Saturday, January 23, 2010

I, Too, am Seismic Shock

British Reverend threatens bloggers who dare talk about his links to anti-Semites and authoritarian thugs. Specifically, he threatens to "report them" to the police if he is labeled anti-Semitic. It's an affront to free speech, an abuse of police resources, and an affront to freedom.


joe said...

It's worth noting that Britain doesn't really understand free speech as expansively as the US does.

But I'm not sure what this guy is really "reporting" unless he's claiming libel, and I assume that would be a civil matter.

David Schraub said...

The UK's free speech doctrine is atrocious, but that doesn't make this less than an affront to free speech -- just an affront that is (more likely to be) sanctioned by the law in question. If this was Syria, we wouldn't say it wasn't an "affront to free speech" just because it was within local laws.

joe said...

Sorry, I didn't mean to dispute your original assertion, just linking to a point of interest. (From a completist perspective of your hypothetical, it would probably good to know the state of the law in Syria too. But probably a lot more readers would assume a policy of official restraint of speech in Syria than in Britain.)

joe said...

Apparently the UK did have a criminal libel law until two weeks ago, but from what I can tell prosecutions were really rare. I wonder if Anglican Priests generally have enough pull to get police to look into these things or if there was some other law at issue here.

Blogosphere just seems to circulate the same post about this, so no luck finding out more.

N. Friedman said...

Sizer is , as I understand it, an advocate of Palestinian replacement theology, which has its roots in Marcionism.

Marcion, as you may note, wanted to sever the Christian and Jewish Scriptures on the view that all things Jewish should be removed from Christianity and that God's promises to Jews were entirely superceded. Neo-marcionism takes that view and, among other things, applies it to modern day Israel.

You may want to read this article in which the issue is discussed. One can disagree with the author's opinions but he is known to be very careful in presenting facts. Hence, I take the article as being rather definitive.

From the article:

Another speaker was the Anglican Rev. Stephen Sizer. At his website Sizer openly and unapologetically exhorts Christians to accept replacement theology and, on its basis, to repudiate Israel. He advocates:

1) a Marcionite separation of the Gospel from the Old Testament;

2) a reading of the Old Testament from a perspective that denies that modern Jews have any legitimate Jewish identity or continuing standing as the People of God (in opposition to Romans 11:1 and 29);

3) an affirmation that the present state of Israel and its citizens are not heirs to the Biblical Israel, and that because of the sins of the Jews, Israel has lost its covenant with God. That covenant has been transferred to the Palestinians, innocent victims of a demonized Israel;

4) a demonization of the state of Israel to prove the cancellation of the covenant;

5) an aiming of this campaign at Evangelical Americans in order to suppress their support for Israel.

Sizer's inflammatory writings meld warped, ahistorical sociopolitical "narrative" to heretical theology and blatant hatred of Jews - Judenhass. For example, he states that “a return to Jewish nationalism…would seem incompatible with this New Testament perspective of the international community of Jesus."

Fiendishly dealing in half-truths and distortions, he claims: "The covenant between Jews and God was conditional on their respect for human rights. The reason they were expelled from the land was that they were more interested in money and power and treated the poor and aliens with contempt…In the United States, politicians dare not criticize Israel because half the funding for both the Democrats and the Republicans comes from Jewish sources."

Not surprisingly, Sizer complements these hateful attitudes with the tired canard about Israel (the Middle East's sole, vibrant, multi-religious and multi-ethnic democracy!) being an apartheid state that he terms “even worse than South Africa.” He admits to wishing for Israel’s liquidation.

If this is all accurate, then I think he likely hates Jews for theological reasons.

ModernityBlog said...

Thank you for the post.

Responding to some of the comments.

I think it would be wrong to make sweeping generalisations on Britain, because of the activities of one individual, one rather sorry individual.

There are many British who perfectly understand the issues of freedom of speech, I would point you towards Francis Sedgemore and Richard Wilson, both who stand up for freedom of speech in Britain.

It is more the fact that Rev. Sizer is a bully, he's trying to use the police to silence bloggers.

That to me is the issue.

N. Friedman said...


Free speech is certainly an important issue. I cannot argue with that.

On the other hand and even more importantly, noxious religious ideology that seeks to spread itself is something to be fought directly and not merely on the indirect ground that its adherents are trying to silence their enemies.

ModernityBlog said...

N. Friedman,

No disagreement there, but you can't argue against the latter unless you have access to the former, eh?

joe said...

From David's link it sounds like even an "informal chat" with the police had a chilling effect on the blogger's speech. So no, I don't think the only issue is the activities of one sorry individual. The system that Sizer is gaming bears scrutiny.

