Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Matthew 27-Jesus Standing Before Pilate and the Historical Horrors that Followed

Examining the Gospel of Matthew and the story of Jesus being brought before Pilate in chapter 27 I cannot help but wonder if any section of scripture has caused as much suffering, created as much hatred and produced as much death in Western history as this passage?

During undergraduate school I slowly became drawn into Jewish studies. It began with one Jewish history class and then blossomed into my degree. As a Christian I was originally drawn in because Jewish history begins with biblical studies and I knew my bible, at least I knew from a certain point of view. So the class was fascinating because I began to learn more about the bible, the book that I loved and that defined me, then I had ever known. But as Jewish history moved from the bible into the rest of western history I began to learn about church history from a very different perspective then I knew it and it was a perspective in which the church came out looking quite bad even evil at times. As I went further into my studies I soon found myself in classes that were quite small where the students were all Jewish. I was sitting there a single Christian learning about the evils of Christian conduct towards the Jews and Judaism. It was in these classes that for the first time in my life I truly felt embarrassed to be a Christian.

Looking at the story of Pilate in the gospel of Matthew it begins with the chief priests taking Jesus before Pilate so they can bring about his death. Pilate questions Jesus and finds him to be innocent realizing that the chief priests are seeking Jesus death merely out of jealousy. Still Pilate presents the Jewish crowd the choice between freeing Barabbas, a notorious prisoner and Jesus. The story makes it clear that Pilate believes Jesus is the one who should be released. But the priests and elders had gone around in the crowd to persuading everyone to pick Barabbas rather then Jesus. After the crowd demands the release of Barabbas Pilate asks what he is to do with Jesus to which the crowd yells “crucify him.” Pilate seeks to understand why the crowd wanted this asking them to explain what crime Jesus had committed but the crowd only shouted all the louder for Jesus’ death. So despite his best efforts Pilate saw there was nothing he could do but give in to the crowd to prevent a riot. And in the verses that would haunt the rest of history Pilate “took some water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.’ Then the people as a whole answered, ‘His blood be on us and our children!’” (Matt. 27:24b-25 NRSV) These verses became the foundation for Christianity’s Anti-Jewish doctrines and policies causing the deaths of millions of Jews all the way up through the Holocaust. Christian theologian Hans Küng admits that, "Nazi anti-Judaism was the work of godless, anti-Christian criminals. But it would not have been possible without the almost two thousand years' pre-history of 'Christian' anti-Judaism..." While I don’t believe the Nazis were as godless (non-Christian) as Küng claims they were he is certainly correct that it is in fact Christianity the laid the foundation for their crimes and it all starts with the story of Pilate.

After the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem (70 CE) the gap between Jewish and pagan (non-Jewish) believers in Jesus increased as more and more pagans converted to Christianity. The works of Paul and various other scriptures detail some of the issues that were created early on. Roman persecution hardened this separation as it differentiated between the two groups. Then as the Roman persecution of Christians waned and Christianity actually began to gain power in the empire the Anti-Jewish attitudes that had become a part of the teachings of the church became very clear.  

The anti-Jewish spirit of Christianity formalized itself both in the political and theological realms. The Church fathers responsible for laying out the core beliefs and doctrines of the church emphasized the errors of Judaism as well as the Jewish people themselves and the story of Pilate found in all four gospels was key in their attacks both theologically and politically upon the Jewish people.

Justin Martyr was an early Christian apologist in his Dialogue with Trypho (written between 138-161 CE) he said,We too, would observe your circumcision of the flesh, your Sabbath days, and in a word, all you festivals, if we were not aware of the reason why they were imposed upon you, namely, because of your sins and the hardness of heart.
The custom of circumcising the flesh, handed down from Abraham, was given to you as a distinguishing mark, to set you off from other nations and from us Christians. The purpose of this was that you and only you might suffer the afflictions that are now justly yours; that only your land be desolated, and you cities ruined by fire, that the fruits of you land be eaten by strangers before your very eyes; that not one of you be permitted to enter your city of Jerusalem. Your circumcision of the flesh is the only mark by which you can certainly be distinguished from other men…as I stated before it was by reason of your sins and the sins of your fathers that, among other precepts, God imposed upon you the observance of the sabbath as a mark.”

