The Church of Scotland Takes the Low Road

church-of-scotland-logo1Even if you’re in the habit of thinking a lot about Europe, it can be easy to forget about Scotland. This is curious, perhaps, given that Scotland arguably played at least as significant a role as England in shaping the culture of the thirteen colonies and of the early American republic. The Western world owes a major debt to such seminal Scottish thinkers as Adam Smith and David Hume (not to mention that great theorist of liberty, John Stuart Mill, who, while born in London, was the son of a Scotsman). Scotland was a hub of the Industrial Revolution, and the homeland of some of the most beloved writers in English, from Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott to Robert Louis Stevenson and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Yet the recent history of Scotland, like that of Quebec, has been dominated not by great authors or thinkers or businessmen but, rather, by mischief-makers who have kept themselves busy agitating for Scottish independence. Although it could be argued that modern capitalism was born in Scotland, today it’s a firmly socialist country, where the Parliament currently includes 41 Labourites and only one Tory, and where the welfare state is even more comprehensive than in England.

Then there’s the Church of Scotland. Unlike the Church of England, which was shown off, in all its glory, at the Margaret Thatcher funeral – and which is, of course, the Mother Church of the Anglican Communism, to which to the American Episcopal Church belongs – the Church of Scotland is Presbyterian. It is, moreover, one of those churches that have taken it upon themselves to be very active in international leftist activism. For years, its longstanding habit of expressing poisonous hostility toward Israel and mindless sympathy for the “Palestinian cause” didn’t distinguish it significantly from any number of other left-leaning ecclesiastical bodies around the world. That changed a few days ago, with the publication of a report – intended to be discussed and voted upon at the Church’s general assembly, which begins on May 18 – that was so blatantly anti-Semitic that it truly separated the Church of Scotland from the rest of the Israel-bashing pack.

Indeed, “The Inheritance of Abraham: A Report on the Promised Land” proved to be an instant classic of the most reprehensible kind – a brand-new core text in the annals of Christian Jew-hatred.

The report takes on supporters of Israel – both Jewish and Christian – who justify their Zionism by citing passages from Genesis in which God promises the Holy Land to Abraham’s descendants.  It challenges these biblical arguments from many directions – arguing, for example, that they’re irreconcilable with the warnings by prophets against the “pursuit of power and wealth” and that Israel has betrayed the justice that “is a major theme in both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament.” Quoting a famous line from Micah – “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God?” – the report essentially maintains that Israel isn’t living up to the mandate of Jewish scripture, and that the Jewish state doesn’t deserve the support of Christians who seek to live up to the mandate of Christian scripture. For good measure, the report mocks the very idea that the creation of modern Israel is a “miracle,” sneering: “What is meant by ‘miracle’? Was Al Nakba a ‘miracle’ – driving people from their ancestral land and property with no right of reclaim; the creation of the Gaza Strip; all the refugee camps; the occupied Palestinian territory with the destruction of community life; and the impoverishment of the Palestinian people?”

The thrust of the report is crystal clear: “To be critical of Zionism is not anti-Semitic.” It quotes Christian theologians who oppose Israel – and one Jew, Mark Braverman, who rejects Zionism.  Obviously because the report’s authors think that by citing a Jew they’re insulating themselves from the charge of anti-Semitism, they place Braverman front and center in outlining their core argument, noting, in short, that:

Braverman is adamant that Christians must not sacrifice the universalist, inclusive dimension of Christianity and revert to the particular exclusivism of the Jewish faith because we feel guilty about the Holocaust. He is equally clear that the Jewish people have to repent of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians between 1947 and 1949. They must be challenged, too, to stop thinking of themselves as victims and special, and recognise that the present immoral, unjust treatment of Palestinian people is unsustainable.

Braverman challenges, too, what he calls “revisionist Christian theology,” more widely known as Western post-Holocaust theology, i.e. theology which takes away Jesus’ radical critique of Jewish theology and practice in order to provide no excuse for Christian anti-Semitism. In this approach, he claims, the Jewish people are and remain God’s chosen. This gives them the right to land, to triumph over enemies and a sense of specialness.

