Pastor's Blog

H. R. 6090 and the Obfuscation of the Truth

HR 6090

In a day and age where history books are being rewritten on a mass scale, and where all too many advocate that your truth, my truth, it’s anybody's truth, it is unsurprising that through new legislation there is a direct attack on the Bible. While H. R. 6090, The Antisemitism Awareness Act, is not a law at present, it has passed in the House without much opposition (320 votes to 91) and will almost certainly pass through the Senate and to President Biden to become a new law. 

While there’s much to say about this legislation from it not defining what antisemitism is in a law that pertains to antisemitism, to its overriding of the constitution itself concerning the freedom of speech (even though section 6b states otherwise), to its outsourcing of control to a non-governmental agency, in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) which is a conglomeration of members of foreign nations… there’s a lot that can be talked about. But, the greatest issue and concern of them all, is the assault that this bill appears to make upon the Scriptures. 

But just before we get there, this law, if passed, will apply to federally funded organizations. The education system is highlighted in the bill. It will not apply to local churches since they are not funded by the government. But, if this bill passes, which looks to undermine  and even alter the truth, Christians will almost certainly be affected. 

How so? First and foremost, the IHRA defines antisemitism as follows: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” There’s a lot there, so to help us understand what is meant by the words that are used, the IHRA provides examples of antisemitism. In their examples, they list: “Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.” 

There are two ways of interpreting this statement from the IHRA which have been spoken about as of late. The first, is that it is antisemitic to speak about what happened in the past to Jesus because of the effect that it bears on the present in people being offended. That is the way I have understood the statement. The second, is that it is antisemitic to charge people who are Jewish today, with the murder of Jesus in the past. The reality that there has been debate as to the interpretation of this example at least reveals that the example is unclear. 

In the second and more narrow sense of understanding the wording, it is certainly wrong to charge the sons with the sins of their fathers––if they are not guilty of those sins (cf. Ezek 18:19–23). In the broader sense of understanding, it is certainly wrong to change or avoid history in order to tickle ears. 

According to the IHRA, claiming that the Jewish people killed Jesus is antisemitism––it is hatred toward Jewish people. So, if passed, federally funded institutions could be prohibited from reading or referencing certain sections of Scripture. Religion classes could be altered, and history, yet again, could be disguised and conveniently reconfigured to meet the desired ends. H. R. 6090 might be another example of what happens when people's feelings are prioritized over truth. 

Now, I do recognize as much as the next person that as of late there have been evils committed against the Jewish people. I understand that. But, the solution simply cannot be to gloss over history. I also realize the Romans nailed Jesus to the cross, but who was held responsible? In one sense, both, but there’s a group of people who are repeatedly highlighted in the Bible. 

In Acts 2:22–23, Peter boldly preaches outside of the temple at Pentecost,

“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God did through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of lawless men and put Him to death.”

Who was accountable for Jesus’ death? In Peter’s mind, the people of Israel were accountable. 

After Peter and John were arrested, in Acts 4:8–10 we read,

“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are being examined today for a good deed done to a sick man, as to how this man has been saved from his sickness, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health.”

Again, Peter charged the Jewish religious leaders with being responsible for Jesus’ death. Was Peter being antisemitic or was he telling the truth? 

Peter goes on in the next verse to quote from the Old Testament in appealing to Ps 118:22. “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.” It was prophesied hundreds of years earlier that the builders, the religious leaders of Israel, would reject the Messiah. That was expected. Jesus even used the same verse in a parable before He was crucified to reveal what the religious leaders would do to Him (cf. Luke 20:17).

Who was it that shouted out “Release for us Barabbas, we have no king but Caesar, and away with Him… away with Him… crucify Him?” It was a large group of Jewish people. That truth cannot be missed. H. R. 6090, by its definition and examples of antisemitism per section 4, coming from the IHRA, doesn’t only give the impression of condemning what the New Testament teaches, but it condemns any reference to such truth at present as "classic antisemitism." The truth, according to the IHRA is antisemitic. 

Based on the IHRA's wording, Jesus is antisemitic. After all, on top of what was referenced above, Jesus had no problem speaking against the Jewish people when they were in abject rebellion against the Father’s will. He told unbelieving Jewish people in the temple in John 8 that Abraham isn’t actually their father, but instead, that the devil is. He called the Jewish religious leaders hypocrites, fools, blind men, and a brood of vipers publicly in Matt 23. Jesus was critical of the Jewish people when they were in sin. He exposed where the people were so that they would see their plight––their sin against a holy God.

To be clear, God has a plan for the Jewish people. God saves and delivers Jewish people today from the power of darkness in revealing the risen Christ to them––as He does with people from all different backgrounds. On top of that, God will save a remnant of Jewish people in the future at the Lord Jesus’ return, and it will be glorious. We rejoice in those realities. But, those truths in no way invalidate or change what the Bible teaches about who Jesus is and what the Jewish people did to Him. 

At which point, you might say, “This is just one law, you’re getting a bit ahead of yourself.” That might be so. “It only applies to federally funded institutions.” I recognize that. “It hasn’t even passed yet!” That’s completely true. But, if this bill sailed through the House made up of Republicans and Democrats, it seems likely that it’s a foreshadowing of future attacks that will come––which may not be restricted only to certain locations and institutions. 

Even still, for us as Christians, nothing changes. The world might change in its approach to us, but our call remains the same. We follow our Savior who said in John 18:37, “... For this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.” We bear the same precious mantle, to speak in line with reality amid a world that wants to distort reality. Most in our nation call murdering children in the womb a choice. To many, gender is a social construction wherein you can defy how God made you whenever it seems right in your own eyes. And we find ourselves in a place where our government may impose a law wherein it seems that it can no longer be said that the unbelieving Jewish people killed the Messiah. Why? Simply because saying the truth is considered discriminatory and offensive. 

In saying all of this, if God does allow this bill to pass, or others like it in the future, we can be confident that He has a reason for it. It might just be a test for Christians at present in these environments, to be tested even as Israel was in the days of old. In Deut 8:1–2 the Lord says,

“The entire commandment that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which Yahweh swore to give to your fathers. And you shall remember all the way which Yahweh your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”

The wilderness may be coming… but remember, God leads His people in the wilderness. As God led Israel of old, He will lead His church at present, of which many saints are scattered throughout federally funded institutions. 

For all of us, as a broader reminder, we must continue to be faithful to the Lord and not bow our knees to the god of nation or state, if they call us to forsake what is written––if they call us to depart from the truth. Instead of toeing the line, we must be in line with our Savior in John 7:7 who in response to the world’s sin bore, “... witness about it, that its deeds are evil.”

Pray to the Lord that His will will be done in this matter. Pray for our elected representatives in the same way (cf. 1 Tim 2:1–4). God can harden rulers like Pharoah, but He does turn the king’s heart wherever He pleases, and sometimes that looks like a massive change as with the king of Nineveh (cf. Ex 7:3; Prov 21:1; Jonah 3:6–10). Our God is in the heavens, He does whatever He pleases (cf. Ps 115:3). We can rest comfortably knowing that regardless of the outcome, the Lord of all the earth will do right (cf. Gen 18:25).

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