Dr. Thomas Ice
Too many Reformed folk are ignorant of the prominent place afforded to the future of the Jews in their own Reformed history and confessions, I hope to demonstrate that, while Mr. Lindsey raises legitimate concerns, he has laid the causes on the wrong theological doorstep. . . . However, it seems to me that some Reconstructionists may have asked for this sort of abuse by their own employment of similar tactics.1
- Steve Schlissel (Dominionist/Reconstructionist)
Long before Hal Lindsey wrote The Road To Holocaust2, he was the favorite whipping boy of Dominionist/Reconstructionists in their never ending attacks on the system of theology they most love to hate—Dispensationalism. When Lindsey answered back in The Road To Holocaust, the temperature of the debate boiled over into heated response. In spite of all of the huffing and puffing and cry that Lindsey struck a low blow in his characterization of Dominion/Reconstruction theology, I want to state why I believe that Hal is correct.
The first charge that Dominion/Reconstructionists advocate views that have in the past engendered anti-Semitism which I have found were made in 1985 by evangelical scholar David Rausch in Moody Monthly.3 Rausch's scholarly credentials (a PhD, professor of church history and Judaic studies at Ashland College and Seminary, Ashland, Ohio, published over 200 articles on Jewish/Christian relations, and has written 12 books, many on this very subject) would lead one to believe that he is one of the leading experts, if not the expert on such matters. This equips him to evaluate this issue. His PhD dissertation from Kent State University in 1979 was "Zionism Within Early American Fundamentalism, 1878-1918" which chronicled the support of primarily Dispensationalists for the Jews and their efforts to found the modern state of Israel. His books which relate to Jewish studies and anti-Semitism include Messianic Judaism: Its History, Theology, and Polity (1982); Eminent Hebrew Christians of the Nineteenth Century (1983); A Legacy of Hatred: Why Christians Must Not Forget the Holocaust (1984, 1990); Building Bridges: Understanding Jews and Judaism (1988); The Middle East Maze: Israel and Her Neighbors (1991).
Perhaps because of Rausch's expertise in these matters he was the first to voice his concern about the direction of Dominion/Reconstruction theology.
New movements that take their cue from Calvin's Geneva or the Puritan experiment in the Massachusetts Bay Colony are advocating a "Christian" nation that lacks pluralism. Forgetting the lessons of Germany, they naively insist that what the decadent United States needs is more "Christian" law practiced by more "Christian" lawyers to bring in a "Christian" society with "Christian" economics to reach the world and make it "Christian."4
Rausch goes on to say that Dominion/Reconstructionists are those who are
Despising premillennialists who believe that only the return of Jesus Christ will initiate the Millennium, these leaders [Reconstructionists] use a broader based evangelical movement to achieve their agenda. Coupled with dangerous socialist and fascist movements that have their own hidden agendas, these "reconstructionists" signal the calamity that could encompass our nation if we give in to their high-sounding logic.5
In our 1988 book, Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse?6, I wrote appendix B, "Is Christian Reconstructionism Anti-Semitic?" I noted, similar to Rausch, that there was potential for anti-Semitism because of a few statements, but mainly because of their "replacement theology."
The danger lies in their misunderstanding of God's plan concerning the future of the nation Israel. Reconstructionists advocate the replacement of Old Testament Israel with the church, often called the "New Israel." They believe that Israel does not have a future different from any other nation.7
I then quoted Reconstructionist David Chilton as an example of that belief. "Although Israel will someday be restored to the true faith, the Bible does not tell of any future plan for Israel as a special nation."8
Richard Pierard, a history professor at Indiana State reviewed our book Dominion Theology in Christianity Today (Sept. 22, 1989). Pierard thought that we did "not take seriously enough the anti-Semitic character behind some of the beliefs of Reconstrutionism (especially its hostility to Judaism and the State of Israel)." No doubt he would agree with Rausch and Lindsey who detect anti-Semitic problems with Dominion theology.
