The Gospel of Anti-Semitism?

Judaism — By on March 31, 2004 at 12:09 am

As an evangelical Christian I have a deep-rooted affection for Judaism. Though my theological differences with the religion are profound, they cannot reduce the love I have for the children of Abraham and Moses. The story of the Hebrew people is, after all, my story too. So it saddens and frustrates me to see that my own belief denigrated by the very people I would give my life to defend.
The website of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, a group dedicated to strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship by emphasizing our nations shared values, presents some outrageous claims in an editorial on anti-Semitism:

The trouble with Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion” is not the film itself, but the gospel story on which it’s based. The gospel story, which has generated more anti-Semitism than the sum of all the other anti-Semitic writings ever written, created the climate in Christian Europe that led to the Holocaust. Long before the rise of Adolf Hitler, the gospel story about the life and death of Jesus had poisoned the bloodstream of European civilization.

The article then goes on to spout the usual nonsense about the ‘historical Jesus” and pins the blame of anti-Semitic sentiment on Paul and the early Church. Finding this anti-Christian rant on the website of a respectable organization like the AICE is disturbing. Though they are not responsible for the sites content, I doubt the many members of the ‘honorary committee” of the advisory board, which is composed of such esteemed members of Congress as Sen. Rick Santorum and Sen. Charles Shumer, would agree with the views of the editorial.
While Christian anti-Semitism has been a genuine threat throughout history, many Christians — from Vatican II-era Catholics to American evangelicals — have worked to prevent such attitudes from ever taking root again. To claim that our most sacred scriptures are the cause of this evil is not only counter-productive and disrespectful, but is itself an anti-Semitic claim. The Gospels, after all, are about the Christian God. A God who also happens to be a Jew.



  • http://camillec.blogspot.com/ Camille

    Excellent post. I don’t have anything to add to it, but wanted to express my thanks. I think that now, more than ever, members of all religious groups must come together in the spirit of positive support and mutual respect. To see the ties between Christians and Jews crumble (or at least deteriorate even slightly) is tragic.

  • http://camillec.blogspot.com Camille

    Excellent post. I don’t have anything to add to it, but wanted to express my thanks. I think that now, more than ever, members of all religious groups must come together in the spirit of positive support and mutual respect. To see the ties between Christians and Jews crumble (or at least deteriorate even slightly) is tragic.

  • Ed Jordan

    You’re right: it is an anti-Christian rant. It’s been a long-standing tactic of those who want to sap the virtue out of Christianity to try to separate and denigrate Paul — but it won’t work: Peter called Paul’s writings “Scripture” (2 Peter 3:16).

  • Ed Jordan

    You’re right: it is an anti-Christian rant. It’s been a long-standing tactic of those who want to sap the virtue out of Christianity to try to separate and denigrate Paul — but it won’t work: Peter called Paul’s writings “Scripture” (2 Peter 3:16).

  • papijoe

    Never heard of Patterson before, but there’s a guy by the same name who wrote the Cliff Notes to the Bible. Hmm.
    The editorial was really over the top, and Patterson obviously has an agenda.
    But despite the flak Christians have received from Jews over The Passion, for me it’s been an incredible opportunity to dialog with Jewish people, with both friends in person and online. I’ve come to appreciate more deeply how recent Christian support for Jews and Israel is a drop in the bucket compared to Christendom’s historical treatment of the Jews. It’s a sad commentary on Christian witness when the Moors of Spain looked better in comparison. Jews still carry a lot of pain and anxiety, and Americans with short historical memories can’t relate to this.
    There is still a lot of goodwill and many Jewish folks I know who have been skeptical are finding reasons to trust us more. I never dreamed I’d be having in-depth discussions with Jewish friends about New Testament verses. It’s been humbling and exhilarating.
    I think it’s important to remember that for Christians, what we do is more important than what we say.

  • papijoe

    Never heard of Patterson before, but there’s a guy by the same name who wrote the Cliff Notes to the Bible. Hmm.
    The editorial was really over the top, and Patterson obviously has an agenda.
    But despite the flak Christians have received from Jews over The Passion, for me it’s been an incredible opportunity to dialog with Jewish people, with both friends in person and online. I’ve come to appreciate more deeply how recent Christian support for Jews and Israel is a drop in the bucket compared to Christendom’s historical treatment of the Jews. It’s a sad commentary on Christian witness when the Moors of Spain looked better in comparison. Jews still carry a lot of pain and anxiety, and Americans with short historical memories can’t relate to this.
    There is still a lot of goodwill and many Jewish folks I know who have been skeptical are finding reasons to trust us more. I never dreamed I’d be having in-depth discussions with Jewish friends about New Testament verses. It’s been humbling and exhilarating.
    I think it’s important to remember that for Christians, what we do is more important than what we say.

