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Kansas City Kicker is revered and ridiculed but most missed the Antisemitic Lies

Updated: May 22



Everyone seems to be livid or delighted with Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker. I have some concerns, too! But not for the reasons you might think. My problem is that the young Catholic passed along antisemitic tropes and lies that could fuel more Jew hatred at a very sensitive time. But let me share a few thoughts first. (You can skip this background by going to Anti-Jewish Lies, below.)


Most people who have lashed out against or supported the embattled kicker have done little research or even watched his speech. I did. In full. More than once. My first question was, “Why is a 28-year-old millionaire giving a commencement speech to people five or six years younger than him?” As my old Bible school director, Alastair Geddes, used to say, “When it comes to wisdom, there’s no replacement for years.”


The very idea of a commencement speech is that someone who has lived life and overcome difficulties, even tragedies, to achieve something significant for society shares their wisdom from their many years of experience with the graduating class. With all due respect, Mr. Butker knows very little about marriage and raising children at 28. At this point in his young life, it is mostly theory. He is just beginning.


I felt it a bit disrespectful for him to rebuke his Catholic priests for not doing their job well and for the "sin" of being friendly with their congregations. “Our bishops once had adoring crowds of people, kissing their rings (as if that was a good thing) and taking in their every word, but now relegate themselves to a position of inconsequential existence,” Butker remarked.


The Word of God or Catholic mass?

Butker is not concerned that the Word of God was not preached during COVID but that the bishops did not serve the sacrament of communion. In fact, going against the teachings of the Reformation, Butker believes that it is not the place of married lay people to study theology but to leave that to priests and theologians. Reformers gave their lives as martyrs for the right of every believer to read the Bible. He seems to intimate in his speech that married Catholics do their duties by raising kids and don’t have to concern themselves with the Bible—that’s for the celibate priests.


Butker grieves that “countless people died (during COVID) alone without the sacraments.” I’m not a Catholic, but it seems like he is saying that these people perished into an eternity without God because they could not receive the sacraments or last rites before death. (Maybe some of my Catholic background friends can correct me.) Dying alone is a horrible thing. But any believer who has confessed genuine faith in Jesus and his resurrection enjoys salvation!


Lots of advice, no Bible!

Another thing that nobody picked up on is that he does not mention one scripture. If you are evangelical, this is shocking. How can a Christian give a commencement speech to Christians without mentioning one passage? (He refers to "ironing sharpening iron" but does not seem to know that the phrase comes from the Bible.) Christians get so excited to have someone seemingly agree with their worldview that they don't even notice that the Bible is missing. The focus of Catholic life is not the Bible but the Mass and the sacraments. Having just completed my third journey through Church history, it’s essential to understand that in many Catholic and Orthodox traditions, receiving sacraments (i.e. the Lord’s supper) at Mass is more important than daily Bible reading. How do I know that? Because for centuries, the Catholic church would not allow the Bible to be translated into a common tongue (see below).


Who is Harrison Butker and what is the TLM?

He is not just any Catholic, but a Super Catholic. Butker goes to The Latin Mass or TLM, which is highly controversial. The FBI has linked this movement to anti-Semitism and Christian nationalism (making America exclusively Christian, governed by Christian values as a matter of law).[1] Butker believes the proper way to worship Yahweh is in Latin.


I attend the TLM because I believe, just as the God of the Old Testament was pretty particular in how he wanted to be worshipped, the same holds true for us today.”

Butker claims that the Latin mass is how God prefers to be worshiped these days. If you listen to his words about TLM, he seems to see Mass as above scripture. “The holy sacrifice of the mass is more important than anything else,” claims Butker. The 28-year-old non-theologian (by his own admission) seems to forget that the original disciples worshiped God in Hebrew, not Latin. In the New Testament, there was no “Mass” where one would pray in a language they don’t understand and receive sacraments from celibate priests. The church only began using Latin in 395 CE, with the split of the Roman Empire.[2] 


Jerome (late fourth century) translated the Bible into Latin, and they ironically called it “The Bible in the Common Tongue,” or Vulgate. In other words, those Catholics today who refuse to worship in the common tongue because of the holiness of Latin are ignorant of the fact that they only started worshiping in Latin because it was the common tongue! William Tyndale was burned at the stake by the Catholic Church for translating the Bible into English (1536). The Church vehemently opposed laypeople like Butker reading the Bible and took all measures to keep it in Latin.


