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Christianity and anti-Semitism

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In the last 2000 years anti-Semitism has been accepted and promulgated by many Christian leaders and laypersons; some, particularly in recent years, have condemned it. This article begins by describing passages in the New Testament that some feel are anti-Semitic as well as anti-Semitic statements and acts by the Church Fathers. It goes on to discuss developments in the 20th century, both promoting and opposing anti-Semitism.

Historically, a number of Christians have practiced anti-Semitism (compare Persecution of Christians) and some critics would claim that for most of its history, many branches of Christianity were openly anti-Semitic. The severity, type and extent of this anti-Semitism have varied much over time; the earliest form was theological anti-Semitism, but we should note that anti-Semitism existed well before Christianity and continued to be part of paganism after Christianity appeared. The pagan Romans, for example, considered the Jewish sect to be anti-social and the Jews to be religious fanatics. The Jews were nearly unique in the Roman world in insisting that their God was the only one. Romans in general were very tolerant of each region's religious practice and did not understand why first Jews, and then Christians, insisted that their religion was true and all other religions false and evil.

Table of contents

Anti-Semitism in the New Testament

In conjunction with this page, also see the article on Jews in the New Testament.

Many New Testament passages criticise the Pharisees, according to some the most influential Jewish group of its day. Christians have historically read these passages as attacking Jews in general. These passages have shaped the way that Christians viewed Jews; like most Bible passages, they have been interpreted in a variety of ways:

Some have argued that anti-Jewish passages in the New Testament are not really targeting Jews as a whole, as the Pharisees were just one of several Jewish groups (with the Saducees, Samaritans, and Essenes, for example). They argue that the fact that in the time of Jesus the Pharisees were the largest and most dominant group of theologians and religious leaders does not prove that Jesus' words were aimed at every individual Jew, nor at Jews as a people. (In any case, Jesus himself was a member of the Jewish people and practised the Jewish religion.)

As the canon of the New Testament was slowly settled, the other Jewish sects disappeared, leaving only Pharisaic Judaism (later known as rabbinic Judaism). Thus, almost all Jews today are descendants of the Pharisees. (Members of the Samaritan community still extant do not refer to themselves as Jews.) As such the New Testament passages about Pharisees have been read by the Christian community as being about Jews in general.

Another way to explain some passages that criticise "Jews", is that the Greek word Ioudaioi could also be translated "Judaeans", meaning specifically the Jews from Judaea, as opposed to Jews from Gallilee or Samaria for instance. If this explanation is correct, Christian anti-Semitism has in part been a tragic error arising from the fact that the New Testament writers did not choose a less ambiguous word for "Judaean", perhaps because they did not expect their words to be read for so many years and in such different cultures.

In recent years some theologians within liberal Christian denominations have begun to teach that readers should understand the New Testament's attacks on Jews as specific charges aimed at certain Jewish leaders of that time. Others disagree, pointing out that the passages as written do not condemn individuals, but target the Jewish people as a whole.

As time passed, the split between Christians (specifically, the followers of Paul and the other Apostles, all of whom were Jews) and Jews became more significant. By the time the Gospels came into their final form, they included points of view that, if said by Gentiles to Jews, would certainly be considered anti-Semitic by the Jews. This may be where the real problem began - Christianity reached out to Gentiles, and accepted them as eligible to become Christian without their first becoming Jewish. This was a direct result of a decision by the Christian leadership (who were predominantly Jewish) in Jerusalem. Thus a large number of non-Jews came into Christianity, and they read many verses as attacking Jews in general. It is clear that this interpretation of the New Testament was more commonly used after 1000 A.D. when used as proof that God hated the Jews. Until about 1000 A.D., there was an active Jewish component of Christianity. Lutheran Pastor John Stendahl has pointed out that "Christianity begins as a kind of Judaism, and we must recognize that words spoken in a family conflict are inappropriately appropriated by those outside the family."

