Christianity

7 dead as terrorists rob bank, attack church in Egypt’s Sinai

EL-ARISH, Egypt — In a brazen attack, about a dozen Islamists robbed a local bank and traded fire with security forces guarding an unused church in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Monday, killing seven people, including three civilians, officials said.

The attackers fired rocket-propelled grenades and traded gunfire with the guards outside the Church of Saint George in the center of el-Arish, security and military officials said. Services at the church were suspended months ago, following a wave of attacks on Christians in Sinai.

The extremists then robbed a bank before fleeing in a pickup and a motorcycle to the southern outskirts of the city. “They looted the entire bank and left explosive devices inside,” a senior security official said.

The clashes killed three civilians, including a child, three guards and one soldier and wounded another 15 people, including women and children, the officials said. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

Panic spread in the city, which has been under a state of emergency and curfew since a series of deadly IS attacks in 2014. A bank employee appeared to have been kidnapped in Monday’s attack, the officials said.

Security forces cordoned off the city center and evacuated residents living in the bank building. Pictures posted on social media by locals from el-Arish showed school girls fleeing a school located in the vicinity of the bank and the church.

The fighting came less than 24 hours after the Islamic State affiliate in Sinai killed nine soldiers in series of attacks targeting checkpoints across the nearby town of Sheikh Zweid. IS claimed responsibility in a statement carried by the extremists’ Aamaq media outlet. The army said 24 attackers were killed. On Thursday, six other policemen were also killed in an attack by the militants in el-Arish.

Egypt has been struggling to combat an Islamic insurgency in the northern Sinai that gathered strength after the military overthrew of an elected Islamist president in 2013.

St. George’s in el-Arish was attacked twice previously, during the uprising against longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011, and again after the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

Sunday’s attacks on military checkpoints prompted Egyptian authorities to postpone the opening of the Rafah crossing with the Gaza Strip, which had been due to open for four days. No new date has been set.

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‘Merry Christmas’ to replace ‘happy holidays,’ says Trump, wooing evangelicals (White Idiots, Christian Zionists, White Freemasons)

WASHINGTON (AP) — US President Donald Trump’s evolution from twice-divorced casino owner viewed warily by Christian conservatives to evangelical favorite defending religious liberty was on full display Friday as he promised conservatives a return to traditional American values, including restoring “Merry Christmas” to the national discourse.

Trump, the first sitting president to address the Values Voter Summit, ticked off the promises he has fulfilled to evangelical Christians and other conservatives, pledging to turn back the clock in what he described as a nation that has drifted away from its religious roots.

“How times have changed, but you know what, now they are changing back again, just remember that,” Trump told the cheering crowd.

It was a far cry from the skeptical welcome Trump received when he first addressed the group as a neophyte politician in 2015. With questions swirling then about whether he could appeal to evangelicals over conservative candidates like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Trump held a Bible aloft and declared, “I believe in God. I believe in the Bible. I’m a Christian.’”

Trump appeared before the group again last September, in the electoral stretch run usually devoted to wooing undecided voters, and aimed his pitch toward his religious base. Though he avoided some hot-button social issues like same-sex marriage and abortion, he vowed his support for Israel, an important issue for evangelicals, and said it was the “dream” of the Islamic State for his opponent Hillary Clinton to be elected president.

This time, he had the crowd won over before he stepped onstage.

He bemoaned the use of the phrase “Happy Holidays” as a secular seasonal greeting and vowed a return to “Merry Christmas.”

He noted, as Christian conservatives often do, that there are four references to the “creator” in the Declaration of Independence, saying “religious liberty is enshrined” in the nation’s founding documents.

“I pledged that in a Trump administration, our nation’s religious heritage would be cherished, protected and defended like you have never seen before,” Trump said. “Above all else in America, we don’t worship government. We worship God.”

Trump stressed his move to weaken the Johnson Amendment, which limited political activity or endorsements by religious groups that received tax exemptions, as well as his administration’s effort to expand the rights of employers to deny women insurance coverage for birth control. The White House has also issued sweeping guidance on religious freedom that critics have said could erode civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Trump waded again into the cultural war that has captured his attention in recent weeks, declaring to loud applause that “we respect our great American flag,” a not-too-subtle reference to his repeated denunciations of NFL players who have taken to kneeling during the national anthem.

But Trump also struck several empathetic notes, offering condolences to the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting with a quote from scripture and pledging support to the people of Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, which have been ravaged by recent hurricanes. His kind words for Puerto Rico — which included a morning tweet in which he vowed to “always” be with its residents — stood in stark contrast to his tweets the day before, when he declared that federal personnel would not be able to stay “forever” to help the island. Puerto Rico remains largely without power weeks after the storm.

CHRISTIAN ZIONISTS TO HONOR BENNY ELON (KIKE) POSTHUMOUSLY

 

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem gave a posthumous award to former tourism minister Benny Elon at Monday night’s Feast of Tabernacles celebration at the Jerusalem Pais Arena.

Thousands of Christian Zionists attended the event and paid tribute to Elon, who died May 5 after a long battle with throat cancer. The award was received by his wife, Emuna Elon, a well-known Israeli journalist and author.

