Why must we understand or revisit the history of oppression and persecution caused by anti-Semitism within Christendom? This will arm the Believer with a heart of compassion and contrition when earnest attempts to share the Good News of Yeshua (Jesus) are met with stiff resistance.
Anti-Jewish bias, prejudice, contempt and injustice, which appeared early in Christianity, has resurfaced numerous times throughout church history, and is still deeply entrenched in segments of the church today perpetuating the paranoia of the Jewish community.
Repentance is healing and powerful. If true Christians acknowledge the sins of the past and learn to sympathize with the Jewish Community for this distorted image, we will better be able to express God’s loving message of salvation. Understanding how and why anti-Semitism happens is the gateway of enlightenment that can nurture change and fuel hopes of promulgating the Christian values of faith, hope, and love.
There is a big difference between the anti-Semitic acts of so-called Christianity, which has persecuted the Jewish people, and those who truly follow the teachings of Yeshua, who taught love for all. True Christians should denounce any form of anti-Semitism as being absolutely irreconcilable with the profession and practice of the Christian faith.
The history of the Jewish people should stir us up, and challenge us to take Godly action to correct the wrong deeds of the past. We must break down barriers and misconceptions between Jews and Gentiles, as well as church and synagogue relations, and offer unwavering support for Israel’s God-given right to the Land.
Anti-Semitism is a grim and appalling picture of human depravity and cruelty. The theological roots of anti-Semitism are found in the following indictment against the Jewish community: they are allegedly solely to blame for Christ’s death and are therefore “Christ killers,” “guilty of deicide” or “killing God”. History has repeatedly demonstrated that within man’s heart exists the evil by which he can destroy himself and others.
The epitaph “Christ killer” has become synonymous for the Jew by anti-Semites throughout the ages. Countless so-called Christians including Popes, Bishops, Monks, kings, theologians, and philosophers not only condoned but also participated in their persecution. On the basis of this theology many church leaders felt that they could show their loyalty to Christ by expressing their hatred towards His murderers…the Jewish people.
However, who was really responsible for the crucifixion and death of Christ Jesus? The only place to find the correct answer is in the Bible. A close examination reveals that there were six distinct parties involved in the crucifixion and death of Christ Jesus.
The primary party is Yeshua Himself, who laid His life down for all men as a sin offering in obedience to the will of the Father. Anyone who misses this point has missed the single most powerful and precious argument in this controversy. (See: Luke 22:42, John 10:11, 15, John 10:17, 18)
There are complete studies on the biblical narratives naming all involved in the crucifixion, which include satan, a small group of Jewish leaders, and the Romans, but we must face that all of us were sinners needing a savior. Our own complicity is made clear in the following scriptures: Romans 3:10-12, Romans 3:23, Isaiah 64:6, Isaiah 53:6, 7 and 10.
John 3:16 declares “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” This is unfathomable love. No mere mortal could ever dream of such an act. When He gave Yeshua, He gave Him to die even as typified in the Old Testament, by Abraham offering his son Isaac.
Notwithstanding all that has been said so far, the charge of “deicide” or of “Christ killer” cannot stand against the Jews - or anyone else – for He is alive! He is not a murder victim! He laid His life down and took it up again – and He shall return victorious!
It is essential to understand these truths, as deception, falsehood and ignorance has led to nearly 2,000 years of hatred and persecution of the Jewish People in the name of Jesus Christ, building a near impenetrable wall between the Jewish People and their Messiah.
Following is a history of the persecution of the Jewish People in the name of Christ and Christianity from the Third Century:
306-337 A.D. Constantine the Great, Roman Emperor, Christianized the Roman Empire and published the edict of “Milan” extending religious tolerance to Christians, while Jews lost many rights.
325 A.D. Constantine presided over the famous council of “Nicea” resulting in the “Nicene Creed” – a series of restrictive edicts against the Jewish people. These laws systematically persecuted the Jews and spread in every direction of the church. If the following restrictions were disobeyed, they would be exiled and their property confiscated:
· Christians and Jews could not intermarry
· Jews were not granted civil equality with Christians or Pagans
· The government impounded money sent to Jews in Palestine
· Jews barred from official positions and public office
· Jerusalem became off limits to Jews on pain of death
· Jews were forbidden to celebrate Passover, Holy Days, Feasts/Festivals and even the Sabbath in some places
344 A.D. – 407 A.D. John Chrysostom, the “golden-mouth orator” - a Bishop and canonized saint by the Roman Catholic Church, blamed the entire Jewish race for the death of Jesus and sought to separate Christianity from its Jewish roots.
589 A.D. The Third Council of Toledo in Spain ordered children born of marriage between Jews and Christians be baptized by force.
