Although anti-Semitism does not “begin and end with the Christian church,” for the last two-thousand years, anti-Semitism has been a primarily “Christian” phenomenon. And, while there is no doubt that Satan has had much to do with it, it wasn’t something that was a part of Egyptian, Persian, or Greek culture in the way it has been woven into the fabric of Christian theology. In fact, both Biblical and non-Biblical examples of a manifest hostility toward the Jewish people are relatively easy to explain in non-anti-Semitic terms.

For example, Pharaoh’s paranoia was obviously directed against the Jews—but it was based on the irrational fear that the people of Israel were growing too strong to control (Exo 1:9)—a condition that he could not abide, given the fragile character of his rule.

Haman wanted to destroy the Jews because Mordecai would not bow down to him (Est 3:5). But, he didn’t know that Mordecai was Jewish at first (Est 3:6). And, as it turns out, Haman was an Agagite—a descendant of the people that God ordered King Saul to destroy. Mordecai was a descendant of King Saul. So, in some ways, Haman and Mordecai were enemies “from the womb.”

Antiochus Epiphanes (c. 132 bce) wanted to Hellenize the Jews. They didn't cooperate, so he sought to Hellenize them by force. Antiochus would have persecuted any people-group that refused to cooperate with him.

Christian anti-Semitism is motivated by different considerations. It is based on the (false, but widely-held) view that God rejected the Jewish people for rejecting Yeshua as the Messiah—and that God birthed the Christian Church to take Israel's place as God's chosen people (or Elect, or People of God, et al). This is NOT my opinion—these views are repeatedly expressed by the Church “Fathers” in the first few centuries of Christianity and by other Church leaders from that time to the present. And, this view is at the heart of Covenantal Theology—the theology of the institutional Church. But, Dispensational Theology—the “brand” of theology that most “non-denominational” churches hold to is “replacement” in many respects as well.

Obviously all Christians are not anti-Semitic—nor are all churches. This has always been the case—but, it is time for the Church to “own” this aspect of its history if there is to be any true reconciliation between Christians and Jews.

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