“Rabbi Benny Elon will always be remembered by the pro-Israel Christian community worldwide as one of our truest and dearest friends within Israel’s national leadership,” said Dr. Jürgen Bühler, president of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, in announcing the award. “It is only proper that we honor and recognize his great work and legacy at this first and most opportune time after his passing.”

Elon was a Knesset member from 1996 until 2009 with the Moledet and National Union parties, and twice served as minister of tourism. During the height of the Second Intifada in 2002, when tourism to Israel fell sharply, Elon noticed that Evangelical Christians did not cancel their trips to Israel.

Moved by their support, he spent the latter part of his professional career reaching out to Christians and forming alliances. Elon became the second chairman of the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, which serves as the primary channel for Christian leaders and organizations to formally engage with Israel’s elected officials.

He also launched the Israel Allies Foundation, a global network of Christian parliamentarians who seek to coordinate their stands in defense of Israel and promote Judeo-Christian values. Currently, the IAF has sister caucuses in 36 parliaments around the world.
Among the thousands of Christians from around the world who attended the event, were 26 visiting parliamentarians from 15 countries who are affiliated with the IAF.

“Benny Elon genuinely liked his job as tourism minister, and he was very good at it,” ICEJ spokesman David Parsons said. “He was the best tourism minister Israel has ever had.”

Elon was survived by his Emuna and their six children.

London Jewish school principal ordained as priest

The principal of a Jewish school in London has been ordained as a Church of England priest.

Patrick Moriarty, 51, who is not Jewish, has been headmaster of the Jewish Community Secondary School in north London, or JCoSS, since 2012, The Times of London reported Saturday. The school has 1,300 students and 100 teachers.

“The governing body is proud to have a non-Jew as its head teacher and prouder still that he has been able to find time to take his own religious beliefs to the next level,” said Jeremy Kosky, chairman of the school’s governors.

A handful of Jewish day schools in North America have non-Jewish heads of school or principals, who supervise the general curriculum or the entire school, while a Jewish faculty member directs Jewish studies. JCoSS has a director of Jewish learning as well as a director of Jewish life.

Moriarty, who according to The Times works 70 hours a week, was appointed as assistant curate at St. Mary the Virgin, in the London borough of Barnet, following his ordination as a deacon in July at St. Albans Cathedral.

Moriarty’s new colleagues at St. Mary the Virgin were pleased to share him with the Jewish institution, they said.

“Patrick’s work within the Jewish community, and in wider interfaith circles, is incredibly enriching for us, as I hope our prayers and support are enriching for him,” said James Mustard, the rector of East Barnet.

Moriarty told The Times that his church responsibilities were mostly on Sundays, but he has already experienced having to exchange his casual clothes into clerical dress on a school day.

Asked how students at the Jewish school have responded to his new clerical role, he said, “They just say, ‘Are those your vicar clothes, sir?’ Nobody really bats an eyelid, but I do try not to wander around school like that. It would be confusing in any workplace, but it certainly is as head of a Jewish school.”

In a newsletter to the students in May, Moriarty wrote: “From July I can officially use the title ‘Rev.’ (like a Rav [Hebrew for rabbi], but with different outfits …) and wear the clerical collar; I have no plans, however, to do either at JCoSS, and the day job will continue just as before.” Rev. is short for reverend.

Moriarty’s JCoSS colleagues have supported and encouraged him for what he described as a “rather unusual path.”

He received cuff links and socks that said “Trust me, I’m a vicar,” as well as wishes from parents relieved that his new role didn’t mean he planned to resign, The Times reported.

POPE FRANCIS WEARS REFUGEE ID BRACELET IN APPEAL FOR HELP FOR MIGRANTS

 

BOLOGNA, Italy – Pope Francis on Sunday urged governments and people to do more to help migrants and not see them as enemies, wearing a plastic ID bracelet used by asylum seekers to drive home his message.

Francis visited a drab refugee center on the outskirts of Bologna known simply as “The Hub.” Run by a charity, it is home to about 1,000 asylum seekers, most of whom risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean from Africa and the Middle East.

There, they live in gray containers and other forms of temporary housing while awaiting decisions on their asylum requests to be moved to other towns in Italy.

Many of the refugees and migrants are without documents and all wear a plastic yellow bracelet. The pope wore one bearing his name and the number 3900003 on his right wrist. It was given to him by an African refugee.

“Many who don’t know you are afraid of you,” he told them as a light drizzle fell. “That makes them think they have the right to judge (you) coldly and harshly,” he said.

He paid homage to those who “never arrived because they were eaten up by the desert or the sea.”

Some 600,000 impoverished migrants and refugees have arrived in Italy in less than four years. In that time, more than 13,000 have died trying to cross the Mediterranean.

Francis, who has made defense of migrants and refugees a major plank of his papacy, also condemned internet trolling against foreigners, saying they had been subjected to “terrible phrases and insults.”

“If we look on our neighbors without mercy we risk that even God will look on us without mercy,” he said.

The pope’s defense of migrants, his second in less than a week, comes at a time of growing anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States and many European countries where far-right parties have made inroads.

