Throughout the histories of two of the world's major religions, there has been immense effort to keep separate from one another by focusing on differences rather than similarities. In time Christianity became the oppressor of the religion that gave it life, merely because it could not or refused to comprehend Judaism, an attitude that has led to tragedies ranging from the pogroms conducted against Jews during the years of the Black Death, to the horror of the Holocaust. Is there a justification for anti-Semitism within the Christian religion? Or is this hatred based, as prejudices generally are, on ignorance and fear of what one does not identify with?
[...] Albert Nolan, in his book Jesus Before Christianity, says that “People's compassion for one another releases God's power in the world, the only power that can bring about the miracle of the ‘kingdom'” and of course the central message of Jesus' ministry was compassion. In both views it was important to live a life that would foster faith in God and thereby make the world the place he wanted it to be. Interestingly it would appear that the crucial component of both was not necessarily to convert others to the religion, but to help others find through good works. [...]
[...] Anti-Semitism cannot be justified on Christian grounds for many reasons, the most apparent being that Jesus, his family, and all of his disciples were Jewish. If the central figure in Christianity lived and died a Jew, how is it possible for a professed “Christian” to hate Jews without hating Jesus? Jesus never claimed to be founding a new religion; rather, he presented a revolutionary way for Jews to look at themselves and the world around them, a and improved” Judaism. [...]
[...] Both the Jews and Jesus in his new message believed that God was ultimately a forgiving being. [forgiveness] is a description of our coming to feel acceptable in His presence despite our mistakes,” Kushner writes, longer condemned to carry the burden of past errors.” Nolan tells the story of the woman who washed Jesus' feet and experienced forgiveness. “Jesus had convinced her that all her debts had been cancelled and that God now accepted her and approved of her. The moment she believed this, it took effect and her life was transformed. [...]
[...] This is true of all prejudices, but Jews are a minority almost everywhere. Christians may resent them because it was they to whom God first spoke and gave his laws (265). Jews also tend to work for social change, the core tenet of Jesus' message, and the established order thus feels threatened (267)—again, looking to Jesus' radical message and subsequent execution as confirmation of such. But the saddest cases of anti-Semitism arise from those Christians who claim that if Christianity is the truth, then Judaism must be a falsehood (269). [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee