PROTESTANTS


PROTESTANTS
-Up to World War II Seen in perspective, the attitude of the Protestant movement toward Jews and Judaism was ambivalent and unstable. For the earlier periods see luther , calvin , and reformation . By the beginning of the 18th century the Protestant churches had amassed a vast amount of material on the Jews and on Judaism. The traditional hostility of more than a millennium was fully recorded in books such as Entdecktes Judentum (1700), an immense storehouse of learning and abuse collected by Johannes andreas eisenmenger . The Jewish response in polemic and apologetic was equally comprehensively dealt with in Tela Ignea Satanae (1681) by johann christoph wagenseil . Of more interest was the appearance of material of a different kind – material which for the first time described Jews, Jewish customs, and Judaism sympathetically and objectively, and without either a controversial or theological bias. In the historical field the most important work was L'Histoire et la Religion des Juifs depuis Jésus Christ jusqu'à Présent, by the Huguenot diplomat and scholar jacques basnage . It appeared at the beginning of the century, and was immediately plagiarized by the Jesuits, who altered or omitted all his references to Christian responsibility for Jewish sufferings. The increase of travel led to an interest in Jewish customs, social, domestic, and religious; and books describing these customs in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East became part of the stock of any well-equipped library. But the most attractive field for Protestant study was rabbinic, and almost every university claimed a chair in Hebrew. Leiden and Franeker in Holland, Cambridge in England, and Jena in Germany were among the most distinguished. While the Christian Hebraists wrote much that was of little value, their studies of the Talmud removed the atmosphere of mystery and even blasphemy which medieval scholars had imparted to it. john selden in De Synedriis et Praefecturis Juridicis veterum Hebraeorum (1650–55) laid the foundation for the serious study of Jewish legal procedures. At the beginning of the 18th century, wilhelm surenhuys of Amsterdam, in his introduction to a Latin edition of the Mishnah and in other writings, was the first to speak of rabbinic Judaism as the natural and proper development of the Judaism of the Bible. Side by side with this interest in rabbinic Judaism was the concern of some of the Protestant sects with biblical Judaism as an ideal expression of natural law. john toland in Nazarenus (1718) made the first study of Judaic Christianity as something distinct from its gentile brother, and more valuable in that it retained the laws of Moses. But as the century progressed, this attitude of the free-thinking sects changed to violent hostility which saw "Jehovah" as the model of all tyranny. Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694–1768) subjected the Scriptures to so detailed a critical examination that he can be regarded as the father of much of 19th-century biblical scholarship. -Missionary Activities While these various developments helped to maintain a general interest in the Jews, it was not until the very end of the century that any organized approach to them evolved. Protestantism had been slow to develop missions in any field, and still slower to create organized missions to Jews. But individual authors, some of them converts from Judaism, exhorted the Jews to recognize the truth of Christianity. Traditionally such writings were filled with mockery and hatred; but in the 18th century, although there was a good deal of writing in the old style, a new approach of friendliness and respect appeared.   This contradiction was also manifested in the 18th-century view as to the general status of the Jews in a Christian society. In 1753 a bill was passed through the British Parliament to facilitate the naturalization of Jews. It provoked an immense flow of pamphleteering; of those pamphlets written from a Christian standpoint some were hostile and others favorable. When full political emancipation became an issue a hundred years later, the archbishop of Canterbury opposed it, while the archbishop of Dublin supported it. Even with individual Jewish converts to Protestantism the same contradiction was apparent, and in many cases they were received with scarcely veiled hostility and suspicion. The leading figure in the emergence of organized Protestant missionary activity was lewis way . He had unexpectedly inherited an enormous fortune upon the sole condition that he used it for the glory of God; and events led him to fulfill this condition in work for the conversion of the Jews. In 1809 the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews had been founded, largely through the enthusiasm of a German Jewish convert, J.S.C.F. Frey. Way wished to increase his understanding of the whole question, and traveled extensively. He was horrified by the treatment that Jews received in Christian countries, and came to the conclusion that full emancipation was the fundamental preliminary to a missionary approach. He visited St. Petersburg and so impressed Czar Alexander I that he was invited to