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House Bans the New Testament!

Updated: May 6

Man holds Holy Bible in front of him

That was the headline that hit my phone this week. We live in an age of sensationalist headlines so nothing really surprises me, but the House did pass a resolution that would codify the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Some have argued that this would effectively ban the preaching of the New Testament, but this fear is overblown. The reality is that the New Testament HAS been used to justify antisemitism. Countless people throughout the ages have used verses like Matthew 27:25, “His blood be on us and our children,” to justify hatred.

The gospels were written in a context that was many years after the death and resurrection of Jesus. A split was taking place between the Jews and the followers of Christ. This tension spills over into our gospel texts and requires sound exegesis and proclamation. Even our own patron, John Chrysostom wrote a series of sermons entitled “Against the Jews.” Chrysostom’s writings were also used to justify antisemitism. (Note: many scholars believe that Chrysostom was not necessarily targeting Jews in particular, but Christians who were retaining Jewish customs). Sadly, the words of the New Testament and of John Chrysostom have often been twisted to evil ends.

The good news found in the Messiah means there is no room for hate. Our first lesson this Sunday recounts how gentiles have accepted the good news of Jesus through the proclamation of Peter. Peter says, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right (Acts 10:34-35). No, the House did not ban the New Testament, rather, the New Testament teaches us to banish all that is not holy, all that is not love.


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