Origen of Alexandria (185-254 CE) was an ecclesiastical writer and teacher who contributed greatly to the early formation of Christian doctrines. He said,We may thus assert in utter confidence that the Jews will not return to their earlier situation, for they have committed the most abominable of crimes, in forming this conspiracy against the Savior of the human race…hence the city where Jesus suffered was necessarily destroyed, the Jewish nation was driven from its country, and another people was called by God to the blessed election.”

St. John Chrysotom (349–407 CE) was the Patriarch of Constantinople and known as the Bishop with the Golden Tongue. He wrote a work called Orations Against the Jews, in which he said, "The Jews are the most worthless of all men. They are lecherous, rapacious, greedy. They are perfidious murderers of Christ. They worship the Devil. Their religion is a sickness. The Jews are the odious assassins of Christ and for killing God there is no expiation possible, no indulgence or pardon. Christians may never cease vengeance, and the Jew must live in servitude forever. God always hated the Jews. It is essential that all Christians hate them.” He went on saying, "The Jews sacrifice their children to Satan. They are worse than wild beasts. The Synagogue is a brothel, a den of scoundrels, the temple of demons devoted to idolatrous cults, a criminal assembly of Jews, a place of meeting for the assassins of Christ, a house of ill fame, a dwelling of iniquity, a gulf and abyss of perdition. The Jews have fallen into a condition lower than the vilest animal. Debauchery and drunkenness have brought them to a level of the lusty goat and the pig. They know only one thing: to satisfy their stomachs, to get drunk, to kill, and beat each other up like stage villains and coachmen. The Synagogue is a curse, obstinate in her error, she refuses to see or hear, she has deliberately perverted her judgment; she has extinguished with herself the light of the Holy Spirit."

Look here to read 8 homilies St John Chrysostom (c.347-407) wrote against the Jews.

Augustine (354-430) the most important theologian for the Western tradition until Thomas Aquinas openly opposed Judaism. Writing in his Tractatus Adversus Judæo he said, "The true image of the Hebrew is Judas Iscariot, who sells the Lord for silver. The Jew can never understand the Scriptures and forever will bear the guilt for the death of Jesus."

In his Confession Augustine wrote, “How hateful to me are the enemies of your Scripture! How I wish that you would slay them (the Jews) with your two-edged sword, so that there should be none to oppose your word! Gladly would I have them die to themselves and live to you!

St. Jerome (347-420) was probably the friendliest Christian leader towards the Jews as he worked to create the Vulgate translation of the Bible translating directly from the Hebrew, which Augustine opposed. Still he wrote of a synagogue: "If you call it a brothel, a den of vice, the Devil's refuge, Satan's fortress, a place to deprave the soul, an abyss of every conceivable disaster or whatever you will, you are still saying less than it deserves."

Looking specifically at the political changes beginning with Constantine one sees a continual fall of the status of the Jews. Beginning in 315 Constantine published the Edict of Milan which extended religious tolerance to Christians while Jews lost many of their rights. They were no longer permitted to live in Jerusalem, or to proselytize.

In 306 at the church Synod of Elvira banned marriages, sexual intercourse and community contacts between Christians and Jews.

In 325 The Council of Nicea decided to separate the celebration of Easter from the Jewish Passover. They stated: "For it is unbecoming beyond measure that on this holiest of festivals we should follow the customs of the Jews. Henceforth let us have nothing in common with this odious people...We ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews...our worship follows a...more convenient course...we desire dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews...How, then, could we follow these Jews, who are almost certainly blinded."

In 337 Christian Emperor Constantius created a law which made the marriage of a Jewish man to a Christian punishable by death.

In 339 Converting to Judaism became a criminal offense.

Between 379-395 Emperor Theodosius the Great permitted the destruction of synagogues if it served a religious purpose.

In 415 The Bishop of Alexandria, St. Cyril, expelled the Jews from that Egyptian city.

In 528 Emperor Justinian (527-564) passed the Justinian Code. It prohibited Jews from building synagogues, reading the Bible in Hebrew, assemble in public, celebrate Passover before Easter, and testify against Christians in court.

