taking the words of Jesus seriously

In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day – here is an excerpt on antisemitism entitled “We Theologized Hate” from Rethinking Life by Shane Claiborne. Reprinted with permission.

We all have prejudices, ways we “pre-judge” people based on anything from how they look to their religion, their culture or language, their sexuality, or the color of their skin. We are comfortable around people who are like us and we are uncomfortable around people who aren’t. Even when we work hard to be fair and unbiased, too often we treat people who aren’t like us differently than we treat people who are like us.

When our prejudice leads us to treat others unjustly, it’s called discrimination. To discriminate, we need a certain degree of power.(1) For example, the power to create a welcoming or a hostile environment, to include or exclude, to give or refuse service in a restaurant, to hire or not hire, to rent or not rent housing, to worship or not worship together. The more power we have, the more we can discriminate; and the more we discriminate, the more harm we can cause. With enough power, we can discriminate not just against individuals but entire people groups. That’s what happens when prejudice moves from the small scale to the large scale: organizations and governments paint an entire people group with a broad brush of interiority and systemize prejudice into laws and policies.

Certainly, many of us are working hard to purge ourselves of our prejudices and to learn to love as God loves, but one of the worst things we can do is ignore that our history has shaped how we see people today, sometimes in ways we may not even realize. While some prejudices are based on our experiences, others are not. Instead, they are transmitted through cultural biases, inherited directly or indirectly from others, or taught as truth. Sadly, this has happened even in the church. Over the course of history and into the present, the church has actually theologized prejudice and hatred, sometimes even to the point of supporting genocide, which is what happened in Nazi Germany.

Some historians consider anti-Semitism the original sin of Christianity because we see the roots of it from the very beginning. Following Jesus’ crucifixion, there were some who said it was the Jews rather than our own sins that killed Jesus. This anti-Jewish prejudice began to take root in Christian theology early on, but it took centuries for the power dynamic to shift in such a way that prejudice could turn into large-scale discrimination and ultimately genocide.

Hate Escalates

We need to understand how hate becomes policy because the kind of resentment that leads to genocide doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It follows a predictable pattern that begins with biased attitudes and progresses to acts of bias, discrimination, bias-motivated violence, and then genocide.(2) What’s important to note is that the seeds of genocide are first sown as biased attitudes, which include stereotypes, fear of differences, and believing negative information about others—all of which are abundantly evident in our current climate.

The Holocaust in Nazi Germany followed this pattern of hate. It didn’t spring up overnight. There were social conditions, policies, and, yes, theology, that made Hitler’s Germany fertile ground for genocide. Holocaust scholar and Christian ethicist David Gushee traces the long history of anti-Semitism as evidenced in anti-Jewish laws over the centuries. Take a look.

  • Prohibition of intermarriage and sexual intercourse between Jews and Christians (306)
  • Jews and Christians not permitted to eat together (306)
  • Jews not allowed to hold public office (535)
  • Jews not allowed to employ Christian servants (538)
  • The Talmud and other Jewish books burned (681)
  • Jews obliged to pay taxes to support the church (1078)
  • Jews not permitted to be plaintiffs or witnesses against Christians (1179)
  • Jewish clothes marked with special badges (1215)
  • Construction of new synagogues prohibited (1222)
  • Compulsory ghettos mandated (1267)
  • Adoption of Judaism by a Christian banned (1310)
  • Jews not permitted to obtain academic degrees (1434) (3)

One of the striking things the list demonstrates is how persistently these laws appear across the centuries. Hate is a resilient thing. It’s also important to note that such laws are rarely one-offs but reflect deeper hostilities and prejudice that can eventually manifest themselves in full-blown violence. Sometimes policy violence is the precursor to physical violence. It’s like a warning light on the dashboard of a car: it signals trouble ahead. It was the same with Black codes or Jim Crow laws in the US, and it has many other expressions across time and around the world.(4)  We can all think of people who face discrimination today. That’s why a pursuit of equality and justice in policies is a way not only of affirming human life and dignity but also of nipping hatred in the bud.

