by Mark Robinson | On July 7, 2015 I received letter from a pastor in northern California. I have preached at this church many times and the pastor has a love for Israel and the Jewish people, for many years hosting an “Honor Israel” conference. He was concerned about an unsolicited DVD that was sent to the church, and hundreds of other independent Baptist churches throughout the nation. He asked, “If you can find time to view this DVD I would appreciate your evaluation of it. It was sent to me without any correspondence, but because our church has been openly pro-Israel we are seeing a trend against Israel in some of the Baptist churches. Thanks for your wise discernment concerning such matters.”
The DVD was titled “Marching to Zion” and the main speaker in the video was Pastor Steve Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, AZ. Little did I know the unbiblical, anti-Semitic, vile and fallacious content that I would be exposed to. To say I was shocked by the content would be an understatement.
Coming from a Jewish family, I wasn’t saved until the age of 27. The first church I started attending was an independent Baptist church. In my 44 years of being a Christian, most of those years have been spent as a member of independent Baptist churches. I never expected the anti-Semitism of Steve Anderson to emanate from an independent Baptist church. There are others in his fellowship of churches who also embrace Anderson’s anti-Semitic views. A number of them appear in the aforementioned video.
According to Julie Zauzmer in an August 22, 2019 article1, Anderson’s vile teachings have a huge following on Facebook.
“Steven Anderson, the pastor of a Baptist church in Arizona who caused outrage during the Obama administration by saying he was praying for the president’s death, runs a YouTube channel with more than 62 million views. In sermons online, he claims, ‘The Jews believe that it’s okay for them to steal from Gentiles’; says that Jews and gay people run Hollywood; and emphasizes that Jews killed Jesus and are not God’s chosen people.”
The foundation of Anderson’s anti-Semitism is the embrace of the ancient error of replacement theology. This is the common belief of all these misguided, hermeneutically challenged, biblically erroneous, anti-Semitic pastors.
In my 16 page critique of the DVD was included a number of “articles refuting some of the scriptural arguments (distortions) in this video.” Here is my introductory paragraph.
“‘Marching to Zion’ DVD was a difficult video to view. There are a couple of reasons, at the minimum, of why it was difficult. One is that I am a Jewish believer in Jesus. The DVD denigrates Israel and Jewish people with the use of twisted scriptural arguments and an obvious dislike for Israel and Jewish people. I am offended at the anti-Semitism of the men in this video. Another is that I was ordained in an independent Baptist church and presently attend an independent Baptist Church. These men claim to be pastors of independent Baptist Churches. They bring shame on all independent Baptist churches which rightly divide the word of truth and have a love for Israel and Jewish people. The majority of independent Baptist churches have a love for Israel and Jewish people. These are the first independent Baptist churches that I am aware of that hold this position. Reformed Baptists do, covenant churches do, cults do, and now, unfortunately, some independent Baptist churches do.”
Tragically, there are other evangelicals embracing anti-Semitism. Brian Schrauger wrote an article titled “The Resurrection of Christian Antisemitism.” He references a number of incidents and people.
“Evangelical newscaster Rick Wiles calls the impeachment of President Donald Trump a ‘Jew Coup,’ says Jews are under divine judgment because they ‘oppose’ Jesus, and asserts that the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is a ‘plague’ sent by God to the Jews, spreading from their synagogues to the entire world. His daily program is called TruNews.”2
Schrauger states, “Older expressions of Christianity, like Roman Catholicism and various Eastern Orthodox denominations, have kept a lid on their own essentially antisemitic convictions for several decades, even at times renouncing it. Instead of cooling the magma, however, those convictions have simmered just beneath the surface threatening to blow again one day.” He suggests there is a revival of anti-Semitism in these “older expressions of Christianity.”
It is common for churches that have a replacement theology (also referred to as supersessionism) viewpoint to also embrace some form of anti-Semitism. It might restrict itself to a theological anti-Semitism, but it can easily embrace more sinister forms.
In the book Israel for Christians, Rabbi Rudin comments, “Some Christian theologians and Bible scholars have long taught that ancient Israel, the ‘old Israel’ of the ‘old covenant’ has been replaced by the ‘new Israel’ of the ‘new covenant,’ the Christian church. Israel’s spiritual vocation and mission has thus been transferred from the Jewish people to the church. The Jews are left out in the theological cold, a people without a raison d’etre or purpose. Not only has such Christian thinking rendered the Jews vulnerable to violent anti-Semitism, it has also negated any Jewish claim to the land of Israel because it maintains such claims have been emptied of all concrete meaning.
“The clear intention of such a position is to theologically delegitimize the Jewish state and deny it any authentic linkage with the biblical promises of land and peoplehood.