I have a hard time imagining American police (at least non-corrupt ones) getting involved in some blogosphere dispute unless threats were made. So I would love to know more about the underlying facts and relevant laws here.

ModernityBlog said...


I wouldn't disagree, I think that the institutionalisation of freedom of speech in America is a good thing.

That isn't necessarily the case in Britain, the State does have surprisingly extensive powers to interfere in the individual's life, in general that doesn't happen unless something is serious.

The exact details of this situation, for the sake of confidentiality, might not come out, but "having a chat" is a euphemism.

A bit like "a quiet word" from a gangster, he doesn't necessarily have to spell out the threat, but you know it's there.

This is as far as I understand unprecedented, this man of the clergy may have used that persistent respect there is in Britain for the Church to exaggerate the situation, to his advantage, and thus get the police to do his bidding.

Even though it clear it is not a criminal matter and never could be, as there was no violence, threats or anything close, just mild political criticism of Rev. Sizer's views.

As I said unprecedented, I do hope that more American blogs take this issue up.

N. Friedman said...


We have no disagreement.

Anonymous said...

"Sizer is , as I understand it, an advocate of Palestinian replacement theology, which has its roots in Marcionism."

Why do people make such stupid statements? Marcionism isn't replacement theology but the ultimate rejection of replacement theology. Replacement theology says the same old God rejects the Jews now and replaces them with the church. Marcionism works the other way, the church via Jesus rejects the OT god and worships the higher God, Jesus Chrestos and his Heavenly Father.

"Marcion, as you may note, wanted to sever the Christian and Jewish Scriptures on the view that all things Jewish should be removed from Christianity"

Why put it this inaccurate way? Rather Marcion understood Jesus as preaching a new God. Instead of claiming that old Genocidal Yahweh who says in Malachi 3:6 "I am Yahweh; I do not change!" has changed and repented of his genocidal ways to love all mankind, Marcion just said Jesus revealed an entirely new God that purchased us (bought us for a price) from the old god via Jesus' death on the cross.

That's a lot different from your mischaracterization. Because it isn't based on a disgust against the Jews, but on a more consistent understanding of Jesus as the ultimate unimaginable before perfect and new revelation of God, as John says. John 1:18 "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."

David Schraub said...

I grasp the distinction, but I'm not sure why it is relevant in this context. Both Marcionism and "Replacement Theology" are predicated on the idea that there is something radically wrong with the Jewish tradition, which Christianity can and does absolutely rupture from. Whether "God" or Jesus is considered the agent of rejection, it seems like in both situations the point is to cast off the bad, evil, "genocidal" past tradition and create something wholly utterly new.

If the point is to try and situate Rev. Sizer's theological claims to try and comprehend why he might be susceptible to anti-Jewish sentiment, in other words, I see as many avenues by which your rendition Marcionism would create such vulnerabilities as I do in the way it was described above.

Anonymous said...

"I grasp the distinction, but I'm not sure why it is relevant in this context."

It is very relevant. One rejects the ethnic group as immoral and subpar more than all other peoples. The other rejects the god of Judaism as a malevolent demon. One accuses the people, the other accuses their god. It is a very relevant distinction. Because among those who fault the god, the people are not the offscouring and scum of the world, the god is.

"Both Marcionism and 'Replacement Theology' are predicated on the idea that there is something radically wrong with the Jewish tradition, which Christianity can and does absolutely rupture from."

So you don't see genocide as evil? The OT is full of its god commanding genocide. In Numbers 31 he says "kill everyone, boys, men, women who've slept with a man, but as for the young virgin girls, keep them for yourselves." Then they distribute the "booty" after the genocide and the girls are distributed along with the gold and silver and so on, for the after genocide orgy.

Now, Christianity is of necessity about rejecting Judaism. Otherwise, it would continue Judaism. It is a new religion precisely because it rejects the old one. Haven't you ever read John 1:18 "no man has ever seen God but the Son has declared him"????? Moses saw God in the OT, as did most prophets. The 70 elders of Israel that went with Moses up the mountain saw the god of Israel standing on a pavement of sapphire. But John says "no man has ever seen God" which means John is either saying the OT tells lies about the one and only God, or that there are two Gods, one that is lower and was seen in the OT and one higher and unseen. Either he's teaching a Christianity that discards the OT as inaccurate or outright Marcionism. Jesus also says in Matt 11 that "No man knows the Father but the Son and he to whom the Son will reveal him." Sound like you can't know the Father via the OT, but only through the new revelation of Jesus. Hence a new religion. The god of the OT caused drouts to punish sinners (the 3 year drout in Elijah's time due to Ahab being a wicked king) but Jesus declares in the sermon on the mount that "God sends his rain on the just and the unjust." There is clearly something in Christianity that rejects the OT. Even if not generally taken as far as Marcionism goes, it is always there.

