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Jewish and Christian Monotheisms (Irmin)

Jewish and Christian Monotheisms

Irmin

Judaism, like Christianity, is a monotheism, but unlike Christianity it is also the faith of a single people, defined racially and selected by Jehovah to be a special people apart from all others (Deuteronomy 7.1-6). Although the religious logic of monotheism, a logic that Christianity obeys, should entail that the moral rules promulgated by the One God, the sole creator of the universe and the sole divine guarantor of the moral order, be applicable to everyone in all circumstances, Judaism has carefully evaded that logic and has instead evolved special rules permitting and even encouraging lowered moral standards in Jewish interactions with non-Jews, disparagingly labeled the goyim, whose various nations form, for Talmudic Judaism, a large “unrighteous kingdom” hostile to God’s true people. Christianity, on the other hand, is a true ethical monotheism: The Christian belief in the existence of one God mandates the existence of universal moral norms governing all mankind. For a good Christian ethical rules are universal; for a good Jew ethical rules are contingent, dependent on religious and ethnic affiliation. It is therefore morally acceptable for pious Jews to deceive and cheat non-Jews.

Jehovah is the God of all peoples, other gods being false or demonic, but he has a preference for one people, the Jewish people, with whom he formed a unique Covenant. Belief in their divine chosenness could have led Jews to hold themselves to a high moral standard in their dealings with non-Jews; in practice it has generally encouraged the opposite. The monotheism of the Jews belongs, as an indivisible family property handed down over generations, to a single people, the descendants of Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 17.7), who have interpreted their self-proclaimed special relationship with Jehovah as an invitation to waive or attenuate moral rules in their dealings with the goyim, deemed divinely unchosen and thus outside the Covenant binding God to man. Jews are “ontologically different,” as Elie Wiesel once opined.

There is another important difference between Christian and Jewish monotheisms, despite their common origin. Judaism, fearful of expanding and diluting the sacred demography of Jehovah’s preferred race, has historically been reluctant to proselytize its peculiar religious beliefs among non-Jews, whereas Christianity has always sought to spread its good news of salvation to all peoples, because “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10.34) and feels an unbiased love for all mankind. In this, too, Christianity obeys the logic of monotheism: If there is only one God and only one proper way to worship God, then those crucial truths should, as Christians both believe and (unfortunately) practice, be disseminated around the world for the sake of our common humanity. All men share a common human lineage (Acts 17.26) rooted in a single Creator, so God the Father’s purposes must be made known to all his children.

The Christian God is a nationless globalist, the Jewish God a racial chauvinist. The followers of the former are susceptible to destructive claims based on broad moral principles (such as “equality” and “anti-racism”); the followers of the latter are wisely indifferent to any principle that conflicts with their own self-interest. For Talmudic Judaism loving one’s neighbor means loving other Jews. Judaism is accordingly an ideal religion for ethnic competition within multiethnic societies, since it regards Jewish self-interest as a moral good. In the eyes of Judaism’s God, what is good for Jews is good in itself, and the welfare of the unrighteous Gentile kingdom is at best immaterial.

The irreligious guile of Yom Kippur’s Kol Nidre prayer, which preemptively absolves Jews of any oaths they might swear in the coming year, is a symptom of this divinely sanctioned double standard, which historically has shaped Jewry’s attitudes to their host populations.

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