Is it Antisemitic to Say “Christ Is King”?

Candace Owens speaking with attendees at the 2022 AmericaFest at the Phoenix Convention Center. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

In November 2023, political and social commentator Candace Owens sparked an online firestorm by tweeting “Christ is King.” By itself, that phrase would hardly be surprising to read from a person who calls himself or herself a Christian. After all, Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God incarnate, and as ruler of the universe, He rules over everything, including the kingdoms of this world. However, Owens’ words were not said in a vacuum, and they were not stated in the midst of a conversation about Jesus and His position in the cosmos. Let’s unpack this a bit before answering the question of whether Christians should say “Christ is King” to Jewish people.

Comments Made by Candace Owens

Candace Owens is known for taking strong stands on various topics. I can appreciate her boldness, and as a fellow conservative, I tend to agree with some of her views. However, I think she occasionally comes across as condescending, as she did in a discussion with Chris Cuomo where I agreed with her view that we can acknowledge an enemy’s intelligence, but I disagreed with her attitude. And at times, she is very uninformed, such as in her conversation with Jewish comedian Ami Kozak. She told him that the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem was like the segregated South in which her grandfather grew up. She said, “When I’m walking through Jerusalem, and you see, and they say ‘these are the Muslim quarters [sic], this is where the Muslims are allowed to live,’ that doesn’t feel like a bastion of freedom to me.” For the record, Muslims are not restricted to live only in the Muslim Quarter (not quarters) of the Old City. They can live anywhere in Israel and they have full rights as citizens. This is not some apartheid system set up since Israel became a nation in 1948. The four quarters of the Old City existed for at least a century before that time. Thankfully, Kozak quickly corrected her. Owens was badly misinformed, and this gaffe came at a time when she made other statements that could easily be construed as antisemitic.

This conversation with Kozak took place following a tweet where she implied that Israel was guilty of committing genocide against the people of Gaza. She wrote, “No government anywhere has a right to commit a genocide, ever. There is no justification for a genocide. I can’t believe this even needs to be said or is even considered the least bit controversial to state.” There are major problems with this statement. First, Israel is not committing genocide against the people of Gaza. If that’s what they wanted to do, they wouldn’t warn Gazan civilians to move away from certain areas before beginning their bombing, and they wouldn’t be so precise in their attacks. In nearly six months of fighting, close to 33,000 people have been killed in Gaza out of a population of two million. If Israel truly wanted to commit genocide, they would have killed many times more people than they have. It should go without saying that the loss of any life is tragic, particularly innocent civilians during war. Yet, the way Hamas fights practically guarantees that far too many civilians will die. They build their bases under hospitals and launch missiles from schools, essentially using schoolchildren as human shields. When those innocents are killed in a war with Israel that Hamas started, then Hamas is to blame—not Israel.

The second big problem is that Owens did not speak up to condemn Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israeli civilians that left 1,200 men, women, and children dead and more than 200 others kidnapped. In the weeks that followed, she continued to avoid condemning the attack and instead seemed to either equivocate Israel’s military response to the terrorist attack or defend those who attacked Israel. So, she didn’t speak against genocide of Jews, despite it being found in Hamas’ original charter.((The 1988 version begins with “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” It goes on to quote from a hadith (viewed by Muslims as a record of the words or actions of Muhammad), “The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say ‘O Muslims, O servant of God, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’ Only the Gharkad tree would not do that, because it is one of the trees of the Jews.” While the revised charter of 2017 slightly softened the language against the Jews, the actions of Hamas on October 7, 2023 show that they are unwavering in their commitment to annihilate the Jews.))

Ben Shapiro speaking with attendees at the 2018 Young Women’s Leadership Summit. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Keep in mind that almost exactly one year earlier (October 10, 2022), Owens defended Kanye West when he tweeted, “Im going Deathcon 3 on jewish people.” She wrote, “If you are an honest person, you did not think this tweet was antisemitic. You did not think that he wrote this tweet because he hates or wants to genocide jewish people. This is not the beginning of a holocaust.” I’m curious how else a person is supposed to take West’s tweet. Assuming he was referring to “DEFCON 3,” then West was using a term about military defense readiness in relation to the Jewish people, and Owens defended it.

With that background, let’s return to the question posed at the beginning of this post. In the week that followed Owens’ conversation with Kozak, Ben Shapiro told a crowd at a private event that he thought her comments about Israel were “absolutely disgraceful.” He added, “Her faux sophistication on these particular issues has been ridiculous. Everybody can see the moves that she’s making, the things that she’s saying and I find them disreputable.” Until last week, Owens was employed by the Daily Wire, a popular conservative news outlet Shapiro helped start. So, both individuals worked for the same organization at the time of these comments.

It was at this point when Owens started quoting the Bible. She tweeted the following:

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.

You cannot serve both God and money.

She followed up this tweet with:

Christ is King.

Yes, blessed are the peacemakers. Does Owens realize that these words were spoken by a Jewish man (Jesus) to a Jewish audience? Has Owens ever called on Hamas, Hezbollah, or any of the nations that routinely attack Israel to seek peace? Why did Owens wait to call for peace after Israel responded to the worst terrorist attack on Jews since the Holocaust? Is it possible that sometimes the path to peace involves the destruction of a terrorist organization bent on your destruction? And why has she been so passive aggressive in these tweets rather than just coming out and stating clearly what she is referring to? After all, she is known for being very bold about her beliefs.

As Christians, how should we respond to the use of “Christ is King” given this backdrop? Clearly, there are some who are promoting antichristian ideas who have coopted the phrase, such as the Hitler-praising white nationalist Nick Fuentes. I think we should all agree that it is absolutely wrong for people like him to use it as a weapon in an attempt to justify their hatred for the Jews.

Is Owens’ use of the term any better here? I would argue that her use of it is nearly as despicable because she was using it to mock or troll Ben Shapiro, who is widely recognized as an Orthodox Jew. Given her comments about Israel and the Jews in the prior month, how is someone supposed to read her tweet apart from seeing it as an attack on Jews? She also implied the common antisemitic trope about Jews being all about money. If Owens and Shapiro were having a civil conversation, and she told him that she believes “Christ is King,” then I would have no problem with it, and I doubt that Shapiro would either. He knows what Christians believe, and he would expect a Christian to espouse Christian beliefs. One can watch his interviews with John MacArthur and William Lane Craig to see that he is fully capable of holding discussions about these topics in a respectful manner.

Speak the Truth IN Love

Some people have argued that Owens is just speaking the truth, and she’s quoting the Bible. Well, the Bible also encourages Christians to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Notice, it does not say that speaking the truth IS love. It says to speak the truth IN love. There can be a huge difference, and it is vital that Christians recognize this truth. For example, in 2006, I was diagnosed with leukemia. Imagine if my doctor would have looked at my test results and then pointed in my face while laughing and then shouting, “You have leukemia!” It would have been true, but it would have been extremely unloving.

Far too many Christians misapply Ephesians 4:15 and other verses as a license to bludgeon people with Bible verses as though the Bible were a sledgehammer, and they often seem to exhibit a “righteous” pride after doing so. The same author (Paul) wrote the following in another letter:

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you. (1 Corinthians 9:19–23).

We must be willing to humble ourselves and speak the truth in love. Scripture is not to be wielded like a shotgun to blast truth at unbelievers and let the pieces fall where they may. Paul spent countless hours attempting to convince and persuade unbelievers of the truth. “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Corinthians 5:11; cf. Acts 17:1–4, 18:4). For a professing Christian to use “Christ is King” as a taunt designed to mock a Jewish man and act as if you just scored a mic drop moment is petty and disgraceful, and I believe it brings shame to the name of Jesus. This is especially true when one understands how horribly many in the church have treated Jewish people over the past two millennia. The church’s shameful slander, persecution, and occasional killing of Jews reflects the exact opposite attitude displayed by Jesus and His followers.

Michael Brown details the sad history of the church’s mistreatment of Jews in Our Hands Are Stained with Blood.

Jesus wept over Jerusalem after the Triumphal Entry because He knew it would soon be destroyed since its leaders had (for the most part) rejected their Messiah (Luke 19:41–44). Then He lamented over the city, saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Matthew 23:37–39)

At the start of Romans 9, Paul expressed his ongoing great sorrow and grief over the fact that most of his “countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites” had refused to accept Jesus as their Messiah. He even stated that he was willing to be condemned if they could be saved.

Do the statements from Candace Owens come close to matching the attitude displayed by Jesus and Paul regarding the Jewish people? Absolutely not. Paul specifically charged Christians not to boast against the Jews (Romans 11:16–24). Instead of boasting, he said that through his ministry he hoped to “provoke to jealousy those who are of my flesh and save some of them” (Romans 11:14). Paul wanted his fellow Jews to see his godly life and fellowship with God, so that they would long to be restored to a right relationship with God. That is the attitude Christians should have toward Jews. Sadly, the church has a shameful 2,000-year history in this area. As a reminder, Christians are called to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), love one another (John 13:34), and love our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:27–37, in case you’re wondering how to define neighbor, this is in the context of the parable of the Good Samaritan). That covers pretty much everybody. So, we are commanded to love everyone, and I’m confident the Jewish people are included among everybody.