We’re going to take a closer look at anti-Semitism in the church because it is one of the earliest cracks in our foundation when it comes to affirming the sacredness of every person, and it is a crack that persists to this day. Understanding our history of anti-Semitism can also help us think critically about other forms of discrimination, help us combat it in other forms, and keep us from repeating the mistakes of history. The devil may be a liar, but he often keeps telling the same lies over and over, just in new ways.

A Brief History of Anti-Semitism in the Church

Christians have had a complicated relationship with our Jewish cousins pretty much from the beginning, ever since folks 2,200 years ago started proclaiming that the long-awaited Messiah had come to us as a Jewish carpenter from Galilee. As much as some folks might prefer to believe otherwise, it’s impossible to erase Jesus’ Jewishness. He went to synagogue. He observed Passover. He knew the law, and he knew when to break it. He expanded his followers’ imagination and blew their minds by showing how big God’s dream for the world is, and how big God’s grace is—for the Jewish people, but also for non-Jewish people.

Remember, as more and more non-Jews became recipients of grace, one of the debates in the early church was what it meant for a gentile to become a Christian. Did they need to become Jewish in order to become Christian—for instance, did they need to get circumcised and eat kosher? What about when someone converted, such as a centurion in the Roman army? This was a question Peter really wrestled with (Acts 10), and much of the tension in the early church formed around how Christians related to Jews. You can see why it was a legitimate question, and the early church did a pretty great job navigating these waters, for at least a few centuries.

Then came the Constantinian shift. Anti-Jewish sentiment certainly existed in the Christian community before Constantine, but, as we have seen, what changed was proximity to power. Before Constantine, Christians didn’t have the power to overtly discriminate against Jews or anyone else in any systematic way. But that changed once Christianity became the majority religion and then the official religion of the empire.

Over time, we developed some toxic ways of twisting Scripture that fueled anti-Semitism. Some Christian leaders blamed the Jews for killing Jesus, rather than rightfully seeing all of humanity—including Romans officials, Jewish religious leaders, and the sins of you and me—as being responsible for Christ’s death. We were all culpable. Many Christians, then and now, interpreted the destruction of Jerusalem and all the lives that were lost as God’s judgment on the Jews for rejecting Jesus, the Messiah. In support of their view, they referred to verses such as this one from the apostle Paul: “You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone” (1 Thess. 2:14–15). Some now saw “the Jews” as the culprit and made them a scapegoat.

While many Christians clung to their ancestors in the faith, including the ancient prophets and sacred texts, they rejected their Jewish roots and origins. It became known as supersessionism—the idea that the Jewish story ended with the birth of Christ and the church has superseded Israel as God’s chosen people. There is even an entire theology known as adversus Judaeos, meaning “against the Jews.” This theology can be traced all the way back to the fourth century and is especially evident in the teachings of John Chrysostom (ca. AD 347–407), who is sometimes referred to as the “golden mouthed,” which is what chrysostom means in Greek but was also a reference to how eloquent his sermons were. However, his writings reveal a not so golden theology of contempt that portrayed Jews as heretics, blasphemers, and prophet killers. As we attempt to be honest about some of these iconic church thinkers, many of whom are now revered as saints, it is helpful to see that someone can be brilliant on some things and still be blind on others. Some of the things Chrysostom said were gold, and others were fool’s gold.

Chrysostom called Jews dogs, goats, and pigs. He characterized them as fat and lazy drunkards, and called their synagogues “haunts of demons.” He called them “assassins of Christ,” held them responsible for the crucifixion, and considered them guilty of “deicide”: they were God-killers.(5) More subtle anti-Jewish themes also can be seen in several writings of other early Christians, including Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen.

