Here is just a short post with a few book recommendations/reviews/comments before I take the time to sit down and try to draw some connections between antisemitism and false doctrine and theology as we draw the (Not So) Quotable series to a close… at least for a while.
I had heard from a number of sources that I needed to read Our Hands are Stained with Blood by Michael L. Brown, Ph.D. It sat in my Amazon.com wishlist for months before I finally put it in the cart. I think the reason it was there for so long was because I dreaded what I already knew I would find in the book… And, I was right.
What an excellent, sobering, exceedingly well documented work detailing the abuses and persecutions of the Jews by the “church.” Brown’s book is a fairly quick and easy read apart from the emotional heaviness of the subject matter. His subject matter is very well researched and documented with hundreds of end notes and an extensive bibliography, while he manages to keep moving and not get bogged down in the thousands of horrific examples of ‘christian love.’
Uniquely qualified to write this book, Brown is a Jew who also believes in Messiah Yeshua, though for the benefit of the largely Christian target audience, he usually refers to Him by the better known name of ‘Jesus.’ Citing example after example from Christendom as well as political and media bias, he demonstrates a consistent pattern of extreme antisemitism fostered by early christians and codified into the doctrines and theologies of the Roman Catholic church, later absorbed into the very fabric of Protestantism with many deep and lasting implications and errors.
I would recommend this book to anyone, in or out of the Messianic movement. This is a ‘must read’ for every believer who claims to know the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
As I was preparing for this series dealing with antisemitism, I selected several other books as background information and supporting reading, two of which I’ll briefly mention.
Elie Wiesel’s Night, the firsthand remembrances of Auschwitz is a short but heart wrenching read. Through the details of his family’s executions and his sole survivorship he wrestles with the presence and sovereignty of an all powerful God who supposedly loves him. In the end, he rejects God as helpless and uncaring.
The most challenging aspect of this story is understanding that Hitler justified his abominations with the writing of Martin Luther, among others. He, in his eyes, was simply being God’s hand of judgment against the Jews. Essentially, christian dogma, going back 1500 years, and particularly virulent among the Lutheran Germans had planted the seeds of Hitler’s harvest, and then WE did veritably nothing to stop or correct the massacre. Most of christendom turned a blind eye.
Wiesel represents an innumerable number of Jews who, through the centuries, have rejected their own Messiah as a direct result of the hatred poured upon them by those who claim to know the Prince of Peace. As I read, I couldn’t help but be filled with incredible sorrow and pain for the actions of my forebearers against the Jews. What exactly makes us think that hatred against the Jews in any way honors God?
I have not read the follow-on books by Wiesel, titled Dawn and Day, but I assume they recount his recovery and growth beyond the couple years of terror in his early teens at Buchenwald and Auschwitz. Frankly, I’m scared to pick them up for fear that another lost sheep will never know the truth simply because of the twisted and false doctrines exampled by alleged ‘christians’ that so marred his early years.
If for no other reason than to expose us to the full ugly and bitter fruit of antisemitism, we each need to come to grips with the raw reality of what it really looks like to hate an entire ethnicity, no matter the excuse. Truly, Yeshua said, ‘If you hate someone in your heart, you’ve committed murder already.’ Hitler just did outwardly what centuries of Roman Catholic and christian theologians did inwardly. No difference. We must weigh our hearts.
The last of this installment, What Did They Think of the Jews?, by Allan Gould is an interesting and useful desk reference, but not necessarily recommended for extended reading. Gould has collected hundreds of quotes, both positive and negative, by men and women from all walks of life and every century since 100 B.C.E.
He is balanced in his approach, but demonstrates the very extreme responses historically given of/to the Jews. Many, many of the responses are specifically traceable to antisemitic theology and doctrine.
My only regret with the book is that Gould did not quote more pastors and theologians. While there are several biggies, such as Luther and Chrysostom, that can easily be accessed and verified online, I would have appreciated numerous others that I know to exist from reading other sources. Understandably, Gould may have been intentional in not quoting so many from Christendom in an effort to avoid firing the historic venom. While I just want to see the truth told, as a Jew, Gould stands to lose much more than I, so I can respect his possible reticence at telling the whole story.
In toto, these book each contributed to my growing understanding and grief over the great sin of antisemitism in the church. I particularly endorse and recommend Michael Brown’s Our Hands Are Stained With Blood as a first step toward grappling with and seeking repentance for the sins of antisemitism in the church.