By Harold Fite
In the Houston Chronicle, Saturday, May 23, 1997, under the heading, “Roman Catholics Reassess Biblical Portrayal of Christ,” Julia Duin wrote of the efforts of the Roman Catholic Church to absolve the Jews of responsibility in the death of Christ.
To believe that the Jews crucified Christ is to be accused by them of anti-Semitism. The Catholics are feeling the pressure, and for the past several years have been withdrawing statements from Catholic textbooks that could be construed as anti-Semitic.
Judith Muffs, associate director for interfaith affairs of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith in New York, said, “The major problem is when the biblical text says ‘the Jews,’ here’s one Jew writing about two or three Jews, yet the text says ‘the Jews.’ Almost the whole cast of characters (in the New Testament) were Jews.”
Dr. Elias Mallon, a Catholic scholar from New York said, “The early Christians altered the Gospels to fit in with the political situation of the times.” Also, “the Gospel writers,” he said, “were presenting theology, not chronology.” He amplifies this by saying, “when you talk about the truth of Jesus, you’re not talking about a historical truth, you’re talking about a theological truth. ” He continued by saying, “The words more reflect the situation of where the church lived rather than what actually happened. ” He was quick to add, however, that “It’s not like (the Gospels) are false or an absolute lit, but people weren’t concerned with historical accuracy until the Enlightenment (an 18th century philosophical movement based on rationalism) . . . people back there didn’t write history like we do in the 20th century. They treated details differently than we do.”
It is the opinion of Dr. Mallon that “John was affected by early Christians who were having problems with the Roman authorities and were more inclined to use the Jews as a scapegoat rather than the Romans.”
Let it be understood that I do not believe the modern day Jew can be blamed for what his forefathers did, anymore than I could be charged with the abuse of the American Indian, or be guilty of practicing slavery, even though I have lived in the south all of my life where slavery was practiced. “The son does not bear the iniquity of the father.” Nor do I mean to imply that every single Jew who lived in the time of Christ bore a responsibility for the murder of Jesus (not the apostles, the man born blind – John 9:38, etc.), but the death of Christ certainly involved more than “two or three.” The Jewish nation as a whole rejected Christ and consented to his death.
This doesn’t mean that the Jews administered the death penalty. They didn’t have this authority under Roman rule (John 18:31). But they desired his death, and pressured the Roman authorities to kill him.
Note the attitude of the Jews toward Jesus which finally culminated in his death: they accused him of being seditious, a blasphemer, wine-bibber, gluttonous, of violating the sabbath, and other false charges. They were always trying to catch something out of his mouth that they could use against him. Judas received thirty pieces of silver from them to deliver him into their hands. When Pilate said to them, “take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law,” their intent is clearly seen when they responded, “it is not lawful for us to put any man to death.” They wanted Jesus dead!
They pressured Pilate to enact the death penalty (read John 18, 19). From hearts of hatred they shouted, “Crucify him, crucify him! Away with him, away with him, crucify himl” And they told Pilate, “If thou release this man, thou art not Caesar’s friend.” They even allowed a murderer to be freed in order to crucify the Christ. The Jews got their way. Jesus was crucified.
Now who killed Jesus? When Peter spoke in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), he addressed his audience as “ye men of Judea, and all that dwell in Jerusalem” (v. 14). He later referred to those assembled as “Israel,” and charged them with crucifying and slaying Christ by the hand of lawless men (vv. 23, 24). He called upon them to repent of this terrible sin (v. 38), and about three thousand did (v. 41).
Later, Peter and John stood in the porch that was called Solomon’s and directed their words to “men of Israel” and charged them with having “killed the P~ince of Life; whom God raised from the dead; whereof we are all witnesses” (Acts 3:13-15). Peter said you killed him. We are witnesses.
Stephen charged the Jews with betraying and murdering the Christ, and also killing those who spoke of his coming (Acts 7:43-51). What was the reaction of the Jews to these charges? They killed Stephen!
The Word of God leaves no question as to who crucified the Christ. The Scriptures are replete with this cowardly deed. For one to reject this fact of history, he would have to reject God’s word as being a fabrication. This is exactly what Mr. Mallon has done that he might curry favor with the Jews. He accuses the Gospel writers as being less than honest in their writings, “having altered the Gospels to fit in with the political situation of the time . . . reflecting the situation of where the church lived rather than what actually happened.”
I must remind Mr. Mallon that “no prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation. For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:20, 21).
Paul said he and the apostles didn’t speak “in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words” (1 Cor. 2:13).
The Gospel writers did not speak of things which originated in their own minds, but that which was given them through the Spirit. They were inspired men and they faithfully discharged their duties as ambassadors of Christ. They spoke the truth!
I have a few relatives who have conducted themselves in such a way as to have brought shame on the family name. The conduct of some Americans have been an embarrassment to the nation, but I can’t say these things never happened.
The Jews killed Christ. It is a fact of history. There were witnesses; God said it. I believe it.
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 17, pp. 522-523
September 3, 1987