Dangerous Words

It is vitally important for Christians, and for everyone who believes in life, to stand against hatred in all its forms. And a good place to start is with our rhetoric. As we’ve seen in history, we sow deadly seeds the moment we use or even tolerate dehumanizing language, such as calling any group of people cockroaches, dogs, or vermin. Not too long ago, there was a president of the United States whose rhetoric and policies sowed many of those dangerous seeds on a global scale. He referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists and murderers.” He referred to entire countries as “shitholes.” Those are dangerous words, the kind of words that led to a surge in hate crimes and acts of overt racism.(6) All the while, he insisted that he did not have “a racist bone” in his body.(7) Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.

Words have consequences, whether they’re spoken by a school bully, a politician, or a preacher. We can all be interrupters of hateful and dangerous words by standing against language that tears people down and denies the image of God in them. One way we can do that is simply to ask the speaker, “Don’t you think they are made in the image of God, just like you are?”

Fast-forward to the sixteenth century and the Protestant Reformation. Martin Luther began with some sympathy and compassion for Jewish people, speaking against the anti-Semitism of the Roman Catholic Church. He even wrote an essay in 1523 titled “That Jesus Was a Jew,” in which he condemned the fact that the church had “dealt with the Jews as if they were dogs rather than human beings.”(8) He was clearly right to condemn that. However, just twenty years later in 1543, he published “The Jews and Their Lies,” a sixty-five-thousand-word manifesto calling for a litany of horrors, including the destruction of synagogues, Jewish schools, and homes.(9) I cringe as I type his words: “We are at fault in not slaying them.”(10) He called them a “whoring people” with a law that “must be accounted as filth.”


It’s not hard to see how his hateful rhetoric ultimately provided a theological foundation for the outright slaughter of Jews under the Nazis. From its earliest days, the Nazi regime used Luther’s writing to fuel their movement. Martin Sasse, a Lutheran bishop in the German state of Thuringia, is just one example. Following Kristallnacht, two days of Nazi-incited mob violence that is now seen as the beginning of the systematic destruction of Jews,(11) Bishop Sasse wrote and distributed a pamphlet titled Martin Luther on the Jews: Away with Them! In it, he defended and justified the mass slaughter that would soon unfold.(12)

Some who defend Luther are quick to point out that he was old and starting to lose it as he wrote his anti-Semitic work. But that defense skirts the fact that he was nevertheless capable of having Jews expelled from Saxony and other areas of Germany in 1537, just six years before writing his anti-Semitic manifesto. And he didn’t die until 1546, three years after writing those sickening words. I wish I could say that there was universal outrage when he published his remarks, but that would be a stretch. Although Christians did eventually condemn Luther’s words, it took centuries.

Unfortunately, anti-Semitism in the church didn’t end with Luther. In 1555, on the other side of the Reformation and a decade after Luther died, Pope Paul IV issued a papal bull removing the rights of Jews. And it wasn’t until Vatican II in 1965 that the Roman Catholic Church formally rejected its doctrinal anti-Semitism.

In the case of Nazi Germany, it’s important to acknowledge that some Christians were part of the resistance and many of those ended up being killed alongside their Jewish neighbors. We’ll consider their example next. However, it would be hard to imagine Hitler coming to power without the twisted theology and moral defense of the church. He did it all with a Bible in his hand, even likening himself to Jesus. He said that just as Jesus cleansed the temple of the Jews, he, Hitler, was cleansing the world of Jews.(13)

All you have to do is twist the cross to get a swastika.

The Genocide in Rwanda

For some of us, the Holocaust might feel like distant history even though we are just a generation or two removed from it. We might be tempted to think we would never allow something like that to happen now. That’s why it’s important to remember that another atrocity of history took place in Rwanda in 1994. We need to remember this history so we don’t repeat it.

At the time of the genocide, Rwanda had one of the highest concentrations of Christians of any country in Africa, and really of nearly any country in the world. Some estimate that up to 90 percent of the population was Christian, at least nominally. It does raise the question of how one of the worst atrocities of our generation happened when nine out of ten people involved were Christians.

