Latest update: July 15th, 2013
The ancient Prophets foresaw that as we approached the Messianic era mankind would begin to reject falsehood and turn to the Jewish people for leadership and teaching. Both Isaiah and Zechariah describe many peoples (amim rabbim) turning to the God of Israel in Jerusalem.
We live in an age many rabbis believe to be the last before the Redemption, so naturally we may expect stirrings among the nations as they begin to question their ancestral beliefs and open themselves to learning from Am Yisrael. We are faced with the spectacle, however, of two distinct movements in Christianity away from classical Christian belief and (supposedly) back to the Torah and traditional Jewish wisdom. These two streams of reform within Christianity are liberalism and biblicism.
For some time now, most Jews have been impressed by and encouraging of liberal Christianity. Its freethinking attitude toward traditional Christian dogmas, its rejection of Christian “triumphalism,” and its condemnations of traditional Christian anti-Semitism received universal praise.
What many do not seem to realize is that its opposite trend, biblical Christianity, condemns traditional Christian anti-Semitism just as unequivocally, has streams that reject Christian triumphalism and proselytization (so far as the Jews are concerned), and is heir to a long tradition of questioning and rejecting the teachings of the Christian Church in the light of Scripture.
Why then is biblical Christianity so unknown to the Jewish community while liberal Christianity is so admired and commended? This is indeed an intriguing and even painful question when one considers that most observant Noachides, including this writer, came to their acknowledgement of Hashem, Torah, and Israel via biblical – not liberal – Christianity. In fact, one wonders if any liberal Christian has become a Noachide, or even if one could.
It is quite natural and logical that liberal Christianity would reject the dogmatism of traditional Christianity – because liberalism, by definition, rejects the very concept of objective truth in religion. This means that liberal Christianity rejects the objective truth claims of Judaism just as vociferously.
Moreover, while they condemn the atrocities of medieval Christianity, liberal Christians also condemn the biblical wars against the Canaanites and other heathen peoples that were commanded by Hashem, insisting that God did not command these wars but that rather the “primitive and bloodthirsty” Israelites imagined that He had because “that’s how people thought back then.”
Meanwhile, biblical Christians have been moving toward Judaism for centuries. There are Christians today who refuse to observe Sunday or traditional Christian holidays but observe Shabbat and the Jewish holidays instead. There are even biblical Christians who, while insisting on proselytizing non-Jews, reject any proselytization of Jews because they acknowledge that the latter are bound by the Torah. Little wonder that most American Noachides come from this tradition.
Compare liberal Christian spokesmen with any number of biblicist leaders who wholeheartedly support Israel not out of an attachment to “democracy” but for purely biblical reasons. Biblicist Christians contribute generously to Jewish charities to help settle Jews in Eretz Yisrael, and a Mississippi preacher, Rev. Clyde Lott, has even attempted to breed a herd of cattle that would provide a ready supply of parot adummot at all times. This is certainly something liberal Christians would have no interest in (since liberal Christians regard the Avodat Hakodesh to be a primitive and superstitious rite long since abandoned in favor of a religion of pure ethics.)
How many Jews have even heard of Rev. Lott?
Another unpleasant fact about liberal Christianity is its ambiguous (at best) and hostile (at worst) attitude toward the state of Israel and its rejection of a literal King-Messiah in favor of a “spiritual” Messiah who fulfills Messianic prophecies allegorically rather than literally.
Biblical Christians, on the other hand, defend the Divine origin of the Torah and refrain from many idolatrous practices of the ancient churches. And biblical Christians overwhelmingly accept the notion of a literal King-Messiah who will reign over a literal Kingdom of God from Jerusalem.
Unfortunately, while some biblical Christians do refuse to proselytize Jews because they interpret the Torah’s claims of eternal validity literally, the vast majority of biblical Christians still insist on missionizing the Jews (as well as everyone else). But this must be measured against the many positives of biblical Christianity and negatives of liberal Christianity.
Further, singling out proselytization as the one and only matter of concern is extremely shortsighted. For one, any faith that takes itself seriously, that subscribes to the idea that religious truth is objective, is going to be, to one degree or another, a proselytizing faith. Even Judaism advocates bringing non-Jews to a knowledge of God through observance of the Seven Laws of Noah.
In fact, one of Messiah’s tasks will be to compel non-Jews to forsake their false gods and religions and accept the Noachide Laws. And messianic though this task may be, even in ancient times Israel was permitted to wage wars in order to expand the borders of Eretz Yisrael, and in those cases non-Jewish populations were compelled to accept the Seven Noachide Laws and pay tribute to Israel.
That being the case, how can Christians, so long as they remain Christians, be expected to refrain from “witnessing” to the world?
I do not excuse or justify Christian proselytization of Jews. I do, however, maintain that the only way to stop Christian proselytization of Jews is to convert Christians from Christianity. And biblical Christians are reachable because they accept the Divine origin and authority of the Tanach.
Liberal Christians, because they reject the belief that any one religion or god is more correct than another, are seemingly immune to any argument for the Torah.
The simple fact is that Christians will proselytize Jews for as long as they believe their religion is true. Why not simply educate them that it is not, and bring them to knowledge of the True God and of His Laws? It is quite maddening that many who react to the idea of proselytizing others with a vehement “but we don’t do that!” seem to have no objection to offering a never-ending series of demands for internal changes in other people’s religions.
Forgive an old Bible-Belter for observing that open, honest proselytization of non-Jews (for Noachism, not conversion to Judaism) is a thousand times more honorable than the constant demands that Christianity change its doctrines. How could anyone think otherwise?
The fact is that Christianity is not in need of liberalization. What is needed is rejection and replacement with the Noachide Laws. Jewish encouragement of liberalism in Christianity is an extremely shortsighted goal. It is better to argue with people who believe in the objective truth of another religion than to exchange niceties with people who do not believe in an objective truth of any kind.
The time has come to cease rewarding relativism and liberalism and to reward instead closeness to Torah. This does not mean excusing or ignoring the threat of missionaries, but it does mean acknowledging that the philosophies of doubt and skepticism, of rejecting received teachings in favor of an allegedly ever-evolving “truth,” are far more deadly to the Jewish soul than the “orthodox” form of any foreign religion.Roy Neal Grissom
About the Author: Roy Neal Grissom is an identifying Noachide living in the Bible Belt.
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