Institutionalised anti-Semitism

The apostle Paul was obliged to tackle Gentile elitism head on. Were he with us on earth today he would probably find the same need to do so within the Christian church.

first published 04/11/2010
by Norman Skinner

Husband and  wifeMy Christian life reads like an indictment of churches, but it’s not. It’s a life’s rich experience, and where that experience has led. There’s no headlines or drama – just an ever present loving God.

Born into my grand parents home in Norfolk in the East of England, I was raised in a God fearing home by those grandparents and my mother. The knowledge of the Presence of God was with me from those earliest days.  My father was in the merchant marine and seldom came home.

Aged eight, father did come home from the sea and we moved to Central London. Three years in Primary school, where friends were Czechs, Poles and displaced Slavic Jews, led to public school for six years. A lad from a small village in a London Public school, and that with a strong West Norfolk accent, was a fish out of water. Those years were spent in incredible wealth and privilege, yet all I craved was a simple village life. But I received an education second to none.

A choirboy from nine years old, later an altar boy, I was left no choice but conform. A choirboy’s pay was good, so there were some compensations.

Billy Graham at Earls Court

In June 1967, aged sixteen, I felt utterly compelled to go to Billy Graham’s Earls Court Crusade. I abandoned my girlfriend, with whom I had high hopes of losing my virginity that evening, but she never returned to me.

That Saturday evening I was born again. There’s no other way to describe it. No bright lights, thunder or lightning from the Heavens – I just knew! It was a living confirmation of things I had always known.

but then...

Spiritually drifting until I was 33, a farm worker living in Swaledale, North Yorkshire, I was gravely ill. Doctors gave up on my spinal problems, saying the best I could hope for was a wheelchair. My Bible was my only comfort. I learned again to pray. I was heard.

The aging Steward of our village Methodist Chapel, a fine Christian man, refused to give up. He took me to see three osteopaths. I had to sign a disclaimer before they would touch me! Yet twenty-five visits later, I was walking, albeit with sticks, and months later driving again.

I love those Wesleyan Methodists. It was a grand time of fellowship, prayer, and seeing prayer answered. Oh that fellowship was so sweet. The Lord was gracious to me again. I received the Baptism of the Spirit, which isolated me from my Methodist brothers and sisters, but I remained in fellowship for a long time.

I was led towards Pentecostalism as a natural home, began a very serious study of the Bible, and was invited to become a Bible teacher. That group of churches had plans for a young charismatic Bible Teacher, yet I had no word on this.

A later discovery

I discovered at 38 years old I am Jewish, Polish Jewish origins, and therefore a Jewish Christian. I love this revelation; I drink it in, absorb it to my very being and still thank God for it.

I think I ventured into every synagogue in Leeds, and there are a few! I found a spiritual home in both an Etz Chaim and a very small Messianic Jewish Fellowship. Here I met a Christian brother who wanted to bring Jews out of Russia. A Word of Knowledge for him made it possible and on a grand scale. We never met again, nor spoke; yet I have been involved in that movement for years.

My Jewish heritage did not sit well with my Pentecostal brethren, among whom I remained a Bible Teacher. No amount of repeating, ‘Jesus was a Jew and still is!’ helped my case.

"My Jewish heritage did not sit well with my Pentecostal brethren"

At that time the Shepherding (Bradford) Movement took a serious hold of my local church and eventually I received an ultimatum: accept female leadership in the church (feminism) and the Shepherding Movement or get out! I was all but asked to publicly renounce my Jewish heritage.

Utterly confused, torn, I recalled Paul, ‘do not neglect to fellowship with the brethren'. That made matters worse. Walking alone in Swaledale, near where I lived, a scripture came into mind: Come out from among them, for what fellowship has light with darkness. The conviction that came with it was so certain I have followed it since. Embodied in that was the conviction I should keep quiet about my heritage, until prompted from on high.

In those same days, in another place far away, a Christian lady of my age received the same call out. She was a life-time Salvation Army person, an officer, dedicated to Jesus.