In his brilliant book Mirror to the Church, Ugandan theologian and priest Emmanuel Katangole shows exactly how it happened. Certainly, there were demonic forces at work, but there was also a propaganda machine. In a country comprised of approximately 85 percent Hutus and 14 percent Tutsis, Tutsis were routinely dehumanized. There was also a complex historical backdrop of inequality that led to the propaganda and the narrative of hatred that became so deadly. Among other things, the Tutsis were called cockroaches and their lives equated with bugs, just waiting to be crushed.

The Rwandan genocide claimed some 800,000 lives in 100 days.(14) About 10,000 people were killed each day, mostly by machetes, in one of the most sickening events in my lifetime. I can remember it—I was in my first year of college. Years later, I got to visit Rwanda. Almost everywhere we went there were memorials, markers indicating mass graves, and in some places even the bones of those who died were left in place so we dare not forget.

On one of the monuments I visited were the words, “If you had known me, you would not have killed me.” It is a powerful quote, a reminder that it is harder to kill people when you know them. But it is also a complicated quote because many of the people in Rwanda did know the people they killed. Many of them slaughtered their neighbors.

It was the same with slavery and lynching in the United States. Theologian and civil rights leader Howard Thurman spoke poignantly about this, naming the fact that proximity alone didn’t guarantee compassion and respect. Black folks and white folks were living in proximity to each other even as Black folks were abused, tortured, raped, and sold on street corners. White folks did not really see Black folks, certainly not in an I-Thou kind of way.

Being a Christian, perhaps also just being a decent human being, means having more than just new ideas. It means having new eyes. Lots of smart people throughout history have also been racist. They had big ideas, but they did not have the “eyes to see,” as Jesus said (Matt. 13:16). When we say, “I see you,” we are affirming not just that we are looking at someone but that we notice them, feel with them, and stand in solidarity with them.

It’s easy for us to look back at this horrific event with disbelief or even a sense of moral superiority, thinking, “We would never do that,” or, “We would never let that happen again.” And yet I bet that’s what every generation says as it looks back on the horrors of the past. Nearly every new generation has its own genocide, and, as we will soon see, the twentieth century was the bloodiest century in the history of the world. We must never take progress for granted. And it is worth noting that this genocide happened primarily with knives. How much more damage could have been done with nuclear bombs and weapons of mass destruction?

Faithful Resisters

When it comes to anti-Semitism, we can grieve the failures of the church even as we celebrate its faithfulness. In Nazi Germany, heroes such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and members of the Confessing Church movement stood against hatred and fascism, and it cost many of them their lives. There were also many underground movements of subversive love and hospitality, and courageous individuals who risked their lives to save Jewish lives.

Certainly, one of the most well-known Christian resisters was Corrie ten Boom, daughter of a Dutch watchmaker, who rescued hundreds of Jewish people before she and her family were arrested and sent to concentration camps. After surviving the war, she wrote a book about her story in which she recounts a conversation with a pastor who had come to her father’s watch shop for a repair. Hoping to enlist the pastor’s help, she went to another room and came back with a little baby who, with his mother, needed to be rescued. The pastor leaned over and looked at the baby, initially moved as anyone would be. But then he pulled back. “We could lose our lives for that Jewish child!” he said. Corrie’s father overheard the comment, took the child in his arms, and then said to the pastor, “You say we could lose our lives for this child. I would consider that the greatest honor that could come to my family.”(15) Courage is contagious. And so is fear.

There were also courageous youth movements that resisted Hitler’s theology and policies. The White Rose was a youth movement sparked by a few dozen university students whose faith and idealism inspired them to act. At the center of the group were two siblings, Hans and Sophie Scholl. Hans was twenty-four and Sophie was twenty-one. They illegally printed and distributed hundreds of leaflets, doing all they could to counter the narrative of hatred. They were convicted of treason, sentenced to death, and beheaded on February 22, 1943, just four days after their arrest.

