The Myth of Judeo-Christian America

January 12, 2008 at 5:00 am 21 comments

israelamerica.jpgOne of the most interesting phenomena of American Christianity is its apparent affinity for Judaism. Politicans regularly speak of a “Judeo-Christian” moral base for American law (even though it is, in reality, closer to Roman law), and evangelicals often refer to their “Judaic” or “Jewish” roots – especially with those sophisticated enough to realize Jesus was not a blonde-hair blue-eyed American. I don’t feel the need to extrapolate all of the ways that American evangelical Christians look fondly at the Jewish nation – it is fairly transparent. But it isn’t the only thing about the “Judeo-Christian” tradition of America that is transparent.

There is no way of getting around it: Christianity, in any form other than the most original Jesus movement (in which we can probably only see a glimpse of through the Ebionites of the 1st and 2nd centuries), is directly antithetical not only to the Jewish tradition, but to the Jewish people. This is the most dishonest aspect of contemporary evangelicalism: “we” are friends with “you” [Jews] here on earth, but guess what – you messed it all up and now only “we” [Christians] can regain the paradise lost. And you know what? The Jewish people know what Christianity means for them and know what Christians believe. They know you are playing the “friend of Israel” card because that is what is needed for evangelical End Time fanaticism (where they will also have to suffer the Tribulation along with all of us heathens and heretics).

Christianity is the bastard brother of rabbinical Judaism, not its loving child. The perverted meshing of Greek theology with a warped Jewish mythology led to this unholy offspring. There is little wonder why the Jewish community never found the Christian perversion appealing or remotely truthful – those that did were swept aside by the Pauline-Johannine tradition. Jacob Neusner famously wrote in Jews and Christians: The Myth of a Common Tradition,

[These religions represent] different people talking about different things to different people.

In the collection, Disputation and Dialogue: Readings in the Jewish Christian Encounter, the late rabbi, and scholar, Eliezer Berkovitz rightly expressed that,

Judaism is Judaism because it rejects Christianity, and Christianity is Christianity because it rejects Judaism

There is little “believing” in Judaism, Harold Bloom asserts. Yahweh does not ask the Jewish people to “believe” – they are to “trust” in the Covenant: a covenant that has invariably been broken by God, especially if the Christians of Pauline tradition are right.

For those interested in the major discrepancies and ironies in the Jewish-Christian discussion, I suggest that you read about the other side rather than always trying to explain why Christianity is not opposed to Judaism. If you are interested, Harold Bloom is a good starting point, and Neusner is an excellent scholar in the area:
The Book of J (Bloom)
Jesus and Yahweh (Bloom)
Intellectual Foundations of Christian and Jewish Discourse (Neusner)
Judaism When Christianity Began (Neusner)
Jews and Christians: The Myth of a Common Tradition (Neusner)
The Myth of the Judeo-Christian Tradition (Cohen)

But please, when you realize their is something perverted about the new Christian plurality, don’t follow the lead of this guy (start 2:20 minutes in for Mark Driscoll’s good stuff):

-The Apostate


I wrote this article several months ago, but only now did it seem relevant, especially after Pat Robertson just condemned George W. Bush for his [sad and belated] attempt at peace in the Middle East.

Entry filed under: TheApostate. Tags: , , .

Are de-converts doomed to live in the pit of existentialist despair? Spiritual cross-dressing

21 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Iris  |  January 12, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Ugh what a creepy guy; its like pro wrestling and preaching. Unsurprisingly, I can only hear male laughter out there. Shudder…

  • 2. notabarbie  |  January 12, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Oh god, oh god, “I Love you, that’s why I yell at you,” huh?

    Iris-Creepy doesn’t even begin to cover it. He says(screams)that if you don’t believe in hell and you don’t embrace a particular religion, namely Christianity, as the only way, then you’ll be at the strip club and if you believe in Jesus and the Bible and hell as truth, then you will live your life differently. As in differently does he mean hypocritically? You know what they say: if you repeat a lie enough times….

    I need to go for a run now or I’m going to pop a vein….

    Could you imagine listening to that guy every week?

    Thinking Ape- as usual, a great post.