An embarrassment to church people

A Jew is an embarrassment to so many church people. Some fawn and tell me they’ve a menorah at home, or they’re planning to visit Israel some time. Others cross themselves in some superstitious ritual redolent of the Middle Ages. A vicar said, ‘don’t tell them you’re a Yid old boy, won’t go well for you, or me.’ It’s difficult to believe the wall of separation was removed by Jesus death and resurrection. But I know it was. Yet, if church people don’t know a Jew is not different to them in most respects, what are they going to do with Jesus? He’s still a Jew!

My first wife divorced me. On her petition, very many complaints were about my being born a Jew and how it embarrassed her socially. One was about my driving and the tenth, for amusement, was because I snore!!! I have to say, my first wife is a full blooded Jewess who perfectly conceals her heritage. A divorce was granted.

Years later I met another lady through the internet, not something I would recommend unless the Holy Spirit is in it. Both divorced Christians, I learned she had received a call out too, from the Salvation Army.

Eventually, we wanted to marry.

Abuse from clergyman

We tried to marry in the Church of England, my home church, but a phone call from what is now a Canon at a major cathedral, well, it's was an unrepeatable stream of anti Jewish invective, mixed with sleights against my now wife's character and morals for wanting to marry a filthy Jew. How that hurt! My wife still doesn’t know about that.

We cast about for other places – many would marry divorcees, but none a Jew to a Christian. No one heard the words, ‘I’m a Jewish Christian.’

My second wife and I were eventually married in the Salvation Army, but none of her former fellow officers or friends would attend because I'm Jewish. The hate emails we received take some believing. Yet the then Captain was so open hearted, such Christ-like understanding of us, he broke all the Army rules; allowed me to wear my kippur and tallith, and to intone a Hebrew prayer. He married us! I love that man! He’s such an example to me.

That was twelve years ago.

Unchurched but not unloved

Now, we have no strong church affiliations, yet our closest friends are clergy with whom we have fine fellowship and with those seeking Jesus. We are but a small part of a growing world wide Diaspora; a movement of Christians away from the orthodox church. Over these years we have met many others in the Christian Diaspora, and we are in touch with many of them.

As the institutional church has developed this last twenty years, we now doubt there would be a place for either of us. Yet our spiritual lives are vibrant and rewarding, and our prayer life continues. I no longer teach the Bible, but have maintained my studies, now in Greek and Hebrew. In fact, we are praying about building a website for fellow Diaspora Christians, and anyone else, with Bible teaching material from many reasonable sources.

As I sit here, again I cry for the church, and have done so many times. But it's worth remembering, the Body of Christ is not the church, but the church contains some of the Body.

We live quietly and work quietly and consistently with the more temperate Christian Zionist groups and others; a thing I've done for twenty years. The extent of my involvement is neither here nor there. We are involved in some pastoral work here. "I find myself in a no man's land between Gentile church and Messianic congregations."

Forgiveness brings healing

Twenty years ago I met a Jewish Christian rabbi at an Etz Chaim synagogue in Leeds. Rabbi David, the leader of a small Messianic congregation in that city and a Kossoff look alike. As a boy, a Polish Jewish boy, he had been consigned to Auschwitz where he spent four of his young years. I asked him about forgiveness - this man would know the meaning of the word. His reply was, unforgiving hurts me, and those around me. Once I forgave my captors, I began to live. How the light of Christ shone from him that evening! Unmistakable. Wonderful!

I learned about forgiveness from Rabbi David, I learned to practice it at the place he directed me - the foot of the Cross. They nailed the Lamb of God to a cross.

Fulfilment and joy

Mine is not a hard luck story, quite the reverse. It's a story of personal fulfilment and joy. David wrote, before I was afflicted I never heard you ... and that's the bottom line of my life! I praise God for the churches, and all those other people, because they made of me a living believer in a living Christ Jesus. I pray everyone in a fellowship could know as they are known.

