Tuesday, April 24, 2012

David Fischler on "Christians of the Holy Land"

I will be leaving early in the morning for the Voices of OrthodoxWomen’s board meeting. But I want to recommend an exceptionally well written and researched piece by David Fischler on last Sunday night’s Sixty Minutes’ program “Christians of the Holy Land.” Fischler’s posting is, “Putting the Hatchet to Israel” and it is at Standing Firm. He begins:
“On Sunday evening, the CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes ran a story entitled “Christians of the Holy Land.” It purports to be an objective report on the condition of the Christian community in Israel and the Palestinian territories. It is not.

There’s a video of the segment you can watch here, or a transcript you can read here. I’d like to take a look at some of it, and show where the reporter, Bob Simon, went wrong (sometimes humorously so.) We’ll start with a funny:

Here in Jerusalem, the numbers are even bleaker than in Bethlehem.

Theophilos the third, the patriarch of the Greek Orthodox, has lived through the decline. His church, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, is the most sacred site in Christendom. He took us up to the roof. You’ve got to know a patriarch to get here.

Actually, you don’t. Pretty much any tourist on the right tour can do so. I’ve been on the roof of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and I don’t know a single patriarch.

Mitri Raheb: Christianity started here. The only thing that Palestine was able to export so successfully was Christianity.

Mitri Raheb is a Palestinian, a Christian and a Lutheran minister from Bethlehem. He runs schools, cultural centers and health clinics.

Though you would never know it from Simon’s report, Mitri Raheb is an interesting character. He is a leading exponent of “replacement theology,” or supersessionism, and claims that Christians “have inherited all of the God’s promises, including the Land of Israel.”

Fischler writes and shows how the security wall does not surround Bethlehem. He quotes a Muslim reporter about the harassment of Palestinian Christians by extreme Muslims. And he gives an analysis of the Kairos Document and how it was misrepresented in the CBS program.

All of this is excellent please read.


Anonymous said...

To be fair, most of Christianity has been “supersessionist” for most of Christian history. To quote Michael J. Vlach in “Has the Church Replaced Israel” (in which, I would note, he argues against supersessionism):

“Certainly from the time of Justin (Martyr) through most of the nineteenth century, supersessionism has been the majority position. So in this sense supersessionism has the weight of Christian history on its side”.

Augustine, Luther, and Calvin were all supersessionists in one form or other. Only with the emergence of Darbism was this questioned and, more practically, in the wake of the German holocaust, modern Protestants have downplayed supersessionism amid worries of anti-Semitism.

I point this out not to agree with any application of supersessionism that Mitri Raheb, only to suggest that supersessionism is widespread, historic, and broadly accepted. After all, if it’s not right, Peter and Paul were mistaken in suggesting Jews needed to become followers of Jesus as God’s Messiah.

Al Sandalow

Viola Larson said...

Al anti-supersessionism does not mean that Jewish people do not need Jesus as Savior, rather it means that God has not let go of the Jewish people. They are still chosen and as it says in Romans beloved for the sake of the fathers.

Rako said...

The report you quoted criticized the idea that Christians “have inherited all of the God’s promises, including the Land of Israel.”

However, I should tell you that the 60 Minutes' program was well received in Orthodox circles in America, because it focused on the difficulties of native Christians who are predominantly Orthodox.

Furthermore, the idea quoted above is part of standard Orthodox thinking. For example, one of the promises to David was about eternal life. St Paul says in Acts 2 that Christ realized and enacted this blessing. Then in Galatians, St Paul explains how Christians are adopted descendants of Christ and Abraham though Christ. Naturally then, those promises would be inherited by Christians as His descendants. That is the way in which the ancient blessings made to ancient Israelites (like resurrection in Ezekiel 37 or Hosea 5-6) are seen as blessings God gives to Christians in Orthodox thinking.


Viola Larson said...

Thank you for your comment. I do not disagree that Christians have inherited the promises of god as to salvation, eternal life, etc. But I don't think the Holy Land is included-why should it be--we are looking for a better city. And I don't think that God has forgotten the Jewish people.
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