This page is a partial answer to an extended letter on another page, Difficult Questions:  Free Will and the Problem of Evil  The reader may wish to refer to that page for a better understanding of the background of this one.  This is the first page of answers.

Does the anti-Semitism of many Christians demonstrate that Christianity is not a continuation of Judaism?

  "Although Christ may have had one thing in mind when he was preaching what would later become the New Testament, later thinkers certainly had something different in mind.  Although intellectuals such as yourself clearly see the continuation of Christianity from Judaism, most Christians (in my experience) have quite a negative, if not openly hostile view against Jews.  Hitler's persecution of the Jews and the strong anti-Semitism in America during the mid 20th century are some examples of this."

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  I hope you're ready for my next letter.  I make a point of responding to all personal mail, even if only to say thank you; and your letters have challenged me to think and remember things in an area in which I am admittedly a bit rusty.  I hope I still have something to add to the discussion; I think perhaps I do.

  I certainly would be foolish to argue that the majority of those who take the name "Christian" have correctly grasped either the history or the full understanding of their faith; anti-Semitism has a long history among Christians, a feeling which has been reciprocated (indeed, as suggested in my last letter, it appears that Jewish anti-Christianity stemming from Masada preceded Christian anti-Semitism).  Yet in every time and place in which there have been those who did not understand, there were those who do.  Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place is a reminder that even in Nazi Germany, where the latent anti-Semitism in Luther's thought led the state church to acquiesce in the massacre of the Jews, many Christians risked their lives in quiet opposition to save those they recognized as God's chosen people.  Not all of us fully understand the Bible--perhaps none of us do.  Yet we all agree that it is the definition of our faith, understood aright.  But a doctrinal religion must be judged first upon its doctrine, and only second by its adherents; and variation in the levels of understanding and conduct of adherents is to be expected and accepted.

  A Baptist evangelist I had the opportunity to hear told of being invited to address a Catholic seminary on several difficult issues, among them how Baptists and Catholics could work toward "one fold and one shepherd".  He began by saying Baptists already believe there is one fold and one shepherd--the Shepherd Jesus Christ, the fold all true believers in him.  The priest who had introduced him spoke up that Catholics believe in the one fold of all validly baptized; the evangelist decided not to mention that Adolph Hitler was "validly baptized", and instead told a Baptist story.  It seems a young seminary student in Washington DC was held up one night by a mugger.  Handing over his money, he said, "Look, that's my last five bucks.  I'm only a student for the Baptist ministry--if you want to rob someone, why don't you rob somebody who has some money?"  "What did you say?" came the reply.  "I said, if you're going to rob somebody, rob somebody who has some money."  "No, what did you say about the Baptists?"  "I'm only a student for the Baptist ministry."  "Alright," said the robber, "I'll give it to you back.  I'm a Baptist myself."

  The point is, every faith has proponents who blacken its figurative eye.  I'm sure you would be disturbed were I to evaluate the Hindu faith based on the understanding and conduct of particular individuals who have taken its name but not lived up to it.

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