Five Reasons You Probably Shouldn’t Attend a Christian Seder

The Seder plate at Rabbi Joseph Edelheit’s home, including oranges, olives, and tomatoes.

It’s Passover until this evening, and lots of Christians — especially evangelicals — are attending Passover Seder dinners. But they’re not traditional Seder dinners, with Jews. No, they’re a co-opted rite, sometimes hosted by a “messianic” Jew, and sometimes just by Christians who’ve read a Wikipedia entry.

I’ve been to a Seder for the past couple years. My family and I have been hosted by Rabbi Joseph Edelheit, a sometime contributor to this blog, and a dear friend. In his role as director of the religious studies program at St. Cloud State University, Joseph has hosted Seder dinners for Christian students — at the Lutheran campus ministry for instance — but the difference is that he’s really Jewish. He’s a rabbi. He’s not playacting. This is really his thing.

Many Christians, particularly evangelicals, are drawn to primitive Christianity. They want to follow Jesus like those first Christians did, before Constantine and Charlemagne mucked everything up with Christendom. I personally think that’s a noble goal, and I’m not totally averse to it. However, having a Seder meal at your church or Christian college is not the way to do here. Here’s why:

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Lay Your Sins on the E-Scapegoat!

We all want our sins atoned, right? On the eve of Yom Kippur, this is one of the coolest things I’ve seen. You can lay your sins on this escapegoat and then watch as your sins are sent out to Azazel, and pushed off the cliff:

Law and Prayer and Sin and Homosexuality [Questions That Haunt]

Questions That Haunt Christianity

Questions That Haunt Christianity came back with a vengeance this week. Wow. I’m especially grateful to William Birch, who asked the question, for being so engaged in the comment section — you should go read them all.

William’s question was:

If God hates homosexuality so much, then why won’t He deliver me from it?

Many commenters took exception to the way that William posed the question. They didn’t like the “If…then…” formula, because if you reject the conditional clause at the beginning, then there’s nothing else to talk about. But everyone worked through that, since this is obviously a personal and haunting question for William (and many others).

For beginners, I’m going to agree with premises that William stated in the comment section. Even though I don’t necessarily wholeheartedly affirm these premises, they’re essential to answering the question in the way that William intends it:

  • The words of Leviticus and the words of Paul cannot be pitted against the words/thoughts of God. If it’s in the Bible, we’re going to assume that God intended it to be there.
  • God does actually hate some things.
  • God does actually answer prayers and deliver people from things that vex them.

With those as background, here’s my response:

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Ask the Rabbi: What’s With Cutting Men’s Penises?

Rabbi Joseph Edelheit

This is part of an occasional series in which I pose a question to my rabbi, Joseph Edelheit. I don’t set it up, and I don’t give him a warning. I just turn on the recorder and ask the question.

I asked him this question last night, as we drove home from co-teaching a class at St. Cloud State University on anti-Judaism in the New Testament, particularly in the book of Hebrews.

This has been a question that’s been haunting me about Judaism for a while now. We’ve all got wacky practices in our religions — heck, I drink blood and eat flesh each week. But the severing of the penile foreskin seems to me wackier than most. In fact, I find it shocking that it’s still so prevalent — almost unanimous — among Jews.

Joseph didn’t skirt my question at all. In fact, I found his answer fascinating:

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