The Church Fathers

The following statements have been used to justify persecution of Jews. Many of the following people were recognized as saints by the Church; none of them explicitly advocated physical violence or murder, sometimes arguing, like Augustine, that the Jews should be left alive and suffering as a perpetual reminder of their murder of Christ. We also should remember that the tolerance, moderation, and respect for diversity of modern secular Western states would not have been regarded as virtues in the early Christian church.

  • Eusebius of Caesarea, in 325, blames the calamities which befell the Jewish nation on the Jews' role in the death of Jesus: "that from that time seditions and wars and mischievous plots followed each other in quick succession, and never ceased in the city and in all Judea until finally the siege of Vespasian overwhelmed them. Thus the divine vengeance overtook the Jews for the crimes which they dared to commit against Christ. " (Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History: Book II, Chapter 6: The Misfortunes which overwhelmed the Jews after their Presumption against Christ) [1] (http://web.cbn.org/bibleresources/theology/eusebius/churchhistory/eusebius-b2-7.asp)

  • Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan (340-397 CE) - A bishop was accused of instigating the burning of a synagogue by an anti-Semitic mob, and Emperor Theodosius was preparing to order the bishop to rebuild it. Ambrose discouraged the Emperor from taking this step because it would appear to show special favoritism to the Jews: (1) no action was taken against those responsible for burning the houses of various wealthy individuals in Rome; (2) no action was taken against those responsible for the recent burning of the house of the Bishop of Constantinople; (3) Jews had caused several Christian basilicas to be burnt during the reign of Julian, yet had never been asked to make reparation, and some of those basilicas were still not rebuilt. Ambrose asked that Christian monies not be used to build a place of worship for unbelievers, heretics or Jews, and reminded Ambrose that some Christian laity had said of Emperor Maximus, "he has become a Jew" because of the edict Maximus issued regarding the burning of a Roman synagogue. Ambrose did not oppose punishing those directly responsible for burning the synagogue. He halted the celebration of the Eucharist until Theodosius agreed to end the investigation without requiring reparations to be made by the bishop. (from the 40th and 41st Epistles of St. Ambrose of Milan)

Catholic Encyclopaedia entry on Ambrose (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01383c.htm)

  • Augustine of Hippo in Book 18, Chapter 46, of The City of God. wrote "The Jews who slew Him [Jesus], and would not believe in Him, because it behoved Him to die and rise again, were yet more miserably wasted by the Romans, and utterly rooted out from their kingdom, where aliens had already ruled over them, and were dispersed through the lands (so that indeed there is no place where they are not), and are thus by their own Scriptures a testimony to us that we have not forged the prophecies about Christ." [2] (http://www.ccel.org/fathers/NPNF1-02/Augustine/cog/t103.htm)

Augustine deems this scattering important because he believes that this is a fulfillment of certain prophecies, thus proving that Jesus was the Messiah. This is because Augustine believes that the Jews who were dispersed were the enemies of the Christian Church. He also quotes part of the same prophecy that says "Slay them not, lest they should at last forget Thy law".

  • Ephraim the Syrian wrote polemics against Jews in the fourth century, including the repeated accusation that Satan dwells among them as a partner. These writings were directed at Christians who were being proselytized by Jews and who Ephraim feared were slipping back into the religion of Judaism; thus he portrayed the Jews as enemies of Christianity, like Satan, to emphasize the contrast between the two religions, namely, that Christianity was Godly and true and Judaism was Satanic and false. Like John Chrysostom, his objective was to dissuade Christians from reverting to Judaism by emphasizing what he saw as the wickedness of the Jews and their religion.