  • http://www.papercompass.com/ M.R. Maguire

    Joe,
    I share your affection for the Jewish people. I have prayed for years for the peace of Israel and have read quite a few books on Israel’s history and her relationship with the Church. I have had the privilege of attending a Messianic congregation, which I adored. The first time I went, I felt as though a leg that I hadn’t realized was missing from my body was suddenly attached. I felt the balance that God intended for both the Jew and Gentile believer. The Scriptures were written from a Jewish vantage point and when one hears a Messianic Rabbi (some call themselves a “completed Jew”) explain the meaning of the Feasts, and how Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled them – well, it rocked my heart with an ever deeper love for Jesus and God’s chosen people.
    I have to admit my first emotions after reading Charles Patterson’s article were a tangled mess. What he has written goes beyond a simple expression of dislike for Gibson’s film. Basically, Patterson has relegated Christianity to nothing more than a bastard child of the “true religion” in the early days. Even saying that is being generous.
    What really concerned me was the following:
    The historical Jesus (as opposed to the Jesus portrayed in the New Testament and elevated to divinity by the Christian church)
    Jesus Christ’s divinity came into being the moment He was born.
    Secondly, Patterson states “the Historical Jesus” as though separate from “the Divine Jesus,” which was “elevated to divinity by the Christian Church.” Jesus was both human and divine, but Patterson’s attempts to divide the two are transparent. He, like many others, would like nothing better than for Jesus Christ to be regarded merely as a teacher. This belief is already held by many adherants of major world religions. New Agers are quick to absorb any spiritual insights from Jesus Christ, but refuse to bow before Him. Some look at their choices like a mystical buffet line, picking and choosing from various belief systems until they find a plateful they feel comfortable with. If one were to truly study the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he would see there is no such choice. There is a reason Christianity has earned the hatred of the world and it has little to do with how we have treated the Jew. It has everything to do with the light shining into the darkness and the darkness not comprehending it.
    I am very tempted to write to Mr. Patterson and ask: If sir, you are so concerned about the Holocaust, can you not see that your judgement could very well build a foundation for another one, with the Christian being hunted? And Mr. Patterson, would you hide the Christian or expose him?

  • http://www.papercompass.com M.R. Maguire

    Joe,
    I share your affection for the Jewish people. I have prayed for years for the peace of Israel and have read quite a few books on Israel’s history and her relationship with the Church. I have had the privilege of attending a Messianic congregation, which I adored. The first time I went, I felt as though a leg that I hadn’t realized was missing from my body was suddenly attached. I felt the balance that God intended for both the Jew and Gentile believer. The Scriptures were written from a Jewish vantage point and when one hears a Messianic Rabbi (some call themselves a “completed Jew”) explain the meaning of the Feasts, and how Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled them – well, it rocked my heart with an ever deeper love for Jesus and God’s chosen people.
    I have to admit my first emotions after reading Charles Patterson’s article were a tangled mess. What he has written goes beyond a simple expression of dislike for Gibson’s film. Basically, Patterson has relegated Christianity to nothing more than a bastard child of the “true religion” in the early days. Even saying that is being generous.
    What really concerned me was the following:
    The historical Jesus (as opposed to the Jesus portrayed in the New Testament and elevated to divinity by the Christian church)
    Jesus Christ’s divinity came into being the moment He was born.
    Secondly, Patterson states “the Historical Jesus” as though separate from “the Divine Jesus,” which was “elevated to divinity by the Christian Church.” Jesus was both human and divine, but Patterson’s attempts to divide the two are transparent. He, like many others, would like nothing better than for Jesus Christ to be regarded merely as a teacher. This belief is already held by many adherants of major world religions. New Agers are quick to absorb any spiritual insights from Jesus Christ, but refuse to bow before Him. Some look at their choices like a mystical buffet line, picking and choosing from various belief systems until they find a plateful they feel comfortable with. If one were to truly study the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he would see there is no such choice. There is a reason Christianity has earned the hatred of the world and it has little to do with how we have treated the Jew. It has everything to do with the light shining into the darkness and the darkness not comprehending it.
    I am very tempted to write to Mr. Patterson and ask: If sir, you are so concerned about the Holocaust, can you not see that your judgement could very well build a foundation for another one, with the Christian being hunted? And Mr. Patterson, would you hide the Christian or expose him?