In 538 The 3rd and 4th Councils of Orleans prohibited Jews from appearing in public during the Easter season. Canon XXX decreed that "From the Thursday before Easter for four days, Jews may not appear in the company of Christians." Marriages between Christians and Jews were prohibited. Christians were prohibited from converting to Judaism.

In 694 The 17th Church Council of Toledo, Spain defined Jews as the serfs of the prince. This was based, in part, on the beliefs by Chrysostom, Origen, Jerome, and other Church Fathers that God punished the Jews with perpetual slavery because of their alleged responsibility for the execution of Jesus.

During the middle ages the Jews lost more and more of their rights to the point that kings could arbitrarily take whatever they wanted whenever they wanted and the writings of theologians and teachers of the church became even more vile.

Peter the Venerable (1092-1156) who is often seen as an unofficial saint and who was known as "the meekest of men, a model of Christian charity" said of the Jews, Yes, you Jews. I say, do I address you; you, who till this very day, deny the Son of God. How long, poor wretches, will ye not believe the truth? Truly I doubt whether a Jew can be really human… I lead out from its den a monstrous animal, and show it as a laughing stock in the amphitheater of the world, in the sight of all the people. I bring thee forward, thou Jew, thou brute beast, in the sight of all men.”

In 1205 Pope Innocent III wrote to the archbishops of Sens and Paris that "the Jews, by their own guilt, are consigned to perpetual servitude because they crucified the Lord...As slaves rejected by God, in whose death they wickedly conspire, they shall by the effect of this very action, recognize themselves as the slaves of those whom Christ's death set free..."

In 1215 The Fourth Lateran Council approved canon laws requiring that "Jews and Muslims shall wear a special dress." They also had to wear a badge in the form of a ring. This was to enable them to be easily distinguished from Christians. This practice later spread to other countries.

In 1227 The Synod of Narbonne required Jews to wear an oval badge. This requirement was reinstalled during the 1930's by Hitler, who changed the oval badge to a Star of David.

The Spanish Inquisition starts in the 1230s and the Church authorizes the use of torture by the Inquisitors.

In 1290 Jews are exiled from England. About 16,000 left the country. Then in 1298 Jews were persecuted in Austria, Bavaria and Franconia. 140 Jewish communities were destroyed; more than 100,000 Jews were killed over a 6 month period.

One of the worst episodes of Jewish persecution came as a result of the plague in the 1340s labeled the Black Death. It is unclear exactly were the Black Death originated but it was somewhere in the Far East. China, Mongolia, India, central Asia, and southern Russia have all been suggested as the source. Rats initially carried the Black Death; their fleas spread the disease from the rats to humans. As the plague worsened, the germs spread from human to human. In five years, the death toll had reached 25 million. In England, two centuries passed before its population levels recovered from the plague. People searched for someone to blame. They noted that a smaller percentage of Jews than Christians caught the disease. This was in part due to the Jewish sanitary and dietary laws, which had been preserved from Old Testament times but also because the Jews had an overall better understanding of disease and medical practice. Further in the Middle Ages medicine was restricted by the Christian Church. The church taught that it was irreligious to seek a natural cure from a physician when one could obtain supernatural help from a priest. Some church leaders criticized medical schools because they taught that diseases and disorders came from natural means and not from the evil efforts of Satan.

Soon rumors circulated that Satan was protecting the Jews and that they were paying back the Devil by poisoning wells used by Christians. The solution was to torture, murder and burn the Jews. In Bavaria...12,000 Jews...perished; in the small town of Erfurt...3,000; near Tours, an immense trench was dug, filled with blazing wood and in a single day 160 Jews were burned. In Strausberg 2,000 Jews were burned. In Maintz 6,000 were killed, in Worms 400. In 1354 12,000 Jews were executed in Toledo.
See here.

Even after the plague had ended the Church’s maintained its negative attitude towards medicine and Jewish physicians. Pope Eugene IV, Nicholas V and Calixtus III forbade Christians from using the services of a Jewish physician. The Trullanean Council in the 8th century; Beziers Council & Alby Council in the 13th century; Avignon council & Salamanca Council in the 14th century,  the Synod of Bamberg in the 15th century; the Council of Avignon in the 16th century, etc. also ordered Christians to not seek healing from Jewish physicians and surgeons. This continued even into the 17th century when the city of Hall in Wïrtemberg (in what is now Germany) granted some privileges to a Jewish physician "on account of his admirable experience and skill." The clergy of Hall complained that "it were better to die with Christ than to be cured by a Jew doctor aided by the devil.

