The Holy Father:
Lord God, your pilgrim Church, which you ever sanctify in the blood of your Son, counts among her children in every age members whose holiness shines brightly forth and members whose disobedience to you contradicts the faith we profess and the Holy Gospel. You, who remain ever faithful, even when we are unfaithful, forgive our sins and grant that we may bear true witness to you before all men and women. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger:
Let us pray that each one of us, looking to the Lord Jesus, meek and humble of heart, will recognize that even men of the Church, in the name of faith and morals, have sometimes used methods not in keeping with the Gospel in the solemn duty of defending the truth.
The Holy Father:
Lord, God of all men and women, in certain periods of history Christians have at times given in to intolerance and have not been faithful to the great commandment of love, sullying in this way the face of the Church, your Spouse. Have mercy on your sinful children and accept our resolve to seek and promote truth in the gentleness of charity, in the firm knowledge that truth can prevail only in virtue of truth itself. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Cardinal Roger Etchegaray:
Let us pray that our recognition of the sins which have rent the unity of the Body of Christ and wounded fraternal charity will facilitate the way to reconciliation and communion among all Christians.
The Holy Father:
Merciful Father, on the night before his Passion your Son prayed for the unity of those who believe in him: in disobedience to his will, however, believers have opposed one another, becoming divided, and have mutually condemned one another and fought against one another. We urgently implore your forgiveness and we beseech the gift of a repentant heart, so that all Christians, reconciled with you and with one another will be able, in one body and in one spirit, to experience anew the joy of full communion. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Cardinal Edward Cassidy:
Let us pray that, in recalling the sufferings endured by the people of Israel throughout history, Christians will acknowledge the sins committed by not a few of their number against the people of the Covenant and the blessings, and in this way will purify their hearts.
The Holy Father:
God of our fathers, you chose Abraham and his descendants to bring your Name to the Nations: we are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer, and asking your forgiveness we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
(Official Vatican Translation)
Apologies seem to be all the rage as we begin this new century. We had a president (Clinton) in the United States that apologized for everything, even when such apologies seem out of place. People apologize for racial hatred, for offenses, real or imagined, for tangible acts perpetrated by one’s distant ancestors. Apologies are good in the sense that the person that does so recognizes that there has been a wrong and that one does not agree with the act. But an apology is not repentance, it is merely the first step. True repentance involves making sure that the wrong is never done again and that entails an evaluation of the circumstances leading up to the evil event. And once that evaluation is made, change must result. It is this introspection and action that is missing from the papal apology.
The most horrific acts of violence in history have occurred within western Christian civilization. A civilization that is supposed to be based on the Bible and founded by the ‘Prince of Peace’ has given the world the crusades, the inquisition, the conquistadors, numerous world wars, the pogroms, the holocaust, Hiroshima, and the cold war. It is obvious that there must be some defect within the system of western Christian civilization that lends itself to such violence and intolerance.
This is not to say that there have not been, and continue to be, horrible evils perpetrated against people in non-Christian countries. There are plenty. But those countries are not based on the ‘enlightened’ system of western Christianity. They do not claim the exclusivity Christianity does. They do not have the example of the ‘prince of peace’ to show them the right way. A civilization built on the Bible and having it’s foundation supposedly on the Messiah and his ‘apostles’ should surely be the most peaceful and prosperous civilization of all. Yet anyone the least bit familiar with western history knows this has not been the case.