Other Christians, such as Franz Jägerstätter, a conscientious objector who refused to fight for the Nazi regime, met a similar fate for their courageous witness.(16) That’s what faithful Christianity—good religion—looks like. Their courage and faithfulness can inspire us today as we stand up for life and resist the forces of death and hatred.

In the years since the Holocaust, the work of faithful resisters has continued through courageous and noble endeavors to heal the wounds and repair the cracks in our ethic of life. While such resistance may not be like resisting the Nazi regime, it does show us other versions of courage and repair. Sometimes faithful resistance can be as simple as building a new relationship, one in which we speak truth to one another in love and try to heal some of the wounds of history.

Rabbi Lawrence Kushner tells a powerful story of a healing friendship with an Episcopal priest that began about forty-five years ago. The two men had decided to meet once a month for a meal together so they could share about their faith and deepen mutual understanding. Eventually, they decided to share their thoughts about Jesus, which they first wrote out and then read to one another as they ate. These are some of the words Rabbi Kushner wrote to his Episcopal friend:

I am wary of Jesus. Not because of anything he taught or even because of anything his disciples taught about him. . . .

I am wary of Jesus because of history and what so many of those who said they believed in him have done to my people. Christianity, you could say, has ruined Jesus for me. Somehow through the ages the suffering Jesus has become confused with the suffering of the Jewish people, my people. That is the key to my problem with him. His death has even become causally linked with some denial on my part. And this in turn has been used as a justification for my suffering.

In this way Jesus means for me not the one who suffered for the world’s sins but the one on account of whom I must suffer.(17)

Rabbi Kushner then relayed what happened next. He looked up at his Episcopal friend, whose face was “ashen.” “I winced,” he said, “fearing that I had crossed some line, that with my smug bluntness I had injured my new friend.” But then the priest responded with a tearful whisper, “Please forgive me, forgive us. It could not have been Jesus those Christians served.” Rabbi Kushner described it as a transformative moment. Their conversation continued.

“Your religion,” I said, “wants you to care about me that much?”

“Oh yes,” he said. “Don’t you see, I must continuously seek to find God in every person. Jesus is only the beginning. You, Larry, are easy. But the ultimate goal is to find my Lord within everyone—even people I like a lot less than you, even people I dislike, even ones I despise.”

And then it dawned on me: So that’s what it means to say that God can take the form of a human being.(18)

To heal some of the wounds of the past, we need that kind of honest cross-faith dialogue today, that sort of deep mutual understanding and trust.

These are a few glimpses of what courage in the face of hate can look like. Resistance has many different forms. Sometimes it looks like risking our lives and sometimes it looks like building a friendship with someone who is different from us. I guess the real question is, What does courage in the face of hate look like for us today?

Love Overcomes

I have had several wonderful opportunities over the years to visit Israel and Palestine. It is an incredible thing to walk the land that Jesus and our Jewish ancestors walked. One of the people I spend a lot of time with when I am in Israel and the West Bank is my friend Sami Awad. Sami comes from a long line of Palestinian Christians who are also advocates for peace and champions of life. On one of my first visits, Sami told me his story as we walked along the Israeli West Bank wall that separates Israel and Palestine.(19)

Growing up in Palestine, he had seen so much hatred that he knew it was a dead end. I guess you could say, as Dr. King put it, Sami had “seen too much hate to hate,” and he chose love because hate is too heavy of a burden. As an adult, he ended up taking a pilgrimage to Germany to study and, more important, to experience the history of what his Jewish neighbors suffered in the Holocaust. He visited concentration camps, a Holocaust museum, and memorials. His heart ached because of what was done to them. The experience gave him new eyes. It enabled him to grieve and to be outraged about what has happened to the Jews over the centuries, and especially in the Holocaust.

