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Judaeo-Christian

October 22nd, 2017

My son Daniel pointed out to me a feature of Trump’s speech to the laughably named Values Voters summit which seems to have slipped by most observers. As summarized by Colbert King in the Washington Post

Telling a revved-up Values Voter audience that he is “stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values,” Trump suggested to the crowd, which already thinks a “war on Christianity” is being waged, that invoking “Merry Christmas” is a way of fighting back.

But “Happy Holidays” is exactly an expression of Judaeo-Christian values, coined to embrace the Jewish Hanukkah as well as Christmas. In this context, King’s suggestion that “Happy Holidays” is secular misses the point. The majority of secular Americans celebrate Christmas (happily mixing Santa Claus, carols, and consumerism). They say “Happy Holidays” as a nod to religious diversity among believers, not because they feel excluded from Christmas.

Insistence on “Merry Christmas”, by contrast, is a repudiation of the claim implicit in “Judaeo-Christian”, namely, that Jews and Christians have essentially the same beliefs and worship the same god, and that the differences between the two are ultimately less important than the commonalities. On any interpretation of Christianity in which all who reject Christ (including, I imagine, most of us here at CT) are damned, “Judaeo-Christian” is a much more pernicious version of political correctness than “Happy Holidays”.

I haven’t got to a proper analysis of this, so I’ll turn it over to commenters.

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  1. DebbieAnne
    October 22nd, 2017 at 14:40 | #1

    I most certainly am no expert, but I will give my two cents worth; most of the ‘values voters’ don’t hear the Judaeo or just ignore it and the right use it to stir up the hate for us godless liberals.

  2. DebbieAnne
    October 22nd, 2017 at 14:48 | #2

    Just read this, thought it might be of interesthttp://www.stonekettle.com/2017/10/the-myth-of-judeo-christian-values.html

  3. October 22nd, 2017 at 15:06 | #3

    Actually, that was the first comment I made. Happy holidays wasn’t to appease Muslims or atheists or anybody; it was to include both Jews and Christians without salespeople having to make a bold guess as to which festive occasion greeting they should give the customer!

  4. Mpower
    October 22nd, 2017 at 16:16 | #4

    @DebbieAnne
    Agree, Debbie. It is just about archaic or should be.
    My sense is that J-C ( Judeo-Christian) is used by conservatives when losing or political fund or vote raising, or wanting to combine old and new testaments. It is sort of all inclusive but meaningless. In the unliklely event of some reader being confronted by a user of the term, ask if it includes Muslim religion – they will mutter of course and even mention Abraham. J-C gets a run in curriculum discussions which wisely avoid the term in practice as it is meant to be a guiding light, even overarching. Users are often WASP. ( white anglo saxon protestant), a last century term and no longer much use where religions are not polling well and Catholicism is declining slower than its off shoots.
    If curriculum had included research on origin and use of the term, it would not have been mentioned in current curriculum. Forget it!

  5. Collin Street
    October 22nd, 2017 at 16:48 | #5

    “These people are all morons” is a pretty good null hypothesis to test against.

  6. Paul Norton
    October 22nd, 2017 at 17:00 | #6

    I remember a tram trip in Melbourne in New Years Eve 1982. I, a secular Marxist at the time, was travelling to Brunswick to deliver a bottle of red wine as a Christmas present to a couple of secular Marxist friends. The tram conductor was the President of the Muslim Students Association at the university where I was an offuce-bearer

  7. Paul Norton
    October 22nd, 2017 at 17:08 | #7

    I remember a tram trip in Melbourne in New Years Eve 1982. I, a secular Marxist at the time, was travelling to Brunswick to deliver a bottle of red wine as a Christmas present to a couple of secular Marxist friends. The tram conductor was the President of the Muslim Students Association at the university where I was an officer bearer of the Student Representative Council, and was a friend of mine. He wanted to know why I was carrying a bottle of wine rather than “something holy” at Christmas time.

    Some years later (in the quite recent past) I recall reading an article on different faith communities’ attitudes towards Christmas that quoted Keysar Trade saying “we love Jesus and Mary” and also quoted someone who was supposedly a Jewish representative being curtly dismissive of Jesus. I think Keysar Trade was speaking for a lot of Muslims, but I think most Jews would be deeply troubled at the statements of the Jew who was quoted in the article.

  8. Lindsay Berge
    October 22nd, 2017 at 20:25 | #8

    Many years ago there used to be a man who would drive around the Melbourne CBD and St Kilda Rd during the festive season in an old blue station wagon with a large Happy Hanukkah! sign, blowing his horn and calling out cheery greetings. I was impressed by the sentiment and admired his initiative.
    More recently I have become converted to the Diwali festival with its winning combination of sweets, fireworks, and good fellowship. At least in its Australian manifestation it lacks the excesses and crass commercialism that ruin Xmas for me.

