Bearing False Witness
“God has not rejected his people whom [God] foreknew.” – Romans 11: 2
Here are a few things I’ve heard well-educated progressive Christians say recently:
“Our God is a God of love, not like the God of the Old Testament.”
“Jesus was always breaking the Law that excluded outcasts, the sick and disabled, women, the poor and unclean.”
“Jesus opposed the legalistic religion of his day, inviting us into a way of grace.”
“Jesus removes the barriers of Jewish tribalism and exclusivity. The reach of his Church is universal.”
Here’s the trouble—none of them is true. They depend for their punch on caricatures. They trump a Judaism that never was. And they contribute to the persistence of a sometimes unconscious but always harmful anti-Judaism in our churches.
I don’t know what it will take to get us to stop trotting out these stereotypes. To stop making Judaism the foil for Christian superiority, the straw man we knock down and sweep away to show how great Jesus was. I don’t know what it will take to convince us that loving Jesus doesn’t mean we have to turn Judaism into a narrow, nit-picking, mean, oppressive, bad religion, superfluous and obsolete.
I don’t know what it will take to get us to stop bearing false witness against our neighbors. To stop writing Jews out of their own story. To finally wipe this ancient stain from the Christian heart. But we have to do something, start somewhere.
What if we do this one thing today? Take a deep repentant breath with me. Now, repeat after Paul: “God has not rejected God’s people, God has not rejected God’s people, God has not rejected God’s people…”
Faithful One, forgive us. We have been rivals for blessings, wanting the most and best for ourselves. But when you bestow a blessing, it is forever. If you bestow a second, you don’t withdraw the first. If one shines, the others do not dim. And there are more blessings in your hand than stars in the starry sky.
Mary Luti is a long time seminary educator and pastor, author of Teresa of Avila’s Way and numerous articles, and founding member of The Daughters of Abraham, a national network of interfaith women’s book groups.