Monday, February 2, 2009

A Lesson in Tolerance

One of my majors in college was comparative religion; my emphasis was on new age movements and Christian history. As part of the graduation requirement, I had to take a class in Jewish history.

The class was taught by a man called Rabbi Newton; it was his first class. He was a retired rabbi, and thus the title of his name. He also was not related to Sir Isaac Newton, which he felt obliged to point out the first day of class.

He taught the course in such a way that it was clear he had a grudge against evangelicals, which was fine by me, because I sort of did to (note to reader: I am evangelical, but that doesn’t mean I like other evangelicals (or myself for that matter)).

All was well until he started to make comments about Christians in general—comments like the hatred Christians subconsciously had towards Jews, which is evident in the New Testament, is what led to the Holocaust (and to think, all along, we had it pinned on some nut head German with a bad mustache!). His theory was that any person who believed the New Testament was divinely inspired by God, hated Jews by their very nature.

I questioned him on his theory, and thus became known to him as “one of those people”—his term for evangelicals.

The first quiz was oddly biased to me. It contained a question that said, “Why are the Jews God’s Chosen People?” Instead of answering the question as he intended, I answered the question, but went further by explaining why I did not believe that the Jews were God’s Chosen People; my answer wasn’t Christian—most Christians, if they understand the concept of Chosen People, would probably agree that they were the Chosen People; my answer was more about a promised New Covenant with all people, and how thus all people were chosen if they chose to accept it.

I got a “F” on the test. I also got a “See me” scribbled underneath the grade.

After class, the professor took me to his office, closed the door, and explained, “I know what you are trying to do, and you can’t do it.”

I looked at him confused and waited for him to continue.

“You can’t convert me—I’m unconvertible.”

I nodded, pulled out my quiz, and asked, “What’s wrong with my answer?”

“You should have stopped while you were ahead. I didn’t ask for opinions.”

“So I failed because I said what I believed?”

“That’s right.” He reclined in his chair and proudly said, “You can’t convert me.”

The Rabbi felt that Christian’s lack of what he considered tolerance was their biggest flaw. It was odd, but he was so blinded by what he thought all Christians believed that he couldn’t see his own weakness in the area of tolerance.

I got a “C” in the class when it was over, and, no, I did not covert the Rabbi.

1 comment:

  1. It's sad how some people are guilty of the same crimes they hate.