Hal Lindsey's remarks and subsequent book followed by the Dominionist response are the ingredients which have really stirred the pot of controversy. In 1987, after listening to tapes and reading a book by David Chilton, Lindsey preached a sermon at his church entitled "The Dominion Theology Heresy." Lindsey remarked that, "This is the most anti-Semitic movement I've seen since Adolph Hitler." Hal has since apologized on more than one occasion on national radio for his over reaction. It was an overstatement. (I have yet to ever hear of a Reconstructionist apologize for any of their endless errors about their opponents.) He has told me that he was just beginning to learn of the movement and had listened to hours of tapes by Chilton and a number of Charismatic Dominionists who had repeatedly attacked Hal personally which upset him before his sermon.
Lindsey's book The Road to Holocaust was released in June 1989 with his warning of concern as to where recent trends of Dominion/Reconstruction theology could lead the church.
Lindsey does not say that Reconstructionists are full-blown anti-Semites. He does say that Dominion/Reconstructionists engage in "the same sort of rhetoric that in the past formed the basis of contempt for the Jews that later developed into outright anti-Semitism." He then warns Christians to "not sit idly by while a system of prophetic interpretation that historically furnished the philosophical basis for anti-Semitism infects the Church again."9
What is the basis upon which Lindsey makes such claims? His basis is that historically replacement theology (the church replaces the Jews as the new or true Israel, and Israel has no future as a distinct nation within God's plan) has been the theological foundation upon which anti-Semitism has been built within the confines of Christianity. Therefore, Lindsey has seen in the 1980s a revival of replacement theology (the historic cause of anti-Semitism) spearheaded by Dominionist leadership. His concern is that for the first time in our lifetime, there is a decline of those who believe in the Pretrib Rapture and a future for national Israel, often known as Dispensationalism, and a dramatic shift towards replacement theology. Finally, since Lindsey believes that we are near the time of the Second Coming and therefore the Rapture, he knows that the yet future seven-year Tribulation will see a time of the greatest anti-Semitism in the history of the world. This is why he believes that a warning needs to be issued concerning Dominion/Reconstructionist's "prophetic views and the dangers they pose to the Church in general and the Jewish people in particular."
The usual response by Reconstructionists is that they do not think replacement theology has been or is capable of producing anti-Semitism. The fact of the matter is, however, that replacement theology has historically, not always, but often, led to what Hebrew, Christian scholar, Arnold Fruchtenbaum, a dispensationalist, has called "theological anti-Semitism."10
Reconstructionist Steve Schlissel, a Hebrew Christian, wrote an article in the July 1988 issue of The Counsel of Chalcedon entitled "To Those Who Wonder If Reconstructionism Is Anti-Semitic." It was most likely generated by Lindsey's sermon and his discussion of the issue on his nationwide, weekly, Saturday radio program, Week In Review. "Why would anyone," asks Schlissel, "aware of the hopes, let alone the principles, that guide and motivate reconstructionists regard them as anti-Semitic?" The answer is because of the attraction by most Reconstructionists to some form of replacement theology. Note a few examples from their writings.
While Reconstructionists do believe that individual Jews will be converted to Christ in mass in the future, almost none of them believe that national Israel has a future and thus the Church has completely taken over the promises of national Israel. In contrast to the eventual faithfulness and empowerment by the Holy Spirit of the Church, Reconstructionist David Chilton said that "ethnic Israel was excommunicated for its apostasy and will never again be God's Kingdom."11 Chilton says again, "the Bible does not tell of any future plan for Israel as a special nation."12 Reconstructionists believe that the Church is now that new nation which is why Christ destroyed the Jewish state. Reconstructionists DeMar and Leithart have said, "In destroying Israel, Christ transferred the blessings of the kingdom from Israel to a new people, the church."13 Reconstructionist Ray Sutton teaches that God permanently divorced Israel.14 In explaining the parables of Matthew 21 and 22, he says, "For the next several chapters, one section after another pronounces judgment and total discontinuity between God and Israel . . . total disinheritance."15 The father of Reconstructionism, R. J. Rushdoony, uses some of the harshest language in making clear his form of replacement theology.
The fall of Jerusalem, and the public rejection of physical Israel as the chosen people of God, meant also the deliverance of the true people of God, the church of Christ, the elect, out of the bondage to Israel and Jerusalem, . . .16
A further heresy clouds premillennial interpretations of Scripture- their exaltation of racism into a divine principle. Every attempt to bring the Jew back into prophecy as a Jew is to give race and works (for racial descent is a human work) a priority over grace and Christ's work and is nothing more or less than paganism. . . . There can be no compromise with this vicious heresy.17
These statements are clearly replacement theology and thus theological anti-Semitism, which has historically been the foundation for overt anti-Semitism within Christendom.
