Wow! What a broad topic, right? You know, I was taught in college to narrow the topic. But, it seems to me that sometimes one has to create a topical headline such as this to get the attention of potential readers. So, I will not narrow the topic in this instance, although I will be relatively brief here.
The reason I write today is simple; racism, bigotry, and anti-Semitism are all on the rise. Of course, those on the far Right of the political spectrum still blame former president Obama for this, just as they blame either him or Hillary for virtually everything. This while they completely ignore, or explain away, the constant stream of hateful and divisive comments made by their new messiah, Donald Trump. Even when he is wrong, he’s not, as far as they are concerned.
True to form, this case was yet again made yesterday on the SBN program “Frances and Friends” during which more than one email was read in which the writer chided the panel for their determination to continue to talk politics rather than focusing on the gospel. Of course, neither email was received with any sort of objective consideration. The Swaggart team has made up their minds that talking politics IS one and the same as spreading the gospel. They even said as much yesterday.
Their new mantra for explaining why they support Trump, regardless of what he says or does, is because, in their own words, “God chose him” to lead this nation. That’s literally it. They seem to think that the idea that their “God” placed Trump in office, with the help of the evangelical vote, of course, seals the deal and there should, therefore, be no further discussion on the subject. And anyone – anyone – who disagrees with them is literally of the devil! If you don’t believe they say this, watch their program for just a short length of time, if you can bear to do it.
And, after all, Trump supports Israel and has, in their minds, done so on an unprecedented level never before seen from a US president. His moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a prime example – evidence that he is “God’s” guy. But, of course, those evil, demon-inspired Democrats have tried to destroy him at every turn, they also say. Seriously, if you like to hear religious personages call Democrats “evil” and “demon-possessed”, then this program, and their other program, “Insight”, are for you! But, for my own part, as a Democrat, I am rather appalled that any so-called religious “leaders” would stoop to the level of calling ME “demon-possessed”, and it is one of the reasons that I am no longer a Christian, for I never was a Republican. Yes, SBN, it is exactly because of people like YOU that I am no longer a Christian! So much for your so-called “gospel”!
In any case, they will constantly add that they don’t believe Trump is perfect, or even a Christian, but his support of Christians, and of Israel (along with his objection to abortion and gay rights), is all that matters to them. They don’t care that his language is often vile and hateful and divisive. No, that doesn’t matter. None of that matters, and no matter how many times someone points these things out to them, they still remain steadfast in their lock-step support of Trump, period.
Following this, another email chided them for their constant refrain of anti-Catholicism. For those who have never watched the program, any mention of Catholicism, especially criticism of the panel for their position concerning it, sends Jim Nations into an unmitigated tizzy, during which he, if allowed to talk much, launches into every kind of anti-Catholic conspiracy theory known to humankind. For him, they are evil incarnate and there is literally nothing good about the Roman Catholic Church. Of course, some on the panel, such as Dr. Gray, have a more moderate position, but they still hold together as directly inferring that if one is saved, then one will eventually leave this church, as they openly stated on yesterday’s program.
All that said, the real reason I am writing today is not because of any of the above, because these things have become so common on this and other SBN programs. No, it is because of statements made later in the program in response to another email, which expressed concern about John Rosenstern’s statement a few days ago on said program that, according to a single verse in Deuteronomy (Deut. 18:18), the Antichrist would have to be a Jew. Now, I watched that program also and, granted, his statement, while theologically unsound, did not, in my view, rise to the level of “hate”. He was simply explaining why his biblical world-view leads him to believe that the Jewish people will not accept anyone who is not Jewish as their messiah. But, on the other hand, the email writer did have a legitimate concern with this because it did border on anti-Semitic rhetoric.
Now, on yesterday’s program the panel COULD have explained their position in a contrite and reasonable manner and probably satisfied this email writer and been done with it. If they had done this, then it would have been, in my mind, just another errant theological position that they regularly take, which could have been essentially laughed off and forgotten. The point being that I really don’t care what sort of flawed theology they espouse. I think most of it is quite comical. So, if they would simply stick to their flawed theology – their supposed “gospel” – I could not care less what they would have to say, other than for entertainment purposes. BUT THEY SIMPLY CANNOT DO THAT! And yesterday, not only did they step into the cow patty of politics yet again with their total support of Trump, but they also went full-throttle into blatant anti-Semitism!
Now, I am going to state for the record that most people in this nation are not educated to the extent which will allow them to readily recognize anti-Semitism when it crops up. I was one such as that many years ago too. I get it. It is a sad statement on our society, but it is nonetheless true. But, as with just about everything else, most people THINK they would recognize it if they saw it. Sort of like Ed Meese during the 1980s when, during his little war on pornography, he said something to the effect of “I know it when I see it”. But, for those out there who may have watched this particular program, and have accepted their explanation – no, sadly, you DON’T recognize it at all, for you just bought into it hook line and sinker. And now I will explain why, for those who wish to understand.
