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Must Jews Dislike the Christians who Like Them?

evangelicals and orthodox jews

I just read a profound essay on the relations between Christians and Jews in America, Why Don’t Jews Like the Christians Who Like Them? by James Q. Wilson. It’s deep, thoughtful, intriguing and asks a very legitimate, even existential question.

Wilson, who passed away in 2012, was a favorite of American conservatives, especially since he is considered the father of the “broken windows theory.” On the unusual relationship between evangelicals and Jews he wrote:

Evangelical Christians have a high opinion not just of the Jewish state but of Jews as people. That Jewish voters are overwhelmingly liberal doesn’t seem to bother evangelicals, despite their own conservative politics. Yet Jews don’t return the favor: in one Pew survey, 42 percent of Jewish respondents expressed hostility to evangelicals and fundamentalists. As two scholars from Baruch College have shown, a much smaller fraction—about 16 percent—of the American public has similarly antagonistic feelings toward Christian fundamentalists.

While conceding that “it is quite possible that Orthodox Jews welcome evangelical support while Reform and secular ones oppose it,” Wilson nevertheless tries to explain this phenomenon from conservative eyes:

Though evangelical Protestants are supportive of Israel and tolerant of Jews, in the eyes of their liberal critics they are hostile to the essential elements of a democratic regime. They believe that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and worry about the decay of morality; they must wish, therefore, to impose a conservative moral code, alter the direction of the country so that it conforms to God’s will, require public schools to teach Christian beliefs, and crush the rights of minorities.

As an observant Jew, I endorse all the facts in Wilson’s article, and offer an honest, heartfelt response. Accounting only for my own feelings, but certain they are common to many Jews like myself, I must tell Evangelicals: You annoy the goal post hockey stick hockey stick out of us.

I have no problem with your discovering Jesus and embracing Jesus and putting your faith in Jesus – I actually support that. In fact, there’s a story about the Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, founder of Chassidism, who wouldn’t ride with a wagon driver who didn’t wear a cross on his chest. He preferred to roam through the deserted tundra with a man who at least feared something—never mind the theological nuances.

But why can’t you keep it to yourselves? Why must you insist that I, too, reject my grandfather’s Torah, stop praying the way my family has done since the minus fifteen hundreds, and accept your Jesus, and in my heart, no less?

The majority of you don’t speak Hebrew well enough to even understand my Bible, never mind assert foolish things about prophecies predicting Jesus. And those of you who do have a half decent command of Biblical Hebrew either lack the scholarship to understand why those “proofs” are idiotic, or are outright swindlers, looking to mislead innocent, ignorant Jews.

I don’t belittle your obvious love to me, which is a sweet thing to have in a world that mostly wants to see me dead. But I also can’t help the nagging sensation that this is not so much love as protecting your bet in the historic horserace inside your head, in which Jesus comes back, the Jews realize the errors of their ways and the world is saved.

In other words, while I and my fellow faithful Jews like the fact that the next pogrom will not come from an Evangelical torch and pitchfork crowd, we still don’t trust you. You can’t say you love me for who I am, because who I am includes a thorough rejection of the essence of your ideology, all of it, completely, I hold that there’s no truth to it whatsoever.

Now do you love me? Do you love me in a future in which Jesus doesn’t come, and you continue to hold on to your faith, and I to mine?

Or, at least, can you keep the narrative about my seeing your light to yourselves?

That’s we’re really asking. As far as Orthodox Jews are concerned, Evangelical Christians are to be envied with their serious approach to God and to the Scriptures. We like very much your acts of charity, we admire your political stubbornness – even if we disagree, and we do, about abortion being murder. It’s still heart warming to see religious people willing to give up a lot, for the most part in non-violent ways, to abide by their faith.

There’s so much over which we could collaborate. I’d like us to establish together banks without usury. Religious humane societies to protect animals from cruel treatment, humans from insane government food policies, citizens from a political system gone cynical and vicious. Of all the gentiles in the world, I’d rather work together with you than anyone else.

