A CHRISTIAN ALTERNATIVE TO (CHRISTIAN) RACISM AND ANTISEMITISM [*].
This Is an effort to show that fundamental Christian principles repudiate racism and Antisemitism. Acknowledging that both attitudes have been part of Christian history and that the root of the Christian anti-Jewish sentiment is in the Gospels, this essay argues that these outlooks are contrary to the Christian vision that Jesus "re-presents," but does not exclusively constitute, the one God who Is the ground and end of all beings. To have faith In this God, as thus represented by Jesus, as the one in whom we all live and move and have our being is to be liberated from the idolatries of exclusivism and ethnocentrism.
The first and most obvious point to make about racism generally and about the specific form it takes in one's prejudicial attitudes and behavior toward African-Americans and Jews is that it is simply wrong: It is harmful, poisonous, and sinful. Caricatures and stereotyping derived from ignorance bred from fear of that which is different (xenophobia), the perpetuation of language that reinforces negative attitudes, half-truths and out-and-out lies, and the erection of and participation in social, economic, and political structures that exclude individuals from realizing their fullest potential because of membership in a group, even where it is not clearly illegal-are all immoral.
Having made this necessary first and obvious remark, I am also compelled by candor to confess how difficult it is to extricate oneself from deeply ingrained cultural biases, from habits of mind and language that provide easy and quick answers, and from structures that benefit oneself materially even as they deprive others of their liberties and the just rewards of their labor. Many persons have worked unceasingly for decades to bring about attitudinal and structural changes with few tangible results. Perhaps the clearest lesson to have been learned is that not only are most persons deeply resistant to change, blind to the merits of those who differ from them, and short-sighted concerning the great benefits that accrue to society by the redistribution of goods but also that the society's problems are so deep and complex as to yield no easy solutions.
Therefore, when I reflect on the difficulty of providing sound practical solutions to the problems of entrenched and frequently institutionalized racism, I become increasingly convinced of the necessity to return to first principles for critical examination. Of course, I am not insensitive to the charge that this can be just another dodge to avoid doing the obvious. Lessing had Nathan the Wise declare: "I would have you learn that pious ecstasies are easier far than righteous action. Slack and feeble souls, e'en when themselves unconscious of their case, are prone to godly raptures, if by these they may eschew the toil of doing good."  Yet, consider how often so-called practical people fail because they practice the errors that a previous generation took for common sense. Thus, if one is to be genuinely practical in the ordering of human affairs, one must constantly reexamine the fundamental ideas and ideals that lie at the base of the common human endeavor. In order to develop plans that have any chance of working one needs to derive the practical "ought" from a fundamental "is." One needs to get clear what ideas lie at the foundation of tradition and what are the historically relative, merely culturally conditioned accretions. To apply first principles to the ordering of right conduct in changing circumstances one must be as clear about the first principles as about the changing circumstances. George Mason applied this insight to the shaping of democracy in the Virginia Declaration of Rights when he wrote: "That no free Government, or the blessing of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles." 
The fundamental principles that I would have us examine as a basis for reordering human relations equably are Christian principles. I recognize that an appeal to Christian principles might appear to be exclusivist or even triumphalist rather than productive of multicultural comity. Insofar as Christian claims have been exclusivist or triumphalist, they are part of the problem rather than the solution. I believe, and will argue, that fundamental Christian principles are neither and that, as re-presentative of authentic human values, Christian principles must give voice to these fruits of authentic human faith: freedom, justice, and good will toward all. Further, to say that they are Christian principles does not preclude their lying at the heart of other religions as well.
There are other, historically contingent, reasons for examining Christian first principles. In the first place, however pluralistic the United States has became as a nation, it can hardly be doubted that many of the early European settlers on the North American continent were sustained by a particular Christian vision and that the architects of the commonwealth believed their fundamental principles to be derived from the Christian religion. Thus, the general ethos of American civilization has been deeply imbued with Christian ideas.
What is more, the chief victims of racism in America, African-Americans, originally created their own culture out of the diverse memories of an African past, the common experience of slavery, and the Christianity taught them by white slaveowners. No matter that the white masters may have tried to inculcate such biblical passages as "Slaves, accept the authority of your masters" (1 Pet. 2:l8),  black slaves quickly learned to interpret their own experience and to formulate their destiny in terms of the Exodus of Hebrew slaves from Egypt, the prophetic demand for justice, and above all the story of Jesus. However much the black experience in America has been shaped by its African heritage and by slavery and continued racial prejudice and institutionalized discrimination, it has been nurtured on biblical religion, tutored by Christian ideas, and given hope by Christian ideals. These have sustained many African-Americans through considerable suffering at the hands of white Christians.
