Christian Insecurity: A Final Word

In closing this chapter on Christian Insecurity I remind that I take no position regarding the subject of the Search, the existence or not of a first century person described in the gospels as Jesus Christ. I do stand by my criticisms of the methods employed by most “scholars” over the past two centuries seeking to prove Jesus historicity. Christianity is a belief system shared by several billion adherents throughout the west and around the world. And while I do not criticize or judge that belief system I do seek an explanation for a singular fact of history representing Christendom’s attitude towards Jews, itself an outgrowth of that belief system. Christendom’s Jewish Problem is a continuing threat to the remnant of a far more numerous people at the time Christianity emerged from Judaism. If I raise issues of internal and usually “sub-conscious” contradiction and uncertainty in Christian text and practice my purpose is only to identify the sources of those unconscious anxieties more ably described by Nicholls, Ruether, Carroll, Fredriksen and many other theologians across the Christian belief spectrum. 

My own input is to point at issues introduced in scripture, picked up and developed by early theologians and affirmed and reaffirmed by later generations of theologians from the first to twenty-first century. From Irenaeus to Augustine to Luther to the concluding statement from the 2010 Vatican Conclave on the Middle East Judaism is represented as “replaced” by Christianity. And if, as understood by many Christianities today, God did transfer His covenant to the “New Israel,” why is there still an “Old Israel”? And while Jews and their neighbors have had their differences for centuries long before the appearance of Christianity, these were mostly of a national origin, competition, intolerance, etc., between peoples within a particular historical context. Christianity’s Jewish Problem is religious and so eternal. 

Assimilation, the “solution” represented by Augustine’s Witness Doctrine and adopted by the Church of his time failed both as voluntary and coerced solution to that Jewish Problem. In a world no longer governed by religious authority “conversion” is irrelevant, provides no protection from discrimination and persecution. It is a discussion for future chapters. 

The project of providing a “solution” to the Jewish Problem has dogged Christianity since its inception. In its secular guise “solution” has taken on an even more ominous form. The Holocaust established a modern secularist approach to the Problem, a bureaucratic, technological and thoroughly “modern” approach. Secularism’s adaptation of the original Jewish Problem emerged in the twentieth century as the West’s Final Solution.