Tradition and Antisemitism

Any Ressourcement Divorced from Theological Reflection is Simply Reaction

Amidst his twilight years, suffering from gout and consumed by the fear that his Reformation had failed, Martin Luther penned the following words:

What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? . . . First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians. . . . 1

 Even today, standing under the shadow of the Second World War, Luther’s 1543 treatise On the Jews and Their Lies remains one of the most jarring examples of Christian anti-Judaism. On and on Luther rails, urging that “their houses also be razed and destroyed,” that “safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews,” and that “all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them.”2

There is no need to adopt William Shirer’s simplistic genealogy—an authoritarian through-line running straight from Luther to Hitler3—to feel the weight of this history. Lutherans have no magisterium, but the words of any tradition’s central figure carry real force. They are a legacy that every generation of Lutherans must reckon with, in one way or another. And that is no less true of Luther’s writings against the Jewish people than of his writings on justification.

Luther, of course, was not alone in his harsh denunciations of the Jews. Both before and after his notorious tract—which the propagandists of Hitler’s Reich gleefully leveraged—plenty of other Christian thinkers condemned the Jewish people in near-apoplectic terms. St. John Chrysostom’s withering Adversus Judaeos sermons are among the best-known examples.4 While this anti-Judaism was not wholly coterminous with contemporary antisemitism—its emphasis was primarily religious, with “race” emerging as a much later social construct—in their identification of “Jewishness” as an essentially parasitic element within Christian civilization, they share a common core.

In light of all this history, some self-professed advocates for Christian ressourcement—the project of recovering dimensions of Christian thought and tradition previously lost to view—have recently started teasing a fateful question: why not recover the anti-Judaism too?

From the perspective of Christianity’s critics—keen to ascribe all manner of historical evils to the faith—that question is familiar enough. There are plenty of people willing to condemn “tradition” as just a chronicle of blood, oppression, and excuses for the same. But this time, the question is being posed from inside the Christian fold: What if the true faith was always harder, starker, and more brutal than anything we’ve been taught? What if all the old “prejudices” were rational after all?

In some corners of the internet, this reassessment is proceeding apace. Recently excommunicated Missouri Synod Lutheran Corey Mahler has built a small but notable brand out of opining that “[t]he Christian position on the Jews is this: They are enemies of all mankind, displease God, and murdered Christ.” (Though a marginal figure outside Twitter, Mahler’s online activities have proven prominent enough to attract the attention of Rolling Stone magazine.) Andrew Torba, coauthor of the popular tract Christian Nationalism: A Biblical Guide for Taking Dominion and Discipling Nations, has repeatedly drawn attention to the involvement of Jewish people in American politics, suggesting that they are acting as a collective bloc to oppose conservative policy goals. And it is very easy to locate similar examples from self-professedly “Christian” pseudonymous accounts, many of which argue that any political order that takes Christian commitments seriously must necessarily exclude the Jewish people. The list of examples could be infinite.

 It would seem, in other words, that anti-Judaism has become one of those themes being “recovered” from the premodern Christian past. And this means that the problem of antisemitism is entwined with the question of tradition in a profoundly knotty way. Refusing to confront the problem is no answer; such evasion merely drives underground those willing to raise it.

 Any reckoning with the long history of Christian anti-Judaism, and what that means for the normative force of Christian tradition today, must be a direct and serious one.

Spend enough time reading today’s prominent “traditionalist” critics of modernity, and one will inevitably encounter some version of the following claim: you only hold XYZ value because of the postwar consensus.5 Here, “XYZ value” often can be something like moral universalism, free-market capitalism, opposition to authoritarianism, opposition to discrimination on the basis of racial categories, or opposition to antisemitism—it depends on who is pressing the point.