“This position has resulted in theological anti-Semitism on the part of some Christian leaders.”3
Without question the greatest source of anti-Semitism in the church is the doctrinal teaching that the church has replaced Israel in God’s plan. Michael Vlach states, “It is undeniable that anti-Jewish bias has often gone hand in hand with the supersessionist view, and it has influenced in a negative way how many view the OT and Israel….there is a strong historical connection between anti-Semitism and the doctrine of supersessionism.” 4
The rise of evangelical anti-Semitism can be seen, for example, in the conference held every two years at Bethlehem Bible College in Bethlehem, Israel. The Christ at the Checkpoint conferences, the first was held in 2010, have many attendees from the evangelical world.
Speakers in the past include Bob Roberts, Global Senior Pastor of NorthWood Church near Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX. NorthWood’s congregation now averages in excess of 2000 active participants. NorthWood has started over 130 churches in the US and is a center for training new pastors; Gary Burge, former Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, in Wheaton, Ill and presently a professor at Calvin Theological Seminary; Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, former CEO/Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance; Dr. William M. Wilson, the 4th president of Oral Roberts University; Tony Campolo, Professor Emeritus at Eastern University; Lynne Hybels, co-founder of the Willow Creek Community Church; Brother Andrew, leader of “Open Doors” ministry; Darrel Bock, Professor at Dallas Theological Seminary; Colin Chapman, writer and expert on Islam; John Feinberg, Professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; Manfred Kohl, Ambassador with Overseas Council International; Stephen Sizer, former vicar at Christ Church and the founder and director of Peacemaker Trust; Hank Hanegraaf, the “Bible Answer Man” on his nationally syndicated radio show; Joel Hunter, former Pastor of a 15,000 megachurch in Orlando, FL; and Gary DeMar, director of American Vision.
The main theological underpinning of these conferences is, unsurprisingly, replacement theology.
Melanie Philips wrote about her concerns years prior to the first Christ at the Checkpoint conference.
“Andrew White, canon of Coventry cathedral and the Archbishop of Canterbury’s representative in the Middle East, is heavily engaged in trying to promote dialogue and peace between Israelis and Palestinians. He says of attitudes in the Church, ‘These go beyond legitimate criticism of Israel into hatred of the Jews. I get hate mail calling me a Jew-lover and saying my work is evil.’
“The reason, he says, is that Palestinian Christian revisionism has revived replacement theology. ‘This doctrine was key in fanning the flames of the Holocaust, which could not have happened without 2,000 years of anti-Jewish polemic,’ he says. After the Holocaust the Vatican officially buried the doctrine, the current Pope affirming the integrity of the Jewish people and recognising the state of Israel. But, according to Andrew White, the doctrine is ‘still vibrant’ within Roman Catholic and Anglican pews. ‘Almost all the Churches hold to replacement theology,’ he says.”5
Past quotes from the Christ at the Checkpoint website 6
reveal the agenda of the conferences:
“Some of the themes of the conference included a biblical critique of dispensational theology and repudiation of an exclusive theology of the land that marginalizes and disenfranchises the indigenous people.”
“Palestinian theologians gave speeches showing how… their rejection of Christian Zionism is based on Christ’s teachings.”
Paul Wilkinson summarized the Christ at the Checkpoint conference(s) in his critique of the 2012 Christ at the Checkpoint conference.7
“I believe that the fundamental issue is this: by revising Middle Eastern history and spiritualising God’s prophetic Word, ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ speakers are guilty of propagating a theological or spiritual form of anti-Semitism which is damaging the Church, demonizing Israel, and dishonouring the integrity and Name of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
Some of the past speakers do not embrace replacement theology. But, their presence at these conferences helps promote this insidious doctrine.
I develop in the article in this issue, Anti-Semitism and Bible Prophecy, the role that anti-Semitism plays in end time prophetic events. It doesn’t surprise me that we are seeing an increase in anti-Semitism in the U.S. and throughout the world. What is disappointing is to see the evangelical world more and more embrace anti-Semitism and, more amazing, see independent Baptist churches embrace anti-Semitism. What a blight these churches and individuals are on the name of Jesus.
1. Julie Zauzmer, How anti-Semitic beliefs have taken hold among some evangelical Christians, August 22, 2019, The Washington Post
2. Brian Schrauger, The Resurrection of Christian Antisemitism, June 18, 2020, Jerusalem Post
3. Rabbi James A. Rudin, Israel for Christians, Fortress Press, pg. 125-26
4. Michael J. Vlach, Has the Church Replaced Israel?, B & H Publishers, pages 5-6.
5. Melanie Philips, Christians Who Hate the Jews: Palestinian Christian revisionism has revived Replacement Theology, March 22, 2002
6. The Christ at the Checkpoint website was changed this year, 2020, and no longer has past conferences. Dr. Michael Brown, who is pro-Israel and anit-replacement theology, spoke at the 2018 conference. His critique of the conference in the following website is valuable – https://onenewsnow.com/perspectives/michael-brown/2018/06/01/what-i-learned-at-christ-at-the-checkpoint
7. Paul Wilkinson, A Response to the Second ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ Conference in Bethlehem, March 5-9, 2012