the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle by the emperor, and succeeded in getting a resolution passed commending the idea of emancipation to the governments of Europe. Emancipation came slowly, but Way's influence brought into existence throughout the Protestant world societies which devoted themselves to sending missions to the Jews. Jewish life at that period was at a low ebb; and while actual conversions were few, many communities in eastern Europe, as well as in Palestine and North Africa, profited from the schools and hospitals established by the missions. In 1910 an International Missionary Council was formed, and it included a special committee on missions to the Jews. (In 1961 the Council was incorporated in the World Council of Churches; and under its new name of "Committee on the Church and the Jewish People" it to some extent disavowed its proselytizing activity.) -Converts' Participation in Academic Life Alfred Edersheim (1825–1889), the son of Viennese Jewish parents, first served the Scottish mission in Jassy, and then had a distinguished academic career at Edinburgh and Oxford. His Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah was the first scholarly picture of the Jewish environment of the Gospels. Even more distinguished was the son of a Jewish peddler of Goettingen by the name of Emmanuel Mendel, who on his baptism took the name of Neander (new man). As August johann wilhelm neander , he became a prolific historian of the Christian Church and professor of theology at Berlin University. More interesting than individual scholars was the group of distinguished converts who published a short book absolutely denying the authenticity of the ritual murder accusation at the time of the Damascus Affair in 1840. The accusation had first originated with a converted Jew of Cambridge in the 12th century, but this was the first time that a group of Jewish converts turned to defend their old religion. The most valuable contribution to the scholarly work of the missions was made by social institutes for Judaic studies (1650 in Strasbourg and 1702 in Halle) and chiefly by franz delitzsch , who wrote extensively on post-biblical Judaism; in 1880 the Institutum Delitzschianum was founded in his honor, and it continued to produce scholarly works until the time of the Nazis. While the leadership in missionary work was largely British, in the field of scholarship it was unquestionably German. Freedom of criticism was inevitably more possible in the Protestant than in the Catholic universities, and from the end of the 18th century onward Protestant German scholars made great contributions to the understanding of the literature, history, and religion of the people of Israel. The list begins with johann gottfried eichhorn , professor at Jena, and continues down to the present day. Among many famous names those of Karl heinrich graf and julius wellhausen are conspicuous; and their theory of how different sources were combined in the Pentateuch held the field until the emergence of the contemporary "formcritical school" pioneered by herman gunkel . While German scholarship often tends to extremes which others find unnecessary and unacceptable, it has immensely enriched knowledge by its research, even for those who reject its conclusions. At the very end of the 19th century, the work of selden and Surenhuys in recognizing and defining the spiritual validity of Judaism was taken up by two scholars – George foot moore in America, who published his two volumes on Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era in 1927, and R. Travers Herford , an English Unitarian, whose first work Pharisaism appeared in 1912, and was, during the next 30 years, followed by a whole series on talmudic Judaism. -Jewish Return to the Land of Israel The 19th century witnessed a new understanding between Jews and Protestants in another field. As far back as the millenarians of the 17th century there had been a fluctuating interest in a Jewish return. John Toland predicted that this would lead to the creation of a society of unparalleled power and prosperity. Many other 18th-and 19th-century writers did so too. In 1839, under the influence of the deeply religious Earl of Shaftesbury, Lord Palmerston set up a British consulate in Jerusalem with a special mandate to protect Jews who had no other source of defense. From then onward until the Balfour Declaration in 1917, there were always some members and even whole sects of the Protestant churches who, motivated partly by eschatological beliefs, gave their support to Zionism. To all this varied work there was a reverse side. The Protestant Church in Germany produced powerful support for the new antisemitism in the Christian Socialist Workingmen's Union, founded and led by a court chaplain, adolf stoecker ;   and its failure to speak and act against Nazi antisemitism was a lasting disgrace. (James W. Parkes) -From 1945 (For the 1939–45 period, see Holocaust and the christian churches .) A new era in the development of relations between Protestantism and the Jewish people opened in 1945, and had four major causes: (1) the influence of the Holocaust, which led many Christians to question the responsibility of the Church's "teaching of contempt" (jules isaac 's phrase) which had nurtured antisemitism; (2) the establishment of the State of Israel; (3) the general reconciliation between different churches and religions and the rise of ecumenism; and (4) the consolidation of pluralism in Western culture. -Declarations Against Antisemitism The foundations of the new attitude toward Jews were laid at the International Emergency Conference of Jews and Christians which was held in 1947 in Seelisberg in Switzerland and was attended by 64 theologians, educators, and thinkers, Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant. They deliberated on methods of fighting antisemitism through educational, political, religious, and social channels. At the conclusion of the conference, the "Ten Points of Seelisberg" were drafted and adopted. These were principles to assist the Churches "to show their members how to prevent any animosity toward the Jews which might arise from false, inadequate or mistaken presentations or conceptions of the teaching and preaching of the Christian doctrine, and how on the other hand to promote brotherly love toward the sorely-tried people of the old covenant." The conference thus established the lines for the new process of reconciliation between Jews and Christians, which was to be developed in two spheres: the struggle against antisemitism and a new form of dialogue. At its foundation conference in Amsterdam in 1948, the World Council of Churches (WCC; the roof organization of the majority of larger Protestant, Anglican, and Orthodox churches) moved a resolution strongly condemning antisemitism. The organization again passed this resolution at its third world conference in New Delhi (1961), with the additional recommendation that Christians should repudiate the idea of the collective guilt of the Jews for the crucifixion of Jesus. However, the texts of both these resolutions are ambiguous, because there is an evangelist-missionary undertone in their attitude toward the Jews. In 1964, further declarations condemning antisemitism were issued by several important Protestant organizations: the roof organization of the Protestant churches in the United States (National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States) passed a "Resolution on Jewish-Christian Relations," calling among other things for the fostering of a dialogue between Jews and Christians. The Lutheran World Federation also made a declaration, following an international consultation in Denmark on the subject of "The Church and the Jews"; and the House of Bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States drafted a statement of condemnation of antisemitism in extremely strong terms. The Lutheran and Episcopalian declarations also contained expressions of regret for past persecutions of the Jews fomented by the churches. -Liquidation of Theological Antisemitism As seen above, the Churches recognized that some of the roots of antisemitism were implanted in their religious literature and that it was their duty to uproot them. In a number of countries, a fundamental examination of religious literature, teaching manuals of the Church, prayers, and so on was carried out in order to assist the Church in purifying this material from all versions or commentaries which were liable to create hatred of Judaism or prejudices about it. The Protestants' most comprehensive research was carried out at Yale University under the direction of the sociologist B.E. Olson, who published his findings in Faith and Prejudice (1963). This work brings to light the various aspects of the "teaching of contempt" in the curriculum of the Fundamentalist, the Conservative, the Neo-Orthodox, and the Liberal Protestants in the United States. Further research into the religious roots of antisemitism, especially within Protestantism, was carried out by the sociologists Ch. Y. Glock and R. Stark of the University of California at Berkeley and published in their work Christian Beliefs and Anti-semitism (1966). -Church Committees for the Fostering of Relations with the Jews The interest shown by Protestantism in a dialogue with the Jews led to the establishment of new Church bodies for this specific purpose. A special committee to the Jews known as the Committee on the Christian Approach already existed in 1932 as part of the International Missionary Council (IMC; the world roof organization of Protestant missions). In 1961, the IMC amalgamated with the WCC, and the committee for Jews became an integral part of the WCC, its name being changed to CCJP (Committee on the Church and the Jewish People). This committee, which considers that its aim is "to further the Church witness to the Jewish people by study and other appropriate means," has in fact principally taken upon itself the duty "to study the Jewish world in its various aspects in order to develop an effective program to combat antisemitism and arouse Christian responsibility toward the Jews." The CCJP has convened a number of international conferences (usually held at the Ecumenical Institute of the WCC at the Château de Bossey, near Geneva) which have been attended by theologians of many countries, in order to lay down a new theological standpoint