Rusty Reno outlined something like this general argument—though his point is descriptive and historical rather than normative—in his 2019 book Return of the Strong Gods: Nationalism, Populism, and the Future of the West. As Reno argues the point, the events of World War II—in which the Western powers defeated a coalition rooted in German Nazism, Italian fascism, and Japanese ultranationalism—engendered a lasting skepticism of political movements mobilizing around religion, nationality, and ethnicity.6 Metaphysics, in the classical sense, was driven out of political life in favor of a “thin” liberalism focused on coexistence amid difference.7

The result of this is that for nearly a century, the political Overton window has been restricted to left, classical liberal, and left-liberal viewpoints. This has significantly limited the range of intellectual work in the Western academy. Indeed, there is a veritable “shadow canon” of right-wing social thought—Heidegger, Guénon, Spengler, Jünger, Mishima, and many others—that is almost entirely absent from mainstream Western discourse. But now, beginning with the upset elections of 2016 in the U.S. and U.K., a long-suppressed intellectual tide is starting to flow back in. Politics—in the deeper, existential sense beyond the partisan horserace—has returned.

In its most radical form, this is a sort of decline narrative for political theology, every bit as bold as that Catholic historiography that treats the Reformation as an atom bomb for medieval civilization. But whether 1945 is the breaking point or not, there is certainly substantial truth to the general claim. It is very difficult to read the great bulk of classical Western political philosophy—from Plato to Aquinas to Melanchthon to Hooker to Adams—and not grasp that substantial intellectual ruptures have occurred since their time. Up until quite recently, Western theorists grasped that legal and moral questions are interwoven in the deepest sense, and that no regime can be consistently agnostic on the nature of its final end.8 This is “metaphysics” indeed.

How one responds to this realization, though, is key. One can choose to see this “thinning” of political thought as a tragic forgetting, a logical if wrongheaded reaction to a pair of devastating world wars. Or, one can see it as a conspiracy—in which “conservative” political thought since 1945 has been a kind of extended disinformation operation, designed to mislead the unwary into a faulty understanding of their own tradition. In the latter case, a degree of conscious malice is presumed.

That second path is a fateful one. Having fully internalized Shakespeare’s old maxim—“trust not him that hath once broken faith”9—a subset of today’s reactionaries have carried their logic to its apparent end. In its bluntest expression, their argument looks something like this: “racism” and “antisemitism” weren’t thought of as sins prior to 1945, so if “Christian tradition” really is to be taken seriously, it makes little sense to pathologize them now. In other words: rejecting liberalism means going all the way.

But what is “tradition”? And what does it mean to “recover” it? In countless conversations involving the reclamation of classical and Christian political theology, these questions—or better, these meta-questions—go curiously unaddressed.

There are strategic reasons for that omission. After all, looking too closely at the subject risks calling into question the speaker’s ability to invoke the stability of tradition against a modern world characterized by what Zygmunt Bauman terms “liquid modernity.”10 No enduring tradition, after all, is ever quite fixed. As Alasdair MacIntyre puts it, “a living tradition . . . is a historically extended, socially embodied argument, and an argument precisely in part about the goods which constitute that tradition.”11 This carries with it an unsettling implication: “[t]raditions, when vital, embody continuities of conflict. Indeed when a tradition becomes Burkean”—that is, ossified and static— “it is always dead or dying.”12

Traditions, that is to say, develop. Though the motif of doctrinal development is most commonly associated with Roman Catholic thought—especially, in recent decades, the work of St. John Henry Newman—every branch of Christianity is implicated by it.

Take, as just one example, the doctrine of God. The early church father Tertullian, though appreciated today as a critic of Gnosticism and patripassianism, urged a theological metaphysics ascribing materiality to God the Father.13 Assuredly, despite his famous denunciation of philosophical theology—“What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?”—Tertullian was more influenced by Stoic cosmology than he knew.

There is a vast gulf between Tertullian’s concept of God and St. Thomas Aquinas’s much later account of ipsum esse per se subsistens, subsistent Being itself.14 And yet it is Aquinas, not Tertullian, who is consistently treated as authoritative on the subject, by even the most committed proponents of ressourcement. Tertullian’s strain of the tradition on this question was repudiated, in favor of a decidedly more Neoplatonic orientation.