But you must keep your missionary urges to yourselves. You can even lie to me and say you don’t have them – I’ll accept it. I’ll lie to you in return and say that my tradition says your teachings have value. We can co-exist this way for generations, bettering our societies and contributing good to the world.

Just do something about your impulse to convert me.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.

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127 Responses to “Must Jews Dislike the Christians who Like Them?”

  1. I always live with the threat of others proselytizing

  2. I treat people the way prople treat me ….. is never wrong . :)

  3. "…who I am includes a thorough rejection of the essence of your ideology, all of it, completely, I hold that there’s no truth to it whatsoever."

    That's a bit of an exaggeration. You share with them an underlying belief in a living God, in a divinely inspired bible, and in doing acts of charity.

  4. love your fellow man, love thy enemy and have patience for all of man, where evil may work in the heart of.

  5. Moishe Pupik says:

    Moshe Z. Matitya · I believe you're wrong. Christians believe in a universe in which Man is at the center. Indeed, their Jesus fantasy is the story of Prometheus who came to redeem human misery with the gift of fire and was punished for eternity.

    God who is beyond fdefinition, with Whom we communicate strictly through the mitzvot is utterly foreign to Christians.

  6. David Robert Grate says:

    I think your over-exaggeration is tainted by too many people shoving Christ in your face. As a Jew (though raised traditionally, not religiously, I never consistered Christ. When I realized He was more than just a nice Jew, I was able to find more of the Tanakh in the Apostolic texts, and further understand and obey Torah because of my new found faith. Yes, my sins are forgiven, but I still must obey Torah as much, if not more, than I must obey civil laws of my state and country. The only difference is that I truly enjoy obeying all aspects of Torah.

  7. Moishe Pupik says:

    David Robert Grate · Are you saying your sins were forgiven because you admitted them, worked to fix the damage you caused sinning, and resolved never to repeat them — or because you accepted Jesus as your savior?

  8. Jim Copenhaver says:

    I am a Christian who fervently supports Israel and Jews wherever they may be. I am not evangelical and do not believe that Christians should be shoving their faith in Jewish faces. The problem with evangelicals is that they believe they have been given a command by Jesus to do just that. Perhaps they have but I do not read it that way. The Christian Bible teaches me that the Jews are God's chosen and he will deal with them in his own way. And to my mind, the Great Commission, which states Go to all nations making disciples of them, does not include the Jews. I am, perhaps, wrong in my interpretation, but both Christians and Jews need to realize that they are related to each other, almost in a family way. Surely, if any two groups of people on the earth ought to get along, it is us.

  9. I’m Christian my great grandfather and those before him were born Jewish my great grandfather converted to Christianity for what reason i don’t know

  10. Felix Acosta says:

    Yori look I have read some of your articles about my Christian faith and your Jewish faith. Do not bundle together all Christians
    Under one banner. My fellow believers and in Love the jewish people and Israel not because of people like you. We were warned by A Former Jewish Pharisee
    Name Saul of Tarsus about people like you, who do not recognize true love when they see it, besides we were also warned by Torah also How hard headed the Jewish people, but we still love israel, we still gonna pray for Jerusalem
    We still believe the land was giving to the descendant
    Of Abraham for ever(jacob). Yeah we could be annoying at sometimes but that what love does it change you Heart. And Yes Yeshua Ben David was from Israel.

  11. And so, while I appreciate your support of Israel and my people, I cannot help but wonder if that support is based upon your mistaken notion that, in doing so, you will eventually help me to see the error of my ways and accept your religion as correct. No thanks, we have survived these thousands of years with the world trying to kill us, we will be fine with or without your support.

  12. Felix Acosta says:

    Excuse Jim "The problem with evangelicals is that they believe they have been given a command by Jesus to do just that" excuse me You don't believe your Bible?, do you obey your Lord Commands or not? Go ye into the world did you read that. so u think Paul, Peter James, Matthew (they were all Jews by the way) change Religions or follow their Messiah Yeshua. These man Preach the Gospel where? in what City First? To what People First?…The Jewish People were the first people to hear the gospel, because the Covenant is with them First, then US….That Has Not Change. I am a Christian Evangelical, i believe in a Jewish Rabbi Messiah, Called Yeshua (Jesus). The Bible is a Jewish Book who coimmands us to take the Good News to all people. so are they Jewish People Excluded, JIm?

