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Spring 2022 · Vol. 51 No. 1 · pp. 33–43 

Enmity toward Jews (Anti-Semitism)

A. H. Unruh

Introduction to A. H. Unruh’s
“Enmity toward Jews (Anti-Semitism)”

Vic Froese

Born in Crimea, South Russia, in 1878, Abraham H. Unruh was forty-six years of age when he and his family arrived in Canada early in 1925. The family fled to Canada when it became clear that the bleak economic, political, and religious conditions in the new Soviet Union would not soon improve. He had been a teacher in various locales in eastern Ukraine before joining the Tschongrav Mennonite Brethren Bible School in Crimea. Now the family found itself in Winkler, Manitoba, where Unruh started his own Bible school, Bibelschule Pniel (later, Winkler Bible Institute). It became a school of some renown in Canadian evangelical circles for the excellence of its educational programs.

After nearly twenty years as principal and teacher there, the sixty-five-year-old Unruh helped establish the Mennonite Brethren Bible College (MBBC) in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He served as its first president but resigned after one year (1944-1945), and then stayed on to teach Bible at the college until 1954. When he died in 1961, Unruh left behind a remarkable legacy of service to the Canadian MB Church, as an educator, Bible exegete, preacher, writer, conference leader, and church historian. 1 Indeed, it was said, “Probably no other person so dominated the Mennonite Brethren consciousness in Canada as did A. H. Unruh.” 2

In 1952, MBBC launched The Voice of the Mennonite Brethren Bible College. Over the next six years, Unruh would contribute thirty articles to the journal, all written in German. Most were expository pieces focusing on a passage of Scripture. In many cases, these were first delivered as sermons. Unruh’s foray into the topic of anti-Semitism was an exception, although it too bears marks of a Sunday morning Botschaft. {34}

“Die Feindschaft gegen die Juden” (“Enmity toward Jews”) appeared in The Voice eight years after the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945. It is a unique article on account of its late date but also for its blend of sympathy for persecuted Jews, biblical warnings against anti-Semitism, and a belief that godless Jews and “vulgar anti-Semites” were unofficial allies in a war against Christianity.

Indeed, “Enmity toward Jews” exhibits a deep ambivalence toward Jews. In the first two thirds of his article Unruh recounts many atrocities suffered by Jews throughout the centuries in order to elicit sympathy from his readers. He also reminds them that God has a plan to save Israel, which was and remains God’s chosen people. And then, as the article nears its conclusion, he does an about-face. Many Jews, he says, are involved in “political and anti-Christian activities” which if not guarded against will exert a “satanic” influence on the church. Relying on a 1933 book review by German theologian Gerhard Gloege, 3 Unruh states that vulgar anti-Semites are vulnerable to Jewish trickery. Many Jews are sly, deceitful, and cunning and will quickly have anti-Semites thinking Jewishly, i.e., anti-Christianly. Indeed, Jews are devoted to the discrediting of Christianity and will tolerate anti-Semitic attacks on the Old Testament, knowing that this will lead to attacks on the New Testament. They will also “beguile” anti-Semites with “corruptive ways of thinking” so that they are soon doubting the value of Christian institutions like marriage.

Unruh seems to have sensed that his readers would not empathize so easily with Jews after reading these critical comments. Still determined to warn them away from anti-Semitism but now unable to appeal to their sympathetic natures, he concludes his article by warning readers that failure to treat Jews compassionately will mean divine judgment (Joel 3:2) and eternal punishment (Matthew 25; see especially verses 40 to 46).

Unruh expresses his opposition to anti-Semitism throughout the article, but in rehearsing anti-Semitic slurs like those that had recently fuelled an especially wicked German anti-Semitism, he cannot condemn hatred of Jews unequivocally. Unruh’s article still leaves room for enmity toward Jews.


  1. For further details about this and other aspects of Unruh’s life, see David Ewert, Stalwart for the Truth: The Life and Legacy of A. H. Unruh (Winnipeg, MB: Board of Christian Literature, General Conference of the Mennonite {35} Brethren Churches of North America, 1975). See also Henry P. Toews, A. H. Unruhs Lebensgeschichte (Winnipeg, MB: Publikationskomitee der Kanadischen Konferenz der Mennoniten-Brüdergemeinde, 1961) and Dan Unrau, “Abraham H. Unruh: Prince of Preachers, Servant of the Word,” in Leaders Who Shaped Us: Canadian Mennonite Brethren 1910-2010, ed. Harold Jantz (Winnipeg, MB and Goessel, KS: Kindred Productions, 2010), 71–81.
  2. Board of Christian Literature, General Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, “Series Foreword,” in Ewert, Stalwart for the Truth, 7.
  3. Gerhard Gloege, “Semitischer Antisemitismus,” Der Geisteskampf der Gegenwart 69, no. 1 (1933). Gloege positively reviews two books by German intellectual Hans Blüher (1888–1955), who freely admitted to being an anti-Semite.