The central point is this: appeals to antiquity alone cannot settle a theological question. All “retrieval” must be an act of critical retrieval, entailing theological judgments about whether and how a particular tenet of belief has developed consistently with the divine reality to which it refers. And where normative concerns are in play—what Christians should believe, over against alternatives—the picture grows still more complex.

In the course of such theological retrieval, a central problem lies in disentangling theological necessity from historical contingency. In other words, did a particular doctrinal development occur because its truth was “latent” in prior theological commitments, or because of extraneous factors influencing the theologian? In theologian Anne Carpenter’s elegant formulation: “Christians sin. Embedded in our divine fidelity is a constant and quite human infidelity. What, then, must Christian tradition also be if we know this about it?”15

Once again, every branch of the Christian tree confronts this issue in some fashion. For example, Protestants ascribe the inflated claims of Unam sanctam, which declared totalizing papal jurisdiction over everyone everywhere,16 to clerical corruption and power-seeking by the Roman See. For their part, Catholics have their own theological criteria by which the Reformers were declared heretical. And yet just as Unam sanctam is consistent with a particular Catholic theology of political order, so too the Reformation is consistent with a particular hermeneutic of Scripture. Formal continuities with a preceding Christian tradition are present in both cases, but traditionalist Catholics and Protestants Christians reach different conclusions about their legitimacy as doctrinal developments. Both traditionalist Catholics and Protestants see the other’s claims as representing illicitly human interpolations into the Spirit-guided stream of Christian tradition.

It isn’t hard to see why this way of thinking can be destabilizing: it tends to suggest that there is no stable core of Christianity in which one can trust. Why try to find a unifying “center” at all, rather than just acknowledging the weirdness of history? Scholars in religious studies departments often use the word “Christianities” rather than “Christianity” in speaking of the faith, implying precisely this lack of any real unity.

In his 2022 study of the topic, Tradition and Apocalypse, Eastern Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart confronts this issue, considering, in turn, both St. John Henry Newman’s famous account of doctrinal development and Maurice Blondel’s parallel project. Despite their best efforts, Hart concludes, neither Newman nor Blondel quite escapes what Carpenter calls “a two-edged knife of a question that remains for the most part unasked, or at least, unasked in a way that has managed to soak the fabric of our collective doing: What is history, and what does that make tradition?”17 Contingent historical processes and the outworking of doctrinal logic seem to collapse into one another.18

Hart ultimately argues that theologians have gotten the issue backward: Christian tradition finds its stable shore not in its past, but in its future—the eschatological consummation of all things, in which Christ will be all in all.19 It is just such an eschatological perspective that Hart sees in the rejection of Arianism—a very old theological position—at the Council of Nicaea, in favor of the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father.20 And so too, it is this apocalyptic expectation that ought to norm Christian theology in the future.

Here is the problem with that claim: either the received Christian tradition shapes the contours of this expectation, or it doesn’t.21 If the former course is taken, the problem of history and tradition recurs: while Hart takes Christian theological metaphysics essentially for granted, this world picture has its historical roots in the Axial Age. If the latter path is chosen, then the content of the Christian apocalyptic expectation is essentially up for grabs. On what basis could one critique a post-Christian “secularization story” of God kenotically emptying Himself into the world?

This impasse will be revisited later. For present purposes, suffice it to say that those who would mine Christian history for normative antisemitism are harboring a fundamentally naïve view of their tradition. If some form of doctrinal development is intrinsic to the Christian tradition as such—which is inarguable—then it is entirely valid to claim that the anti-Judaism that has colored so much of Christian history was wrong in principle from the start. Just like Tertullian’s Stoic-flavored metaphysics, this antisemitic current can be rejected.

