Monday, October 15, 2007

Ann Coulter’s Remarks

Ann Coulter said recently that she wishes that Jewish people would become perfected by converting to Christianity. This was interpreted by some as anti-Semitic. One of the purposes of this blog is to explain things like this when they get in the news. You might not agree, but at least you will be informed. I found the following site that also expresses some of which I’m about to say on the subject:

I’m not justifying what Ann Coulter said or the way she phrased it, because it could certainly be taken wrongly, as we have seen. Moreover, I don’t know much about her religious beliefs. I know she is conservative politically, and many conservatives are evangelical Christians (the dreaded “Religious Right”). So I’m assuming she is coming from an evangelical Christian point of view.

The New Testament teaches that Christ is the fulfillment of the Jewish Law as contained in the Torah. This means that the observances (such as animal sacrifices and offerings) required by The Law to atone for sins and find favor with God are no longer necessary. Christ, the Messiah, eliminated the need for all of these. Under the “New Covenant”, all that is required is faith, as the Apostle Paul put in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God — not the result of works, so that no one may boast.” (NRSV) In other words, Jesus did it all, so all we have to do is accept what he accomplished for us.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:17: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (NIV) Simply put, Jesus’ death on the cross eliminated the need for The Law that God put into place earlier, which Christians believe pointed to (or prefigured) Christ. The Book of Hebrews, a letter written to Jewish Christians, explains much of this. It was written during a time of persecution, when Jewish Christians were tempted to abandon Christianity and return to Jewish practices (the sacrificial system was still in place since the letter was written before AD 70). The writer (never identified) devoted much of the letter to convincing them that Christianity is the way to go.

Let me quote three passages from Hebrews so you can see where Christians get the understanding that Christianity is the fulfillment of what we see in the Torah, and how one could believe Jewish people would become “perfected” by converting to Christianity:

Hebrews 8:5-6
[The priests] offer worship in a sanctuary that is a sketch and shadow of the heavenly one; for Moses, when he was about to erect the tent, was warned, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” But Jesus has now obtained a more excellent ministry, and to that degree he is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted through better promises. NRSV

Hebrews 9:11-14
But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God! NRSV

Hebrews 9:26b
But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. NRSV

I know that a history of persecution and forced conversions have left the Jewish people with a legacy of anti-Semitism by so-called Christians. Nevertheless, I suspect that Ann Coulter’s comment was not meant to be anti-Semitic, but rather it was an expression of the belief I just wrote about. Given this history, however, she should have been more sensitive and kept her mouth shut. For more on this topic, see also my posts entitled “Elitist?” posted on 09/20/07 and “The Big Picture for Christians” posted on 09/19/07.

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