Last week, the far-right, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (Afd) party surged to third place in a national election, tapping into public disquiet over the arrival of more than a million migrants in Germany over the past two years.

Francis called on more governments to facilitate initiatives backed by the private sector and community groups to set up “humanitarian corridors for refugees in the most difficult situations.”

This was a reference to programs such as one run in Italy by the Rome-based Sant’ Egidio peace community, which regularly brings into Italy refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria.

Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League, whose base is in the regions just north of Bologna, has vowed to clamp down on migration from developing countries if it forms part of a coalition government after next year’s elections.
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How Christianity Conquered the White Conquerors

http://www.renegadetribune.com/christianity-conquered-white-conquerors/
By Revilo P. Oliver (1979)

A READER asks: Dr. Revilo Oliver in Christianity and the Survival of the West states that pagan Nordics accepted Christianity because it was “more congenial to their minds.” Well, if the religion of Thor and Odin was too bleakly pessimistic, why didn’t they turn to the Celtic concept of the “thereafter”? It was just as joyful and serene a paradise as any a Christian missionary could invent.

Dr. Oliver was kind enough to reply to this interesting question:

1. Although we do not know precisely what concepts of a “thereafter” were entertained by the Celts at the time that Caesar noted with some astonishment their belief in immortality, that belief, as he reports it, included metempsychosis, which may or may not have been compatible with the beautiful and poetic myths of Ynys yr Afallon (Avalon), Ynysgutrin, and Tir nan Og that were recorded at much later dates. I grant, of course, that these lands, thought of as existing somewhere far in the West, like the Beatae Insulae of Classical myth, were “as joyful and serene a paradise as any Christian missionary could invent.” In fact, I think them much more attractive.

2. I do not know how generally these myths were known to the Norse, whose bleakly pessimistic (but realistic) view of the world’s future closed with the Ragnarok, to which a regenerated world, familiar from the very end of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, although present in the tenth-century Völuspá, was doubtless a later addition. If the Celtic myth was well known to them, I doubt that they, any more than good minds in our time, would have given credence to a myth merely because it was allicient and pleasing. I certainly did not mean to imply that they rejected their own religion because it was so gloomy.

3. The principal reason for the ‘conversion’ of the Norse to the new cult is, in my opinion, the one stated in the footnote to p. 21 of Christianity and the Survival of the West. The Christianity known to the invaders of the Roman Empire (in which the Romans had, for all practical purposes, become extinct more than two centuries before) was that of the peculiar sect that succeeded in allying itself with the despotic power of a dying Empire and using that power to exterminate the very numerous Christian sects that were its competitors in the salvation-business. This sect had a holy book that had been assembled and carelessly edited around the end of the Third Century; it consisted of (a) an anthology of a few gospels selected and revised (ineptly) from the hundred gospels that had been composed in the Second and Third Centuries, purporting to give a precise and circumstantial account of events that had happened at specified times in well-known places, and had supposedly been witnessed by many thousands of individuals, including the purported authors of the principal tales; and (b) the Jews’ storybook about the exploits of their tribal deity, which also had the form of an historical record. The whole, despite glaring inconsistencies that, if noticed at all, were explained away by clever theologians, and despite gross physical and historical blunders that escaped detection in a time of growing ignorance and irrationality, seemed to form a history of events so specific and accurate that it was possible for the eminent English divine, John Lightfoot, to “prove” that Adam had been created on Friday, October 21, 4004 B.C.

4. A secondary reason was that our barbarian ancestors captured and dismembered an Empire that, even in its decay, retained and exhibited a manifest superiority to their own culture in manufactured products (especially those requisite for luxury and refinement), in engineering and architecture, in literature and art, and in social organization. These impressive remains of past greatness they naturally, though mistakenly, associated with the superstition that had been imposed on the mongrel Roman population by its last despots.

5. There were numerous minor factors (e.g., the well-known vaudeville trick by which St. Poppo performed a “miracle” to impress the ignorant and gullible Harald Blaatand “Bluetooth,” King of Denmark; Charlemagne’s conquest of the pagan Saxons; etc.), but I believe I have stated above the two main causes of the unfortunate conversion of the Norse to a deleterious religion.


Source: Instauration magazine, February 1979 (via NatVan)

NY bishop visits Holocaust center in wake of anti-Semitic attacks

A Long Island bishop visited a local Holocaust memorial center in the wake of several anti-Semitic hate attacks in the suburban New York area.

Bishop John Barres, the head of the Diocese of Rockville Centre since January, was accompanied by other church officials on his visit to the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County in Glen Cove on Tuesday. They met Holocaust survivors along with center staff and volunteers.

Barres said the visit was an opportunity to strengthen the bond between the church and the Jewish community.

“A deep goal is to continue the beautiful friendship with Jewish people on Long Island,” he told WCBS-TV.

The visit follows several anti-Semitic incidents in Nassau County, including swastikas spray-painted inside a high school.

At the center, the bishop met with Holocaust survivor Gloria Glantz, 78, who was hidden from the Nazis by a Catholic Polish neighbor.

“I was praying to Jesus at three and a half,” Glantz told WCBS. “I didn’t know much about current events, I didn’t know much about my religion.