I do not encourage anyone to leave a fellowship – stay if you can, but don’t compromise your knowledge of God. It requires a high degree of security in Jesus to live without the props of fellowship. The only reason my wife and I have achieved this is by His grace, and none other. Jesus said to Paul, my grace is sufficient for you. It’s more than sufficient for us.

I add a prayer taken from Matthew, Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.' John Wesley's sustaining prayer.

Footnote: Norman Skinner is a psuedonym but is known to the Editor and has kindly supplied his testimony. It contains many issues which resonate within the churches.

Norman Skinner, 18/05/2011

Martin Lisemore 05/11/2010 00:57
This is a time to kick out Replacement Theology, show it as the evil it is, a cancer in the church, and Church. It robs Christians of their spiritual heritage. It's a lie.

And and an addendum to Norman Skinner's testimony, a Messianic Jew said to me recently, it's easier to work in a gentile business than it is to enter a gentile church to worship. I do not belong in that church. It's so obvious to me.

What a sad comment on our fellowships! But perhaps not yours!

Maybe that's just here down south. Maybe you would like to comment. I do hope so.

Just come back with whatever are your thoughts or opinions. Please.

Editor 05/11/2010 09:04
Just as point of clarification, Replacement Theology is a belief which is prevalent within much of the church that 'the church is now Israel'. The view derives from theological positions which are deeply-entrenched. See 'A Covenant-Keeping God' (on Articles List on left-hand column at top of this page). The Article List contains links to other related articles.
Pawlo 05/11/2010 12:07
I have Jewish friends who cannot accept Christ because they see the church as hostile to them. They believe that there is no truth in it.

Its an issue I feel very passionate about, firstly for personal reasons, but also because I believe that the greatest awakening could come from a church that repents from this wrong doctrine. (I'm not talking about Hebrew roots movement or anything like that, I mean fundamental truths about our Saviour and the Jewish nation)

Peter Carr 05/11/2010 13:10

What you describe is sad indeed, but please do not lump all Christians, or indeed church fellowships together with this regard.

When examined more closely, none of us have a perfect theology when it comes to our fellow humanity who, like us are made in God's image.
Norman Skinner (Guest) 05/11/2010 15:00
Peter Carr - thank you for responding. Please do not think I would be a part of decrying Churches as a whole. That is not the case. I wrote of my own experience, and that briefly. As written, I have now friends among the clergy who accept me as I am, and I love them deeply. I love the Body too, wherever I find it, and in whatever condition it may be.

In conversation with The Editor recently, it was said, a deep understanding of the place of the Jewish people in God's Plan of Salvation comes by personal revelation. I believe with all my understanding, that is true. Yet much knowledge of the place of the Jewish people may be gleaned from the Bible.

In the past 20 years there has been an institutional stampede across a broad spectrum of Churches and Fellowships to appear to be 'inclusive,' in every visible way. Ecclesiastical PC, shall we call it. Yet the march of anti-semitism within those same bodies has rapidly gathered pace. Yet not in every local Church. True to the Biblical pattern, there is an understanding remnant.

Paul Whitworth - my thanks also to you. You are correct in both statements. I have to admit here a strong institutional defensiveness, and sometimes an open hostility, is promoted in most streams of Judaism to varying degrees.

Picking up your second point, such repentance would open spiritual eyes to see God's Plan of Salvation, but from His view point. A personal revelation multiplied. In view of the spiritual principle of God's blessing, (He blesses the Jew first, and the Gentile through the Jew,) I firmly believe much blessing would be poured out upon any local Church which repented of this wrong doctrine. Who knows the extent of the riches in glory, according to Christ Jesus?

I have my existence in both camps, Jew and Gentile. I've sat through the wrathful doctrines and dogmas of an anti-semitic church, been on the receiving end of a hot headed, Let's Evangelise the Jews weekend campaign. The Gospel offered me, already a Christian of many years, was a Gentilised Gospel, out of context with Jewish thought or understanding, or need.