  9. October 22nd, 2017 at 22:06 | #9

    “On any interpretation of Christianity in which all who reject Christ (including, I imagine, most of us here at CT) are damned..”

    Who actually says this? The early Church Fathers established the doctrine that baptism was essential for salvation, but created loopholes for formally unbaptised martyrs, catechumens and so on: they were deemed baptised by penitence or blood. Did any of these worthies explicitly state that Adam, Abraham, Moses, Elijah and Isaiah were damned because they were unbaptised?

    Or take hardline Calvinists like Jonathan Edwards or the fictional Amos Starkadder. They are usually quite clear that many nominal Christians are damned too, especially those from other confessions (to Amos, even his own congregation). I doubt if you can find any reputed spokesman adhering to the simple “All Christians saved, everybody else damned” line.

    Of course, many if not most non-evangelical Protestants like yours truly adhere is practice to some form of universalism, the hope that all will in the end be saved; according to the Cappadocian Father Gregory of Nyssa, even Satan. IIRC universalism was later condemned as a doctrine, but Gregory was not de-sainted, there being no regular procedure for such a thing.

  10. Bob Nelson
    October 22nd, 2017 at 22:38 | #10

    Christ gave his followers one commandment above all others: “Love one another!”

    No small print, no exceptions. Love one another, regardless of sex, color, yada… NO EXCEPTIONS!

    A great many Americans who style themselves “Christian” obviously do not follow Christ.

  11. October 22nd, 2017 at 23:08 | #11

    Christ gave his followers one commandment above all others: “Love one another!”
    No small print, no exceptions. Love one another, regardless of sex, color, yada… NO EXCEPTIONS!
    A great many Americans who style themselves “Christian” obviously do not follow Christ.

  12. sunshine
    October 23rd, 2017 at 05:26 | #12

    There is a theory that far more people have been killed over differences within religions than by fighting between them. I think for the purpose of that theory Christianity and Judaism would be considered one. It is (reformed Jewish) historian Yuval Noah Harari that has proposed the theory.

  13. I am and will always be Not Trampis
    October 23rd, 2017 at 08:35 | #13

    @James Wimberley
    err Jesus said this.

  14. I am and will always be Not Trampis
    October 23rd, 2017 at 08:44 | #14

    Saying you believe in judeo-christian values is merely a politically correct way of saying biblical values.
    Why do people say this. Possibly because they are frightened of saying biblical. Possibly because they do not wish to point out Christians are in fact jews and modern day jews bear no resemblance to what is taught in the old testament, possibly because they are not biblically literate like most of the population. there are others but it simply boils down they are frightened for whatever reason to say the values emanate from God who gives us these from his word , the bible.

    Quite ironic given what they say about themslves

  15. Svante
    October 23rd, 2017 at 09:34 | #15

    Are Trump’s supposed wordsmiths rhyming an alt history here?

    “Merry Christmas” as a matter of record dates to 1534, to an ironic missive to Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s Vicar General, from condemned bishop John Fisher in the Tower.

    Thomas Cromwell, Vicar General, Secretary of State, Lord Privy Seal…

    Cromwell, as Master of the Rolls responsible for all Jewish ‘converts’ in England went so far as to make his home for some years at the Domus Conversorum in London. Cromwell, at times in the project of making England great crucially relied on his network of Jewish friends and financiers. Cromwell: a great English reformer, nemesis of foreign control, nationalist, freedom fighter, Jewish sympathiser, highly successful businessman. Cromwell: singular drainer of swamps.

    A tremendously influential WASP, was Cromwell for “Judaeo-Christian” values? Well, certainly not Romish and foreign.

  16. Bob Nelson
    October 23rd, 2017 at 13:27 | #16

    I am and will always be Not Trampis :
    Saying you believe in judeo-christian values is merely a politically correct way of saying biblical values.
    Why do people say this. Possibly because they are frightened of saying biblical.

    True. And since one may find anything and it’s opposite in the Bible, “Biblical values” actually means “my values”.

    Usually, “Biblical values” preachers quote the Old Testament, the harsh, angry God of Abraham. But Christ very clearly preached that “love one another” supplanted the OT, so the God of Abraham does not represent “Christian values”. And Judaism has continued to evolve over the centuries, so the God of Abraham no longer represents “Judaic values”, either.

