Carolyn Sanzenbacher
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Conversion and the Jewish problem
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To place the unprecedented initiative within that historical development, the 1925 conference that evolved into UCCLW unanimously affirmed the need for a marshalling of Christian forces in the area of ‘burning’ social problems. Two months later, the IMC missionary thrust so central to ecumenical aims issued a call for Christian experts to take up the study of the ‘Jewish problem’. At the centre of the call was belief that a universal Jewish problem would not have emerged had the Church not failed historically to ameliorate world Jewry through Christianisation. By the spring of 1927 the unanimity of 175 delegates from mainstream Protestant bodies in twenty-six countries had produced a series of transnational conference findings on relations between the Jewish problem and the societal need for Jewish conversion. The International Committee on the Christian Approach to the Jews (ICCAJ), whose theoretical base was grounded in the claims of those findings, was brought into existence in 1929 as an international lobbying initiative for adoption of official church policy on Jews and Jewish missions. By the eve of Hitler’s rise, with regional sectors in Continental Europe, Britain and North America, it was a fully constituted body, a brand name programme of Jewish evangelisation said to be promoted in thirty-six countries, and the self-christened agent for educating Protestant churches on the ‘right’ Christian attitude toward Jews, the Jewish problem and Nazi antisemitism. The long-term result was a widely disseminated discourse on conversionary solution under the banner of an enlarging vision of Christian benovolence.

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Tracking the Jews

Ecumenical Protestants, Conversion, and the Holocaust


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