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Christian Theological and Secular Discourses in Validating a Jewish State

Mon, December 17, 5:00 to 6:30pm, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Waterfront 3 Ballroom

Abstract

The secular implications of the theological question of whether God still speaks to the Jews after the coming of Jesus and whether the Church is a replacement for the role that Jews may play in history have been particularly acute since the rise of Zionism. Different and even contrary views have crucial implications for whether Christians support Israel. Moreover, theological divisions often parallel or support secular justifications or critiques of the Jewish state. After examining this phenomenon, the paper will explore the relationship between secular and religious discourses among various streams of contemporary Christianity through the prism of whether Christians view modern Jews as foreign implants, as in colonial-settler narratives, or as a historic and even indigenous people empowered with the right of return and reconstitution. The paper will conclude with the question of how distinct these discourses are from one another and, perhaps, can be. In this analysis, Peter Berger’s The Many Alters of Modernity: Toward a Paradigm for Religion in a Pluralist Age (2014) and other scholarship on secularization will play an important role.

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