If there is a case for linking American culture generally, and African-American culture specifically, to Christian values, this is not as apparent for Jews and Christians. There can be no doubt that the history of Christian-Jewish relations is the history of calumny, slurs, negative stereotypes, segregation, and oppression. There can be little doubt that the Holocaust of the Jews in the 1930's and 1940's is, at least partially, the direct result of 2,000 years of Christian anti-Judaism. Moreover, honesty demands that the root of much Christian anti-Jewish slander be located in the Second Testament itself, especially the Gospels. Therefore, if I am to make the case that it is precisely Christian first principles that must be uncovered to show the way toward eliminating racism and anti-Jewish sentiment and toward genuine multicultural comity, this must be a test case.
Even a cursory reading of the Gospels discloses that Jesus is often portrayed as at odds with the scribes and Pharisees, who are represented as the leaders of the Jewish people and their teachers. Frequently, this opposition breaks out into open hostility, epitomized by the "woes" pronounced upon the scribes and Pharisees in Mt. 23. Here, Jesus is represented as denouncing them as "hypocrites"; as "blind guides" who "have neglected the weightier matters of ... justice and mercy and faith"; as being "full of greed and self-indulgence"; as being "like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead"; and as a "brood of vipers" who have killed the prophets and to whom retribution will return.
The hostility between Jesus and the Jewish leaders is brought to a head with the death of Jesus. Although all four Gospels agree that his execution was by crucifixion--clearly a Roman execution--they also portray the Roman official Pilate as but the innocent stooge of the Jewish high priests and the Sanhedrin, finally bending to the wish of the Jewish people to crucify him. "Thus," as one scholar put it, "paradoxically did a Jew put to death by the Romans become, instead, a Christian put to death by Jews." 
If the "Synoptic Gospels" (Matthew, Mark, Luke) typically only portray the Jewish leaders as the enemies of Jesus, responsible for his death, the Gospel of John paints a clear and vivid picture of "the Jews" as a group as being vicious adversaries of Jesus. Here it is "the Jews," not merely the Pharisees or the high priests or even "the people" who are thus vilified. The term, "the Jews," is used seventy-one times in John, as opposed to a total of sixteen times in the other three Gospels together. Moreover, at least twenty-five of the usages are plainly negative, even hostile; for example, Jn. 5:16 and 5:18: "Therefore the Jews started persecuting Jesus" and "For this reason the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him," culminating with 19:14-15: "the Jews . . . cried out, 'Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him."' One Christian Second Testament scholar summarized John's negative buildup of the term as follows:
When a reader has finished all twenty-one chapters of John's gospel, the term, "the Jews," has been heated by the fire of narrative controversy between Jesus and "the Jews," has been hammered by its vehement repetition, and has been forged by bitter and hostile contexts of many of its occurrences into a red-hot spear, which not only has pierced the side of the Lord of the Church, but now seems menacing also to the Gentile reader of this Christian account of the gospel. 
Any Christian who is not profoundly disturbed, even shaken, by the virulent anti-Jewishness of this Gospel should, at the very least, try the experiment of reading it as if he or she were a Jew--one whose people have been persecuted at the hands of Christians down through the centuries. I have tried this and have concluded that the remark of a rabbi in 1905 rings true: that John is the "gospel of Christian love and Jew[ish] hatred."  This is all the more troubling because John has been the most popular of Christian writings, readily translated, and the source of many easily memorized passages. Indeed, it contains much that is spiritually and theologically profound. Unfortunately, the effect of all this has been to suggest that the anti-Jewishness that pervades it is part-and-parcel of the gospel of God's universal redemptive love rather than what it is: a historical aberration rooted in the unusually bitter Christian-Jewish relations of the late first century.
Are there good reasons for believing that the anti-Jewish sentiment so plainly evident in the Gospel of John, but also a part of the other Gospels, is far from, even at odds with, the fundamental principle of the Christian message? There are.