toward Judaism and the State of Israel. However, to the regret of the promoters, the recommendations agreed upon at the end of these deliberations have never become official decisions of the WCC and are therefore not binding upon the member Churches. It should also be noted that Protestant institutions have always shown reticence in adopting a clear theological stance toward the existence of the State of Israel. The declaration made in 1956 by the WCC is characteristic. It states: "We cannot say a plain yes, nor can we say a plain no, because the Church does not stand for a vague cosmopolitanism." Special committees for the fostering of relations with the Jews have also been formed within the Protestant churches of a number of Western European countries, independently of the framework of the world organization. An outstanding example is that of the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands, which have concentrated their efforts for the strengthening of contacts with the Jews by means of a joint coordination committee ("Interchurch Contact for Israel"), which publishes its own bulletin. The Reformed Church of the Netherlands was also the first to mold a more positive theological approach to Judaism, in one of its publications, Israel and the Church (1960), and to advocate the adoption of a dialogue in place of missionary activities. The Evangelical Church of Germany has also worked intensively toward a Jewish-Protestant reconciliation. During the national conferences of the Church (Evangelische Kirchentage) in 1961 (Berlin), 1963 (Dortmund), and 1965 (Cologne), study days were dedicated to the "Jewish-Christian problem" under the direction of joint working groups of Protestant delegates and specially invited Jews. The lectures and discussions were published by the German Church in two volumes which contain extensive documentation and an exhaustive bibliography on the Protestants' attitude toward the Jews since 1945 (Der ungekuendigte Bund, 1962; Das gespaltene Gottesvolk, 1966). In comparison with the situation in Europe, organized Protestantism in the United States and Canada has shown less interest and initiative in furthering relations with the Jews; and activity in this field is led by a small group of "concerned Christians." Although their numbers include theologians and members of the clergy, they are not generally representative of the churches (see below). -The Protestant Mission Most of the Protestant Churches view the "Christian witness to the Jewish people" as a fundamental religious obligation. However, as a result of a recommendation of the WCC that it was preferable for the mission to the Jews to engage in its activity "as a normal part of parish work, rather than by special agencies, and with avoidance of all 'unworthy pressures'" the majority of the member Churches, especially those of the United States, decided to abolish all organizations devoted especially to the evangelization of the Jews. The Lutheran, Reformed, and Anglican Churches of Europe continue to maintain separate missionary agencies in many countries, including Israel, for activities among the Jews. Even within these Churches, however, there is growing opposition to the antiquated methods of conversion, although Evangelicals and Fundamentalist Protestants still continue to attach the utmost importance to the evangelization of the Jews. These denominations, as well as many organizations of converted Jews (Hebrew Christians), carry on intensive and sometimes even aggressive missionary activities. In recent years a new conception has been evolved repudiating the theological value of the missions; but it has been expressed by only a limited number of Protestant thinkers, the most notable among them being reinhold niebuhr , roy eckhardt , and james parkes . These theologians believe in the Jewish religion's right to independent existence as a road to Redemption, and they deny validity to all forms of evangelization of the Jews. -Development of the Interfaith Movement The dialogue between Jews and Christians is also conducted independently of the organizational framework of the churches. In the British Isles, most European countries, in the United States, Canada, and Australia, as well as in Israel, councils composed of Jews and Christians have been formed for the advancement of understanding and for holding a dialogue between the two religions. These bodies function in many countries under various names and employ different methods. Some of them publish bulletins dedicated to the aims of their activities. In 1961, a roof organization of all these councils, the International Consultative Committee of Organizations for Christian-Jewish Cooperation, was established. A number of Jewish organizations, such as the World Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, and the American Jewish Committee, have created special departments for the advancement of interfaith activities. Reform and Conservative Jews, especially in the United States, attach especial importance to the achievement of a deeper understanding between Jews and Christians and have set up their own organizational frameworks to this end. Since 1950, there has been a growing tendency among the