Shortly after his article appeared, I called Schlissel on the phone and discussed the matter with him. I pointed out to him that while he was undoubtedly a Reconstructionist yet he believed in a future for Israel as a nation. I did not know of any other Reconstructionist leader who shared his views on that matter. In other words, Schlissel did not believe in a total replacement of Israel with the church. Schlissel believes that national Israel does have a future. Schlissel's milder form of covenant theology holds that while the Church does take over some of Israel's blessings, they do not take over all of them. Therefore, his so-called "defense" of Reconstructionists was no defense since he "defended" them by advocating a view they did not believe. In fact, Schlissel's view on this matter is closer to Hal Lindsey and Dispensationalism. What was his response? He did not have much to say.
In 1990, Schlissel expanded the thrust of his arguments against Lindsey in a 45-page essay "The Reformed Faith and the Jews." It was combined with Postmillennialist David Brown's essay "The Restoration of The Jews" originally published in 1861 to make a new book Hal Lindsey & The Restoration of the Jews. Because of the cover design, which could make one think that the book is authored by Lindsey, Bantam's legal department recommended to Lindsey that he could sue and win against the publishers because of the misleading nature of the cover. In deference to Christian charity, he did not.
Gary DeMar & Peter Leithart
In July 1989 Reconstructionists Gary DeMar & Peter Leithart rushed into print with a booklet rebuttal to The Road to Holocaust called The Legacy of Hatred Continues.18 They believed Lindsey's book to "border on slander and would be filled with numerous inaccuracies, both biblical and historic." (10) Their booklet said that Lindsey's book "is filled with a great number of deceptions, falsehoods, and outright lies regarding Christian Reconstruction." (9) Quite frankly what Reconstructionists often cite as "deceptions, falsehoods, and outright lies" are almost always differences in interpretative opinions and conclusions about the Bible and history. Therefore, if someone attempts to evaluate Reconstructionists in terms of their own theology, then they are characterized as dishonest and unethical by "misrepresenting" them. But the real issue is whether or not Lindsey is right in his views of the Bible and interpretations of history that in turn make him and the Reconstructionists right or wrong. While other Reconstructionists have commented on Holocaust,19 Schlissel, and DeMar/Leithart (DeMar from this point on) have come forward with the major responses. Therefore, I will mainly interact with their treatments in the rest of this article.
An approach used by most Reconstructionists to answer, not only Lindsey but many of their critics, is to attack their character at the beginning of their response. One of the items cited is the fact that Holocaust reverses Rousas John Rushdoony's name, not in the text of the book, but in the footnotes, so that it reads John Rousas Rushdoony. This was a mistake made by the publisher, Bantam. I have a copy of Lindsey's prepublished manuscript and he had the name correct when he turned in the manuscript to the publisher. DeMar questions whether "Lindsey actually read the books."20 DeMar goes on to say that if Lindsey "can't get easily documented facts correct, readers have a right to question Lindsey's interpretation of data . . ."21
"People who live in glass houses should not throw stones," is a well known saying relating to hypocrisy. DeMar has smashed a number of his own windows, since he is guilty of the very "sin" he accuses Lindsey of in his booklet. DeMar quoted from theologian, Bruce Demarest's book22 General Revelation.23 A problem is that he cited Demarest's name as William, not Bruce. This he did both in the text of the booklet and in the footnote as well. His name is Bruce A. Demarest. There is no William to be found. At least Lindsey's publisher only reversed Rushdoony's first and middle names. DeMar completely manufactured the name William from thin air. According to the "DeMar standard" we can question whether or not he "actually read the book" and we certainly "have a right to question [DeMar's] interpretation of data."
