The Red Shoes, a sermon

Immorality at the Highest Levels of the Church

On the Occasion of the Confirmation of a Homosexual Bishop in the Episcopal Church

(Some based loosely on “The Red Shoes” by Hans Christian Anderson”)

Jackson Snyder  ruby slippers 2






UPDATE! 2010 One of the most disturbing features of the visceral hostility to Israel displayed by the Anglican Church is its underlying revival of replacement theology, or supersessionism – the ancient Christian calumny that, because of their denial of the divinity of Christ, the Jews have forfeited God’s promises to them which have been transferred to Christians.

UPDATE  NPR Interviews Robinson & Duncan, December 25, 2004

UPDATE October 22, 2004

UPDATE!  Anglican Communion Network

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PREVIEW Triumph Against Trouble  W. Phillip Keller - how to!

For more on Anglican and Methodist Church History,
PREVIEW  A History of the Christian Church, 4th Edition   Williston Walker 

Jeremiah 8:7-12: 7.  Even the stork in the heavens knows her times; and the turtledove, swallow, and crane keep the time of their coming; but my people know not the ordinance of Yahweh.  8.  "How can you say, 'We are wise, and the law of Yahweh is with us'? But, behold, the false pen of the scribes has made it into a lie.  9.  The wise men shall be put to shame, they shall be dismayed and taken; lo, they have rejected the word of Yahweh, and what wisdom is in them?  10.  Therefore I will give their wives to others and their fields to conquerors, because from the least to the greatest every one is greedy for unjust gain; from prophet to priest every one deals falsely.  11.  They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace.  12.  Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among the fallen; when I punish them, they shall be overthrown, says Yahweh. 

Matthew 5:27-32 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery.'  But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.  "It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.'  But I say to you that every one who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, makes her an adulteress; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. 

Update on The Red Shoes 2004  The Anglican Communion Network Announces a Day of Prayer on August 5, 2004 
The Anglican Communion Network (ACN) has called for a Day of Prayer and Fasting on Thursday, August 5, 2004, in observance of the first anniversary of the confirmation of V. Gene Robinson, the first active homosexual bishop of the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA).  The following Sunday, August 8, 2004, is set aside as a day to recognize and prayerfully support global missions whose ministries and resources experienced the negative repercussions of General Convention 2003.  
   With the impending anniversary of Gene Robinson’s confirmation to the episcopate, the ACN bishops, at a recent meeting in Fort Worth, Texas, called for a specific date of organized intercessory prayer for the Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church and global witness.  The bishops pointed to the growing turmoil within ECUSA as well as the divisive and chaotic fallout from decisions made at General Convention that have plunged the Anglican Communion into a crisis situation affecting both domestic and ecumenical relations. 
   The flow of support, relationships with host provinces and the integrity of teaching of missionaries around the world has also been damaged by the Episcopal Church’s unilateral decisions to move forward on its social agenda.  Participating in the Great Commission has become more difficult now, versus a year ago, for many missionary movements.  In an effort to rebuild awareness and commitment to global missions, the ACN bishops are encouraging parishes to dedicate their services on August 8 to recognition of missions through special preaching, prayers, and designation of collections to help meet the needs of missionaries.  To read more about the ACN and to see this original press release, please go to





Codex Sinaiticus

New Testament:

from the famed discovery


The earliest, oldest New Testament text has finally been released to the public.  You may read the Codex Sinaiticus online - but only if you know Greek!  To read it inCodex Sinaiticus New Testament H T Anderson English English, you need the only English translation we know.  The H. T. Anderson English Translation of the Codex Sinaiticus, with the three extra early New Testament books and the Sonnini Manuscript of Acts 29 included, and the original absences of certain verses (put in there later by the 'church') is now available only at here.  

THIS IS NOT A CHEAP, SCANNED-IN FACSIMILE. This is a first edition of the text published in easy-to-read Georgia font with plenty of room between verses for your notes.2 points between verses, hard or soft cover.


The Nazarene Acts
of the Apostles

Also known as
The Recognitions of Clement

Ever wonder why PAUL and not PETER received the mission to the lost tribes?  Wasn't Peter the stone upon which the "church" was to be built?  In this new translation of the Nazarene Acts, we follow Kefa (Peter) as he itinerates from Jerusalem and up the Mediterranean coast up to Tripoli, as recorded in the journals of his successor, Clement of Rome (Phi 4:3).  Every message Kefa preached, the company he kept, and the great works of faith the the Almighty accomplished through him are herein recorded.  This 300 page volume has been 'hidden' in the back of an obscure volume of the "Church Fathers" all this time.  Could it be that, in establishing the Gentile 'church' by pushing away from Judaism, this history was purposely hidden?


Fable, Part I  

   Once upon a time there was a holy craftsman who had such favor with the Master Craftsman that he was able to fashion anything out of pinewood and make it work.  Once he heard the voice of the Master saying, “Go marry the woman in the red shoes.”  Though he didn’t love the woman in the red shoes, he followed the Master’s direction, asked her for her hand; and they married.

   He soon found out that his new wife had a passion for shoes.  She had a hundred pairs and was always buying more.  She also had a passion for dancing late into the night.  When she left to dance, she always put on the red shoes.  Since her new husband had to work late to support her extravagance, she put on the red shoes more and more and was gone later and later, night after night.

   The next year a little girl was born; they named her Gracie.  The godly father thought the child would help his wife settle down and, for a while, that was the case.   But soon, mother began to hear the call of the red shoes, and was off again, and before long, almost every night.  Her husband was so regretful; he prayed, “O Master Craftsman, why did you have me to marry this woman.  I must care for little Gracie up all by myself without any help from her.”

   Late one morning, when her mother was still sleeping, Gracie decided to try her mother’s red shoes.  Her feet were way too small, but she was able to walk a few clumsy little steps.  Sensing her little feet, the shoes began to dance of their own accord, and little Gracie was tossed out, bruising her head against the dressing table.  She had become afraid of those red shoes, and was mystified by them. 

   It wasn’t long after Gracie bumped her head against the table that she found – a little sister, whom her parents named Faithie.  Gracie and Faithie grew up together loving each other and G-d, and were beloved in the neighborhood.  But they were also pitied. 

   When Gracie was twelve years old, she began to feel the natural rebelliousness of adolescence.  Once again, after a night of dancing, her mother was in the bed late.  But Gracie had been up for hours studying her catechism in preparation for her confirmation next Sunday.  As she was reading the Lord’s prayer, she noticed her mother’s red shoes in a heap by the door.  Gracie hated those shoes because they had denied her and Faithie a proper mother.  She decided to set them afire, so she checked on her eight-year-old sister, picked up the shoes, and took them outside.  But before she could set the fire, she decided to try the shoes on once again – but this time, she found that they fit!

   But those devilish shoes knew they were condemned to the fire, so they clung to Gracie’s feet.  Try as she might, she couldn’t take them off.  Gracie began to dance, or, I should say, the shoes began to dance with Gracie in them.  They danced her off down the street.  She became very frightened as she pirouetted past dozens of houses.  In her dizziness and fatigue, she called out for help, but nobody knew what to do.   Finally, somebody called for her father at his shop. 

   Before he could respond, Gracie came flying past the shop, crying out in terror, “Daddy!  Daddy!  The red shoes!  Get them off my feet or I’ll die!”  Her father ran out into the street and caught her up into his arms and carried her into the shop.  As I mentioned before, the Master Craftsman bestowed a great deal of favor on this man so that he could fix about anything.  So if he was favored, why did the Master command him to marry the woman with the red shoes, oh why?  Why?  For the very purpose of bringing Gracie and Faithie into the world, of course.