But to be truly Christian, of course, this must be an argument on the basis of principles internal to Christian theology; it is no good to appeal abstractly to the historical process as a moral lodestar. “History” is not the final court of appeal. The claim must be that, in the course of historically contingent events, a perennially valid truth of God was disclosed. Else, everything in theology is up for retooling according to the needs of the moment.

In short, what is required to rebut today’s ressourcement-minded antisemitism is an argument that the horrors of the Holocaust properly catalyzed legitimate theological development regarding the Jewish-Christian relationship. What might such an argument be?

From the distance of the year 2023, it is tempting to think of Nazi Germany as uniquely and irrationally evil, completely outside the community of all “right-thinking” people. That is wishful thinking. It is a cheap attempt to deny the possibility that the Nazi regime’s blood-minded theology might operate according to a discernible inner logic, one which thousands of people found seductive.

Throughout the pages of Mein Kampf, the young Hitler sketches his theological world-picture in broad strokes. “Man must not fall into the error of thinking that he was ever meant to become lord and master of Nature,” Hitler opines, ascribing this “illusion” to “[a] lopsided education.”22 Quite the opposite: “[A] fundamental law of necessity reigns throughout the whole realm of Nature and [man’s] existence is subject to the law of eternal struggle and strife.”23

For Hitler, the individual human being is no more than “a constituent particle in that order out of which the whole universe is shaped and formed.”24 Man is no image-bearer of God—Hitler pooh-poohs those who would treat the human person as the “dear little ape of an all-mighty father.” 25 Reality, Hitler submits, is far crueler than that. In truth, “strength and power are entitled to take the lead.”26

What’s the metaphysical cash value of all this? In the end, this worldview amounts to a divinization of Nature qua Nature—red in tooth and claw, and perpetually purging the unfit. The human beings of the Aryan race must submit to Nature’s iron logic: they were, after all, one Volk.

According to this ideology, the Jewish people—as outsiders to the Volk, never fully integrated into the populace—could only be viewed as spiritual and biological contaminants.27 They were obstructions to the organic unity of the state, impediments to its evolutionary growth who would not be assimilated into this great world-process. Hence, the uniquely “biopolitical” violence of the Third Reich—when longstanding anti-Judaism most famously emerged as modern, racialized antisemitism.28 As the Hitlerist culture critic Francis Parker Yockey, writing in the years following World War II, contended, “[i]n this century . . . the Jew appears clearly in his own total unity, a complete inner stranger to the soul of the West. . . . Anti-Semitism is precisely analogous in Culture pathology to the formation of anti-bodies in the bloodstream in human pathology. In both cases, the organism is resisting the alien life.”29

From the start, this worldview was radically opposed to the transcendental monotheism bequeathed by the Jewish-Christian tradition. Indeed, Ernst Nolte defines “fascism” in the very deepest sense as “resistance to transcendence”30—that is, a horror of human beings’ “‘freedom toward the infinite.’”31 Such freedom, Nolte grasps, necessarily grounds the possibility of any critique of the “natural”—or biopolitical—status quo. “Only a creature that with the aid of the philosophical pro­cess manages to reach out beyond that which exists can per­ceive something ‘better’ and hence exert a critique on that which is.”32

The possibility of this critique, Nolte recognizes—an eschatological critique, grounded as it is in humans’ super-natural end—necessarily “threatens to destroy the famil­iar and the beloved.”33 And indeed, that was exactly the anti-Jewish complaint leveled by traditionalist philosopher Julius Evola. Evola denounced the Jewish people as embodying “a human type, who in order to uphold values that he cannot realize and that thus appear to him abstract and utopian, eventually feels dissatisfied and frustrated before any existing positive order and any form of authority . . . . so as to be a constant source of disorder and of revolution.”34 In short, Evola argues, to the extent that the Jewish people acknowledge a final moral authority beyond the temporal or natural, they are inherently a subversive political force.

