In 1933, Bishop Rendtorff (who would later become a leader in the Confessing Church) had questioned the whole assumption that the state’s behaviour towards the Jews was “unevangelical”. For 1700 years, he noted, the church had fully approved of restrictive laws against Jews. Emancipation was an idea of the enlightenment, and should not be identified as an evangelical norm (26). Wilhelm Halfmann, the spiritual director of the Confessing Church in Schleswig-Holstein, and Bishop of Holstein after 1946, wrote in 1936 that, because of “legitimate” Christian anti-Semitism, it was not the church’s duty “to interfere in the state’s Jewish legislation:
Far more, we of the church must say, based upon two thousand years’ experience with the Jews: the state is right. It is attempting to protect the German people ... with the approval of the Christian church”. (27)
Likewise, the Brethren Die Tenne spoke of the “accursed” nature of the Jews, and of “the cleansing of Germany from ... Jewish immigrants”. On June 18, 1933, Licht und Leben carried an article by the Chairman of the Gnadau Association to Promote Fellowship and Evangelisation, Walter Michaelis, stating that he and his organisation “had nothing against stemming Jewish influence, and treating Jews as non Germans.” From a Biblical point of view, “nothing could be said against this,” and it was indeed, “part of the divine plan for them.” (28) Concerning the Nuremberg Laws, the Baptist Wahrheitszeuge “told its readers not to forget that the hearts of Jews had been hardened by God following their rejection of the Messiah. Under God’s judgment, they had become a curse for the world.” (29) Likewise, the founder of the Elim Pentecostal church in Germany stated that he had “warmly welcomed” the Nuremberg Laws and knew that they did not violate God’s Word “in any way”. (30)
In Poland, during 1936, Monsignor Trzeciak addressed a large audience on the topic “The Jewish problem in the light of Christian ethics”. He stated:
Saint Jerome hated the Jews and Pope Pius V expelled all Jews from the Papal domain. Poland should follow this example: Jews should be destroyed, exterminated and expelled from Poland ... Noble are those Christians who refuse to sit with Jews on the same bench at university ... every Polish woman who buys from a Jew is a traitor. The Christian religion imposes a penalty for dealing with Jews. (31)
The fruits of supersessionism in the above material are clear. Anti-Jewish legislation is approved of by these churches, based on “2,000 years” of Church history, the “accursed” nature of the Jews, the “divine plan” for them and “God’s word.” Jewish suffering was officially promoted by these churches based on their own doctrines. The churches could have behaved like the Israelites in 2 Chronicles 28:13-15, or like David in 1 Samuel 26:11. Instead, they behaved like Babylon in Isaiah 47:6, not understanding Isaiah 54:7-8. This official support for the boycott and exclusion of Jews dispersed across Europe finds its ugly parallel in today’s supersessionist Christian support for the boycott, disinvestment and sanctions aimed at the ingathered Jews in the state of Israel.
Excerpt from Colin Barnes, "Denouement of Supersessionist Triumphalism: European Churches and the Holocaust" in Calvin L. Smith, ed. The Jews, Modern Israel and the New Supersessionism. New revised and expanded edition (King's Divinity Press 2013), 74-77.