Samford Prof: Christians Must Think Differently About Israel, Jews Re Past Atrocities
“Christians Must Think Differently About Israel, Jews in Light of Past Atrocities: Gerald McDermott.” This was the headline on a recent story on the ChristianPost.comwebsite. It was a thoughtful story on a new book by a professor at Birmingham’s Samford University.
“The majority of Christians have been wrong about Israel for most of their history, according to a leading Anglican theologian and Israel scholar,” the story began. “For many reasons, Christians ought to think differently about the land of Israel and the Jews as God’s covenant people, Gerald R. McDermott, Anglican chair at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama, explains in a new book,” the story added.
The book is called “Israel Matters: Why Christians Must Think Differently About the People and the Land,” and McDermott contends “the Jews have been horribly wronged by Christians over the millennia.” “Even before the Holocaust, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of Jews were murdered over the last 1,800 years by Christians as “Christ-killers,” McDermott observes, according to the story. He notes that at the time of the Holocaust Germany was the most Christianized nation in the world.
His observations, including a reference to more and more Christians developing a reverence for Judaism given that Jesus was Jewish, reflect the profound evolution that we at the Birmingham Jewish Federation have witnessed in Christian thinking over the past 25 years. This evolution also has been marked by genuine sincerity on the part of the Christians we’ve encountered and has been welcomed by the BJF which has built significant ties to our Christian community.
Our Federation has Christian board members, Christian volunteers, Christian staff and Christian donors. Most recently the National Christian Foundation of Alabama raised $120,000 to help us enhance security in our Jewish community. Yes, our theologies are different and at times we have to educate each other on our respective religious sensitivities. But this has made our partnership even stronger.
The article on McDermott’s book is worth reading. It gets into important issues in Christian thought when it comes to attitudes toward Jews and Israel. It is gratifying that the author has taken a forthright and positive stand on Christian-Jewish issues, frankly acknowledging the problems and catastrophes that Christianity has caused for Jews in centuries gone by.
And what makes this Christian Post story even more meaningful for those of us in Birmingham is that this book was written by someone right here in our own back yard, someone dedicated to healing these wounds.
— Richard Friedman, BJF Executive Director