Spanish Jews had been heavily persecuted from the 14th century. Many had converted to Christianity. The Spanish Inquisition was set up by the Church in order to detect insincere conversions. Laws were passed that prohibited the descendants of Jews or Muslims from attending university, joining religious orders, holding public office, or entering any of a long list of professions. In 1492 Jews were given the choice of being baptized as Christians or be banished from Spain. 300,000 left Spain penniless. Many migrated to Turkey, where they found tolerance among the Muslims. Others converted to Christianity but often continued to practice Judaism in secret. In 1497 Jews were banished from Portugal. 20,000 left the country rather than be baptized as Christians.

In 1555 A Roman Catholic Papal bull, "Cum nimis absurdum," required Jews to wear badges, and live in ghettos. They were not allowed to own property outside the ghetto. Living conditions were dreadful: over 3,000 people were forced to live in about 8 acres of land. Women had to wear a yellow veil or scarf; men had to wear a piece of yellow cloth on their hat.

The Reformation did little to change the fortune of the Jews. Martin Luther often considered the father of the Reformation believed early on that the Jews would now become Christians due to his “re-discovery” of the true Christianity but this did not happen and led to a growing hostility for Luther towards the Jews. In his 20s in 1514 he wrote in a letter to Rev. Spalatin, “I have come to the conclusion that the Jews will always curse and blaspheme God and his King Christ, as all the prophets have predicted....For they are thus given over by the wrath of God to reprobation, that they may become incorrigible, as Ecclesiastes says, for every one who is incorrigible is rendered worse rather than better by correction.”

In 1543, he wrote On the Jews and their lies, On Shem Hamphoras in which he said of the Jews, “eject them forever from this country. For, as we have heard, God's anger with them is so intense that gentle mercy will only tend to make them worse and worse, while sharp mercy will reform them but little. Therefore, in any case, away with them!...What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews? First, their synagogues or churches should be set on fire,.. Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed... They ought to be put under one roof or in a stable, like Gypsies. Thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer books and Talmuds in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught. Fourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more... Fifthly, passport and traveling privileges should be absolutely forbidden to the Jews... Sixthly, they ought to be stopped from usury. All their cash and valuables of silver and gold ought to be taken from them and put aside for safe keeping... Seventhly, let the young and strong Jews and Jewesses be given the flail, the axe, the hoe, the spade, the distaff, and spindle and let them earn their bread by the sweat of their noses as in enjoined upon Adam's children... To sum up, dear princes and nobles who have Jews in your domains, if this advice of mine does not suit you, then find a better one so that you and we may all be free of this insufferable devilish burden - the Jews."

Luther’s writings are some of the most detestable and hateful ideas that can be found in the history of the church. He truly helped pave the way for the anti-Semitism of the 18th and 19th centuries and the Holocaust itself. For a larger sample of Luther’s writings about the Jews read here.

John Calvin followed Luther in his hatred of the Jews. In Ad Quaelstiones et Objecta Juaei Cuiusdam Responsio he wrote, “Their [the Jews] rotten and unbending stiffneckedness deserves that they be oppressed unendingly and without measure or end and that they die in their misery without the pity of anyone.”

The list could go on and on. But even as the Middle Ages gave way to modernity and the Church’s authority gave way to the Enlightenment hatred for the Jews did not die rather the anti-Jewish views of the church were simply transformed into the Anti-Semitic views of various philosophers, politicians and whole populations. Theological reasons for hating the Jews were replaced with “scientific” reasons for hating the Jews, no longer focused on Jews as the killers of Christ but rather as a race of people racially deficient and dangerous to those who were “better” then them.

And as I sat through class after class earning my degree in Jewish history I was never able to look at the story of Pilate, particularly as describe in Matthew 27, the same way again. The stories were shaped specifically to exonerate the Romans from any capability for Jesus death not because they were actually true but so as to protect the early church from being persecuted itself. Forever after whenever I heard preachers talk about that passage or participated in bible studies that came upon it I always flinched not just because I knew it was a historical fabrication but more sadly because of the horrible consequences (pain, suffering, segregation, subjugation and death) that I knew those verses unleashed into history. 


