Dear Rabbi Singer:
It was informative to browse your site. I am a pretty typical Presbyterian, Reformed, Calvinist, gentile pastor. Each time I read comments of Luther, Calvin, and others in my tradition as reflected in “Reformers’ Advice,” I’m filled with tremendous sadness and heaviness. Obviously we will differ on most things that matter most to us, and I really am not writing to argue the issues your site addresses. I only wish to apologize for my spiritual forbears without qualification or excuse. I feel real shame over their attitudes, and I’m warned to keep a careful watch over my own.
I’m an evangelical. I wish for everyone to believe in Jesus as Messiah, obviously. My prayer, though, is that Christians who may browse Outreach Judaism will hit that section and do some serious introspection. We can be very arrogant, especially in times and places where “cultural Christianity” is dominant; for this, I’m deeply, deeply sorry. We’ve wronged you and dishonored our faith through arrogance, aggression, and silence.
Your letter has touched me deeply. It does my heart good to know that you, a gentile Christian, are disturbed by these burning words of hate directed against the Children of Israel. If you have not set out to destroy the Jewish nation, with your lips or your hands, either spiritually or physically, you have nothing for which to apologize. I am, however, puzzled why you would ever identify yourself as a Calvinist after reading those comments.
Virtually all the reformers and church fathers held the Jewish people in contempt, and encouraged their utter destruction. These founders and defenders of Christendom are therefore enduring the recompense of their iniquity under the wrath of God, as promised in the twelfth chapter of the book of Genesis.
Understandably, after nearly two millennia of unimaginable suffering at the hands of both the Catholic and Protestant faithful, it becomes clear to the Jewish people that the consistent pattern of unrelenting hatred emanating from the Christian is no coincidence. For example, my people have not endured this pattern of merciless hate from the followers of other religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, or Mormonism. Likewise, the Jewish people have not experienced this genocidal enmity from members of the more liberal expressions of Christianity such as Unitarians and Methodists. Historically, Christian anti-Semitism has emerged, almost without exception, from the most devout segment of Christian society: the fundamentalist evangelical community. This history of relentless cruelty has not gone unnoticed by the Jewish people.
Understandably, the nation of Israel must ask this question: What connection exists between the beliefs of the devout Christian and his unyielding hate directed against the children of Israel? Why has the fundamentalist Christian, almost without exception, been our source of bitter anti-Semitism and savage oppression for the past two millennia?
Many Christians contend that those Christians who have persecuted the Jews were not real Christians. This response is both self-serving and preposterous. In fact, the most grievous expressions of hate against my faith and my people have come from the evangelical Christian world that has committed itself to converting the Jewish people to Christianity. Your message of contrition is a valuable one. Preach it tirelessly to you parishioners.
Best regards for a happy Passover.
Very sincerely yours,
Rabbi Tovia Singer