What is then required is an honest evaluation of the foundation of Christianity to see what it is that leads to such tragic events and incidents, not just by a few isolated individuals but by the system. And I use Christianity in its broadest sense because it is not just the Roman Catholic Church that is responsible for such horrific acts. Protestant Lutherans stood by while the Jews were sent to Auchwitz. The pogroms were a result of Orthodox Russia. Anglican England persecuted other Protestant dissidents, for the Jews had been thrown out long before. Even the Puritans were intolerant of individuals within their midst and they were the ones who gave us the Salem witch trials. The slave owners of the south were good, churchgoing folk and no self-respecting Baptist or Methodist thought twice about putting a sign outside his place of business “Irish not welcome”. All the good churchgoing politicians in all the western countries, including Canada and the US refused to relax their immigration restrictions to save a few more Jews from Hitler’s hand. Today the Ku Klux Klan, some white supremacists and other fringe groups claim Jesus is on their side while preaching hatred for those not of their ilk. It would appear that rather than an exception to the rule, the use of “methods not in keeping with the Gospel” for the purpose of “defending the truth” are the norm. A Jesus and a religious system (Christianity) that requires the sword in it’s defense or to convince people of it’s legitimacy or authenticity is not worthy of serious consideration in the realm of religious ideas.
Many a Christian will protest against such injustices and say “they weren’t real Christians” or “we’re not like that today” or “I would never do such a thing”. Is that true? If you had told the average German in 1931 that in eight years he would be standing over a mass grave full of Jews and Slavs in Poland he had just murdered, he would have thought you absurd. The average German of the thirties, the average Russian of the nineteenth century, the average Spaniard of the fifteenth century, the average citizen of the Holy Roman Empire at the turn of the first Millenium, the average Christian of the third century. It was these average people, no different than you or I, that were so easily led by a Christian church of whatever stripe into believing that the hatred they held or the violence they perpetrated against their fellow man was the holy will of God. There is a system and theology so entrenched within Christianity from the very beginning that facilitates such horrific acts within all sects claiming Jesus as their leader. Within the foundations of Christianity itself lie the seeds of such evil.
It is time to confront such evil. It is time that the truth be faced and dealt with. The truth brings freedom, for the vast majority of it’s history the result of christianity has been poverty and bondage. For years the Jewish people have been afraid to openly confront Christianity, and with good reason. Nearly two thousand years of persecution have taught them not to push the Christians too much. Too often they have been happy with a ‘live and let live’ policy which on the surface occasionally brought peace but was merely a band-aid on a malignant cancer whose symptoms could recurr at any moment. Christians have been taught not to ask questions and take a hard look at the church, which from the beginning set itself up as an unquestionable authority. Even within liberal, evangelical or fundamentalist churches there are areas that are off limits, questions that should not be asked. Christians believe that violence is an aberration among those who are ‘carnal’. That they have the truth and no one else does. That the foundation on which they stand, the perception of their roots they have, is grounded in reality and consistent with the Scriptures they believe in. That the religion they practice is exactly what the Messiah and His followers intended. They do not like to look at the foundation, they do not want to look down to see that they are standing on shifting sand. It is time to ask the hard questions and take an honest look at the facts. Then, to make the changes they require.
The Foundations of Ant-Semitism
The foundation of anti-Semitism, long before it’s evolution in the modern sense, was born of hatred for a people who lived apart, who dared to stand in opposition to the values and celebrations of the great community of mankind. The Torah was supposed to encourage admiration from people on the ‘outside’ but it often created a sense of loathing for a people whose prayers, dress, eating habits, celebrations and family life were so different than that of every other nation. The Torah, in a very real sense, was the first ghetto. It forced the Jew to turn inward, to himself, it preserved his identity, it created around him a spiritual world but as part of a minority, it also made him a target. Without the land and the promises of the covenant which are only part of a committed, obedient national life, the special protection of God that preserved the Kingdom of Israel no longer protected the Jewish people of the diaspora.
A Historical Perspective
After the war with Rome, two distinct Jewish communities emerged. The first was that of the Rabbis of Yavneh and the second was the community of the ‘Way’ in Pella. The rabbis of Yavneh were the heirs to the Pharisees, no other major group within Judaism survived the war. The scholalry rabbi replaced the priests and the distinctions between the jew and the non-jew were sharpened. They began formulating a Judaism that did not depend on the temple cult, a Judaism that was withdrawn and increasingly suspicious of the followers of the Teacher from Nazareth. As the authentic heirs to Yahushua’s legacy faded away and the Christians took their place, that suspicion turned to animosity. That animosity was fueled by the church and it’s developing attitudes toward the Torah and the ‘people of the book’.