Another alarming aspect of this theology that was overlooked by both Butker's adorers and detractors was his view of the purpose of marriage. Butker says: “[I]t is through our marriage, that Lord willing, we will both attain salvation.” Read this from the Council of Trent (1661): “The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church. It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church; the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1799). In Catholicism, marriage is a sacrament, and he seems to be saying that doing it faithfully leads to salvation versus confessing faith in the resurrection of Jesus.


Butker mentions salvation on more than one occasion but never focuses on the new birth (John 3:3). Conversion, for him, is joining the Catholic Church, not having a life-changing experience with Jesus. For him, everything is about the Traditional Mass, not a loving relationship with Jesus. This is the very definition of religion that can be found in Judaism, Islam, and Catholicism—repetitive, beautiful traditions that don’t necessarily line up with biblical theology. While they laud the one true God, they do not spell out their soteriology (understanding of salvation and how one attains it)!


Don’t be afraid to…

He closes by saying, “Never be afraid to confess…” what do you think comes next? Jesus? God’s plan of salvation? The glory of God? You would be wrong. “Never be afraid to confess the one holy and apostolic Catholic Church, for this is the church that Jesus established through which we receive sanctifying Grace.” So, if you're not Catholic, no sanctifying grace for you!


I’m sorry, Jesus did not establish the holy Catholic Church as we know it today. His Ecclesia was a ragtag bunch of first-century Jews who changed the world, not through the Mass, but the preaching of the gospel. They knew nothing of Catholic priests, popes, or The Latin Mass.


"Christ is King" doesn’t mean what you think

Butker does not deliver a biblical message. It is an advertisement for the Catholic Church, particularly The (controversial) Latin Mass. His final words were, “Christ is king…” Maybe he is not aware, but over the past few months, those words, “Christ is King,” have become an antisemitic trope being spread by Nick Fuentes, a white supremacist, and Candace Owens, an antisemite. Here is the back story on “Christ the King" from Allie Beth Stucky. The only question is, did Harrison Butker know this? Hopefully, he’ll clarify. Hopefully, someone with a more prominent voice than mine will bring it up.


Anti-Jewish Lies

(Sorry it took so long to get here.)

But it is Butker's anti-Semitic words that deeply concerned me. He wrongly asserted that “Congress just passed a bill where stating something as basic as the biblical teaching of who killed Jesus could land you in jail.” That’s right, Congress has made it illegal to blame the Roman soldiers and Pontius Pilate for the killing of Jesus. Well, that is not what Mr. Butker was asserting, but rather that it would become illegal to teach that the Jews killed Jesus.


First, this is absolutely false, but he’s not the first person to state this. I was recently told the exact same thing by someone on Facebook.


Did you hear about the Bill 6090 that was passed by the House of Representatives last night. It’s the antisemitism bill BUT there is a clause that states, no teaching what the Bible says about the Jews crucifying Jesus. It will be a hate crime against the Jews. Go to Bill 6090 and the Bible to find the exact wording. Just like in Acts when they were told not to preach about Jesus. They just slipped this one in and now it’s onto Congress to make it a law. Looking forward to your response on Facebook about this bill. I love Israel and the Jews.

This is NOTHING "like Acts when they were told not to preach about Jesus!" While the vast majority of conservatives joined with Democrats and passed this bill, it was the usual suspects who spouted antisemitic lies regarding the bill.


Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) opposed the legislation, saying it “could convict Christians of antisemitism for believing the Gospel that says Jesus was handed over to Herod to be crucified by the Jews. [Emphasis added]” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) shared “the Gospel itself would meet the definition of antisemitism under the terms of the bill.” Again...not true.


What’s in the Bill?