“I would have been sent to the Treblinka death camp.”

Barres said the tour renewed his ambition to help protect minority groups under attack.

“We need to regard the dignity of every human life,” he said.

CHRISTIAN LEADER CALLS TO STOP PROSELYTIZING JEWS

 

Christians around the world must stop trying to proselytize Jews, said the founder of a nonprofit which brings thousands of Christian volunteers to help Jewish farmers in Judea and Samaria.

Just days before the High Holy Day of Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar, Tommy Waller sent out a video saying that Christian-Jewish relations have changed, and they must continue to change.

“I would like to appeal to my Christian brothers and sisters: Please stop any missionary attempt to take away Jewish identity from those [people] whom God chose to carry his name,” said Waller in the eight-minute video, released to the media.

In the video, Waller, who founded HaYovel in 2005, said that any agreement with “replacement theology” is a disagreement with God, Who identifies Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – as the God of Israel.

Paul of Tarsus became one of the first known missionaries, preaching the new religion to the peoples of Asia Minor and Greece.

Waller, who was born and raised in Tennessee, first came to the Holy Land 13 years ago. He was inspired by the sight of a farmer working in a vineyard, with an M-16 slung over his back.

According to the organization’s website, he founded the organization “with the mission of facilitating the prophetic restoration of Israel through support of small independent farmers in the heartland.”

Since then, his wife, Sherri, 11 children and their spouses, friends and followers have joined him to work the land. The volunteers come to Israel during the harvest and pruning seasons.

HaYovel, which also advocates for a return to biblical patterns of marriage, family and Israel as a people and a nation, came under criticism by some rabbis who worried the volunteers were really missionaries in disguise. Waller said that when he first started his work, he was under the impression that Jews “needed to be saved,” but much has changed since then.

The Waller family with Rabbi Eliezer Melamed. (Credit HaYovel)The Waller family with Rabbi Eliezer Melamed. (Credit HaYovel)

“I would like to say to the Jews: Please forgive me and please forgive my forefathers for the horrible crimes they committed against you,” he said in the video. “With every fiber of my being, I am committed to supporting you in the fight for the restoration of Israel.”

Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, the chief rabbi of the Har Bracha settlement in Samaria, an area abundant with vineyards, (as Jeremiah prophesied in 31:5: “Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; the farmers will plant them and enjoy their fruit,”) met Waller and wrote about his conversation with him in a column in 2001 in the BeSheva weekly.

“Recently, I met a Christian American, Tommy Waller, and I asked him: ‘If a Jew were to come to you and ask, what’s better: to be a Jew or a Christian, what would you say to him?’ He replied: ‘I would tell him to be a Jew.’ ‘Although,’ he added, ‘I didn’t always think that way. At first, all Christians want everyone to be Christian, but this position stems from ignorance.’”

The two have got on together well, and the rabbi said that as long as volunteers to Israel are not trying to proselytize, then they must be treated with the utmost appreciation.

“There is still room to ask: Maybe there are some missionaries amongst our friends who want to convert us? Indeed, if such a thing is proven – they must be fought,” Rabbi Melamed wrote. “However, as far as anyone who has not been proven to be a missionary is concerned, we must return to the basic, appropriate conduct – respect and love.”

Waller continued in his video saying that HaYovel is committed to purposefully raising up a new generation of Christians who firmly agree with God’s choosing and renounce the shameful teaching of replacement theology.

“I challenge all Christians this year to replace replacement theology with a new restoration mandate.”

Rabbi Tuly Weisz, founder of Israel365, said more and more Christians are seeing in the restoration of the Jews to their land God’s everlasting love and compassion for His people.

“Today is the golden age of Christian-Jewish relations,” he said.

Paul of Tarsus, or Christianity and Jewry

http://www.renegadetribune.com/paul-tarsus-christianity-jewry/
By Savitri Devi

IF THERE is a single fact which anyone who seriously studies the history of Christianity cannot help but be struck by, it is the almost complete absence of documents regarding the man whose name this great international religion bears — Jesus Christ. We know of him only what is told to us in the New Testament gospels, that is, practically nothing; for these books, though prolix in their descriptions of miraculous facts relating to him, do not give any information about his person and, in particular, about his origins. Oh, we do have, in one of the four canonical gospels, a long genealogy tracing his ancestry from Joseph, the husband of Jesus’ mother, all the way back to Adam! But I have always wondered what possible interest this could have for us, given that we are expressly told elsewhere that Joseph had nothing to do with the birth of the Child. One of the many apocryphal gospels — rejected by the Church — attributes the paternity of Jesus to a Roman soldier, distinguished for his bravery and accordingly nicknamed “the Panther.” This gospel is cited by Heckel in one of his studies on early Christianity. Yet accepting such evidence would not entirely resolve the very significant question of Christ’s origins, because we are not told who his mother Mary was. One of the canonical gospels tells us that she was the daughter of Joachim and Anne, although Anne had passed the age of maternity; in other words, she too must have been born miraculously, or could perhaps have been simply a child adopted by Anne and Joachim in their old age, which hardly clarifies matters.

