Note: This article originally ran on charismamag.com in 2013.
Christianity would not exist if it weren’t for the Jewish people. I know this concept flies in the face of the anti-Semitic poison that has filled the mouths of church leaders for centuries. But it’s true: Christian values we now hold dear are rooted in theology practiced by the Israelites for thousands of years before Christianity was ever in the picture. Their contributions are the bedrock of our very faith.
It’s essential for anti-Semites to separate Jesus from His Jewish roots. If you do that, then hatred becomes fashionable and anti-Semitism becomes a Christian virtue. If Jesus can be separated from His Jewish roots, then Christians can continue to praise the dead Jews of the past such as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, while snubbing the Goldbergs across the street.
But when you correctly see the Jewish people as the family of our Lord, they become our extended siblings, and we are commanded to love them unconditionally.
Adolf Hitler knew he needed to destroy the Jewish roots of Jesus in the minds of the German people. Out of his demented mind came the Mischlinge Regulation, which legally defined a Jew as someone with two Jewish parents. Hitler did this for two reasons: One, he had to absolve Jesus of being Jewish by recognizing Jesus was born exclusively of the Virgin Mary. Nazi goons would never have enthusiastically murdered 6 million of our Lord’s relatives. Second, Hitler feared he was partly Jewish.
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian John Toland records that Hitler’s father’s birth certificate declared him to be “illegitimate.” The space for the father’s name on his birth certificate was left blank, generating a mystery that remains unsolved.
There’s a distant possibility that Hitler’s grandfather was a wealthy Jew named Frankenberger or Frankenreither. Hitler was so concerned about the matter that he ordered his personal attorney, Hans Frank, to investigate the matter confidentially.
The subsequent report, gathered from “all possible sources,” greatly disturbed Hitler. It concluded that the possibility couldn’t be dismissed that Hitler’s father was half-Jewish. If true, then Hitler would have been a non-Aryan crossbreed, or mischling. The Mischlinge Regulation removed the stigma of Hitler’s Jewish past, since it meant he didn’t meet the requirements for being a Jew according to his new definition. The Regulation also separated Jesus from the Jews of Germany. Because of Mary’s immaculate conception, Jesus had just one Jewish parent—which allowed Hitler to make hating Jews “the will of God.”
A Non-Christian Jesus?
Most Christians think of Jesus and His disciples as Christians before their time. Not so! Jesus was not a Christian. He was born to Jewish parents. He was dedicated in the Jewish tradition. He was reared studying the words of Moses and the prophets of Israel. He became a Jewish rabbi and died with a sign over His head that read: “This is the king of the Jews!”
Jesus never heard the word Christian. The Bible first records its use in Antioch, 40 years after the Crucifixion (see Acts 11:26), to describe Jesus’ followers. The word was used by the heathen to describe the loving conduct of those who followed the teachings of this gentle Jewish rabbi. I can only imagine what word would be coined by nonbelievers today to describe Christian conduct one toward the other.
If Jesus came to your church, would the ushers let Him enter? Perhaps not. He would appear small and slender with penetrating dark eyes, an olive complexion and prominent Semitic features. He’d have the long-falling earlocks of the Hebrews, His hair uncut at the corners, and a full manly beard, and His shoulders would be draped with a tallit (prayer shawl).
If Jesus identified Himself to your congregation as a Jewish rabbi who befriended prostitutes, who socialized with tax collectors and other outcasts, who was hated by the government and who surrounded Himself with 12 full-bearded, unemployed men with shoulder-length hair, could they get a seat?
If He commanded your wealthiest church members to sell all they had to give to the poor, or if He entered your beautiful church gym and turned over the bingo tables, shouting, “My house is a house of prayer” (Luke 19:46), would your ushers call the police? I have no doubt they would.
The simple truth is, after 2,000 years of anti-Semitic teaching and preaching we have lost sight of the Jewish nature of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.