Ephraim the Syrian and his polemics against Jews (http://syrcom.cua.edu/Hugoye/Vol1No2/HV1N2Palmer)

Analysis of Ephraim's writings (http://syrcom.cua.edu/Hugoye/Vol5No1/HV5N1Shepardson)

  • In his Dialog of Justin, Philosopher and Martyr, with Trypho, a Jew, the Christian scholar Justin Martyr advanced arguments for the truth of Christianity and wrote to his imaginary Jewish opponent: "You think that these words refer to the stranger and the proselytes, but in fact they refer to us who have been illumined by Jesus. For Christ would have borne witness even to them; but now you are become twofold more the children of Hell, as He said Himself."[3] (http://www.ccel.org/fathers/ANF-01/just/justintrypho)

  • Saint Jerome (374-419 CE) - He denounced Jews as "Judaic serpents of whom Judas was the model." In his The Jews in the Roman Empire (Les Juifs dan L'Empire Romain) [Is this really a work by Jerome, or a modern history?] he wrote: "The Jews seek nothing but to have children, possess riches and be healthy. They seek all earthly things, but think nothing of heavenly things; for this reason they are mercenaries."

  • Saint John Chrysostom (ca 344 - 407 CE) - wrote of the Jews and of Judaizers in eight homilies Adversus Judaeos, Against The Jews (or Against the Judaizers) [4] (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/chrysostom-jews6). These quotes are translations from the original Greek posted by Paul Halsall: other researchers give slightly different translations.

"Shall I tell you of their plundering, their covetousness, their abandonment of the poor, their thefts, their cheating in trade? the whole day long will not be enough to give you an account of these things. But do their festivals have something solemn and great about them? They have shown that these, too, are impure." (Homily I, VII, 1)
"But before I draw up my battle line against the Jews, I will be glad to talk to those who are members of our own body, those who seem to belong to our ranks although they observe the Jewish rites and make every effort to defend them. Because they do this, as I see it, they deserve a stronger condemnation than any Jew." (HOMILY IV, II, 4)
"Are you Jews still disputing the question? Do you not see that you are condemned by the testimony of what Christ and the prophets predicted and which the facts have proved? But why should this surprise me? That is the kind of people you are. From the beginning you have been shameless and obstinate, ready to fight at all times against obvious facts." (HOMILY V, XII, 1)

Historical note -- In the introduction to the first of the eight sermons delivered at Antioch, Chrysostom explains his purpose in these words: "There are many in our ranks who say the Jews think as we do. Yet some of these are going to watch the Jewish festivals and others will join the Jews in keeping their feasts and observing their fasts. I wish to drive this perverse custom from the Church right now. My homilies against the Anomians can be put off to another time, and the postponement would cause no harm. But now that the Jewish festivals are close by and at the very door, if I should fail to cure those who are sick with the Judaizing disease." This would seem to indicate that the goal of these sermons was to discourage Christians from intermixing Jewish belief and practice with Christian belief and practice, because Jewish belief and practice were evil and un-Godly. At the time he delivered these sermons, he was a tonsured reader and had not yet been ordained a priest or bishop, but the sermons plainly did not prevent his ordainment or his elevation to a bishopric or his later canonization.

  • Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe[?] (467-533 CE) - In his "Writings", written about 510 CE, he states "Hold most firmly and doubt not that not all the pagans, but also all the Jews, heretic and schismatics who depart from the present life outside the Catholic Church, are about to go into eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." (See also: Extra ecclesiam nulla salus.)

Later Christian Writers

  • Thomas of Monmouth, a monk in the Norwich Benedictine monastery, wrote a detailed anti-Semitic tractate holding that Jews tortured to death Christian children during Passover. His tractate was called The Life and Miracles of St. William of Norwich, 1173.

Excerpt from the Life and Miracles of St. William of Norwich (http://www.unc.edu/courses/westciv/readings/antisemitism)

  • Thomas Aquinas (1225 - 1274) preached that the Jewish people were damned because they had slain Jesus, and the only way they could be saved was to renounce their faith and be baptized as Christians.