  • 3. the chaplain  |  January 12, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    The Pat Robertson clip is disgusting. According to Pat, it is the will of the loving Yahweh for mayhem to permeate the land of his chosen people. It’s clearly stated in the Bible and “you can’t go against the Bible.” If endless mayhem is the benefit of being “the apple of God’s eye,” I’ll gladly retain my status as a religious outsider.

  • 4. TheNorEaster  |  January 12, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    “Whenever one group of people start believing that they are better than another group of people, the results are always the same.”

  • 5. TheNorEaster  |  January 12, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    By the way…Anyone ever notice how rare it is for Pat Robertson to give specific references to Scripture when he rants like that…?

  • 6. Ray  |  January 12, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    What kind of “good Christian” actively, out-loud, in public promotes geeks to go take down someone else’s Web site? It’s no different from the Inquisition or anything else: “you don’t preach it the way I think it ought to be preached, so I get to destroy you in the name of Jesus.” ???? Insane.

  • 7. Richard  |  January 13, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Thanks for bringing this up! This is an issue near and dear to my heart, as my wife and in-laws are Jewish, we are raising our children Jewish, and this has caused no end of conflict with my evangelical family.

    I have put in a lot of time trying to understand Judaism as Jews understand it, not as Christians do, for those are not the same things. One of the biggest mistakes Christians make in thinking about Judaism is assuming that the same concepts and categories “map” directly onto Judaism, just with different answers — i.e., C’s believe the messiah has come already, J’s dont. Actually, the concept of messianism is a complex topic that has evolved and it simply isnt possible to answer “what Jews believe” about it without specifying (a) which group of Jews and (b) when. In modern American Reform Judiasm messianism has simply become an ideal — a vision of a just world that *we* (not God) are to bring about. And nowhere in Judaism has any Jew ever expected the messiah to be supernatural — even in the beginning he was expected to be a human political leader, nothing more.

    Or, to take another example, I heard all my life that Judaism teaches “works salvation” — i.e., that the purpose of Mosaic law is to work ones way into heaven. No, no, no, no, and no. Jews would reply to this charge by saying “salvation from what?” Hell in almost entirely absent from Judaism. The prupose of the Law, even in the most traditional and theistic groups of Jews, is to teach humans how to live a good, just, “holy” life. Not win a reward in heaven. Judaism does not, and has never, taught that one must work ones way into heaven or else go to hell. It taught even early on “the righteous among the gentiles have a place in the world-to-come”. IN other words, the purpose of the Law is to get you to do the right thing because it is the right thing. I find this far more ethically mature than the Christian view.

    And I like your point about the de-emphasis on belief in Judaism, which I also find refershing, coming from an evangelical background. I mean really, why does it matter so very much what you *believe*? Shouldnt it matter more how you live? Well, thats what Judaism teaches.

    Anyway, I also suggest another by Neusner: “A Rabbi Talks With Jesus” in which he imagines a dialogue between a 1st century pharisee (forerunners to the rabbis) and Jesus. A more comprehesive overview of Jewish teaching may be found in “What do Jews Believe” by David Ariel.

    Good post!

  • 8. marie  |  January 13, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh!!!!!!!!!! I went to Mark Driscoll’s church twice when visiting my friend in Seattle about 5 years ago. His church has become the fashion-ey church of Seattle–he talks about drinking, he swears, and people smoke outside. It’s uber-cool…not. This guy is seriously the most egotistical guy I’ve seen preach in person. Dig around the internet for stuff on him, and you will see there has been a ton of controversy surrounding his narrow theology.

    oh yeah and if anyone unfortunately read “Blue like Jazz,” this is the “swearing preacher” or whatever the author called him in the book.

    sorry just to digress about Mark, I just froze in disgust when i saw him in the vid

  • 9. the chaplain  |  January 14, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Good post TA, and nice, informative comment, Richard.

  • 10. Jersey  |  January 14, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Jesus says in Matthew 5.17: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”

    However, isn’t a lot of what Jesus and Paul teach something additional to what the old testament teaches, which happens to violate this one law from Deuteronomy 12:32 I happen to find accidentally while skimming my Bible:

    “Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.

