LONDON (Mar. 5)
A leading Bishop of the Church of England has made one of the most candid admissions by a Christian religious leader about the anti-Jewish traditions of Christianity and their responsibility for the Nazi Holocaust.
Dr. John Baker, Bishop of Salisbury, in a document published last week, says Christianity, more than any other religion, had succumbed to the disease of racism. He blamed the poison of anti-Judaism, developing into anti-Semitism which Christianity had spewed out from the earliest times.
Baker, chairman of The Church of England’s Doctrine Commission, made his remarks in a report commissioned by the General Synod, of The Church of England, its representative body of priests and laymen.
In a searing passage, Baker, a noted theologian, writes: “No matter that Jesus was a Jew, that thousands of Jews formed the first Christian churches, that the Jewish scriptures constituted, for nearly 200 years, the only Christian Bible, the Jews were those who had rejected and killed the Son of God: And into that indictment Christians were able to funnel all the hatred and humiliation they themselves felt at having been rejected by Judaism.”
NEW TESTAMENT REAPPRAISAL URGED
In the Gospel of St. John, he adds, the word Jew is always used pejoratively. “They are the Massa Damnata.” In the Passion narratives of both St. John and St. Matthew, attempts are made to blame the death of Jesus not only on Jewish leaders but on the whole Jewish people.
“An act of theological penitence, and a conscious and publicly declared reappraisal of the Biblical insights, including a disowning of the distorted features of the New Testament, is essential if the churches are to address themselves to their part in the racial situation with cleansed consciences.”
Commenting on the Bishop’s statement, The London Times said it reflected growing opinion among Christian theologians that the mere disavowal of anti-anti-Semitism was not a sufficient response to the Holocaust.
“Passages in the New Testament, and the ancient tradition that the Church is the New Israel after the Jews’ rejection of their Messiah, are held to be ideas in which anti-Semitism could regerminate because they contain an implicit rejection of the Jewish people’s right to exist as a distinct religious community,” the Times added.