  • Geoffrey Chaucer (?1343-1400) wrote in "The Prioress's Tale" of his Canterbury Tales of a devout little Christian child who was murdered by Jews affronted at his singing a hymn as he passed through the Jewry, or Jewish quarter, of a city in Asia:

Our primal foe, the serpent Sathanas,
Who has in Jewish heart his hornets' nest,
Swelled arrogantly: "O Jewish folk, alas!
Is it to you a good thing, and the best,
That such a boy walks here, without protest,
In your despite and doing such offense
Against the teachings that you reverence?"
From that time forth the Jewish folk conspired
Out of the world this innocent to chase;
A murderer they found, and thereto hired,
Who in an alley had a hiding-place;
And as the child went by at sober pace,
This cursed Jew did seize and hold him fast,
And cut his throat, and in a pit him cast.
I say, that in a cesspool him they threw,
Wherein these Jews did empty their entrails.
O cursed folk of Herod, born anew,
How can you think your ill intent avails?
Murder will out, 'tis sure, nor ever fails,
And chiefly when God's honour vengeance needs.[5] (http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/gchaucer/bl-gchau-can-pri.htm)

  • Martin Luther, founder of Protestant Christianity, was at first very friendly towards the Jews, believing that the evils of Catholicism had prevented their conversion to Christianity. When he discovered that Jews did not find the Protestant form of Christianity any more congenial, he became very hostile to them instead and preached that they were "venomous beats, vipers, disgusting scum, canders, devils incarnate. Their private houses must be destroyed and devastated, they could be lodged in stables. Let the magistrates burn their synagogues and let whatever escapes be covered with sand and mud. Let them force to work, and if this avails nothing, we will be compelled to expel them like dogs in order not to expose ourselves to incurring divine wrath and eternal damnation from the Jews and their lies."

  • Pope Clement VIII (1536-1605). "All the world suffers from the usury of the Jews, their monopolies and deceit. They have brought many unfortunate people into a state of poverty, especially the farmers, working class people and the very poor. Then, as now, Jews have to be reminded intermittently that they were enjoying rights in any country since they left Palestine and the Arabian desert, and subsequently their ethical and moral doctrines as well as their deeds rightly deserve to be exposed to criticism in whatever country they happen to live."

Many websites have lists of supposed quotes by Christian leaders and saints. For example, one page on More Christian Jew Haters (http://www.nt-antisemitism.ic24.net/antisem/hate.htm) claims to list "quotes that reveal shocking hatred against the Jewish people and false accusations against the Jews by popes, 'saints' and other Christian religious functionaries". Many of these quotes turn out to be partly or completely fabricated by people seeking to discredit Christianity. Amongst the victims of these misquotations is Gregory of Nyssa.

20th century Christian statements

Cardinal Joszef Mindszenty[?], of Hungary, claimed that "The troublemakers in Hungary are the Jews! They demoralize our country and they are the leaders of the revolutionary gang that is torturing Hungary." (Source: B'nai B'rith Messenger, January 28, 1949)

Christian evangelist preacher Thomas Short gave a talk during a visit to Texas A&M; in it he publicly said that a Jewish student was "destined for hell." He then told another Jewish student that "Hitler did not go far enough." (November, 1996)

Reverend Jerry Falwell gave a statement (January 14, 1999) that caused concern in the Jewish community. He stated that "the Anti-Christ is probably alive today and is a male Jew. Is he alive and here today? Probably. Because when he appears during the Tribulation period he will be a full-grown counterfeit of Christ. Of course he'll be Jewish. Of course he'll pretend to be Christ. And if in fact the Lord is coming soon, and he'll be an adult at the presentation of himself, he must be alive somewhere." Falwell later expressed astonishment at the idea that Jews would find this anti-Semitic, and offered an apology for hurting anyone's feelings, but stood by his position. He was making these statements according to a view of Christian eschatology called premillennial dispensationalism, which anticipates the appearance of a false Messiah. They expect this anti-Christ to deceive the world by at first seeming more perfectly than Jesus to fulfill the scriptural promises of a coming prophet and king of the Jews. The same view of eschatology teaches that the curse of God will come against anyone who curses the Jewish people, and that of all people in the world the Jews alone will not be deceived by the anti-Christ. Nevertheless, the majority of Jews, both religious and secular, feel that such claims are hostile to them.

