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History often repeats itself; sometimes it only rhymes; but rarely does it go into reverse
By Henry H. Bucher, Jr., Faculty Emeritus, Austin College
Aug 16, 2019
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In mid-August two years ago (2017), Charlottesville, Virginia shocked our nation. Hundreds of young, white nationalist men marched in lock step with torches and shouted repeatedly and angrily: “Jews will not replace us!” 

History seems to have reversed itself in the area of Jewish/Christian relations. I know of no case where Christians have openly marched while shouting: “We have replaced Jews;” but history is replete with literature over the last two thousand years discussing and debating “replacement theology”—the idea that Christianity supersedes Judaism. This theology is also called “supersessionism,”—affirming that Christians have replaced Jews who have not affirmed that Jesus was “the Christ/Messiah.” 

When all the first Christians were only Jewish, a Gentile (non-Jew) had to convert to Judaism first to become a Christian; but the Apostle Paul convinced his fellow Jewish converts to the new faith that the Church was a “spiritual Israel” open to all—including women! His metaphor of one’s “heart being circumcised” opened Christianity to being gender and ethnic inclusive. 

From the beginning of Christianity, extensive literature exhibits a theology that affirms directly or indirectly that Christians have replaced Jews. Such teachings helped to engender and support the Nazi Holocaust of Jews during World War Two. This Judeo-phobia was called anti-Semitism because Europe’s main experience with people who spoke a Semitic language was with Jews. 

One reason why the majority of Christian denominations have rejected “replacement theology” is rethinking what Jesus meant in affirming that he came to “fulfill the Law and the Prophets”—not to abolish them! 

The Holocaust was another reason why most Christian branches (including Roman Catholic and Reformed) have clarified their positions into a “Covenant Theology” (or Dual Covenant Theology) that not only welcomes Judaism in its present form; but it also affirms that historic Judaism is the trunk of today’s multi-branched Abrahamic tree. 

The primary reason for the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville was to protect the statue of Robert E. Lee and legitimize the Confederacy. Their  Judeo-phobic chant reconfirms the historic connection between their Judeo-phobia and  white supremacy--certainly related to the enormous and positive role the Jewish community in the USA played in the long and continuing struggle for civil rights.

Henry H. Bucher, Jr., Ph.D.
Associate Professor Emeritus of Humanities (1985–2019)
Chaplain Emeritus (1985-2004)