But there is something much more disconcerting. The annals of an important monastery of the Essene sect, located only about twenty miles from Jerusalem, have recently been discovered. These annals deal with a period extending from the beginning of the first century before Jesus Christ to the second half of the first century after him, and they refer, seventy years before his birth, to a great Initiate or spiritual Master — a “Teacher of Righteousness” — whose eventual return is expected. Of the extraordinary career of Jesus, of his innumerable miraculous healings, of his teaching during three full years in the midst of the people of Palestine, of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, so brilliantly described in the canonical gospels, of his trial and his crucifixion (accompanied, according to the canonical gospels, by such striking events as an earthquake, the darkening of the sky for three hours, and the rending of the veil of the Temple in two) — of all this, not a single word is spoken in the scrolls of these ascetics, eminently religious men who would surely have taken an interest in such events. It would seem, according to these “Dead Sea Scrolls” — I recommend, to anyone who is interested, John Allegro’s study in English — either that Jesus did not make any impression on the religious minds of his time, as avid for wisdom and as well informed as the ascetics of the monastery in question appear to have been, or else … that he, quite simply, never existed! As troubling as this conclusion is, it must be placed before the general public and, in particular, before the Christian public, in light of the recent discoveries.

With regard to the Christian Church, however, and Christianity as an historical phenomenon, and the role it has played in the West and in the world, the question has much less importance than might at first appear. For even if Jesus lived and preached, he was not the true founder of Christianity as it presents itself in the world. If he really lived, Jesus was a man “above Time” whose kingdom — as he himself, according to gospels, told Pilate — was “not of this world,” a man whose every activity and every teaching aimed to reveal, to those whom this world could not satisfy, a spiritual path by which they could escape from it and could find, in their own internal paradise, in this “Kingdom of God” which is in us, God “in spirit and truth,” whom they were seeking without knowing it. If he actually lived, Jesus never dreamed of founding a temporal organization — and especially not a political and financial organization — such as the Christian Church so quickly became. Politics did not interest him. And he was so determined an enemy of any interference of money in spiritual affairs that some Christians have, rightly or wrongly, seen in his hatred of wealth an argument proving, contrary to the teaching of all the Christian Churches (except, naturally, those, like the Monophysites, that deny his human nature absolutely), that he was not of Jewish blood. The true founder of historical Christianity, of Christianity as we it know in practice, as it has played and still plays a role in the history of the West and of the world, was not Jesus, of whom we know nothing, nor his disciple Peter, of whom we know that he was a Galilean and a simple fisherman by vocation, but rather Paul of Tarsus, who was Jewish by blood, by training and by temperament, and, what is more, was a literate, learned Jew and a “Roman citizen,” in the same way that so many Jewish intellectuals today are French, German, Russian, or American citizens.

Historical Christianity — which is not at all a work “above Time” but well and truly a work “in Time” — was the work of Saul called Paul, that is, the work of a Jew, just as Marxism would be two thousand years later. So let us examine the career of Paul of Tarsus.

Saul, called Paul, was a Jew and, furthermore, a Jew both orthodox and learned, a Jew imbued with a consciousness of his race and of the role that the “chosen people” must, according to Jehovah’s promise, play in the world. He was the pupil of Gamaliel, one of the most famous Jewish theologians of his time, a theologian of the Pharisees, precisely that school which, according to the gospels, the Prophet Jesus, whom the Christian Church would later elevate to the rank of God, most violently combated on account of its pride, its hypocrisy, its practice of theological hair-splitting and of putting the letter of the Jewish Law above its spirit — above, at least, what he believed to be its spirit; on these points we can assume that Saul was a typical Pharisee. Moreover — and this is crucial — Saul was a learned and conscious Jew born and raised outside of Palestine in one of those cities of Roman Asia Minor that succeeded Hellenistic Asia Minor, while retaining all its essential characteristics: Tarsus, where Greek was everyone’s lingua franca, where Latin was becoming increasingly familiar, and where one could meet representatives of all the various peoples of the Near East. In other words, he was already a “ghetto” Jew having, in addition to an intimate knowledge of Israelite tradition, an understanding of the world of the goyim — of non-Jews — which would later prove invaluable to him. Doubtless he thought, like every good Jew, that the goy exists only to be dominated and exploited by the “chosen people,” but he understood the non-Jewish world infinitely better than did the majority of the Jews in Palestine, the social environment that produced all the earliest believers in the new religious sect which he himself was destined to transform into Christianity as we know it today.

We know from the “Acts of the Apostles” that Saul was initially a fierce persecutor of the new sect. After all, did not its adherents scorn the Jewish Law, in a strict sense of the word? Had not the man that they recognized as their leader and that they said had risen from the dead, this Jesus, whom Saul himself had never seen, set an example of non-observance of the Sabbath, of negligence of fast days, and of other highly blameworthy transgressions of the rules of life from which a Jew must never deviate? It was even said that a mystery, which could portend nothing good, surrounded his birth; perhaps he was not entirely of Jewish origin — who knows? How not to persecute such a sect, if you are an orthodox Jew, a pupil of the great Gamaliel? It was necessary to preserve the observers of the Law from scandal. Saul, who had already shown proof of his zeal by being present at the stoning of Stephen, one of the first preachers of this dangerous sect, continued to defend Jewish Law and tradition against those whom he regarded as heretics, until he recognized, finally, that there was something better — much better — to be made of it, precisely from a Jewish point of view. This he recognized on the road to Damascus.

