Thursday, October 11, 2007

Two Great Religious Traditions... 
...Separated by a common language.

NEW YORK Appearing on Donny Deutsch's CNBC show, "The Big Idea," on Monday night, columnist/author Ann Coulter suggested that the U.S. would be a better place if there weren't any Jewish people and that they had "perfected" themselves into -- Christians.

It led Deutsch to suggest that surely he couldn't mean that, and when she insisted she did, he said this sounded "anti-Semitic."

Asked by Deutsch regarding whether she wanted to be like "the head of Iran" and "wipe Israel off the Earth," Coulter stated: "No, we just want Jews to be perfected, as they say. ... That's what Christianity is. We believe the Old Testament."

The actual transcript, too long to post here, is at the link.

My take:

Coulter is right - at least within her own frame of reference. But is heard very differently within the Church than outside of it.

The word "perfected" means something very different to a Christian than it does to someone who is not a Christian - something more akin to "made perfect" in the sense of washed away of sin.

Jews don't think in these terms - that's a very New Testament, Pauline way of expressing it.

The concept, to a Christian, is rooted not in superiority, but in the acknowledgement of inferiority. The Christian cannot be made perfect on his or her own merits, but depends on the grace made possible by the sacrifice of Christ. We are so unworthy, according to Christian belief, that ONLY this grace makes salvation possible, and ONLY this grace allows for perfection.

The Christian ear hears, "We need the grace of the Lord because we, like the Jews and the Muslims and everybody else, can never live up to the exacting standards of Mosaic law. There is no one righteous. No, not one. All fall short of the glory of God."

The Jewish ear hears, "Hey! We're better than you heathens. So convert or die."

I'm reminded of the funny gaffe when Rev. Falwell was quoted in a news story as having said that Christians need to practice "assault ministry."

No. Falwell said that Christians need to practice "a salt ministry."

This is a term of art within Christianity and is not well understood outside of it, but it's a shorthand way of expressing a complicated idea. Same with the term "perfected." Christians who are educated in Christian apologetics, and who understand the shorthand and jargon of Christianity, will understand it. Most others won't. Coulter either forgot her audience, or didn't forget it but enjoys getting a rise out of them.

I suspect the latter is more likely for her - at least once she got into the conversation. But this is not evidence of antisemitism.

All Christians believe that Christianity is the fulfillment of Jewish faith and prophecy. Or at least will be at the Second Coming (and there's lots of quibble room on that one!).

But is this evidence of antisemitism?


Splash, out


UPDATE: A Google search on the phrase "perfected in Christ" turns up more than 22,000 hits. Remove the quotes and you get 885,000 hits. A search on the term "Made perfect" and "Christ" together turns up more than 334,000 hits. The search on "made perfect" and "faith in Jesus" turns up over 29,000 hits. "Perfect in grace" yields over 29,000 hits. And a search on the phrase "be ye perfect," turns up 17,800 hits.

Really - Editor and Publisher has no idea about the shark they're jumping.

2nd UPDATE: Wikipedia has this on the long-standing concept of Christian Perfection.
No, dumbasses, it has nothing to do with looking down Christian noses at Jews.

3rd UPDATE: For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
--Hebrews 10:14

I guess liberal knuckleheads don't know how to use a concordance.

Here's everywhere the phrase "made perfect" appears in the King James version:

Hbr 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Hbr 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

Hbr 11:40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

Hbr 12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

Jam 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

1Jo 4:17 ΒΆ Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

Obviously, Coulter was tapping into a very well established concept - one which is thoroughly understood within the Church.

You know, I'm tired of liberals pretending to superior intelligence, because time after time, they establish themselves as uncultured, poorly-read, semiliterate hacks.

Labels: ,

Yes, many Christians do believe (not all if you look around) that only people who accept Jesus's sacrifice to forgive their sins before they die can be saved, and all others will be damned. From that it follows that these Jews, and the United States as a whole, would be better off if they converted. If we call this anti-semitic, much of the country would be anti semitic.

Yet no major religious leader would have said what she said in the way she said it - and when terrorist leaders say things like that about Christians of Jews, the wrongness is obvious, I think you'll agree - and they do say them.

David Weisman
News flash, David...

1.) She isn't a major religious leader.

2.) Well, yeah - pretty much most Christians, leaders or lay, would put it pretty much like she did: Christians are made perfect by the grace of God and their faith in Christ.
Maybe if pressed, but most are keenly conscious of the history of Christians killing Jews in the name of Christ and wouldn't say that on television.

Suppose you read a book about Muslims believing that Mohammed was the final prophet, and everyone who did not recognize him had an imperfect knowledge of God, and the United States would be a better country if we all converted. That's not really so different from what many other religions believe, and it might annoy you, but it wouldn't shock you.

Now suppose a Muslim leader (you have no evidence he is associated with terrorists, unless this speech is such evidence) goes on the radio and says that all non Muslims in the United States should convert, and the United States would be better off without any non Muslims. Logical from his premises or not, it's still offensive, isn't it?

David Weisman
Well, of course he would say that Mohammed is the last of the prophets, and anyone who did not accept the Koran as scripture had an imperfect knowledge of God. He's a Muslim! That's what makes him Muslim.

I'd have the brains not to take offense at that.

I also have the brains not to take offense when Muslim expresses the view that nonbelievers should convert to Islam.

Not in the least. I would expect that of a Muslim. Otherwise I would think him a rather weak Muslim.

Yes, there is a history of Christians forcing Jews to convert on pain of death. But you have to be pretty obtuse to believe that's what Coulter's implying, or to associate her with that in any way.

And you have to be totally, wholly ignorant of new testament writing surrounding the term "perfected."

I suspect it's the secular Jews that are flying off the handle. The more religious Jews get it.
The bottom line: No, it is not offensive in the slightest. It would only be offensive to someone who expects Muslims not to be Muslims.

That attitude is far more offensive to me.
In a way, this reminds me of the recent flap about the Pope saying there is only one true Church. It is a statement that can be readily spun into something it is not, but it is an underlying sentiment that a member of the group the speaker belongs to will accept as it is intended.

Note that on the Pope's statement, I think it was Jason who said "Imagine that, the Pope is a Catholic". For those not Catholic, at every Mass, we recite the Nicene creed, which includes the phrase "one holy, Roman, and Apostolic Church".
It's obvious to me, as a Jew, that she doesn't have anything against Jews. I think she expected her statement to be misinterpreted and was simply trying to rile up liberals (Jewish and non-Jewish) in her usual style. I suspect she also assumed that sophisticated Christians would jump to her defense as you have. IOW we have been trolled, and now she will sell more books.

As someone who's somewhat bicultural, with regard to Jewish and evangelical culture, I think you're spot on.

I don't think she intended for it to happen to begin with, but once she realized that the interviewer had been taken in, she took the opportunity to rile him up.

The bottom line is that the Christian tongue can say one thing, and the Jewish ear hears something else entirely.

I touched on that subject somewhat when I wrote the review of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" back in April of 2004.
I can't find your review (your archive links don't work). And I can't comment on the film because I didn't see it. My impression at the time was that Gibson, by withholding information about the film before it opened, cynically encouraged Jewish concerns about the film's content as a marketing ploy. Your review may be about the movie's content, but my point is that both Gibson and Coulter ginned up interreligious animosity for self-serving reasons. I don't put Coulter, with whom I frequently agree, into the same category as Gibson, whom I despise, but there appears to be a parallel. All publicity is good publicity, as some people see it.
Here's a link to that Passion of the Christ review:

Interesting review, thanks.

(Of course the first thing I did after finishing it was to Google up some images of Monica Bellucci.)
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