Beginning in the second century, more and more vehement anti-Judaic and anti-Semitic sentiments flowed from the mouths and pens of the ‘church fathers’. Men like Ignatious, Marcion, Chrysostom, Jerome and Augustine attacked the Jews with rhetoric that rivaled the statements of Hitler or any modern anti-semite. However, until the time of Constantine, they did not have the means of putting their words into action.
The ‘Evil Jew’ was a necessary creation of the early christians. The newly forming Christianity was splintering into hundreds of groups, everyone was a heretic to someone. Because Christianity was formed from a mix of Roman religion and Greek philosophy and based loosely on a Jewish book and a Jewish Messiah, it had no firm foundation from which to develop, it had no authority to which it could appeal, and it has no rules for interpreting the Scripture it does claim. As such, it was a theological game in which everyone played by a set of rules invented in their own minds. Until the power of the state was brought to bear to enforce ‘orthodoxy’, which was whatever the emperor agreed with, something was needed that would unite all these factions. The Jew was the perfect scapegoat. The threat of a common enemy brings people together and who better to blame even for the factions themselves but the ‘Conniving Jew’. After all, they were the ones who brought in the first heresy by trying to force Torah on those pure, Gentile Christians. The ‘Synagogue of Satan’ was responsible for all the evil in the world.
The Theft of Scripture
One of the greatest acts of robbery in the history of the world was perpetrated by the early church. Once the theology of the ‘Jew as abandoned by God’ became mainstream, the Israel of the Jew was replaced by the New Israel of the Christian and the Scriptures were stolen and placed into the service of the harlot. It was obvious that the destruction of the Temple showed the world that God was finished with the Jews, that their inheritance had now been passed to the church. The church then appropriated the Scriptures for their own purposes, stripped them of their context and intent and used them against the Jews to prove their point. The church uses the psalms and the prophets in their services and holidays yet they abhor the very people and way of life those prophets and psalmists cherished. The church quotes Moses to fleece the flock or to pass judgement but they regard as dung the Torah he wrote and persecute the people who try to live it. No longer was the Bible a story of a God and a people who cooperated together to bring truth to the word, a tale of their victories and failures, a chronicle of the feelings of joy and despair by a people chosen by God in an eternal covenant relationship. The Scriptures have been stripped of their historical meaning and became simply a tool to be used as the church sees fit.
The Distortion of the Person of the Messiah
One of the problems Christians have is their understanding of the Messiah’s relationship with God. Christianity teaches that Jesus is God and he and the Creator are the same. It is a simple statement, but squaring it with Scripture or reason becomes a little more difficult. But deep, reasoned discussion is not something that is part of the life of the average Christian. Even among the pastors and teachers a well turned phrase is more interesting that deep theological truth. The crucial thing in Christianity is to believe the above ‘fact’, Jesus is God. It doesn’t matter what else you know or what you do, it only matters that you ‘believe’.
The difficulty arises from the realization that most Christians don’t know what that means, and and because of that uncertainty, deep inside they may wonder if it is really effective in accomplishing their salvation. They end up with a deep seated guilt and questions that have no satisfactory answers. This guilt needs to go somewhere but Christians are not given the tools by which they could search out truth for themselves. And if they ask the questions, even within themselves, they realize they they are considering the removal of the very foundation for their paradigm of life. They have a lot to lose, and no one wants to be in the minority, or worse, to end up alone. The sacrifice for the truth is too great so the truth gets sacrificed and repressed. So they end up transferring that guilt to another. Too often the outlet for this repressed guilt has been violence against the Jew. The Jew represents the humanity of the church’s Jesus, and it is this conflict between humanity and divinity that causes the problem. His ‘Jewish’ humanity is an example of everything a Christian has been taught to abhor. The Christian’s human Jesus practiced and taught the law of Moses, he was of the race of the ‘murderers’. He identified with the poor and outcast, not the emporer or the powerful. He was concerned with physical needs as well as spiritual truth. There just may be something more consequential to his Jewishness than an accident of history.