History, as the Christian Church tells it, would have us believe that it was there that he suddenly experienced a vision of Jesus — whom he had never, I repeat, seen in the flesh — and that he heard the latter’s voice saying to him: “Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me?,” a voice he could not resist. He was, moreover, supposedly blinded by a dazzling light and thrown to the ground. Taken to Damascus — according to the same account in Acts — he met one of faithful of the sect that he had come there to combat, a man who, after restoring his sight, baptized him and received him into the Christian community.

It is superfluous to say that this miraculous narrative can only be accepted, as it stands, by those who share the Christian faith. Like all narratives of this kind, it has no historical value. Anyone who, without preconceived ideas, seeks a plausible explanation — convincing, natural — of how events actually transpired, cannot be satisfied with it. And the explanation, to be plausible, must take into account not only the transformation of Saul into Paul — of the fierce defender of Judaism into the founder of the Christian Church as we know it — but also of the nature, content and direction of his activity after his conversion, of the internal logic of his career; in other words, of the psychological link, more or less conscious, between his anti-Christian past and his great Christian enterprise. Any conversion implies a link between the convert’s past and the remainder of his life, a profound reason, that is, a permanent aspiration within the convert which the act of conversion satisfies; a will, a permanent direction of life and action, of which the act of conversion is the expression and the instrument.

Now, given all that we know of him, and especially what we know of the rest of his career, there is only one profound and fundamental will, inseparable from the personality of Paul of Tarsus at all stages of his life, that can provide an explanation of his Damascene conversion, and that will is the desire to serve the old Jewish ideal of spiritual domination, itself the complement and crowning culmination of the ideal of economic domination. Saul, an orthodox Jew, a racially conscious Jew, who had fought against the new sect on the assumption that it represented a danger to Jewish orthodoxy, could renounce his orthodoxy and become the soul and the arm precisely of so dangerous a sect only after having recognized that, revised by him, transformed, adapted to the requirements of the wider world of the goyim — the “Gentiles” of the gospels — and interpreted, if it were necessary, so as to give, as Nietzsche would put it later, “a new meaning to the ancient mysteries,” it could become, during the centuries that followed and perhaps even in perpetuity, the most powerful instrument of Israel’s spiritual domination, the means that would accomplish, most surely and most definitively, the self-professed “mission” of the Jewish people to reign over other peoples and to subjugate them morally, all the while exploiting them economically. And the more complete the moral subjugation, it goes without saying, the more the economic exploitation would flourish. Only this prize was worth the painful effort of repudiating the rigidity of the old and venerable Law. Or, to speak in a more mundane language, the sudden conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus can be naturally explained only if it is admitted that he must have had a sudden glimpse into the possibilities that nascent Christianity offered him for the profit and the moral influence of his people, and that he would have thought — in a stroke of genius, it must be said — : “I was short-sighted in persecuting this sect, instead of making use of it, whatever the cost! I was stupid to stick to forms — mere details — instead of seeing the essential issue: the interests of the people of Israel, of the chosen people, of our people, of us Jews!”

The entirety of Paul’s later career is an illustration — a proof, insofar as one can think of “proving” facts of this nature — of this brilliant reversal, of the victory of an intelligent Jew, a practical man, a diplomat (and whoever says “diplomat” in connection with religious questions really says deceiver) over the orthodox, learned Jew, concerned above all with problems of ritual purity. After his conversion Paul indeed gave himself up to the “Spirit” and went where the “Spirit” suggested, or rather ordered to him to go, and he spoke the words which the “Spirit” inspired in him. Now, where did the Holy Spirit “order” him to go? Was it into Palestine, among the Jews who still shared the “errors” that he had just publicly abjured and who would seem the first to be entitled to his new revelation? Never! That’s the one thing he won’t do! It is instead in Macedonia, as well as in Greece and among the Greeks of Asia Minor, among the Galatians, and later among the Romans — in Aryan countries, or at any rate in non-Jewish countries — that the neophyte preaches the theological dogma of original sin and of eternal salvation through the crucified Jesus, and the moral dogma of the equality of all men and all peoples; it is in Athens that he proclaims that God created “all nations, all peoples of one and the same blood” (Acts 17.26).

In this denial of the natural differences among the races, the Jews themselves had of course no interest, but it was from their point of view very useful to preach it, to impose it on the goyim in order to destroy in them those national values which had, hitherto, formed their strength (or rather simply to hasten their destruction; for, since the fourth century before Christ, they had already been declining under the influence of the “hellenized” Jews of Alexandria). No doubt Paul also preached “in the synagogues,” that is, to other Jews, to whom he presented the new doctrine as the outcome of prophecies and messianic expectations; no doubt he said to the sons of his people, as well as to the “fearers of the Lord” — to the half-Jews, like Timothy, and to the Jewish quarters that abounded in Aegean seaports (as in Rome) — that Christ crucified and resurrected, whom he announced, was none other than the promised Messiah. He gave new meaning to Jewish prophecies just as he gave new meaning to the immemorial mysteries of Greece, Egypt, Syria and Asia Minor: a meaning that ascribed to the Jewish people a unique role, a unique place and a unique importance in the religion of non-Jews. For him it was simply the means of ensuring for his people spiritual domination in the future. His genius — not religious, but political — consists in having understood this.