Enmity toward Jews (Anti-Semitism)*

A. H. Unruh

Translated by Vic Froese

The wife of Isaac the patriarch had a revelation about the sons she was to bear. When she asked the Lord about her children, who were clashing with one another in her womb, the Lord said, “Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger” [Gen 25:23 NKJV, passim]. The two sons, Jacob and Esau, remained at loggerheads with each other. They continually fought, and the fighting began in earnest when Jacob received the blessing of the first-born. Then the word came down from Esau, “I will slay my brother” [Gen 27:41b KJV]. Edom hated the people of Israel, even though both were descendants of Shem. The Edomites were not anti-Semites, but they were against the blessed people of Israel.

In later history, the Arabs joined the enemies of Israel. The basis of their hatred was the loss of the land of Palestine which Isaac inherited. For it was said by the Lord, “The son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman” [Gal 4:30]. The Midianites later agreed with the Arabs, as did the descendants of Lot: the Moabites and the Ammonites.

This enmity was based not on race but on the matter of election. Israel was hated as the chosen people. This enmity, alongside racial enmity, still exists. These two reasons for hatred are difficult to separate. When one speaks of anti-Semitism, there is more to the word than just racial hatred. In the final analysis, it is about the God of Israel and the Bible. The story of the Maccabees and Daniel’s words about Antiochus {37} Epiphanes (Dan 11:32–33) confirm this. There it says, “And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he (Antiochus Epiphanes) corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.” Antiochus was king of the Syrians, who were also Semites. So we know that for this people it was not about enmity toward Semites but about an anti-God campaign. 1

Joseph’s brothers hated him because of his dreams of reigning in the future. When they saw him walking toward them in the field, they exclaimed, “Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, ‘Some evil beast hath devoured him’: and we shall see what will become of his dreams” [Gen 37:19-20]. Thus, the world hates Jews on account of their prophecy of their future reign. At the end of the history of humankind, Gog and Magog are incensed at the thousand-year reign of the Jews. 2 The real reason for enmity toward Jews is not their character but their place in God’s plan. The character of any people could give us a thousand different reasons to hate them. The description of Jewish character in Romans 3:10–20 applies to all peoples. That is why Paul sums up his description with the words, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” [Rom 3:23]. If Israel did become degenerate, it was because it adopted the character of surrounding nations.


This enmity of the nations toward Jews has been abundantly manifested throughout the history of the world. The focus of this essay is too narrow to go into much detail. If we look into Jewish [4] tradition, we find that Antiochus Epiphanes—the Old Testament Antichrist 3—persecuted law-abiding Jews in the cruelest way. The main motive of his enmity was his desire to conquer the religion of Yahweh with Greek culture. In his important book, Das Morgenrot der Welterlösung, E. Sauer writes that King Antiochus persecuted the Yahweh-believing Jews to advance the plan summarized in his motto, “One king, one empire, one culture.” 4 “His real goal was to introduce Greek culture into Judaism, united with worship of the Olympian Zeus. He therefore forbade circumcision and temple worship (Dan 8:11; 11:31–36); forbade the celebration of sabbaths and feasts; had the sacred writings confiscated, torn up, and burned; and killed anyone found with them (Dan 11:33).” 5

Professor A. Schlatter writes in his Geschichte Israels,

When Antiochus Epiphanes issued his anti-Jewish decrees, Jews were already the object of fanatical hatred in Syria. Those decrees {38} did not make the king unpopular. Murder of Jews occurred not only out of a servile (groveling) effort to win favor with the king but also to satisfy his hatred. When Lysias made a treaty with the Jerusalemites, he had to defend himself [. . .] before the citizenry.

In the periods following the Maccabean catastrophe, enmity intensified. [. . .]

It also spread to western peoples and cities. Here, literature was made useful. The attack occurs in such a way that the polemicist pretends to strip Judaism of its false tradition. Behind the apparent gravity of Jewish worship are lies—absurd customs; the fables of Jewish donkey-worship and human sacrifice; the alleged corrections of the Exodus story, which seek to prove the ignoble origin of Jews, but not before Manethos first provided an Exodus account based on unknown sources that attributed the flight of the Jews to their leprosy! Or the antiquity of Jews is denied with claims that they are an only recently established sect. [. . .]