The influence of gnosticism in the early community combined with the essene influence found in Yochannon’s account of the Messiah led to a new picture of Yahushua that was anything but the man who came to seek and save the lost. The portrait that emerged in the second century is of a Messiah that is certainly not a Jew and hardly even human anymore. He is the ‘Prince of Light’, the Mighty One who has triumphed over the powers of darkness. He becomes unapproachable, the judge who presides over the separation of the saved and the damned. He becomes the God of Jonathan Edwards who is just waiting for an excuse to drop the spider in the flame. Under an increasingly powerful roman influence, the church consisted of those who are saved, the only bastion of hope for a condemned world. Those that don’t agree are among the damned. The Jews are placed in this category automatically. They belong to the Synagogue of Satan. They killed the Prince and continue to reject Him. They deserve whatever punishment God’s new chosen deem appropriate.
The Distortion of the Messianic idea
One of the most important concepts the early Christians rejected, crucial to their interaction with the world, was the Messianic idea as understood in Jewish tradition. “How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world” said Anne Frank. This is crucial to the Messianic idea in Judaism and it’s understanding of our ‘stewardship’ of the world. We have a responsibility to make the world a better place, to fulfill the commandments of God in every historical situation and teach others to do so and thus bring about the coming of the Messiah.
This earthly duty was replaced by a distorted understanding of the evils of ‘the flesh’ born of Gnostic influence and a distorted sense of spirituality. This resulted in the complete opposite of Judaism which values family and seeks to put earthly pleasures in the proper context where they can be enjoyed in freedom. Very quickly the church became a religion of celibates and ascetics where the condemnation of thoughts and the idea that women represented sinful flesh became the basis of Christian practice. The clerics of the church were those who held themselves aloof from the sinful world, sinful flesh and sinful women. The material world was beyond redemption, therefore one had to distance oneself from it as far as possible. Salvation was in the ‘heavenly Jerusalem’, true devotion found within the cathedral or monastery, and such a salvation was only for those within it’s walls, and excommunication was it’s most powerful weapon. The misery of the sinful peasants outside the walls is of little consequence, if they stay within the church and agree with her teachings, their miserable lives will be over soon enough and they will be in paradise.
The results of this are far reaching. The first institution of Judaism is the family. The Rabbi is one among equals in a community and he is a family man. He is not to use the Torah as a spade with which to dig for wealth but is encouraged to know a trade and engage in it. He rubs elbows with humanity every day. The joy, the despair, the strife, the celebrations of all people are part of the life of the Jew. The Jew eats and drinks, sings and dances, enjoys the love of his wife and the work of his hands. The priest (or pastor), on the other hand, is above all this. He remains on a different plane than the rest of humanity. He derives his livelihood from the church, which has been very wealthy since the time of Constantine. He is not concerned with everyday life, he has no sons to send off to war, the plagues and droughts affect him little. He is concerned only with the inward battle, his salvation is concerned with subduing the sins of his flesh, with the temptations of a man living in celibacy, with his carnal lust. Christianity desires to turn all men into monks, and has no desire to cultivate the Messianic idea of Judaism, the desire to bring healing to the world and instilling a sense of individual responsibility to help usher in the kingdom of God. It is another casualty resulting from the sacrifice of the humanity of a Messiah who was hungry and thirsty, who felt pain and bled, who experienced loss and betryal, who bound up the brokenhearted, set the captives free and rubbed elbows with humanity every day.
The result of this is that even among the monasteries, where the holiest of Christians are said to dwell, the most virulent rhetoric and even violence against Jews and others has been perpetuated. Monks led Jew killing mobs in Spain and the Rhineland during the crusades and later in England and France. They led the attack on the Jews in Spain from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century and in Germany closer to modern times.