   And now, Gracie was in the shop, lying upon the craftsman’s table, her body finally still, but her feet flailing about, dancing in the air.  The shoes wouldn’t come off, no matter what her father tried.  Meanwhile, at home, mother heard the cries of the captive red shoes in a dream.  She awoke to find the shoes had been taken, and she knew by devilment what had happened.  Without another thought or care, or a word to anyone, mother packed up some of her other shoes and a few clothes and left for the abode of her favorite dance partner.  Faithie was all alone in the house now.  But she knew better than to cry out for her mother in the state she was in. 

   Back at the craftsman’s shop, Gracie’s father, having no wisdom of his own, prayed, asking how his daughter might be set free from the shoes.  And he received an answer.  Like his previous instructions on marriage, these too were drastic, and he knew that if he followed the Master Craftsman this time, it could mean the death of his eldest daughter.  Yet if this was the only way she could be saved, he must go through with it.

   So he put his hand over her eyes and his moaning daughter fell asleep.  Then he took his best saw and, as gently and evenly as possible, he cut off his daughter’s feet, including the shoes.  The shoes, liberated from the sleeping body, danced to the fireplace, cast the severed feet into the fire, and danced off out of the shop and into the street.  But the father wasn’t watching the shoes depart.  Instead, he was hastily but carefully fashioning new feet and shoes for his daughter out of pinewood; he stained the shoes white, then he attached the wooden feet with the white shoes on the stumps of Gracie’s shins.

   When Gracie awoke, she felt no pain, and there was no recovery time.  She was so very relieved to be rid of the evil red shoes, yet it was so awkward balancing and trying to walk in those new wooden feet, for she no longer had any ankles!  “Daddy, how can this be right,” she asked.  But Daddy could only shake his head and say, “The Master Craftsman knows.  Let us pray together.  Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name...” 

   That weekend, amid whispers and giggles, Gracie was confirmed at her church in her white wooden shoes.  After saying her vows, she awkwardly knelt at the altar to receive the body and blood of Jesus for the first time.  As she arose, she noticed right off that her ankles were bending and she could feel her feet again.  Yes, she looked down to find her feet intact inside the most beautiful pair of white patent leather shoes she had ever seen.  Proudly and smiling, she walked back to the confirmation line with the other children, remembering her Daddy’s words, “the Master Craftsman knows.”  Her little sister, Faithie, was there to see the miracle, and she was so proud of her big sister.    (To be continued at the end.)


Was Yahweh Married?

   Did Yahweh have a bride?  We know for certain that he did.  Throughout the Scriptures, we find Yahweh both boasting in and bemoaning his consort, Israel.  Look at

Isaiah 54:5 "For your creator is your husband, whose name is Yahweh Tsaviot; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, who is called the El of the earth.”

(Here is illusion to the Two Yahwehs again, Tsaviot in Heaven and the Holy One on earth.)

6b. For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you.  In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you."

   That “outburst of anger” was on account of when the religious leaders of Israel put on their red shoes and went dancing away into the arms of the tribal gods, taking the unlearned people with them.  Fortunately for Israel and us, the prophecy ends on a hopeful note; that everlasting kindness will return when the bride returns.  It is our prayer and fervent hope that this reunification is happening in our time.


Plain Talk on Immorality

   (Read the Gospel Matthew 5:27-32.) In our gospel reading today, Yahshua is also talking plainly about divorce and that “outburst of anger” referred to by his Father.  The barest bones of his message is that a person under the covenant of Yahweh who divorces causes the divorced spouse to sin.  Then, by remarrying, the divorcer brings an additional person into sin.  A person may divorce with impunity if the partner has broken the law through immorality.  Note again that these conditions apply only to those who are married under the covenant of Yahweh, which includes baptized believers in Yahshua.

   There are a number of questions that come up about this passage (Matthew 5:27-32), especially from new or divorced believers:

   (1) If I’m divorced, shouldn’t I now, as a believer, go back to my first spouse?  The answer to that question is a definite “maybe.”  Maybe you were led astray in the first place and should go back to that pious believer, if he or she will still have you.  On the other hand, sliding back into the hog trough shows no respect for the blood that washed you.  Does that answer your question?

