Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love



Recently a preacher told a story about speaking with people in Israel about why they rejected Jesus as the Messiah. According to his report, the Israelis pointed to the genocidal treatment of Jews by Christians down through history as the primary reason they could not identify with Christ. Without a doubt Christian atrocities against Jews have been monstrous.

In hearing about this Jewish focus on the evil perpetrated against them in the name of Christianity, I wondered about what corollary these same Jews might draw between their suffering and the Old Testament accounts of the various Hebrew military campaigns. In those stories we see the Jews involved in their own genocidal activities. The supposed justification for killing every living thing in Jericho and Ai was that God demanded it. Can a people who embrace a sacred historical story of genocide against their neighbors be consistent in condemning others for doing similar things?

Certainly, if past mistakes justified wholesale slaughter of any group, we all would be in dire danger. Thus, noting the genocidal stories within the Hebrew scriptures is not an attempt to excuse pogroms or the Holocaust. I am simply pointing out that claims of divine sanction to eliminate our neighbors can only lead to a place of great sorrow and wickedness. Until we are willing to own up to our own errors, we shouldn't spend any time pointing out those in others. The basic underlying cause for all genocide is a perceived superiority coupled with fear of those we view as inferior. Religious systems which promote exclusiveness, segregation, and paranoia naturally encourage the very genocidal behavior which we all claim to abhor.