DeMar believes that eschatology has been improperly made an issue by Lindsey. "We believe that Hal Lindsey is wrong in making eschatology the test of orthodoxy. . . . the problem is not eschatology but ethics."24 He concludes, "'Anti-Semitism'is not a simple deduction of eschatology."25
First, Lindsey does not make eschatology the test of orthodoxy! Lindsey thinks that certain eschatological views do nurture theological anti-Semitism. If eschatology is so insignificant, as DeMar implies, then why is he so preoccupied in rebutting opposing views of eschatology? We all believe eschatology is important and like every area of theology impacts the way people think and behave. I believe eschatology, in the case of the anti-Semitism issue impacts one's ethics.
Second, DeMar and most Reconstructionists do not think that eschatology is as important as do Dispensationalists since most of what Dispensationalists see as events that will occur in the future (the Tribulation, rebuilding of the Temple, Antichrist, anti-Semitism during the Tribulation, events of Revelation), they believe has already happened by the time of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple in A.D. 70. Therefore, it certainly is not a matter of eschatology for them, it could only be an ethical issue. This is one of the concerns that Lindsey has, if Israel does not have a future AS A NATION, then such a viewpoint has historically been the major ground for theological anti-Semitism in the Church.
DeMar quotes from Peter Toon's book, Puritans, the Millennium and the Future of Israel: Puritan Eschatology 1600-1660, an excellent source, on page 46 of his booklet. This same book makes it clear that eschatology was the basis for the decline of anti-Semitism among Puritans in the 1600s. Toon's essay, "The Latter-day Glory," about the rise of Postmillennialism shows that Thomas Goodwin in the 1630s taught "the conversion of Jews to Christ and their restoration to Palestine."26 Toon adds that it was Jewish influence which led to this new teaching. "First, they [Puritans] held that when the words 'Israel', 'Judah', 'Zion' and 'Jerusalem' are used in the Bible they always related to the fleshly descendants of Abraham or the places where they lived."27 This is not a view held by most Reconstructionists. In fact this is the view of their theological opposites- dispensationalists. "Therefore," continues Toon, "passages which speak of a return of these people to their own land, their conquest of enemies and their rule of the nations are to be taken literally, not allegorically as of the Church."28 This is a clear denial of the replacement theology held by most modern day Reconstructionists. While many Puritans were Postmillennial (just as many if not more were Premillennial) they did hold to a different kind than do most Reconstructionists of our day.
July 18, 1290 was the day in which Jews were expelled from England because they were viewed as dangerous people who were considered a threat to "Christian" England. Once again theological anti-Semitism within the Church resulted in persecution of the Jews. In the 1650s, they were readmitted to England. Why? It was because of eschatology. Due to Puritan influence many English Christians began to see a future for the Jews and national Israel. It was as the "Hebraic and Judicial tendencies in England thought and theology reached their zenith by 1650 and it is in this 'prophetical'context"29 notes Toon that led to the readmission of the Jews. Some Puritans even "believed that the tribulations that had come upon England in the Civil War were, in part God's judgment upon the nation for its maltreatment of Jews in the past."30 The arguments that won the day, according to Toon, were eschatological. He summarizes, "the more common ground of advocating readmission, amongst theologians and preachers, seems to have been based on eschatological considerations."31
Reconstructionists like DeMar do not like to admit it, but one's eschatology does play a major role in the anti-Semitism issue within the Church. We shall see more reasons why replacement theology has usually been the ground upon which anti-Semitism was peddled within Christendom.
Reconstructionist Steve Schlissel has written the most extensive defense to date in support of Dominion/Reconstructionist Postmillennialism in regards to the anti-Semitism issue. As we have already noted above, Schlissel supposedly defends his fellow Reconstructionists by setting forth a different position than that of his accused brethren. Let me explain further what I mean.
In 1987-88 when Hal Lindsey was writing Holocaust, virtually all of the books and material being produced by Reconstructionists were from the Preterist perspective of prophetic interpretation. Therefore, Reconstructionists were clearly presenting the image that their brand of postmillennialism was linked to the Preterist view. This is why one of the first issues of Biblical Perspectives was an article I wrote entitled "New, Improved Postmillennialism" (Mar-Apr 1988). Preterist Postmillennialism had not had much support previously within the American Postmillennial tradition. I cannot think of one Old Princeton professor or Westminster professor who was a Preterist Postmillennialist. Perhaps there has been one, but it has never been very popular. Perhaps Reconstructionists have generally been attracted to the Preterist view since it is the perfect antithesis of Dispensationalism. Nevertheless, the Preterist viewpoint is probably the most extreme form of replacement theology possible.