Another strategy was to pretend to respect what the Jew admits is his religion but then argue for Judaism’s similarity to the rest of heathendom. [. . .]

Jews responded and developed an apologetic [defensive] literature. [. . .]

The ignorance of the accusations gave them the upper hand, so they could fight the battle with calm dignity. However, their literature did not have the seriousness and depth of the literature of the later Christian church because they excluded the question of God [. . . and confined themselves to the defense of manners and customs!] 6


Hatred of Jews spread further through world history and even became part of the history of Rome. Who can think of the destruction of Jerusalem without inwardly shuddering! From this point on, the word of the prophet Moses was fulfilled: “And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there the Lord will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul” (Deut 28:65).

In Der Triumph des Gekreuzigten, preacher Erich Sauer provides a short overview of the sufferings experienced by Jews. In the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, 1,100,000 Jews were killed. There followed a series of persecutions of Jews over the centuries.

In the Bar Kokhba Revolt (AD 132-135), 500,000 Jews were killed.

In May-July 1096, 12,000 were killed in the Rhineland. {39}

On November 1, 1290, all Jews living in England (over 16,000) were expelled under threat of hanging. It was 370 years before they were allowed entry again.

From April 20 to autumn 1298, 100,000 Jews were killed in France, Bavaria, and Austria.

In September 1306, 100,000 Jews were expelled from France under threat of death.

On August 2, [5] 1492, the Inquisition expelled 300,000 Jews from Spain under threat of death.

In November 1648, 12,000 Jews were massacred by the Cossacks.

From 1648 to 1658, 400,000 Polish Jews were killed in the Russian-Polish-Swedish War. 7

In the thirteenth century, at the time of the plague, thousands of Jews were killed in Germany. And who knows the number of Jews who perished in World War II. It is in the millions. With what terrible consequences has enmity against Jews, so-called anti-Semitism, been unleashed. Only a true Christianity and a right knowledge of Christ can overcome this mindset.

In Rome, when an aversion to Jews arose in the Christian church, Paul scolded these people: “Be not proud, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee” [Rom 11:20b-21]. But this fear of God is out of sight for Jew-haters (Rom 3:18).


As intolerance of Jews increased among the nations, the Jewish desire to return to the old homeland grew more intense. Theodor Herzl, a German Jew, founded a Jewish movement called Zionism. He imagined a Jewish state in the old Palestinian homeland. They imagined a “Zion” where the old throne of David would again be lifted up. But Dr. Herzl and his associates wished to exclude all religious notions and motives, even messianic ideas, from their plan. They pursued only natural and political purposes, for the new Jewish state was to be a completely modern, purely political social state in which all Jewish parties—reformers, socialists, atheists, Talmudists, and Hasidim (the pious, the group of law-abiding, anti-Hellenistic Jews in Maccabean times)—were equal, held together only by tribal and racial consciousness. Most adherents came from Russian Talmudic Jews who hoped Zionism would develop into Messianism. Many young socialist-minded men also joined, hoping that the new Jewish state would be a model socialist state. The first congress in Basel in 1897 still showed a colorful mixture of opinions and languages. The second congress in the following year {40} saw the constitution and organization of the Zionists. At the third congress in Basel, the National Bank was established. Although the rich international Jewish community kept their distance from it and rabbis strongly opposed it, Zionism gained many adherents around the world. The weakness of Zionism is that it wants to cultivate Judaism without keeping religion at its center.

Today we see Zionists in Palestine as the possessors of the patrimonial heritage and an independent state. We also find them in a difficult struggle with the Arabs. In addition, a serious adversary has arisen for Zionists in the form of the Soviet Union, as recent arrests and assassinations confirm. A new wave of anti-Semitism is rising. It may be the prelude to the great tribulation of Jacob (Zech 13:8-9; Jer 30:7).

It is regrettable that a sinful aversion to Jews and a poor understanding of God’s salvation plan for Israel can be found, here and there, in believers churches. 8 Churches need to seriously study God’s plans to save Israel in order to keep themselves free of an anti-Semitic mindset. But it is also necessary to be clearly aware of the nature of anti-Semitism. Christians must not let themselves be pushed into the anti-Semitic camp by the political and anti-Christian activities of godless Jews, just as the mocking poems of a Heine 9 must not turn us into mockers.