  1. Hey Worrywort,
    Honestly, I petered out around the timeline. I think I got the jist. You could write an endless book, and I wouldn't put it past you, about all the horrors committed by Christians. I won't defend them. I myself am guilty of many horrors.
    I'd just like to point out a few things. First, to people unfamiliar with the terminology, you include Augustine's quote in context to sound as though he wants Jews to die, but the two-edged sword is of course God's Spirit, by which it is a blessing and LIFE to be pierced.
    As for all of this anti-Jewish rhetoric, I cannot speak to it's context and it sounds pretty bad, but in the context of the Bible, it is at least misinformed. God sent Christ, FIRST FOR THE JEW. Jesus is a Jew and so were many of his first followers and still he draws many of them to follow him even today. I MYSELF AM A Jew, as you may remember. I do not take offense at his blood being on my heada and the heads of my people; his blood saves me from eternal death. His blood is on everyone's head. It is what we choose to do with his blood that is important. I know that this is actually speaking about guilt, but in context of salvation, it matters not how much more guilt falls upon the guilty, does it? And the Jews and the Gentiles AND CHRISTIANS are all equally unrighteous without the blood of Christ.
    And, if as you say, it is all a crock anyway, then we are merely looking at the nastiness of human kind, and we certainly find horrors of humanity outside of "Christian blame" as well. And so, while I appreciate your virtues of doubt (with true sincerity!) it may be more edifying to the human race to look upon whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--and to think (and BLOG) upon such. :) I don't mean you or we ought to have our heads in the sand, but when was the last time you wrote a wordy blog cataloguing the love and goodness of Scriptural people or anyone at all. (I haven't kept up on your blog, so perhaps you have, forgive me if it is so).
    I hope you appreciate my insight as I do truly appreciate your challenging and well-articulated thoughts.

    May we all draw closer to the Truth, and submit our lives, whatever it may bring.

  2. Amarah,
    Good to hear from you and thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Now let’s look at some of your points. First let me tell you as someone who does have a degree in Jewish History I can tell you that context would not help your case in explaining away any of the anti-Jewish attitudes of the historic church, in fact they would only add to the horror. This wasn’t simply rhetoric for the church it was theological and historical truths to them based upon their understanding of the scripture, history and God.

    With that said I must ask you what makes you think that your personal, and fairly modern, interpretation of scripture is more accurate and in line with the Christian God than the interpretation of the majority of Christians who came before you especially of such important teachers and leaders as quoted in this piece? Are you confident that the hateful anti-Jewish messages preached by the historical church are not in fact true and what God intended to be taught? If so, what evidence can you offer those of us seeking to examine the validity of Christian teachings (and the Christian God) that you in fact know what your God teaches? The problem is that whether you happen to be right in your interpretation of scripture and the majority of Christians before you were wrong or the other way around or even some other interpretation yet to be made is right there is no rational way to distinguish what the Christian God (if he is real) actually wants/means. The Christian God seems either unwilling or unable to communicate his will in such a way that people can understand what it is. So you can offer all the interpretations of scripture you want to make it seem like the crimes of the church against the Jews were in fact not in line with their/your God’s will but you cannot actually offer any real evidence that that is the case. The point is that the church has a long history of violence and oppression against the Jews that it taught and believed were sanctioned by God and nothing you, or the church can now offer will ever change that fact.

    As far as your question (critique) concerning what I blog about with your reference to Philippians, I would say that my blog focuses on seeking truth, standing up for human worth and dignity, fighting against ignorance, discouraging laziness in thought/belief and one’s all the around personal betterment through education all of which I consider valuable goals. The fact is you cannot think about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy without also thinking about (and hopefully fighting against) what is false, unprincipled, wrong, impure, ugly, unworthy, poor and blameworthy. To attempt to do the first without doing the second is, to steal your example, equal to sticking one’s head in the sand because it means one assumes one already knows everything that is true, noble, right, etc., without any thought or examination. So I would argue that critiquing the actions of the church and questioning its teachings concerning the Jews equates to focusing on what is true (individual human worth and dignity) while also opposing what is false (artificial exclusionism preaching that the worth of one person exceeds the worth of another).