The Jews' expulsion from England

Edward I of England expelled all the Jews from England in 1290 (only after ransoming some 3,000 among the most wealthy of them).

The Jews' expulsion from Spain

In 1481, Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile, the rulers of Spain who financed Christopher Columbus' voyage to the New World just a few years later in 1492, declared the Spanish Inquisition. All Jews in their territory were compelled to convert to Christianity or flee the country. While some converted, many others left for Morocco and North Africa. Estimates are that between four and eight thousand secret Jews (morraños) were burnt alive, as well as many Moriscos. It is arguable whether this constitutes anti-Semitism in the racist sense, since it was directed at the religion of Judaism.

Church teachings and Nazi Germany

Christian anti-Semitism has its roots in religious intolerance. Jews that converted to Christianity were accepted. Nazi anti-Semitism on the other hand was racist and directed towards all ethnic Jews, whether religious or secular.

Nevertheless, some see links between the two varieties of anti-Semitism.

The Synod of Clermont (Franks), 535 CE - Prohibited Jews from holding public office. Nazi Germany, 1935 CE - Prohibited Jews from holding public office.

The 12th Synod of Toledo (Spain), 681 CE - Ordered the burning of the Talmud and other Jewish books. Nazi Germany - Ordered the burning of the Talmud and other Jewish books.

In 692, the Trulanic Synod[?] forbade Christians to go to Jewish doctors, attend Jewish religious feasts or have friendly relations with Jews. Nazi Germany - The Nuremberg laws forbade people to go to Jewish doctors.

The Fourth Lateran Council, 1215 CE - forced Jews to wear a distinctive badge on their clothing. Pope Paul IV, in 1555, issues a papal bull forcing Jews to wear yellow hats; this same papal bull confines Jews to ghettos, and bans them from working in most professions. Nazi Germany - Adopted every single one of the Christian laws in 1939; the only change was that the yellow hat was changed to a yellow star.

In the 1930s Nazi Germany help the Lutheran church and other Christian churches publicise Martin Luther's teachings; his recommendations were carried out on every Jew in Germany and its occupied lands. They attempted to murder almost every Jew; they also enslaved tens of thousands of Jews.

The Catholic laity in Slovakia was taught by their clergy that the Nazis were doing the will of Jesus Christ in exterminating the Jews. In 1942 before Passover, Rabbi Michael Dov-Ber Weissmandel asked for help from a fellow clergy person and long-time acquaintance, Archbishop Kametko. Rabbi Weissmandel begged the archbishop to intervene with President Tisso, to prevent the expulsion of the Jewish population from Slovakia. Archbishop Kametko replied "This is no mere expulsion. There you will not die of hunger and pestilence; there they will slaughter you all, young and old, women and children, in one day. This is your punishment for the death of our Redeemer. There is only one hope for you, to convert to our religion. Then I shall effect the annulling of this decree." (See "Min Hamezar", in "Faith After the Holocaust", Eliezer Berkovits, Ktav, 1973, pp. 16-17.)

In fall 1945, Rabbi Michael Dov-Ber Weissmandel escaped from a deportation to Auschwitz. He approached the papal nuncio (Catholic papal delegate) for help in stopping the extermination of Slovakian Jews. The official response was "This, being a Sunday, is a holy day for us. Neither I nor Father Tisso occupy ourselves with profane matters on this day." Rabbi Weissmandel asked how the murder of innocent men and women, children and babies could be considered "profane" by Christians. The Catholic Archbishop replied, "There is no innocent blood of Jewish children in the world. All Jewish blood is guilty. You have to die. This is the punishment that has been awaiting you because of that sin [the death of Jesus]." (Eliezer Berkovits, Faith, pp. 16-17.)

