Ann Coulter might have just lost a ton of credibility with the last group she was counting on to support her: fundamentalist Christians. Yeah, it’s mostly Jews, liberals and sane people who are upset with her right now, but there’s nothing new about that.
Let me back up.
A lot of people are up in arms about Coulter’s recent pronouncement that all Americans, including Jews, should convert to Christianity and that evangelicals “just want Jews to be perfected.” Later she clarified, “that is what Christians consider themselves: perfected Jews.”
To a limited extent, Coulter is indeed expressing a common evangelical belief. I’ve never heard the term “perfected Jews,” but many evangelicals do refer to Jewish converts to Christianity as “completed Jews” (though the nearly as misleading “Messianic Jews” is still the most common term). As an extension of this belief, a minority of fundamentalist Christians have taken to thinking of themselves as completed Jews, often observing Christianized versions of Jewish holidays and rituals as a way of exploring their roots. There’s a sizable market for Judaica in the Christian subculture of late.
Now, this does not mean that all these people would agree with Coulter that converting the Jews is a worthy goal. Most Christians I’ve met would be far more comfortable saying, “While it’s true that the Bible says Jesus wants everyone to accept him, God has a special plan for the Jews that may be partly hidden from us, so the wisest and most Christian course is to leave them in God’s hands.” Certainly I was witnessed to now and again, but more often I heard sentiments like, “Jews and Christians are brothers and that’s good enough for me.”
On the other hand, Ann Coulter really steps in it when she tries to backpedal.
No, no, no, no, no. I don’t want you being offended by this. This is what Christians consider themselves, because our testament is the continuation of your testament. You know that. So we think Jews go to heaven. I mean, Falwell himself said that, but you have to follow laws. Ours is “Christ died for our sins.” [emphasis added]
Well, Ann Coulter may think Jews go to heaven, but to say that we think that -- meaning all, most or even more than a tiny few evangelicals -- is simply wrong, and shows as an astonishing ignorance of the theology that Coulter professes to hold deeply. Yes, many evangelicals are too polite to say this to a Jewish person’s face (“God decides who gets to heaven,” is the most common dodge), but if pressed, they will acknowledge that “no man comes unto the Father but by Me.” That’s Jesus 101.
So how could Falwell himself (what is he, the pope?) say such an ignorant thing? Simple: he didn’t.
March 02, 2006: Earlier today, reports began circulating across the globe that I have recently stated that Jews can go to heaven without being converted to Jesus Christ. This is categorically untrue.
These false reports originated from a March 1 Jerusalem Post front page column which said: “An evangelical pastor and an Orthodox rabbi, both from Texas, have apparently persuaded leading Baptist preacher Jerry Falwell that Jews can get to heaven without being converted to Christianity....”
Before today, I had never heard of Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg or had any communications with him. I therefore am at a total loss as to why he would make such statements about me to the Post...
In this age of political correctness and diversity, the traditional evangelical belief that salvation is available only through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ is often portrayed as closed-minded and bigoted. But if one is to believe in Jesus Christ, he must believe in His words: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). I simply cannot alter my belief that Jesus is The Way to heaven, as He taught.
Oh, snap, Ann: I think Jerry Falwell just reached out from beyond the grave to call you politically correct!
Update: Good timing! The current issue of the Christian magazine Charisma has an editorial warning that too much embracing of the Jews can lead to Coulter’s heretical “dual covenant” theology: “To suggest that a Jew is given some type of free backstage pass to heaven is the most blatant form of deception. If we truly love Israel and want God’s blessings for the Jewish people, we will unapologetically tell them the truth and urge them to believe it.”
Related: From an article in today’s NYT about bridging the Christian-Muslim divide: “Some analysts see the letter as being addressed as much to Muslims as Christians, although the chances of it influencing radicals is considered slim. Radicals often interpret ‘love thy neighbor’ as help thy neighbor find Islam, said Prof. Muqtedar Khan, director of Islamic Studies at the University of Delaware.”