Purging Prejudice

Prejudice, or pre-judging others on irresponsible bases, robs them and robs us. God hates it, but how can we minimize its impact?

On 31 October 2017 the world will remember one of the unlikeliest and yet most important events in human history, Martin Luther’s posting of his Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the All Saints Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Following the custom of the day, the young priest had written them in Latin to avoid bringing unnecessary controversy to the Church and he posted them in a public place to invite clerical discussion.  Luther never expected that his theses would be translated into German within days, printed on recently invented printing presses, and spread throughout Western Europe within weeks. The Protestant Reformation had begun.

Luther has been lionized by Protestants and vilified by Catholics for centuries, but recently another part of his legacy has faced scrutiny. His 1543 On the Jews and their Lies is scathing, bigoted, and manifestly untrue. Last night my family and I attended a play produced by the Fellowship for the Performing Arts entitled Martin Luther on Trial which examined the legacy of Luther. It was well worth watching.

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Proselytes, God-fearers, and Relations between Jews and Gentiles in the Bible

Relations between Jews and Gentiles have been problematic for most of the history of the Jewish people.  Abraham seems to have been humble about his special relationship with God, and Isaac and Jacob as well.  They all seem to have integrated well into the world around them, while staying faithful to YHWH.  The Patriarchs, while flawed, knew the Lord, and were honored for it.

Slavery in Egypt was a defining period in the Jewish nation, and they understandably hated the Gentile Egyptians.  The Passover highlighted the distinctiveness of the Hebrews as God’s people, and on Mt. Sinai the tribes received the Law which separated them in many ways from those around.  Psychologically, such distinctiveness sometimes leads to short term feelings of inferiority and long term feelings of superiority.

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