Christian opposition to the Holocaust

There was little in the way of organized resistance to the Nazis' anti-Semitic policies by any Christian group during the 1930s in Europe, whether Catholic, Orthodox Christian, or Protestant. However, there were many individual Christian clergy and laypeople of all denominations who publicly and actively opposed the Nazis' anti-Semitic policies. One Lutheran pastor who did was Dietrich Bonhoeffer, though in the end his opposition cost him his life. By the 1940s, fewer Christians were willing to oppose Nazi policy publicly, but many secretly helped save the lives of Jewish people. There are many sections of Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Museum, Yad VaShem[?], dedicated to honoring these "Righteous Among the Nations".

Reasons that anti-Semitism continued

Christian law forbade Christians to lend money and reclaim it with interest; Jewish law likewise had the same restrictions. But during the middle-ages, European Christian nobility often forced Jews to take on this role; over time, some Jews naturally played an important role in the economies of the Middle Ages. On many occasions, when their high-powered debtors decided they did not want to pay back their debts, they relied on the "Christ's murderers" tradition to expel the Jews and default on their obligations. To many, this would appear to be a case of misuse of Scripture and tradition to justify actions that would otherwise be condemned. (This paragraph would greatly benefit from evidence and examples.)

As with any other religion, Christianity is transmitted through the voices of men. The shape of anti-Semitism in the Christian world has changed so much according to place and time that, on nearly anyone's account, it is unfair to say Christians per se have taught anti-Semitism. But again, on nearly anyone's account, it can certainly be said that Christian anti-Semites have often turned to Christian scripture to justify their actions.

Anti-Semitism in modern-day nations

Anti-Semitism in some Eastern European countries still remains a substantial problem. The entry on Anti-Semitism in Poland discusses the current state of how the predominantly Catholic Polish population views Jewish people. Anti-Semitism exists to a lesser or greater degree in many other nations as well, including: Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and Syria. While in a decline since the 1940s, there is still a measurable amount of anti-Semitism in the United States of America as well, although acts of violence are quite rare. The 2001 survey by the Anti-Defamation League reported 1432 acts of anti-Semitism in the United States that year. The figure included 877 acts of harassment, including verbal intimidation, threats and physical assaults ([6] (http://www.adl.org/PresRele/ASUS_12/4057_12.asp)).

Current attempts to convert Jews to Christianity

It has been the viewpoint of Evangelical Christians that all people must accept Jesus Christ as their Savior in order to find salvation. However, some Evangelical leaders, including Pat Robertson and Billy Graham, and some churches have mellowed their position somewhat, either by refusing to specifically proselytize Jews or by maintaining that Jews are still covered by the Abrahamic Covenant. Most Jews see evangelism directed specifically at Jews as anti-Semitic.

But the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant Christian denomination in the U.S., has explicitly rejected suggestions that it should back away from seeking to convert Jews, a position that critics have called anti-Semitic but that Baptists see as consistent with their view that salvation is found solely though faith in Christ. In 1996, the SBC approved a resolution calling for efforts to seek the conversion of Jews "as well as for the salvation of 'every kindred and tongue and people and nation.'"

Many other Evangelicals agree with the SBC position, and some have similarly been supporting efforts specifically seeking Jews' conversion. Among the controversial groups that has found support from some Evangelical churches is Jews for Jesus, which claims that Jews can find their Jewish faith become "complete" by accepting Jesus as the Messiah.

By contrast, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Canada and the Roman Catholic Church have ended their efforts to convert Jews. They do continue their evangelism more generally among non-Jews.

The "White Power" Movement

The Christian Identity movement, the Ku Klux Klan and other White supremacy groups claim to be very strongly Christian in nature; they are vehemently anti-Semitic, as well as racist. The Klan is also demonstrably anti-Catholic.

Reconciliation between Judaism and Christian groups

In recent years there has been much to note in the way of reconciliation between some Christians groups and the Jewish people. Many Christians feel it is their God-given duty to protect Jews from annihilation by the Islamic world. For example, Pat Robertson said, "Adolf Hitler was bad, but what the Muslims want to do to the Jews is worse" Pat Robertson's statement (http://www.washtimes.com/national/20021203-84238504.htm). However, many have felt that this just turns anti-Semitism into hatred of Islam, which is not much better. The Anti-Defamation League has repeatedly condemned such statements as an insult against millions of Muslims the world over.

