The Myth Of The Judeo-Christian Heritage
A final examination question in my college "middle east" history class was whether Islam clashes with the Judeo-Christian heritage? Finding it to be a ridiculously stupid question, my answer focused on the myth of the Judeo-Christian heritage.
The Bible is replete with references to Jesus' betrayal by the Jews. Some Christians, to this day, still blame the Jews for Christ's death. The Inquisition in 1492 not only attacked Islam in Spain, but also set out to murder the Jews of the region. With their Muslim comrades, the Jews fled south for safety to Morocco (ever wonder how there are so many North African Jews - that's how). The Dreyfus case in France in the 1800's in which a Jew was accused of murder inspired the birth of Zionism and the realization among world Jewry that they could never be safe in Christian society. Russia, a bastion of Christianity since the 900's, has a notorious history for pogroms and the ghettoization of the Jewish community. And, of course, the story would not be complete without Adolf, who believed he was finishing off what his Christian predecessors in Europe were unable to accomplish. Where is the shared heritage?
Even though Christianity has spent the better part of the last 2,000 years trying to wipe the Jews off the planet (in contrast with the recent 60 years of Jewish-Muslim hostility), the argument goes that the Bible is the shared heritage. But, if that is the case, why don't Christians keep kosher? Why do they eat pork, when Jews do not? Circumcision? Depending on the Christian with whom you speak, the Old Testament has varying degrees of relevance to Christianity. It really is more a product of the "picking and choosing" principle than a wholesale acceptance of the Judaic forefather. The Old Testament is like the uncle whose wisdom is useful when you agree and outright ignored when you do not.
In the ever-absurd world of political correctness, recent attempts have been made to to call it the Judeo-Christian-Islamic heritage. This attempt has been rebuffed by no-brain Christians who have not studied history and know nothing about Islam. Jesus is a prophet of god in Islam, whose teachings are considered equally holy. The Quran refers to Christians and Jews as "Ahl al Kitab", i.e. People of the Book (those who believe in the one god).
Although I find this attempt to link heritages to be a futile waste of brain cells, it is remarkable to me that the important similarities between Christianity and Islam, and Judaism and Islam are ignored while the strife-ridden relationship between Christianity and Judaism is glossed over in the current "you're with us or against us" crusade against Islam. Since Jews don't believe in Christ, how do Christians share a heritage with a people who are destined to eternal damnation?
This whole thought process was sparked by a discussion with a Christian friend of mine. Concerned for my mother's salvation (my mother is terminally ill with cancer), she explained that good deeds do not get you into heaven, only acceptance of Christ can do that. With her religious insensitivity, the subtext is that since my mother is a Muslim, she's on the express bus to the fire no matter how kind and loving she may be.
I find it really difficult to believe that Mussolini, Stalin, Catholic pedophile priests and George Bush stand a better chance of getting into heaven than my mother. And if that's the line-up at the welcoming party, hell may be the more palatable option. Really, though, what does it mean to "accept" Christ? If acceptance means respecting Jesus as holy and believing in the validity of his teachings and acting in accordance therewith (because your actions speak louder than words), then there are many non-Christians who surely are equally eligible for heavenly consideration and many so-called Christians who are not.