Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christian Corrections

A few clarification regarding my post entitled "Xtianity, what is it good for?"

(1) I recognize the the Catholic Church has made some serious attempts to reform its views on Jews. I respect and admire these efforts. However, I wish to issue some important qualifications:
  • The changes the Church made occured over the protests of traditionalists, and weren't the result of careful study and introspection. The changes were made not for reasons of truth, but for reasons of politics. After 2000 years, the Church woke up to the fact that its teachings on Jews were no longer viable, and that if it wished to remain relevant in the post-Holocaust world, the teachings that helped make the Holocaust possible needed to be reformed. Though the Church, perhaps, deserves some credit for this, its rather like the credit we might give to someone in 2010 who has finally updated from Windows 3.x. In other words, it was about freaking time. Ultimately, the victory here belongs to liberalism, for it was liberalism that dragged the Church into Vatican II, and it must be remembered that the changes came at the expense of traditional Church teachings which were modified long after sensible people already knew that these teachings were dangerous and wrong.
  • The work of reform is not yet done. Though Vatican II removed specific obscenities from the Catholic liturgy and announced that Jews and Christians are equally responsible for the death of Christ, more work is required. For instance, the Church might further revises its theology and acknowledge that Jews, in fact, are not at all responsible for Jesus's death. Also, the Vatican still must revise its grudging, theology-tainted policy toward Israel, repudiate the dozens of anti-Semitic popes (some of whom, the Vatican, instead, hopes to canonize), and repent for its own role in paving the way to the Holocaust. As Leon Wieseltier has aptly observed, until these steps are taken, the Vatican is a tovel v'sheretz b'yado (one who immerses himself in purifying waters while he holds in his hand an insect that makes him impure.)
(2) I recognize that individual Catholics have already taken some of these steps, and have fully repudiated their Church on these matters. I think that's great, and note that this represent a defeat for the Church. In yesterday's post I was perfectly clear that the problem is Church doctrine and policy, not the beliefs and behaviors of individual Catholics who have rejected these doctrines and policies. Christians who no longer accept offensive Christian doctrines are, in a some sense, "less Christian" which is something to be encouraged. Likewise, many non-Catholics have repudiated their sect's anti-Jewish teachings, and this is also something to respected and encouraged.

(3) I also wish to acknowledge that just as all Christians are not created equal, some Christian sects are less offensive than others. Some sects, like some Christians, have broken faith with older teachings. (the Catholics at Vatican II for instance.) A commenter called Miami Al provided a ranking of the sects with which I mostly agree -- though unlike him, I'm not quite ready to let bygones be bygones. (I don't blame any Christian for crimes committed by other Christians. I merely note that, in some cases, the doctrine that made the crime possible has still not been repudiated.)

(4) My overarching point remains: Christianity has become less dangerous to Jews only as it moved away from traditional teachings, becoming, in effect, "less Christian" and "more liberal."  I hope that the transition of Christianity into something new, something that is unthreatening to Jews, continues.

Search for more information about horrible Popes and how their teachings caused Jewish misery at

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