  • http://johncoleman.typepad.com/ John

    Excellent post, Joe. I think a fundamental misunderstanding of fundamentalists Protestants such as myself is that we are somehow anti-semitic or, indeed, anti anyone who isn’t Protestant. Nothing could be farther from the truth. From youth I was taught a fundamental respect and admiration of the Jewish people as the chosen people of God. I have carried that respect with me through life, and it is partially due to that respect that I still treat the nation of Israel with a kind of obeisance. It is somewhat amusing to me that in previous years, we Protestants have been accused of Zionism and a fanatical defense of Israel because of our shared religious connection. Now there is great concern about the anti-semitic nature of our religion. Interesting.
    Thank you for the delightful post.

  • http://johncoleman.typepad.com John

    Excellent post, Joe. I think a fundamental misunderstanding of fundamentalists Protestants such as myself is that we are somehow anti-semitic or, indeed, anti anyone who isn’t Protestant. Nothing could be farther from the truth. From youth I was taught a fundamental respect and admiration of the Jewish people as the chosen people of God. I have carried that respect with me through life, and it is partially due to that respect that I still treat the nation of Israel with a kind of obeisance. It is somewhat amusing to me that in previous years, we Protestants have been accused of Zionism and a fanatical defense of Israel because of our shared religious connection. Now there is great concern about the anti-semitic nature of our religion. Interesting.
    Thank you for the delightful post.

  • http://www.leadandgold.blogspot.com/ craig henry

    Sadly, the ideas in the editorial are fairly mainstream. Plenty of liberal Christians as well as secular and Jewish scholars take this view.

  • http://www.leadandgold.blogspot.com craig henry

    Sadly, the ideas in the editorial are fairly mainstream. Plenty of liberal Christians as well as secular and Jewish scholars take this view.

  • Steve_in_Corona

    How many weeks have to go by, and how many millions of people have to see the movie, WITHOUT ONE INCIDENT..
    before people like this one are forced to stop talking about all the anti-Semitic violence this movie will cause worldwide?
    I have correspondence from a Christian in Islamic Qatar where the movie (miraculously) is being shown without edit. Muslims (who respect Jesus as a prophet) are seeing him tell us to forgive, love, pray and bless your enemies!!
    Not only are they seeing the claims to deity, but to me THIS is rather pro-Semitic. After all, there is little a movie could do to ADD to the anti-Semitic feelings of some in the Muslim world, but it is very likely this movie is going to change the hearts of some within that world. The reaction by those crowds is like it is here in the USA.
    Praise God.

  • Steve_in_Corona

    How many weeks have to go by, and how many millions of people have to see the movie, WITHOUT ONE INCIDENT..
    before people like this one are forced to stop talking about all the anti-Semitic violence this movie will cause worldwide?
    I have correspondence from a Christian in Islamic Qatar where the movie (miraculously) is being shown without edit. Muslims (who respect Jesus as a prophet) are seeing him tell us to forgive, love, pray and bless your enemies!!
    Not only are they seeing the claims to deity, but to me THIS is rather pro-Semitic. After all, there is little a movie could do to ADD to the anti-Semitic feelings of some in the Muslim world, but it is very likely this movie is going to change the hearts of some within that world. The reaction by those crowds is like it is here in the USA.
    Praise God.

  • http://www.blindmindseye.com/ Mike

    The Evangelical-Jewish love affair is in most cases a decidedly one-sided love. God is not a Jew; God is not a human. God came in the form of a human being, but that doesn’t make God a human.
    I’m still waiting for the evangelical community to admit that rogue Israeli military personnel and officials carried out a pre-meditated strike on the U.S.S. Liberty. Won’t happen because any criticism, valid or invalid, of Israel is inherently anti-semetic. On the issue of the Liberty, the evangelical community is as bankrupt morally and patriotically as the left-wing academic defenders of the Rosenbergs and Hiss.

  • http://www.blindmindseye.com Mike

    The Evangelical-Jewish love affair is in most cases a decidedly one-sided love. God is not a Jew; God is not a human. God came in the form of a human being, but that doesn’t make God a human.
    I’m still waiting for the evangelical community to admit that rogue Israeli military personnel and officials carried out a pre-meditated strike on the U.S.S. Liberty. Won’t happen because any criticism, valid or invalid, of Israel is inherently anti-semetic. On the issue of the Liberty, the evangelical community is as bankrupt morally and patriotically as the left-wing academic defenders of the Rosenbergs and Hiss.