To show the mistake we can make when we adopt an anti-Semitic attitude, we note the words of Dr. Theol. Gloege of Ilsenburg, 10 which appeared in 1933 in Der Geisteskampf der Gegenwart, where he examines [6] Hans Blüher’s book on anti-Semitism. 11 I shall quote a few statements from him. Dr. Gloege emphasizes that vulgar (common, workaday) anti-Semitism itself bears a Semitic imprint. 12 A great number of forerunners of anti-Semitism were men of Jewish pedigree. 13 Anti-Semitism has mainly been fuelled by half-breeds. 14 Highly aggressive anti-Semites are often first-generation illegitimate Jews. 15 Why is anti-Semitism powerless against Judaism? Popular anti-Semitism is powerless against Judaism because it shares the Jewish Enlightenment spirit that emerged with the French Revolution. 16 Its religious convictions are liberal and materialistic. 17 Despite its Christian echoes, popular anti-Semitic religion is resolutely opposed to Christianity. 18

The morals of these adversaries of Judaism are of purely human origin, autonomous, not theonomous; that is, they have nothing to do with God. 19 Moses and the prophets simply spoke of Baal and nothing more. 20 (How do anti-Semites expect to overcome modern Judaism when their worldviews are in perfect agreement?) Their ethics (moral {41} doctrine) is actually the suspension of ethics, even if it is guarded by the name, “socialism.” 21

The zealous anti-Semite cannot attack Judaism without attacking the Old Testament. Wherever the anti-Semite is zealous in his fight against the Old Testament, he also attacks the New Testament and becomes the comrade in arms of Judaism, because the decisive characteristic of Judaism is and remains the secret or public confrontation with Jesus Christ. 22

In his struggle with Judaism, the anti-Semite must always deal with race and with religion. If he fights only one of the two, he does not hit his target. 23 The Jew recognizes this and draws strength from the errors of anti-Semites. 24 The Jew knows how to beguile anti-Semites with “corruptive ways of thinking.” 25 Anti-Semites themselves think Jewishly. 26

Judaism, with its religious goals, can only be defeated with opposing religious goals. Because the goals of common anti-Semitism are irreligious, they are powerless. He who thinks an adversary is just a short distance away will shoot too short; it has always been so! 27

Also, the strong emphasis on race has served Judaism by stressing selective breeding for the betterment of the race. “The theory of selective breeding corrupts and undermines marriage and its mystery. Marriage cannot be technically managed; it is a gift. Today’s race ideology acts in the interests of Judaism, for it destroys the real virtues of marriage and paternal blessing.” 28

The connection of anti-Semitism with Judaism, however, lies in the theological-dogmatic field; for their paths intersect in the doctrine of works-righteousness. Everyone who believes he is correct [in thinking he is justified by works] is “a Jew, even if he is not [a Jew] in terms of race.” 29


What shall we say to these observations? We see the people of Israel as a miracle of history, although many among its people are, in terms of their ideas and deeds, “from below.” But we see that it is precisely “below” where many Gentiles run into those many [among the people of Israel] and are or will be hooked by them. The church needs to recognize the danger and not allow itself to be satanically influenced. This danger is all the more urgently to be warned against because the Word of God holds before us the foreboding word of Isaac to Jacob: “Cursed be everyone who curses you” [Gen 27:29]. The prophets show us the judgment that will befall Israel’s avowed enemies. Let us read Joel 3:2: “I will also gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and {42} I will enter into judgment with them there on account of my people, my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up my land.” And what will be the eternal destiny of anti-Semites if exegetes are correct in interpreting Matthew 25 to say that we should understand “the least of these my brethren” 30 as the Jews?