As is often the case on this program, it was up to Donnie Swaggart to make the most forceful statements in their defense of the presumption of anti-Semitism leveled by the email writer. Again, he did not go into a reasonable, logical, discourse on the subject in an effort to help the writer understand their position. Instead, he went into a tirade, the likes of which, sadly, are not rare for him on this program. In essence, Donnie Swaggart reiterated the very talking points that have been used as “reasons” to hate and harm Jewish people ever since Christianity fully broke away from Judaism.
Now, it is entirely possible that neither he, nor anyone else on the panel with the possible exception of Dr. Gray, have never read any of the anti-Jewish propaganda written by early Christian church fathers and, therefore, have never actually been exposed to it. It’s possible. BUT, that is simply no excuse. AND, if that is true, then it highlights my thesis that theology should remain within the realm of trained theologians, not corn cob eating country hucksters like the Swaggarts. This, because a well-educated theologian of any faith would have known about these writings and, usually, have had sense enough not to repeat the same mantras that have led to the persecution and murder of Jewish people for over two-thousand years! I say “usually”, because there is always that one stray theologian of any stripe who will go off onto a limb and make egregious statements like this out of morbid stupidity, or just plain hatred. Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others did exactly this (and the theological training of some is suspect, at best).
What sort of statement am I referring to here? The repetition of the mantra that the Jewish people (as a whole) were/are to blame for the crucifixion of Christ. Not the Romans; the Jews. That’s right; even as they preach “the cross” as the only way to salvation, someone still has to be to BLAME for the fact that it happened, and for the Swaggart team, especially for Donnie himself (apparently), it was the JEWS! Why? Well, because the Bible says so in Matthew 27:25, where “the whole people” are quoted as saying “Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children”. And Donnie made it even worse by stating that this is exactly why the Jews have suffered for over two-thousand years and why the Holocaust happened.
So, according to their theology, every single time the Jewish people have faced adversity, persecution, and even murder, they DESERVED it because they killed Christ! Yes, “God” himself cursed his own people for the crucifixion of Christ! This is what is known as the “blood curse”, although I suppose Donnie Swaggart does not really know that. But, frankly, I think I am giving him too much credit here, because he must know it. And yet, he repeats it anyway.
Donnie Swaggart, yesterday, fell directly in line with several ancient early church fathers, most especially with John Chrysostom, who wrote eight homilies against the Jews and also wrote a hideous diatribe entitled “Why I Hate the Jews”. And every thought presented hearkens directly back to that one single passage in Matthew (just as John Rosenstern’s insistence that the Antichrist must be a Jew comes from one single passage in Deuteronomy). But, one would think that someone as well-read as Rosenstern says he is would be aware that, historically, his statement is in error – multiple times. After all, who in the Bible was first (after David) referred to as “messiah”? That would be Cyrus of Persia, who certainly was NOT a Jew. Check it out; it’s in the Bible (Isaiah 45:1)!
Beyond this, the Jewish people have actually had a habit, especially in ancient times, of calling military and political leaders who were not of Jewish heritage “messiah”. Case in point, as difficult as this would be to fathom for those who don’t understand Judaism or even history; the Roman emperor Vespasian was referred to as “messiah” by Jewish rabbis! Yes, the guy who began the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE, only to be completed by his son, Titus, was called BY Jewish Rabbis of the time, “messiah”. And that was during the very siege of Jerusalem! And, again, he wasn’t the only one.
But, even here, the Swaggart team went on to compound their “guilt”, so to speak, by stating, basically, that hey cannot be anti-Semitic because they support Israel (probably more than any other ministry, they said), and they support Trump, who has done more for Israel than any previous president. See, these days it ALL always goes back to their real “messiah”, Trump. Yes, for them, and for many others, as long as they “support” Israel, they simply cannot be anti-Semitic, no matter what else they may say. This, while they will label anyone else as anti-Semitic if they do not fully support Israel in every way, no matter what she does. I’ve got news for them and others like them – one does not have to support the corrupt modern-day state of Israel in order to prove they are not anti-Semitic. But, I will leave that argument be for the time being. Suffice it to be said that the modern state of Israel has no real connection to the ancient one other than the facts that (1) SOME of the Jewish people who reside there today may be descended from SOME of the tribes who resided there in ancient times, (2) they practice some form(s) of Judaism as their official religion, and (3) they managed to resurrect the Hebrew language for general use there. There truly is no further connection.
All of this leads back to my statement that I am no longer a Christian exactly because of people like the Swaggarts. But, not only that. It’s because I have actually learned these things. I have actually read, over the years, ALL of the early church fathers and ALL of the protestant reformers. Their works are generally filled with so much hate that I find it difficult to understand why any truly educated person would continue to be a Christian.
But, let me, finally, leave the reader with this. IF it was just about the Jesus of the New Testament, I would probably still be a Christian. For, as he hung on the cross – yes, that cross that the Swaggarts make such a to-do about as necessary for salvation – he said “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”. See, Jesus himself asked that they – all of them – be forgiven, and one has to accept by inference that the Father did indeed answer his prayer. So, there is NO room for the blood curse that Donnie Swaggart so vehemently insisted upon during yesterday’s program. You either love and forgive every single time, or you are NOT a real Christian, period. But how many can really do that?