There is a belief at the centre of the Judaic religion that has caused more bloodshed in the world than any other religious idea - exclusivity. The thought that God would choose a specific bloodline and regard the offspring of that bloodline to be God's chosen people, specially privileged, closer to God, favoured by God in their arguments with others and that God would insist on this bloodline remaining pure for all time is an abomination. God does choose specific groups of people and specific individuals through whom God works out his purpose. For a God who rarely interferes in person in the world this is the only logistically sensible course of action open to God. But these are provisional choices made for specific reasons and do not give special merit to the relatives of those chosen. They don't even give special merit to those dumped with task they have been chosen to attempt.

The Jewish belief that they were God's chosen people was intensively propagated by the priestly caste of Judaism in the seventh century BC for very good reasons. The Jewish homelands had been invaded by The Babylonians and a large chunk of their population of had been exiled to non-Jewish lands within the Babylonian empire. The belief that they were special and set apart must have helped considerably to keep the Jewish exiles united when assimilation into the general Babylonian population would have meant an end to their hopes of repatriation. All nations employ similar propaganda when under attack from a foreign power intent on wiping out their national identity. During the Second World War the British government deliberately instilled the notion of Britishness in the minds of its population. Because the Jewish people were never completely free of foreign overlords from the Babylonian exile onwards the doctrine of racial purity persisted in Judaism from then onwards. Jesus Christ was an exclusivist at least at the beginning of his ministry, most probably throughout its full length. It could easily be argued that the early Jewish Christians only began to contemplate a universal religion after they had been ejected from Judaism for heresy.

There has always been a theological strand in Judaism, which I will call soft Zionism, that claims special status for the Jews in God's eyes but which does not necessarily condemn everybody else in the world to damnation. Basically adherents to this view will state that they are just not interested in everybody else, that everybody else is God's concern not theirs, that the rest of the world's population can carry on believing whatever they like. It is the arrogance of this viewpoint that I believe is the main contributor to the bloodshed I mentioned at the beginning of this post. But I am not just talking about blood shed by Jews in the holocausts and pogroms of history or the bloodshed suffered in the Middle East following Jewish repatriation to "the Holy Land." I am even more so referring to the greater bloodshed that Christian nations have inflicted on non-Christian nations, each other, their own citizens and Jewish people, over the years because they have taken the dogma of being chosen by God and applied it to themselves and then gone on to believe that "everybody else" are not their concern and, therefore, not to be regarded as having the same worth.

Believing you are more special than everyone else is as harmful to yourself and others as believing that you are worthless compared to others. This is true for individuals, for nations and for entire races. It is the malaise in the hearts of the people of the United States, China, the EU and, lets face it, all the nations of the world. It is what compels us to force our ideas on everybody else even if the enforcement means dropping bombs on those who refuse to acknowledge our chosen-by-Godness.

I cannot work out how a universal god could be anything other than universal in its calling of its creatures. A god who has favourites is not a god, is no different to a human being. It is tragically ironic that a religion that finds the idea of God becoming human abhorrent has, itself, been the most influential proponent of a god whose love is so human in its inability to be universal.

The belief that God chooses who God will favour and the repugnant doctrines of election and predestination that spring, logically from it, are thoroughly bad ideas. We need to exile them from our religions and the best place to start would be with Judaism. We need to ditch the political correctness and tell Israel, "You are not the Messiah, you are a very naughty boy, just like the rest of us. Drop the racial purity crap, go forth and screw around!"

PLEASE NOTE: Through the powers invested in me etc. etc. I will personally remove from god's favour anybody who is so tediously boring and predictable as to leave a comment along the lines of "Judaism isn't all bad." Please take it as read that we all know that already.



  1. I agree with much of what you say, Jonathan. However, that still leaves us (as Christians)’with the rather difficult matter of the “Theology of the Remnant”.

  2. For fuck’s safe!!! I made it transparently clear in the post that the main reason why the idea of being chosen is such a bad idea is that it has been taken onboard by Christianity wholesale and has led to bloodshed.

  3. Jews are only fussy about who they marry, goodfornowt. Obviously they are not in the least bit picky about who they make friends with 🙂

  4. I don’t see much problem with the idea of the faithful remnant; God knows who they are. If people start proclaiming themselves as the remnant – there’s an unpleasant strand in Christian fundamentalism which does this – then they probably aren’t. They’re usually completely judgmental towards others, and judgment is God’s job not ours. Trying to put yourself on the same level with God leads to a bad end.

  5. Thanks for this, MP. I’ve had much the same concern for a long time now but haven’t been able to articulate it nearly as well.

    Of course, thoughtful, responsible Jews will say that their “chosenness” is all about being chosen to be, in fact, responsible — that it is about vocation, mission. All the difficult issues you raise, however, still apply, I would say.

  6. Yes, Ellie, but the chosenness still jars. Why not just be responsible without being chosen? I have exactly the same quibble with such ideas when applied to Christian priesthood and the like.

  7. “I have exactly the same quibble with such ideas when applied to Christian priesthood and the like.” (MP)

    It gets even creepier when we U.S.A-ers believe we’re chosen to lead the whole world.

  8. All nations employ similar propaganda when under attack from a foreign power intent on wiping out their national identity.

    All nation, all religions, all in-groups: Then & Now.

    The trick is—like (some) Rabbinic Judaism—to turn the exclusive INTO The Universal.

    But the exclusive thing?

    I think ever since each one of us, on mommy’s breast, looked at the other breast and thought “No one else can have that—I deserve it too, Cuz I’m Special!!!1!!”, we’ve looked at Grace as a scarce quality, to be viciously guarded against everyone else…

    Cuz Humans Are Schmucks.