    Now for something rosier you can read a blog I posted only 5 days ago about a church service I attended last week that I particularly enjoyed and why I enjoyed it.

  3. smug, but pointed. I probably won't win intellectual arguments against you and your intellectual and well read muscle. call me lazy :) I am aware that the Catholic church has both confessed and now rejected enti-semitism, I cannot address your discussion on God's truth and his will possibly promoting hatred toward the Jews. The Catholic church has now addressed this (I won't defend the extent to which they have done this) and come back to what Scripture clearly portrays, that God loves the Jews and so ought we. Peter's ministry was to the Jews, and over and over Scripture says Jesus was first for the Jews. Anyway, I'm going to bed. peace.

  4. Amarah,

    I’m sorry you felt my response was smug it was not intended to be. I was writing very genuinely about a topic I have lost a lot of sleep over. I remember when I first started being taught about the Hebrew Scriptures from Jewish teachers and was amazed at the different understandings of the scriptures they had than I did, with my Christian beliefs. Even verses whose meaning I had thought were obvious I discovered that they in fact were not that clear and could be well interpreted in other ways. It was then that I first had to question myself (the question I asked you) as why I thought God would show/give me the right interpretation of scripture and not others. As my study of history increased this question only grew bigger. As I learned about the church and leaders like Origen, Jerome, Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin and many others I was often confused as to how they could get certain parts of the scripture that were so “clear” twisted around to mean such horrible things. But there remained that nagging question, “what if they’re right and I’m wrong?” I would also question God wondering why he would allow various verses or ideas remain misinterpreted for a majority of history and only now show us (me) the truth. As time passed it became harder and harder for me to ignore the inherent arrogance in my questions which were built on the assumption I was correct and they were incorrect. So the questions I presented to you are questions I have wrestled with myself for the last 10 years and I meant them as legitimate questions for you or anyone else to actually think about. What makes someone today so sure that they’re right in their understanding of God and scripture and that all of these other Christians who came before them were wrong? You said you cannot speak to God’s truth or his will so what makes you think what your saying is actually right? It’s not a question you have to answer it is just something to think about.

    Now I am very glad that the Catholic Church no longer teaches blatant anti-Jewish teachings, at least not intentionally. Though it’s sad that it took the Holocaust for them to examine their past and apologize for some of their crimes. With that said the Catholic Church is not the only church I was talking about when I talked about obvious anti-Jewish teachings and horrors committed by the church against the Jews. Numerous Protestant Churches and nations were guilty of crimes against the Jews greater than those committed in the Middle Ages. Luther and Calvin, and those that followed them, preached hate against the Jews. And again no matter what the church currently teaches they have to deal with the fact that for a majority of its history it has taught hatred against the Jews and encouraged violence and crimes against them. If they could get something so “obvious” wrong then what is to make us think they got other things they taught about God and the bible right?

    Now I’m sorry if you felt I was accusing you of being lazy that wasn’t my intent. You and I have had more than enough conversations for me to know that you care deeply about what you believe and seek to know God as best you can and that you aren’t afraid to ask questions. Now while we obviously no longer agree about the value and truth of Christianity I think we both care about searching for truth and living good lives to the benefit of others.

    I hope you slept well.

  5. almost didn't return to read if you replied. I'm glad I did though. I do respect your questions, and I too wrestle. In fact, I don't believe we can be honest people if we don't wrestle God and the big questions (hence the naming of my second son, Israel). I know that God is a God full of love and compassion, and though his ways are certainly mysterious, confusing, and at times perplexing, I find his love and compassion to be true and evident through all of Scripture (I imagine my genuine Jewish friends find and believe the same).
    I lean in on the fact that we are all under the judgement of God for rebelling against him (and having children, I understand this). But trusting in his love, that he longs for us,I also trust that he made a way home, a way back to him through Christ. He made a way for us, all of us, Jew, Gentile, Muslim, Athiest, all of us (but first for the Jew).
    That my brethren have misrepresented Christ is heartbreaking and greivous and as you pointed out, confusing to say the least, it does not draw me from the hope I have in the Gospel. One reason is that I know I myself misrepresent Christ, and I'm sure I get things wrong in Scripture, but I have no doubts about Jesus and my security in his unfailing love, by grace, through faith.
    All old ground, I'm sure, but hopefully relevant to the conversation.

