Standing with Israel
By David Brog
Forward by John Hagee
Front Line, 2006, 285 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - December 13, 2010
David Brog, a Jewish lawyer who worked on Capitol Hill, shows in what John Hagee calls a "powerful and penetrating book," why evangelical Christians are supporting the State of Israel. Pastor Hagee quotes Jesus, "Salvation is of the Jews," and continues, "If you take away the Jewish contributions to Christianity, there would be no Christianity." Brog states, "I am convinced that the evangelical Christians who support Israel today are nothing less than the theological heirs of the righteous Gentiles who sought to save Jews from the Holocaust."
Brog recognizes that many Jews are suspicious of the evangelical support because of the long history of Christian anti-Semitism that led to thousands of Jewish deaths. He acknowledges the history, but states that the evangelicals are changing how Christians view Jews. Since the nineteenth century, there has been a revolution in Christian theology in America.
The cornerstone of traditional Christian anti-Semitism is the "replacement" myth. When Christianity began, it was part of Judaism. It differed only in that Christians believed that the messiah had arrived. Then in the mid-second century, a pagan convert to Christianity, Justin Martyr, became the spokesman for a new divisive replacement theory. He wrote: "we are the true spiritual Israel, and the descendants of Judah, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham." Later, at the end of the fourth century, Augustine stated the replacement theology pugnaciously, Jews are "the House of Israel which [God] has cast off." At the same time, John Chrysostom moved the theology a dreadful step further. He wrote that the replacement was caused by the involvement of Jews in the crucifixion of Jesus. Brog writes that although many Christian adopted the milder understanding of Augustine, others accepted the harsh theology of Chrysostom: "Replacement theology thus evolved, inexorably, into a rational for persecuting the Jews." Reverend Clarence E. Wagner put it this way: "The error of Replacement Theology is like a cancer in the Church that has not only caused it to violate God's Word concerning the Jewish people and Israel, but has made us into an instrument of hate, not love in God's name."
In the early nineteenth century, some Protestants began to embrace an alternative interpretation based on a literal reading of the Bible. Jews were never replaced. They are still the Israel who will inherit all that God promised them in the Bible. The rebirth of Israel is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant and the numerous scriptural prophecies.
Why do Christians who rejected the replacement theology support Israel? They see it as a divine command. God promises Abraham in Genesis 12:3, "I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you." They also help Israel for secular reasons. They feel morally obligated to repay a debt of gratitude to the Jews and because it is strategically necessary to support a key ally of America.
Borg recognizes that there are policy differences between evangelicals and Jews, such as the issue of abortion; many Jews support abortions while many evangelicals oppose it. But there are also differences between brother and sisters in a single family, and this shouldn't prompt family fights. Common sense requires that these policy differences shouldn't interfere with the gains that both evangelicals and Jews receive from the evangelical support.