It has long been clear to Second Testament scholars, even if this has not been made clear to the public at large, that none of the Gospels is an eyewitness account of the historical Jesus. Nor are the Gospels an attempt to record the biography of Jesus. All were written in the last third of the first century, and all the Gospel writers were editors, not reporters. They were people who fashioned quite different accounts from stories and sayings that circulated for several generations among the earliest Christian communities. Some of the sayings circulated without any narrative framework, while other sayings and stories were found embedded in liturgies, preaching, and controversies with local Jewish congregations. The Gospel writers synthesized these diverse stories and sayings into a new whole, creating sequences and situations, and even placing words in Jesus' mouth. John is the most highly theological and the least historically reliable, but all the Gospels must be regarded as narrative theology rather than biographical record. Inevitably, all of them reflect the times and situations in which they were written. Thus, with respect to the anti-Jewish passages, which reflect the tensions between two fragile groups in the Roman Empire in the years following the Jewish revolt of 66-70 C.E., one is bound to agree with a modem Jewish commentator:
The anti-Jewish Jesus who emerges from the gospels is thus the product of writers who conceptualized him in the light of what had become their own anti-Jewish orientation, often a function in turn of whatever such views were current among their own constituencies.... [It] is vital that modem readers of the gospels come to understand that the historical Jesus and the Jesus of the gospels are simply not one and the same. Reminiscent of a painting overlaid by later retouchings... what we have in the gospels is one Jesusimage superimposed upon another. 
Whether, or to what extent, anyone can penetrate the layers to attempt to form an accurate picture of the historical Jesus is still very much in debate. What is certain, though, is that whatever emerges will be fragmentary: perhaps a teacher and healer who proclaimed the imminence of God's reign and associated himself with its advent, a Jew who gathered disciples and was put to death by the Roman government.
The important thing, however, is that all the above is proclaimed throughout the Second Testament "with the authority of supreme victory."  That is to say, the disciples and others quickly became convinced that death had not crushed Jesus and that somehow he was among them. Thus they, and the generations following them who produced the Second Testament, found their own lives quickened and oriented anew toward the only God they knew how to believe in--the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Moses and the prophets, the Redeemer of Israel and the Creator of the universe. Now, however, they were enabled to see God through the lens of Jesus. For this group Jesus decisively re-presented ultimate reality and the meaning of authentic existence for them.
It is important to note the use of the term, "re-presents," which I have borrowed from theologian Schubert Ogden, who has used it to make the same point that I wish to make: Contrary to any exclusivist or triumphalist claim for Jesus as the sole locus of divine activity in the world--a claim that on the face of it is as immoral as it is absurd--the essential witness to Jesus in the Second Testament is a witness to one who for the apostolic community dramatically and decisively presents anew the pure unbounded love of the God who is always already present to every creature, not only as its creative ground but also as the redemptive love that will never abandon it. Thus, Jesus is taken to be representative of, but not alone constitutive of, the divine redemptive love that alone saves or justifies any human being.
This view maintains that the ultimate reality that is internally related to every creature as its creative source and the ultimate recipient of all its acts--its Whence and its Whither--is none other than the loving God known to the Jews decisively as their liberator from slavery in Egypt, as the source of Torah that orders the life of Israel, as the One whose steadfast love proclaimed by the prophets chastens Israel but will not let it go. This God is also the One who is there at creation and breathes spirit into humans and, so, is disclosed as the God of the nations as well as of Israel; ultimately, this is the God of hope.
This same God is known to Christians decisively in Jesus. Here the major Jewish themes of liberation, law, call to repentance, creation, and hope are represented, and all focus on the cross as the symbol of divine suffering love. God is here attested as "the great companion, the fellow-sufferer who understands."  The point should be made that the crucifixion is taken neither merely as a tragic historical event nor as a divine bolt out the blue; it is the symbol of universal divine love. As was said early in the twentieth century: "There was a cross in the heart of God before there was one planted on the green hill outside of Jerusalem. And... the one in the heart of God abides, and it will remain so long as there is one sinful soul for whom to suffer."  Ogden made the same point less metaphorically but perhaps more helpfully:
The claim "only in Jesus Christ" must be interpreted to mean, not that God acts to redeem only in the history of Jesus and in no other history, but that the only God who redeems any history--although he in fact redeems every
history--is the God whose redemptive action is decisively re-presented in the word that Jesus speaks and is. 
