A Review of “Antisemitismus und Eschatologie,” by Rudolph Pfisterer -- By: Bernard Ramm

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 118:469 (Jan 1961)
Article: A Review of “Antisemitismus und Eschatologie,” by Rudolph Pfisterer
Author: Bernard Ramm

A Review of “Antisemitismus und Eschatologie,”
by Rudolph Pfisterer

Bernard Ramm

[Bernard Ramm is Professor of Systematic Theology in the California Baptist Theological Seminary, Covina, California.]

This is one of the most unusual and rewarding articles that we have read in the general areas of eschatology and the Jewish question. It is surprising that such an article appeared in a major continental theological journal, and its many theses are even more surprising. The general thesis is that the church in her expectation of the return of Christ, and that Israel in their return (Heimkehr—”return home,” the German word Pfisterer uses throught the article) to their Messiah, are bound together in a common eschatological hope. Seldom has an author achieved such a balance in discussing a very controversial matter as Pfisterer has in this one. From the character of his citations much of what he has to say is derived from F. Lovsky’s Antisémitisme et Mystre dIsrael (Paris, 1955).

Pfisterer claims that there are two positions which are not true to the Biblical teaching about Israel: (1) any view of the election of Israel which implies that Israel is superior in any regard to other peoples is wrong. Israel’s election was an election of the pure grace of God. Furthermore, it was an election for all nations and not intended for any selfish enjoyment of Israel. Any Zionism which converts the election of Israel into an election of worth or superiority or unshared privilege is contrary to Scripture. (2) Any view of the church which views the church as totally replacing Israel, and thus ending any future plans of God for the Jews, is contrary to Scripture. This would constitute a case of unjustified spiritualizing as well as a confression that God had not truly accomplished in Israel what He had intended, namely to bring this people to Himself through faith in their Messiah.

Another remarkable feature of Pfisterer’s essay is his discussion of implicit (unbewussten) antisemitism. The crude antisemitism of the streets and the cruel antisemitism of the political persecutors is well known. But Pfisterer maintains

Editor’s Note: The article reviewed here by Dr. Ramm on “Antisemitismus und Eschatologie” was published in the June, 1959, issue of Evangelische Theologie, pages 266–88.

that many theologians (and Christians) are implicitly antisemitic when in principle they deny the reality and the meaning of Israel’s election. For example, to say that the cross ended all the promises made to Israel is implicit antisemitism; or to say that the church simply displaces Israel is lik...

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