When a Christian hears Jesus’ message, he/she hears that they should be peaceful, should go the extra mile, be a good Samaritan, and always aide one who is suffering. (because those teachings are in there.)
That is not what a Jew sees when they read a New Testament. A Jew sees Pharisees (the ancestors of their Talmudic rabbis,) mocked as cold, unbending, heartless, religious hypocrites who love to do the will of their father the Devil. This is not only dangerous rhetoric, it is patently false rhetoric as anyone knows who has actually studied the way rabbinic Jews apply their laws in daily life.
You yourself have seen Dina post the rabbinic equivalents of Jesus’ core ethical principles. Do you know why the gospel authors don’t point out those parallels? Its because they never even tried to learn the Jewish position, because the New Testament portrays the rabbis as venomous white washed walls. Its a tough (almost unconscious) wall that Christians are hard pressed to break through.
Though there is only one verse in the New Testament where Jesus actually says, “take those who would not have me be king over them, and kill them in front of me,” the vitriol against Judaism’s leaders was bound to spill over and effect innocent people. It was an inevitable outcome when those episodes were in sermons preached to illiterate peasants every Sunday. Are you aware of passion plays? At Easter? Imagine a mob of Lutherans going and burning a Shul down after a passion play. That used to happen a lot.
Consider that the Christian Bible makes it worse when it says there are no truly innocent people, based on reading a couple verses from Tanakh.
While it is very true that Jesus instructs Christians in some very good moral lessons, some of his other teachings actually negate the effectiveness of his good teachings.
When Jesus tells his disciples to wipe the dust from their sandals when they encounter an unperceptive city, or he instructs people not to resist evil, this leads (possibly unintentionally) to a very deadly ambivalence towards violence, an ambivalence to the plight of others in Christian thinking, and I don’t think Christians realize it.
Since Christians believe that man has a fallen nature, they have the unfortunate tendency (as I have experienced it 1st hand,) to say, “well, that’s how its supposed to be,” when they see injustice in the world. Many a time have I heard, “it will only get better when Jesus comes back.”
That is diametrically opposed to Abraham’s example of acting.
There were indeed voices of tolerance in the Church, lights in the darkness, etc. but there were throngs of people who stood back and waited, or worse, participated in the climate of evil via their indifference.
They did not resist evil when it came to take their Jewish brethren to put them in Ghettos. Religious Christians (for centuries) have had great apathy to suffering due to their interpretations of curses of the law, and because of their views of man’s nature.
You can have the holiest message in the world, but if you do not act in favor of the G-dly bits, you are just as much a cause of the issues.
This is the core issue with the Christian argument that Catholics are not real Christians, or Eastern Orthodox are not real Christians, or those who did evil were not real Christians.
In the Christian world, I often heard the saying as a kid, “there was only one real Christian, Jesus Christ.” IE we can’t stop the evil when it arises, Jesus said so.
This is the toxic apathy that I mentioned earlier. Guys like Luther, Calvin, Chrysostom, etc. used rhetoric very similar to what we find in the gospels, (and much much worse) but nobody ever voiced outrage at what these men wrote, or against the actions they advocated.
Nobody wrote volumes of literature asking, “How do these literary works jive with the ethics of Christ?”
Ethics of Christ weren’t as important as faith in Jesus and his cross to save your sinful soul.
When Dina says Hitler couldn’t have got off the ground without Christianity, it doesn’t mean that the New Testament lacks the ethical teachings that could have prevented the violence in the holocaust.
Its literally highlighting the fact that the New Testament message hinders your ability to carry out those ethics. It does not actively encourage you to act when you see another who fits your view of a sinner suffering.
Suffering is always deemed as a just chastening, and as a redemptive gift to a Christian view. Its not something to actively be resisted according to the gospels. That apathy is part and parcel of Yeshua’s message, and its the most dangerous aspect that bred the wickedness that made Hitler’s atrocities inevitable.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal