Have you ever noticed how God often brings you full circle in ministry? Around twenty years ago I was very busy writing on racism and anti-Semitism. This is how my story goes and why I have come back to it.
I was both Research Director and then Director of a ministry called Apologetics Resource Center. As Research Director I began researching and writing on a movement often referred to as the Manifest Sons of God. That was a movement best defined by their belief that a unique group of people would come out of the Church, overcome death, and then save an embattled Church bringing in the Kingdom for Jesus.
I began this project because various people kept bringing me in tapes to listen to from friends and relatives who were involved. Before I was finished with the research I discovered that a Christian radio station in Sacramento was involved as well as a local abusive group who called themselves Aggressive Christianity. They were preying on other churches’ young people. I also ordered tapes from places around the United States.
But I soon found I was ordering some materials from what turned out to be Christian “identity”(1) groups who were racist and anti-Semitic. That led to a whole new paper about anti-Semitism and ‘identity” Christianity-which is not Christian by any means. That paper led to an article on “Identity” for Christian Research Journal, entitled “Identity: A "Christian" Religion for White Racists.”
Before and during those years several experiences stand out in my mind. Interestingly enough they involve both a liberal television station and an Evangelical radio station.
I just happen to turn on my car radio to a Christian station while driving to a class at California State University at Sacramento. The class was a philosophy class and we were reading Nietzsche. During the same period my Church, Ware House Ministries, was offering a play on the life of Dietrich Bonheoffer. So God had set me up for what was to happen.
The Radio station advertised a special speaker who had an important message. As I began listening I heard the speaker saying that of all the various religions Judaism was the worst, that they alone had rejected Jesus Christ. I was enraged and later, after class, called the radio station.
I think the radio station was upset too, because they gave me the fellow’s phone number and we talked for almost an hour. The man was a Holocaust revisionist. You can read his complaint to the Christian Research Journal that they allowed me to write an article.
And this sounds so familiar:
“One of SMYRNA'S newsletter recipients sent us a copy of an article in your Fall 1992 issue entitled "Identity", by Viola Larson. I was quite amazed that you allowed so much space to Ms. Larson, whose views are quite slanted and intolerant. Why do I state this?
In 1981 she telephoned me after I had filled in for a fellow minister on a Sacramento Christian radio show. She exhibited a closed mind regarding everything that she did not agree with. Her behavior was intolerant in the extreme, even to the point of refusing to believe that I am a Christian simply because I did not meet her doctrinal criteria. …
While her article in your recent journal has certain merit regarding the Identity movement, it is nevertheless slanted and contains the self serving motive of connecting elements within that movement that should not be connected. For example, she leads the reader to believe that all followers of Identity are anti-Semites and racist Nazi types. This is far, far from the truth, but it serves her purpose, which is to label as racists and anti-Semites all who don't agree that contemporary Israel is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy, or that modern Jews are God's chosen people....
Will Viola Larson admit that the Jewish religion (Talmudism) is bitterly anti-Christian and racist in the extreme?”
The man sent me literature for a long time and never, as far as I know, repented of his anti-Semitism.
The liberal television station was run by Sacramento’s Interfaith Bureau and no longer exists. I was folding clothes one day and watching television. I turned to that station and started watching the program. There was a man named Arnold Murray teaching the Bible.
After I listened for a while I realized that he was an Identity preacher with a difference. He called the Jewish people Kenities and so he got by with a lot of anti-Semitism without others realizing it.
He was on the station all day because he was free and because the two ladies running the programming didn’t understand what he was preaching. One was a Unity School of Christianity pastor, the other a Seventh Day Adventist. Both of those groups are into health foods and so the Identity pastor who was also into the Hebrew Bibles’ food laws made sense to them.
It took the Session of Fremont Presbyterian Church, (I did not go there at the time) and a Jewish professor at college, (a friend) to finally get Murray’s time shortened. I found, at the time that both liberals and conservatives can indulge in anti-Semitism and once involved it is extremely hard for them to be convinced otherwise.
And now it seems I am spending a great deal of time writing about anti-Semitism in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) I believe when God gives you knowledge and experience in one area he uses it to bring about his own purposes. I will continue until I understand that God is finished with me in that area.
(1) Christian Identity adherents believe that the white races are the true Israelites and that the Jewish people are children of Satan. They believe that Satan had sex with Eve in the Garden of Eden and the the Jews came from that union. Some see this as a metaphor but most see it as literal.