The Church Fathers
The theological ideas of Christianity as they developed in these early centuries resulted in even the best and the brightest minds within the church going way off into left field. It was not primarily due to the individual’s warped mind but was the result of the theological system set up within Christianity since the removal of any vestige of Judaism. You will notice that most of the quotes are by individuals recognized within the early community as ‘saints’, people to be respected, people who are recognized as the most holy and learned among all Christianity.
The most notable of the “Church Fathers”, those who laid the foundation for Christianity in the first few centuries, were rabidly anti-Jewish. It was in the horrific environment of the second to fourth centuries that some of the basic doctrines of Christianity developed. The dual nature of ‘Christ’, the trinity, and the various creeds all developed during this time when the primary methods of theological argument included forgery, thievery, slander, and murder. The common thread in all these heretical disputes was hatred of the Jew. To the Church Fathers, the Jew was not a human being but a monster, a theological abstraction, a being endowed with superhuman powers of deceit and cunning yet as the same time cursed with blindness. Most of the time, their attacks were directed toward the Jews in general and not toward any particular one. Unfortunately the ignorant populace of these early centuries and the middle ages were not able to differentiate between general rhetoric and marching orders.
St. Hilary of Poitiers believed the Jews were possessed of a demon who left when they received the Law and returned when they rejected the church’s ‘Christ’. He would not acknowledge a Jews greeting in the street. Eusebus interpreted the church's stolen scriptures by differentiating the Jews from the Hebrews. The Hebrews were the good folks in the ‘Old Testament’, people akin to the Christians, and the Jews were evil.
St. John Chrysostom, the golden-tongued, a man known for his mercy and piety, delivered eight sermons against the Jews, which have provided destructive weapons against the Jews ever since. He said that the Jews killed all the prophets and ‘Christ’, they were diecides, and they worshipped the devil. He described them as whoremongers, criminals, carnal and cursed by God. St. Jerome gave us the oft quoted statement that the synagogue was worse than 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 of whatever else you will, you are still saying less than it deserves.” St. Ambrose claimed that he gave the order to set the synagogue in Callinicum on fire and publicly compelled the Emperor to rescind his order to punish the culprits.
St. Jerome is a very good example of our point. Jerome grew up and was educated in Rome, was baptized by Pope Liberius, and he left Rome disgusted by what he saw as the lascivious lifestyle there. He ended up in Antioch where he learned Hebrew from a Jewish convert and was commissioned by Pope Damasus to revise the Bible. He retired to an ascetic life near Bethlehem. Jerome’s writing is peppered with condemnations of the female sex. He said the desire for women is the root of most of the evil in a man’s life. Sex is bad, he stated, exemplifying the celibate church. He distinguished between love and sexual lust. Love was divine, manly, asexual, participated in only those who pledge virginity. Sexual lust was the thing of animals, it was obscene, fit only for dogs. Childbirth was a necessary evil, and he believed husbands and wives should live in chastity after the children were born, if a woman really wants to go through that dirty, strenuous event. A husband could only love his wife if they abstained from any sexual contact.
To be a Christian was to be or become a virgin. The rebirth that one received through ‘Christ’ was that of virginity. Jesus was a man who lived without sex, without passion, and without lust (without any of those things that keep the human species from becoming extinct). He is our example, we should all pledge ourselves so. Unfortunately, such an idea goes against our basic programming. God created us male and female and we are to become one flesh in the covenant of marriage. Those who develop theological ideas that operate in direct conflict with our basic programming are flirting with disaster. In this case, it was disastrous for the Jews. The Jews were the opposite of this ideal of the church whose views Jerome espoused. The poor Christian was to constantly struggle against the enemy, his worldly passions. The Jews embodied that enemy. The Jew was materialistic, carnal, lewd, the product of all this evil sexual lust. The aggressiveness with which the Christian was to battle the invisible lustful enemy was too often turned against the symbol of that enemy, the Jew.
