Fundamentalism And The Jew: An Interpretive Essay -- By: David A. Rausch

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 23:2 (Jun 1980)
Article: Fundamentalism And The Jew: An Interpretive Essay
Author: David A. Rausch


Fundamentalism And The Jew: An Interpretive Essay

David A. Rausch*

It is no surprise to Christian scholars that the word “fundamentalist” is used mostly in a derogatory fashion today, so much so that evangelicals have entirely abandoned the term. Currently it is a code word for “narrow,” “bigoted,” “anti-intellectual,” “lacking erudite culture” and “anti-Semitic.” These views are expressed in a variety of disciplines, and one is as likely to hear the term in an overt comment in a college English, anthropology or political science class as in a history, theology or philosophy class, regardless of whether the class is in a secular or Christian liberal arts college. It is ironic that within such a liberal tradition we have actually become quite narrow in our interpretation of the fundamentalist. As one professor of history told me about a leading fundamentalist of the 1930s: “I’d believe any derogatory comment about him!”

This casual acceptance of the pejorative remark has infiltrated those scholars that touch on the focus of my research—i. e., the historic fundamentalist attitudes toward the Jewish people. I believe that fundamentalists as a whole have been historically very positive toward the Jewish people because of their dispen-sationalist-premillennialist eschatology and their “literal” (more properly called “normal”) interpretation of the Bible. This philo-Semitism is in direct contrast to their historic attitudes toward Catholicism, modernism and communism. Nevertheless the fundamentalist has often been attacked by the Christian community for his support of Zionism, while he at the same time is accused of latent anti-Semitism by the same Christian community. A new book by Timothy P. Weber epitomizes this conception. He declares:

Yet there was an ironic ambivalence in the premillennialist attitude toward Jews. On the one hand, Jews were God’s chosen people and heirs to the promises; but their rejection of Jesus as Messiah placed them in open rebellion against God and ensured their eventual rendezvous with Antichrist during the great tribulation. The glow of Israel was still in the future; in the meantime, Jews were under the power of Satan and were playing their assigned role in the decline of the present age. From that perspective, Jews deserved the scorn of premillennialists as well as ~heir sympathy. Accordingly, at times premillennialists sounded anti-Semitic. Despite their claims that anti-Semitism was a gross and unexcusable sin against God, some leaders of the movement acted like representatives of American anti-Semitism!1

Note that Weber views the Jews as a people and as a race under vicious anti-Semitic attack from fundamentalists. ...

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