The bill, which doesn't even mention Jesus, adopts “the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA's) working definition of antisemitism when reviewing or investigating complaints of discrimination.” What does the IHRA's definition say? “Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.” At first glance, one might think that they are saying that you cannot teach about the death of Jesus, but that is not what they’re getting at. They are talking about mistreating Jewish people based on the false idea that all Jews are responsible for Jesus' death. The same document says that it is antisemitic to “Accus[e] Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.”


What the IHRA is getting at is not destroying the biblical narrative but the idea or doctrine that was adopted by Butker’s Latin-speaking Catholics that teaches that Jewish people as a whole are responsible for the death of Jesus. That is unbiblical, unhistorical, irresponsible, and antisemitic—and rejected by today's Catholic church. Pope Benedict “has personally exonerated Jews of allegations they were responsible for Jesus Christ's death, repudiating the concept of collective guilt that has haunted Christian-Jewish relations for centuries.”


When the Church father Origen spoke of this in the second century, he said, “for [the Jews] have committed the most abominable of crimes, in forming this conspiracy against the Savior of the human race.” He blamed all Jews, from Abraham until now, for the death of Jesus. John Chrysostom, revered among Catholics, coined the word deicide in the fourth century—the act of killing God, and proceeded to blame the Jews. He also said, “I hate the Jews,” and “We must hate both [the Jews] and their synagogue.” 


Constantine, the first Roman emperor to embrace Christianity, urged the church to change the date of Easter so it would not be associated with Passover. "Let us then have nothing in common with the detestable Jewish crowd," he wrote. "The Jews ... have impiously defiled their hands with enormous sin," of killing Jesus." He didn't want to have "anything in common with ... the murderers of our Lord."


Did the Jews kill Jesus?

The Bible speaks of a small “band” of Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers (John 18:3) who arrested Jesus and brought him to the high priest.[3] They stirred up a crowd against him. Understand that more than a million Jews lived in Judea and Galilee then. Less than one hundred were probably involved in this conspiracy. Furthermore, most Jewish people in Jesus’ day loved him. 


The Jews of Jesus' Day Love Him

John 7:40-41 says many Jewish people believed him to be a prophet or even the Messiah. John 2:23 says many Jews believed in him. John reports that after Yeshua raised Lazarus from the dead, "many of the Jews ... believed in him” (John 11:45), and one of the reasons that a few Jewish leaders wanted to kill him was out of jealousy because “many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him” (John 12:11). The Pharisees lament, “Look how the whole world (all Jews) has gone after him!” (John 12:19).


Luke records the story of a centurion asking Jewish elders to bring Jesus to heal his sick servant. These elders do exactly as he asks. Clearly, the Jewish leaders believed Jesus to be a prophet (Luke 7:2-6). Jesus raises the son of a widow from the dead. All the Jewish people said, “A great prophet has appeared among us…. God has come to help his people” (Luke 7:16).


But no! We’re not going focus on the multitude of Jews that loved Jesus, but the small group of jealous, corrupt priests. The Bible teaches that he was arrested at night because he was innocent, and the small band of Jewish priests was afraid that the people who loved him (multitudes) would protest. Earlier, the Pharisees wanted to arrest him “but were afraid of the” (Matt. 20:19) other Jews who adored him.


I could share more passages where it speaks of the people of Israel embracing Jesus, but somehow, when a small group of corrupt Jewish leaders colluded with the Romans to crucify him, the post-first century church concluded that all Jewish people for all time are collectively guilty. This is what the IHRA definition seeks to condemn. They’re not against the biblical narrative but the narrative that came forth later, that every Jew was responsible for the death of the greatest Jew of all time.


Get the Romans!

Technically, it was the Romans who nailed him to the cross. The Sanhedrin (Jewish ruling council) had no authority to sentence someone to capital punishment. Rome was in charge. Pontius Pilate could have freed Yeshua but sentenced him to death. Ironically, it was the Roman church who, for centuries, accused all of Israel of this blood libel when, in fact, it was Rome's directive to crucify him and their soldiers who nailed him to the cross.