What does all this amount to, religiously speaking? In the end, the Nazi/Hitlerite argument “coheres” (on its own terms) because its theology—and it is indeed a theology—proceeds from a very different conception of God than that defended by the orthodox Jewish-Christian tradition. The point is elaborated by post-Nazi mystic Savitri Devi Mukherji, whose 1958 treatise The Lightning and the Sun is perhaps the most metaphysically robust apologetic for Nazi theology ever penned:

[T]he orthodox National Socialist, or he who sincerely wished to open his heart to the influence of National Socialist orthodoxy, could be no “atheist.” . . . He was—and is—to be a “believer in God”; not in the personal, transcendent and all-too-human “God” of the Christians (and of many “Theists”); not in a “God” made in the image of any man or men—least of all in the image of the Jews—but in that immanent Creative Force which manifests Itself in all Life’s masterpieces at all levels of its endless effort; in perfect man and in every perfect specimen of non-human creation; in other words, he was to be a believer in the reintegration of man into the cosmic Scheme, according to the original divine pattern of the latter, which implies the natural racial hierarchy of human beings and their individual inequality, not their indiscriminate “dignity” and “equal rights.”35

The Nazi hatred of “Jewishness” was not purely reducible to crude racial stereotypes, or financial envy, or any of the other second-order considerations often marshaled in such debates. In the most fundamental sense, what the Third Reich offered its citizens was a genuinely rival spirituality: a pantheism of agonistic Nature, a modern repetition of the paganism that both the Jewish and Christian faiths displaced.36 History’s paradoxes are haunting indeed.

This distinctly post-Christian theology went on to find an institutional expression in the “German Christian” (Deutsch Christen) movement, which defined itself in explicitly anti-Jewish terms. In 1934, Bishop of the Reich Ludwig Müller insisted that “Christianity did not grow out of Judaism but developed in opposition to Judaism. When we speak of Christianity and Judaism today, the two in their most fundamental essence stand in glaring contrast to one another. There is no bond between them, rather the sharpest opposition.”37 In the churches of German Christianity, Jewishness-as-ethnicity and Jewishness-as-faith were collapsed into one undifferentiated term, against which this new religion defined itself.38

Though the German Christians sought to retain Christian externals while renovating the theological backdrop, this synthesis was essentially unstable, as historian Doris Bergen explains:

In responding to the neopagans, German Christians confronted the shaky logic of their own position. If they conceded that race was subject to the limits of biblical teachings, they left themselves open to charges of Jewish-Christian complicity. If they posited race as the highest good, they sacrificed any meaningful distinction between themselves and anti-Christian elements. As a result, they followed a mixed strategy, sometimes emphasizing their common ground with the neopagans on the issue of race, at other times protesting their differences.39

One cannot help finding Bergen’s analysis a rather valuable heuristic for interpreting contemporary Twitter battles on the “dissident right.”

Thus far, the historical case. The normative implications remain to be traced. As Lutheran theologian Paul Hinlicky would phrase the question: what must Christian theology learn from the rise of Nazism?40 No doubt a great deal. But here is one answer.

It is integral to Christian self-understanding that Christ perfectly, and once-for-all, fulfilled the Jewish law and will come again to judge the world. That affirmation necessarily introduces a historical “momentum” into Christian theology—a sense that God’s work in the world occurs in historical time and will ultimately occur again, and that a given work of God can displace or fulfill another. Hence, Christian theologians will always face a temptation to conflate contingent historical developments with the will of God. Christian history is replete with examples—with the case of “German Christianity” being a particularly grotesque one.

The case of the Deutsch Christen reveals that, as a living tradition enmeshed in history, Christian doctrine is always at risk of becoming “other than itself.” It is always at risk of co-optation by political forces seeking to bend it to evil ends. In the case of German Christianity, that co-optation took the form of a new pantheism, a total abandonment of the core of transcendental theism that so ruptured the ancient world and shredded the old web of city and kinship loyalties.41

What the Christian tradition must understand, after the Third Reich, is that continuing Judaism is that conscience apart from which Christian theology is perennially tempted by history. The continuing Jewish people are a perpetual witness to the One God who called Abraham out of Ur, and who covenanted with his chosen people at Sinai—the One God who stands before and beyond the Baals and Asherah poles of nature-theology, and of whom no graven images may be made. There can be no supersession of the condition of the possibility of true theology. And Christian theology must not forget this.42

This conclusion carries political implications: a “Christian society” that can find no place for continuing Judaism will, sooner or later, cease to be one. No one must insist, in the name of social cohesion or some other factor, that the Jewish people have no legitimate place in a Christian polity. That is a road to violence and theological ruin.