  13. I guess we must be important, otherwise why do Christians want to convert us, save us or (as some do) persecute us? What is it about Jews that bugs other people? I for one (Jew) would just like to be left alone to pray how I want. I'm not bothered what others do as long as they let me live as a Jew. Is that too much to ask for? Apparently yes.

  14. Perhaps he means the ideology of Christ, God and the Holy Spirit? Or the Virgin birth? Or the resurrection of Jesus. These things are so incredible that I cannot see how people accept them. Other than to say it is 'blind' faith. And yes, there are stories of resurrections from pre-civilized societies, and female gods worshiped for centuries, so I guess they are just carried on stories.

  15. It is always a blessed life if our consciences are void of anything suspicious, but does not imply being tactless, and we know where we stand in our faith. But the underlying circumstances behind our backs would affect good relationship with others.

  16. David Moises Malkun Paz says:

    Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

  17. Short answer, no. Long answer, no. Shouldn’t eat at their homes, but it’s because they aren’t required to keep kosher, not that they aren’t decent people. No reason we can’t all have a nice heart clogging pastrami sandwich in a kosher deli together.

  18. The truth is you don't stop becoming a Jew… Judiasm is the root to Christianity…and together we become the "new man " described in scripture.

  19. Problem is, most Christian folks only like Jews enough to convert them.

  20. Anonymous says:

    no truth to Jesus, however, he did exist. There is no truth in the Exodus as academics will tell you there is no evidence of it occurring. A myth.

  21. Moishe Pupik says:

    David Moises Malkun Paz – ok, but can you keep it to yourselves?

  22. Lisa Liel says:

    Dislike them? No. Reject them? Yes.

  23. I saw an interview with Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein – he was asked about this problem – he said today there has been a major change in Evangelical circles and many, if not most, have given up on the drive to convert us. But even if they do, they are motivated by love. The big question they have is, if we Jews believe we have the truth, then why are we not trying to convert them. When we ”throw a bone” with Rabbi Schneerson's ”Noahide Movement”, it really comes off as offensive and condescending. When a friend of mine, himself a former pastor who converted to Judaism, suggested a movement to teach the world that conversion to Judaism is possible for every gentile to consider, and only offering the Noahide Laws as bdieved (post facto) – he was told it would increase antisemitism. But, as Dennis Prager pointed out, it is our reluctance to share our faith that increases antisemitism, because it makes it look like we have something to hide, which we don't. There is nothing wrong with Christians sharing their faith with us. They are motivated by love an sincerity. We should be confident enough to return the favor. Rabbi Daniel Lapin often says he doesn't care if a Christian believes he is going to Heaven or Hell, as long as he doesn't do anything to get us there quicker. The Christian community are indeed our friends, and it is time we embrace them just as they embraced us, with love and sincerity. They are good people, and we have much to learn from them.

  24. Dear M,

    Thank you for pouring out your heart. Please realize that I do not (nor does Yeshua, in my opinion) want you to give up one ounce of your Jewishness, and I do not want you to become a "Christian" nor a member of any denomination. You should go to the head of the stream, where the water is pure.

    "Christian" is a greek designation for gentile believers. Yeshua is fully a Jew, and never asked anyone to give up their heritage through Abraham. In fact, to believers, Yeshua is the realization of the promise to Abraham that through his seed all nations would be blessed. I am a Jew by faith and spirit, but not by flesh. You have an advantage of both flesh and spirit, if you come to Yeshua.

    If you would communicate with my friend Joseph Shulam, you would learn that he does not want any Jews to become "Christians." You are not called to join a Christian organization, but to establish your own Jewish cell of believers meeting in your home, or with some other group of Messianic Jews. You would continue to observe all of your Jewish traditions of your choosing, but not rely on keeping the Law for salvation. The main thing I want you to consider is the man Yeshua, with the full expectation that when you have met Him, you will fall at His feet.

