Christianity and Anti-Semitism

With Mel Gibson’s regrettable verbal tirade, the issue of Christianity and Anti-Semitism is again on the front burner.  I would love to write about the joy Hollywood is feeling over Gibson’s recent sins. I could also write about the hypocrisy in Hollywood and the public in general, over the concept of repentence and forgiveness. On the one hand, Hollywood condemns Christianity for its spirit of condemnation and lack of love. Yet when someone breaks one of Hollywood’s taboos, and asks for forgiveness, Hollywood responds with banishment to purgatory for an indeterminate period of time.

Instead I want to write about confusion in people’s understanding of anti-semitism. It is important to recognize that the term “anti-semitism” means different things to different people.  Definition one holds that anti-semitism is the hatred of Jews for racial reasons. Think Hitler or the KKK when you ponder this definition. A second use of the term is the hatred of Jews over cultural or social stratification issues.  This definition is more fluid because the bigot may not advocate the extermination of the Jewish people, he/she just wants Jews to be subservient in society. Typically, this view point is expressed in animosity toward the nation of Israel.  As long as Jews are confined to the Ghetto, then life is good. But if Jews hold power in business, government or achieve nationhood, then holders of this bigotry assert they must be stopped.

The final form of anti-semitism is used against Christians. This definition asserts that anyone who believes that Jews must accept Jesus as the Messiah is by definition an anti-semite. Critics charge that evangelizing Christians are engaged in a sort of cultural genocide that will eliminate Jews from the planet.

It is the last understanding of anti-semitism that I wish to address. First of all it fails on a number of levels. For example, this definition claims that one cannot be a Jew and a Christian at the same time. It essentially conflates one’s genes with one’s religion. I find it odd that a person can be an athiest and a Jew, a Buddhist and a Jew but once they accept Jesus as the messiah, they cease to be a Jew.  (Check out Israel’s Supreme Court which ruled that Messianic Jews can be denied citizenship).  As a Christian, I find this sort of definition for what makes one a Jew somewhat arbitrary.  Second, while Christianity has had a long and sinful history in its treatment of Jews, it has consistently claimed to worship a Jew. Christians who hate Jews have a serious delimma on their hands for they would have to hate Jesus (a Jew) and debate Paul that Gentiles are to be grafted into the root of Israel.  It is important to understand that from the Christian perspective, Gentiles who accept Jesus as Messiah, become children of Abraham through adoption. Jews who reject Christ, while not brothers, are at least step brothers and like all people of the world, should be treated with the principle of the Golden Rule.  However, Christians must also demonstrate that love of neighbor by telling people the Good News, namely that we can have peace with God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Look at our partner blog observe full review for on stream literacy. Salvation requires Gentiles and physical Jews alike, to bend their knees before the King of the Jews, the Jew called Jesus Christ. I for one have great difficulty understanding how the Gospel, when explained in this fashion becomes anti-semitic.

Some respond by saying that the Bible is rife with anti-semitic remarks such as when the phrase “the Jews” is used in a negative light. Well, the problem is that the Disciples were all Jews. The phrase “The Jews” was used to refer to the Jewish leadership, namely the Sanhedrin. It didn’t mean the entire Jewish race. Remember, words have meaning in context.

It is my hope that this brief description of the different ways the charge of “anti-semitism” is thrown around will help people determine whether the charge is really meaningful or not.

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