Four Interpretative Approaches
Some of you may be asking what is a Preterist? Let me explain the four basis approaches to the interpretation of biblical prophecy. They are simple to remember since they all relate to time. There are the only four possibilities that are related to time: past, present, future, and timeless. The time references relate to when Bible prophecy will be/has been fulfilled in terms of our present time in history.
First, the Preterist (Latin for "past") approach believes that prophecy, in relation to our current time in history has already been fulfilled in the past. They believe that prophetic sections like Daniel, Zechariah, Revelation, and Matthew 24 have already been fulfilled in the past, usually related to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple in A.D. 70. For example, the "coming" passages of Matthew 24 and Revelation 19 do not refer to the Second Coming, instead they refer to God's coming in judgment upon the nation of Israel, through the Roman army in the A.D. 70 event. They do believe in the Second Coming (some extreme Preterists do not believe in the Second Coming at all, but I do not know of any Reconstructionists who go that far yet) and usually take passages like 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15 to refer to that. Preterists are found among Amillennialists and Postmillennialists.
Second, the Historicist approach generally believes that the current Church Age is the time period covered in the book of Revelation. Therefore, prophecy is being fulfilled in the time period in which we live. They usually take momentous events from the time in which they live and argue that it is a fulfillment of some prediction of Bible prophecy. For example, the French Revolution was said to refer to an event in Revelation 13. Some historicists today have said that the recent Gulf War fulfilled some Bible prophecy. Usually related to the Historicist view is what is called the "day/year" theory. This means that number of days in the Bible refer to years. Historicists have always been the champion date-setters of prophetic interpretation because they try to develop a year for day scheme to set the time for the Second Coming. This was the most widely held view from the 1600s through the 1800s. Today, almost no one holds this view. Premillennialists, Amillennialists, and Postmillennialists have all been Historicists.
Third, the Futurist approach generally believes that much of the Bible's prophecy lies in the future from our current time in history. Futurists believe that Revelation 4-22 is future, as are many of the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets and other parts of the New Testament. Therefore, things like the seven-year Tribulation, the Antichrist, and the Two Witnesses, etc., are yet future. Futurists take the Bible more literally than other systems of interpretation. All Dispensationalists are Futurists. Futurism has been followed by Premillennialists, Amillennialists, and Postmillennialists, although it is almost exclusively found among Premillennialists in our day.
Fourth, the Idealist approach is one that takes the prophetic Scriptures, like the book of Revelation, as atemporal (timeless) lessons applicable to anyone down through the history of the Church. They do not believe that prophecy, such as Revelation, is concerned with timing. While all three millennial positions can use this interpretive approach, I have only found it among Amillennialists and Postmillennialists.
Since almost all of the prophecy teachers among the Reconstructionists are Preterist and were in 1987-88 (Gary North, Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, David Chilton, Greg Bahnsen, Ray Sutton, Mike Gilstrap, James Jordan, and probably George Grant), how can an observer be justly criticized for concluding that Reconstructionists are Preterist Postmillennialists? They cannot. There are a few that are not Preterist. One of them is Steve Schlissel. Steve is of all things a Futurist, just like Hal Lindsey and other Dispensationalists. Yet he is the one who has been defending Reconstructionists against the charge of theological anti-Semitism by stating views consistent with a Futurist viewpoint, but things denied by Preterists.
One cannot be a Preterist and believe that Israel has a national future. Prophecy relating to that issue has already happened and God's plan for Israel is already completed. Sure they believe in individual conversions of many Jews, but not a national future. Remember what Reconstructionist spokesman David Chilton has said?
Ethnic Israel was excommunicated for its apostasy and will never again be God's Kingdom. . . .
The Great Tribulation took place in the Fall of Israel. . . .
the Bible does not tell of any future plan for Israel as a special nation. . . .
The "Harlot" symbolized apostate Jerusalem, which had ceased to be the City of God. . . .32
What once had been true of Israel, Peter says, is now and forever true of the Church.33
Because Israel committed the supreme act of covenant-breaking when she rejected Christ, Israel herself was rejected by God. The awesome curses pronounced by Jesus, Moses, and the prophets were fulfilled in the terrible destruction of Jerusalem, with the desolation of the Temple and the obliteration of the covenant nation in A.D. 70.34
Now lets compare it with what Steve Schlissel believes as he approvingly quotes writers from the 1800s.