In many nations there has been a remarkable decline in anti-Semitism after the horrors of the Holocaust were made public to the larger world population. Anti-Semitism among Christians has not died out entirely, and anti-Semitic acts have been perpetrated by some Christian leaders. Nonetheless, the leaders of many Christian denominations have developed new positions towards the Jewish people over the last thirty years, and much progress in inter-faith relations has occurred.

Many elements of the Jewish community have responded favorably. In the United States, rabbis from the non-Orthodox movements of Judaism became involved in inter-faith theological dialogue with a number of Christian churches. In 1965 with the landmark document Vatican II, the Catholic Church repudiated and disavowed its previous teachings that all Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus. In 1971 it established an International Liaison Committee for itself and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations.

In 1981 the Assembly of the Church of Scotland declared "its belief in the continuing place of God's people of Israel within the divine purpose."

In 1982 the Lutheran World Federation issued a consultation stating that "we Christians must purge ourselves of any hatred of the Jews and any sort of teaching of contempt for Judaism."

In 1993 (March 1) International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ) published "Jews and Christians in Search of a Common Religious Basis for Contributing Towards a Better World." This document "contains both separate Jewish perspectives and Christian perspectives concerning mutual communication and cooperation as well as a joint view of a common religious basis for Jews and Christians to work together for a better world....These considerations are not 'the' official theological, philosophical nor ideological underpinnings of the ICCJ and its member organisations, but are an invitation to consider what our work is all about. They have no authority other than their intrinsic world..."

Jews and Christians in Search of a Common Religious Basis for Contributing Towards a Better World (http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/research/cjl/Documents/ICCJ_1993.htm)

A large Protestant Christian group, the Alliance of Baptists, has broken with traditional Christian theology vis--vis the Jewish people. In March 1995 they issued "A Baptist Statement on Jewish-Christian Relations". This document stated that the Holocaust could only have come about because of "centuries of Christian teaching and church-sanctioned action directed against the Jews simply because they were Jews. As Baptist Christians we are the inheritors of and, in our turn, have been the transmitters of a theology which lays the blame for the death of Jesus at the feet of the Jews...a theology which has valued conversion over dialogue, invective over understanding, and prejudice over knowledge...". They then confessed their sins of "of complicity...of silence...of indifference and inaction to the horrors of the Holocaust." Finally, they issues a series of recommended actions that they asked all Christians to join them in, namely:

  • "Affirming the teaching of the Christian Scriptures that God has not rejected the community of Israel, God's covenant people (Romans 11:1-2), since 'the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable' (Romans 11:29);

  • Renouncing interpretations of Scripture which foster religious stereotyping and prejudice against the Jewish people and their faith;

  • Seeking genuine dialogue with the broader Jewish community, a dialogue built on mutual respect and the integrity of each other's faith;

  • Lifting our voices quickly and boldly against all expressions of anti-Semitism;

  • Educating ourselves and others on the history of Jewish-Christian relations from the first century to the present, so as to understand our present by learning from our past."

The United Church of Canada issued a statement in May 1998 entitled "Bearing Faithful Witness: United Church-Jewish Relations Today." This position paper goes further than most other liberal Christians groups, and calls upon Christians to:

  • Stop trying to convert Jews to Christianity; Reject Biblical interpretations which negatively stereotype Jews, as this leads to anti-Semitism; Reject the idea that Christianity is superior to, or a replacement for, Judaism; recognize that anti-Semitism is an element of historic Christianity, but not an inherent part of it - therefore one can remove it from Christianity and still remain faithful to Christianity.