    If we look at the essence of Christianity and Judaism… the values that so many self-proclaimed “Christians” present as “Judeo-Christian” by are neither Jewish nor Christian. They are in fact the unfounded personal values of narrow-minded old White guys…

  17. rog
    October 23rd, 2017 at 14:33 | #17

    In Islam Jesus is regarded as a special prophet and in Judaism he is a false prophet. In the New Testament Christians are advised against false prophets and Judaism disregards the New Testament.

    I need an org chart.

  18. I am and will always be Not Trampis
    October 23rd, 2017 at 15:03 | #18

    @Bob Nelson
    Jesus himself said he came to fulfill the O/T. Also No-one but No-one talks about the perils of hell more than Jesus. Jesus also himself said scripture was unbroken!

    bob you are merely perpetuating an old heresy

    No they are the values found in the bible which is not contradictory.

  19. Jim Rose
    October 23rd, 2017 at 18:48 | #19

    I have never heard a Trump speech. That is what it means to be #nevertrump

    The only time I hear his voices is in the same sense of the Kardassians; intrusive reports in news Et cetera

  20. October 23rd, 2017 at 19:34 | #20

    @I am and will always be Not Trampis
    “Jesus said this”. Citation?

  21. Bob Nelson
    October 23rd, 2017 at 23:13 | #21

    I am and will always be Not Trampis :
    @Bob Nelson
    Jesus himself said he came to fulfill the O/T. Also No-one but No-one talks about the perils of hell more than Jesus. Jesus also himself said scripture was unbroken!
    bob you are merely perpetuating an old heresy
    No they are the values found in the bible which is not contradictory.

    I don’t clobbertext. Considering the time elapsed between the crucifixion and the writing of the gospels, and the authors’ probably not having any direct knowledge of Christ… I don’t think we can take any particular excerpt as a “exact”. That said, the general thrust of Christ’s teaching is VERY clear. His sermons and parables are consistently about love, and His examples consistently demonstrate inclusion. One may debate any particular excerpt, but the overall message is clear.

    I don’t think there can be any serious misunderstanding about His message… unless that misunderstanding is willful. Sadly… willful misinterpretation is precisely what so many “Christians” do. This is a form of false witness in the name of the Lord… a direct violation of one of the Ten Commandments which those same “Old Testament Christians” revere.

    There are a couple places where Jesus is shown as saying that “love one another” supplants the OT, like Matthew 22:36-40… but as I said, direct quotes are highly suspect. Overall, though, His message is crystal clear for all who are open to it.

    As for “the perils of hell”… If there is an afterlife, we have two options: being with God or not being with God. Since “God is Love”, we may say that those two options are “with love” or “not with love”. If we follow Christ’s straight and narrow path of love, we will be be “with love/God”. If we do not follow the path of love, we will be “without love/God”. That latter would indeed be our own personal Hell…

    But! “God is love.” So Hell will only last as long as it takes for the lost sheep to repent… to find love…

  22. I am and will always be Not Trampis
    October 24th, 2017 at 06:38 | #22

    John 10:35,

    Some people might cogitate on the reasons warned against certain scribes and pharisees indeed inscribed them with woes!!

  23. Ernestine Gross
    October 24th, 2017 at 08:34 | #23

    Happy holiday is a phrase I would use when someone tells me they are going on ‘vacation’; a most inappropriate phrase on Christmas eve in a supermarket where staff work at normal pay until late into the evening.

    Apparently, a central European phrase for Jewish and Gentile people, who are aware of the closeness of their respective religious holidays in calendar time and who wish each other a ‘happy holiday’, is (or was, starting from the late 18th century) Weihnukka. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weihnachten

    In Scandinavia the name for Christmas is Jul, nothing to do with July but everything to do with Yule, also known as winter solstice.

    One of the Freemasons’ entry criteria is that the man has to believe in one God only. On this criteria, no distinction is made between Jews, Christians and Muslims. The one person I know who is knowledgeable about Freemasons uses “Merry Christmas” at every pre-Christmas party and on Christmas.

    If the American school system would require children to learn “Merry Christmas” in 10 languages, they might not wish to learn ‘happy holidays’ in 10 languages a few years later. Pick any 10 from the following list:
    https://www.whychristmas.com/customs/languages.shtml

  24. Garry Claridge
    October 24th, 2017 at 09:37 | #24

    I like to use “Season’s Greetings” 🙂

  25. Ernestine Gross
    October 24th, 2017 at 12:31 | #25

    How does Halloween fit into this Judaeo-Christian – Happy Holiday – value story?

    (My earlier post is in moderation possibly because of two links.)

  26. Vegetarian
    October 24th, 2017 at 14:20 | #26

    Let’s not be over-sensitive about Christmas. It has little to do with Christianity and is widely celebrated where Christians are few – in China and India for example.