After a while the report sets Braverman aside, but continues along the same lines:

Jesus offered a radical critique of Jewish specialness and exclusivism….If Jesus is indeed the Yes to all God’s promises the promise to Abraham about land is fulfilled through the impact of Jesus, not by restoration of land to the Jewish people. Jesus gave a new direction and message for the people of God, one which did not feature a special area of land for them….Jesus’ vision of the kingdom is not for one limited area of territory, it is a way of anticipating how things can be if people are obedient to God….  Our Church points to the Kingdom, which cannot be tied to any earthly kingdom. Jesus said before Pilate that he was indeed a king but “my kingdom is not from this world.”

There’s much more in the report, but suffice it to say that every single word of it is intended to bolster a theological case for the dissolution of Israel.

In short, it’s a breathtakingly offensive piece of work. Yes, all the stuff about Jesus’ message and vision and so forth is a fair enough representation of the Christian understanding of the New Testament. But as a statement about Israel and Jews in the twenty-first century, it’s beyond offensive. In its blithe, supercilious application of Christian theology to a contemporary Jewish situation, it’s breathtakingly arrogant, and – yes – cold-bloodedly anti-Semitic. Early in the document, its authors make a point of spelling out their opposition to Western colonialism and imperialism; but their smug articulation, in connection with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, of the doctrine of supercessionism (also known as replacement theology) – which posits that the New Covenant under Jesus replaces Jehovah’s covenant with the Hebrew people – is offensive in precisely the same way as colonialism and imperialism, only on a far larger scale. Although the report, like most such products of left-leaning churches today, is full of pretty language about mercy, kindness, reconciliation, and “God’s universal, inclusive love,” it resurrects official Christian attitudes toward Jewish people and Jewish belief that one would have hoped were buried with the Holocaust.

Gratifyingly, the Church of Scotland got hammered for issuing this disgusting document. Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Daniel Taub, thundered that it “belittles the deeply held Jewish attachment to the land of Israel in a way which is truly hurtful.” Ephraim Borowski, head of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (there are about 6000 Jews in Scotland), complained that the report “reads like an Inquisition-era polemic against Jews and Judaism….The picture it paints of both Judaism and Israel is barely even a caricature. The arrogance of telling the Jewish people how to interpret Jewish texts and Jewish theology is breathtaking.” Abraham H. Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League called the document “stunningly offensive…an affront to Jews around the world and to the State of Israel.” And the Jerusalem Post said that the Church of Scotland “owes the Jewish people an apology for this incendiary text that is more fitting to the 13th Century than to this one.”

In response to this chorus of outrage, the Church quickly buckled, yanking the report from its website and agreeing to meet with Jewish community leaders. After the meeting, the Church described the dialogue as “very positive,” insisted that its report had not been intended to deny Israel’s right to exist, and promised that “a new introduction” would be added “to set the context for the report and give clarity about some of the language used.” Scotland’s Jews seemed satisfied. They shouldn’t be. No sensible person who has read “The Inheritance of Abraham” in its entirety report would find the mere addition of a new introduction (whatever its contents) sufficient to render this monstrosity inoffensive; the only decent move for the Church would be to withdraw the entire document, apologize for it profusely, and commit itself to an intense examination of its own collective conscience vis-à-vis Israel and the Jewish people. But that, apparently, isn’t about to happen. The stink of Jew-hatred, then, remains – no more fetid in Scotland, alas, than in many other corners of today’s Europe.

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  • Chezwick

    The one consolation is that the mainline Protestant churches are ever-dwindling in membership as the years go by. On the other hand, where are these people going? Some are joining Evangelical denominations, some are falling away from religion, and I suppose a select few are converting to the RoP. Most are just growing old and dying away….mirroring the civilization from which they sprang.

    • RogueWave24

      Some ex-Protestants are finding a life in the Messianic Jewish community, which welcomes both Conservatives and Christians.

      • stern

        There is no such thing as a "messianic Jewish" community. It's an oxymoron. You cannot be "messianic" and Jewish.

        • Ken

          The first Christians EVER! Were Messianic Jews. And any Jew who realizes their Messiah today and is Born Again in Christ is a Messianic Jew. Being Jewish is a ethnicity! They magically become gentile when they accept Christ ! /facepalm

        • Guest

          Ignorance, in your case, IS bliss, isn't it, stern?

        • RogueWave24

          Please, cover up. Your ignorance is showing! Yes, messianic Jews exist, their synagogues exist, and their communities exist. Might I remind you that Christ's apostles were messianic Jews. The first Church was not "Christian." They were messianic Jewish believers.