Sami’s grief and compassion for his Jewish neighbors doesn’t prevent him from also being grieved by and outraged at what the state of Israel is doing to his neighbors in the West Bank and Gaza, but it does change what he sees. “I used to look at the wall and see hatred,” he said. “Now I look at the wall and I see fear.” That understanding doesn’t justify the injustices he witnesses every day, but it does help him understand the fear behind the wall. It is love that fuels his desire for the wall to come down and for both Jews and Palestinians, Muslims and Christians, and all people, to be honored equally as beautiful and made in the image of God.

Sami’s willingness to see and love his enemies—to affirm their humanity—makes me want to advocate for those on all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It makes me want to be pro-Israel, pro-Palestine, pro-peace. It makes me want to advocate that schools and healthcare in Gaza should be as good as schools and healthcare in Jerusalem. And just as we can see throughout history why it is important to say “Jewish lives matter,” the injustice and violence in Israel and Palestine should also compel all of us to say with equal conviction, “Palestinian lives matter.” We cannot be quiet when someone is hurting our brothers and sisters, no matter what language they speak, what religion they practice, or what side of the wall they live on.

Believing and living out a consistent ethic of life always leads to compassion rather than hate. I got to witness a beautiful example of that several years ago following an act of hate that could have been explosive. Amid rising anti-Muslim tensions in our city and around the country in 2015, someone dumped the head of a pig in front of a mosque in Philadelphia, a gross display of hatred against Muslims, for whom pork is forbidden. But what happened next is where the light of life shines.

Leaders from multiple faith traditions, including many Christian and Jewish communities, gathered outside the mosque as our Muslim neighbors went to prayer, to stand in solidarity with them and as an expression of love.

A couple of years after the incident at the mosque, there was another act of hatred in our state. Someone went into a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia and defaced the tombs, vandalizing them with symbols of hate. In an immediate act of solidarity and love, the Muslim community in Philly started a campaign that ultimately raised thousands and thousands of dollars to repair the Jewish cemetery.

We need more of that kind of love. The kind of love that repairs the cracks in our foundation for life. The kind of love that affirms the dignity of every person—and not only affirms it but also celebrates it. The kind of love that heals the violence of hatred. The kind of love that refuses to be enemies. While it is true that we have theologized hate over the centuries, the answer to hateful theology is not no theology but a theology of love. For God is love.

I am convinced that love and fear are enemies. They cannot coexist. And while the biblical promise is true that “perfect love casts out fear,” fear also has the power to cast out love. They are like opposing magnets. Too often, it is fear rather than love that motivates us in both our personal lives and in our local and national policies. We are driven by fear of scarcity, fear of being replaced by immigrants, fear of people who are different from us. So the question we need to grapple with is this: What might it look like for us to be driven by love rather than fear? What does love require?

(1) My friend Jemar Tisby puts it plainly: “Racism is prejudice plus power.” Jemar Tisby (@jemartisby). Instagram, May 31, 2022, www.instagram.com/p/CeOTKGtOn_8/.

(2) “Pyramid of Hate,” Anti-Defamation League, 2018, https://www.adl.org/sites/default/files/pyramid-of-hate-web-english_1.pdf

(3) David P. Gushee, The Sacredness of Human Life: Why an Ancient Biblical Vision Is Key to the World’s Future (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013), 207–8.

(4) Lest we think anti-Semitism is on its way out, we need only look to recent events to see how alive the fires of hatred still are. When white supremacists with tiki torches marched in Charlottesville during the Unite the Right rally in 2017, one of their chants was, “Jews will not replace us.” Just a year later in my home state of Pennsylvania, a man armed with multiple guns, including an AR-15, entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and opened fire during their morning Shabbat service. He killed eleven people and wounded six. A subsequent review of his social media posts found them full of anti-Semitic hatred and conspiracy theories as well as photos of his guns.