St. Augustine, next to ‘St. Paul’, is arguably the most influential Christian thinker in history. Both Catholic and Protestant theologians have quoted him throughout history. His ideas permeate Christian thought to this day. It would be very advantagous to understand this man and what he taught. Augustine was a Manichaeian in his early years and went back to it as he grew older, and even his ‘orthodox’ thoughts betray his affinity for this system of theology.
Mani, who taught in the third century, though of himself as the Holy Ghost, promised by Christ. He claimed to have received numerous visions that explained the mysteries of the ages which he taught to his disciples. They spread his teaching so effectively, the Manichaeian Church was larger that that of Rome for a time. The thing that is so dangerous about Manicheainism is it’s concept of history. On the surface it is similar to that of the Essenes and Yochannon but when coupled with the power of the state, it’s foundational ideas are very dangerous. The ideas contained in this concept of history have influenced our present day philosophy through writings like the Communist Manifesto and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The results speak for themselves.
Mani, like Marx and Lenin, believed that he held the key to the history of the world. Mani believed that the secrets of history were only revealed to him. History is a struggle between light and darkness and those who hold the secret key are infinitely superior to all others. Those of the light feel nothing but pity or contempt for those who remain in darkness and cannot understand why the children of light must use any means possible to ensure their victory.
Augustine, combining this idea with Christianity as Mani did, arrived at a worldview that was very pessimistic. Man was a prisoner of sin, it was his essential nature from the time of his birth. The basis of this original sin was the wicked sexual appetite which had it’s origin in the fall of Satan and his angels. Since man is in this position and cannot free himself he needs the help of the church and the state. Freedom to Augustine meant licentiousness and it was the duty of the church/state edifice to protect people from themselves and their unbridled impulses. The church consisted of the children of the light whose duty it was to bring all men into line with the will of God and into the fold, for it is only in the church that salvation is found. Based on this idea it is a easy step to believe it is the church’s duty to impose salvation on the rest of mankind. When the torture racks and the inquisition became the norm, it was the injunctions of Augustine that provided their justification.
The reason the heretics and Jews deserved to be burned at the stake is rather simple according to Augustine. It is based on rebellion. The first rebel against God was the devil and most men were his children, because they follow in his rebellion. Heretics rebel against God because they do not defer to God’s representatives, the church, the children of the light. Jews are worthy of death because they rebelled against God incarnate, Jesus. They maltreated, sadistically tortured, and murdered him. The Romans disappeared from Augustine’s account of the crucifixion. The world was divided very neatly into two camps for Augustine, and for most Christians throughout history. There were Christians and pagans, Catholics and heretics, Christians and Jews, children of the light and children of darkness. The Christians could be compelled by the church/state to join the church and toe the line. The Jews, on the other hand, were to serve the church as slaves and as witnesses to the truth of the church’s teaching.
The Empire and Heresy
The empire was everything to Augustine. When Rome fell it was nearly the end of the world for him. The empire was man’s best hope, his last bastion against heresy and evil designed to protect him with it’s laws and legions. The fall of Rome was just as much a religious disaster as it was a political one for him.
The empire of Rome had been playing a significant role in the life of Christianity since the time of Constantine. Constantine was a worshipper of Helios, the invincible god of the sun whom he came to identify with ‘Christ’. To the Christians, he became the thirteenth apostle and to the Romans he was a powerful god. In his time the ancient roman belief in the salvation of the world through the emperor and Victoria, the goddess of victory, was deliberately merged by theologians with the idea of salvation through the Messiah. The worship of God, whose realm had now come down to man, was embodied in the in the emperor in Heaven as well as the one on Earth. The two merged in the worship in the basilica, the hall of the kings.