        • Snorbak

          C'mon Stern, are you suggesting that being Jewish precludes you from believing that Jesus was the Messiah? Jesus was a Jew, so by applying reason to your comment, he either was not Jewish or was not Jesus because he can't be both.
          BTW, this is the 1st post of yours that I have read whereby my 1st thought was…..what?

        • objectivefactsmatter

          "There is no such thing as a "messianic Jewish" community. It's an oxymoron. You cannot be "messianic" and Jewish."

          Sure you can. Perhaps your interpretations are in conflict but then we'd have to ask you to make your case, which we haven't heard.

          Virtually all of the earliest Christians were messianic Jews.

        • SCREW SOCIALISM

          My understanding is that Christians are waiting for the second combing of the Messiah.

          Jews are waiting for the first coming of the Messiah.

          • RogueWave24

            "Jews are waiting for the first coming of the Messiah."

            Yes, unless you are a messianic Jew.

  • Brian Schiff

    Great column-time for the Loch Ness monster to run the Church of Scotland.

  • Indus Valley

    So instead of preaching the Gospel, the left-leaning Churches are busy with Israel bashing. There is no Christian spirituality & piety practiced in these Churches. They say that G-d's promise to Abraham is conditional. Nothing can be more blasphemous than this when these things come out from Churches. Are they reading the Bible or they just burn it to keep themselves warm during winter? They have eyes but they can't see, they can hear but they won't understand. Very true….

  • alpha_1

    Lest We Forget. Lest we forget WWII and the Nazi horrors. In this day and age (a mere 68 years since the end of WWII) we're seeing more and more of this attitude of anti-semetic rhetoric. Next, unfortunately, usually comes action.

    The world seems doomed to repeat the mistakes and errors of the past, to our everlasting shame. I think if what happened in WWII raises it's ugly head again, it's gonna be game over. The world will not survive another period like 1930-1945. It will be the end of mankind, and of the earth……and the eternal damnation of man. God help us.

  • Questions

    It is both infuriating and sad how a beautiful and bonnie country — Scotland — could sink to such depths. Tremble especially for Scots Jews, whose ranks include Mark and David Knopfler of Dire Straits. Scottie needs to move to the Right. But it's not likely to happen anytime soon.

  • Yonkers man

    The Church should be applauded. You people should be ashamed of yourselves.for supporting an apartheid state. Do you have any morality left in you?

    • Snorbak

      Yonkers,
      Read the definition of apartheid (the wiki definition will do) & then explain how it applies to Israel. Include direct & equivalent comparisons to Apartheid Sth Africa in your answer & also apply the same rational to nations such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan & Egypt etal.
      Think your answer through as you would not want to come across as a hypocrite.
      On the issue of morality, refer to the above line!

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "The Church should be applauded. You people should be ashamed of yourselves.for supporting an apartheid state. Do you have any morality left in you?"

      We live in a different world than you do. We're not taken in by Satanic lies.

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      Bonkers man,

      Supporting an apartheid state?

      Which one?

      Saudi Arabia? Pakistan? Lebanon? Jordan? Egypt? Libya? Tunisia? Indonesia? Iraq? Islamofascist Regime of Iran? Malaysia? Afghanistan? Turkey? Sudan? Somalia? Eurabia? Scotland?

      • murray goldstein

        LOL… Scotland? You mean Israel… nice company you're in thier.

  • Lan Astaslem

    do you call saudi arabia apartheid? No churches or synagogues alowed there. You are a typical leftist hypocrite.

  • Lan Astaslem

    the above post is meant for the a$&hole in yonkers

  • PAthena

    Jesus defended Judea. He opposed the Roman rule of the Temple, and he was executed by the Romans as a rebel against Rome.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "Jesus defended Judea."

      In what sense?

      "He opposed the Roman rule of the Temple"

      What are you talking about?

      "…and he was executed by the Romans as a rebel against Rome."

      Source?