This conclusion also offers an answer of sorts to Hart’s problem of tradition. Surely the apocalyptic expectation of the creation’s final end must shape Christian theology—but so too must the recognition of the transcendence of the God who subsists “before all worlds.” As such, Christian tradition is anchored “at both ends”: by the Jewish inheritance it always carries with it, and by the Christological promise of things yet to be.

This Christian case against anti-Judaism is not grounded in a “postwar consensus” that rules metaphysics out of bounds. Its logic is entirely internal to the Christian tradition, informed as that tradition is by its history. And it is entirely compatible with a rigorous critique of liberalism, of whatever flavor: to the extent that defenders of classical liberalism or left-liberalism insist on cordoning off the public square from theological claims, they go astray.

But any genuinely postliberal Christian commonwealth must do more than repristinate the past, especially just those elements of the past that happen to scandalize current sensibilities. A postliberal future must confront directly the problems of tradition and history. Any ressourcement divorced from theological reflection is simply reaction—and nowhere is this clearer than in the revival of old anti-Jewish polemics. Those polemics culminate in a decidedly anti-Christian end.

To insist on a transcendent God is not to deny His living and active reality in the world. But it is to insist that any theology that is Christian—which affirms that the God encountered in Christ is the same God who spoke from Sinai—find its anchor beyond blind Nature. In the words of Jewish theologian Martin Buber: “He who refuses to limit God to the transcendent has a fuller conception of Him than he who does so limit Him. But he who confines God within the immanent means something other than Him.”43

That way is not the future. It is the dark past that the Lord of heaven and earth overthrew.

