Last week a media firestorm erupted over the decision of the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute (not to be confused with MJTI), to invite former President George W. Bush to speak at their annual fundraiser.
Although I actually agree with much of the criticism over the issue, I am also greatly disappointed that various individuals and publications have used the opportunity to vilify Messianic Jews and accuse us of being malicious, misleading or foolish for our beliefs.
Rabbi David Wolpe, who has been recognized as the leading pulpit rabbi in America, wrote in the Jewish Daily Forward:
- “A Jew who accepts Jesus has cut himself off from the faith community of Jews.”
- “The sudden rise of ‘Messianic Jews’ owes more to a clever way of misleading untutored Jews than to making theological sense.”
- Furthermore, the subtitle to his article states simply, “’Messianic Jews’ Is Marketing Jingle – Not True Faith.” Ouch.
The easiest way to write someone off is to simply dismiss them as disingenuous and, well basically, stupid.
Rob Eshman, Publisher and Editor in Chief of the Jewish Journal, in Los Angeles, wrote in his recent editorial:
- “One thing for certain does occur when Jews believe Jesus is divine: They stop being Jews. This is something all Jews agree on.”
- “Not a single Jewish scholar, or text, or tradition, or belief, supports that claim, so in order to do away with Judaism, they [Messianic Jews] have to lie and engage in subterfuge and double-speak.”
- “For Jews, there is no Father and Son; there is no Trinity: there is only Unity. One.”
Although this is not the first time we have been called idiots, at best, or Jewish self-haters, at worst, frankly, this trope is getting tired.
Personally, I am sick and tired of being bullied and pushed around by our wider Jewish community. So, I have decided to not keep quiet. It is time to rise-up. I feel compelled to respond to the broad-brushing, name-calling, and vitriol directed at Messianic Jews. Therefore, the reason I have not posted anything yet on our blog until now is because I have been busy, let’s just say, “working behind the scenes.”
The world is changing … and attitudes within the Jewish community are changing. The recent Pew survey helped demonstrate this. Therefore, I understand better than anyone the sensitivities within our Jewish community towards Messianic Judaism and faith in Yeshua.
However, for a community which prides itself on tolerance, understanding and dialogue, it is sad that when it comes to Messianic Jews, we’re still willing to settle for emotional vitriol rather than intelligent discourse.
Messianic Judaism is one of the fastest growing faith communities. In a world where non-Orthodox forms of Judaism are struggling to survive, I understand why we are so worrisome to so many. But we are not going away. And if the only remaining definer of Jewishness is ‘not believing in Jesus’ – as it is for far too many of our people today – than we have a bigger problem than whether or not Bush spoke at MJBI’s fundraising dinner.