The Righter Report

Is the New Testament Anti-Semitic?

First, from the Old Testament:

In the most sacred work of Judaism, the Torah, we find numerous pronunciations by God and Moses referring to the Israelites as being “stiff-necked” and “rebellious.”

The Lord and Moses were not alone. Isaiah Chapter 1 likens the Israelites to “Sodomites” and a “brood of evildoers,” whose “hands are full of blood.” Jeremiah Chapter 2 refers to them as “a wild donkey in heat.” Other prophets call them “adulteresses” and liken their behavior to prostitutes. So vivid were the descriptions of the abominations of the Israelites that the Bible records God himself bringing judgment upon judgment upon them, so that even their children were dashed against the rocks. But do you ever hear of anyone calling the Old Testament authors “anti-Semitic”? Never, and the reason why was because those issues were clearly understood to be intra-Jewish tensions written about by the Jews themselves.

Fast-forward to the New Testament:

The New Testament should be viewed in the same light. Jesus was a Jew. His disciples were all Jews, and the majority of the New Testament authors were also Jewish. Did they really hate their own race of people, or can it reasonably be said that, like the Old Testament, the tensions in the New Testament are just simply more of the same intra-Jewish rivalries like we saw before? I think the evidence is clearly with the latter.

Many cite the Gospel of John specifically as being anti-Semitic. Yet when the term “Jews” is used in a pejorative sense in John’s Gospel it is never directed toward the general populace, but towards the corrupt scribes, God-blasphemers, and ungodly Pharisees instead. In fact, contrary to being anti-Semitic, The Gospel of John presents the Israelites in a very positive light. From John Chapter 1 we read: “When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, ‘Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.’”

No doubt there have been many so-called Christians and gentiles through the ages who have engaged in horrendous acts against the Jewish people. And vice versa, if one starts with the Book of Acts and the early persecution of Christians in Jerusalem. Such grievous acts against both Jews and Christians are nevertheless totally contrary to the teachings of the Bible and Jesus Christ. In both Testaments God instructed his people to “love your neighbor.” Jesus went further and said to “love your enemies.” For those who wish to say the Bible, and specifically the New Testament, encourages such things as anti-Semitism and slavery, I ask, what part of “love your neighbor as you love yourself” seems ambiguous?

Today, in mainstream Christian congregations, it is as much a sin to engage in anti-Semitism as it is to hate one’s own brother. Perhaps more so, since in the Torah God promised to Abraham and his descendants that he would “bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you.” Many Christians, this writer included, support the State of Israel and the Jewish people. In addition, there are numerous Christian congregations such as The Cornerstone Church in San Antonio (John Hagee Ministries) who regularly meet with Jewish leaders and believers of Judaism in the spirit of brotherhood, and who send aid to the nation of Israel.

The Bible says the nation of Israel will never again be cut off from the face of the earth. The Jewish people are here for good, and anyone who wishes to fight against or disparage them is fighting against God himself. As the Apostle Paul noted, it’s time to put away childish things. Ignorance can breed hatred, contempt and divisions. Let us live in the knowledge and peace of God and love our brethren, or give up any claims to being the children of God that we might otherwise believe for ourselves.

God bless.

August 11, 2007 - Posted by | Theology

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