In this sense, Jesus is the chief stumbling block, but behind that, in presenting the Gospel to Jews, is the Churches understanding of Law, and Jesus role with Law. Of all people, the Church must give to their Jew of their own. My belief is that requires a personal revelation.

I long to know the Jewish family come into fellowship with Jesus, as I am. And equally, I long for the Church to repent of anti-semitism, and receive God's full blessing. And Peter Carr, you are correct also in saying, 'When examined more closely, none of us have a perfect theology when it comes to our fellow humanity who, like us are made in God's image.' Nothing could be added to that.

I write as a man with a heart in both camps. I accept my understanding may not be main stream thought in either camp.

Pawlo 05/11/2010 15:39
Thanks for the response Norman.

I don't wish to go into my own personal journey on a forum, its to long winded and very complicated. But I also find myself with a longing for both camps to come into the complete fullness of Christ. I wouldn't be here on these forums if I didn't, and I would willingly give myself up to this end.

Peter, I don't lump all christians together and nor do I doubt your intention as anything but honest. I know it may appear that I do sometimes. However I find myself cast on the scrapheap of the church and also of society, being very little or nothing worthy of note. This is my lot and here I delight in the Lord, I hope one day I can explain myself more fully to you in this regard.
Martin Lisemore 05/11/2010 16:13
Like you Paul, I have Jewish friends, some are close friends of long standing. We've talked at length. I've heard what they have to say, and they've done me the courtesy of listening to me.

What pains me, is that so much harm has been done to so few people, over such a long period of time and all that in the Name of Jesus and because they're Jews, the apple of God's eye.

I firmly believe any thought, word or deed against the Jewish people, or a single Jewish person, because they are Jews is a sin before God. Repentance, true repentance, is the only course open to us.

As far as the church here in England is concerned, and I doubt it's much different in Scotland, we have centuries of anti Jewish interpretations of the Bible, particularly the New Testament. Our nation's history is steeped in anti semitism.

Yet, whenever this nation has been good to it's Jews, it has been shown prosperity. Gen 12:3 I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

Norman Skinner is right - before the church may approach Jews with Jesus, they absolutely must return the King of the Jews to His Jewish context. I think, Paul, you posted something like this the other day.

In considering the position of the Jewish people in the light of the Bible, their peculiar standing with God, we must ourselves be in right standing with our Father, and humbly approach His historic people with a gospel in it's original Jewish context, and not something which has been metmorphosed during centuries of anti semitism.

Paul, I'm on the scrapheap of the church too, and not by my own hand. Society has no further use for me either - I'm near retiring age. But the keeping power of our Lord is continuous, and utterly reliable. I fear nothing for the future.
Christopher Proudlove (Guest) 25/07/2011 12:28
Reading Norman Skinner's account of how he has personally been the victim of church anti-Semitism has shocked me to the core. As a young Christian I read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation with the help of Henrietta C Meears' book What the Bible is All About" and grasped the truth about Israel and its future role.
I've always attended pro-Israel churches, so it was a shock to hear David Silver, of Out of Israel MInistries, Haifa, opine that 80 per cent of Anglican churches in England believed that the Church has replaced Israel. Through David, I met one of his trustees, Pastor Mike Fryer, of Father's House Sabbath Congregation, now at Deeside, North Wales. Mike also runs Christians for Zion which has a seven-session Hidden Treasure course that teaches about Israel past, present and future, taking in ant-Semitism, replacement theology, persecution of the Jews etcetera. I did the course and am now a registered tutor and also write blogs on the website. I am full of righteous anger about what has happened to the Jews since AD 100 and the way Israel is being treated by the nations. As long as I live I will devote my time promulgating the Hebraic roots of Christianity and the legitimacy of Israel. I am astounded how much people have swallowed evil Palestinian propaganda.

Christopher Proudlove
Christopher Proudlove (Guest) 25/07/2011 12:36
I wrote out of Israel Ministries when it should have been Out of Zion Ministries.

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