Bill McCartney grabs another hornets nest

bill_mccartneyEric Gorski of The Denver Post has written a finely balanced article about Promise Keepers founder Bill McCartney’s latest interest: building unity between Christians who grew up Jewish and those who did not. Gorski uses the phrase “Messianic Jews” repeatedly, and that concept, among others, is at the heart of conflicts between the organizations Jews for Jesus and Jews for Judaism.

A quote from one Jews for Judaism document, Seven Answers to Jews for Jesus (PDF), illustrates the tension:

A “Jew for Jesus” is as absurd as a “Christian for Buddha” and as ridiculous as “kosher pork.” The fact that some of the first Christians were Jews didn’t make them right. Their movement died out within three centuries as the church became a Gentile institution.

Rebecca Breeden of The Advocate in Baton Rouge, La., ran into this conflict when she reported on the new pastorate of Stuart Rothberg, who grew up in a Jewish home but eventually became a Southern Baptist minister. Some letter-writers to the Advocate took umbrage that Breeden told Rothberg’s story without stressing that he was no longer Jewish.

Writing about any person who grows up Jewish but becomes a Christian is a minefield for any reporter. But with the availability of impassioned, media-savvy members of Jews for Jesus and Jews for Judaism, such stories need never be dull.

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  • Mark Kellner

    Of course, what the “Jews for Judaism” people fail to mention is that many of their Jewish brethren have no problem with Jews who embrace Buddhism (becoming “Jew-Bus,” as noted in a book, “The Jew in the Lotus”) or atheism or agnosticism (e.g., Allen Dershowitz) or secularism, but still regard themselves as Jews. Nor do they object, by and large, to the Lubavitcher Hasidim who beleive a 96-year-old rabbi, dead 10 years as I recall, is regarded by his followers as “Moshiach.”

    All that’s OK — but believe in Yeshua ha-Notzee, or Jesus of Nazareth, and — oy! — what a problem!

    As the great theologian from Ohio, James Trafficant, used to say on the floor of the House of Representatives: “Beam me up, Scotty.”

  • OminousWhatever

    Had a similar conversation with an observant Jewish friend of mine a couple of years ago regarding Jews for Jesus. He thought that conversion to Islam would also warrant no longer being Jewish as well. Not sure what wider Jewish opinion is on that issue.

    I haven’t gotten around to asking yet my friend what he thinks of the Jews for Allah group.

  • Cindy

    Another thing Jews for Judaism won’t tell you is that according to Jewish ritual law (Halacha), a Jew who believes in Jesus is still Jewish, but considered apostate – just like all those nice Jewish atheists, Jew-bus, and Hin-Jews.

    The original Jews for Jesus (circa 30 AD) were completely accepted as Jews; it wasn’t till missionary competition, the Bar Kochva revolt, and other factors that they were labeled heretics. Methinks the rabbis protest too much…

  • steve holcomb

    I am reminded of one Jewish my parents introduced me to. He was (at the time) putting together a statewide organization for Christians who homeschool their children. He and his wife also homeschooled their children, and the whole family attended a predominantly gentile church.

    I never had a chance to ask him how this combination of facts affected his relationship with other Jews. I do know that he was part of a family business, and that at least some of his family members/business partners were Jewish, and didn’t believe in Jesus.

    (Sheesh, I find myself tripping over my words…can’t someone at least put together a dictionary of Jewish/Christian interaction?)

    I also remember hearing a Jewish minister tell a story of how he converted to Christ, and didn’t dare to touch the New Testament for several years. He could hardly contain his surprise when he opened the Gospel according to St. Matthew and found genealogies connecting Abraham, David, and Jesus…

    This subject is one of those that interests me, and I enjoy seeing careful research being presented on the subject.

  • Jeremy Pierce

    What fails to impress me about all this is the clear double standard in recognizing a Jewish atheist as a Jew but not recognizing a Jewish Christian as a Jew. Which one is closer religiously to Judaism?

  • Jan in Houston

    All I can say about Jews who accept Christ is, thank you Lord, for using these people to help us understand the Bible. Our family was fortunate to have a Jewish teaching pastor at our church for 9 years- what wonderful insights he provided to the Jewish history, culture and traditions referred to in the Bible. He helped us understand what the Old Testament had to do with the New Testament. For the first time, “Judeo-christian government and society” made sense to me. I am thankful to Messianic Jews who will help us gentiles understand who Jesus is from their point of view.

    Jews are Jews – they are God’s chosen people. Even if they reject Him and choose to follow false gods. They will suffer the consequences, as did the Hebrews throughout the Old Testament. (As do we all.) When they repent and seek God’s face once again, He will hear their cries. God’s love is unconditional, but His blessings are conditional.