JUDAIZING TEACHERS AS ETHNIC UNIVERSALISTS

The New Testament often refutes the Judaizing teachers who sought to force Jewish law on the Gentiles. As Anglican theologian N.T. Wright has pointed out in his “new perspective,” when Paul talks of the “law” he is often referencing the Judaic ethno-cultural practices that separated Jews from the Gentiles.

The Bible passages about the Judaizers are often used in modern theological discussions to condemn ethnocentrism and cultural imperialism. This critique is almost always aimed at Euroethnics with the objective to disparage their history of colonial endeavors, segregation, and slavery as well as to advocate for a multicultural future.

Read from the perspective of ethnic Identitarianism, however, the passages take on different meaning. Instead of being interpreted as a critique of ethnocentrism they can be read as a refutation of the “third race” position commonly found in popular theology (The “third race” position posits that ethnic identity has been destroyed by our new Christian religious identity. The term comes from the early church fathers).

If the Judaizers had their way, all gentile converts would have been forced to abandon their ethno-cultural identity and essentially become Jews. This process would have eventually erased unique ethnic groups and produced a single race of people (everyone would have become de facto Jews). The distinction between ethnic Jews and Gentiles would have been entirely eradicated (except for immutable genetic differences).

The New Testament, however, refuted this concept of conversion and opted to allow the Gentiles to be free from ethnic Jewish practices (circumcision, dietary restrictions, observing of holidays, etc.). Rather than forcing new Gentile Christians to drop their ethnic identities, the apostles chose to protect them from being destroyed by the Judaizing universalists.

This reading of the New Testament affirms a Christian’s spiritual ability to maintain their unique ethnic heritage, and it refutes the idea that to become a Christian one must abandon one’s ethnic identity and become a member of the “third race.”

An Identitarian reading of the New Testament eliminates the confusion surrounding the question of why the apostles continued to keep the old laws even after the new covenant had been established. Many Christians have pondered why the apostolic council instructed Paul to sacrifice at the temple in Acts 21 to show the Jews he had not rejected the law. This is among the more bizarre New Testament passages and some reader’s fear it was a nullification of Christ’s sacrifice. But, if one reads the situation from an ethnic perspective the sacrifice makes sense in the context of practicing traditional Jewish ethno-culture.

The Council of Jerusalem, recorded in Acts 15, makes more sense from an Identitarian perspective. Why did the apostolic council establish a separate set of provision for Gentile converts? It appears to be related to ethno-cultural differences. A lengthy quote of the text is appropriate:
“Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: ‘Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.’ This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question… they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the believers very glad… Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, ‘The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.’… [Peter]: ‘God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.’… ‘It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood.’”
The primary topic was the Jewish custom of circumcision. Circumcision was a unique ethnic practice God gave to Abraham and his genetic descendants to mark them out as a unique ethnos. The practice was specifically Jewish (within a scriptural context) and did not relate to personal salvation (there were God fearing people outside the Jewish ethnicity). By judging that the Gentiles need not be circumcised, the Jerusalem council ruled for the preservation of their original ethnic identities. The Gentiles did not have to become proselytes to become Christians.

Why did Peter think that requiring Gentiles to be circumcised would make it harder for them to become Christians? Probably because doing so would necessitate a rejection of their genetic family and cultural tradition. For this reason, he objected to their circumcision by indicating that God did not discriminate between Jews and Gentiles. Both ethnic identities were legitimate expressions before God.

The Jewish Christians did not abandon their ethnic traditions to become like the gentiles or to produce a common ethnic identity with the Gentiles. The understanding was that the Jews would retain their unique identity while the gentiles would retain theirs. The only three things the Apostolic council forbade among the Gentiles were three things related to idolatrous temple worship (fertility prostitution, blood/strangulation rituals, and the honoring of pagan deities through the consumption of their sacrifices).

The apostolic message: Gentiles may retain their ethnic identity so long as they abandon the false god’s that characterize that identity.

This passage, and the others like it, are powerful refutations of the idea that those of European ethnicity must abandon their unique sense of identity and advocate for multiculturalism, miscegenation, and the erasure of their unique ethnic heritage. Euroethnics are allowed to be white, and to retain that unique identity within the Christian religion. They are not required to erase their genetic and cultural heritage as a result of Christian faith. The apostles were not ethnic universalists.

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