If this goes to the heart of the Christian proclamation, any sort of exclusivism or ethnocentrism is ruled out as antithetical to the first principles of the Christian witness of faith. Just as Jews know themselves to have been "chosen"--not for special favors but to bear witness to all the world, often through their suffering, to God's steadfast love and justice--so Christians are called to bear witness to this same God's redemptive love for every creature in the world. The point of the Christian faith in Jesus as "re-presentative" of God is not to get people to join a particular religion in order to be saved but to witness to the conviction that God is creatively and redemptively at work in the lives of all people, irrespective of their cultural identity, their religion, or their political or socioeconomic status. In fact, no matter how frequently Christians may have distorted the message that God wills abundant life for every creature and no matter that it may have been twisted into a claim that God desire s all persons to be baptized Christians or else remain nonpersons, this is a distortion unworthy of the fundamental proclamation of good news. However, it is a distortion that is neither uncommon nor confined to Christianity. H. Richard Niebuhr put the distortion this way: "[T]he great source of evil in life is the absolutizing of the relative, which in Christianity takes the form of substituting religion, revelation, church or Christian morality for God." 
There is no evidence that there is but one true religion--much less a superior ethnic group--such that anyone wishing to share God's redemptive love must be initiated into that religion or be born into that ethnic group. There is every reason to reject this as opposed not only to common sense and the ethics of toleration but also to the deepest principles of faith in God. Nor is there any evidence that the earliest Christians thought they constituted such an absolutely true religion. From the beginning, the greatest apostles of faith have directed human trust and commitment toward God rather than toward some decisive nationality, one exclusive sect, or one set of beliefs and rules. This, it seems evident, is the point of Paul's discovery that salvation lies not in works of the Law but in faith in God. (However misconceived Paul's understanding of the love of Torah for most Jews was, his positive point was clear: Devotion to a religion does not save one, but only faith in, reliance upon, God.)
Thus, Paul urged the believers in Galatia not to sink back into sectarianism: "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:28). Similarly, Paul, or a disciple of his, told the Colossians: "In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!" (Col. 3:11). "Christ" in both cases is not intended in a narrow, sectarian sense, but as the God "represented" by Jesus. Paul's speech to the Athenians as set forth in Acts declared that the "unknown God" whom the Athenians worshiped was none other than the God known to Paul by virtue of his Jewish heritage and his faith in Jesus. Interestingly, the key phrase used to portray God and the proper human relation to God in this speech was taken from neither Jewish scripture nor any distinctive early Christian writing but from a Greek stoic poet: "In him we live and move and ha ve our being" (Acts 17:28).
Peter--who seems to have been less cosmopolitan than Paul and to have had more difficulty grasping the notion of God's universal love--is portrayed as having gotten the point at least once when he uttered: "I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him" (Acts 10:34-35).
That these particular disciples of Jesus were by no means the first to get the point that religion is not an end in itself but a means to faith in God is well attested by the wonderful story of Jonah that is read every year on the Jewish high holy day, Yom Kippur. The point of that story is to show that, despite Jonah's evasive action and bigoted sulking, God is both capable of having compassion on the very wicked, non-Jewish inhabitants of Nineveh and willing and eager to accept their return. God even has compassion on the animals.
I have labored this point because it is so easily distorted or twisted into its opposite. Christianity in particular, as practiced through the ages, can almost be read as the triumph of the negative image.  Yet, despite the constant human tendency to reduce the divine to something familiar and manageable or, in Niebuhr's words, to "absolutize the relative," the fundamental message remains: That which anchors all human existence, that which is the ground of all meaning and value, is nothing as contingent as a particular religion or an ethnic identity but only that to which all religions point, the circumambiant reality that is the source and goal of all finite beings, the One "in whom we live and move and have our being." It is what theistic religions symbolize as "Yahweh," "God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," and "Allah"; others as "Brabman," "Nirvana," "the Tao," etc. Implicitly, it is that about the world that gives to every being the sense that it is "something that matters." 
To be authentically human-human in the best way possible rather than as having fallen prey to superstition, idolatry, bigotry, pride, despair, etc.--is to place one's trust utterly in this transcendent, yet universally present, reality. Such trust is what Paul called "faith." Call it what you will, but do not confuse it with excessive zeal misdirected toward some human institution or set of ideas. Such zeal is idolatry and is the counterfeit of faith. As the seventeenth-century Cambridge Platonist, Benjamin Whichcote, wrote: "Nothing spoils human nature more than false zeal. The good nature of an heathen is more God-like than the furious zeal of a Christian."  Nor should we confuse faith with what is often called "blind faith" or "when you believe something that you know ain't true."  The genuine article demands that people face their own lives and histories and the world around them honestly and with eyes wide open: "[Y]ou will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (Jn. 8:32).
Such faith is an orientation of the whole person that undergirds intellect, emotion, and will and gives these elements of personality purpose; it places what a person does in this life, and how it is done, in a larger context. Perhaps the finest religious expression of this attitude is the summary of the Jewish religion as expressed by Jesus: "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Mt. 22:37-40, synthesizing Dt. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18). This expression of the basic attitude or orientation indicates that one's final trust must not be placed in anything finite (which would be idolatry, giving rise to furious zeal) but only in that which abides. It also makes clear that this orientation is essentially love: love that integrates intellect, emotion, and will, with the totality of o ne's being.
Such love, however, is not merely otherworldly in the conventional sense. To be committed to the whole is to be committed to the parts; to love God with the totality of one's being entails loving God's creatures symbolized in the summary of the law by "neighbor" and "self." Put another way, to rely wholly upon God's pure unbounded love is to be committed to all that God is committed to, and that is all creation. Faith, as the Apostle Paul well understood, must issue in works of love.
Even so, as has been well said, "the one test of whether love is really present is always freedom."  Or, as Paul said, "[W]here the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Cor. 3:17). Again, speaking sharply to those in Galatia who had allowed themselves to be enslaved to a certain kind of religiosity, he said: "For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery" (Gal. 5:1).
It is clear, then, that whether it is called "faith" or "authentic human existence," whether it is framed in theistic terms as that orientation having God at the center or simply as the unshakable confidence that existence is worthwhile, the standard by which this fundamental attitude is judged real, its cash value, is freedom. That is, to have faith is to exist in freedom in two senses: to be free from all worldly concerns that would enslave or oppress us, and to be free for all others who are in any way oppressed--to be able to respond positively to all for whom God has compassion. To get a sense of why Christian principles disallow racism and Antisemitism, let us unpack these two senses.
There are many things that oppress or enslave people. Not only are persons physically and mentally limited, but they are often slaves to their own prejudicial and narrow-minded views, prisoners to an ideology, oppressed by past decisions and anxieties about creaturely transience and the fear that one will make no difference in the world. Beyond the things for which anyone might be personally responsible there are powerful social attitudes that have been inherited, political and economic structures that both support and are supported by particular individuals. To exist faithfully in freedom is not to eliminate any of these factors that help to frame human, historical existence, but it is to keep them in perspective so that they are never the final arbiters of one's existence.
In terms of the issues on which I have focused, to rely upon that which transcends all finite, historical relativities is to be liberated from the idolatry that insists that my religion or my particular set of ethnic values is the ultimate standard by which all truth, beauty, and goodness are to be judged. As such, faith is the beginning of freedom from any sort of religious exclusivism, triumphalism, racism, or ethnocentrism.
Moreover, after being liberated from such oppressors, one is bound to seek to optimize the limits of others' freedom. This work has already begun when one changes one's attitude, when one recognizes that one's own way is not the only way or the only right way, when one is able to celebrate the richness of diverse cultures and religions and to gain the confidence that an encompassing whole can embrace and cherish the values of all. The work of optimizing others' freedom requires changing structures as well as attitudes, changing habits of buying, investing, living, valuing; it demands that persons be proactive in diminishing remarks, habits, and structures that demean, degrade, misrepresent, suppress, or physically harm others.
Such demons abound in our society. There is much that cries out for freedom. A return to fundamental principles, an examination of the fundamental Christian vision, however, shows that the demons of Antisemitism and racism should be banished from Christian self-understanding.
David R. Mason (Episcopalian) is a professor in the Dept. of Religious Studies at John Carroll University in Cleveland, OH, where he has taught since 1972, and has been director of the Tuohy chair of Interreligious Studies at John Carroll since 1997. He also serves as a Priest Associate at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights. He was previously a philosophy instructor at YMCA Community College in Chicago (1968-70, 1971-72), and he served as vicar of All Saints Episcopal Church in So. Charleston, WV, 1962-66, following his ordination in the Episcopal Church in 1962. He holds an A.B. from West Virginia University. an M. Div. from the General Theological Seminary, and an M.A. and Ph.D. (1973) from the University of Chicago. He did postdoctoral research at Cambridge University in 1979 and 1986. He authored Time and Providence: An Essay Based on on Analysis of the Concept of Time in Whitehead and Heidegger (University Press of America, 1982), and edited and introduced David Tracy and John B. Cobb, Jr., Talking about God: Doing Theology in the Context of Modern Pluralism (Seabury Press, 1983). His articles and reviews have appeared in major theological and philosophical journals.
