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Sunday, March 18, 2007

THE RISE OF CHRISTIAN ANTI-SEMITISM 

THE RISE OF CHRISTIAN ANTI-SEMITISM

Please allow me to begin with a disclaimer. I am neither a priest nor a minister. I have never attended a school of theology, and my specific religion is irrelevant, other than to say I am a Christian, albeit an imperfect one. Indeed, I am the first to admit that I am a practicing Christian who is not yet very good at it. Hence, the need for practice. My views on this topic come from a background in systems management, which relies heavily on progressive logic.

Even the casual viewer of main stream media must have noticed an increase in anti-Semitic rhetoric over the past few years. Although much of the news we receive has been edited and scrubbed, the rise in both verbal and physical assaults on Jews is becoming more apparent. At this stage, most of the organized hate incidents in the United States have been verbal, such as during demonstrations, or written in publications and internet sites. Physical violence here have primarily been individual acts, such as the LAX shootings, and the Seattle murder of five women at the Jewish Federation; but European anti-Semitic activities are involving more and more physical assaults that are organized, pre planned, and carried out by groups of perpetrators.

Both France and Germany have experienced a marked increase in vandalism and desecration of Jewish sites over the past several years, in particular involving Temples and cemeteries. France, more than any other European country, is also dealing with, or rather failing to deal with, a rise in assaults on Jews. It has become such an issue that French Rabbis are discouraging members of their congregations from wearing any clothing or adornment that would readily identify them as Jews. The European Union created a commission to study this increase in anti-Semitic activity. It was so damning that the original report was buried, and only a brief edited version was released. Much of the violence was attributed to neo-Nazi skinheads in Germany, and the influx of Moslem immigrants in France. But the rhetoric being used in both European government and media, disguised as criticism of Israel or the Zionist movement, is in reality anti-Semitic.

I am not going to address the hateful speech, actions and publications engendered by the Moslem populations both here and in Europe. Anti-Semitism is a core premise of Islam, espoused even by the so-called moderate clerics. I do want to make some points about the creeping rise of this attitude among Christians. European and American ‘progressives’ are increasingly expressing views that are not only critical of Jews, but in some cases, justify actions designed to endanger Jews.

Let me now make what many will consider an inflammatory statement. You cannot be a Christian, and be anti-Semitic. Let me repeat this. You cannot call yourself a Christian if you harbor anti-Semitic attitudes. I say this for some very specific reasons.

The first point is that Jesus was a Jew. By tradition, any child born of a Jewish mother is by right a Jew, no matter the ethnicity of the father. Whether they practice the Hebrew theology and traditions or not, they are and will always be a Jew. Jesus was born of Mary, a Jewess of the house of David, and a native of Nazareth.

Both Mary and her husband Joseph, as well as Jesus, were raised within the culture of the Jewish community, and followed all of the laws and customs contained in the Torah and related teachings. They were practicing Jews for their entire lives. Jesus was born, lived, and died as a Jew. There is nothing within His teachings which contradicts the Jewish theology. The philosophical differences between His interpretation of the Bible and that of the scholars of His time were within the normal theological ranges that have been common in Jewish history throughout the ages. That is why He was crucified by the Romans, rather than being stoned by Jews. If He had been proven guilty of blasphemy, He would have been executed by stoning (with the permission of the Roman governor). Blasphemy was not proven, but the Romans felt threatened enough to crucify Him for sedition. Hence, my assertion that He not only lived as a Jew, but He died as a Jew. He was buried according to Jewish custom, after being executed according to Roman law.

The Apostles were also practicing Jews. Had they not been, they would not have reached the understanding that Jesus was the Messiah prophesized through much of Jewish history. Again, they followed Jewish law, and maintained Jewish traditions. None of the Apostles were martyred by stoning in a Jewish community, as their teachings were not blasphemy. Most were killed for refusing to acknowledge the official religions of Rome, or due to trumped up charges of rebellion or sedition against the empire.

The first Christians were Jews, and for much of the first century, Christianity was considered a sect of the Jewish faith. Even among early non-Jewish converts, there was an expectation that they would first accept Judaism, and then be baptized as Christians. All of the first Christians were Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah prophesized in the Old Testament. Converts to this new sect, whether Jewish, or pagan in the ensuing years, also accepted the validity of the Old Testament.

In order to be a Christian, one must accept as truth some very simple assumptions. You must accept that the God of the Old Testament is the one true God. You must accept that God made a covenant with the Jewish people, and that by accepting the terms of this covenant, the Jews became God’s chosen people, favored above all others. You must also accept that as proof of their status, a Messiah would be born from this people. God even specified though prophesy the tribe and family from whom this Savior would come. You must also accept as a matter of faith that Jesus fulfilled the prophesies of the Old Testament, and He was the promised Savior. Finally, if you are to be called a Christian, you must also accept the events as told in the New Testament. At the last supper, Jesus referred to the wine He shared as “The Blood of the New Covenant”. By so doing, He established a new means of achieving God’s acceptance. However, He in no way indicated that the old covenant, with the Jews, had been abrogated. Those accepting this new faith would be added to God’s chosen by affirmation, rather than by birth. But in no part of the New Testament are Jews replaced by Christians. Rather, they are added to the growing number of those counted as God’s people. In other words, believers in The Christ are now among the chosen, along with Jews.

My final thought may sound flippant, but I state it with all seriousness. If you profess to be a Christian, and harbor anti-Semitic feelings, you are potentially treading on some very dangerous ground. Remember, Jews are God’s family, and you should always respect the family of The Boss..


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