   (2) What gets me out of this marriage?  The answer is “immorality.”  The Greek word is pornea (pornea) from which we get the word “pornography.”  According to the Leviticus 18, pornea includes adultery, fornication, homosexuality, bestiality, and may include the kind of filth piped into homes by an electrical wire.  Today, pornea is not only unlawful for believers, but extremely dangerous, for Yahweh has plagued the immoral of any stripe.  Why?  Because he seeks out a clean people worthy of his name, Yahweh.

   I might add that I also believe that spousal or child abuse are grounds enough for divorce, and I would counsel anybody suffering physical abuse to leave their abuser immediately while they can; not hang in there to kill or be killed.  Although Paul taught wives to submit to their husbands, he also commanded husbands to love their wives (Ephesians 5:22-27).  Does that answer your question?


Yahshua Married?

   Here’s another question: Was Yahshua married?  There are several biographies who say he was, including Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990, his biography is entitled Jesus), in which the marriage at Cana was Jesus’ own.  And, in the eyes of the rabbinical world of the first century, it would have been very unusual if Jesus hadn’t married by the age of thirty (1 Timothy 3:12) unless, of course, he was a Nazarite! 

   But the thought of Jesus being married is somehow blasphemous in the minds of fundamentalist Christians.  I personally don’t know if Jesus was married in those days, but I can tell you of a certainly that Jesus is married NOW.  Do you believe me?  Turn to

Revelation 19:6  "Hallelujah! For Yahweh, the Almighty, reigns. 7. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready."

Of course, the Lamb of Yahweh is Yahshua / Jesus – none other (John 1:29,36).  And to whom is Jesus married?

Revelation 19: 8 “Fine linen, bright and clean, was given to {the bride} to clothe herself; for fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. `Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.'”

As the bride of Yahweh is Israel, the bride of his son is his Kingdom Assembly (“church”), and his bride wears the fine, clean linen of good deeds and chaste behavior.  This is why we have the tradition of virginal brides wearing white yet today.  In Jesus’ day, brides didn’t necessarily wear white.  Who did?  None other than the righteous teachers of Yahweh – no one else.  And who wears the clean, white linen today?  We claim that we do; don’t we sing the song,

In my robe of white I will fly away to that land so fair, meet my Jesus there.
It will be so grand when I enter that land in my robe of white I will fly away. 
-- Geniece Spencer Ingold

You can’t get into the great banquet unless you’re wearing the banqueting clothes (Matthew 22:11-14)!  If we wear the linen robe of righteousness, then we wear the gown of his bride.


The Greater Divorce

   So now let’s look back at Jesus’ words about divorce from a heavenly point of view rather than an earthly.  (We divorced need no longer squirm in our seats today.)  There’s a much higher meaning to Jesus’ words than the mundane that everyone argues about.

   Jesus talks about the groom who sends his wife away – and that it’s forbidden except in the case of immorality  (“fornication,” KJV).  Paul would interpret immorality (or fornication) in a far broader sense than we.  He says:

Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to unchastity, immorality, passion, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry.  (Colossians 3:5)

Of course, immorality as idolatry consists in the abandonment of the Law of Yahweh, and lusting after false gods and the pornographic practices involved in their worship.  In those days, worship included not only committing immoral sexual acts but viewing them; such acts as they did in the name of ba’al might even make our modern, television-drugged culture blush, maybe. 

    Yahweh talks about his bride Israel being involved in such pornographic idolatry in many Bible passages.  Because of this immorality and betrayal,

(Jeremiah 8:7b paraphrase) Yahweh says, “My people no longer even know my commandments.”

Yahweh tells us exactly why his bride ended up in this deplorable state in the next verse. 

8. "The pen of the scribes has made {the Law} into a lie. 9. The teachers are now shamed and dismayed because they ‘got caught’!  10. So I’ll give their wives away to others -- { see how they like that}.”