"Will the Jews, as a Nation, be Restored to their own Land?" This question was answered affirmatively; the (unsigned) article concluded that Scripture taught that the Jews must be restored to their land if certain prophecies would be fulfilled.
As early as 1847 the Great Dr. David Brown . . . wrote of his conviction that the Jews would one day again possess the Land of Israel.35
I am also sympathetic with his [Hal Lindsey] frustrations in getting some Reformed brothers [includes Reconstructionists] to even consider whether the modern State of Israel may, in fact, be prophetically significant. Their reluctance is interpreted by Mr. Lindsey as stemming from anti-Semitism. Whether or not that is so, it is disturbing to see the hedging, hemming and hawing- disturbing and unnecessary. After all, the question of interest among the Reformed regarding the Jews in the mid-nineteenth century, as was shown, was not their spiritual restoration- that was a given. Rather, it was whether the prophecies regarding their future required their restoration to the land. This question is answered by Dr. Brown in the affirmative, and in a manner that requires serious consideration. Since God in His providence has answered part of that old controversy by bringing Jews back to the land, it hardly seems fair for the Reformed to ignore or dismiss the possibility, a priori, of that return having any prophetic significance.36
We as Dispensationalists can say a hearty AMEN to Schlissel's views on this point. However, as the reader can observe, there is a world of difference between Schlissel's Futurist Postmillennial viewpoint and that of the normal Preterist Postmillennialist as noted from Chilton's remarks.
Schlissel and DeMar, when defending against Lindsey's book love to go back into history, especially to the Puritans, and find Postmillennialists who said glowing things about the Jews and Israel. They then conclude that Postmillennialists cannot be theological anti-Semites because Postmillennialists have always believed a certain way. However, what they fail to tell their readers is that there are different kinds of Postmillennialists, as we have just seen in the differences between Chilton and Schlissel. Gary DeMar is concerned when Dispensationalists do not point out differences among Premillennialists. When writing about a debate involving DeMar and myself, DeMar noted:
Throughout the debate, Tommy Ice gave the impression that dispensational premillennialism is the historic Christian position and that dispensational premillennialism is little different from historic premillennialism. This is a favorite tactic of dispensationalists.37
I wish DeMar would apply that same standard he wants for Dispensationalism on Postmillennialism.
In a chapter "Postmillennialism and the Salvation of the Jews" DeMar says that "historic postmillennialism gives the Jews a very prominent place in prophecies of the latter-day glory of the church."38 Throughout the chapter, DeMar gives the impression that his Reconstructionist view of Preterist Postmillennialism is the historic Postmillennial position and that there is little difference in the Reconstructionist brand of Postmillennialism. This is a favorite tactic of Reconstructionists.
There are a number of problems with this tactic. First, not one example was cited in the chapter of the views of a Preterist Postmillennialist. Second, he did not identify that his and most Reconstructionist views are different from those cited at many points that are at issue on the anti-Semitism debate. Third, a significant number of names cited in the section were not even Postmillennialists. I was not able to identify every name cited, but I was able to identify four Amillennialists and one Premillennialist from whom he quoted. There could be more. Finally, DeMar refers to the Westminster Larger Catechism as if it was Postmillennial.39 Peter Toon, one of the experts from which DeMar cites in the chapter has this to say about the Westminster Assembly:
In closing, it is perhaps worth mentioning that nowhere in the symbols produced by the Assembly is there any attempt to speak of a latter-day glory of the type found in the writings of Bright man, Finch, Gouge and Cotton [Postmil]. Though neither this doctrine nor millenarianism [Premil] is outlawed or called heretical, the whole teaching of the symbols is Augustinian [Amil].40
Schlissel follows the same tactic in his book, not identifying the many whom he implies are Postmillennial, but are really something else.
The point I wish to make it that just because Postmillennialists in the past did believe a certain way, does not mean that modern day Reconstructionists believe the same way. The fact of the matter is that they do not believe the same. They are Preterist Postmillennialists who believe strongly in replacement theology, which is the theology that has historically led to anti-Semitism within Christendom. Why don't Reconstructionists abandon their Preterist views and adopt the beliefs of Steve Schlissel and older Postmillennialists like David Brown? Until they do, their theology is suspect on this matter.