But here’s what everyone is missing when we are looking to blame someone for the death of Jesus. His mission was his own death. If you don’t believe me, listen to the Messiah himself.


For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father (John 10:17-18).

The truth is we all killed Jesus with our sin.


But my deeper concern is for the antisemitic trope that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, Rep. Matt Gaetz (it’s ironic listening to him talk about Jesus’ gospel when his own life is riddled with serious accusations of immorality), and Harrison Butker spread the lie that the congressional bill outlaws the biblical narrative. The IHRA definition has been around for quite a while, and no one has ever been concerned that it would keep believers from being able to publicly preach the biblical narrative.


Conclusion

While the whole world focuses on Butker cultural comments, they are missing the antisemitic undertones and the fact that he is not a traditional evangelical Christian at all. His focus is the Catholic mass and the Catholic religion. If you don’t believe me; listen to his whole message. It's only 20 minutes long.


 

[1] When I use the term, Christian nationalism, a term that you understand and has much nuance, I am not referring to believers who are patriotic. I am a patriotic believer. I love Jesus, and I love the Fourth of July. I’m referring to those people who would seek to make America by law, a one-religion society, forcing Christian values through the law on the rest of the country. I do not believe that was the vision of the Founding Fathers or the New Testament. The New Testament is clear, the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of this world are separate. Romans 13 was written to help us as believers understand how to behave before the secular governments. Whenever Christians have controlled both the political power and ecclesiological power, it has led to abuse, corruption, and even murder.

[2] The Western Empire spoke Latin, while the Eastern Empire kept Greek. There is nothing holy about either language. In the same way that some English speakers feel the King James English is more authentic, many Catholics feel that from Latin in liturgy. But in truth, it’s no different than English.

[3] Annas was technically the father-in-law of the high priest Caiaphas. However, Annas was the high priest before him, and would have been high priest for life, but he was deposed by the Romans. However, he simply became the power behind the throne. Like Vladimir Putin when Medvedev was president for a few years.

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7 kommentarer


I hope someone more knowledgeable than I will response to some of the ideas you have mentioned. You are no different from the people you mentioned in this article...you have focused on the what matters to you being a Jewish man, that's a burden we carry of race and culture... as a black woman if I watch a video, listen to a speech, read a book, I pick the parts that mention me, or the fact that black people are always omitted, stereotyped, stuff like that.

If you have ever been to a Mass you would realize the mass is a recitation of the Scriptures, Asking for mercy, forgiveness of our sins, Old testament reading, singing /reading of psalms, gosp…


Gilla

Ron, thank you for this very informative and insightful analysis of the controversial commencement speech by the Kansas City Kicker.

But I was aghast when you described the false religion of Islam as lauding the One True God along with Judaism and Catholicism.

Allah is the same god as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? The same god as the Father of Yeshua, the Messiah?

Yikes!

Gilla

you don’t have a clue about the Catholic Church. Nor do you have a clue about antisemitism. He did not say anything against Jewish people but you have us to believe in your not so smart way of giving your pathetic opinion of what was said! This young man is a great Christian pouring his heart out to help the young men and ladies to. understand it’s ok to love your family life and your faith life and bring them together. There is nothing in his speech that disrespects our Jewish brothers. I celebrate this young man and I pray that God will continue to work in his life.

Gilla
Svarar

Thank you for your kind interaction. 😁

Gilla

Wow - thank you for this excellent article that contains so much truth and clarification! It is one I will refer to when discussing Catholicism on my podcast.

Gilla
Svarar

Hi Kim, bless you!

Gilla

To have been a true follower of Jesus (derogatively called a Lollard) in the days of Tyndale was about as dangerous as being a convert from Islam in an Islamic country today. "Christianity", Islam and Judaism are ideologies fighting for supremacy. In South Africa, apartheid was justified as a defense of "Christian Nationalism". These "Christians" have played a large role in establishing our Judeo-Christian values. But just like the Israelites of old killed the prophets, they have killed the true followers of Jesus.

Gilla
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