613 A.D. Jews given the option of leaving Spain or converting to Christianity.
722 A.D. Jews forced to convert to Christianity in Constantinople.
855 A.D. Jews exiled from Italy.
1096 A.D. The “Crusades” begin, tens of thousands of Jewish people killed in “Holy Wars.” The persecution and slaughter continued until 1272.
1121 A.D. Jews were driven out of Flanders (now part of Belgium) until they repented the guilt of killing Jesus Christ.
1146 A.D. Renewed persecution of the Jews in Germany at the beginning of the second crusade, the French Monk Rudolf called for the destruction of the Jews.
1215 A.D. Pope Innocent the Third set cannons affecting the Jews - Baptized Jews were forbidden to practice Jewish customs, Jews were forced to wear humiliating dress or badges of shame for identification.
1225 to 1274 A.D. St. Thomas Aquinas, Italian Dominican Monk, considered the Jew in this way, “the Jew is nothing more than an animal, and it would be legal according to custom to hold Jews because of their crime in perpetual servitude or slavery.”
1229 A.D. The Spanish Inquisition begins.
1252 A.D. Pope Innocent the Fourth authorizes the use of torture by the Inquisitors against Jews and other apostates.
1290 A.D. Edward the First banished the Jews from England. 16,000 Jews were forced to leave the country.
1348 – 1350 A.D. Jews blamed for causing the “black death” plague in Europe by poisoning wells and rivers. As a result, 5,000 Jews were tortured and burned alive at the stake. 12,000 Jews perished in Bavaria.
1391 A.D. Jewish persecutions began in Seville and 70 other Jewish communities throughout Spain. Jews were cruelly massacred and their bodies dismembered.
1453 A.D. The Franciscan monk, Capistrano, persuaded the King of Poland to withdraw all rights of citizenship for Jewish people.
1492 A.D. “Columbus sailed the ocean blue” commissioned by King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain (looking to make Spain a purely Catholic country). Jews were given the choice of being baptized as Christians or be banished from Spain; 300,000 left Spain penniless.
1497 A.D. Jews banished from Portugal; 20,000 Jews left the country rather than be baptized as Christians, others became slaves.
1543 Martin Luther published a pamphlet entitled, On Jews and Their Lies. He recommended that houses of Jews be “razed and destroyed,” and their religious books burned. This pamphlet and his later anti-Semitic writings called “Annuls of the Jews,” paved the way theologically for Hitler and the Nazis in Germany.
1794 Restriction of Jews in Russia, Jewish men were forced to serve 25 years in the Russian military.
1846 Pope Pius the Ninth restored all former restrictions against the Jews in the Vatican State.
1933 Hitler rises to Chancellor of Germany. And the Nazi Era begins. Virulent anti-Semitic propaganda and the groundwork for Judenrein, meaning, “cleansed of Jews,” begins.
1934 Various racial laws against the Jews were enacted in Germany forcing Jews out of schools and professions.
1938 Kristallnacht called “The Night of Broken Glass” took place on Nov. 9th and 10th - during this government-sponsored program, the Nazi’s shattered the windows of more than 1,000 synagogues in Germany, desecrating Torah Scrolls and burning Prayer Books. 2,000 synagogues were burned; 7,500 Jewish businesses destroyed. Ninety-one Jews were murdered and 30,000 were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Hitler reinstated the century-old church law, ordering all Jews to wear a yellow Star of David as identification. A few hundred thousand Jews were allowed to leave Germany only after they turned over all of their assets to the government. Kristallnacht marked a turning point in Hitler’s campaign against the Jews. This escalation of violence was considered to be the beginning of the horrors of World War II.
1939 The Holocaust began. Today, the word Holocaust has come to refer specifically to the methodic elimination of European Jewry by the Nazi Third Reich, which did not end until 1945 with the conclusion of World War II. Six million Jews, including 1.5 million children, were systematically and savagely exterminated.
It seems impossible that such acts could have been committed in the name of Christianity. But these are actual historical accounts and examples of tragedies that can and have occurred when so-called Christians fanatically follow leaders who do not follow the teachings of Jesus and the Bible.
Presently, Anti-Semitism is again on the rise. In Europe and Russia, for example, anti-Semitic hate crimes are at an all time high since WWII. Jewish synagogues and cemeteries have been desecrated and Jews have been beaten and even murdered. Then, of course, we have the continued threat of world terrorism by radical Muslim extremists who hate the Jews and are determined to completely destroy the nation of Israel and bring about world domination under the Muslim faith.
The horrors of the past cannot be undone, but we can stand with the Jewish People and speak out against any and all forms of anti-Semitism. We can work tirelessly to reach out to the Jewish People with the love of God and let them know that Yeshua came as their Messiah - and that He loves and cares for them. And, His love is one of the fruit of the spirit along with joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance that the Jewish community need be shown now as ever.
This article is reprinted with permission from Jewish Voice Today, POB 81439, Phoenix AZ 85069, www.JewishVoiceToday.org