In a recent phone conversation (Feb. 27, 1992), Steve Schlissel admitted to me that he is troubled by fellow Reconstructionist, James Jordan's teaching that Jews really are not Jews (i.e., descendants of Abraham), the Khazar theory. Jordan wrote of this in an essay "Christian Zionism and Messianic Judaism"41 which I cited in my book Dominion Theology (406) as an example of anti-Semitic literature from the Reconstructionist camp. Schlissel is concerned because Jordan has recently renewed his advocacy of the Khazar theory. (I wonder if the six million Jews who died in he Holocaust knew that they died for nothing since they were not really Jews, if Jordan and his kind are right?) Jordan said, "Modern apostate Jews have absolutely no theological, and therefore no historical and legal right to the land of Palestine."42 Jordan continues, "Christian Zionism is blasphemy. It is heresy. Christians have no theological stake whatsoever in the modern State of Israel. It is an anti-God, anti-Christ nation."43
Some Reconstructionists say that anti-Zionism is not the same as anti-Semitism.44 This is true. But in our day, it is almost the same because of the close identity of all Jews with Israel. Rausch has stated that "anti-Zionism could become anti-Semitism."45 Rausch expressed further concern when he noted an interview conducted with G. Douglas Young in Israel.
Dr. Young expressed deep concern about the ugliness of the anti-Israel teaching that was being spread through evangelical liberal arts colleges and seminaries by an ever-growing, hostile force of academicians.46
Catholic scholar, Father Edward Flannery, who has written a great deal on this subject has said, "To the question Is anti-Zionism in its various degrees and forms anti-Semitic? . . . Not necessarily, but almost always."47
However, many Reconstructionists seem unwilling to admit that one's view of eschatology makes a difference on this matter, as noted above. They think that Hal Lindsey has simply no credibility on this matter. Rausch has points out:
Contrary to popular opinion, this prophetic viewpoint [dispensationalism] combated anti-Semitism and sought to reinstate the biblical promises that God had made to the Jewish people through Abraham- biblical promises that postmillennial Christendom had determined were null and void.48
Steve Schlissel in the process of supposedly refuting Hal Lindsey's Holocaust makes some interesting admissions, which I think supports Lindsey's contention that historically replacement theology has been the ground for theological anti-Semitism within Christendom.
A Frightening Departure
Schlissel notes a departure among his Reformed brethren (Reconstructionists would be included in this group) in more recent times from earlier views of Israel.
As we have said, and will say again, just a century ago all classes of Reformed interpreters held to the certainty of the future conversion of Israel as a nation. How they have come, to a frightening extent, to depart from their historic positions regarding the certainty of Israel future conversion is not our subject here.49
Schlissel answers his question in part by saying, "the hope of the future conversion of the Jews became closely linked, at the turn of the century and beyond, with Premillennial Dispensationalism, an eschatological heresy."50 Amazing logic. Dispensationalists get blamed for the departure of one group from the truth, because they believe the truth. So that must mean that the more we believe the truth, the more it makes people like Reconstructionists depart from the truth.
Historical Roots of Anti-Semitism
Schlissel seems to share Lindsey's basic view on the rise and development of anti-Semitism within the history of the church. [For a survey of the history of anti-Semitism in the Church see David Rausch, Building Bridges: Understanding Jews and Judaism (Moody Press, 1988): 87-171).] After giving his readers an overview of the history of anti-Semitism through Origen, Augustine, Chrysostom, Ambrose, and Jerome, Schlissel then quotes approvingly Raul Hilberg's famous quote from Lindsey's Holocaust.
Viewing the plight of the Jews in Christian lands from the fourth century to the recent holocaust, one Jew observed, "First we were told 'You're not good enough to live among us as Jews.'Then we were told, 'You're not good enough to live among us.'Finally we were told, 'You're not good enough to live.'"51
Schlissel then comments upon Hilberg's statement by saying something that Hal Lindsey could have said,
This devastatingly accurate historical analysis was the fruit of an error, a building of prejudice and hate erected upon a false theological foundation. The blindness of the church regarding the place of the Jew in redemptive history is, I believe, directly responsible for the wicked sins and attitudes described above. What the church believes about the Jews has always made a difference. But the church has not always believed a lie.52
AMEN, brother Steve! Preach it!
