Friday, July 06, 2007
AN ORTHODOX PERSPECTIVE ON ANTI-SEMITISM
As you know, the problem of anti-Semitism was solved in Western Christianity within the so called "Theology after Auschwitz". This theology was happy to proclaim that all the Christian Fathers and teachers of the Church in whose writings one can easily find some negative attitudes towards the Jews, all these Fathers, were wrong and even bear their part of the responsibility for Auschwitz.
Now we come to the central problem of the Orthodox Church. I believe that Orthodoxy will never reject its own heritage. Nobody will dare to say that St John Chrysostom or St Maximus the Confessor were wrong. Nobody will dare to say that for centuries Orthodox Christian teachers were wrong, but we who are sinful and have not even a glimpse of their sanctity are right. This theological solution to the Jewish problem is impossible in Orthodoxy. /Unlike Protestantism and modern Catholitism Orthodox Christianity is at least as faithful to its own Tradition as is Orthodox Judaism.
But what is really interesting: the Orthodox Fathers' attitude towards Jews does not at all frighten those Jews who become Orthodox Christians in Russia, does not prevent them from becoming Christians. Yes, being a Jew one cannot be pleased by these words of the Christian Fathers, but who ever said and when was it ever said that Christianity was established to bring us pleasure. Christianity does bring us pleasure, but a spiritual one, nevertheless, it demands from us something: to hate one's "soul in this world"(Jn.12.25), which is not a pleasant exercise....
Here lies the main misunderstanding of the Church on the part of both Judaism and the post-Auschwitz theology. Non-Orthodox Christians can call themselves gentiles if they want (take for example German theologian Jurgen Moltmann), Orthodox Christians will never call themselves gentiles and will never acknowledge this name being called in this way by the Jews. The reason is quite simple, the main point of Christ's mission in this respect was to destroy the wall of separation between Israel and Gentiles.
Quotes taken from this website.