But it is not only in the field of doctrine that he can demonstrate such disconcerting flexibility: “a Greek with the Greeks, and a Jew with the Jews,” as he himself says. He has a keen sense of practical necessities, as well as impossibilities. He is himself, although initially so orthodox, the first to oppose any imposition of the Jewish Law on Christian converts of non-Jewish race. He insists — against Peter and the less conciliatory group of the first Christians in Jerusalem — that a Christian of non-Jewish origin has no need of circumcision nor of Jewish dietary regulations. In his letters he writes to his new faithful — half-Jews, half-Greeks, Romans of doubtful origin, Levantines of all the ports of the Mediterranean: to everyone without race, to all those he is in the process of shaping into a link between his immutable people and their traditions, and the vast world to be conquered — that there does not exist, for them, any distinction between what is “clean” and what is “unclean,” that they are permitted to eat whatever they please (“whatever is sold in the market”). He knew that, without these concessions, Christianity could not hope to conquer the West, nor could Israel hope to conquer the world, through the intermediary of the converted West.

Peter, who was not at all a “ghetto” Jew and was thus still unfamiliar with conditions in the non-Jewish world, did not see things from the same perspective — not yet, in any case. It is for that reason that we must see in Paul the true founder of historical Christianity: the man who formed, from the purely spiritual teaching of the prophet Jesus, the basis of a militant organization “in Time” whose goal was, in the deep consciousness of the Apostle, nothing less than the domination of his own people over a world morally emasculated and physically bastardized, a world wherein a misunderstood love of “man” leads directly to the indiscriminate mixture of the races and the suppression of all national pride — in a word, to human degeneration.

It is time that the non-Jewish nations finally open their eyes to this reality of two thousand years, that they grasp all its poignant topicality, and that they react accordingly.


Written at Méadi (near Cairo) on June 18, 1957.

First published as Paul de Tarse, ou Christianisme et juiverie (Calcutta: Savitri Devi Mukherji, 1958). Trans. Irmin. The original French text is also available. Savitri, almost certainly writing from memory, makes two small factual errors in the preceding essay: (1) the account of Mary’s parents to which she refers appears in the apocryphal Gospel of James, not in the New Testament; (2) the rumor that Jesus’ father was a Roman legionary nicknamed Panthera was reported by the pagan philosopher Celsus in his anti-Christian polemic True Doctrine. It does not appear in any of the apocryphal gospels, as Savitri mistakenly suggests. Variations on the story can be found in the Jewish Talmud.

Source: Irmin Vinson (via NatVan)

THE GOLDEN AGE OF JEWISH-CHRISTIAN RELATIONS

 

Earlier this summer, hundreds of Israelis packed the Jerusalem Cinematheque theater for the premiere of the Six Day War documentary, “In Our Hands.” The film traces the steps of the 55th Paratroopers Brigade through firsthand interviews with IDF soldiers and historical battle reenactments. Following the screening, an emotional curtain call featured four of the now elderly paratroopers who appeared in the film. They shuffled onto the stage to receive bouquets of flowers and a standing ovation.

There was nothing unusual that evening to distinguish this event from any of the other Six Day War commemoration events that took place in Israel or abroad, except for the evening’s host – Gordon Robertson, CEO of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN).

Robertson, who also served as the film’s executive director, explained to the Jerusalem audience his motivation as a Christian to make a film about Israel. “One of the guiding verses for me in this whole project was Psalm 126: ‘Then they said among the nations, the Lord has done great things for them.’ And I say to you, ‘The Lord has done great things for you.’”

While the movie was produced by CBN, which was founded by Gordon’s father and televangelist Pat Robertson in 1961, it contained no overtly, or even covertly, Christian messages.

“This is a film made by Christians, but it is not a Christian film,” Erin Zimmerman, the film’s director, explained. “The Six Day War is not a Christian story; it is first and foremost a Jewish and Israeli story and I wanted to honor that.”

This desire to honor Israel without strings attached and devoid of proselytizing is one of the newest, and most welcome, trends in Christian Zionism. The relationship between Christians and Jews is long and complex, and a fascinating case study in how shifting theology correlates to changes in behavior.

A short overview of some major shifts in Christian beliefs toward Israel can explain this new era of Christian Zionism marked by greater sensitivity and respect toward the Jewish People.

Christianity emerged as an offshoot of Judaism 2,000 years ago, putting the two religions immediately at odds. Early Church Fathers added pagan elements to recruit more local adherents, thus widening the gap ‒ and animosity ‒ with the Jews.