  27. rog
    October 24th, 2017 at 16:26 | #27

    @Ernestine Gross Don’t forget Santa Claus and his reindeer powered gravity defying sled plus the Easter Bunny.

  28. J-D
    October 25th, 2017 at 11:51 | #28

    @Bob Nelson

    Usually, “Biblical values” preachers quote the Old Testament, the harsh, angry God of Abraham.

    That’s a misleading characterisation. The Old Testament is not a single homogeneous work, it is a heterogeneous compilation. In some parts of it God is represented as angry; in other parts he is represented in a radically different way; in still others he does not appear at all.

  29. Bob Nelson
    October 25th, 2017 at 14:01 | #29

    @J-D

    I agree.

    I didn’t say that “angry God” fills the OT. I said that that God appears in the OT, and that many self-styled “Christians” prefer to cite that harsh, angry God, rather than the loving Christ they profess to follow.

  30. I am and will always be Not Trampis
    October 26th, 2017 at 06:57 | #30

    @Bob Nelson
    yeah Bob Mathew, Mark and John had no direct knowledge of Jesus are you serious? Have you observed what Luke says in his introduction?

    Why did Jesus talk up the perils of hell?

  31. Bob Nelson
    October 26th, 2017 at 09:57 | #31

    @I am and will always be Not Trampis

    If you want to believe in an inerrant Bible… good luck to you. But please don’t expect conversation with rational people.

  32. I am and will always be Not Trampis
    October 27th, 2017 at 07:13 | #32

    Bob , Given your biblical illiteracy you would be hard bound to make a rational decision about it anyway!

  33. Bob Nelson
    October 27th, 2017 at 07:33 | #33
  34. Ikonoclast
    October 27th, 2017 at 09:19 | #34

    Debates with religious believers of all persuasions (faith reasoners) are quite fruitless. They are not open to empirical scientific evidence. Instead they prefer to give credence to assertions given by word of mouth or word of pen. Such claims, in the main, are not backed by any other kind of evidence. WRT to the Judaeo-Christian tradition, the doctrine of revelation relies on a circular proof.

    Sadly, a significant number of (self-claimed) religious people use religion to bolster their own arrogance and sense of power. They and only they are right. From this position of arrogance and blind certainty they seek to dominate, exploit and dictate to others. Humble, thoughtful and tolerant religious people also do exist. They are far the preferable kind and often do do good works (measured by N.T. or humanist standards).

  35. Bob Nelson
    October 27th, 2017 at 09:56 | #35

    Ikonoclast :
    Debates with religious believers of all persuasions (faith reasoners) are quite fruitless. They are not open to empirical scientific evidence. …

    True… but very misleading. Your “debate” will be “fruitless” if you hope to persuade with physical evidence. That isn’t how faith>/strong> works. Faith is not rational, so it is pointless to appeal to rationality to validate or invalidate it.

    A believer will equally truly state that “Debates with rationalists are quite fruitless. They are not open to inspiration.”

    “Faith” and “reason” are two completely distinct modes of thought, covering two completely separate domains. Faith is internal and inspired. It concerns the spiritual world. Reason is external and evidential. It concerns the physical world.

    Attempting to apply faith to the physical world leads to silliness (e.g. “creationism”), and attempting to constrain faith with physical evidence leads to equally silly positions like “I cannot prove that God does not exist, but I have faith that that is the case!”

    When we understand that a Venn diagram of the two modes of thinking shows two separate circles with no overlap at all… we may begin a real conversation!

    Sadly, a significant number of (self-claimed) religious people use religion to bolster their own arrogance and sense of power. They and only they are right. From this position of arrogance and blind certainty they seek to dominate, exploit and dictate to others. Humble, thoughtful and tolerant religious people also do exist. They are far the preferable kind and often do do good works (measured by N.T. or humanist standards).

    What you say is true… and symmetrically balanced by so many smug self-styled rationalists who dismiss all religious arguments without even listening to them.

    Such people are unbearably arrogant. Many of the finest minds in human history have dedicated themselves to thinking about God… only to be dismissed out of hand by self-proclaimed geniuses on the Internet!

    If you speak Chinese and I speak English, we must make an effort to understand each other. If you speak “rationalism” and I speak “faith”… we need an even greater effort!

  36. I am and will always be Not Trampis
    October 27th, 2017 at 12:45 | #36

    Mr Nelson made a number of statements. Each of them easily refuted. He could have only made them if he had not read the bible. He also made an allusion to a very old fashioned heresy.

    It was never a debate because of that. A shame. It is impossible to have a debate with someone who simply does not know about the topic.

    Quite trumpian actually

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