    Something like this added at the end of Revelation, yet groups like the Rasta, Catholics, and Mormons have added their own books in addition to the Bible. What makes the rest of Christianity any more right that they violated this law as it first appears in the Torah?!

  • 11. Jersey Speaks  |  January 14, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    […] My response to this. […]

  • 12. karen  |  January 15, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    This guy is seriously the most egotistical guy I’ve seen preach in person. Dig around the internet for stuff on him, and you will see there has been a ton of controversy surrounding his narrow theology.

    A year or so ago this guy got into a huge controversy with his remarks about women. He’s seriously misogynistic and disgusting. That he is a hero of the young Christian movement seriously disturbs me.

  • 13. JK  |  January 17, 2008 at 4:28 am

    I was always uncomfortable at our former church when they talked about being “as one” with the Jewish people,,, there were definite elements of we love you, we respect you, you are the original, and now come see the truth and be REAL Jews — for Jesus! It was also like hedging the bet — see God, we’re good Christians AND Jews… sheesh….

  • 14. HeIsSailing  |  January 17, 2008 at 7:05 am

    JK says:

    …“as one” with the Jewish people…

    I have always wondered what the Jewish community thinks of this kind of talk from John Hagee type Christians. If I were Jewish (and I don’t know any), based on the history of Christian/Jewish relations, I would not trust Christians as far as I could throw them.

  • 15. HeIsSailing  |  January 17, 2008 at 7:08 am

    marie clarifies:

    oh yeah and if anyone unfortunately read “Blue like Jazz,” this is the “swearing preacher” or whatever the author called him in the book.

    No way!! Thanks for pointing that out. Blue Like Jazz had to be the most insulting and asinine book I think I have ever read. Seriously. I have a book review of that thing somewhere on the Internet. Is this the way Mark Driscoll preaches to his congregation every week? I think we are seeing the reincarnation of Sam Kinnison here.

  • 16. karen  |  January 17, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Blue Like Jazz had to be the most insulting and asinine book I think I have ever read. Seriously.

    Really!?! Wow, that fascinates me.

    I often converse with liberal and postmodern “emergent” Christians, and they rave on and on about that book like it’s secondary only to the bible.

    HIS, have you got a link to the review that you mentioned? I’d love to hear a different viewpoint on that book.

  • 17. HeIsSailing  |  January 17, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    Karen, here you go:

    I read BlueLikeJazz as a doubting Christian who was searching for some answers. My pastor recommended this book. I guess my reaction in the book review shows the frustration I had with my pastor. I figured if that fluff was the best he had to offer me, I was pretty much done for as a Christian.

  • 18. karen  |  January 17, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    Geez, HIS, tell us what you really think about the book! ROTFLMAO!!

    That is a great review. I have absolutely no doubt I would feel the same way about this book, because the whole postmodern vibe is maddening to me in the same way Blue Like Jazz was maddening to you. I will not bother to read it, thanks for saving me the nausea.

    Another author that gets lumped in with this one is Anne Lamott. I liked some of her novels and memoirs, but when I’ve read her spiritual stuff it is like so much sticky, icky cotton candy. It’s pretty and fluffy and pink, but when you consume it, it melts away and there’s really nothing at all there, which pissed me off after I spent the time to read it!

  • 19. hypocritical4u  |  November 3, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Discourse requires subjectivity acknowledging itself as such, rather than as something more. I recommend the following post:

  • 20. Truth seeker  |  January 14, 2012 at 12:05 am

    Jesus told the truth about “Jews” (sodomites) and the Synagogue of Satan. There is no such thing as Judeo-Christianity. Satan to Christians is god to the Jews. Satan to the Jews is god to the rest of humanity. PERIOD.

  • 21. Ubi Dubium  |  January 14, 2012 at 11:30 am

    @Truth Seeker
    No, no, no, no, that’s Gnosticism, an early sect of xianity that was stomped out by the Roman sect of early xianity in their early political squabbles. The Gnostics looked at the mess the world was in, and how much of a tyrannical bully the god of the OT was, and decided that Jesus must have been talking about some other higher god, not the OT creator/mountain/war god. Believing that the world is evil because it was created by a lesser and malevolent god, and that we need salvation from him, actually makes more sense than the current beliefs of modern xians. Not that any of it makes sense, really.

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