(*.) For my grandson Alexander Edward L'Huillier Brown, born June 10, 2000, whose mother is Christian and whose father is Jewish. This is a revision of a paper delivered to the Conference on Multicultural Comity at Potomac State College, Keyser, WV, April 19, 1993.
(1.) Gotthold Ephraim Leasing, Nathan the Wise: A Dramatic Poem, ed. George Alexander Kohut, tr. Patrick Maxwell, 2nd ed. (New York: Bloch Publishing Co., 1923), Act I, Scene 2, p. 147.
(2.) Robert A Rutland, ed., The Papers of George Mason, 1725-1792, Vol. 1, 1749-1778 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1970), "Final Draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights" [12 June 1776], Art. 15, p.289. Art. 16, the last article, adds: "That Religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence; and, therefore, all men (are equally entitled to the free) exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all to practise Christian forbearance, love, and charity, towards each other" (ibid.; emphasis in original).
(3.) All biblical quotations are from the N.R.S.V. translation.
(4.) Michael Cook, "The New Testament: Confronting Its Impact on Jewish-Christian Relations," in Michael Shermis and Arthur E. Zannoni, eds., Introduction to Jewish-Christian Relations (Mahwah, NJ, and New York: Paulist Press, 1991), p. 51.
(5.) Eldon Jay Epp, "Anti-Semitism and the Popularity of the Fourth Gospel in Christianity," Central Conference of American Rabbis Journal 22 (Fall, 1975): 41.
(6.) Kaufmann Kolder, "New Testament," in the Jewish Encyclopedia (New York and London: Funk & Wagnalls, 1905), vol. 9, p. 251.
(7.) Cook, "The New Testament," p. 55; emphasis in original.
(8.) Alfred North Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1933), p. 214.
(9.) Alfred North Whitebead, Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology, ed. David Ray Griffin and Donald W. Sherburne, corr. ed. (New York: The Free Press, 1978), p.351.
(10.) Charles Allen Dinsmore, Atonement in Literature and Life (Boston, MA: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1906), pp. 232-233.
(11.) Schubert M. Ogden, The Reality of God and Other Essays (New York: Harper & Row, 1963, 1965, 1966). p. 173; emphasis in original.
(12.) H. Richard Niebuhr, The Meaning of Revelation (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1946, 1962), pp. viii-ix.
(13.) I first became fully conscious of this--and of how Christians are perceived by others--when I read Walter Kaufmann's Prologue to Martin Buber's I and Thou. There, speaking of the unmediated "return to God," Kaufmann wrote: "Christianity in particular is founded upon its implicit denial. The Jewish doctrine holds that a man can at any time return and be accepted by God. That is all" (Martin Buber, I and Thou, A New Translation with a Prologue "I and You" and Notes by Walter Kaufmann [New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1970], p. 36). Then, rehearsing the story of Jonah and the "return" of the Ninevites, he continued: "This conception of return has been and is at the very heart of Judaism, and it is for the sake of this idea that Jonah is always read on the highest holiday of the year. But the theology of Paul in the Now Testament is founded on the implicit denial of this doctrine, and so are the Roman Catholic and the Greek Orthodox churches, Lutheranism and Calvinism. Paul's elaborate argument concernin g the impossibility of salvation under the Torah ('the Law') and for the necessity of Christ's redemptive death presupposes that God cannot simply forgive anyone who returns" (ibid., p. 37). It goes without saying that I believe that Kaufmann misunderstood Paul, but it is equally likely that Paul misunderstood the Judaism of his day that he felt to be so constricting. It is also true that much Christianity has misunderstood Paul--and Jesus, for that matter.
(14.) Alfred North Whitehead, Modes of Thought (New York: The Free Press, 1938, 1966), p.116.
(15.) Benjamin Whichcote, "Moral and Religious Aphorisms," in Gerald P. Cragg, ed, The Cambridge Platonists (New York: Oxford University Press, 1968), p.424.
(16.) William James, The Will to Believe and Other Essays in Popular Philosophy and Human an Immortality (New York: Dover Publications, 1956), p. 29.
(17.) Schubert M. Ogden, Faith and Freedom: Toward a Theology of Liberation, rev, and enlr. ed. (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1989), pp. 54.55.
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|Author:||Mason, David R.|
|Publication:||Journal of Ecumenical Studies|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2000|
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