promoters of interfaith contacts to change the character of their interreligious relationships and to translate such expressions as "good will" and "brotherhood" into an honest and fruitful dialogue adjusted to the requirements of a pluralistic society. Upon the initiative of interested Jews and Christians, interfaith dialogues have been held in academic and theological institutions, with important religious and intellectual personalities of both faiths taking part. As a result of these numerous encounters, there has emerged a ramified literature on the question of dialogues in general and Jewish-Protestant relations in particular. Within Orthodox Judaism there are many reservations toward the movement, considered on principle unacceptable. Some other Jewish circles have also expressed their suspicions that these dialogues may become a means of disguised missionary activity on the part of some churches. Moreover, despite the extensive activity carried on by the promoters of the dialogues, the interfaith movement has only succeeded in winning over to its cause a limited elite among Protestant believers. This was no doubt one of the reasons for the crisis in Jewish-Protestant relations, which broke   out in 1967 after the Six-Day War. The silence of the Churches that had preceded the war and the unfriendly, even hostile, declarations of the Protestant leadership concerning Israel and her postwar policies proved that the dialogue, as conducted previously, was a disappointment. It also became evident that Christians who had participated in these dialogues, due to their ignorance of the true essence of Judaism as a synthesis of a people and a religion bound to the Land of Israel and the Holy City of Jerusalem, had no understanding of the way in which Diaspora Jews identified themselves with the Jews of Israel. Those Jews and Christians who despite all these setbacks insisted on continuing the dialogue arrived at the conclusion, expounded by Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum (d. 1992), one of the leaders of interfaith in the United States, that "no future dialogue will take place without Jews insisting upon the confrontation on the part of Christians on the profound historical, religious, and liturgical meaning of the Land of Israel and of Jerusalem to the Jewish people." (Yona Malachy) -In the U.S. Throughout its history the vast but decreasing majority of the inhabitants of the United States was classed as Protestant (about 98% in 1776 and 66% in 1965), in contrast to the very small Jewish minority. Despite a strong evangelical and missionary outlook in American Protestantism, the two groups have maintained a relatively harmonious relationship. The reasons for this are embedded in the social and religious history of the U.S. Since U.S. independence (1776) was achieved in an age of religious laxity and suspicion of ecclesiastical authority, Jews were from the very first accorded a measure of hospitality. Constitutional guarantees of religious freedom and the separation of church and state assured U.S. Jews a legal security unprecedented in Western history. Concentrated in urban areas, Jews also possessed a regional influence disproportionate to their actual numbers. Creedal and denominational diversity within U.S. Protestantism also meant that this majority group could rarely approach U.S. Jewry, and Catholics, with a single voice. Cognizant of their organizational weaknesses, spokespersons for U.S. Protestantism periodically made great efforts to strengthen and unify their position. Prior to the 20th century many Protestants believed that the U.S. was "chosen" to be a Christian light to the world; and because of the lack of official public support they were determined to lean upon their own resources to Christianize the U.S. As long as Protestant efforts were aimed to "convert" the West, U.S. Jews, sparse in that region, were not seriously touched by their efforts. After 1870, however, when Protestant revivalism turned toward the more Eastern cities, its impact was felt more sharply. Protestant Christianizing programs included street corner preaching, distribution of Bibles and Christian tracts, efforts to inject Christian teaching into public education, the erection of Young Men's and Young Women's Christian Associations, institutional churches, and Christian-oriented settlement houses. In part to counteract the possible influence of these efforts, U.S. Jews created their own settlement houses, YMHAs, Hebrew schools, and Jewish centers. Increasingly, U.S. Protestants began to associate social reform with the conversion of the U.S. The years 1880–1914 witnessed the most intense involvement of the Church in social and economic problems. During these years Protestantism also adopted a new theological outlook, which emphasized the goodness of man rather than his depravity, a new view of God as an Immanent Deity directly involved in human history, and stressed the moral and ethical aspects of theology. A rising interest in comparative religious studies and Higher Criticism motivated Protestants to examine more critically ancient Jewish life. This period, referred to as the Social Gospel, elicited considerable interest, especially among