An evangelical Zionist friend of mine sent me a link to pro-life Catholic Lisa Graas’s response to Ted Cruz’s shock-speech at the IDC Summit held earlier this month. Her opinions are illustrative of exactly how theology continues to impact politics in America. Threatening Cruz with the loss of the Catholic vote, Graas writes:
In Catholicism, Israel doesn’t have to be a “Jewish state.” We can accept it as a Jewish state, but we are in no way bound to it being so because we see the Church as the New Israel, theologically.
Graas is a believer in supersessionism, a.k.a. replacement theology. Replacement theology is an old school church teaching that the Christian Church replaces Israel in God’s eyes, that after Jesus, God was done with the Jews and has summarily dubbed the Church his “New Israel” to be the recipients of all the blessings Biblically directed to Israel. It is a nasty idea that was used to defend Crusades, expulsions, and pogroms. Now, Graas is using replacement theology to defend what she defines as the “high church”/Muslim relationship at the sake of Catholic support for the Jewish State.
In saying “no greater ally than the Jewish state,” he [Cruz] stepped over into theology and insulted Catholics who see the Church as the New Israel theologically. We can, and desire to be, friends with Israel, even as a Jewish state, but we cannot pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state in the manner that people of Ted Cruz’s religion pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish state. We cannot say that if suddenly everyone in Israel converted to Catholicism and turned Israel into a Catholic state, that this would be a “bad” thing. Protestants, of course, would be horrified if that happened because they have some deeply-held theological views that Israel MUST BE a Jewish state. We can take it or leave it as a Jewish state, but they can’t take it or leave it. Catholics can be your friend, Israel, even as a Jewish state, but we cannot pledge unfailing loyalty to “a Jewish state” like Ted Cruz and evangelicals do. You ask too much there.
Graas rambles on about the evils of Protestant ideology, him-hawing over whether or not Israel should be considered a Jewish state with arguments that boil down to a valley girl’s, “Uh, yeah, well, I guess…whatever,” in her theological defense of Catholic replacement theology. Then, oddly enough, she comes out with this whopper:
Another thing is that many Christians in the Middle East see his statement “Jewish state” as being bad not because it’s “Jewish,”, per se, but because it is a “sectarian” statement. They distrust the advancement of ideas that promote theocratic rule over religious minorities who are in disagreement with that particular theology.
An old-school, Pope is “lower than man, but higher than God,” replacement theologian Catholic decides that Cruz isn’t to be trusted because he’s the sectarian one in the room. Apparently there hasn’t yet been an edict issued against irony.
The most telling of Graas’s reactions illustrates how replacement theology drives a wedge between Jews and Christians, not only spiritually, but politically:
CRUZ: And the very same people who persecute and murder Christians right now, who crucify Christians and behead Children are the very same people who target and murder Jews for their faith for the very same reason.
AUDIENCE: [Applause, Murmuring, Objections].
This is rather confusing because he is continuing to ramble on and on about Israel and Jews at a summit “In Defense of Christians.” I mean, come on. Please.
In other words, those like Graas who subscribe to replacement theology believe that the persecution of Christians by ISIS and other radical Islamist sects is completely unrelated to the persecution experienced by Jews at the hands of Hamas, Hezbollah, and, oh yes, ISIS. Her patronizing attitude towards “Israel and Jews” is disgusting, but her complete ignorance of the facts is unforgivable.
Graas protrays Cruz and evangelical Christianity, with its Zionist vision of Israel, as a threat to the “high church” (Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, etc.) of the Middle East and, indeed, the world over. In turn, Graas justifies “high church” replacement theology as a method of self-preservation, even self-defense:
It is the “high church” view of Israel that can co-exist with Muslims who will never accept Israel as a “Jewish state.” We can take Israel as a Jewish state or leave it. Muslims cannot accept it.
Exactly what is Graas inferring of those Muslims who “cannot accept” Israel as a Jewish state? That they somehow pose a threat to her “high church” should the “high church” dare to disagree with the Muslim point of view? Is that really a way to refer to the presumed peace partner in the scenario?
Thanks to Protestant colonialists who established a culture of die hard individualism circa 1776, I can recognize that I have many Catholic friends who are ardent Zionists. However, Graas is far from alone in her opinions, and they are not limited to the Catholic sphere. Replacement Theology has long been a stumbling block for Jewish-Christian relations. Now, it seems, it has become another stumbling block for Christians running from radical Islam. The Church at large, all denominations included, should be wary of what is being preached, lest their practices lead them, as they have led Graas, into fearful submission to dhimmitude.