Generous Orthodoxy  

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Jews killing Christ??

An email to me from The Rev. Peter Hoytema:

I'm not sure if you saw it, but today's (February 1) front page of USA Today had a little article that reported a recent decision made in your home state of Virginia. Here are some snippets from the article, with direct quotes appearing in italics:

Virginia moved forward on Wednesday to apologize for slavery, something no president or legislature has done. The Virginia House Rules Committee unanimously approved a measure that expresses "profound regret" for the state's role in the slave trade and other injustices against African-Americans and Native Americans.

The most troubling part of the piece appears at the end: The Virginia effort to apologize for slavery stirred controversy last month. Del. Frank Hargrove, Sr., a white Republican, told The Daily Progress in Charlottesville that blacks "should get over" slavery instead of seeking a formal apology from the state. He asked, "Are we going to force the Jews to apologize for killing Christ?" Hargrove voted for the revised measure because, he said, it expresses regret "without apologizing for anything."

The headline for this article reads, Virginia moves to apologize for slavery, but what good is an apology that expresses regret without apologizing for anything? Hargrove is articulating the widely held and tacitly assumed view on repentance: regret is sufficient, remorse is unnecessary. You can have conversion without change. The Biblical view of repentance, expressed most clearly in the penitential psalms, differs greatly from this. You can't blame Frank Hargrove for not knowing that. His prejudiced view on the culpability of all Jewish people for the death of Jesus clearly betrays his ignorance of the general teachings of Scripture.
After reading my friend's letter, I went to the Internet and learned that this matter is being hotly debated in The Washington Post. I have written to the Post as follows:

To the editor:

Frank Hargrove, Sr.'s comments about slavery and Jews are revolting on many levels, but the particular accusation that Jews killed Christ should be repudiated in no uncertain terms. The world should hear Christians speaking out about this. A basic tenet of our faith is the conviction that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the entire human race without distinction, as St. Paul clearly taught. The idea that "the Jews" killed Christ is not only unbiblical but also directly contradictory to the liturgy of Palm Sunday, where entire congregations of mostly Gentile Christians acknowledge their complicity by calling out, "Crucify him!"

Signed: The Rev. Fleming Rutledge

I have also written a separate email to Del. Hargrove. Seems to me it would be a good thing if Christian clergy and lay people bombarded Del. Hargrove’s office with emails on this subject. His email address is: