B.C. Comic: Free Speech or Hate Speech?
Liberal journalists apparently think that the First Amendment of the Constitution is their private property. Radical libertarians can display their filth or insult – with a special vengeance – against the religion established by Jesus Christ, and there will be scarcely a ripple of criticism from the broad-minded crowd. However, when something is published that contains a strong Christian affirmation, they immediately abandon their ideological objectivity and assume a lynch-mob mentality.
Consider the recent production of Johnny Hart, creator of the syndicated comic strip, “B.C.” Hart, who professes an association with “Christendom,” composed an eight-paneled series for “Easter” Sunday. It contained preliminary panels depicting the seven-candled Jewish menorah, each accompanied by one of the seven utterances of Jesus from the cross. Each of the Savior’s sayings corresponded to a dying flame on the candle stand. The strip concluded with the extinguished menorah turning into a cross, followed by an additional panel featuring an open, bodiless tomb (with only bread and a communion cup instead). These words accompanied: “Do this in remembrance of me.”
The Jewish Defense League is up in arms, contending that the drawings and text are “highly crude, insulting and an example of outright Jew-hatred.” Mr. Hart was charged with pushing “replacement theology,” i.e., the notion that “Christianity has replaced Judaism” as the “chosen” religion of divine endorsement. Of course in today’s climate of “pluralism,” that would never do. The 1,300 newspapers that carry Hart’s work were petitioned to excise the strip, or “editorialize” against it – which some dutifully did.
Mr. Hart claims that he was misunderstood; he says it was his intent to “pay tribute” to both Jews and Christians. He has provided his own interpretation as to how his comic strip accomplished this feat.
Though I think his explanation is misguided (with “millennial” overtones), it certainly is possible to acknowledge honestly the valuable contributions of Judaism to God’s plan for human redemption, as culminated in Christ. Salvation is “from the Jews” (Jn. 4:22). The Hebrew system was wonderful – for what it was designed to do. However, it was never intended to be perpetual.
These are the facts relative to the relationship between Judaism and Christianity.
- It is not an exhibition of “Jew-hate” to contend that Christ was the promised Messiah of Old Testament literature. There is ample evidence of this in scores of prophetic references within the 39 books of Jewish literature (cf. Lk. 24:49).
But the historical reality is this: the Jews, by the hands of lawless Gentiles, killed their Messiah (Acts 2:23). Jewish hope now must be centered in the resurrected Christ (Rom. 1:16). Without submission to Jesus’ plan, there is no redemption for anyone – Jew or Gentile (Acts 4:11-12; Heb. 5:8-9). This is the message of the New Testament. Would the Jewish Defense League have the New Testament banned under the guise that it is “hate” literature?
- One may dispute the issue with Jesus of Nazareth if he wishes, but he ought to at least represent his claim correctly. Christ unequivocally taught that the Jewish nation, due to its rejection of him, was forfeiting its role as God’s “chosen” people. That position was transferred to a new regime, a spiritual kingdom (Mt. 21:33ff; esp. 43; cf. 1 Pet. 2:9; Jn. 18:36). This fresh system would consist of those who had been, physically speaking, both Jews and Gentiles.
In the present age, the new “Israel of God” consists of all who have been obedient to Christ (Rom. 2:28-29; Gal. 3:26ff; 6:16). The nation of Israel, as a spiritual entity, has been dead for almost twenty centuries (Rom. 7:1ff). See the “Archives” article, ""God and the Nation of Israel"," (December 14, 1998).
- The Old Testament itself previewed the coming day when Jehovah’s covenant with the Israelite people would be replaced by a “new” and “better” system of religion (Jer. 31:31-34). The book of Hebrews, written especially to accommodate the Jewish mind, is designed to establish this very point (cf. Heb. 8:6ff).
- As indicated above, the Jewish system of religion, as initially designed by God, has passed from earth’s scenes. Modern Judaism is but a faint image of the past. For example, there can be no Jewish priesthood today, for all genealogical records (necessary to establish the legitimacy of the Levitical priestly line) perished with the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The Jerusalem temple (the divinely appointed site for worship) was demolished totally by the Romans, and every attempt to reconstruct that sanctuary has resulted in failure.
- The New Testament Scriptures repeatedly affirm that the death of Christ was the end of the Jewish economy (see Rom. 7:1ff; 2 Cor. 3; Gal. 3:23ff; Eph. 2:11ff; Col. 2:13ff; etc.). The validity of this claim, of course, depends upon the integrity of the New Testament documents. If these records are credible, authenticating themselves as inspired works (and a massive compendium of evidence demonstrates that they are), then their affirmation of the termination of Judaism must stand – emotional, cultural, and “politically correct” protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.
It is neither necessary nor prudent that charges of “Jew hate” or “Christian hate” be irresponsibly thrown about, the design of which is but to inflame. Rather, the controversy is one of evidence. Where does the evidence lie in regard to the respective credibility of the two religious economies? This is the issue the honest and serious investigator must determine.
Even though Christians and Jews differ radically in their convictions regarding true religion, they ought to love one another still, and courteously debate their respective positions in the public arena of ideas. The emotive response to Mr. Hart’s comic strip reflects the very opposite of intellectual stimulation.
Click on image to view the original comic strip.
About the Author
Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.