Yesterday, I commended the Israelis for performing Wagner in “Jews at Bayreuth.” Today, however, I have nothing but scorn for the Jerusalem Post‘s anti-Christian screed, “A Christian scholar on ‘why antisemitism, why the Holocaust?’” David Turner reviews William Nicholls’ Christian Antisemitism: A History of Hate as a pretext for attacking Christianity, proving once again that hate—a profound, blistering, ignorant hate—has a home in the hearts of many religions. Unfortunately, Turner cannot really be blamed for not knowing that the “Anglican” Nicholls, who serves as his glimpse into Christianity, hates the gospel as much as Turner. How perverse is it that Nicholl’s eponym was an Anglican divine who wrote—approvingly—of the Book of Common Prayer?
Turner’s-by-Nicholl’s major point is that Christianity is anti-Semitic because of an insecurity complex. That Jews persist strikes terror in Christian hearts because their unbelief calls Jesus’ claims into question. The most frustrating aspects to interreligious dialogue are that people generally know very little about other people’s religions and that people generally do not even try to understand religions on their own terms. Such is obvious in this case for the Jew Turner and the heathen Nicholls, though one would think that a biblically literate Jew would know better. Was Abraham “insecure” when he noticed immoral paganism in his travels? Was Moses “insecure” when the pharaoh’s heart hardened? Were he and the judges “insecure” when the people continually rebelled? Were the Jews after the division of the kingdom “insecure” because many, perhaps most, of their brethren forsook the temple cult in Jerusalem? Were the prophets “insecure” because of idolatrous kings? I always thought that they preached God’s messages to errant and fallen people; I never considered that their prophesies resulted from “insecurity” about some of their listeners’ failing to heed God’s words.
The entire history of the Abrahamic tradition is about obedience and disobedience to God’s commands. From the garden on, we are shown again and again that some people follow God and others reject God. It is one of the most basic themes in the scriptures. Why, then, would Christians be especially “insecure” that some Jews rejected Christ? Indeed, this rejection of God’s dispensation has been the standard course in human history. Consider Noah’s project, or Job’s friends, or the Hebrews scores upon scores of times. There would have been no prophets if God’s revelations had not continuously been rejected. The new covenant of the gospel, like the previous covenants, was an occasion of disobedience for many men. It is surprising to me, even given ecumenical obstacles, that a rabbinical Jew would fail to notice this.
Curiously, Turner notes, “But Nicholls’ reserves his harshest criticism for Martin Luther, a father of his own reformed church.” From the outside, we might say that Luther was a father of the Anglican religion, but many Anglicans would reject this. It is not an important point, though it further shows Turner’s ignorance of Christian history. And that is a mighty ignorance, tracing, as it does, the holocaust to the gospel:
What is to be done? Even assuming that Christianity would want to repent its two thousand years of Jew-hatred resulting most recently in what is not likely to be the West’s final effort at a Final Solution to its Jewish Problem: Is reform even possible? According to Professor Nicholls the likelihood is negligible. On page 168 he writes, “Christian anti-Judaism is not a later distortion of an originally pure religion. It is embedded in the foundation documents of the faith.”
I deal with the history a bit in “Those Jews” and elsewhere, but no such reasoning can be done with a man whose bigotry refuses to see a religion as anything but a tribal enemy.
Turner also exhibits the revolting rabbinical tic of thinking that only the Jews are clean and that everyone else is an unclean savage:
What, for example, would the Matthew gospel be without its dramatic rendition of the trial of Jesus: of Pilate “washing his hands” (a typically Jewish, not Pagan, custom!); of the Jews self-condemned forever as deicides.
Does he not realize that the idea of the sacred is universally connected with the idea of purity and that other people have been civilized and have believed in spiritual and bodily hygiene for ages? Christians and rabbinical Jews alike inherited this bizarre ignorance of pagans that, thousands of years later, they blithely maintain. Educated Christians seem to move past this idiocy, but rabbinical Jews with learning stubbornly seem to hold onto it. Their attachment to their chosen status is so strong, they appear to get “insecure” by the thought that other nations might wash themselves, cultivate virtue, and excel in intellectual pursuits. But then, what can be done? Hebrew chauvinism is not a later distortion of an originally pure religion. It is embedded in the foundation documents of the faith.
Turner claims that the gospel of John has Jesus refer to the Jews as Satanic:
The John gospel repeatedly describes the Jews as satanic: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do, (John 8:44).” From there it is a short step to characterizing the Jews as antichrists. John associates the Jews with Satan many more times than all three other canonical gospels combined.
Turner forgets, I suppose, that almost every agent in the gospels is Jewish, from the Theotokos to Caiaphas. Pick any prophet’s chastisements in the Hebrew scriptures, and one would interpret them as Jew hatred using the same hermeneutics.
The golden calf prize for asininity, one kil’ayim of a metaphor, goes to this statement:
And assuming a wave of remorse, a universal need to express penance, what then would remain of Christianity if indeed it did agree to do so? According to Nicholls, “Once all the anti-Jewish elements have been removed from Christianity, what is left turns out to be Judaism (p. 431).”
Turner cannot be blamed for Nicholl’s apostate remark, but he is a fool for using someone like him as his source for Christianity. I assume that his mistake was not done in bad faith. A sane man cannot be expected to understand the insanity that Nicholl’s represents. Turner then goes on to speak of Rome’s changes toward rabbinical Jews, about which I am ignorant. I would not be surprised if Rome had muddled its theological waters, but Christians must be clear that Jesus Christ is not the Lord of the goyim only but of all mankind, first to the Jew, and then to the Greek. Yet, it is this very univeralism that horrifies the rabbinical community, and they readily associate evangelism with the genocide of the holocaust. Even Christian Jews often have this mentality. Maybe, it’s that special status “insecurity.” We wouldn’t want the dogs to get any of God’s crumbs, would we?