Friday, February 20, 2004

Can charges of anti-Semitism foster anti-Semitism?

There are two things that make my blood boil.
  • Declaring that the gospels are anti-Semitic, when they're not.

  • Declaring that the gospels are not anti-Semitic, when they are.

Let us deal with the second issue first. Of the two, it is the theological plank. It refers to worshiping on the altar of ecumenicalism. It's the rancid spew from Bishop Spong, and the heresy of certain Catholic Bishops. It is arguing, that in spite of Christ’s own plain teaching, there are many paths to salvation. That in fact, Christianity is not even needed. We all could have remained as Jews. Not so. The saved are members of an exclusive (though ultimately large) club. To say otherwise is heresy. God can save whomever He chooses, but the only method He reveals to us through His word is a saving faith in Christ. To argue that that saving faith can be present in someone who denies Christ (a Jew) is taking apostate liberty with the New Testament. So in this sense, as we all know, the gospels are anti-Semitic. Jews should be proselytized.

The first issue is related to charges of gospel anti-Semitism we read about almost daily. These charges are not theologically based, but cultural. They come in variations of the theme that the gospels are anti-Semitic because they teach that the Jews killed Christ. This is clear in the response to The Passion of the Christ.

Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said "The film unambiguously portrays Jewish authorities and the Jewish mob as the ones responsible for the decision to crucify Jesus…We are deeply concerned that the film, if released in its present form, will fuel the hatred, bigotry and anti-Semitism that many responsible churches have worked hard to repudiate."

ADL Director of Interfaith Affairs Rabbi Eugene Korn has stated, “Sadly, the film contains many of the dangerous teachings that Christians and Jews have worked for so many years to counter… this film may undermine Christian-Jewish dialogue and could turn back the clock on decades of positive progress in interfaith relations.”

Both statements are equivalent to saying that World War II movies should not be made because they might incite violence against Germans, Italians, or Japanese.

First of all, the Gospels don’t teach that the Jews killed Christ, but that among the literal murderers of Christ, Jews are numbered. If The Passion were a Law and Order episode, some Jews would be arrested, tried, and convicted.

Appeasement pressure of this sort apparently caused Gibson to remove a portrayal of Matthew 27:15: And all the people said, His blood shall be on us and on our children!"

(Related to this, some argue that this passage is fulfilled in a positive manner, i.e., that it is a good thing that the blood of Christ is upon his murderers. This is true for those who repented, but clearly that is not what the passage means, and to try to force that interpretation is to do violence to the scriptures. This passage is a challenge from some Jews for the wrath of Christ to be poured upon themselves, easy to make given that they did not fear Him as the Son of God. This challenge was answered within the generation when the Romans laid siege to Jerusalem, destroyed the temple, killed over a million Jews, and enslaved almost a million others. Likewise “we all killed Christ” is glossing over the fact that actual human beings actually murdered Christ, and there is no point denying it. It was, in fact, a good thing—ordained by God, but the murderers are still accountable for their crimes.)

Criticisms of this sort boggle my mind. It seems to me that any thinking Jew should conclude that Yes the Christians believe that some Jews and some Romans killed Christ. That is what their bible teaches. If I were a Christian, I would believe the same thing. Instead, the argument is quickly becoming you, Christian should not even believe your bible, because it is anti-Semitic. Toss it out. And the ecumenical movement caves to this appeal by either teaching that the scriptures have been corrupted, or that Mathew 27:15 has become a blessing on the Jews, or that the idea that Christ saves pietistic Jews in spite of their apostasy is not in violation of orthodox Christianity.

So now to my question. Can relentless attacks on one’s beliefs from a group (the Jews) affect in fallen man a shift against that group? Will Christians, for long the best friends of the Jews, modify their stance after endless polemics that their gospels are, in effect, evil and racist?

I’m just posing the question. What do you think?

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