AntiSemitism

Martin Luther, Large Catechism on Decalogue, Do Not Envy, and Anti-Semitism

“You should not covet your neighbor’s house.”
“What does this mean? We should fear and Love God, and so we should not seek by craftiness to gain possession of our neighbor’s inheritance or home, nor to obtain them under pretext of legal right, but be of service and help to him so that he may keep what is his.”

“You shall not cover your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
“What does this mean? We should fear and Love God, and so we should not abduct, estrange, or entice away our neighbor’s wife, servants, or cattle, but encourage them to remain and discharge their duty to him.” […]

AntiSemitism

How the Racist Jim Crow Laws Served as Precedent for the Nazi Nuremberg Race Laws

The Nazis were not simply demons who erupted out of some dark underworld to shatter what was good and just within the Western tradition, until they were put down by force of arms and the authentic humane and progressive values of Europe were restored. There were traditions of Western governments within which they worked. There were continuities between Nazism and what came before and after. There were examples and inspirations on which the Nazis drew, and American race law prominent among them. […]

AntiSemitism

Christians Under Hitler’s German Nazi Regime

How could most Christians either tolerate or support the totalitarian Nazi regime of Hitler?  We cannot help but ask that question because we see bulging eyes of the skeletal concentration camp victims looking up in those black and white photographs, but we must realize that nobody in the prewar years could have predicted that the concentration camps would come to define Nazism.  In the prewar years many saw a reawakened national German pride and family values after the humiliation imposed by the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I. […]

AntiSemitism

John Chrysostom, Justin Martyr, and the Church Fathers Preach Against the Judaizers and the Jews

John Chrysostom is the most strident of the early Church writers in his writings opposing the Judaizers where he warned his flock that Christians should not adopt Jewish customs and practices, that Christians needed to celebrate the Church festivals rather than the Jewish festivals, that Christians should not attend services at the synagogue. His work “Against the Judaizers” is so polemic that it is far more anti-Semitic than the writings of Barnabas and St Justin Martyr and many other church fathers, it is painful for us modern readers to read, we who remember the horrific events of the Holocaust. This work is not in the standard collection of the works of the Nicene and Anti-Nicene Fathers, but it was widely read in medieval times and afterward, and unfortunately was used to justify the European and Russian pogroms and persecutions against the Jews.[2]

One scholar who has pondered the problems posed polemic stands against the Judaizers by St John Chrysostom and also St Cyril is Robert Wilken. In this book “John Chrysostom and the Jews,” he explores the history of the early church to better understand the world of the early Church Fathers. We cannot totally excuse the errors in the teachings of the early Church Fathers, but neither can we blindly judge and condemn them for not knowing the lessons of the Holocaust. There is nothing wrong with reading the Church Fathers as they apply to our modern world, but particularly in this case we should also let the Church Fathers in their ancient historical context, we need to do both lest we have a distorted understanding of the history of our faith. […]

AntiSemitism

Epistle of Barnabas, Beginnings of Anti-Semitism?

The Epistle of Barnabas is a curious epistle that surprisingly has some messages that ring true with modern Christians. This epistle was likely written just after most of the books of the Bible, and was considered by some Christian communities as inspirational. Eusebius in his early History of the Church says the Epistle of Barnabas was “not canonical but disputed, yet familiar to most churchmen,” […]