Reform Jews, who believed that the Jewish tradition shared many similar social and theological beliefs. An ecumenical outlook, which first manifested itself in the World Parliament of Religions, held in Chicago in 1893, facilitated a dialogue between Protestants and Jews. During the early years of the 20th century some liberal spokesmen of both camps exchanged pulpits and joined in worship. Nevertheless, despite such outbursts of friendship, an undercurrent of suspicion persisted within both religious groups; and even the most liberal Protestants, be they Unitarians, Transcendentalists, Social Gospelers, or mid-Twentieth Century ecumenicists, continued to view Judaism as merely a bridge from paganism to Christianity. Recent decades have witnessed the creation of new Protestant-Jewish bonds which, however, were periodically severed. Both have joined in opposing Communism, the out-spoken enemy of all organized religions. Involvement in the 1960s in the Civil Rights movement and in the Vietnam debate forged ties between rabbis and ministers of all denominations. Among the leading voices of Protestantism, Paul Tillich and Reinhold Niebuhr evinced an abiding respect for Judaism. Yet Protestant silence in the face of Nazi destruction of Europe's Jews was disturbing. Antisemitism persists among U.S. Protestants and continues to be disseminated in religious literature. As mentioned above, the response of Protestants to the Six-Day War was disappointing and disillusioning to U.S. Jews and seriously threatened the dialogue between the two faiths. On the theological level, Jews and Protestants have also parted roads. The "God-is-dead" theological movement among liberal Protestants, a group which in the past significantly influenced Jewish thought-to secularize theology, was completely rejected by virtually all Jewish religious thinkers. (Egal Feldman) -Protestants and Israel The World Council of Churches, a fellowship of mainstream Protestant churches, was established in 1948, a few weeks after the founding of the State of Israel. In 2005 the coalition numbered 347 denominations in 120 countries. However, the member bodies of the WCC have experienced a significant   decline in numbers the last half of the 20th century. As of the early 21st century, the constituencies of Evangelical and Pentecostal churches throughout the world comprise the majority of Protestant churchgoers. Despite its gradually diminishing size, the WCC, headquartered in Geneva, continues to exert a strong influence in political and social justice issues throughout the world. In particular, since early 2005, the WCC has recommended divestment from Israel and opposition to the building of the security wall. A small group of Protestants, most notably the Presbyterians Concerned for Jewish and Christian Relations and the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel, have opposed this stance, together with evangelical denominations who, on the whole, do not see these steps as an appropriate church response to the quest for stability in Israel-Palestinian relations. The WCC in addition has called for a return to pre-1967 borders and for an unlimited right of return for "Palestinian refugees." Despite Israel's efforts, both in resuming serious negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and the withdrawal from Gaza, there has been no significant change in the WCC's position. (Claire Pfann (2nd ed.) -BIBLIOGRAPHY: J.F.A. de Le Roi, Geschichte der evangelischen Judenmission, 2 vols. (1899); H.J. Schonfield, History of Jewish Christianity (1936); D. Mc-Dougall, In Search of Israel (1941); J. Parkes, Judaism and Christianity (1948); idem, Anti-semitism (1963); P.W. Massing, Rehearsal for Destruction (1949, 1967); G. Hedenquist (ed.), Church and the Jewish People (1954); S.S. Schwarzschild, in: Judaism, 13 (1964), 259–73; Conservative Judaism, 19 (1964/65), no. 3, 1–56; G.A.F. Knight (ed.), Jews and Christians (1965); JBR, 33 (1965), 101–65; H.J. Schoeps, The Jewish-Christian Argument (1965); P. Schneider, Sweeterthan Honey (1966); U. Tal, Yahadut ve-Naẓerut ba-Reich ha-Sheni (1970); C.Y. Glock and R. Stark, Christian Beliefs and Antisemitism (1966); A.R. Eckardt, Elder and Younger Brothers (1967); A. Gilbert, in: Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 4 (1967), 280–9; M.H. Vogel, ibid., 684–99; Y. Malachy, in: WLB, 23 (1969); Lutheran Quarterly, 20 (1968), 219–89; F. Heer, God's First Love (1970). IN THE U.S.: A.P. Stokes, Church and State in the United States, 3 (1950); B.H. Levy, Reform Judaism in America (1933); C.H. Hopkins, The Rise of the Social Gospel in American Protestantism, 1865–1915 (1940); E. Feldman, in: Journal of Church and State, 9 (1967), 180–9; M. Davis, in: L. Finkelstein (ed.), The Jews, 1 (1949), 488–587, incl. bibl.; W. Herberg, Protestant, Catholic, Jew (1955); W.S. Hudson, American Protestantism (1961); J. Hershcopf Banki, Christian Reactions to the Middle East Crisis (1968); B.E. Olson, Faith and Prejudice (1962). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: P.C.Merkley, Christian Attitudes toward the State of Israel (2001).

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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