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September 29, 2009


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Patrick S. O'Donnell

The ignorance, nay, stupidity of these putative Christians is appalling:

First, of course, Jesus himself was born, lived, and died a Jew. Indeed, he was a scrupulous observer of Torah even if he, not unlike other Jews of his time, dissented from a few prevailing or popular interpretations of Torah ethical and religious rules.

Second, it was the Romans who bear ultimate responsibility for his death, and the means of that death, namely, a crucifixion, was the means reserved for those accused of treason or sedition. While some Jewish leaders may have colluded with Roman authorities or been glad to see Jesus go, to call Jews "Christ killers" is absolute nonsense and one of the foremost historical provocations of anti-Semitism.

Third, Jesus' sacrificial death is "necessary" from the perspective of Christianity, especially with regard to substitutionary or "satisfaction" atonement theory (and, indeed, even from the perspective of 'exemplary' atonement theory). This sacrifice makes no theological or spiritual sense whatsoever outside of its Jewish background (cf. the paschal lamb, etc.). Fourth, Jews for Jesus themselves were nothing more than a messianic Jewish sect until they started proselytizing to the Greek-speaking peoples, whereupon they decided that some heretofore important Jewish laws would no longer apply to these Gentiles. In other words, they would no longer be Jews for Jesus. Jesus himself never condoned such a thing.

Finally, Jesus of the Gospels did not preach hate, indeed, quite the contrary, and thus to preach such things in his name is to betray everything he stood and lived for, at least based on the paltry amount of evidence we have for his period of preaching, teaching, healing and so forth.

All self-respecting Christians should speak out about this (for the record, I'm not a Christian).

Calvin Massey

For once, Patrick O'Donnell and I agree. The vitriol of the Westboro people is disgusting, appalling, and has nothing whatever to do with Christ's message. I do have one theological quibble with Patrick: Christianity holds that Jesus was God incarnate, and God's message through Jesus extends to all people, so it is error to say that Jesus himself never condoned the preaching of his message to non-Jews. He did say in the gospels that he did not come to overturn the Jewish law, but the message of grace recognizes that it is impossible for humans to comply with God's law.

Patrick S. O'Donnell


I did not say that Jesus did not condone the preaching of his message to non-Jews: my reference was to the conditions upon which non-Jews would be recipients of that teaching and on this the Jewish followers of Jesus were divided, with those believing non-Jews had to convert to Judaism losing to those willing to abandon this feature of their (now) former unambiguous Jewish identity. I will leave the theological nuancess of the relation between Law and grace to others, although I read the counsels of perfection to be just that (i.e., that the endeavor to be more God-like--or Christ-like if you prefer--is an endless task which admits no endpoint), and thus these are not supererogatory but incumbent upon all would-be Christians.

Sam B.

The good news is, even the Primitive Baptist Church decries the Westboro Baptist Church. (I guest the Westboro people claim to be primitive Baptists.)

I don't know of any religious person who has any sympathy for them or their message. I certainly don't.

Sam B.

Okay, the link didn't come through. Press release is here:

Patrick S. O'Donnell

For what it's worth, I've always thought the REAL Belly of the Beast was Las Vegas, although I don't think too many self-described Christians would agree with me.

Jeff Lipshaw

No, no, no. The REAL belly of the beast would be somewhere in Miami Beach, or maybe on Route 1A in Palm Beach just north of Lake Worth. A phalanx of really angry bubbehs and zaydehs would descend on them like Deborah and Barak on Sisera. (Wait a minute, I'm old enough now to be a zaydeh. Gotta stop vit da zaydeh jokes.) (By the way, I'm Jewish, even though I ate something trayf on Yom Kippur.)

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