Image Credit: Unsplash

Show 43 footnotes
  1. Martin Luther, “On the Jews and Their Lies,” trans. Martin H. Bertram, in Luther’s Works, Vol. 47, eds. Jaroslav Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1971), 268.
  2. Luther, “On the Jews and Their Lies,” 269–70.
  3. See William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1960), 91 (“Luther’s siding with the princes in the peasant risings, which he had largely inspired, and his passion for political autocracy ensured a mindless and provincial political absolutism which reduced the vast majority of the German people to poverty, to a horrible torpor and a demeaning subservience.”).
  4. See James Parkes, Prelude to Dialogue: Jewish-Christian Relationships (New York: Vallentine Mitchell, 1969), 4, 153.
  5. See, e.g., Stephen Wolfe, The Case for Christian Nationalism (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2022), 196–97.
  6. R.R. Reno, Return of the Strong Gods: Nationalism, Populism, and the Future of the West (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Gateway, 2019), ebook ed.
  7. Reno, Return of the Strong Gods, ebook ed.
  8. See, e.g., Talal Asad, Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003), 58–62 (examining liberalism as a constitutive “myth” driven by its own conceptions of the good).
  9. William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 3, eds. Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine (Washington, D.C.: Folger Shakespeare Library), 185.
  10. See generally Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Modernity (Cambridge, MA: Polity, 2000).
  11. Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, 3rd ed. (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2007), 222.
  12. MacIntyre, After Virtue, 222.
  13. See John Chapman, “Tertullian,” in The Catholic Encyclopedia (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912), (“He did not care for philosophy: the philosophers are the ‘patriarchs of the heretics.’ His notion that all things, pure spirits and even God, must be bodies, is accounted for by his ignorance of philosophical terminology.”).
  14. Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I.4.2.
  15. Anne M. Carpenter, Nothing Gained Is Eternal: A Theology of Tradition (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2022), xvi.
  16. Johann Peter Kirsch, “Unam Sanctam,” in The Catholic Encyclopedia (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912),
  17. Carpenter, Nothing Gained Is Eternal, 167.
  18. David Bentley Hart, Tradition and Apocalypse: An Essay on the Future of Christian Belief (Ada, MI: Baker Academic, 2022), 18–22.
  19. See Hart, Tradition and Apocalypse, 180–88.
  20. Hart, Tradition and Apocalypse, 111–31.
  21. For more on this point, see John Ehrett, “Book Review: Tradition and Apocalypse,” Conciliar Post (Feb. 11, 2022),
  22. Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, trans. Ralph Manheim (London: Hurst and Blackett Ltd., 1939), 140.
  23. Hitler, Mein Kampf, 140.
  24. Hitler, Mein Kampf, 169.
  25. Hitler, Mein Kampf, 83.
  26. Hitler, Mein Kampf, 169.
  27. See Hitler, Mein Kampf, 174 (“In times of distress a wave of public anger has usually arisen against the Jew; the masses have taken the law into their own hands; they have seized Jewish property and ruined the Jew in their urge to protect themselves against what they consider to be a scourge of God. Having come to know the Jew intimately through the course of centuries, in times of distress they looked upon his presence among them as a public danger comparable only to the plague.”). Versions of this claim are a fixture of “metaphysical” antisemitism.
  28. On this point, see Paul R. Hinlicky, Before Auschwitz: What Christian Theology Must Learn from the Rise of Nazism (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2013), 164–65.
  29. Francis Parker Yockey, Imperium (Wentzville, MO: Invictus Books, 2011), 359.
  30. Ernst Nolte, Three Faces of Fascism: Action Française, Italian Fascism, National Socialism, trans. Leila Vennewitz (New York: Mentor Books, 1963), 537
  31. Nolte, Three Faces of Fascism, 538.
  32. Nolte, Three Faces of Fascism, 538.
  33. Nolte, Three Faces of Fascism, 538.
  34. Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World, trans. Guido Stucco (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International, 1995), 242.
  35. Julius Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World, trans. Guido Stucco (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International, 1995), 242.
  36. For more, see John Ehrett, “Augustine Against Vitalism,” Ad Fontes: A Journal of Protestant Letters (June 27, 2023), See also Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World, 280–83 (interpreting Christianity as essentially other than Jewish in its roots).
  37. Doris L. Bergen, Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1996), 21.
  38. Bergen, Twisted Cross, 22.
  39. Bergen, Twisted Cross, 37.
  40. See Hinlicky, Before Auschwitz, 11–13.
  41. See Hinlicky, Before Auschwitz, 11–13.
  42. Strictly speaking, this argument implies no specific conclusions regarding the soteriological/eschatological relationship between the Jewish covenant and the Christian church. It is an argument that holds “here below.” For a more thorough exploration of this question, see, e.g., Wolfhart Pannenberg, Systematic Theology, vol. III, trans. Geoffrey Bromiley (New York: T&T Clark International, 1994), 470–77; Hinlicky, Before Auschwitz, 159–66.
  43. Martin Buber, Eclipse of God: Studies in the Relation Between Religion and Philosophy (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2016), 21.
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John Ehrett

John Ehrett is an attorney and writer in Washington, D.C., where he lives with his wife and son. His work has previously appeared in American Affairs, Public Discourse, and the Claremont Review of Books, among other venues.

One thought on “Tradition and Antisemitism

  1. This is a very fine piece of historical, theological and sociological argumentation. Deep, well-reasoned and -founded thoughts against this – euphemistically spoken – blind spot of christian conservatism. There is not only too much talk without knowledge and understanding of the complexity of certain issues. There are also too much people in this conservative christian bubble who just quote “the good old guys” and stop there, instead of thinking ahead and reflecting those quotes and being able to see them in historical and theological (and sociological) context.

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