The Jews interpret Isaiah 7 as a prophecy of Mahershalalhashbaz, and Micah 5 of Zorobabel! Marcionism does too, but Catholic-based non-Marcionite Christianity says the Jews are wrong in their interpretation (even though its the only possible rational interpretation of these passages) and makes these out as prophecies of Jesus. Again, rejection of the Jewish tradition.

What I find hilarious is how the same people who never shut up about how Hitler committed genocide against the Jews in WWII will defend with their last breath the righteousness of the ancient Jews in committing genocide against the Canaanites, Perizites, Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Hivisites, and all the other ites. Somehow with all the great geniuses who love to yell 'antisemite' at everyone who finds fault with the genocides of the Old Testament, genocide is only seen as bad when the Jew is on the receiving end and as good when the Jews is on the giving end. You make me want to puke.

David Schraub said...

Don't you dare presume what my theology has to say about a dystheistic God. Don't you dare.

You clearly know jack shit about modern Judaism, seem to think we're all Karaites, slander us by citing (with zero support) that any mainstream Jewish figure has ever "defended to their last breath" (or first breath, or any breath) genocide of the Hittites or any other group. And that entire final passage betrays your contempt for Jews -- indeed, it reveals that your distinction is without difference: if classical Christianity has God rejecting the Jews, your Christianity rejects the Jews for not rejecting the evil God -- it just posits us as demon-worshippers. Unsurprisingly, this is likely to lead to anti-Semitic sentiment.

I would appreciate if you refrain from further comment on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Where did I say anything about that "any mainstream Jewish figure has ever 'defended to their last breath' (or first breath, or any breath) genocide of the Hittites or any other group"? I didn't.

"You clearly know jack shit about modern Judaism, seem to think we're all Karaites": Where did I saw anything about modern Judaism?

Frankly, I didn't even know you were a Jew. And my initial comments were directed at N. Friedman who I immediately took for a Calvinist when I saw him bashing Marcion. And we know the Calvinist are 'Karaites' (so to speak) and do defend all the genocides found in the Old Testament. To them, as look at the Jew was holding the gun or the sword the genocide was just great. This is disgusting.

I know that modern Jews don't take the OT very literally, and that the Documentary Hypothesis is much more believed in Judaism than in Evangelicalism. If you are a Jew, then do yourself a favor and don't bash Marcion, since his rejection of the OT god is specifically a moral rejection. Marcion rejected the OT god because of his genocides. A true Marcionite would never harm a Jew since he has rejected the OT god for his barbarism. Why would one who rejects the OT god as a barbaric demon ever seek to act like the OT god and commit genocide?

Now, a secular rejection of the OT that is commonly style incorrectly as 'marcionism' is dangerous, and can be said to have led to the Holocaust in WWII. But actual Marcionism that holds that there are two gods and says we will reject the evil OT god and be like he Good God, could never lead to anti-semitism because its entire basis is love and rejection of racism and genocide. A secular rejection of the OT, on the other hand, generally devolves into an accusation that the Jews 'made the Bible all up as a scheme to take over the world' which leads to animosity and anti-semitism.

But a Marcionite who actually believes in two gods, as Marcion himself did, will not even blame the Jews for killing Jesus (as evangelicals who accept the OT as Scripture do) because he will place all the blame on the OT god and hold the people guiltless. He certainly will not say with Luther (a Protestant Reformer who accepted the OT as Scripture) that we should 'kill the Jews and burn their synagogues' because he has rejected the barbarous nature of the hateful OT god in favor of the Higher and Loving God.

"if classical Christianity has God rejecting the Jews, your Christianity rejects the Jews for not rejecting the evil God"

Quite the opposite actually. Since modern Jews (and to me the terms 'modern Jews' extends back to cover all Jews since the end of the first century) don't actually follow the Torah but the Talmud, how can it be said that they even follow the same god any longer? Rather it is the classical 'Christians' who follow the demon god as we see in the crusades and Inquisition, the Catholics and Calvinists and Lutherans follow the demon god, not the Jews who follow merely an ethical system and ceremonial system set up by the sages of the rabbinic era. But if any Jews do follow the footsteps of the Calvinists then my censure is on them too as following a demon. Yet I will not kill them, for then I would be following the demon myself!