Saturday, November 23, 2013

Decline in anti-Semitic attitudes

* Anti-Semitic Attitudes in America Decline 3 Percent: But Deep-Seated Anti-Semitic Beliefs Linger -- “On the occasion of its centennial, the latest Anti-Defamation League (ADL) survey of the American people found that 12 percent of Americans harbor deeply entrenched anti-Semitic attitudes.” 

According to ADL, this is 3 percent decline in anti-Semitic attitudes since the League’s poll in 2011. Further, it is a 17% decline since ADL's first survey in 1964 (they then found that 29% of Americans held anti-Semitic views). The shows real change in American views toward the Jewish people, and yet, they “disturbing indicators remain.”

A misunderstanding of the views of evangelical and other Christians is disturbing to me. The ADL reports finding that “A surprisingly large number of Americans continue to believe that 'Jews were responsible for the death of Christ.' Twenty-six percent (26%) of Americans agreed with that statement, down from 31 percent in 2011.”

To equate believing Jews were responsible for the death of Christ with anti-Semitism is a mistake. Some people who believe that may be anti-Semitic, but the two beliefs are not equivalent. If I believe that soldiers were responsible for the death of my ancestor, I can accept that as an historical fact without hating them and their descendants. Believers of the New Testament must accept the role of the Jews in the death of Jesus Christ as an historical fact. But many Christians who believe the Jews are responsible for the death of Christ are some of the strongest supporters of Jews in general and the nation Israel in particular. These two things -- acknowledging the role of the Jews in the death of Christ and supporting the Jewish people -- are not mutually exclusive.

The question itself is too simplistic to cover theological nuances regarding the death of Christ. Not only did the Jews play a role in the death of Christ -- and the New Testament clearly states that (Cf. Acts 2:23; 3:13-15; 4:27-28; 7:51-53; 1 Thess. 2:14-15). But so did the Romans, as did you and I -- and even more so, God the Father and Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus was a "willing victim" (John 10:18; John 19:11). He laid down his life. No one took it from Him. God ordained His death for His people (Acts 2:23). Acts 4:27-28 is pretty inclusive of all players in their guilt. Christianity began with Jewish disciples following a Jewish Jesus, whom they believed was the Jewish Messiah. Other Jews rejected His Messiah-ship and labeled Jesus a blasphemer, worthy of death according to their law.

Understand that Jews having a part in the death of Christ in not necessarily anti-Semitism. Once we understand that, it may mean that anti-Semitism in America is even lower than the ADL supposes.

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