  • http://twitter.com/theoprinse @theoprinse

    Thanks for pointing to superseccesionism or replacement theology.
    1. The ideology of Islam is indivisible and because Islam is not a religion but a military doctrine, Islam in reality is an indivisible murderous military doctrine.
    Left wing religious circles of the English (and Scottish) church in the latter half of the 19th century at the top in the leadership of the Christian World Council of Churches http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olav_Fykse_Tveit and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_current_Chri… deny claim 1. and recognize falsely precisely the opposite that Islam is a so-called Abrahamite religion … The Christian world churches DENY or better are in denial – through their own left wing Christian liberation theology or from the right wing by reason that the so-called primacy of faith would be compromised towards secularism when Islam where to denied being a faith etc. – that Islam in reality – under the said false pretext of religion – is a murderous military doctrine legitimated by quasi religion as well as 3. vervangingstheologie of substitutietheologie or Supersessionism, fulfillment theology, and replacement theology

  • objectivefactsmatter

    "the report essentially maintains that Israel isn’t living up to the mandate of Jewish scripture"

    Based on purely subjective standards. THIS is what Jesus warned about when he instructed disciples not to judge.

  • Snorbak

    The Church of Scotland, just like the Roman Catholic Church has by & large become apostate.
    What many Jew's & many within the mainstream church's fail to understand is that God has placed "Israel" to one side whilst he concentrates on "The Church". The time of the Gentiles is soon to be fulfilled, then he will again turn his full attention back to Israel.
    The land of Israel was given to the descendants of Abraham, Issac & Joseph forever, this promise has never been abrogated & replacement theology is not supported by ANY Biblical reference.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    "Was Al Nakba a ‘miracle’ – driving people from their ancestral land and property with no right of reclaim; the creation of the Gaza Strip; all the refugee camps; the occupied Palestinian territory with the destruction of community life; and the impoverishment of the Palestinian people?”"

    F-ing Pagan dhimmis posing as Christian "people of the book" hoping that will help to keep their heads attached.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    "Braverman challenges, too, what he calls “revisionist Christian theology,” more widely known as Western post-Holocaust theology, i.e. theology which takes away Jesus’ radical critique of Jewish theology and practice in order to provide no excuse for Christian anti-Semitism. In this approach, he claims, the Jewish people are and remain God’s chosen. This gives them the right to land, to triumph over enemies and a sense of specialness."

    Old, tired but still widely-used straw man argument.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    "Yes, all the stuff about Jesus’ message and vision and so forth is a fair enough representation of the Christian understanding of the New Testament."

    Not really.

  • slider 96

    WOW ….what a bunch of confused people , and clumped in one place no less . You think [or allege ] that anti-Semitism ,anti-Zionism or anti-Israel positions reside exclusively in the Domain of The Left ?

    But the right [just as the left ] are old hands at politicizing every issue . For the hardcore anti-semites and Jew haters , there is nothing Israel and Jews can do which is "correct " , they must simply go as the source of the worlds troubles , causing conflict in the Middle East , financial problems controlling Banks , Hollywood directing immorality ..and the list goes on .
    As for the so called "Christian "churches and sects , comes the charges that Jews are not behaving according to their own Biblical notions , this is typical on BOTH Left and Right , but the extremists of both are the ones which make the news . That much is evident right here for Jews and Israelis who don't behave according to " the accepted standards " are condemned as self-hating , Marxists etc. the usual assortment of denigrating descriptions used in local partisan mudslinging .

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      What is Progressive about backing people who behead captives, stone women to death, hang gays in public executions, describe Jews in dehumanizing ways as sons of pigs and apes, throw wheelchair bound people from cruise ships into the sea, place bombs on passenger planes like Pan Am 103, hijack passenger planes and fly them into buildings?

      Progressive? My counter revolutionary ass.

  • slider 96

    Funny how the Bible can be co-opted to justify or rationalize great good and horrendous evil . Don't be surprised ,as I'm sure God planned it that way to separate the goats from the sheep .

  • silver gonzales

    From the country of William Wallace. I wish that every sq. in. of Scotland be smothered in Islam. I'm sure God planned it that way.

  • BRL…

    Whatever minor backpedaling or pro forma apologies the Presbyopic church might come up with under pressure, this document tells the world what its commissars and hooligans really think. Don't anyone forget it.

  • Larry

    Scotland, Where is Scotland? Or I should say "Who gives a damn where it is or what they have to say".

  • S. B.

    Romans chapters 9-11.
    To paraphrase the Apostle Paul….hey wild olive branch, you can be ungrafted.