  6. According to Matthew Jesus said, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits." (Matt. 7:15-20)

    While I do not believe these words are divine I do think they offer some valuable insight. One can only see so much evil produced by a belief system and not question the truth/value of the system itself. And the Christian church (in all of its branches) throughout its entire history has exposed exactly what type of tree it is; a bad one. This also applies to the God they worship who tells them or doesn't tell them (we can never know) to do such horrible things. Personally I got tired of coming up with excuses to justify the Christian God and the Church's evil behavior and limited concern for humanity. The point is I could no longer ignore the obvious; it's not true (the church or its God)

  7. Hi, I totally forgot about this conversation until today. sorry. Wow, you are so wrong about it all, Zach. Just because you felt some need to justify and then got tired of justifying didn't make it suddenly false. Nor would your return to Christ make it true. We both know we have no effect on what is true. And if anything is obvious, it is God and our need for him!
    As you've noticed, I'm not defending anyone here, and I don't blame you for not wanting to either. What I have noticed is that we are ALL bad fruit, and for whatever reason, none are perfected yet.
    Now, if the scripture you quoted is not divine, then it is pointless, because who gets to determine what fruit is good and bad, what tree is good or bad? And who cares anyway? For, we are all on our own and if you disagree that doesn't matter either because there is no authority to clarify.
    Do you have some hope for humanity apart from outside intervention? If so, my friend, you are a fool. I only say this to wake you up. If you admit that there is evil, whether committed by man or in the spriritual realm, and you take a glimpse at history--as you've done--or even within yourself, we are bleeping bleepety bleeped without some bigtime help from the outside. Thankfully it is obvious that such help has come and will still come in glory.

  8. I agree with you on your first point: nothing either of us believes or does not believe has any effect on what is actually true but not surprisingly after that we part ways.

    One of the great things about not being a Christian anymore is that fact that I don’t have to believe in the ridiculous doctrine of “original sin” and thereby the corruption of all of humanity making us evil from birth. Unlike you I do not believe all people are “bad fruit” and thus I don’t have a need for some mythic redemptive figure to die on my behalf since apparently the Christian God (unlike the Jewish and Muslim God) is incapable/unwilling to forgive people demanding rather a blood sacrifice to quench his thirst. Nor do I have to pretend that the world is constantly becoming a worse place as it moves further and further away from some fabricated perfect beginning. Rather I am able to see goodness both in people and in the world as it is now. The world is not one big evil place the way Christianity needs it to be in order to justify many of its horrible beliefs. It is more complicated than that. The world contains both good and bad and that is something humanity must deal with together, nurturing the good while fighting against the bad not waiting from some divine help from the outside that we don’t need in the first place.

    The fact that you can look at the blog above reading the hate spewing from important Christians’ mouths along with the long history of crimes committed by the Church(es) and then turn that into some sort of proof for the truth of Christianity is cleaver but I have to say also sad. Tell yourself whatever you need to in order to maintain your own beliefs, I sure did for a while but I won’t do that anymore. You can sit and wait for your god to come make the world a “perfect” place (for the few of you who won’t be burning in hell like me) but I will chose to act while I am alive to make the world better including fighting against much of the hate and ignorance still affirmed and supported by the Christian church. Also you can call me a fool if you want but don’t pretend that you are doing it for my sake you are saying it for yourself in order to reinforce your own beliefs and probably to just release some frustration. So Amarah I’m going to go ahead and remove myself from this discussion since it has basically hit a wall as it is not dealing with the actual issues of the blog or any real desire for knowledge or truth.

    The point of the blog remains to show the anti-Jewishness/anti-Semitism that underlies a majority of the Gospels and the horrors that then led to throughout Western history. Anyone who wants to actually talk about that is still more than welcome to comment. Christians can say that was not God’s intent all the want but it does not change the facts of what actually happened or the crimes committed by Christian against Jews all in the name of Christ.