1920s Article on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion

Covenant theologians have long been sensitive to being charged with anti-Semitism.  Recall the discussions about the Knox Seminary Open Letter and my response to it which can be found here in the eschatology section of the drop-down menus (click on systematic theology to get to eschatology).  However, it seems that dispensationalists are also occasionally charged with being anti-Semitic.  Apparently, no one in the evangelical world is immune to the charge.

Often I see the name Arno C. Gaebelein come up in such disucssions.  I am well-versed in Gaebelein’s life and work since I did my Ph.D. dissertation on him.  But I continue to be amazed at the misinformation that is broadcast about him on many fronts, including his attitudes about Jews.  To be sure, in my dissertation I analytically criticize him on many fronts as any dissertation writer would do.  In my case, it was a focus on Gaebelein’s theological method although I also get into the life influences upon Gaebelein and his attitudes about the Jews.

I had made a post earlier about a book I am reading entitled Zeal for Zion by Shalom Goldman.  It is a delightful book that I still encourage others to read.  However, the author falls prey to what he has heard from other sources. Due to the passing on of such shallow or sloppy historical research, an incorrect view of Gaebelein is given.  Notice the following quote from Goldman’s work:

Other Christian Zionists, including some in the leadership of fundamentalist churches influenced by dispensationalism, had a darker more conspiratorial view of the Jewish role in history.  In the early 1930s the popular American evangelical preacher Arno C. Gaebelein cited the infamous forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as proof of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy poised to control world affairs.  This forgery, circulated in 1902 by the Russian intelligence services, claimed to be a secret record of meetings of Jewish leaders.  Here Gaebelein clashed with the view of William Blackstone, who had earlier asserted that the Protocols were a forgery.  (p. 39)

What is short-sighted in such statements about Gaebelein is there is no mention about the fact that Gaebelein changed his mind and in 1939 signed a document with many other leading fundamentalists repudiating the Protocols.  While it is fair to judge him about his statements, it is not fair to leave things hanging in such an incomplete manner.  In addition to mistreating Gaebelein, the writer gives the impression that dispensationalism is associated with a “darker more conspiratorial view of the Jewish role in history.”  Even if this is true of Gaebelein, that does not make it true of dispenationalism generally.  Moreover, one can easily see in Gaebelein his criticism of certain Jews he called “apostate” Jews — those who were atheistic communists.  One has the right to evaluate Gaebelein’s criticism at this point.  However, he certainly was not criticizing these Jews because they were Jews.  It seems to me that anti-Semitism only exists in someone if they go against Jews in some way because they are Jews.  In Gaebelein’s case, this test fails to show any anti-Semitism.  Writings such as Goldman’s need to tighten up their research and not leave loose opinions hanging out there that are simply not true.

For further information see my dissertation:  Michael D. Stallard, The Early Twentieth-Century Dispensationalism of Arno C. Gaebelein (Lewiston, NY:  Edwin Mellen Press, 2002), p. 43-59.