybe they were fringe before, but with internet they have these big followings. Blatantly antisemitic. I called out an evangelical Christian station. Offered to meet with them, offered to have them on my show, I'd go on their show. Ultimately, they shut the door to me entirely. When there was the first impeachment hearing against Donald Trump, they got up and said, "This is a Jew coup to get rid of trump". Gt:>: wow.
Dr. Michael Brown: And I said, "Wait, wait. You have a previous broadcast where you say that the Jews control the white house, the Jews control the evangelicals, and the Jews control trump, and the Jews got trump in". And they said, "Yes, that's the one group of Jews, but the other group of Jews wants to get him out". Well, when I called them out, "So, the Jews control everything, all size". When they said, "Look, the Jews are about to take over", this is an evangelical Christian network. You'd listen to them at other points and everything they'd say, we'd agree with. They get on the air and they say, "Listen, the Jews are about to take over, and you know what happens when Jews take over. Millions of people die. I'm armed, you'd better get armed". I mean, you talk about utterly irresponsible rhetoric! So, I simply correct them on my radio broadcast and our Youtube channel. And normally when I put out a video on Youtube or a daily broadcast, it'll be 95%, 97% likes, and you know, 2-3% dislikes, and then the controversial comments. Well, this, it goes the exact opposite. It'll be 40% likes, 60% dislikes, and the video is watched 10 more times. I'm thinking, "Where do these people come from"? And then, they're cursing me in Jesus' name for being a liar, and being the antichrist, and being a secret agent for the Mossad. I'm thinking, "Have people lost their minds entirely"? And I don't mind the attack. I live with that. But, I care about the people. So when you stand up for truth, when you stand up for the Jewish people, when you expose the lies and stand up against them, there's now a target on your back.
Jonathan Bernis: Why is this such an important topic? And Ezra, it seems to be for the younger generations.
Ezra Benjamin: Sure.
Jonathan Bernis: Negatively. Why is this so important in the midst of so many other issues that we're facing as believers? Why Israel?
Dr. Michael Brown: Well, because Israel's salvation is of critical importance to the Lord, because the Messiah will not return until the Jewish Jerusalem welcomes him back. Because Christian antisemitism has often kept Jewish people away from Jesus, because the turning of the Jewish people to the Messiah means life from the dead for the entire human race, the resurrection of the righteous and God's blessing to the nations. It's really important we get this right, and it's really important that Jewish people understand that real followers of Jesus don't curse them, that they love them, they reach out to them, they care for them.
Jonathan Bernis: So, I'm hearing you say that it's not just about a people, it's bigger than this.
Dr. Michael Brown: Much bigger.
Jonathan Bernis: It involves the Jewish people, but God's concerns are much bigger than a people group.
Dr. Michael Brown: Yeah, God's concerns are always much bigger. When God called Abram, it was so that the whole world could be blessed through him.
Jonathan Bernis: That's right.
Dr. Michael Brown: Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, is the Savior of the whole world. So, it's not about favoritism. We want to reach the whole world with the good news of the Messiah, but the whole world wants the Messiah to return, and Yeshua will not return until he's welcomed back by his own people. And look, we owe it to the Jewish people. When I say we, I mean the whole body, all believers. We owe it to the Jewish people to demonstrate that true followers of Yeshua are not marked by hatred, and by believing conspiracy theories, and by all types of ungodly attitudes, but rather by the same sacrificial love that drove the Messiah to the cross. The only way we can overcome this hate is with love. The only way we can overcome those lies is with truth.
Jonathan Bernis: Amen. Some of you watching need to be concerned about not only your kids, but your grandkids, too. Ezra, what's the hot button here that's keeping millennials so antagonistic towards Israel?
Ezra Benjamin: I think, Jonathan and Dr. Brown, it's false choices, and I'll give you one example. If somebody in my generation says, "I love the Jewish people. I believe Israel has an enduring right to the land"... - "Ah, so you hate the Palestinians". How do you deal with false chooses in that regard without just being shut down?
Dr. Michael Brown: Yeah, so, with truth. We say, "Absolutely I love the Jewish people, but I love the Jewish people because I love God. Therefore, I love the Palestinians and I want the best for every. I believe God's ways will be the best for everyone". So, it's so wonderful to expose that and to say it's not either/or.