When it came to relating to Judaism, Christianity developed what has become known as “replacement theology.” The idea is that, as a punishment for rejecting Jesus, God replaced Israel with the Church and the original Bible (Old Testament) with a new one. It didn’t take long for Jews to go from being viewed as replaced to rejected, despised and, ultimately, hated.

Christian love demanded that they try and convert the Jews, but more often than not, Jews felt more wrath than grace. One could draw a direct line from replacement theology to the blood libels, forced conversions, inquisitions and expulsions that shaped the Middle Ages.

During the modern period, Christianity underwent an internal revolution known as the Protestant Reformation, which paved the way for a new approach for relating to Jews. In the 16th century, Martin Luther battled against the Catholic Church and advocated for individuals to read the Bible, made widely available for the first time through the newly invented printing press, for themselves. No longer was biblical interpretation in the hands of the ruling elite. Rather, everyone was encouraged to read and understand God’s word for themselves, which they did in large numbers.

It doesn’t take much of a bible scholar to recognize that one theme appears on almost every page and in nearly every chapter of this holy text ‒ that is the relationship between the land and the people of Israel. With an open mind and in the absence of previously held interpretations, a literal reading of the text started to lead some Christians to begin viewing Jews differently.

For centuries, the people of Israel had been relegated to sub-human status and the land of Israel reduced to a metaphor. However, the age of enlightenment allowed Christians to see the Jews as real people and, in the era of exploration, they discovered that Israel was an actual place. More and more Christians started reading the bible literally and saw the prophecies of the return to Zion as being something within worldly reach.

The Puritans were among the first Reformed Protestants who began praying for a Jewish return to their homeland and were responsible for introducing the idea of Jewish restoration to America. While popular in England, as well, Restorationism (also described as Christian Primitivism) struck a noticeable chord in the New World. US presidents studied Hebrew, and American scholars traveled to Palestine to map out the area and dig up archeological relics.

At the time, Restorationism was steeped in replacement theology, which, even in its benign form, calls for proselytizing the Jews. The motivating force behind Christian efforts to restore the people to the land was best summarized by the influential pastor Charles Spurgeon who preached in 1864: “We look forward, then, for these two things. I am not going to theorize upon which of them will come first ‒ whether they shall be restored first, and converted afterwards ‒ or converted first and then restored. They are to be restored and they are to be converted, too.”

Restorationists were among Theodor Herzl’s most ardent supporters. The Reverend William Hechler, an Anglican clergyman, dedicated his life to assisting Herzl upon reading “The Jewish State,” which was published 12 years after his own treatise, “The Restoration of the Jews to Palestine.” Hechler immediately began to introduce Herzl to Europe’s leading political rulers, including German Kaiser Wilhelm, Queen Victoria of England and the Sultan of Turkey. Appreciatively, Herzl invited Hechler, in 1897, to the first World Zionist Congress in Basel as a non-voting delegate and the “first Christian Zionist.”

Major shifts in Christian theology vis-à- vis Israel continued into the 20th century because of the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel. Many Christians recognized the Holocaust as the bitter culmination of centuries of Christian antisemitism, which led to soul searching throughout the Church. Christian thinkers recognized the perils inherent in replacement theology as playing an active role in the Holocaust and began to question this theology seriously for the first time.

The establishment of the State of Israel, and its hard-to-explain successes, chipped away at replacement theology from the opposite direction. Christians began asking themselves: If God had rejected Israel, then how come the Jews are so successful making the deserts bloom and defending themselves from their enemies? The perception that many biblical promises were being fulfilled seemed like clear and convincing evidence that God had not broken His covenant with Israel, after all.

In recent decades, Christian Zionist leaders and organizations have emerged all over the world. In addition to their political and philanthropic support of Israel, Christian leaders are, more significantly, for the first time publicly rejecting replacement theology.

Perhaps the best-known group, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, has a lengthy essay on their website explaining why they renounce replacement theology. Similarly, Pastor John Hagee has used his influential ministry, Christians United for Israel, to unreservedly, “expose the lies of replacement theology.”

To be sure, these Christian Zionist voices are still a minority within the Church.

Nevertheless, we have entered a new age of Jewish-Christian relations.

Chris Mitchell, CBN’s Middle East bureau chief, said “In Our Hands” doesn’t ever mention Jesus, quote from the New Testament or push a Christian agenda. In that way, “I feel that the movie is a gift to the Jewish people honoring the soldiers who fought in the Six Day War and the Jews who waited over two millennia to return to Jerusalem.”

I asked Mitchell if CBN would have been as sensitive had the movie been released upon the 25th anniversary of the 1967 war in the early 1980s. He said, “There has definitely been a remarkable development of deeper relationships between Jews and Christians in recent years. A greater understanding of the Jewish community and getting to know each other better has led to more sensitivity.”

Christian theology has shifted since its inception and has never been as respectful toward the Jewish people than it is now. The growth of Christian Zionism is a direct outcome of this change, so it is no wonder that Israel is enjoying unparalleled support from large segments of Christianity. After 2,000 years, Christian-Jewish relations are entering a new, golden era of restoration without replacement.

Tuly Weisz is an Orthodox rabbi and founder and director of Israel 365, the publisher of ‘Breaking Israel News’ and the editor of The Israel Bible.