Lesson 4: Woke Christianity and the Jews

Woke definitionLet’s see where we are so far. My goal is to provide some insight since woke is increasingly being used by politicians as a derogatory label for their opponents. It’s hard to nail down the term’s core meaning because they are most interested in its emotional connotations, especially those conveying disloyalty.

I am suggesting the original positive meaning can be tied to Christianity’s prophetic function which sees acknowledging present and past errors as essential for building a better future. It reveals sins so they can be forgiven and corrected. And I am hoping to make the point by applying “woke” to the church herself.

Last week, I suggested we should be woke as to how the Church has handled and mishandled racism. Politicians began appropriating woke for their own purposes during the controversy around Black Lives Matter and Critical Race Theory. They realize, or at least sense, that using the term in any context still carries overtones of race.

Examining the church’s treatment of Jewish people is almost an addendum to her dealing with Black Americans. Again, you can pick and choose among biblical passages to support your position. Again, you have to confront some pretty horrible past actions.

No matter why you think Christians did not remain a Jewish sect in the first century, you have to have some explanation of for our present relationship. Some New Testament texts describe God adopting Gentile Christians into Abraham’s chosen family. Those who accept this reading generally describe present-day Christians and Jews as relating to God through two separate covenants.

Other texts infer the Jewish nation killed Jesus and lost her special relationship. The church has replaced the Jewish nation as the chosen people. The new covenant negates the old. Those who go this way think the great commission includes bringing Jews to baptism.

The latter reading has led to some awful historical episodes in which Christians used torture and the threat of execution to force Jews to confess Christ. Of course, this culminated in the Holocaust when the Nazis employed genocide as a final solution. Some opposing woke go so far as denying that the camps ever existed.

The question of reparations is often raised in the woke controversy. Those who claim it is unrealistic to consider any kind of compensation for those whose families suffered under slavery should remember that is pretty much what we did with the Jews. The nation of Israel was established as reparation for our treatment. In this case, it was easy to do because the Palestinians paid the price.

Woke Christianity in our day critiques the church’s treatment of Israel. Some support any of her actions believing the Bible records God’s promise that the land belongs forever to Abraham’s children. Others hold her to account just as they do themselves.

Maintaining a present, loving relationship with the Jewish people includes remembering our past sins. We can be sure that the Jewish people remember just as much as Black Americans do. The future is built on honest correction.

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