    You know that I have lived and breathed the Ezekiel project since 1993. I count your coming to faith in Yeshua of much greater importance than this project. I know what it will mean to you, your family, and your friends.

    Please connect with some of the Messianic Jews in your area. There are many. Just put messianic jews new jersey in google and take a look.


    May the blessings of YHWH overflow in your life leading to faith in Yeshua as your messiah.

    Your brother in Abraham, you by flesh and me by spirit.


  25. David Moises Malkun Paz says:

    Sylvie Schapira "And the Lord hearkened to the voice of Elijah and the child's soul returned within him, and he lived." 1 Kings 17:22

  26. Terry McIntosh says:

    A Jewish man, that is Jesus, died for all of us, in order to make peace with God, and Christians are indebted to him for that loving self sacrifice. Christian theology ranges from passive to radical, but the root of Christian love for Israel is based in the love that Jesus exampled on the cross. As a gentile, I am eternally thankful and would love to see all of Israel experience that love, but it can only come from revelation, not coercion. Some Christians may try to convert Jews based on ideology alone thinking they will be blessed, and thereby miss the greater goal of self sacrificing love that wins friends instead of alienating them. It is that same love, however, that compels other Christians to share the faith with Jews. If you truly love someone, you will dare to tell them the truth, even when it hurts and offends, therefore a loving Jewish person should not take offense at a gentile's expression of love, rather embrace that love and return it with respect for each other.

  27. I don’t trust Christians at all. I was one. There is always an ulterior motive no matter what they say. And I know the history, the shameful, evil, underhanded history.

  28. I don’t trust Christians at all. I was one. There is always an ulterior motive no matter what they say. And I know the history, the shameful, evil, underhanded history.

  29. Wrong at least six million times.

  30. how is that wrong when it is written?

  31. And it does not matter if a Christian is nice, etc. That is human in spite of Christianity. It is the Christian religion itself that is bad.

  32. Karen Bryant says:

    I am a Christian and have a strong love for the jewish people and Israel . I never knew any until i was in my 20′s. So what i feel had to have been a gift to me from god. My love for them doesn’t depend on their following my belief as a Christian . We all have to walk our own path,and their loving me or being afraid of my intentions will be up to them. I fully understand the lack of trust issues.

  33. Karen Bryant says:

    I am a Christian and have a strong love for the jewish people and Israel . I never knew any until i was in my 20′s. So what i feel had to have been a gift to me from god. My love for them doesn’t depend on their following my belief as a Christian . We all have to walk our own path,and their loving me or being afraid of my intentions will be up to them. I fully understand the lack of trust issues.

  34. Abraham has lots of servants and there’s no words written in the bible that he abuses any of his servants.

  35. Moishe Pupik says:

    Terry McIntosh – If you truly love someone, and they ask you to leave them be, and you insist on loving them, that's not love, that's rape.

  36. Alex Rivera says:

    Thank G-d Yori does not speak for the 100 percent of all Jewry.

  37. Alex Rivera says:

    Thank G-d Yori does not speak for the 100 percent of all Jewry.

  38. I know where the author is coming from. Because evangelicals are instructed to preach the gospel to keep people from burning in hell forever, they are compelled to preach the word. Most believe you're going to hell if you don't believe the same way they do, and because the Jewish people are marked and protected by G-d, many evangelicals feel they have a duty to save or protect G-d's first nation. The reason you may not like them is because no matter how nice they are to you, you know they think you're going to hell. Don't feel bad though, because they think everybody's going to hell, and they try to convert them too.

  39. Stuart Kaufman says:

    Mr. McIntosh: I say this to you with all due respect. If you proselytize to a Jew, knowing he is a Jew, it is an insult and we will take it as such. Now you are on notice. It is all very nice that you have found happiness and peace within the arms of your faith. If you preach it to me, it will be treated as an insult. There are enough gentiles who are in need of your comfort. Leave us Jews alone.

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