New American Standard Bible
Unbelief and Its Consequences
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
Elsewhere online, a Jewish guy I know has pointed out to me that “the church fathers”, who compiled the New Testament and set the tone for how the established church behaved for centuries had an anti-semitic agenda. This scripture is I believe referring to the Jewish spiritual authorities as they were at the time of Paul, who clearly disapproved of the moment that was to become Christianity.
I believe that influenced how it would heave been understood during the earlier days of the established church (and sadly beyond those earliest of days), after it was established as the official religion of the Roman Empire: That God wants to visit his wrath on to non-Christians. During the time of the church fathers there were no pagans in Rome and Islam was yet to emerge, so to the Christian audience of that time this passage could only have been referring to the Jews. And across the Empire there was a great Jewish diaspora. To whom they would have applied this scripture in their hearts and minds.
I believe that in its history Christianity went through an anti-Semitic phase. I do not believe the original movement was anti-Semitic and I believe that the majority of contemporary Christians are not anti-Semitic. But yes, Christianity can be and has been anti-Semitic.
If I thought Christianity was against the Jews then I would not be a Christian. It’s as simple as that. But that is not what Jesus is about - quite the opposite.
I believe that anti-semitism is a strain of “ungodliness” and “unrighteousness” so that we can apply the words of this scripture to the anti-semitism of the church fathers. I believe the wrath of God will be visited on all those who persecute and hate other groups for their ethnicity or faith. Because that's the kind of God I believe in.
Christianity was once itself persecuted, so it should have known better. But I don’t believe the bigotry so clearly exhibited by the church fathers and those like them can be imputed onto the account of the majority of contemporary Christians. But it is a part of our tradition, and as a follower of Jesus of Nazareth (a Jew) that saddens me greatly.
All this brings to my mind Gandhi who famously said: “I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ”
In my future exploration of NT scripture I shall bear all this in mind.