The Reformation and Israel: Some Unfinished Business

DR. JURGEN BUHLER, ICEJ PRESIDENT

This October 31st marks five hundred years exactly since the start of the Reformation, which dates back to that autumn morning in 1517 when Martin Luther is said to have nailed his ‘Ninety-Five Theses’ on the doors of the All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany. The Evangelical movement today could hardly be imagined without the changes wrought by such reformers as Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley and many other great reformers, who rediscovered old truths of Scripture and thereby helped revive authentic Christianity.

Ever since, the Church has continued to rediscover biblical truths and experience reformation. For example, we have returned to our founding call to world missions contained in the Great Commission. There was a time when most churches did not have a vision for the lost, whether locally or in distant lands around the world. But because of the Moravian brethren and later missionaries like Hudson Taylor and William Carey, nearly every Evangelical church today has a missions budget and other programs that seek to reach the unsaved, both near and far.

Yet there remains one major piece of unfinished business for the Reformation, and that is the Church stills lacks a universal recognition and acceptance of the enduring role of the Jewish people in God’s redemptive plans for the world. Luther actually opened the way for this sorely needed change by restoring the Bible to ordinary believers in their native languages, but he also perpetuated traditional Christian anti-Semitism late in his life, hindering the chances for this great re-awakening concerning Israel to take root.