   These bishops that Yahweh addresses are the shepherds of his people.  They’re caught in their adulteries with none other than HIS bride; but even when a jealous god catches them, Yahweh reveals their attitude about it.  He says,

12. "Were they ashamed because of their abominations? They certainly were not.  They no longer even knew how to blush!”

   My friends, people must be extremely comfortable with their abominable, godless, pornographic behavior if, when caught, they not only fail to acknowledge their guilt, but they have simply forgotten how to blush.  Blushing is the natural reaction to shame and guilt.  Blushing can’t be controlled unless there is no more shame in doing immorality.  Unchastity has become completely normal behavior for these godless bishops of Israel.

   ¿Who these days even cringes at a murder, much less blushes for the shame in having observed it?  And as for those who revel in that which is indecent, their blushes aren’t from shame but from taking pleasure in their own indecencies.  It is the immoral that will be raptured out in the end.

13 Yahweh declares, "I will surely snatch them away.  There will be no grapes on their vine And no figs on their fig; And what I’ve given them will pass away.”

Remember that.  “What I’ve given them will pass away.”


Every One was an Henery

   King Henry the VIII of England (1509 – 1547) demanded a male heir.  His queen, Catherine of Aragon (who was also his brother’s widow), gave him a daughter but no son.  England was Catholic, and if a King wanted a divorce, he had to appeal to the Pope in Rome.  The Pope wouldn’t grant it, so Henry simply took over the Catholic Church in England, called the bishops together, and had them formulate a new national church constitution with Henry the VIII as its head.  While this was happening, Henry took five more wives, had two executed for adultery, but finally got the male heir he needed -- Edward, who became known as the Confessor.

   Anyway, reformation was in the air, and the Bishops of England, some of which were very righteous, saw their opportunity to right the errors of Catholicism.  One important innovation was to make the Bible available to the common people in the English language.  Whereas in the early portion of Henry’s reign, Wickliffe’s English Bible was burned by the Crown, in the end, (70% of) his Bible was being published under government authority.  In the next one hundred years, the Church of England, Henry’s church, became the new bastion of truth – G-d’s Kingdom on Earth – and Britain became Great Britain, blessed by Yahweh with prosperity and wealth from all over the world.  Such is a perfect example of how Yahweh can turn something very bad into something very good.


Meanwhile, Back at the Farm

   Two hundred fifty years later, the Church of England had made great inroads in the colonies of what was to become the United States.  The Church of England (Anglican) had conceived two daughters: the Episcopal Church, faithful to the tenets of the Church of England, and the Methodist Episcopals, an evangelical movement within the Episcopal Church, that had a mind of its own. 

   When it came to the war of American independence, the Episcopals remained affiliated with the Church of England, but those in the Methodist movement considered themselves Americans, and demanded that Wesley consecrate bishops to lead a new American church.  Wesley was in a bind because he was an ordained priest in the Church of England and sided with the English during the American Revolution.  He had no more authority to consecrate a bishop than I do.  Yet he was a practical man, and sent Thomas Coke to Baltimore in 1774, where Coke ordained Francis Asbury a deacon one day, an elder the next, and on Christmas Eve 1774, Coke consecrated Asbury a bishop, the first bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  (And that’s how we got the name “Coke – sbury.”)  As it turned out, Asbury was the only ordained Methodist minister to remain throughout the war – all the Methodist preachers were lay preachers.  This was in keeping with John Wesley’s boast,

"Give me 100 preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergy or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell, and set up the kingdom of Heaven on earth"  (see Dean, The Saddle is My Pulpit).

   In the next 200 years, the youngest daughter of the Church of England, the Methodist Church, would grow to be the largest assembly of believers in America.  Primarily through church splits, it’s in second place in our day with something less than ten million members.  On the other hand, the Episcopal Church, still connected with the Church of England, would decline in just the last thirty years by nearly 50%, now claiming just over two million members and still descending into the vortex of oblivion.  Something drastic would have to be done to bring attention to the elder daughter of the Church of England in the United States!