The Christian Scholars Group on Christian-Jewish Relations, a group of 22 Christian scholars, theologians, historians and clergy from six Christian Protestant denominations and the Roman Catholic Church, works to "develop more adequate Christian theologies of the church's relationship to Judaism and the Jewish people." They issued a statement in September 2002, "A Sacred Obligation: Rethinking Christian Faith in Relation to Judaism and the Jewish People". This document states, in part "For most of the past two thousand years, Christians have erroneously portrayed Jews as unfaithful, holding them collectively responsible for the death of Jesus and therefore accursed by God. In agreement with many official Christian declarations, we reject this accusation as historically false and theologically invalid. It suggests that God can be unfaithful to the eternal covenant with the Jewish people. We acknowledge with shame the suffering this distorted portrayal has brought upon the Jewish people.... We believe that revising Christian teaching about Judaism and the Jewish people is a central and indispensable obligation of theology in our time." They then offer ten positions, with detailed explanations, "for the consideration of our fellow Christians. We urge all Christians to reflect on their faith in light of these statements." The ten positions, in brief, are:

  1. God's covenant with the Jewish people endures forever.
  2. Jesus of Nazareth lived and died as a faithful Jew.
  3. Ancient rivalries must not define Christian-Jewish relations today.
  4. Judaism is a living faith, enriched by many centuries of development.
  5. The Bible both connects and separates Jews and Christians.
  6. Affirming God's enduring covenant with the Jewish people has consequences for Christian understandings of salvation.
  7. Christians should not target Jews for conversion.
  8. Christian worship that teaches contempt for Judaism dishonors God.
  9. We affirm the importance of the land of Israel for the life of the Jewish people.
  10. Christians should work with Jews for the healing of the world.

Details may be found here: The Christian Scholars Group on Christian-Jewish Relations (http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/research/cjl/Christian_Scholars_Group/csg.htm) The statement may or may not reflect the views of the scholars' various denominations.

Many smaller Christian groups in the US and Canada have come into being over the last 40 years, such as "Christians for Israel". Their website says that they exist in order to "expand Christian-Jewish dialogue in the broadest sense in order to improve the relationship between Christians and Jews, but also between Church and Synagogue, emphasizing Christian repentance, the purging of anti-Jewish attitudes and the false 'Replacement' theology rampant throughout Christian teachings."

Christians for Israel (http://christianactionforisrael.org/index)

A number of large Christian groups, including the Catholic Church and several large Protestant churches, have publicly declared that they will no longer proselytize Jews.

Recently, over 120 rabbis from all branches of Judaism signed a document called Dabru Emet ("Speak the Truth") that has since been used in Jewish education programs across the U.S. See the entry on this topic for more details.

The Fifth Academic Meeting between Judaism And Orthodox Christianity was held In Thessaloniki, Greece, on May 27-29, 2003. The Meeting was organized by Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, who heads the Office of International and Intercultural Affairs to the Liaison Office of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the European Union, Brussels, in cooperation with the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, New York, Co-Chaired by Rabbi Israel Singer who is also Chairman of the World Jewish Congress[?], and Rabbi Joel Meyers who is also the Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Assembly. In his opening remarks, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew denounced religious fanaticism and rejected attempts by any faith to denigrate others. The following principles were adopted at the meeting:

  • Judaism and Christianity while hearkening to common sources inviolably maintain their internal individuality and particularity.

  • The purpose of our dialogue is to remove prejudice and to promote a spirit of mutual understanding and constructive cooperation in order to confront common problems.

  • Specific proposals will be developed to educate the faithful of both religions to promote healthy relationships based on mutual respect and understanding to confront bigotry and fanaticism.

  • Being conscious of the crises of ethical and spiritual values in the contemporary world, we will endeavor to identify historical models of peaceful coexistence, which can be applied to minority Jewish and Orthodox communities in the Diaspora.

  • We will draw from our spiritual sources to develop programs to promote and enhance our common values such as peace, social justice and human rights, specifically addressing the concerns of religious minorities.

Participants also agreed to establish a permanent coordinating committee to maintain and foster continuing relationships. The Committee would jointly monitor principles enunciated at the meeting and would further enhance the dialogue and foster understanding between the respective religious communities.

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