  1. Eine antigöttliche Bewegung. All translations of German sources in this article are mine unless otherwise indicated.
  2. This statement is likely based on a conflation of Ezekiel 38 and 39 with Revelation 20. The Dispensational view of the end times (to which Unruh subscribed in part) has all Christians raptured from the Earth before the Great Tribulation. The Tribulation triggers Israel’s restoration as it recognizes Jesus as Messiah, which in turn initiates the Millennium, i.e., the thousand-year earthly reign of Jesus and Jewish believers with him.
  3. “Antiochus Epiphanes . . . He is the chief type of the Antichrist.” Erich Sauer, The Triumph of the Crucified: A Survey of Historical Revelation in the New Testament, trans. G. H. Lang (London: Paternoster Press, 1951), 120; Sauer, Der Triumph des Gekreuzigten: ein Gang durch die neutestamentliche Offenbarungsgeschichte, 2. Aufl. (Wuppertal-Barmen: Umbruch-Verlag H. Windel, 1937), 125, 125n8.
  4. Erich Sauer, Das Morgenrot der Welterlösung: ein Gang durch die alttestamentliche Offenbarungsgeschichte (Wuppertal-Barmen: Der Rufer, 1937), 197; Sauer, The Dawn of World Redemption: A Survey of Historical Revelation in the Old Testament, trans. G. H. Lang (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1955), 170.
  5. Sauer, Morgenrot der Welterlösung, 197; Dawn of World Redemption, 170–71 (quotation marks added).
  6. Adolf Schlatter, Israels Geschichte: von Alexander dem Großen bis Hadrian [The History of Israel: from Alexander the Great to Hadrian] (Stuttgart: Verlag der Vereinsbuchhandlung, 1901), 174–77.
  7. Sauer, Triumph des Gekreuzigten, 142n10; Sauer, Triumph of the Crucified, 137n1.
  8. Gläubigen Gemeinden.
  9. Christian Johann Heinrich Heine (1797–1856)—a popular and highly regarded German poet, writer, and literary critic. He was born a Jew but “converted” to Christianity when new laws prohibited Jews from holding academic positions. Most of his works were banned in Germany during the later Nazi era.
  10. Gerhard Gloege (1901–1970) was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian who was a member of the pro-Nazi Deutsche Christen (German Christians) from fall 1933 to March 1934. His article in Der Geisteskampf der Gegenwart, published early in 1933, predates his brief “German Christians” period by about nine months. {43}
  11. Gerhard Gloege, “Semitischer Antisemitismus,” Der Geisteskampf der Gegenwart 69, no. 1 (1933): 58–66. In fact, Gloege looks at two books by Hans Blüher: Der Standort des Christentums in der lebendigen Welt [The Place of Christianity in the Contemporary World] (Hamburg: Hanseatische Verlagsanstalt, 1931) and Die Erhebung Israels gegen die christlichen Güter [Israel’s Revolt against Christian Social Institutions] (Hamburg: Hanseatische Verlagsanstalt, 1931). Blüher (1888–1955) was a conservative Protestant Christian, a philosopher, a monarchist, briefly a member of the Nazi party, and until about 1933, a self-confessed anti-Semite.
  12. Gloege, 58.
  13. Gloege, 59.
  14. Gloege, 59, quoting Blüher, Erhebung Israels, 163. The German term translated “half-breed” is Mischling, which became a legal term for a person who had one or two Jewish grandparents under the Nuremberg Race Laws drafted by the Nazi regime in 1935.
  15. Gloege, 59. The German term is Judenbastarde, which was commonly used as an insult during the Nazi-era. Unruh’s unexpurgated quotation from Gloege’s article is less shocking in light of Luther’s rendering of Hebrews 12:8: “Seid ihr aber ohne Züchtigung, welcher sind alle teilhaftig geworden, so seid ihr Bastarde und nicht Kinder” (LUT). Cf. the KJV, where the same word is translated “bastards.”
  16. Gloege, 61.
  17. Gloege, 61.
  18. Gloege, 61.
  19. Gloege, 61.
  20. Gloege, 62.
  21. Gloege, 62: Sozialistik. Unruh misquotes Gloege, who in fact says, “This is the suspension [emphasis in the original] of ethics, even if it is guarded by the lofty title of ‘social ethics’ [Sozialethik] (Isr., 175f).”
  22. Gloege, 63, quoting Blüher, Erhebung Israels, 102.
  23. Gloege, 63, quoting Blüher, Erhebung Israels, 103.
  24. Gloege, 63, quoting Blüher, Erhebung Israels, 103.
  25. Gloege, 63, quoting Blüher, Erhebung Israels, 112: korruptive Gedankengänge.
  26. Gloege, 63, quoting Blüher, Erhebung Israels, 105.
  27. Gloege, 64, quoting Blüher, Standort des Christentums, 81.
  28. Gloege, 64–65. Unruh’s quotation is loose but captures the gist of the passage.
  29. Gloege, 65, quoting Blüher, Standort des Christentums, 81.
  30. Matt 25:40–46.
* Originally published as “Die Feindschaft gegen die Juden (Der Antisemitismus),” The Voice 2, no. 1 (Jan.-Feb. 1953): 3–6.

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