Bishop Eusibus, who was Constantine’s great preacher of salvation, had completely removed the Jewish people from the story of redemption. They were, since the time of ‘Christ’, a people damned until the end of time. Their existence and misfortune served only as an example for the edification of Christians. If Constantine ever embraced Christianity in any of it’s forms, he would have had his negative roman view of the Jews reinforced by such teaching.
The Christianity of the fourth century was a very diverse religion with hundreds of competing sects. This was the result of removing the foundation laid by Moshe and the prophets and not having anything as substantial or authoritative to take it’s place. The Emperors, starting with Constantine, wanted to use this eclectic religion as a unifying force in the empire but in order to do so, it had to be a little more homogeneous. One of the major controversies was over the nature of the Messiah. Arian understanding (from the followers of Arius) emphasized the humanity of the Messiah, made him more man than God and certainly subservient to ‘the Father’. The councils of Sardicia (343) and Rimini (353) voted for this doctrine at the insistence of the emperor because Constantine had been convinced that Arianism stood the best chance of unifying the church.
This was bitterly contested for the next several decades, fueled by nationalistic fervor from various parts of the empire. The most vehement anti-Arian sentiment came from Egypt. The land that had always been so consumed with the deceased had transferred that belief into a strong and passionate belief in the resurrection of the flesh and that for messiah to have been resurrected, he had to be fully God. Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria, devised the formula that God became man incarnate and that all mankind shall be deified in the resurrection and the glorification of the flesh. The Eucharist took on an even more mystical nature as an aide to immortality.
At the Ecumenical Council of Constantinople the vote was reversed after St. Ambrose convinced Emperor Theodosius that the unity of the church could not be founded on Arianism and that orthodoxy, as he defined it, was a much better choice. How was orthodoxy defined? By those who had the state on their side. A heretic was defined as he whose side had lost, by whoever was left in the minority, a minority that would soon become a lot smaller after the heretics were hunted down and put to death. In the centuries following the death of the last Talmidim, orthodoxy was rarely defined by reasoned scriptural debate but by who had the biggest guns. Might makes for correct theology and ideology. Certainly not what I want my faith based on. The winners in this fight used the state and the masses stirred up by the oratory of bishops and theologians to persecute and/or kill anyone not of their group. The Jews consistently found themselves on the top of the hit list.
In 418 all the Jews of the western part of the empire were forbidden to hold public posts or any place of honor. Increasingly Jews were murdered and justice was not pursued. Their property was confiscated. They were forbidden to marry gentiles and any Jewish man who did was to be put to death. Synagogues were destroyed. Eventually under Justinian, the Jews were stripped of all rights and were treated as outlaws and heretics. The Jews found refuge among the Ostrogoths and Visigoths who had embraced an Arian form of Christianity. Eventually they were either defeated or converted to ‘orthodox’ Christianity and the image of the Jew as a deformed, sick, abnormal alien became the norm throughout Europe and the other areas of the Roman empire. It is an image that haunted western peoples from the ‘Dark Ages’ throughout the time of Hitler to the present day rhetoric for hate groups and the followers of Muhammed.
Anti-Semitism is rooted in theology developed by those who led the Messianic community beginning in the second century. They had rewritten history, came up with an eclectic religion that combined a variety of elements from pagan religion and greek philosophy and relegated the people of the Messiah to the fringe at best, to the stakes and ovens at worst.
Why am I not a Christian? Because my Messiah said that one well does not bring forth water both bitter and sweet. Perhaps most Christians today do not readily identify with what has been written here. They are appalled at their history. Yet the ideas and theology that created that history are still embraced today. The tangled vine of Christianity is all derived from the same root and that root is very, very bitter. I have removed myself from that well and that root and have sought to extricate it’s poison from my inmost being. By doing so I am able to develop much more positive views about God and the world he created, about the Messiah I follow and about my role in this world. My mind is open to reason and truth, it is not locked into one way of looking at things. I am able to see my fellow man, regarless of religion, philosophy, race or creed as one made in the image of the Creator and worthy of respect and consideration. If more people did the same this world would be a much better place.