Lately, I have been reading several books trying to understand and better come to grips with the roots of antisemitism in Christendom. How did we ever strip the Jewishness of our Messiah and dress Him in Egyptian garb?
At some point I will review the books, but suffice it to say, the poison of antisemitism and the attack against the roots of the faith begin early and with very influential church ‘fathers.’ One such highly regarded ‘father’ is John Chrysostom. He may well be the vilest of the early offenders, but both the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic churches hold him in highest regard and thus embrace much of his teaching. That which they do not embrace openly is surely read and influential in many circles.
Chrysostom, nicknamed the Golden Mouth, wrote and delivered a particularly inflammatory series of homilies (sermons) titled Against the Jews that are available even today. He should have stuck to his series out of the Gospels or Epistles, as these eight antisemitic diatribes caused incalculable damage to relations between Christians and Jews and fueled innumerable pogroms against the Jews. He needed his vile mouth to be washed out with soap!
Allan Gould collected and edited quotes both positive and negative from famous and influential people from all walks of life and generations in a book now on my shelf, What Did They Think of the Jews? Gould quotes from Chrysostom’s homilies,
[How can Christians dare] have the slightest converse [with Jews], most miserable of all men [Homily 4:1]…[who are] lustful, rapacious, greedy, perfidious bandits….Inveterate murderers, destroyers, men possessed by the devil [whom] debauchery and drunkenness have given them the manners of the pig and the lusty goat. They know only one thing, to satisfy their gullets, get drunk, to kill and maim one another… They are impure and impious… (1:4). …they have surpassed the ferocity of wild beasts, for they murder their offspring and immolate them to the devil (1:6). …[The synagogue is a place of] shame and ridicule 91:3) …the domicile of the devil, as is also the soul of the Jews (1:4, 6); [their houses of worship] an assembly of criminals … a den of thieves … a cavern of devils, an abyss of perdition (1:2, 6:6) … [their rites are] criminal and impure; [their religion] a disease (3:1). [The Jews are corrupt because of their] odious assassination of Christ 96:4) … no expiation possible, no indulgence, no pardon (6:2). [Why Christians must hate Jews:] he who can never love Christ enough will never have done fighting against those [Jews] who hate Him (7:1). Flee, then, their assemblies, flee their houses, and far from venerating the synagogue because of the books it contains, hold it in hatred and aversion for the same reason (1:5). … I hate the synagogue precisely because it has the law and the prophets … I hate the Jews also because they outrage the law.
His quotes from Chrysostom were so choppy that I had to order the book and do more searching, only to find that the full quotes, pages and pages previously linked, are equally poisonous vitriol against the Jews.
Most of Christendom is oblivious to this hate coming from the church fathers, and when confronted with it the general response is one of excuse making and justifying on the one hand while assuming this has no measurable effect on us today. Frankly, both responses are horrifying and nothing could be further from the truth.
Even a pea-sized brain should recognize that hate to that degree for the Jews, particularly early in ministry, will affect every aspect of theology espoused by Chrysostom. With his Christian ‘love,’ is it any wonder Christendom has had <sarcasm> so much </sarcasm> success among the Jews?
Oh, yes. I forgot. We get to ignore the Scriptures that we don’t like. You know, verses such as ‘…to the Jew first…’ and …love your neighbor…’ and ‘…God has not rejected His people…’
Until there is open repentance, open grief, open shame and serious deep apologies to Judah, we will be a blot on the name of Messiah! Until we can humble ourselves and admit that God’s plan is much greater and more glorious than our selfish replacement theology, we will flounder in weakness and division.
Almost every aspect of Christian theology is in some way affected by antisemitism and John Chrysostom, Mr. ‘Golden Mouth’ himself, shoulders at least part of the blame.
We’ll look next at the putrid waste that came out of Martin Luther’s mouth that was used by Adolf Hitler to justify killing 6,000,000 innocents while the German church largely looked the other way.
Father, forgive me for any antisemitic thoughts or theologies I have knowingly or unknowingly espoused. I repent and ask that You continue to reveal Your great love and unchanging promises to Judah, and in your time reveal to them their Mashaich! Help me to see and enter into ways to show Judah Your love as You fulfill in them the everlasting covenant You made with Abraham and his descendants. Amein!