An(other) Immoral Bishop

   That “something” happened August 6th (2003) when the Episcopal Church put on the red shoes.  In an effort to get more attention for the flailing Church, the first openly homosexual bishop, V. Gene Robinson, was confirmed by a vote of 62 to 45 at their general conference in Minnesota.  Some convention delegates who opposed Robinson on biblical grounds left the meeting in tears when he was elected.  Others went home, prayed or refused to vote on other agenda items in protest.

   Bishop Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, along with a dozen other conservatives, immediately walked to the podium after the vote was taken.  Here’s Duncan’s statement, in solidarity with the others:

"This body willfully confirming the election of a person sexually active outside of holy matrimony has departed from the historic faith and order of the Church of Jesus Christ.  This body has divided itself from millions of Anglican Christians around the world": 

(I might add, seventy-seven million Anglicans around the world, to be exact; mostly in Africa, mostly very conservative.)

   Newly elected Bishop Gene Robinson was once married and blessed with two daughters before abandoning his family to enter into a public homosexual relationship.  For the last thirteen years, Robinson has been active in promoting homosexuality among teenagers, while retaining his priesthood.  And this may be one of the reasons he was elected a Bishop. 

   Listen: Bishop Steve Charleston is the dean of the Episcopal Divinity School, the place where young people learn how to become ministers of the Gospel.  When Fox News’ host Bill O'Reilly him asked Charleston why Gene Robinson was elected despite the biblical injunctions about church leaders being moral persons, Charleston’s name fit him to a tea as he danced around the answers to O’Reilly’s questions.  He threw in the red shoe -- "The real problem we're facing in the church,” he said, “is abuse, {not homosexuality}.”  O’Reilly asked him how electing a promoter of an illicit lifestyle among youth could possibly address the problem of abuse.  Charleston did the red shoe dance around that question {not a quote, only my memory}: “We believe Bishop Robinson will be able to pull the youth back into the church and thus be a great asset to future church dialog and growth.”

   Although the Episcopal and Methodist sisters have been knowingly ordaining homosexuals for years, this development in a sister church is a slide down a moral morass that will leave no niche of the Body of Jesus untouched anywhere.  And although we as a people have many sins with which to deal, and we are wrestling to secure our own salvation, a Bishopric is no place for the immoral sodomite to be flaunting his unrepentant sin before the youth of this nation for the sake of headlines or evangelism.  These Episcopal Bishops are like the scribes of the apostate Levites – they’re so engrossed in pornographic immorality that they’ve “even forgotten how to blush.”  It’s our sincere prayer and hope that the Master Craftsman will be able to put his daughter to sleep and replace the red shoes with white, even if it means cutting of her feet to do it.   It’s also our prayer that the younger sister (i.e. The Methodist Church) leaves those shoes alone!  Amen.


   Fable, Part II: OH!  I forgot to tell you what happened to the dancing mother and the red shoes.  The mother danced off and was never seen again.  She didn’t move away, but she dwelt in dark places where her family would never think to go.  The red shoes that had run out of the craftsman’s shop of their own accord were not seen for several years, but they did show up again; you will not be surprised where.

   After Gracie was confirmed, her feet were restored perfectly.  She could remove her “miracle” white shoes when she wanted and put on any other pair, for she had a passion for new shoes like her mother.   But the white ones would always be her favorite, and she wore them when she was married in the same little Episcopal church that had confirmed her, where the Great Craftsman had miraculously restored her pinewood feet to flesh.

   Faithie, the younger sister, was raised by their father and her godly stepmother, a woman who was faithful to prepare the sacrament each Sunday morning.  Faithie too loved shoes and had inherited many pairs that her mother had left behind.  But she still dreamed about one particular pair she’d seen her mother wear years before: those red dancing shoes.  Faithie was twelve now and preparing for her confirmation by studying the Lord’s prayer.  Suddenly, there was a rap at the door.  Faithie opened the door, but nobody was there.  She shut it to go back to her studies, but there was another rap.  “Strange,” she thought.  This time, when she opened the door, she heard a tap-tap-tapping down by her feet.  Her eyes fell to the pavement and she was surprised, and oh, so pleased, to find exactly that which she’d been dreaming of there on the doorstep – those sparkling red shoes – which had come begging to be put on. 

The Vatican Reverses into a Darker Age

Melanie Phillips -,  October 26th, 2010

One of the most disturbing features of the visceral hostility to Israel displayed by the Anglican Church is its underlying revival of replacement theology, or supersessionism – the ancient Christian calumny that, because of their denial of the divinity of Christ, the Jews have forfeited God’s promises to them which have been transferred to Christians. This pernicious doctrine was the principal motor behind the medieval Christian pogroms against the Jews, and persisted until the Holocaust, after which it went underground until it was revived in recent years and fused with Palestinianism. As a result, some Anglican theologians now claim that God’s promise to the Jews of the land of Israel is forfeit and has passed instead to the Palestinians.

Until now, the Catholic Church seemed to have wanted to bury this doctrine of replacement theology, with the Second Vatican Council showing an awareness of the role of Christianity in the persecution of the Jews and an apparent desire to put an end for ever to the theology that had fuelled it. But now Rome has reversed itself. At a Vatican press conference on Saturday following a communiqué demanding that Israel accept UN resolutions calling for an end to its ‘occupation’ of Arab lands, bishops appeared to jump from the ‘occupation’ to Israel itself and from politics to theology. The Jerusalem Post reports:

‘The Holy Scriptures cannot be used to justify the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of the Palestinians, to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestinian lands,’ Monsignor Cyril Salim Bustros, Greek Melkite archbishop of Our Lady of the Annunciation in Boston, Massachusetts, and president of the ‘Commission for the Message,’ said at Saturday’s Vatican press conference.

‘We Christians cannot speak of the “promised land” as an exclusive right for a privileged Jewish people. This promise was nullified by Christ. There is no longer a chosen people – all men and women of all countries have become the chosen people. Even if the head of the Israeli state is Jewish, the future is based on democracy. The Palestinian refugees will eventually come back and this problem will have to be solved,’ the Lebanese-born Bustros said.

Where to start?

1)    The Bible was not used to justify the return of Jews to Israel. The justification agreed by the world was the unique historic claim to the land of Israel by the Jews, who were the only nation for whom it had ever been their ancestral homeland.

2)    There was no ‘displacement of the Palestinians’ when modern Israel was formed. The Arabs tried to displace the Jews and failed.  Many of the area’s Arabs fled the fighting intending to return as victors. They lost.

3)    It is not clear whether Bustros is claiming merely that Israel’s ‘occupation’ of the disputed territories is unjustifiable, or whether the whole of Israel is ‘occupied’ unjustifiably by the Jews. Taken as a whole, his remarks would seem to be implying the latter. He thus seems to be saying that Israel itself is illegitimate and therefore should no longer exist as a Jewish state because the Jews have no right to their own country.

4)    There is no conflict between Israel as a Jewish state and Israel as a democratic state. This is because the Jews are a nation as well as a religion; within the Jewish nation state, minority Israeli citizens have equal political and civil rights.

5)    The reason Bustros says the Jews have no right to their own country is not political but theological, because he denies that the Jews are the ‘chosen people’; he claims that this designation has been nullified by Christ, thus making all people chosen. This makes very little sense: it does not explain why, since other people are allowed to have their own nation states, the Jews alone should be singled out to be denied their historic national homeland.

But above all, it is a resurrection of the ancient Christian calumny that the Jews are damned for all time as cosmic exiles on account of their refusal to accept the divinity of Christ. It is therefore a profoundly anti-Jewish statement. Is this merely a rogue outburst by a partisan bishop? If so, the Vatican must immediately distance itself from these remarks. If it does not, it would seem that the Vatican has taken a giant step backwards into a darker age. Contributing Editor Melanie Phillips is the author of the powerful and frightening “Londonistan” which can be purchased here and she blogs at The Spectator.

 August 15, 2003