If you are still having trouble seeing how saying “Christ is King” to a Jew can be unhelpful, let’s take a look at a tweet from Jeremy Boreing, the man who helped Shapiro start the Daily Wire.

How is saying “Christ is King antisemitic?

The same way anything becomes antisemitic – when it is used for the purpose of expressing antisemitism. It’s like asking “how does a shovel become a murder weapon?” When it is used to murder someone. This isn’t hard. A shovel is not innately a murder weapon. Saying “Christ is King” is not innately antisemitic. It’s all about how a thing is used. Saying “Eat some cornbread” is not racist if I say it to my three-year-old when she is refusing her dinner. If I start saying it as a response to X [formerly Twitter] posts by black commentators I don’t like, it has taken on a meaning beyond what is innate. In other words, it is connotatively racist, not denotatively racist. So too “Christ is King” may be antisemitic in connotation while not in denotation when it is being used to express antisemitism.

Boreing nailed it. Context matters. Intent matters. One’s heart matters. The truth must be spoken in love because our audience matters.

Conclusion

Dear Christians, if we ever hope to reach Jewish people with the gospel of Jesus Christ, then we must learn to live and love like Jesus Christ. After all, the New Testament confirms that He is the Jewish Messiah. We should be concerned about the souls of all those who are lost, whether Jew or Gentile, and we should be speaking the truth in love and sharing the gospel with all people, because “it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). Let us get rid of any hint of antisemitism from the church (and anti- any other people group), and show them the love of Christ in hopes that they might turn in faith to our Creator, Savior, and Lord.

Tilt Shift Wins First Place at ICVM Crown Awards

We won! Tilt Shift wins the ICVM gold crown award.

On February 21, the International Christian Visual Media Crown Awards were held during the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville. The ICVM website states that the awards ceremony is about “Honoring the Best in Indie Christian Film.” I am very pleased to announce that Tilt Shift won first place, the gold crown, for best Christian talk show.

A little over three years ago, my wife and I had an idea to create a movie review show that analyzed the philosophies and worldviews being promoted through Hollywood films. I asked my friend and colleague, Bryan Osborne, to cohost the show with me. It would be another year before we came up with a name for the show and filmed our first season. Special thanks to the A/V crew at Answers in Genesis for suggesting the name of the show and for doing such an awesome job on the production side of things.

I can honestly say that I never imagined that the show would win an award like this because I didn’t even know the ICVM existed until someone told us in November that Tilt Shift had been nominated and was one of five finalists for best Christian talk show. I am grateful for the honor of winning this award, and even though the idea started in my house, it takes a great team of people to bring a show from concept to reality. So, I’d like to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone involved in working on the show from the producers to the directors, camera crew, audio techs, reviewers, and editors.

Answers.tv director Bryan Eckardt received Tilt Shift’s gold crown award. Fun fact: Bryan is also the somewhat snarky narrator of Tilt Shift’s introduction.

We have had so much fun filming the episodes, and probably a little too much fun filming the promos. While it’s time consuming to do all the preparation and post-production, I have been very pleased with the result and encouraged by so many people who have reached out with positive feedback about the show. I am particularly grateful for those who tell me that it has helped them grow in their faith.

We recently wrapped up filming season three and will be working through post-production for a few months. The episodes will likely start to drop in August or September. For more details about the concept and development of Tilt Shift, check out this post I wrote when our first episode aired on Answers.tv. If you haven’t watched the show yet, go to Answers.tv and sign up for a free seven-day trial to binge watch Tilt Shift and some of the other great programs on the platform. Then sign up for an entire year for just over $3 per month so you can continue watching. Two other Answers.tv programs were also finalists for awards this year (Lily’s Lab and Kashtan’s Wildlife in the Zoo).

Here is a list of the movies we’ve covered so far on Tilt Shift:

Season 1:

  • Free Guy
  • A Quiet Place
  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife
  • Beauty and the Beast (1991 vs. 2017)
  • Woke Women vs. Strong Women
  • The Last Jedi (my all-time most hated film)
  • Jurassic Park Trilogy
  • Avengers Endgame

Season 2:

  • The Bad Guys
  • Godzilla: King of Monsters
  • Harry Potter series (two episodes)
  • Top Gun Maverick
  • Avatar
  • Jurassic World Trilogy
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home

Here’s one of the promos we shot for the Harry Potter episodes in season 2.

Season 3:

I’ll wait a little longer to announce the films we covered for the upcoming season, but I will say that one of them had a lot of pink in it and was last year’s highest grossing film.

Thanks for reading!