What Schlissel has pointed out as true is what his other Reconstructionist brethren deny. What Schlissel has called a lie is what his Preterist Reconstructionist brethren advocate. Their form of replacement theology is the problem. Therefore, Lindsey's thesis in Holocaust about the historical origins of anti-Semitism within Christendom springing from replacement theology are true and admitted by Schlissel.
I hope that you have come to realize that Hal Lindsey's claims in The Road to Holocaust are not something that should be apologized or repented for, nor are they false accusations, and neither should "the book [be] pulled from the market," as suggested by Gary DeMar.53 Instead, as one of their own (Schlissel) suggests, it is those who hold to replacement theology, such as Dominionist/Reconstructionist that should repent.
1 Steve Schlissel & David Brown, Hal Lindsey & The Restoration of the Jews (Still Waters Revival Books, 1990):17, 18.
2 Hal Lindsey, The Road To Holocaust (Bantam, 1989).
3 David A. Rausch, "Forty Years After the Holocaust," Moody Monthly (April 1985).
6 Wayne House & Thomas Ice, Dominion Theology: Blessing or Curse? An Analysis of Christian Reconstructionism (Multnomah Press, 1988):397-406.
8 David Chilton, Paradise Restored (Reconstruction Press, 1985):224.
9 Holocaust :25.
10 Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology (Ariel Ministries, 1989):51.
11 Chilton, Paradise:224.
13 Gary DeMar & Peter Leithart, The Reduction of Christianity (Dominion Press, 1988):213.
14 Ray R. Sutton, That You May Prosper: Dominion By Covenant (Institute for Christian Economics, 1987):242.
16 Rousas John Rushdoony, Thy Kingdom Come: Studies in Daniel and Revelation (Thoburn Press, 1970):82.
18 Gary DeMar & Peter Leithart, The Legacy of Hatred Continues: A Response to Hal Lindsey's The Road to Holocaust (Institute for Christian Economics, 1989).
19 Other responses are found in Greg Bahnsen & Ken Gentry, House Divided: The Break-Up of Dispensational Theology (Institute for Christian Economics, 1989). Gary North & Gary DeMar, Christian Reconstruction: What It Is, What It Isn't (Institute for Christian Economics, 1991). Gary North, Millennialism and Social Theory (Institute for Christian Economics, 1990).
20 Gary DeMar & Peter Leithart, The Legacy of Hatred Continues: A Response to Hal Lindsey's The Road to Holocaust (Institute for Christian Economics, 1989):2.
23 Bruce A. Demarest, General Revelation: Historical Views and Contemporary Issues (Zondervan, 1982).
24 Legacy of Hatred :xi.
26 Peter Toon, "The Latter-day Glory," in Peter Toon editor, Puritans, the Millennium and the Future of Israel: Puritan Eschatology 1600-1660, (James Clarke & Co., 1970):32.
29 Toon, "The Question of Jewish Immigration" in Puritan Eschatology:115.
32 Chilton, Paradise Restored:224-25.
35 Steve Schlissel, "To Those Who Wonder If Reconstructionism Is Anti-Semitic," The Counsel of Chalcedon/i>, July 1988:13.
36 Schlissel, Hal Lindsey & The Restoration of the Jews :26-27.
37 Gary DeMar, The Debate Over Christian Reconstruction (Dominion Press, 1988):107.
38 The Legacy of Hatred Continues:45.
41 Originally found in James Jordan, i>The Sociology of the Church (Geneva Ministries, 1986):175-86. Reprinted in David Chilton, The Days of Vengeance (Dominion Press, 1987):612-21.
42 Jordan, Sociology:183.
44 Schlissel, "To Those Who Wonder If Reconstructionism Is Anti-Semitic," The Counsel of Chalcedon/i>, July 1988:13.
45 David Rausch, The Middle East Maze: Israel and Her Neighbors (Moody Press, 1991):85.
49 Schlissel, Hal Lindsey & The Restoration of the Jews :39.