22 Dec Spiritual growth-level six
A question the Jewish community rightly asks is, “If Christianity is true, why has it produced such bad fruit for the Jewish people?” It no longer works to rationalize that anti-Semitic Christians could not have been authentic believers. A cursory reading of church history reveals that many otherwise devout church fathers spewed hatred towards the Jews. Nor is it plausible to say that evil gets more publicity than good and that the quiet deeds or kindnesses performed by sincere Christians, throughout the centuries, may have somehow evened the score.
I wanted some degree of clarity as to how something so pure in origin could have been perverted in such a diabolical way. The only answer that provided satisfaction came from an understanding of the dialectical relationship between good and evil. Karl Stern noted how they are paired together in revelation history–existing in symbiosis with evil feeding off the good.
I must be remembered that when God revealed Himself at Sinai, the Israelites engaged in the evil of idol worship below. Despite obvious flaws in the comparison, the principle holds: Because we can’t judge the credibility of the Abrahamic covenant by the subsequent rebellion of the Israelites, we shouldn’t judge the truthfulness of Jesus’ message by the church’s later anti-Semitism. Even while Jesus walked the earth, the forces of anti-Semitism were at play trying to obscure His message. Ultimately, the battle between good and evil is fought within each human heart. This helps in my understanding of how a decent, or even great man, can succumb to a fatal flaw—be it anti-Semitism or some other heinous quirk.
I also struggled to resolve Christianity’s narrow view of salvation with the wideness of God’s mercy seen at its core. Though the restricted view affects others aside from the Jews, my problem centered on a singular comparison: Hitler, in a last-minute formulation, could gain entrance into heaven, while his Jewish victims would be in Hell. I continue to believe that many Orthodox Jews exhibit greater faith in waiting for the Messiah (as they understand him) than certain Christians who sit in the pews every Sunday.
Reading views of liberal Christian scholars helped me to move forward. In hindsight, it bewilders me that God used my specific interest here to love, mold, and sculpt me into belief without any change in my liberal sensibility (see salvation issues on my website acongregationofone.com)