Jonathan Bernis: No, it's not either/or. In fact, we support a number of ministries that are helping Palestinians. We believe God loves everyone. We also believe the Gospel is to the Jew first, and that's what Jewish Voice is about. You've written a number of articles about Christian Zionism and asking the question, when did it be a sin? I think that's a very compelling title. When did it become a sin to be a Christian Zionist? You've been dealing with that quite a bit.
Dr. Michael Brown: Yeah, so, everything can swing to extremes, right? So, you have the extreme of antisemitism in Jesus name which is an abomination. And then, you have this love for Israel, this love for the Jewish people that doesn't want to offend, that wants to distance itself from “Christian antisemitism,” that it goes to the other extreme and doesn't want to evangelize anymore. And doesn't want - think of this. Doesn't want Jewish believers in the land to evangelize. It's one thing to say, “hey, we need to be sensitive about proselytizing, and if we're setting up a community night to pray for the Jewish community and we invite the rabbis,” and so on. Ok, you don't want to proselytize and it's not a proper setting. That would be a false setup. We just say, “hey, you know what we believe. We want everyone to believe in Yeshua, but we're here to pray for you, and stand with you, and so on.” that's one thing. I could understand being an organization that works within Israel in a humanitarian and say, “hey, we're not here to proselytize.” I could understand that. Gentile Christians want to have those sensitivities. But when they tell us, as Jewish believers, that we should not share the good news with our own people, that's the worst thing of all! That's the greatest crime we could commit against the Jewish people, spiritually speaking, is to say that, “you don't get to hear the good news of the Messiah,” because he's the only way for everyone.
Jonathan Bernis: Yeah, I put it this way - you can love them unto death.
Dr. Michael Brown: Yes.
Jonathan Bernis: You can love Jewish people unto death. It's well-meaning, but in fact, the Gospel is the only way for them to experience a transformation and relationship with God. Look at Paul's heart cry. “my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved.” Ezra, I think this separates Jewish Voice from so many other ministries.
Ezra Benjamin: That's right, Jonathan. So many in our audience love Israel. You stand with the Jewish people, and you do your best, sow your resources into doing that, but we just want to challenge you. Investigate where that support is going. Do the organizations you're supporting proclaim the Gospel first to the Jew, or do they exclude that from a mission to the Jewish people? Think about that.
Jonathan Bernis: Yeah. We need to take a quick pause to share with you how you can get involved in helping Messianic ministries in Israel, because we believe in that. They're involved in the difficult task of reaching out to that nation with the good news. You know, it seems ironic that Israel would be a hard place to share the message of the Gospel, but it truly is. The good news is many are coming to faith - Jewish people, Israelis, coming to faith. Watch this quick message to learn how you can help, and then stay with us because we want to join you in praying for the nation of Israel and come into agreement for you for your needs and the needs of your family. We'll be right back.
Jonathan Bernis: We just have a minute left. Michael, I'd like you to lead us in prayer for Israel, but also for the needs of the people that are watching, because they're vast in the midst of everything that's been happening in the world, so.
Dr. Michael Brown: Father, we lift up Israel to you, the one and only Jewish state on the planet, and we pray for your best, for your plan, for your mercy, for your grace, for your goodness. Reach out and touch your people in Israel and around the world. Bring about your kingdom purposes, reveal Yeshua, keep them safe. And Lord, for the viewers, for the supporters, Lord, you know the millions of needs represented, that you are a great God. Heavenly Father, pour out sustaining, supernatural grace on your people. Meet their needs as they look to you. In Yeshua's name.
Ezra Benjamin: In Yeshua's name.
Jonathan Bernis: If you'd like more information about our ministry, I'd encourage you it's jewishvoice.tv, and while you're there, you can also send us your prayer requests right on the website. We're committed to reading your prayer requests and praying for each of you by name. We believe in the power of prayer and we care about you, but more important, God cares about you. I want to remind you to keep praying for the peace of Jerusalem. Psalm 122:6 exhorts us, "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. May they proper who love thee". Until next time, this is Jonathan Bernis, with Dr. Michael brown and Ezra Benjamin, saying shalom and God bless you.