The Judeo-Christian Divide

by Ellen W. Horowitz

(IsraelNN.com)
The rabbinic ban which was issued two weeks ago against Jewish participation in the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus Women's Council Summit was, for some, an especially bitter pill to swallow. Any lingering aftertaste of this very necessary ruling most likely indicates our need to think long and hard.

Two years ago, I penned the following questions:

What happens when our new found "friends" want to cash in on their Christian goodwill? What will we say? "Thanks a bunch for the money, support and effort guys, but we're not interested in your belief system." Will Evangelicals and missionaries see us as opportunists and could there be a backlash?

Three months ago award-winning Evangelical radio talk show host Janet Parshall validated my concerns by stating that she fears Israel would soon essentially say, "We'll take your aid, your support and your tourist dollars, but we won't take your Jesus."

Parshall withdrew her participation from the Women's Council Summit: Empowering women through Judeo-Christian Values. She found the declared anti-missionary stance of the Christian Allies Caucus to be unacceptable.

But Parshall may have overreacted, because it appears that the guidelines on this particular summit were (unfortunately) not that stringent.

The co-chairwoman of the summit, Kay Arthur of Precept Ministries, is on record for having proclaimed on 60 Minutes that, "The Jews need conversion." However, in keeping with caucus rules, she promised she wouldn't "actively proselytize."

Moderator and member of the caucus, Jane Hanson of Aglow international, foresees Messianic (Jews for Jesus) leaders as part of her organization's future plans for Israel.

Bridges for Peace promoted events leading up to the Judeo-Christian Summit as an amazing opportunity for Jewish and Christian women to come together and study "the Word" (if you don't know what this implies, then look up "the Word"). And the Jerusalem Post's coverage of the conference quotes BFP President Rebecca J. Brimmer as having declared, "We are in a process that started 2,000 years ago with the birth of Christ."

So, Ms. Parshall, it would seem that Jesus did make it to the conference after all.

In all seriousness, it would be both unfair and impossible for me, or any Jew, to insist that Evangelical Christians abandon the particular faith and vision that fuels their fire. And I am reluctant to trash the endeavors of a caucus that promotes cooperation with those who are devoted to, and stand by, Israel. My dispute is not with my Christian friends and their religious fervor, but I do take issue with my own people, who have a penchant for entering relationships without consideration of the long-term consequential effects.

Are we Jews, and Israelis in particular, so love-starved that we feel the need to embrace our alliances and political agreements - whether they be with Americans, Arabs or Christians - with reckless abandon? Do we need to compromise ourselves and endanger our body or soul every time we engage in diplomatic efforts? Are we like abandoned children who indiscriminately and desperately seek a caregiver at any cost?

I would suggest that agendas, intentions, ideology and theology do matter; and that foresight, awareness and self-respect is needed when dealing with friends, foes, and all of those in between.

Some of the activities taking place under the guise of Judeo-Christian alliances are more in keeping with a love-fest than that of a responsible and cautious relationship. Without an urgent call to order, some of our best and brightest could get burned in a very strange fire.

Why is the Knesset of the Jewish state being used and branded as a platform to advance Judeo-Christian values?

The term "Judeo-Christian" is commonly used in reference to Western civilization and values. But Evangelicals and Messianic Jews often infuse the concept with an added spiritual dimension that amounts to a theological fusing of both faiths. And it's this blurring of lines, in combination with unchecked missionary activity, that represents serious chinks in the armor of what has been championed as the sterling and burgeoning relationship between Christians and Jews.

One of my sons put it all together for me at the Shabbat table. He is one of the few Torah-observant members of an elite IDF unit. While in Jerusalem, his unit was approached by some good-looking, warm individuals who handed them brochures. When my son and another friend realized what they were holding, they collected the missionary literature from the others in the unit - who were actively reading it - tore it up and disposed of it. However, in a quintessential Judeo-Christian, politically correct, and tolerant moment, some of the soldiers protested and said, "How would you like it if someone tore up your Torah?"

Unlike the Christian golden rule of "Do unto others," the unabridged version handed down by Hillel is more suitable for the Jews (and applicable when it comes to proselytizing): "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary. Go and study it." (Shabbat 31a)

Without studying the Oral Torah and writings, which were specifically formulated for the Jewish nation, we risk falling victim to diluted, twisted or alien versions of the Law handed down at Sinai. Whereas Judeo-Christian values may have strengthened Western civilization and served as solid moral foundations for America over the years, that particular Diaspora combination has also served to weaken the Jewish nation and to rob the Jewish people of the wisdom of our sages, who clarified, separated and carefully defined issues of morality and faith for us.

What we face is a classic Tevye dilemma. On one hand, the Jewish state and its people receive moral, spiritual and financial support from millions of sincere Christian supporters; but on the other hand, missionary activity in Israel is proliferating, and tens of thousands of Jewish youth and citizens - who are living through a confusing and distressful period - are vulnerable. On one hand, this presents us with a clear spiritual threat; but on the more physical hand, we have Kassam rockets pummeling Sderot and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews coming to the rescue with a NIS 6.5 million donation to that city under siege.

Thank you Jerusalem City Councilwoman Mina Fenton for entering the fray. Mina makes no bones about smashing idols. And although her method and style may fly in the face (like a slap in the face) of those who are desperately trying to nurture a loving and charitable relationship between Jews and Christians, her brutal honesty and activism is needed at this time. Fenton is a firebrand and an outstanding public servant, and she did us all a great service by consulting with Yad L'Achim, Lev L'Achim and the the rabbinate's Committee to Stop Missionary Dissemination on this issue.

Our challenge is to find a way to live within the parameters of Torah law and to not compromise ourselves when entering relationships with those who stand with us. We need to implore and encourage our rabbis - who understand the necessity of building fences around the Torah - to continue to take a decisive, visible and vocal stand on these issues; and to establish guidelines for the Jewish people in order to strengthen us for the challenging days ahead.

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