(5)  John Chrysostom, “Homily 1,” Against the Jews, Tertullian Project, www.tertullian.org/fathers/chrysostom_adversus_judaeos_01_homily1.htm. St. John Chrysostom, The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation, vol. 72, trans. Paul W. Harkins (Washington, DC: Catholic Univ. of America Press, 1979), 39.

(6) Ayal Feinberg, Regina Branton, Valerie Martinez-Ebers, “Counties That Hosted a 2016 Trump Rally Saw a 226 Percent Increase in Hate Crimes,” Washington Post, March 22, 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/03/22/trumps-rhetoric-does-inspire-more-hate-crimes/.

(7)  I particularly like how many people pointed out that it was not his bones that were racist but his heart, his words, his actions, and his policies.

(8) Eric W. Gritsch, “Was Luther Anti-Semitic?” Christianity Today, May/June 2022, www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-39/was-luther-anti-semitic.html.

(9) Michael Coren, “The Reformation at 500: Grappling with Martin Luther’s Anti-Semitic Legacy,” Maclean’s, October 25, 2017, www.macleans.ca/opinion/the-reformation-at-500-grappling-with-martin-luthers-anti-semitic-legacy/.

(10) Martin Luther, “On the Jews and Their Lies,” in Luther’s Works, vol. 47, ed. Franklin Sherman (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971), 267.

(11) According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, approximately 7,500 Jewish-owned businesses, homes, and schools were destroyed; 91 Jews were murdered; and 30,000 Jewish men were sent to concentration camps. “Kristallnacht was a turning point in the history of the Third Reich, marking the shift from antisemitic rhetoric and legislation to the violent, aggressive anti-Jewish measures that would culminate with the Holocaust.” “Kristallnacht,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, undated, www.ushmm.org/collections/bibliography/kristallnacht.

(12) Coren, “The Reformation at 500.”

(13) Hitler makes this connection in Mein Kampf, but he avoids using the name of Jesus, referring to him only as “the Founder of Christianity.” Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, [1925], 1971), 254. He makes the Temple comparison on p. 307.

(14) “Rwanda Genocide: 100 Days of Slaughter,” BBC, April 4, 2019, www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-26875506.

(15) Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place, 35th anniv. ed. (1971; Grand Rapids: Chosen, 1984), 115.

(16)  My coauthors and I celebrate also sorts of courageous champions of life in our book, Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. I also recommend the wonderful work of my friend Robert Ellsberg in his books Blessed Among Us and All Saints. We need new heroes.

(17) Lawrence Kushner, “My Lunch with Jesus,” in Jesus through Jewish Eyes: Rabbis and Scholars Engage an Ancient Brother in a New Conversation, ed, Beatrice Bruteau (New York: Orbis, 2001), 120.

(18) Kushner, “My Lunch with Jesus,” 121.

(19)  Israel has erected one of the largest separation walls ever built, and one many consider the most sophisticated apartheid system the world has ever seen. Approximately 441 miles in length, it separates Israel from Palestine and makes life exceedingly difficult for Palestinians. It is important to remember the historic backdrop of centuries of anti-Semitism that have contributed to Israel’s actions in the West Bank. While it doesn’t justify their actions, it does help us understand them. It is not uncommon for groups who have been oppressed to become oppressors, especially as they gain access to power. It is the story of our faith as Christians, and of other faiths as well. The corrupting influence of power is a part of the human story, and no religion is immune to it.

To see the images from this chapter in the book, Rethinking Life, see Shane’s post on Instagram.

About The Author


Shane Claiborne is a best-selling author, renowned activist,
 sought-after speaker, and self-proclaimed “recovering sinner.” Shane writes and speaks around the world about peacemaking, social justice, and Jesus, and is the author of several books, 
including "The Irresistible Revolution," "Jesus for President," "Executing Grace," "Beating Guns," and his newest book, "Rethinking Life (released in Feb 2023)." He is the visionary leader of The Simple Way in Philadelphia and co-director of Red Letter Christians. His work has been featured in Fox News, Esquire, SPIN, TIME, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, and CNN.

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