Tuesday, June 06, 2006

An Ugly Phoenix Reborn - Christianity Today Magazine

An Ugly Phoenix Reborn
by David Aikman

"...In the middle of the first decade of the third millennium, anti-Semitism in Europe has made a horrifying comeback. One of the most dramatic examples was the February murder in France of Ilan Halimi, a 23-year-old Jewish cell-phone salesman. This young man was kidnapped, ostensibly because it was thought he would fetch a good ransom (his kidnappers said they thought all Jews were "rich"). ..."
The author of this piece goes on to point out additional evidence of a resurgence of anti-Israeli attitudes and actions that are not distinguished from anti-semitism. Wearing a yarmulke in public often elicits ridicule at best and physical attacks at worst.

"... A prominent British intellectual who has decided that Israel has "no right to exist" is A. N. Wilson, who has written several books virulently opposed not just to evangelical Christianity, but to a theistic worldview in general. In almost every country where anti-Semitism has a major presence, there is a hatred of America and in particular American Christianity. ..."
It seems very odd that the country that gave rise to the Balfour Declaration could give rise to such attitudes.

"..What should not be in doubt is the absolute Christian indebtedness to the Jewish people. They gave us the Scriptures and the prophets, and the Messiah himself. Christianity shorn of its Jewish origins simply would not be Christianity. It would be a collection of milquetoast ethics without a metaphysic, roots, or the semblance of any truth.

Christians may—indeed should—have a variety of attitudes toward the Israeli government. But to Jews as a whole—our "elder brothers," as Pope John Paul II called them—we owe far more than we can ever repay. In the face of Europe's rising tide of anti-Semitism, let us never forget it."

And this may be why anti-Semitic and anti-Christian attitudes seem so inextricably linked. As long as we believe and publicly acknowledge our debt, we expose ourselves to the same hatred that much of the world still has for the Jews. We stood idly by for far too many years while the events leading to the Holocaust occurred. When early indications of a horrible massacre started filtering out, we could not believe it.

Could it happen again? -- Darfur. Rwanda. Iraq. -- There seems to be no shortage of people willing to exterminate others who are of a different religion or ethnic background than themselves.

The outspoken anti-Semites are at least visible, and we know them by their words of hate. What is far more insidious are the subtle ways in which anti-Semitism finds its way into our political institutions, our schools, and even our churches.

The late John-Paul II hit it squarely when he referred to the Jews as our "elder brothers", and to accept that means we share the same parentage. Does this not imply an obligation to act as if we were "family"?

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