On Shooting Yourself in the Foot in Your Mouth

Beginning what will assuredly be a long trek through Diarmaid MacCulloch’s The Reformation, I was disheartened to find a wretchedly one-sided depiction of the Christian use of the OT. In Mr. MacCulloch’s hall of mirrors, this distortion swells forth:

They invented a distinction between moral, judicial, and ceremonial law that was wholly absent from the intentions of the writers, labeling what they wanted to use as moral law, selecting at will from what they defined as judicial law, and relegating ceremonial law to Jewish history. (8)

Because before those anti-Jewish Christians got ahold of the book, the Jews couldn’t possibly have distinguished between what laws a king should concern himself with, and those a priest should pay attention to, even after one of their kings had been struck down for crossing these wires. Me, I think the Jews were smart enough to know that uncleanness was for the priest to deal with, invading Philistines a job for the king, and loving your neighbor was for everyone. But I haven’t won any prizes for history. MacCulloch spends enough time in the opening of the book fawning over the Jews and giving Christians the stinkeye that you’d think that he wouldn’t have missed this chance to pander some more, but instead he presents the Jews en masse as incapable of basic distinctions. MacCulloch took careful aim, and now walks with a limp.

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