For the rest of the blog posts in this series, go here.
As we’ve seen in the previous parts of this series, Christian Zionism is a new theology; it did not exist in the early church and has in its current version only existed for about 150 years. Before that, supersessionism was basically the universal teaching of the church. This is the teaching that Christ has fulfilled the promises to Israel and welcomed Gentiles into God’s people while those who do not believe in Him has been excluded from this people. Thus, the promise of the land does not refer to the Jewish people any more but to the church, which supersessionists interpret as the promise of Heaven.
We will look at the biblical foundation for this teaching in the next parts of this series. For now, I want to discuss whether this theology is antisemitic, which some Christian Zionist claim. When they talk about how the early church was “hijacked” by Gentiles that replaced Zionism with supersessionism (which was hard to do since there is no evidence for Christian Zionism in the early church to begin with), they often quote other church fathers, like John Chrysostom, who were downright antisemitic, and jump to other periods of church history when Christians have done horrible things towards Jews and argued that this is rooted in supersessionism. You can see example of this reasoning here and here.
The problem with this argument is that it fails to show how supersessionism would lead to antisemitism. All the texts I have read just assumes that this is the case rather than proving it. Instead of showing a logical connection between supersessionist and antisemitic thought, they merely point to antisemitic rhetoric and action through church history and say that since they were supersessionists, supersessionism causes antisemitism.
But of course, I could quote supersessionists throughout church history that weren’t antisemitic. Correlation doesn’t equal causality. As I mentioned in my previous post, supersessionists actually identify themselves with Israel. And of course, as Christians, they believe that the Son of God was a Jew. Antisemitic Christianity is just incredibly stupid, rather than supersessionist.
However, doesn’t the fact that supersessionism isn’t viewing the Jewish people as God’s chosen people anymore, make it antisemitic? Of course not. Hardly any Christians believe that Ugandians are God’s chosen people – does that make us anti-Ugandian? Jews do not believe that Christians are God’s chosen people that should inherit the land of Israel, does that make them anti-Christian?
It is reasonable to believe though that someone who believes that the Jewish people is God’s chosen people, i.e. a Jew or Christian Zionist, will not fall into the sin of antisemitism. While many antisemitic Christians have been supersessionists, very few have been Zionists. However, Zionists are not immune to other forms of hate. On the contrary, I have encountered many Christian Zionists that are extremely hostile towards Muslims and Palestinians on an islamophobic and sometimes even racist level. This is of course just as horrible as antisemitism.
To conclude: just as a Ugandian is not immune to racism just because s/he probably doesn’t hate black people, Christian Zionists are not immune to various forms of hostility towards people just because they are not antisemitic. And furthermore, even if there are tragic examples of antisemitic supersessionists, supersessionism in itself does not create antisemitism, nor endorse it.
In the next part of this series, we will finally dig into what the Bible says concerning God’s chosen people.