Jan 31

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Judeo-Christian (1)

Do you remember the first time you heard the words, ”Judeo-Christian?” Do you remember ever not hearing the words, “Judeo-Christian?” If you are under thirty years of age, then you have heard these words all your life. On the other hand, if you are older than sixty, you might remember there was a time in your life when you did not hear these words. So, what is the point? Denominational preachers throw these words around as though they are New Testament in nature. They deserve a study.
The area these words are most often heard is in the context of, “This nation was founded upon ‘Judeo-Christian’ principles.” The first question that needs an answer, is when was the first time these two words were used and second, what is the history? To the best of my research, it was Alexander M’Caul in a letter dated October 17, 1821, who first used the phrase. This was followed in 1829 by Joseph Wolff, who writing in a missionary journal used the words. However, neither used the words as they are used today, but used the words to refer to Jews converted to Christianity. The words are not used this way today!
Today, the phrase, “Judeo-Christian,” is used to refer to the ethics of the two religions: Judaism and Christianity. It first appeared in this form in July 27, 1939, in the “New English Weekly” and continued to grow in use from the 1940’s to the present. However, from its early use there has been an effort to change history. It is common to hear today, America was founded upon “Judeo-Christian principles.” It is interesting to note that in 1776 – 1790, the Jewish population in America was less 3,000, while the total population was 2.5 million. Therefore, the Jewish influence in writing the Constitution and the Bill of Rights was near zero, if not zero all together. In the 1940’s, groups evolved, such as the National Conference of Christians and Jews, to fight anti-Semitism which promoted the idea of “Judeo-Christian.” The fact that the new meaning had grown may be seen in the words of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States, who looking at the “Founding Fathers” said: “all men are endowed by their Creator.” In other words, “our form of government has no sense unless it is founded in a deeply felt religious faith, and I don’t care what it is. With us of course it is the Judeo-Christian concept, but it must be a religion with all men created equal”. From the 1950’s the use of the term would become more common and more political. During the 1950’s, “conservatives” in America started emphasizing the “Judeo-Christian” values, then, through the 60’s and 70’s efforts were made to restore “Judeo-Christian” values to a country that was deep in moral decline.
By the 1990’s the words “Judeo-Christian” became especially significant in the political field. Here it was the “Judeo-Christian” values and it was at the heart of the “culture wars.” It is of interest to note, that only America identifies itself by the words “Judeo-Christian.” But, this is not the only use of the term. Included in the term “Judeo-Christian” is the growth of anti-Semitism, the rise of Hitler in the 1930’s and World War II; thus, the growth of support for the nation of Israel in 1948 became included, which continues today!
It is easy to see that the words “Judeo-Christian” is a complicated phrase which has continued to change in how it has been used through the years. Yet, today it is used in an effort to bring about a kinship between two religions: Judaism and Christianity. Denominationalism has always had a major problem in understanding that Christianity is not an extension of Judaism, but a new religion. The words of Jewish author S. Levin express the difference well: “’After all, we worship the same God’, the Christian always says to the Jew and the Jew never to the Christian. The Jew knows that he does not worship the Christ-God but the Christian orphan needs to worship the God of Israel and so, his standard gambit rolls easily and thoughtlessly from his lips. It is a strictly unilateral affirmation, limited to making a claim on the God of Israel…” If the Christian doesn’t know the difference, the Jew does!
In Hebrews, having quoted Jeremiah (31:31-34) where God promised to make a new covenant, the writer said: “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (Heb. 8:13). In the day God promised Israel, to make a new covenant, he made the first old; thus, he made way for the second covenant! A Christian is made by the New Covenant, and is not a “Judeo-Christian,” but a Christian! He is not part Jew and part Christian, but 100 precent Christian, or he is not Christian at all.

— Frank R. Williams

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