Anti-Judaism in the Christian Story
SPIN created a Task Force to address the specific problem of harmful language and negative attitudes regarding Jews and Judaism found in Christian texts, liturgies and prayers.
In the December 26, 2006 issue of The Christian Century, editor Rev. John Buchanan voiced a sympathetic concern by saying, “I am probably not the only preacher who cringes every Good Friday as I read John’s Passion Narrative with its relentless negative references to “the Jews.” References to Pharisees, Jewish legalism, Christian exclusivism, etc. may also convey negative judgments about Judaism.
SPIN compiled a number of ideas—from language changes to policy statements—for congregations to adopt to reduce or eliminate the anti-Judaism narrative. We can also help arrange speakers on this topic for adult forums, evening dialogue sessions, sermons, etc.
For more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bulletin Insert Examples
Statement for the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday worship bulletins
Christians and Jews: People of God
By The House of Hope Presbyterian Church, Saint Paul, Minnesota, April 2011
Holy Week presents a challenge to Christian communities in its understanding of language. The reference to the
“Jews” is especially prevalent in the Gospel of John, and has the power to fuel the impression that Jews as a people are responsible for the death of Jesus. As a congregation of the Presbyterian Church (USA) we recognize that anti-Judaism is a contradiction and an affront to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and affirm the following statement contained in the Presbyterian Study Paper “Christians and Jews: People of God.”
“The relationship between Christian faith and Judaism is unique, foundational, and enduring. The New Testament bears consistent witness to this relationship. The mercy of God in Jesus Christ embraces both Jew and Gentile; it does not abandon Jews in favor of Gentiles or forsake Jews in favor of the church. Supersessionism, the belief that God’s covenant with the church has replaced Gods covenant with Israel, and that the church has supplanted the Jewish people, is contrary to the core witness of the New Testament and is not supported by the mainstream of the Reformed tradition. Unfavorable New Testament references to “the Jews” do not refer to all Jews of the first century, and certainly not of the twenty-first. While the New Testament contains numerous references to God’s “new covenant” in Christ, these cannot be taken to mean that “new” cancels God’s previous covenants.”
Statement published in the worship bulletin on Palm Sunday at the beginning of the Christian Holy Week
By Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, St. Paul, Minnesota, April 2009
As we read the passion of our Lord on this Sunday, we are mindful our care and concern for our brothers and sisters of Jewish faith and affirm our solidarity with them as people of faith. We share the same sentiments of the following statement issued by the people of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Minneapolis. (We as members of the ELCA affirm) “that Judaism is a continuing bulwark of faith, that it has not been superseded by Christianity, that God has not rejected the Jewish people, that the Jewish people have not lost their covenant with God, that salvation is available to Jews as a covenant people, the Jews as an historical nation are not responsible for, and therefore not to be blamed for the death of Jesus, and that Jews should not be pressured to convert to Christianity.
Furthermore, we state that anti-Judaism in all forms should be universally condemned. We ask forgiveness for past sins and persecutions against the Jewish people. We pray that old barriers to communication and understanding will be removed and that the relationship of this church with the congregations of the local Jewish community will be enhanced.”
Statement about Jewish people during Holy Week
By St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Minneapolis, Minnesota
St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral publically states its affirmation that Judaism is a continuing bulwark of faith, that it has not been superseded by Christianity, that God has not rejected the Jewish people, that the Jewish people have never lost their covenant with God, that salvation is available to Jews as a covenant people, that the Jews as an historical nation are not responsible for, and therefore not to be blamed for, the death of Jesus, and that Jews should not be pressured to convert to Christianity.
Furthermore, we state that anti-Judaism in all forms should be universally condemned. We ask forgiveness for past sins and persecutions against the Jewish people. We pray that old barriers to communication and understanding will be removed and that the relationships of this church with the congregations of the local Jewish community will be enhanced.
Statement from Palm Sunday bulletin
By Immanuel Lutheran Church, St. Paul, Minnesota, March 2010
A note about the Passion of Our Lord: Holy Week presents a challenge to the Christian community in its understanding and use of language. The reference to “Jews,” which is especially prevalent in the Gospel of John, gives the impression that Jews as a people and nation are to be blamed for the death of Jesus. Through the years this has fueled unfortunate anti-Semitism and even hatred of Jews. A 1994 Statement to the Jewish Community stated “we recognize in anti-Semitism a contradiction and an affront to the Gospel…” The word “Jews” in the New Testament refers most often to the geographic population of the Southern Kingdom of Judea, the area in and around Jerusalem. It should be noted that nearly all of Jesus’ first followers were Jews. The preferred translation and understanding of “Jews” in the passion narrative is “Judeans,” meaning people and authorities of Judea, not Jewish people as a race.
- Preaching Without Contempt – Marilyn Salmon United Theological Seminary,
- Faith Transformed: Christian Encounters with Jews and Judaism – John Merkle, College of Saint Benedict.
- Has God Only One Blessing?: Judaism as a Source of Christian Self-Understanding – Mary Boys, Union Seminary, New York City.
- Covenantal Conversations: Christians in Dialogue with Jews and Judaism – Darrell Jodock, Fortress, 2008.